Location: Tioman, Malaysia
Day 68 was another beautiful day here on Argo. We woke to the view of Tioman, Which can only be described as on of those views where when you see it, you simply can’t help but stop and realize where you are and sigh in complete bliss. After breakfast, we picked up anchor in paradise and moved a short distance away to a small island. Along the way we picked up two divemasters from B&J Dive shop in Tioman who were going to lead us on a mission. This mission was scientific in nature, the objective: help protect a coal reef. The game plan: eliminate every crown of thorns that crossed our path. Wait, eliminating wildlife helps coral reefs? That doesn’t make much sense. Oh but it makes perfect sense when you understand what crown of thorns are capable of in large groups. Naturally, these starfish exist in small numbers and are helpful for keeping staghorn coral populations in check (staghorn coral grows like a weed, in coral terms anyway). However, when an outbreak occurs, such as the ones that Tioman is currently dealing with, the crown of thorns ran rampant (at a very slow pace) and eat all of the living coral, which means the entire ecosystem in that area dies off. Bye, bye Nemo 🙁 No need to worry though, there are a groups of people dedicated to controlling these outbreaks and protecting coral ecosystems from unnecessary destruction. We were a part of such a mission today. So we all suited up in our dive gear and headed out to the dive site. We were armed with our crown of thorns knowledge and long, pointy injection guns. Each crown of thorns had to be injected five times with the poison before it was considered eliminated. The hunt for these creatures included a search team that was armed with tank bangers (metal objects which were banged on tanks to get the attention of someone with a injection gun), and those who were in charge of the injection guns. The Crown of Thorns Massacre (as our captain, Kris called it) was successful, and with 16 fewer crown of thorns wreaking havoc on coral everywhere our leg of the mission was complete.