Saturday, January 17, 2009

On the Way Home

Sorry that I haven't posted since leaving Phi Phi. I was unable to upload any photos in Bangkok. Nonetheless, we are on the way home now, and in the airport in Tokyo during a 3 hr layover. Another 11 hour flight to Chicago and we should be in St Louis (or wherever the student's destination is) at 6:18 Sunday evening on United flight 8007. We're not happy about leaving mid-80 degree weather for the midwestern U.S., but classes start soon and we'll have warm memories.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Underwater Class Photo

This photo is 4 days old, but I thought everyone would like to see it now that it's available

Elephant Trek

The long promised elephant rides have finally happened. We enjoyed a 45 minute trek through the jungle on the hillside overlooking Chalong Bay on Phuket Island. I can safely report that all students were very very very satisfied.  In this photo are Katie, Meridith, Ashley, and Emily.

Sea Turtles

Today, we left Phi Phi on the 9:00 a.m. ferry to Phuket. Our first stop was the Phuket Marine Biological Center where we toured their exhibits and the sea turtle hatchery.

Farewell Party on Phi Phi

On Tuesday, we spent the day on somewhat choppy water, with jellyfish limitations and poor visibility again.  Nonetheless, we prepared more corals for the nursery and had two dives.  In the evening, Andrew's Adventure Club hosted a very enjoyable farewell dinner party for us, during which he showed his still photos and the underwater video shot by Mina (between Kim and Andrea in the photo).  Also, it was good to have Lauren back from her ear infection.  

Monday, January 12, 2009

Preparing Corals for the Nursery

Everything seemed to work against us today. Our goal was to return to the dead reef to plant more corals, but the water surface was covered with jellyfish, so obviously we couldn’t dive there. Also creating difficulty was that it was quite windy, thus the surface was very choppy, so we abandoned the attempt to plant corals. Instead, the marine biologists from the Phuket Marine Biological Center, who joined us for the day, Andrew and two divemasters went in the water to cut fragments of corals from donor colonies to stock the underwater nursery. The class spent a couple hours in the morning putting these 300 coral fragments into plastic tubes, and then inserted the tubes into a mesh screen to be placed in the nursery. Next year’s class will plant these fragments into a dead reef. Above, you see photos from the class working on the boat with the coral fragments. All students are in the photos except for Lauren, who has an ear infection and could not join us on the boat. Andrew’s small zodiac boat had engine problems, so after we had lunch on the boat at Maya Bay (where the movie “The Beach” was filmed), we had a couple hours to kill, so we swam to a nearby smaller beach near where our boat was moored. After we recovered the missing zodiac, we dove in that same spot by the beach and shot our underwater class photo. I hope to get that posted sometime soon, but it’s not on my camera. Visibilty is quite poor, however, because we have a full moon, thus high current levels, and the high winds create choppy seas. These factors combine to churn up the ocean, thereby reducing visibility. Still, following the class photo, this was a interesting dive with fun swim-throughs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Free Day

Today was a free day with nothing scheduled. So, the students mostly hung out by the pool or the beach, so there's really not much new to tell you about. The last of the shark watch groups went out this morning. Each of the students has already done this, except for a few who went out with Ajarn Roy and me at 6:15 a.m. Snorkeling with black-tip reef sharks sounds scary, but it really isn't at all. These sharks are very timid and it's difficult to find and see them, although everyone did see some. We took a long-tailed boat out to a point of the island and snorkeled in 4-6 ft deep water. A couple photos of our group on the way out to see the sharks (1) L-R, me, Craig, Ryan; (2) Megan, Meridith, Kasey, and Ajarn Roy getting in his wet suit. (3) one of the favorite delicacies is a sweet crepe-like desert called roti. In the third photo, I found Emily, Meredith, Kim, and Andrea each ordering a roti. Look at the anticipation on their faces. Every year, this turns out to be a quest... to find roti wherever they go.

Tomorrow morning we start at 7:15 for two days of restoring a coral reef.