Famous Phang Nga dive site found devastated

national April 07, 2017 13:09

By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

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Richelieu Rock, a coral reef in Mu Koh Surin National Park that’s a world-famous location for scuba diving, has been destroyed, possibly by fishermen illegally using explosives. 



There was an outpouring of concern on social media on Friday (April 7) after a video taken underwater at the site was widely shared. It showed fish lying dead on the seafloor and shards of rocks and cracked coral. The reef, previously colourful and teeming with marine life, had been hailed as one of the best diving sites in the world.

Sakanan Plathong, a marine biologist at Prince of Songkla University, said a diving team from the Marine National Park Operation Centre examined the damage at Richelieu Rock on Friday. The video posted online had been shot by a diver at the scene two days earlier, he said.

“We have to conduct a proper survey before we can identify the cause of the damage,” Sakanan said, “but from what I’ve seen, it’s very likely the reef was damaged by blasting.

“The fish died as a result of an underwater explosion, but the coral should survive as long as it hasn’t taken a direct hit.”

While the site in Phang Nga appears to be in terrible shape right now, he said, there is still a chance that the coral will recover, since nature often “heals itself”.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, another prominent marine biologist, noted in a Facebook post that the use of explosives and other destructive techniques to fish violates both fisheries and national park laws. 

He urged officials at Mu Koh Surin Park to urgently investigate the possibility that explosives are being used for fishing in the area, saying it represents a grave threat to marine resources, the tourism industry and national security.

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