Master Divers is offering the chance to win an Open Water Course or Advanced Open Water Course and some free dives too – so grab this issue of South East Asia Backpacker or scroll down and read the info below to see how you can have a chance to win too!
Monkey Tree Reef Koh Tao
Artificial reefs are popping up all over the world’s oceans and Koh Tao is no exception. Theses reefs have the aim of not only creating new habitats for fish and marine life but also new dive sites. These dive sites are perfect for training new divers; they can swim around structures that have been located on a sandy area without fear of damaging themselves of the existing tropical reef. When done correctly, with innovative designs this will draw divers away from the fragile existing reefs and relieve a little pressure.
Creating and deploying such structures is not an easy task. Thought has to be given to the materials used to make sure they are not harmful and have the least impact. Next, the design has to be considered to ensure that marine life can find shelter and that the structures will support growth.
Some renovations had recently taken place at Master Divers, leaving us with a surplus of bamboo. We were keen to ensure that this didn’t go to waste and was used effectively for some purpose.
One of the artificial reefs on Koh Tao is very close to our centre and we often visit the site with divers. It’s great for both education and training and we simply love this site due to the diversity of life it already attracts. We thought it would be fitting to add to the growth of this site, we use it regularly and it would be great to give something back by deploying a structure. With this waste bamboo in mind the creative juices flowed and overnight a simple structure was devised that would offer shelter and be fun to see too.
The plan was to build a palm tree out of the bamboo complete with its own monkey made out of coconuts. A bamboo thicket at the trees base would provide shelter too. Each branch and leaf was carved with holes to provide little nooks for creatures to hide inside and even the monkey itself was structured to provide shelter too.
The project was a labour of love and many of the team were involved in its construction. We had divers binding leaves and trees, hollowing out holes in coconuts and those skilled with tools, cutting holes and sawing bamboo. The dive centre looked more like a joiner’s yard for a few days whilst the project was completed. The tree had to be assembled on land first, just to check its design and that it would really fit into place underwater. It stayed there for a while, amusing anyone that passed and became a great talking point, giving us some great opportunities to educate visitors to Koh Tao too. It was actually there while we threw a small party at the dive centre and we decorated it with fairy lights, we stopped short of dancing around it though – just!
The tree was constructed in two separate parts which was to make it easier to deploy. It was to be taken by longtail to the site and deployed. On a super calm day – that’s exactly what the team did. These things never go perfectly but the divers did a fantastic job and learnt a few things too. We still visit regularly and have noticed many small fish using the tree for shelter. We often see puffer fish hiding in the thicket at the bottom and the occasion juvenile Harlequin Sweetlips has been seen hanging out too. Life has certainly moved in and the whole site is always a pleasure to dive. New things appear all the time and we’ve seen many new species here too. It’s certainly worth a look if you head over to Koh Tao to dive.
Remember though, diving or not, if you’ve got a spare few hours or days there’s always a project going on somewhere that would be happy for an extra set of hands to help out. Conservation here never stops; get in touch if you want to know more.
If you cant find a copy of the magazine but want to take advantage of the great offer with free dives just leave a comment on this blog post with your name and when you are heading to Koh Tao ! See you soon !