Together with the Thai Fishery Department, Pimalai held the 12th annual clownfish release on March 19th, 2016 at Koh Haa. This stunning archipelago is located just a few kilometers west of the resort. Tens of well-loved ‘Nemos’ were released into underwater cages which allow the fish to adapt themselves to their new environment. This also helps them to survive predation from other fish once they are free to fend for themselves.
As in previous years, a growing number of passionate volunteers took part in this enterprise that has now become a favorite talking point among both locals and visitors. A main objective of releasing these clownfish is to make people realize how human activities can interfere with the very survival of at-risk species such as the clownfish.
This year, in addition to clownfish, there was a release of some harlequin shrimp (also commonly known as ‘clown shrimp’) with the intention of reintroducing this rare species within the archipelago. Harlequin shrimp feed only on starfish, a commonly found species on this archipelago which makes this area a suitable habitat for them. For each starfish a pair of male and female harlequin shrimp were directly released onto them. Unlike other species their beautiful bodies have stunning coloration with the body being a pinkish white or white with large purple edged pink spots indicating that it may be toxic for natural predator to prey on. However, the real predators are humans whose activities have resulted in coral reef damage and decimation of the population of these shrimp, sometimes trading them for aquarium collections.
The annual project aims to trigger awareness with the local people in a hope that they will stop catching these fish for sale as “aquarium pets” and start to appreciate and respect the valuable, yet fragile,environment. It is hoped that eventually Koh Haa will be recognized as a fish sanctuary. The project has been run jointly by Pimalai Resort and Spa since 2005 together with the Five Star PADI Scubafish@Pimalai dive center. This year generous sponsorship was received from the well-known Thai Company B.GRIMM Group.