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Coral freedom and reef watch:Phi Phi resort gives five star divers chance to make a difference to Andaman coral survival

PHI PHI, THAILAND - Zeavola, Koh Phi Phi’s leading Five Star PADI dive resort, is offering divers the opportunity to combine a luxury diving holiday with assisting in the fight against coral bleaching and other damage to the Andaman's threatened coral reefs.

Zeavola, soon to be accredited as a Green Fin resort by the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, has launched a new reef watch and regeneration initiative Project 'Coral Freedom'.

At the same time, the resort is pursuing its goal to become the Andaman's unquestioned home of 'Five Star Diving', combining luxurious accommodations with thrilling diving adventures that also offer an opportunity to 'give back' and get involved for guests.

Zeavola General Manager Florian Hallermann said the resort's mission to help save the region's coral had been given fresh urgency following a seminar his team attended with the Phuket Marine Biological Centre. The seminar offered a bleak picture of the Andaman Sea's coral health, Mr Hallerman added, detailing the disastrous effects of a widespread phenomenon in 2010 known as coral bleaching.

Coral bleaching occurs when photosynthetic microorganisms which live within the coral die, taking with them the amazing colours a healthy reef displays. Widespread bleaching events are thought to be due to rises in surface water temperatures, but bleaching can also be caused by changes in water chemistry, bacterial infections, changes in salinity, cyanide fishing, or reduced water temperatures.

“Depending on water currents, depth and species of corals, up to 95 percent of coral reefs died during the 2010 bleaching,” he said. “Other areas were only five percent affected. In the last two years there was a medium to strong recovery in most of the areas. Being in the water myself quite a lot I can see some encouraging signs of recovery.

“But we must now focus our efforts on the activities that will really make a difference. This means beginning an effective and meaningful reef watch initiative, which we can spearhead but will depend on widespread goodwill and cooperation.

“The longtail boat captains on Phi Phi will be educated and urged to use buoys rather than destructive anchors, and we will help them improve their language skills to better communicate to guests just how fragile the reefs are.

“We will also provide in-room information about the threatened wonders that are our coral reefs, and there will be coral 'do's and don'ts' communicated on excursion and dive boats.”

Mr Hallerman said guests would also have the chance to attend the seminar and would be offered a guided 'Coral Freedom' dive. Other measures would include daily beach cleanings at lunch spots of dive operators, local primary school and community education, and the resurrection of the Phi Phi Don Coral Nursery and Coral Restoration Project in cooperation with the Phi Phi Village Dive School.

Mr Hallerman said the diving industry had taken its share of flack for contributing to damage to coral reefs over the years. Now, the Coral Freedom project offered the perfect chance for divers to bring their 'coral karma' back into balance by volunteering to help with reef replanting and regeneration while diving some of Asia's most spectacular spots.

“We are strongly committed to living and working together with nature in a sustainable manner to protect the biodiversity of our local marine ecosystems,'' he said. “Thailand has some of the most fascinating diving environments in the world, with Koh Phi Phi being among the most revered and it is essential that these captivating works of nature are preserved.”

Guests at Zeavola can volunteer to receive tutoring on various methods to reconstruct and replant coral structures as well as cultivating new reefs before implementing the techniques during a dive trip. Another integral aspect of the Project is regular snorkel excursions to remove fishing gear and plastic debris from the reefs to prevent the coral from suffocating.

Zeavola’s commitment to its many community and wildlife conservation projects is reflected in the eco-resort’s unconventional and relaxed approach to island hospitality, which Mr Hallermann calls 'true barefoot luxury'.

The dedication to sustainability and environmental responsibility can be seen throughout Zeavola with features such as a water reserve system which includes four deep wells and a reverse osmosis plant to completely minimise unnecessary water consumption at the resort.

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For further information and high-resolution photography, please contact:

Mr Florian Hallermann
(General Manager)
Zeavola Resort
E-mail: gm@zeavola.com
Tel: +66 (0) 87 894 3190
www.zeavola.com

Mr David Johnson
(Managing Director)
Delivering Asia Communications
E-mail: dj@deliveringasia.com
Tel: +66 (0) 84 121 4930
www.deliveringcommunications.com

Note to Editors:

Zeavola is Koh Phi Phi's leading and most loved luxury diving eco-resort. Located at Laem Ton on Koh Phi Phi Don's stunning and pristine northern tip and less than an hour by luxury speedboat from Phuket, Zeavola offers guests a step back into simplicity, a journey of unforgettable discovery and deeply engaging luxury diving experiences. Zeavola's Dive Centre is a certified Green Fin Resort by the Phuket Marine Biological Center as well as a PADI Green Leaf dive centre and PADI Five Star Diving resort

Zeavola is strongly committed to live and work together with nature in a sustainable manner to protect the biodiversity of our island while always looking for new and unique ways to connect our guests to Phi Phi on a deep level while offering luxury as natural as it is authentic.