Oceanographers, Victoria Coles and Raleigh Hood are working in Thailand at the Phuket Marine Biological Center for six months, collaborating with Thai colleagues to better understand carbon dioxide variability in the Indian Ocean and to analyze a collection of observations made as part of the US GoShip program in the western Indian Ocean. Their visit is hosted by Director Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, Thai advisory member for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission WestPac sub-commission Somkiat Khokiattiwong, and Chalermrat Sangmanee, who leads the water quality, ocean acidification, and ocean forecast programs in Phuket.
Despite widely different climate from the Chesapeake Bay, the Phuket and Andaman Sea ecosystems experience very similar climate and human stressors as Chesapeake Bay. Nutrient pollution, micro-plastics, and chemical exposures caused by high population density stress the coral reef ecosystems of Thailand just as these stressors affect bottom dwelling organisms like oysters in Chesapeake Bay. Acidic waters from upwelling caused by tidally generated internal waves in the Andaman Sea can also stress bottom dwelling organisms in the same manner that west coast oyster aquaculture is affected by acidic water.
This journey is also a family affair. One of their sons, Jasper Hood, is taking a gap year between high school and college and will be volunteering at the Phuket Aquarium and Rescue Center associated with the research laboratory and also helping with development of low-cost instruments to study shallow water flow and larval dispersal, both important to ecosystems in Chesapeake Bay and coastal Thailand.