After months of work and secrecy, we here at the NHRCP are finally ready to introduce our latest artificial reef sculpture “The Colony”. After an exhilarating deployment last Friday (May 8), it found it’s resting place in Chalok Baan Kao near King Kong 3’s mooring line and the location where a fishing boat sank earlier in the year. It was no easy feat, and a great deal of thanks and credit are due to the NHRCP staff, interns and students that participated in the building and sinking of this behemoth. You made this all possible.
The sculpture is designed to resemble a young coral colony budding off of the sea floor. In place of the coral’s polyps, 14 faces were casted and receded into the structure. Each face is sheltered within a sculpted corallite, casting beams of light over them. The sculpture is haunting at first glance, but on closer inspection the serene resting faces lend it a calming beauty. For me, diving has always been a surreal experience, and this sculpture was made with the intention of playing off of these feelings by enhancing them.
Corals are quite an amazing animal. For one thing, they farm micro-algae inside their bodies, from which they derive about 75-95% of their total energy supply. Through this symbiosis between the coral animal and the unicellular algae the corals can grow in waters that are nutrient deficient, and indeed it is in these super clean waters that corals are most productive – building reefs that are visible from space. But even though the corals get most of their energy from the algae they still need to feed to get the ‘fertilizer’ to give their algal crop. This feeding is done through the use of their tentacles, which wave around in the water and capture any food source that may happen by. But what is this food source?
Look it up in any book and you will see that corals eat zooplankton. So what is zooplankton? Technically, it is any animal (algae and cyanobacteria would by phytoplankton) that is in the water and cannot swim against currents. That is pretty broad, actually that definition can include small krill or brine shrimp as well as baby sea turtles, massive jellyfish, or a 10 meter long chains of sea salps. So more specifically we want to know what types of zooplankton corals eat, if there are differences in their diets between coral species, and what are some of the larger things they can eat?
One of the leading threats to our planets coral reefs is the release of sediment and nutrients from land into coastal areas, known as eutrophication. These nutrients come from both local and distant sources on land, generally from development, deforestation, agriculture, and pollution/waste water discharge. Slow growing corals are unable to utilize these increased nutrient levels, but fast growing macro-algae can. When coastal areas are enriched with nutrients, coral reefs can quickly be lost, and replaced with much less productive and diverse macro-algae ecosystems.
Although this effect is directly observable and has been scientifically recorded again and again, combating the issue is difficult. Nutrient levels and ocean chemistry fluctuate greatly on a global scale, and agricultural and development projects far from the sea can still wreak havoc through transport by rivers. The scope and scale of the problem make identification of nutrient or pollution sources difficult.
New Heaven dive school is now pleased to offer our customers professional videos of their time here, by Aquatic Images. For those who choose this service, Andreas, a longtime friend and videographer on Koh Tao, will accompany you on your dives and film your holiday and the amazing marine life you see underwater. Then, before you leave, you will get a DVD of the video, along with some of his favorite short videos from the island.
No matter if you are taking the Open water and diving for the first time, or participating in one of our advanced marine conservation courses, Andreas will make a great video of your experience. There is nothing better to share with friends and family, and remember your holiday for years to come.
If you would like to receive this service, then please just let us know when you are signing up. If you want to check out some of the great videos made by Aquatic Images and Andreas then check out the promotional video he made for us below, or on his YouTube channel
In 1998, 16% of the hard corals in the world died. That’s right, almost a fifth of all the coral in the world knocked out in a single year, and most people have never even heard about it. The cause of this widespread death of corals was that 1998 was the hottest year on record for oceans (both for the records kept since 1860, and the records going back 800,000 years through ice core data). In 1998, sea surface temperatures rose by 1-3 Deg. Celsius, and the first recorded global bleaching event occurred.