On the 15th and 18th of January 2018, IUCN, in collaboration with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Merlin Beach, Sea Bees Diving and the Prince of Songkla University, installed four mooring buoys in the bay in front of the resort. The purpose of these buoys is to prevent physical damage to the corals from recreational boat anchoring, and consequently protect the structural habitat that reef fish depend on for survival.
The team of divers worked to relocate the old, unmarked mooring bases from the shallow reef to the deeper sandy area, affixing them to large, highly visible orange DMCR buoys. Their presence will encourage boaters to practice responsible boating by tying their boats to the buoys and not dropping anchor.
Last December, a catamaran visiting the bay dropped a large anchor and an excessive amount of chain, leading to significant coral breakage and scarring. Installing the buoys will minimize such harmful practices from occurring in the future.
The buoy installation in front of the hotel is a component of a larger corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to protect the reef by reattaching broken coral fragments, removing marine debris and fishing gear, and educating guests at the hotel’s onsite Reef Education Center about how to protect reef ecosystems. The resort provides guests with House Reef Marine Guidebooks, allowing guests to identify any organisms they see while snorkeling or diving. The onsite dive center, Sea Bees Diving, offers beach dives and SCUBA courses enabling guests to explore the biodiverse reef environment.
By encouraging collaboration between the private and public sector, IUCN hopes to further conserve Thailand’s unique natural resources, and spread awareness of the threats that these ecosystems are facing.