Quantcast

10 Popular Dive Sites Closed in Thailand Due to Coral Bleaching Crisis

Climate

Some of Thailand's most prized dive sites have been closed indefinitely after the Department of National Parks' survey found coral bleaching on 80 percent of some of the reefs.

This is a bold move for a country where tourism accounts for 10 percent of its economy—and where officials were hoping to attract 32 million tourists this year, The Guardian reported. But then again, it sends the message Thailand officials want: Ignorant tourism is killing the reefs.

A turtle swimming over bleached coral in February at Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef. Photo credit: The University of Queensland

“The coral reefs are affected by unaware tourists–when they go diving they may touch or step on the reef. Closing those spots will help the reefs recover naturally," Reungsak Theekasuk, national park officer director, told AFP.

The closed diving sites are off beaches from Rayong province in the east to Satun in the south. These closings come after Thai officials closed Koh Tachai, a popular island in the Andaman Sea, earlier this month. The island is closed indefinitely.

"This is such a small island, I would say it could accommodate just a few hundred tourists a day," Tunya Nethithammakul, director general of the Department of National Parks, told CNN. "But it turned out that at certain points there were almost 2,000 tourists visiting the island (daily)."

The closings are shunned by the tourism industry, but officials say it is a necessary step in protecting the country's ecosystem.

“The problem is that we have damaged our marine resources for a long time," Thon Thamrongnawasawat, deputy dean of fisheries at Kasetsart University in Bangkok and a leading advocate of marine conservation, told the New York Times. “If we want it to recover, we must use strong medicine. I am not proposing to close all islands. But we have to start thinking about the plan to tackle the increasing number of tourists."

Photo credit: The University of Queensland

While the popular diving sites and island are closed, officials will inspect them to determine if tourists will be allowed back by peak tourism season, which begins in November.

“Where we see there is still a crisis, we will have to keep the area and reefs preserved," Reungsak told The Guardian.

Coral bleaching is primarily caused by warming waters. When corals come under environmental stress, they shed the algae that gives them their color. The coral then become white, or bleached. If the stress continues, the coral will eventually die, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This phenomenon has been a major problem for the world's reefs for the last decade. The U.S. lost half of its coral reefs in the Caribbean in 2005 due to a bleaching event, according to NOAA. Earlier this year, the Great Barrier Reef suffered its worst coral bleaching event in history.

It is possible, though, for reefs to bounce back after bleaching events with the proper management.

Even if you don't live right by the ocean, your decisions can affect coral reefs as well, find out what you can do to help prevent coral bleaching.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Scientists Confirm: 93% of Great Barrier Reef Now Bleached

Great Barrier Reef Could Be Dead in 20 Years

Massive Coral Reef Discovered at Mouth of Amazon, But It's Already Threatened by Oil Drilling

10 Eco-Destinations in North America to Add to Your Bucket List

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivering remarks to supporters at a Liberal Climate Action Rally in Toronto, Ontario on March 4. Arindam Shivaani / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that his government would once again approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the amount of oil transported from Alberta's tar sands to the coast of British Columbia (BC).

Read More Show Less
An exhausted polar bear wanders the streets of Norilsk, a Siberian city hundreds of miles from its natural habitat. IRINA YARINSKAYA / AFP / Getty Images

An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less