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“World’s Best Beach” is closing off access to its bleached coral reefs

PHOTO: Koh Kradan and it's offshore coral

Last week it was Koh Pling, off the coast of Nai Yang Beach in Phuket, along with 20 other diving spots. Now the scourge of coral bleaching is forcing marine national parks officials to spread the ‘no go’ diving bans even further.

Starting tomorrow, Hat Chao Mai National Park in Trang province will suspend all water-based activities, including snorkelling, near the coral reef off Koh Kradan due to an alarming increase in coral bleaching. Koh Kradan, last year being voted the Best Beach in the World, is in the southern Andaman Sea, off the coast of Trang.

The park’s administration announced the suspension as a “precautionary measure” to prevent further damage to the coral reefs. This halt in activities will remain in effect until the situation improves, which officials admit could be “years”, not months.

“Tourists will still have the opportunity to enjoy other activities in areas not affected by the suspension.”

Environmental expert and Marine Scientist, Thon Thamrongnawasawat, conducted a survey of coral bleaching off the southern coast of Koh Man in Rayong province (south of Pattaya). They discovered that over “80% of the coral in that area is experiencing bleaching”.

Thon explained that seawater temperatures have consistently risen above 30°C, and rainfall has only provided minimal relief.

“If the coral bleaching persists, it could severely impact the marine ecosystem and local fisheries, as corals serve as crucial habitats for a wide variety of marine species.”

Coral bleaching occurs when corals, stressed by changes such as increased water temperatures, expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues. This not only causes the corals to turn white but also diminishes their ability to sustain marine life, posing a significant threat to biodiversity and the health of ocean ecosystems.

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