Marine Conservation, Koh Phangan

Written By Owen, Latitudes ’19 Thailand

A typical day here on Koh Phangan starts with a scramble for a cup of coffee when I wake up at 8:50 for a 9ish morning dive briefing. The briefing usually lasts 20-25 minutes, and from there we head to the backyard to set up our gear for the dive, and finish any small group/buddy team preparations for the dive, things like setting up our slates to record the data and making sure we have all the equipment that we need.

During our dives we are either gathering information for CORESea and their studies, or for one of the Dutch interns who are here working on their own research projects. Most days we are doing surveys during our dives, but sometimes we also do other work, the surveys we run are on: coral predators, fish populations, territory sizes of fish, coral bleaching, live coral cover, and populations of crabs that live in branching corals. Finally, around 10:30 we grab our gear and head across the street and down to the ocean to jump in the boat that will take us to the days dive site (one of the other local bays).

Most of our dive time consists of work, but we do make sure we stop and enjoy the scenery as well. We’ve seen some really cool things so far, Nudibranch (brightly colored sea slugs), Stingrays, Pufferfish, Porcupinefish, Moray eels, shrimp, Cuttlefish, Jellyfish, and scorpionfish. Even just the reef as a whole is super beautiful to just sit back and look at, especially on days when we have good visibility.

We get back from our dive around 1:00 pm, clean our gear, and head to lunch. Our favorite place to go is a small family owned restaurant called Meiying’s. It’s some of the best food on the island for the best price. After lunch we head back to CORESea for some lab work, either part 2 of the live coral cover surveys, where we identify the different corals and if they are living or dead, or helping the dutchies (as we affectionately refer to them) with their lab work.

After that we have the rest of the day off, which we typically spend inside due to the heat, or out at the beach. Most people do their own thing, or stay in small groups until we regroup for dinner or any other activities that we have planned for that night. After a full day, we are all exhausted, and make our way to bed.