Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting Ready again

Sea Nomad at Anchor in Boulder Bay
With the End of the Season right in front of us there is one last showdown coming out here on Boulder Island in the Mergui Archipelago.
The Owner of "Boulder Bay Eco Resort" along aith 30 friends and employees is coming out here for 4 days and a big meeting amongst all the higher ranks of his endeavour.

For us (Project Manaia) this could be the time when things are decided for the next Seasons to come. With bureaucracy in Myanmar being rather painful and difficult to deal with (and more expensive than most other places in the world) it is somewhat questionable if Sea Nomad will be able to sail Myanmar waters again any time soon. Also because our 2 year Permit for Mergui will be expired by the beginning of the next Season.

We are already looking into Projects in the Philippines to Pursue ones Sea Nomad had her earned Rest back in Phuket and another little makeover befor heading past Sinagpore and on to the Philippines. Reef Restauration would be the big focus of this Project, trying to re establish reef structures where they used to be but became victims to climate change, dynamite fishing, diving industry or boating abuse. Reefs are under threat around the world, with only about 2% of Ocean floor being covered by them it is amazing they can still house up to one quarter of the (known) marine life!
And they do a lot for us - protecting us from big waves, add color to the environment, produce Oxygen, they are the nurseries for all the fish we like to eat and provide home for many species forther down the food chain.

All this is just too easily ignored when it comes to the convenience of not questioning fishing methods, that are in many cases destructive. And this is one of the key points where we all and society has to link in - raise the awareness so all of us acutally know what kind of practices we support by buying from a certain company or brand.
But much more on this in our "Simple Marine Biology" on Coral Reefs and Coral Bleach...

Threats for Coral Reefs

With Cruise ships ramming entire reefs these days (recently happened with a UK Cruiseship destroying one of the most pristine Coral Reefs in Indonesia) the question came up what the biggest threats to Coral Reefs are.
And of course there is unfortunately more than just one:
Ocean acidification, global warming, cruise ships, anchors, Dynamite fishing, bottom trawling, Nutrient input from land, loose sediment being washed in from shore and the list goes on and on.

With so many threats lined up it is a matter of time before reefs get on a declining path and as a matter of fact they have been on it for about 50 years. Ever since the industriel revolution kicked in, Reefs got knocked out. Due to malpractices at sea but also changing climates. One of the biggest issues in the early stages were bottom trawlers, simply wiping out entire reefs in one single pass.

Nowadays we are facing more "sophisticated" problems that are also manmade but more of an indirect impact.

With rising temperatures the Oceans can take up more Carbon Dioxyde and get more acidic, which in return stops coral from binding Calcium to build their skeletons. The same is true for many other marine creatures including shell building plankton.
Also with the rising temperatures of the water the Algae, that lifes in a symbiosis with the coral is leaving the coral - anything more than 30 Degrees centegrate becomes too much for them and the coral looses their biggest source of sugar. With the algae gone it only takes few more days to weeks before the coral itself starts to die off.

And of course there is more problems we cause for ourselves: With more and more nutrient input from humans - via big rivers, fertilizers from farmlands or even sewage, that was not properly taken care of in island resorts or (cruise)ships.
The extra Nutrients allow algae to grow, overrunning coral reefs around the world. Since coral has an incredibly slow growth rate they cannot compeed with algae of any kind and will simply be burried by fresh algae, loosing their source of light and therefore their livelihoods.

All those and much more in one of our "Simple Marine Biology" lessons right here on youtube.


Friday, June 17, 2016

What if...

... the world didn't need saving?

Coming back to Austria one of the always returning topics seems to be what is often called the "Refugee crisis". Now what if this was not a crisis? How can anybody blame people for running away from a war? Not running from bad economy but actually running for their life - because of a war in their home. Obviously I can't speak for everyone else, but I would certainly make a move if there was war around here.
And now keep thinking about the next years to come? Big draughts, floods, massive weather phenomenas occuring around the world in many places with different effects. All of them having one thing in common: They do become more frequent and more intense.

So what would that mean for us? Well, being in the center of Europe this doesn't affect us too much yet, sea level needs to rise more than 500 meters before we get wet feet, storms don't have the space to build up too bad and all together, we got tons of drinking water - in fact enough to flush it down the toilet, so why worry?
Guess there would be one good reason: If things go bad in one place, the people who life there will move on (only an assumption) - and where would they ultimately go? Yeah, right! They will move our way, it is the safest place you could possibly go to - at least for the decades to come. But again - what to do?

Many people around the world are working hard to save the planet, save the environment, save the oceans - and it is a great cause to work for... only, the world doesn't need saving. The planet will be fine, no matter what. It can sit back, wait a couple of million years and recover. mankind on the other hand can't. Ones the Oceans collapse as an eco system, plancton dies, we loose 70 Percent of our oxygen (produced by algae, that is floating around as plancton) and we wouldn't even realise, because we are busy hunting for the last few fish and sell them for a lot of money...
Ultimately we gotta start moving in a better direction, stop burning fossil fuels, stop catching every last fish in the oceans, cutting down rain forests, extincting species after species around the entire globe. But it is not for the planet - it is for our very own survival - and This is what it is going to be - and faster rather than slower... so lovely people around the planet, please move... and move now!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Wrap-up of 2015

One entire year is already over - MABR is finally starting through after extensive work on the boat. Now that our platform is back in expedition ready state we are eagerly awaiting our launch in one day!
Have a look at our one year Wrap Up video here:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Moken Explorer - Episode 3

We have been working hard again this last week and are still hitting new bumps every day almost. Now this coming week we have to head to Phuket again, hand in paperwork, have it signed off at the Consulate, head back to Myanmar, keep working on the boat and get a whole lot of hard work done - And we will deffinitely try our best to make it all happen!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Welcome to Thailand

As planned things are moving along and the team of Project Manaia is slowly dripping into Thailand - Ao Khoei specifically getting ready to start the season...

On the way to Thailand - only about 20 hours on the way
For me that meant arriving this last Monday 19th in Phuket, getting a pickup from Luca and heading on to Ao Khoei the next day. And now the preperation work in the actual location is getting real. Sorting out permits for SeaNomad, getting Peppino, the small workboat in place up and running again and of course having a closer look at Namaste, the boat that will be joining us on expeditions from next season on.

Our "House Beach" at the Station in Ao Khoei
While two out of the team of three are already in place we are still waiting for our Geographer Will comming in from the US in the middle of next week together with Marley our first volunteer to join us working on the Moken topic with us for about two months time. 
So on 26th we (Luca and Manuel) will be headed up to Ranong on one hand to pick up Will and Marley and also to have a closer look at SeaNomad, which is tied up just across the border in Myanmar. And the idea is taking her across and down to the base in Ao Khoei as well, together with all her crew on board, so we are looking at the first decent sail in the season coming up in less than a week from now.
And while this is still almost a week away for the moment, we take the time and explore the (for me new) area while sorting out paperwork for all the boats, make last minute arrangements and keep working on our outreach to media and volunteers to join our trips!
At this stage we still have available spots on our expeditions, so if you want to escape the southern hemisphere winter, here is your chance!
Now for the mood a few pictures and I will write again fairly soon...

Fishing villages in the Ao Khoei area

Cages for catching crabs

Local fishing boats in the Ao Khoei Area

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mergui Archipelago Biodiversity Research

Project Manaia recently teamed up with MABR to work together on getting this pristine island group along the border on Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand protected… here are the latest updates from the project!
We are happy to announce changes in our MABR Research Expeditions.
This year will feature a diversified but integrated approach to the
preservation and exploration of the Mergui Archipelago. With the help of
our new team, William Ruzek (Geographer), Manuel Marinelli (Marine
Biologist), and Marley Walker (Journalist), our Expeditions will increase
the study, appreciation and conservation of the Archipelago across the borders of Myanmar and Thailand. 

The MABR Expeditions will focus on these four 'M' themes: 
Mapping, Monitoring, Marine megafauna, Moken people 
While each expedition will have a primary theme and therefore itinerary, every cruise 
will incorporate all “4M's” throughout the cruise.

Mapping: Thanks to our sponsors and paying participants for the first time we shall be able to equip SeaNomad with more sophisticated electronics. A advanced sonar system will be installed to accurately map the ocean floor and coral reefs quickly and in high resolution. With only a few boat passes, accurate maps and 3D models can be created highlighting sea floor cover, reef structure and size and other interesting underwater features. This is to keep track of what we 
are doing and where we are. Any observations of any kind underwater and above will be recorded and pinpointed geographically, allowing precise maps and data collection

Monitoring: We will be able to not only monitor sightings of birds, marine life and marine megafauna, but also we will be collecting samples of plankton and micro- plastics. We will also be monitoring different parameters, chemical composition and water quality. By monitoring various aspects of the islands we can create a “full picture” of the current conditions. 
Thanks to a larger array of cameras we 
shall be able to document the activities, above and below water. This will help in identifying marine species and assist in the reef health assessments. We will also be able to release regular video-reports, documenting our work and progress. 

June 2015 

Marine megafauna: Apart from our monitoring during the expeditions, we will also survey island beaches for turtle nests, seagrass beds for dugong tracks and interview local fishermen about their daily catch. A particular emphasis will be placed on sharks throughout the islands. Sharks have been exploited for their fins, and also regularly consumed. We will conduct periodical surveys at fishing harbors and boats to understand the rate at which they are consumed and what 
species are being caught. Our underwater video surveys will also help to identify any sharks species while we sail throughout the islands.

Moken people: The last seafaring sea gypsies have been largely settled on the islands. Many have died from malaria and other diseases, while others have formed families with local fishermen. Their original boats are now rarely seen as many have been destroyed during the Tsunami, old shipbuilders have died, and the law now forbids the felling of large trees. We want to research the impact of modernization on their culture and lifestyle, but also to use modern means to better their lives, record their traditions, way of life, and give them a chance contribute to the protection of their habitat. We will be conducting 
various interviews with villages in the islands as well as “settled” villages within Thailand. Select families will receive solar panels and cameras to help assist in daily living and help to record the wildlife around them. 

With this approach we hope to better preserve, monitor and protect this unique region for future generations. Each expedition will increase our understanding, species lists, and survey database of these unique islands. Though without your help it is not possible. Please consider supporting us and together we can explore and preserve the Moken Archipelago. 
Feel free to contact with any questions or for more information to join us on an Expeditions! 
 MABR Indiegogo site