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19, Mar, 2015

Scubafish is getting ready for the 11th annual Clownfish Release Day 2015 at Ko Haa and our staff and customers are excited to support this project.

On March 21st, 2015, a group of marine scientists along with the help of Scubafish dive teams and volunteers will release 200 Western Clownfish into the Ko Haa Lagoon.

The Western Clownfish is one of many species of clownfish to live in Ko Haa. There are approximately 28 different species of clownfish and 7 of them are found in Thailand. Clownfish are known for their symbiotic relationship with their anemone home. Larger fish and moray eels prey on clownfish but the stinging tentacles of the anemone ward them off. At the same time, clownfish dine on parasites in the anemone, keeping the anemone healthy. Both help each other survive.

Clownfish Release Project - Western clown-anemonefish - Amphiprion ocellaris

Clownfish Release Day 2015

The Clownfish Release Project is generously funded by the owner of Pimalai Resort and Spa, Khun Anurat Tiyaphorn. The actual research is lead by Dr. Thorn Thamrongnawasawat, Head of the Department of Marine Sciences at Kasetsart University and supported by the Thai Department of Fisheries.

The project has two important goals: From the research and scientific perspective, the Clownfish Release Project seeks to develop successful techniques for introducing nursery bred species into the ocean environment. The clownfish are bred in nurseries just prior to the release but before scientists can release the clownfish into a wild environment, they must first survey the site and choose areas they believe will be successful for the clownfish to survive.

Clownfish Release Video 2013

A few days before the release, a team of scientists with assistance from the Scubafish dive team will search the Ko Haa Lagoon for appropriate anemones. There are several species of anemone found at Ko Haa; however, only a few species are the right home for the Western Clownfish. Once the team has located a sufficient number of anemones, they will carefully place temporary protective cages around the anemones in preparation for the actual release. This is one of the developments the research team has made which they hope will increase the success of the release.

Clownfish Release Project 2012 - Protection Cage Sign

Over the years of the project, scientists have realised that the protective cages give the nursery bred clownfish a better chance of adapting to their new anemone home. In the early years of the project, scientists assumed that clownfish would quickly adapt to suitable anemones, which they need for protection against predators. Unfortunately, the clownfish’s instinct wasn’t as scientists believed and many ended up being a tasty snack for other fish. The protective mesh cage provides temporary protection against predators while the clownfish adapts to its new home.

Clownfish Release ProjectThe projects goals are also rooted in marine conservation, preservation and education. A major threat to marine species, especially the iconic “nemo,” is poaching for commercial sale. Unfortunately, as a result of the aquarium trade, poachers are eager to steal precious marine organisms from their environment for profit. While the film Finding Nemo shone a spotlight on the clownfish, it also increased the demand to have these fish as pets rather than promote the conservation of wild species. Khun Anurat Tiyaphorn’s daughter, sadly commented “Clownfish are not funny and neither is the fact that, all the clownfish in the Ko Haa area, were caught and sold to fish markets as cheaply as 10 Baht each!”

The Clownfish Release Project organizers are hoping for another successful release and are hoping to learn more about introducing nursery bred species into the wild. If you are interested in volunteering for the project as either a diver or snorkeller, please contact the Pimalai Dive Centre or Scubafish for more information. The Release is scheduled for Saturday March 21st and there are limited spaces available.

 


 

Please send us a message if you’re interested in joining this trip:

 

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