Kimi B Ley

From life as a beach bum scuba instructor in a bounty ad., to the joys of englandshire-upon-sewageville...Hugs and I'll blow some bubbles for ya

Monday, June 30, 2008

Reef Rescue :Coral Nursery (Phi Phi Ley)

I have written previously on the subject of the coral nursery located by Table Coral City on Phi Phi Ley, a joint research project and initiative headed up by the PMBC (Phuket Marine Biological Center) and Andrew Hewwitt (The Adventure Club).

Background: The concept behind this nursery is the use of forestation techniques to remove small coral fragments from donor colonies and suspend them on nursey racks above the substrate aiding reproduction and monitored growth with a reduced threat from corallivoes (e.g. parrotfish, crown of thorns etc.) Once these fragments reach an appropriate size they are then transplanted out onto the surrounding reefs (as in December 2007 archives).

Unfortunately this month around the 13th June, it was noticed by our divemaster Ya that the nursery had sustained some unspecified damage so Jon and I set out to investigate and ascertain what the damage was and if there were any temporary measures we could instigate until such time as Andrew Hewwitt or Doctor Nalinee from the PMBC could come over. There are 2 nursery racks, each approximately 2 metres by 10 metres, suspended by ropes screwed in to the sea floor and bouyed up by inner tubing and bouys under each palette. These ordinarily then lay horizontally at around 8 meters underwater (so at a 90 degree angle).

Somewhat laiden down with an extra tank and reg. set, a liftbag, rope, some mooring buoys, hammers, and all gloved up we arrived to what you see below. The northern rack instead of looking like this "-" vaguely resembled an "s" on its side. One end remained as it should be but the other was hanging down to the sea bottom. The Southern rack had flipped towards one side so was at a 180 degree angle.

It took us approx. 35 minutes to analyse what the problems were, and it appeared that one rope had gone, another was completely entangled and that there was insufficient uplift or buoying left. We hammered away at some of the molluscs which had attached themselves to the buoys and tubing under the rack and worked our way carefully amongst the ropes and lines to dis-entangle them which added some lift to the northern rack. The southern rack required a little more planning and work, so we attached a lift bag to the central rope on one side of the rack and started to inflate until we arrived at the desired angle. We then tied a new length of rope (which happened to be climbing rope...just as a temp. fix!) between this rack, a sea screw and the other rack in a V shape.

We added a few extra small buoys to this rack on what had been the fallen side and released the air from the lift bag...all was temporarily at least as it should be again thankfully!!!

I am pleased to report that last week Andrew and some members of the Greenfins organisation managed to spend the day on the nursery, and have fully replaced all the ropes and removed more molluscs so that all is better than new:)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Global Shark Assessment

Divers: You have very valuable experience and information that can be put to good use in scientific surveys. Many of you may know that the number of Marine Protected Areas and no-take zones have increased dramatically in recent years, so we need new methods (alternatives to fishing) to determine how species are responding to protection.

Why is this important?

Sharks are an essential component of marine ecosystems; yet, human pressure has put many species at dangerously low abundance levels. Determining what tools (e.g. Marine Protected Areas, coastal development, undisturbed nurseries, fishing regulations, etc.) are best for their survival will be essential for restoring, at least in part, these systems to their former resilience.

Project Description:

A group of researchers including Christine Ward-Paige are part of a working group that is conducting a Global Shark Assessment to evaluate how shark populations have changed since the beginning of industrial scale fishing, and to make predictions about how these populations will respond to global climate change and to different methods of fishing and protection.

Specifically, they are using scuba diver's observations to census shark populations at different spatial and temporal scales via two surveys: Historical Sightings Survey (HSS) and Current Sightings Survey (CSS).

The study will not only provide valuable information about where sharks are surviving, but it will also show that scuba divers can provide valuable information that is comparable to that provided by fishermen or volunteers in the Breeding Bird Survey.

WHY would you want to fill out a survey?

With overwhelming evidence that shark populations have declined dramatically over the last 50 years, there are still places where some shark species are persisting and even thought to be thriving. Identification of these species and areas is an important step in determining the best method for recovery. In a time when the number of no-take zones and fishing restrictions are increasing, there is a need for acquiring data through alternative, non-extractive methods. All scuba divers/snorkelers that have been in the ocean can help with this effort.

WHO can help?

ANYONE that has ever dived/snorkeled in the ocean! There are two surveys: Historical Sightings Survey (HSS) and the Current Sightings Survey (CSS). Ideal candidates for the HSS are dive professionals or recreational divers. Since preliminary interviews suggested that most dive professionals do not keep logbooks, the survey asks divers to report their sightings and effort from memory. Preliminary research suggested that divers could recall the level of detail being asked in the HSS with reasonable accuracy; however, divers that do have logbooks are being encouraged to fill out the survey from memory and then with the logbook to get an estimate of error.

CSS gets divers to report sightings (or no sightings) for each dive. This survey is more specific and detailed than the HSS. All ocean going divers (professionals, recreational, and tourists) are candidates for this survey. CSS is not to be filled out from memory, it is for dives that you have environmental and sightings information for (either you have just done this dive or it is recorded in a logbook)- again it must include dives where you did and did not see sharks.

HOW to help?

1) Fill out the online survey- it should ONLY take a few minutes (1-2 minutes per area) by clicking on the logo above, OR 2) Send Christine an email ( and she'll send you an excel survey. THEN forward this survey to as many divers or dive shops that you can- the more people that fill out this survey the more we will know about the sharks people see.