17/18 Moo 1, Koh Tao Suratthani, 84360 Thailand         Info @ Big Blue Conservation        +66 (0) 077 456 179

Big Blue Conservation - Monitoring

The world's most biologically diverse marine system, coral reefs, are home to a quarter of all ocean dwelling fish. Coral reefs also feed, protect and inspire hundreds of millions of people around the world. Sadly Coral reefs are in trouble, with over 15% of reefs lost in the last decade and a further 30% in danger due to poorly planned human activities such as overfishing, global warming, pollution and unsustainable tourism. The non-profit Reef Check Foundation offer the Reef Check EcoDiver programme to provide education to divers to help monitor and protect these valuable ecosystems.

Green Fins mission is to protect and conserve coral reefs by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving tourism industry. Big Blue is a Green Fins Eco Operstor and adheres to their guidelines in both the resort and on the boats.

Despite being our gentlest giant and most treasured big fish on Koh Tao, the whale shark is classed as 'vulnerable to extinction' and although protected in Thai waters, they are still commonly hunted and killed for their fins and meat in several of the countries surrounding Thailand. It is therefore important that we learn as much about this species now so that we can work to protect it in the future. Did you know that a whale shark can be identified by their unique spot patterning? Much like a human fingerprint, a photograph taken of the specific spot patterning behind the gills above the fin can be used to identify and subsequently monitor these behemoths of the deep. Using NASA hubble technology to map the stars, the unique pattern-matching identification was confirmed by Brad Norman, founder of ECOCEAN, the global whale shark conservation organisation. Through contribution from scientists and the public, their non-invasive international monitoring project has answered many of our questions about the mysterious big beauty. So if you are ever lucky enough to encounter a whale shark, you can submit your photographs into ECOCEAN's online database (www.whaleshark.org) and personally contribute to their preservation. After all, how can we ever have enough whale sharks visiting Koh Tao?
Any member of the public can photo-tag whale sharks using the ECOCEAN photo-identification library, and with the help of dive operators and ecotourists more than 3200 whale sharks have been logged and identified worldwide. Better still, if a shark you have uploaded is re-sighted, you will get an email letting you know. That's got to be the biggest pen-pal ever!
Steps for photographing a whale shark:

  • When you see a whale shark, stay 3 meters away from its body, 5 meters away from its tail.
  • Position yourself perpendicular to just behind its left or right hand side fin
  • If the shark has any noticeable scars, take photos of that too!!
  • Submit you photos here or at www.whaleshark.org and you will receive an email back about the history or the whale shark you saw, or even if you have been the first to sight it!

As well as involving individuals, Save Koh Tao works with local schools, non -profits, and government bodies to create strategic alliances which will work to the benefit of all groups involved. The capitol used for the projects comes mostly from fundraising activities and donations, but p art of the budget is also derived from government groups. In the future, we hope to further subsidize our projects through grants and alliances with international volunteer organizations.

Developed by the University of Queensland, Australia, Coral Watch is a coral health monitoring protocol used to evaluate coral bleaching. Using the standardised CoralWatch colour chart, we can monitor the change in colour intensity of the corals, which has a direct relationship to its health.
And here's the best part, you can contribute to CoralWatch monitoring as part of any fun dive!! All our dive professionals are trained in CoralWatch, so just ask when booking your dive in the shop to do some at the end of your dive.


E-Shark compiles observations made by ocean explorers (divers, snorkelers, fishers, boaters, beach walkers and stand up paddleboarders) to track trends in shark and ray populations. To date, over 1.8 million records have been submitted from around the world. The scientific papers produced using these data are often used to direct conservation, management and policy initiatives.