Season 2017-2018

beachwalkOur project season on Koh Phra Thong, Thailand starts 15. December 2017 and continues until the end of March 2018.

We will continue sea turtle nesting beach monitoring, behavioral observations of the feeding area, reef surveys and environmental education with awareness raising activities. As a long term volunteer or intern, you can also propose your own project as long as it fits to our conservation activities. We are happy to provide an opportunity for families with children to join our project.

Volunteer in Thailand. We are now open for volunteer and internship applications. Please fill in the booking request form and we get back to you the soonest.

Coral reef monitoring

In season 2016-2017 we conducted a reef survey on the nearby reef. This reef is located between Koh Phra Thong and two smaller islands called Koh Pring Jai and Noi, on the west side of Phra Thong. The location is reachable by swimming and kayaks depending on the tide.

In the survey we recorded fish species, invertebrate species and substrate coverage and compared our result to surveys done previous years (2004, 2006 and 2011). The aim was to see how the reef has recovered from the tsunami in 2004 which caused damage to the reef and island.

The surveys were done by snorkeling on the reef. This was a bit more challenging than expected. Weather conditions were sometimes too rough to be able to kayak to the reef or there was strong current which prevented laying the measuring tape on the bottom. Also the methodology is quite demanding and tiring. There was a lot of diving down to the bottom along the 100 meters of transect.

However, with the help of our volunteers, we were able to survey 5 transects on the reef. The results of the survey show that the hard coral coverage has increased and the amount of fish has increased since the 2006 survey.

The reef is still recovering from the effects of the tsunami but lots of fishes can be spotted on the reef and nice corals are seen in the deeper water. Beautiful nudibranchs can be found at the bottom, colorful butterfly fish are swimming among the corals and schools of snappers are swimming over the reef.

Two times after transect surveying a green turtle was spotted swimming along the reef which was amazing to see! It was a quick glimpse of the turtle but still nice to see them under the water. The reef at Koh Phra Thong is naturally quite rocky but the deeper parts of the reef gives a nice look to the beautiful ecosystem of coral reef and we hope to see it there in the future and hopefully in even better condition.

Susanna

Research Assistant, season 2016-2017

Back on Koh Phra Thong

beach1I came first time to this island 10 years ago as a 2-week volunteer. I had one previous volunteer experience from Costa-Rica and I always remember my Wow! -feeling when I was introduced to the project location, accommodation and especially breakfast choices at GBB resort.

We had fairly large group of 10 or so volunteers from different parts of the world, of different ages and different experiences, teachers, limo driver, scientist, students, biologists, IT specialists etc. Many had come without any previous turtle experience, so on that respect we were all novices.

Project work was well organized. Okay we did wait for the boat to check Koh Ra beaches with Alessandra two mornings and ended up eating our breakfast while we waited and waited and no boat. Oh, and the observation buoys. They would just not stay put. But it did not matter so much, some things you just can’t control.

OR babyOn this first season, I monitored the beach with another volunteer one morning and we found an Olive Ridley nest on beach 3. We almost missed it, while talking. Yes, keep your eye on the sand while you check the beach as the track is only about 50-100cm wide. We got first-hand experience in locating the egg chamber and carrying delicate eggs to a new nest location in a safer place.

But the project was not just that, it was so much more for me. It changed my life. It was a very important step on the path that I took from there. I returned to the project as a volunteer next season, now 3 other project experiences in my pocket. I quit my job and started to work on recruiting other volunteers to sea turtle conservation projects. Came back to work as a field leader on the Island for several seasons until 2013. I cried when I left Koh Phra Thong as I thought it was the last time.

maxiThis past season was the 20th anniversary of the project and Monica asked some of us “oldies” if we would help. And without much hesitation I said yes. On the 5th of December 2016, I went back. I was a bit scared that things have changed a lot and I don’t like the place anymore, but luckily it was not the case. Yes, there are more bungalow places on the beach now, but they are in a small area. Still no sun umbrellas and plastic sunbeds anywhere. I walked the beaches in the morning and there was nobody there. Only for a short moment during the New Year, Thai tourists showed up with quadbikes and motor dinghies. But they seemed to be more for the show than actual use.

There were some small improvements to the infrastructure, more solar power and wifi as well as addition to the pier at Lions village. But then there were still the holes in the concrete road, wading through the channels when the tide is high, “no sun, no wifi” at Nok’s, monkeys who stole the observation pillows, and waiting for the boat or the car. There were still the amazing Lesser Adjutants levitating in the sky, turtles coming to feed at observation rocks, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, incredible food cooked by Lamion, PaNee and Lory’s kitchen staff. There are still the wildlife surprises and great encounters with similar minded people.

I was happy to be back. And this time when I left a month later, I did not cry. I was sad to leave, but I know I will be back. Soon.

Marjut