'Completely Destroyed' Location for 'The Beach' Movie to Stay Closed to Tourists Indefinitely
Thailand's iconic Maya Bay, made popular by the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach, will be closed to tourists indefinitely, CNN Travel reported.
The beach had been closed temporarily since June 1 to restore the damage done by more than a million yearly visitors, but on Tuesday Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) announced the closure would continue "until natural resources return to normal."
The announcement came in the form of a letter signed by DNP director-general Thanya Nethithammakul.
"The ecosystem and the beach's physical structure have [not] yet returned to its full condition," the letter said, in Thai.
The beach, visited for its golden sands and clear blue water surrounded by the dramatic cliffs of Ko Phi Phi Leh island, shot to prominence following the release of the 2000 DiCaprio film. It drew as many as 5,000 visitors and 200 boats daily and generated 400 million baht (approximately $12.4 million) a year, The Guardian reported.
But the beach's popularity was less profitable for its coral reefs. It is estimated that pollution from litter, boats and sunscreen destroyed 80 percent of the coral around the bay.
Because Maya Bay has no hotels and forbids overnight stays, all of that damage is caused by day-trippers, often boating in from nearby Phuket, CNN reported.
"It's very difficult to remedy and rehabilitate because its beach was completely destroyed as well [as] the plants which cover it," national parks director Songtam Suksawang told The Guardian.
He further said the original four-month recovery timeline was "impossible," a belief that was shared by environmental groups when that timeline was first announced, since coral only grows by half a centimeter a year.
"More than 1,000 corals are being installed at Maya Bay. Trees are also being planted on land nearby. Experts realize that it is too fast to open Maya Bay at this stage," Worapoj Lomlim, chief of the park that includes Maya Bay, told The Thaiger.
The Maya Bay closure also extends to Lo Sama Bay in the same Hat Nopparat Thara – Moo Koh Phi Phi national park.
The pollution that accompanies tourism has been a growing problem for beaches in the region. Indonesia declared a "garbage emergency" this year after a video of a diver encountering plastic off the coast of Bali went viral. Meanwhile, the Philippines closed its famous Boracay Bay for six months in April, and President Rodrigo Duterte called the resort area a "cesspool," The Guardian reported.
Unlike Maya Bay, Boracay is on schedule to reopen in stages starting this month, CNN reported.
Plastic Shreds, Rubber Bands and Balloon Pieces Found in Thai Turtle https://t.co/66MdIJDbvM @YEARSofLIVING… https://t.co/kAbqzWX722— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1528736311.0
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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