Melbourne 25 July 2007
Victorian Ranger joins Earthwatch team in Thailand
Parks Victoria Ranger and Rosebud resident, Victor Teoh, recently joined a field research expedition in Thailand’s Colourful Coral Reefs collecting data on the diverse ecosystems of Ranong Province in the Andaman Sea.
Parks Victoria has been associated with Earthwatch for more than 13 years and each year an employee is awarded a fellowship which funds a project they are involved in.
Victor won an Earthwatch Institute Fellowship to join a research team and assess the coral reefs surrounding the waters of the Koh Lak Island Group within the Laem Son National Park. The study investigated the effectiveness of marine protected areas and the impacts and recovery from the tsunami in December 2004.
Victor said he was involved in diving, snorkelling, and helping to gather valuable data on coral reefs in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea.
“The scientists and research staff from Earthwatch were fantastic, they taught us everything we needed to know and their knowledge was infectious. I learnt many new skills and left the project inspired and reinvigorated, personally and professionally,” he said.
Earthwatch teams have been conducting research on underwater ecosystems in this area for several years. The information gathered from the expedition will be used to develop the monitoring program required to complete future surveys in this area. The research also aims to increase local understanding of the value of coral reefs and influence eco-tourism management.
“Trying to comprehend the effects the tsunami had on people personally, socially and economically was difficult. There was so much construction going on. Entire villages had been relocated and rebuilt, fishing boats had been rebuilt”, he said.
Victor’s time in Thailand wasn’t all work, he also spent time fishing, swimming, buying produce at the market and talking to the locals. He said the ‘mandatory’ siesta was essential for the volunteers’ acclimatisation and cultural assimilation. The food was also exceptional with seafood, chicken, exotic spices, as well as mangos, papayas and pineapples on the menu.
The expedition was also relevant to Victor’s management role in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), where Parks Victoria is developing community monitoring protocols and methodology similar to those on the Earthwatch expedition.
“I am really looking forward to initiating some marine monitoring programs in the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park,” he said.