Volunteering with Phi Phi Islands National Park

Search and Recovery with Phi Phi National Park

In August 2016 Thailand Adventure Guide were asked to join the park rangers from the Phi Phi Islands National Park on a scuba diving research trip to recover over 150 lost or damaged mooring lines. During the last few high seasons many of the mooring lines used by dive and tour boats have been lost or damaged, and many others are old and need replacing.

National park staff planning the mission before diving to search for lost moorings

Mooring lines are robust lines secured to the bottom of the ocean by a large concrete mooring block, and marked on the surface with a buoy. Different coloured buoys are used to indicate the size of the block and line so that boat captains know which moorings to use, depending on the size of their boat.

Mooring blocks are huge concrete blocks with stainless steel rings for attaching lines

The lines are essential to protect the coral reefs surrounding the Phi Phi Islands and the many other surrounding islands that are popular tourist attractions. Without mooring lines boats drop their anchors which damage the delicate and already declining coral reefs.

This badly damaged line at Phi Phi is covered in marine growth and needs to be replaced as soon as possible

The research team was made up of National Park staff and volunteers, the bold mission was to survey over 150 locations in 3 days. Some locations already had mooring blocks but with no lines attached, so divers were sent down to search for the huge concrete blocks and then mark the location ready for new lines to be attached.

Locations for new mooring lines were marked by GPS and marker buoys

Some lines were badly damaged and needed replacing, over time the lines become frayed or completed covered in barnacles and other aquatic growth. As well as finding and replacing old lines, new locations were also surveyed and marked for the installation of new mooring lines starting at the Phi Phi Islands and stretching all the way to the islands off the coast of Krabi province.

A lost mooring block we found and marked so it can be fitted with a new mooring line

Volunteer divers were teamed up with national park divers forming eight teams of two. All locations were photographed, and marked by GPS coordinates and temporary buoys. New mooring lines will then be installed by the Phi Phi Islands National Park dive team.

The research team was made up of national park rangers and local volunteers

Our home for the 3 days was MV Aquatic liveaboard which is usually stationed around the Similan Islands during the dive season. During the low season MV Aquatic is used by various marine national parks for annual marine conservation, survey, and research trips.

MV Aquatic liveaboard, our comfortable home for the 3 day mission

The peaceful evenings were a great time to take in the stunning scenery around the Phi Phi Islands

In 3 days we managed to cover around 160 locations all around the Phi Phi Islands, Koh Poda, Chicken Island, and many more popular tourist destinations where new mooring lines are needed. It was a great chance for us to put something back into the area and help out the national park rangers who clearly enjoy, and are very proud of the great work that they do.

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Thailand travel expert and scuba diving Instructor for Thailand Adventure Guide.

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