Who? Christoph Hoppe, third year Coastal and Marine Management student at VHL in Leeuwarden
What? Research into coral spawning
Where? Koh Tao Island in Thailand
Why? Assisted in coral research, with daily diving thrown in
I first had to undergo an intensive diving course and was given lessons about the underwater world. These were necessary so that I would know how to carry out coral research work in a safe and accurate way. I liked the diving part tremendously. I didn't have any diving experience before, but I can say that I have caught up nicely in the meantime. Diving opened up a new world for me. I had such an unforgettable time. I encountered enormous schools of fishes in all shapes and colours, and came face to face with a shark!
I assisted in a coral spawning project, in which research was carried out into artificial propagation of corals. The work was intensive and difficult. For example, you had to be ready in a jiffy to collect suitable samples when it appeared that the corals were propagating. One of the problems was the El Niño current which makes the sea water too warm for corals. Due to this, the results were unreliable, unfortunately.
I also helped in the 'Save Koh Tao' festival on the island, during which its indigenous folks and tourists there for the diving were informed about the decline in the quality of the sea water. My internship has been a fantastic learning experience, something I often keep thinking back to, especially when I sense how hectic things are here in the Netherlands. I would then close my eyes and picture myself again in my hammock, soaking in the peace on the island.'