A large mass of live and rare coral was seized recently from an empty boat anchored off Phuket.
The live coral – Catalapsyllia Jerdiney, Cynarina Lacrymaris and a species not yet verified – was taken to a marine conservation centre on the island province, while police try to find out who extracted them illegally from the seabed, near the site where the boat was anchored.
Some 621 branches of coral, likely to have come from a depth at least 20 metres, was found in the boat near Racha Noi Island.
Marine centre director Thanes Mannoi said he had learnt that an order for the coral was placed by a collector, who wished to keep the beautiful reef pieces for himself.
People found with protected species can face up to four years in jail and/or a fine of up to Bt40,000.