Restoring Coral Reefs at the Island of Koh Tao
Since its beginning more than 22 years ago, marine conservation has been at the heart of the New Heaven Dive School. Located on the island of Koh Tao off the eastern coast of Thailand, in 2007 the school founded the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program (NHRCP). The program is dedicated to researching, providing education about, and actively restoring the coral reefs around the island of Koh Tao. Monitoring and understanding the temperature-driven phenomenon of coral bleaching is crucial to the work of the NHRCP coral reef conservationists.
In order to better understand the trends of coral bleaching, the NHRCP has constantly engaged in efforts to collect sea temperature data on the coral reefs around Koh Tao. A variety of methods have been used as part of the group’s Ecological Monitoring Program, most notably equipping divers with computers designed to measure water temperature.
However, because the elevated body temperature of the diver measuring the sea temperature can interfere with the data, and data collection times are limited to when the diver is present in the water and capable of recording measurements, the NHRCP sought a better way to collect more abundant and more trustworthy water temperature data.
For the last five years the NHRCP has been using Onset HOBO 64K Pendant data loggers to monitor sea temperatures at the Koh Tao reefs. The conservationists, who cite reliability and long battery-life as their reasons for selecting the HOBO Pendants, used cable ties to mount the loggers and deploy them at a variety of depths. The loggers are set to record data every three hours, with data sets from each logger downloaded annually.
The NHRCP has found that the data collected using the HOBO Pendant loggers allows for a better understanding of the relationship between coral bleaching around Koh Tao and the sea surface temperatures that instigate the bleaching. This, in turn, allows for a better understanding and ability to predict when these potentially-devastating events might occur, giving the conservationists the opportunity to take on an adaptive strategy to mitigate the loss of coral life.