Reef Ball Project - Racha Yai

We are extremely please to announce that Reef Balls have finally made it to Thailand and specifically Racha Yai Island. Reef Balls are a low tech and extremely effective way to help aid coral growth, regenerate damaged reefs and to create new reefs.

Scuba Cat Diving, Thailand met with Todd Barber, founder of the Reef Ball Foundation at the ADEX show in May 2001 at Kuala Lumpur and detailed our sinking of Marla’s Mystery near an existing heavily damaged reef at Racha Yai. This has proven to be an excellent opportunity for reef regeneration and is already a spectacular dive site.

On 18th September His Excellency, Khun Suwit Khunkitti, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment was on hand to assist Mr Barber to pour Thailand’s first Reef Ball. This is certainly a huge step forward in the preservation and enhancement of our underwater environment.

We are now planning a busy next Green Season making Reef Balls and extending the reef at Marla’s Mystery on the East side of Racha Yai Island, Phuket Thailand.

Reef Check

The weather had been windy and rainy for several days but the forecast for Friday looked good so my friend and I decided it was time for another visit to the dive sites on the East side of Racha Yai Island. It was also time for the semi-annual "reef check"

Our first dive, therefore, was an hour spent at an average of four meters depth counting marine life along a 100 meter "transect" which is assigned to Scuba Cat Diving by the Thai Government’s Marine Biology Centre in Phuket. My assignment was to count the fish (from six specified species) encountered two and a half meters on either side of the emplaced line. Basically, I saw a lot of Butterfly fish and several Parrot fish but only one Snapper and one Sweet-lips.

My second dive was on my favorite dive site at Racha Yai – to Marla's Mystery, a sunken steel hull resting at 32 meters (depending upon the tide of course) with the decking at approximately 26 meters. This is an ideal Nitrox 32 dive and, being a conservative diver, I also carried a four-liter Pony cylinder loaded with Nitrox 55 for my planned safety-stops at 15, 12, 9, 6 and 3 meters. (Scuba Cat Diving Thailand can "mix" any blend of Nitrox you need). It was not a planned “decompression” dive (nor did it become one), but having done my "TecRec" training course with Scuba Cat Diving Thailand a couple years previously (which certified me to a maximum depth of 50 meters and introduced me to decompression diving), I tend to treat any dive of thirty meters or deeper as if it is a decompression dive. I’m a fit 62 year old but I build in several safety margins with "safety stops" well beyond the standard "three minutes at five meters" rule.

The dive was great even though visibility was “only” 15 – 20 meters. The decks are full of small growing nodules of coral and a pile of rocks placed by the company on the deck was alive with “Blue Mollys”. Off the East side of the bow, there were two hollow cement “cube” frames (about one and a half meters on each dimension) which had been dropped by the company a few weeks previously. They were both loaded with swimming schools of small “glass-fish” and several small groupers (perhaps averaging forty centimeters each) which had decided to hang-out around the cubes. We had brought a “lift-bag” along with us, so we were able to move several more rocks up onto the deck to try and create another haven for fish. I had my SMB (Surface Marker Buoy) with me, since there was a slight current, so I deployed it from the deck and commenced my very gradual ascent. The guys quickly picked us up in the Zodiac. Another wonderful day diving at Racha Yai Island Phuket, Thailand!