The forth group of WICKED Divemaster Trainees for this 2012-13 season were ready to work in their Eco-Project assignment with part of the staff; as this season the main project is to work in the Artificial Reef that started with the first part in 2010, and has kept growing, the group had a first day of meetings, brainstormings, decisions taking and logistics preparations, to make the most of the next day’s visit to the Artificial Reef. Lots of ideas and excitement, lots of research and learning about the world of the artificial reefs.
The day of the truth: 25/03/13. Khao Lak, Thailand.
8:10 am: A team composed by Othellia, Tiffany and Brett (the 3 dive master trainees that were participating in the project) and Anna (Wicked instructor) met a the equipment room to prepare the adventure. Their mission: repair the Wicked’s artificial reef, located 20 m south of the Boonsung Wreck, because some bumbling boat captain had dropped anchor on and dragged out onto the sand in a heap (or, at least, this is the most feasible theory,in view of the damages). Then, If time permits, the squad would monitor the 3 sites (the Great Pyramid, sank in 2010, and the Peace Pipe and the Porcelain Head sank in 2012) to check their inhabitants and to see If, from the last monitoring, there were new guys in the neighborhood. And also, there was the need to collect some more data, to be able to do a proper and detailed map of the area, for future "dmts", other volunteers and interested guests. A lot of work to do in a couple of dives, but the whole team was really looking forward to it, and reports of good visibility the day before and realizing that the first dive would coincide with the tide change had everyone in a good mood.
8:45 am : After the 15 minutes truck ride from Khao Lak to Pakarang beach, where our long tail was waiting for them, the team found the first issue, though thankfully not theirs!!! Arrive at the beach to find that a local truck had been left on the beach with the tide coming in and was buried to the axles with wet sand and the waves washing around the back end. As they had a large truck at the site already getting ready to try to tow the vehicle, there was nothing we could do, so we loaded the boat and took off with glassy seas and a light breeze. Things still looked good
10:00 am: Arrival at the buoy lines for the Boonsung wreck dive site and the captain informed ( with broken english and a lot of sign language) that he had put the long tail right on the A.Reef. After a quick run down of the plan, the first two divers back roll off the sides of the long tail and descend into the deep ( well, 19m max!!!)
After dropping onto the south point of Boonsung, this first team heads directly south to look for the Artificial Reef set. Luckily the visibility was very good and the reef was found in good time and the missing pieces located. Up went the SMB on the location and the other 2 divers began their decent directly to the , while the first team located the crowning glory of the peace pipe and carried it back to its original location. Team 2 dropped onto the wreckage and proceeded to cut away the old rope (note for future reef builders: Natural rope is good for the environment, but not so good when submerged in salt water for any length of time... " it rots")
After the rope was cut free and all the remaining bricks taken back to the original site, not without a couple of lion fish who didn’t want to move, and a baby banner fish that was so attached to his home he somehow managed to stay inside his brick all the way back to his new location. The team rebuilt the reef this time using a different method of tying it all together: "steel chain". Brilliant!!!
A couple of quick photos and it was time for team 1 to ascend, they had pushed their bottom time close enough, while team 2 began the monitoring, though not long after they were back on the boat as well.
12:30 pm: After lunch, a drink and a lot of talking about what had been done and seen back down there, and what would be done in the second dive, both teams re-entered the water to finish their checks. Lots of juvenile critters were found, from white eyes morays to nudibranch eggs, from crabs to pufferfishes, wrasses, blennies or groupers. It was looking like so far the Reef had been a success and was providing safe nursery sites away from the bigger predators around the main wreck. Unfortunately, because of disturbances around the Peace pipe, this one didn’t have as much life on it, but with its more secure set up and a few small additions from the team , signs are good that it will soon be hosting residents of its own.
So signs are good for Wicked’s artificial Reef.
Stay tuned for the next update when the " Great Pyramid" "The throne (yeah, the dive master trainees keep changing the names of the sites :-)" & "the peace pipe" are checked for the Evolution of Life.
Thanks to Anna, Tiffany, Othellia and Brett . Job Well Done!
-Wicked Diving Thailand