Each year for the last 9 years, students of the University of Missouri have visited the Phi Phi Islands. Their mission: to complete a week long program known as the Coral Rehabilitation Workshop. The goal of this workshop is to educate divers to better understand the marine life and the interactive roles they play which help to sustain shallow water ecosystems. As part of this program students will restock the Phi Phi Ley Coral Nursery with up to 1200 corals and assist to plant harvested corals from last year’s nursery to denuded parts of the reef.
As relative new-bees to scuba diving, many of them only open water divers, our work starts with bringing their diving skills up to a level suitable for working in close proximities with live corals.
From the off we spend the first 4 days improving buoyancy skills and knowledge on the marine life in the area. Students are presented lectures on a variety of organisms, including, fish, coral, and invertebrate species. The lectures also emphasize the impacts of tourism and other factors that affect the health of the reef and how other the maintenance of other breeding grounds such as mangroves and seagrasses play an equally important role in protecting the reef and vice versa.
Students are then trained with the methodology of handling coral fragments and each year a new group will restock the coral nursery with up to 1200 new coral fragments, and will finally plant the corals that were stocked as part of the previous year’s workshop.
But it’s not all work. Over the course of 8 days the students will get to dive around 20 dives at sites such as the Bida islands, Palong Bay and Malong bay. the Kled Gaeow Wreck, Koh Ha islands, and a few of our mid-ocean mounts such as Garang Heng, Shark Point and Hin Dot.
Video courtesy of Sam Gresty.