Chantaburi Reef Clean Up
Chantaburi Reef Clean Up December 2007
Chantaburi province is just south of Chonburi in Thailand. Chantaburi named Jant by the Thai locals is famed for its’ gem mining in land and rather nicely laid out city center. Chantaburi is also bordering the seas that hold the south of the Gulf waters and also surround Koh Chang. Scattered along the Thai Gulf coast are small Thai dive operations and some larger Thai dive clubs who decided to get together and clean the beach and reef in the Jant area. Sue, Mermaids “Green” instructor arranged for Mermaids to join the efforts of the Thais in the clean up. Crowley wrote the following report.
The day begins at 5.30am for most of us – rocking up to the dive shop in the darkness with 12 bleary eyed Mermaidians whilst everybody else with half an ounce of sense is still safely tucked up in bed…
In short order we have one of our trucks packed full of tanks and dive kit and one of our minibuses packed full of staff and intern divers, well provisioned for the journey to Chantaburi province. Heading south down the Sukhumvit Highway the busy city disappears and we are surrounded by rice fields, orchards and the distant jungle-clad mountains – proper Thailand! 2 and ½ hours and 12 numb bums later (and possibly a slight geographical misplacement from the minibus driver), we are unloading at Chao Lao beach, where we are the only farang (foreigners in Thailand) in a veritable sea of yellow-shirted Thai divers, organisers and school kids. We apparently caused something of a stir as the local Thai TV cameramen were regularly steering their lenses towards us and large groups of Thais wanted to have their pictures taken with the giant white men and women!
The organisers gave us all a bright yellow t-shirt (His Majesty the Kings’ colour), a mesh bag to collect rubbish, and a breakfast of spicy minced pork with rice and extra spice; on the whole rather tasty and again, something of a novelty for the Thais to see farangs eating Thai food and apparently enjoying it.
Dive equipment was set up on the beach and loaded into two long-tails – wooden boats with a car engine mounted astern to which is attached a long drive shaft with a propeller at the end – that somewhat erratically transported us to our dive boat for the day. All the divers were teamed onto a fleet of fishing boats and transported 45 minutes away to the reef clean-up area.
To be fair, the visibility was not great, however this in no way dampened our spirits (no pun intended) as we set off in search of sunken treasure. Well – sunken trash, anyway. And again, rather oddly, there wasn’t an awful lot of trash to be collected. Most of us found a good deal of old rope and discarded fishing lines, a couple of bottles and some empty crisp packets but compared to the amount of junk we found at Koh Sak in October, relatively little to pick up. Of course, given the conditions we could have passed within metres of a rusty old sunken pick-up truck and never noticed!
Two dives and a lunch of spicy minced pork with rice and extra spice (yup, same same as breakfast) 12 very jolly, pretty tired, and terribly sunburned Mer-people were returned to the beach with 4 or 5 goodly sized bin bags full of junk. Even the exploding minibus tyre on the outskirts of Jant wasn’t enough to make anyone complain.
A great day. A wonderful time had by all and a chance to really see and do something different, somewhere else. Many thanks to Mark, Andy, Donna, Jane, Eric, Barry, Frank, Wil, Angus and Ben for coming along to help out. Big thanks also to Sue for organising everybody, and especially to the Thai organisers themselves for co-ordinating such a marvellous attempt at conservation and preservation. Oh, and a huge thank you to the random passing Thai farmer who lent us his wheel nut spanner!