Saturday, July 19, 2008

Samui coral reefs heavily damaged

Samui coral reefs heavily damaged

An article by Baupan Annada, originally published by Samuiexpress 04.07.08, it ties in with the International Year of the Reef 2008 Campaign.

THE coral colonies surrounding Koh Samui are seriously damaged, an academic researcher has pointed out.

While Dr. Thorn Thamrongnavasawat, deputy dean of Faculty of Fisheries, Kasetsart University (or view Wikipedia's bit on the Uni), cited global warming as a major cause, he also blamed the influx of tourists for the past 10 years for the extensive damage inflicted on the island’s coral reefs.

Samui’s coral reefs constitute what is considered as the largest coral colony in Thailand, encompassing 65 square kilometers.

“The first time I went to explore the coral reefs around Samui, I found a great number of coral species, including the Porites lutea and Acropora spp, as well as a huge variety of fishes. Ten years after tourism was promoted and raceway ditching was started to allow boats to pick up tourists, the coral reefs and fishes have decreased,” Thorn said.

He recounted that last April he did an observation trip and that he found that raceway ditching had been undertaken in two additional areas and that he was shocked to find that the amount of coral reefs had decreased to only 20 percent of what it was before, and fishes inhabiting the coral colonies had been reduced to only around 20 species. “The rest were seaweeds,” he lamented.

The deputy dean said that from an overall perspective, damage to coral reef around Samui was caused by many factors. For example, he said, some coral reefs were covered by dregs, apparently from island wastes. He said that besides the effect of raceway ditching around the island, the effect from global warming has increased the frequency of storms, high temperature of land surface and coral bleaching, which destroyed parts of Samui’s coral colonies in 1998-99.

Thorn observed that nothing was being done by concerned agencies to rehabilitate Koh Samui’s coral colonies. “There is lack concern and care for the coral colonies surrounding Koh Samui. That is why the coral reefs around Samui lack sufficient recovery,” he said. Tourists who want to go snorkeling now go to Koh Taen, north of Samui, where coral reefs are relatively healthy.

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