RSSArchive for May, 2010

Ko Lanta Wins 1st Place in Thailand – TripAdvisor 2010 Awards

Award Winning Ko Lanta Sunsets

KO LANTA HONORED AS A TOP DESTINATION IN TRIPADVISOR’S 2010 TRAVELERS’ CHOICE DESTINATION AWARDS

Ko Lanta, Thailand, was chosen as a Best Destination in 3 categories, Beach & Sun, Romance, and Relaxation & Spa by TripAdvisor® in the 2010 Travelers’ Choice® Destination Awards, with Kantiang Bay and Lanta Klong Nin Beach being given a special mention in the ‘Don’t Miss’ section of each award.

  • Beach & Sun: Ko Lanta – 1st Place in Thailand, 3rd Place in Asia
  • Romance: Ko Lanta – 1st Place in Thailand, 4th Place in Asia
  • Relaxation & Spa: Ko Lanta – 2nd Place in Thailand, 6th Place in Asia

The TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Destination awards and honours the world’s top destinations, earning their distinction from those who know them best – real travelers.

The Reef Today – Latest Photos

A collection of the latest underwater photos from Ko Lanta’s reefs. Stay up to date on what diving conditions are like right now. Photos are usually updated daily and are from today or yesterday’s dives.

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Please visit the Liquid Lense Flickr photostream to view more images from Liquid Lense.

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Coral Bleaching Occurring at Shallow Depths

Coral Bleaching at Ko Haa

Coral bleaching is occurring at shallow depths in dive sites throughout the Andaman Sea. According to the Bangkok Post, coral reefs off Phuket, Krabi and Phang-Nga, including popular scuba diving sites such as the Similan, Surin and Phi Phi islands, have been damaged by the phenomenon.

The bleaching could get worse if sea temperatures continue to rise, says Niphon Phongsuwan, a marine biologist at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC). The bleached corals may die if they cannot tolerate the stress, but if we’re lucky – and the monsoon winds come soon, those corals that are bleached already might survive and recover as was the case in 2003.

Temperatures in the Andaman Sea have stood as high as 31-32C for a long period this year and we are seeing temperatures as high as 33C in the shallow areas at Ko Haa, Hin Daeng & Hin Muang, Ko Rok and Ko Phi Phi.

Coral reefs in shallow waters at depths of up to 10m will take three to four years to recover. Coral at greater depths will take more time.

Coral bleaching is the whitening of corals, due to stress-induced expulsion or the death of zooxanthellae – symbiotic, algae-like micro-organisms. Under stress, corals may expel their zooxanthellae, which leads to a lighter or completely white appearance, hence the term ‘bleached’. Coral bleaching occurs when the conditions necessary to sustain the coral’s zooxanthellae cannot be maintained. If the coral colony survives the stress period, zooxanthellae often require weeks, or even months, to return to normal density.

You can report instances of coral bleaching to the NOAA Global Coral Reef Watch Project. Please follow this link to submit data: http://www.reefbase.org/contribute/bleachingreport.aspx

Other organisations that support coral bleaching monitoring include:

Nudey calendar raises money for charity projects

The male Divemasters and Instructors of Blue Planet Divers showed a lot of courage by posing naked for a nudey calendar to raise funds for two local charities, Children of the Forest and Lanta Animal Welfare.

Both Children of the Forest and Lanta Animal Welfare are close to the heart of Mellisa Bunyan, co-owner of Blue Planet Divers, who came up with the idea for the calendar. She decided that both should benefit equally once the project took on a life of its own.

She credits Lanta Animal Welfare with doing wonderful work in providing treatment for injured animals who would have to leave the island for medical attention otherwise, while Children of the Forest bring Burmese children to Ko Lanta on holidays every year.

“Lanta Animal Welfare have done an incredible amount of work to reduce the numbers of packs of stray dogs on the island. They have provided a place where injured animals can be taken to, instead of having to make a two hour trip to Krabi.”

Based on the Thai-Burmese border, Children of the Forest provide facilities, education and shelter for children at risk who have crossed into Thailand from Burma. Melissa explains the work of the project:

“If it wasn’t for Children of the Forest, these children would have no rights, no schooling and no-one to look after them, and this charity has a close bond with companies on Koh Lanta because they bring these children on holidays to the island every year. Many of these children have never even seen the ocean before they come to Ko Lanta and a lot of the businesses here on Lanta help them out with free accommodation during their stay on the island.

I think the reason why so many of our guys were willing to support this unusual project was because they were aware that all funds raised would go to these two very worth charities.”

Ko Lanta’s most unusual 2011 calendar is on sale in bars and restaurants throughout the island and over the internet from www.blueplanetdivers.net

Male Pin-Up Dive Calendar

Blue Planet Calendar

In the beginning of the year, Divemasters and Instructors of Blue Planet Divers on Ko Lanta came up with an unusual and novel way of raising funds for two local charities. The male members of staff at Blue Planet Divers agreed to get their kit off for the camera and pose naked for a calendar which is set to become a huge hit among visitors and residents of the laid-back island.

Thankfully, the modesty of the dive professionals featured in 12 distinct shots has been protected by the convenient placement of different pieces of scuba equipment such as air cylinders, fins, dive flags and surface marker buoys, so nobody should be offended as they flick through the 12 months of the year!

The calendar was the brain-child of Mellisa Bunyan, co-owner of Blue Planet Divers, who became serious about what had been an on-going joke when British third level photography student Rosie Waites visited Ko Lanta for two weeks earlier this year.

Rosie, whose parents Jane and Chris had just completed their Divemaster courses with Blue Planet, was hugely receptive to the idea of taking photos of the willing members of staff in order to help out Children of the Forest and Lanta Animal Welfare.

“We had talked about this idea before, but mainly in jest! I thought it would be more appropriate to get a professional photographer in to do a proper job. Rosie loved the idea. She had done nude photography before, but only with models. She loved the idea of working with non-professionals as she felt it would be more of a challenge, getting the best out of people who don’t do this kind of thing for a living!”

Mellisa had been inspired to come up with the idea after watching the film ‘Calendar Girls’ and was determined that the photos would not be seedy. Those who come across the calendar in the Blue Planet shop in Saladan, or in many of Ko Lanta’s bars, in the coming weeks will be impressed by the professionalism of the shots and the humour which shines through them.

“The idea was that every guy would be happy with his shot and we managed to get one for every month of the year. The photos were taken in private, in a closed set, which meant that there was privacy for the guys and some of them came up with their own ideas for the shots they wanted to be taken. We didn’t want to take the photos anywhere you could see anything naughty. We wanted the guys to look hot and the photos to look cheeky. We’re delighted with the finished product. We are lucky, because there are some very good looking guys working for Blue Planet!”

There were quite a few giggles around the Blue Planet shop over a few days in March as Rosie summonsed the dive professionals into her little studio, away from the prying eyes of their colleagues.

With dive suppliers Mares coming on board as a sponsor, every Baht raised from the sale of the calendars in Ko Lanta’s bars, restaurants, the Blue Planet shop and on the internet will go directly to two charities on the island.