This project successfully expanded Reef Check activities to include training of a broad cross-section of the local Thai populace including government, park and natural resource management staff, foundation students, dive masters and others from the private sector.
Planning meetings were held in Bali, Indonesia in October 2000 and in Phuket, Thailand from January 16-17, 2000 in conjunction with the 9th International Coral Reef Symposium. Contracts were finalized and signed, workplans completed and financial arrangements made.
A first training was held at the Eastern Marine Fisheries Development Center (EMDEC), Department of Fisheries, Rayong Province, Thailand on December 2-5, 2000. The training involved 19 volunteers and four EMDEC scientists. A second training — organized in collaboration with Sirinath Marine National Park (MNP)and the Royal Department of Forestry of Thailand — was completed January 29-February 1, 2001 in Sirinath Marine National Park, Phuket. Twenty-five park rangers from the various marine national parks were trained including those from: Sirinath MNP (Phuket province), Similan Islands MNP (Phang-Nga province), Surin Islands MNP (Phang-Nga province), Koh Rah Koh Phra Thong MNP (Phang-Nga province), and Thansadet Falls MNP (Suratthani province). A total of 12 data sets were collected in the Sirinath MNP area. The third Reef Check Thailand Training at the Chumporn Marine Fisheries Development Center was held in Chumporn Province on July 5-7, 2001. The training hosted 35 local divers from several dive clubs in Chumporn and Ranong provinces as well as university staff and students. The two-day field practice was conducted at Ngam Island and Mathra Island located off the coast of Chumporn. A total of eight data sets were collected at the two sites.
To date, 93 Reef Check participants have conducted 74 Reef Check surveys in Thailand. Reef Check trainings were advertised using a Thai language website for divers. An overwhelming response ensued with over sixty applications received for the first training. Training materials were prepared in the Thai language. Coral and reef fish identification and education posters, produced in conjunction with PMBC,were printed for distribution to marine national parks, schools, dive operators, tour operators, interested organizations, and Reef Check volunteers. The materials produced included: 300 slate boards, 500 underwater field guides, 100 caps, 300 T-shirts, 3,000 Thai brochures and 3,000 English brochures, 3,000 stickers, 10,000 fish posters and 10,000 coral posters. The posters (see task 1.4) will also serve a public relations purpose.
Reef Check surveys were completed in Koh Khai Nok, KohMan Wichai, Koh Pu, Koh Racha Yai-Staghorn Reef, Koh Tao-Venus, Morning Edge Reef, and Racha Yai Bungalow Bay. Reef Check Thailand reports were submitted to Reef Check Headquarters. Reef Check Thailand was very successful in their public relations efforts. Reef Check was broadcast over the radio waves in Phuket and Bangkok when the Klue Kai Saithrong Wittayu radio program interviewed Reef Check coordinator Pinya Sarasas in March, June, and July 2001. Sin Nai Nam, a TV documentary on coral reef ecology in Thailand and Reef Check program was filmed and broadcast on Thai television in May, 2001. Newspaper coverage has included articles by the Bangkok Post and a local Phuket newspaper.