Koh Tao's Reefs, A story through time.

By Rahul Mehrotra

Corals, and the reefs they create, are slow to grow and slow to develop relative to many other animals and habitats some of us may be accustomed to in our lives. They do share much in common, however, with the numerous high-diversity ecosystems that we know and love, both on land and in the sea. Like the savannah, they can host vast hordes of animals that graze and migrate; like rainforests, can host an astounding array of critters large and small; and like mangroves, they are adapted to dynamic coastal, often intertidal, conditions while acting as nurseries for an incredible diversity of marine and coastal life. These ecosystems also share a great many threats that have come to define much of our understanding of wildlife today. Chief among these is the scientifically proven, evidence backed, you-cant-just-pretend-it-doesn’t-exist fact of a drastically changing global climate, and the impacts it has on our incredibly diverse world.

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The year of the Blue Ringed Octopus

What has nine brains and some of the most potent venom in the world? The incredible Blue Ringed Octopus.

A favourite dive of many of our students, interns and instructors is when we head of into the unexplored soft-sediment areas around our island in search of new and exciting marine life. Whilst most divers are spending their time exploring the reef, we head off into deeper waters on the hunt for some of Koh Tao’s most elusive and unique marine life.

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Citizen science and its role in marine species ID on Koh Tao


Citizen science has been playing an ever-increasing role in data collection and ecological research worldwide. With advances in technology and communication these non-scientists have been able to provide invaluable information. It is something we have been doing here on Koh Tao since 2015 when we started our Sea Turtle ID program. The program has proven to be incredibly successful and has resulted in over 70 turtles around the island being identified, recorded, and named.

After the success of the Koh Tao Turtle Project, we decided to set up Koh Tao Whale Sharks - to collect photos that are used to identify whale sharks visiting Koh Tao and submit them to Whaleshark.org to be part of a global ID program. This project enables anyone who sees a whale shark to submit photos of their sighting, along with additional information about these amazing creatures.

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Coral Disease on Koh Tao

Diseases amongst corals are becoming more prevalent since records first begun in the mid to late 20th century. This is due to a multitude of reasons, but most significantly are the increased frequency and intensity of coral bleaching events, and pollution. These both are stressors to coral colonies and leave them susceptible to disease. Since 2010, we have been tirelessly keeping up with recording data of coral disease around our little island of Koh Tao, and this last year we intensified those efforts. We collect this data so we can better understand the etiology of coral diseases and to keep track of outbreaks, and hopefully be able to one day mitigate the problems they bring.

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    Koh Tao, Surat Thani
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New Heaven Reef Conservation Program