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Conserving Underwater Treasures

   
Koh Samui, Thailand

Under the gentle sway of the ocean, Koh Samui’s geographical location offers an abundant and vivid marine ecology. Besides fish, shrimps and shellfish, this cradle of life is also home to extensive marine rainforests or coral reefs, as they are better known. The biodiversity of reefs built of different shapes, colours and varieties of coral that live in groups provides a haven for many forms of marine life that Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui cares for and protects through a dedicated Coral Conservation Project.

Launched in 2017, the program is designed to educate guests and garner support for the regeneration of coral in the reefs that skirt the Resort. “By recognizing the threat to the coral reefs around Koh Samui that come from natural and human activities, we are taking charge of sustaining the reefs for generations to come,” asserts in-house Marine Biologist Tipwimon Rattanawongwan.

One of the opportunities, as identified by Tipwimon, “is to introduce sustainable practices that support the local fishers while also protecting coral and marine life. The project now works closely with local communities to bring the focus on marine conservation into locals’ daily routine, since the reefs are susceptible to human interaction.” 

Besides the collaboration with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) and the community, the Resort also offers an educational experience for guests. Under Tipwimon’s guidance, snorkeling tours and conservation introduction sessions aim to raise awareness of how to preserve these underwater treasures while enjoying their beauty. “Guests at the Resort learn about the varied species of corals such as staghorn, mushroom, galaxy, leaf, hump and sea fan, and a variety of creatures that thrive in the Gulf of Thailand and within swimming distance from the Resort,” she adds. 

Since the conservation project was launched, teams have planted more than 20,000 fragments of coral into the reef and have observed significant progress in coral growth. By rehabilitating corals with the Lazarus Method that has been adapted by the DMCR, the survival rate of replanted reefs is now more than 70 percent. “I am happy to share that the re-planted coral have doubled in size and there is new life, including juvenile fish and baby crabs seen in the reef,” Tipwimon smiles.

In addition to daily beach cleaning, the Resort has recently teamed up with Ban Tai Blue Crab Bank, a coastal community in Koh Samui, that cares for stranded crabs. Together with the Bank, the Resort rehabilitates and releases blue crab zoaeas from the beach every week to help them find a haven within the Resort’s reef.

“We look forward to supporting this rich biodiversity. But there is a lot more work to be done,” admits Sean Mosher, General Manager. “Ecological restoration is a long and arduous process and we are proud to be at the forefront of these efforts on the island of Koh Samui – supporting not just the reefs’ health but continuing a dialogue with the local community to ensure that we work together, towards one goal.”