Effectiveness of artificial reefs as alternative dive sites to reduce diving pressure on natural coral reefs, a case study of Koh Tao, Thailand

Nichols, Robert Scott (2013) Effectiveness of artificial reefs as alternative dive sites to reduce diving pressure on natural coral reefs, a case study of Koh Tao, Thailand. Undergraduate dissertation, University of Cumbria.

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Coral reefs are currently in decline worldwide. Mass bleaching events, ocean acidification and more powerful storms are the main destructive factors globally however these are mainly infrequent events which healthy coral reefs may survive and recover from. Other more localised anthropogenic factors such as pollution, sediment run off from development on land and overfishing, put more frequent pressure which inhibits the ability of coral reefs to recover from for example periods of sustained high temperature or storms. Scuba diving is a popular and expanding coastal activity which used to be thought of as a non consumptive and sustainable use of the marine environment. However when areas are intensively dived it causes destruction of structural diversity and overall reef health due to diver contacts, sediment stir up smothering corals etc. which puts corals under constant pressure making them less likely to survive other destructive factors. Artificial reefs are one way to not only provide new habitat for corals and fish, but to provide alternative dive site sites to reduce diving pressure on nearby natural reef. This study looked at the effectiveness of artificial reefs around Koh Tao, Thailand, in this capacity of reducing dive pressure and the reasons why some sites were effective and some sites were not. It was found that around 21% of dives on Koh tao annually are on an AR and 45% of divers visiting Koh Tao will dive an AR. It was found that around 300,000 divers come to Koh Tao each year and with the length of stay of divers and number of divers annually it was likely that some of the more popular dive sites may be receiving 300,000 divers annually. This is far above the hypothetical carry capacity for heavily dived reefs elsewhere and suggests that AR’s alone cannot reduce dive pressure to acceptable levels on nearby natural reef sites. The reasons for the success of some AR’s and not others were found to be due to a combination of factors shown on fig 6. For example Interactivity, size of AR, distance from dive shops, marine life.

Item Type: Thesis/Dissertation (Undergraduate)
Departments: Institute of Science and Environment > Forestry and Conservation
Additional Information: Submitted to the Department of Forestry and Conservation in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of BSc Conservation Biology at the University of Cumbria, UK, submitted April 2013.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 20 May 2023 12:32
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 11:31
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/7106


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