Law & Licences

Thailand: Diving paradises may be closed

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The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources is seeking the closure of two diving paradises, the Similan and Surin national parks after the coral there was found suffering from bleaching.

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Thailand Travel Information by The Nation

The scope of the corals destroyed from the bleaching has been wide and unless proper measures are issued, more coral would be destroyed by the phenomenon, said department director general Kasemssan Jinnawaso on Monday.

“The damage found on the coral for now is vast, probably the worst in history and certainly more than when the tsunami hit this area in 2004. The species affected are the Staghorn, Ring, Double Star and Mountain coral,” Kasemsan said.

His department has already submitted a request to the National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation Department to close parts of Similan and Surin National Parks to prevent any further damage to the coral.

A cause of the coral bleaching is the rising temperature of the sea water, which has reached 30 Celsius since the middle of last year, he said, adding that waste and pollution from diving boats are also contributing to the phenomenon.

“Many divers are also contributing to the damage as they step on the coral,” he said.

Surveys of the sites between September and December 2010 showed that 93.6 per cent of the coral at Surin Nua Island had died from the bleaching while almost 100 per cent of the reef near Mae Yai Bay had died.

Referring to Phi Phi, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh islands, Kasemsan said the coral there was also damaged by bleaching in vast areas, probably about 90 per cent of the reef.

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