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Alarming Coral Bleaching Alert in Thailand’s Marine Parks: Urgent Conservation Measures Underway

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Imagine diving into the crystal-clear waters of Thailand’s famed Ang Thong Marine National Park in Surat Thani, where the underwater world is usually a kaleidoscope of vibrant corals and bustling marine life. However, something unusual has caught the eye of divers and marine scientists alike – a phenomenon causing concern among those who cherish the ocean’s splendor. The corals are undergoing widespread abnormalities, including coral pink spots, pink patches, and a troubling amount of bleaching. The Marine National Park Operations Center No.5 in Nakhon Si Thammarat is on high alert, meticulously examining these anomalies.

But the situation extends beyond Ang Thong. Over at the pristine Moo Koh Surin National Park in Phangnga, seven coral bleaching sites have emerged, painting a concerning picture of the health of these underwater ecosystems. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DMCR) has sounded the alarm, revealing that up to 70% of the coral fields around the illustrious Phi Phi Island near Krabi are also battling with bleaching woes. This revelation comes after a thorough investigation and seawater temperature measurements taken on May 12-13. Findings from Moo Koh Surin National Park show a bleaching impact ranging from 5–50%, with the area near Koh Torinla facing the gravest scenario. Here, half of the mushroom coral reefs, nestled between two to ten meters below the surface, have turned ghostly white due to complete bleaching.

But that’s not all. The investigation unearthed more concerning data, indicating that 30% of reefs at similar depths displayed pale colors, a symptom of stress and poor health. Bleaching was observed at 30% in Ao Tao and Ao Chong Kad, trickling down to 20% in Ao Trian, 10% in Ao Mae Yai, and a slight 5% in Ao Suthep and Ao Pakkard. With the rainy season setting in, the national park has hit the pause button, closing its underwater treasures to visitors until October 15, hoping to give its coral inhabitants a much-needed respite.

The narrative takes a similar tone around Phi Phi Island, where the beauty of its coral reefs is dimmed by the shadow of bleaching. Over half of the coral reef sites in this area are afflicted, prompting Yuthapong Damsrisuk, chief of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park, to implement temporary closures. Iconic snorkeling and scuba diving spots such as Kai Island, Khangkhao Bay, Rai Lay Bay, Daeng Island, and Yavasum Island are off-limits for now. But it’s not all gloom and doom – the park has creatively arranged new snorkeling areas for enthusiasts to explore, ensuring the underwater adventure continues while protecting its vulnerable coral gardens.

This situation underscores a delicate balance in our oceans and the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect these underwater wonders. As the parks work tirelessly to safeguard these habitats, it’s a poignant reminder of the fragility of nature and the collective responsibility we hold in preserving its beauty for generations to come. It’s a call to action for each of us, a plea from the depths of the ocean, urging us to tread lightly and respect the natural world in all its awe-inspiring complexity.


  1. OceanProtector May 21, 2024

    It’s heartbreaking to see coral reefs, the rainforests of the sea, suffering like this. Climate change isn’t a future problem; it’s happening now, and our oceans are bearing the brunt. We need to take immediate action to reduce our carbon footprint and protect these invaluable ecosystems.

    • SkepticGuy May 21, 2024

      While I agree that coral bleaching is a problem, blaming it all on climate change oversimplifies the issue. There are many factors, including pollution and destructive fishing practices, that contribute to the problem.

      • EcoWarrior May 21, 2024

        Yes, pollution and overfishing are significant issues, but they’re all interconnected with climate change. The rise in sea temperatures due to global warming is the primary cause of coral bleaching. It’s all part of the same environmental crisis.

    • MarineBiologist101 May 21, 2024

      A crucial point often missed in these discussions is the acidification of oceans, a direct result of increased CO2 levels. This, combined with higher temperatures, spells disaster for coral reefs. Without drastic measures, we stand to lose these ecosystems entirely.

  2. VacationLover May 21, 2024

    This is so sad! Snorkeling in Thailand was on my bucket list. I guess we tourists are part of the problem too, aren’t we? Over-tourism can really strain these delicate habitats.

    • Ethan May 21, 2024

      Indeed, tourism has its footprint, but it’s also a source of income for conservation efforts. It’s about finding balance. Responsible tourism, where visitors are conscious of their impact and contribute to preservation, could be part of the solution.

      • GreenTraveler May 21, 2024

        Absolutely! Choosing eco-friendly tours and educating ourselves on how to minimize our impact while visiting these places are steps in the right direction. Every little bit helps.

  3. DebateMaster May 21, 2024

    Is closing the parks really the best approach? While I understand the need to protect the reefs, I’m concerned about the economic impact on local communities relying on tourism.

    • LocalDiver May 21, 2024

      As someone from the region, I can tell you that while it does impact us economically in the short term, losing the reefs forever would be much worse. It’s about long-term survival over short-term gains.

      • PolicyWonk May 22, 2024

        LocalDiver hits the nail on the head. It’s crucial to implement sustainable tourism policies that protect these resources while still providing for the local economy. There are models out there that work; we just need to adopt them.

    • EcoLogic May 22, 2024

      What about the role of governments and international organizations in all this? Local actions help, but global challenges like climate change and ocean acidification need coordinated, global responses.

  4. ScienceBuff May 21, 2024

    It might seem dire, but innovations in coral restoration and breeding heat-resistant corals offer some hope. It’s a race against time, but I believe human ingenuity can help solve the problems we’ve created.

    • RealistRenee May 22, 2024

      Optimism is necessary, but so is realism. These solutions can be part of a larger strategy, but without tackling the root causes like climate change and pollution, it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.

      • TechInnovator May 22, 2024

        True, but don’t discount innovation too quickly. From developing bio-rock structures to experimenting with coral symbionts, technology could play a pivotal role in not just saving the reefs but possibly making them more resilient than before.

  5. BeachBummer May 22, 2024

    I’ve visited Phi Phi Islands before and after the bleaching events. The difference is night and day. It’s a grim reminder that we’re all connected to these ecosystems, whether we realize it or not.

  6. JohnnyScience May 22, 2024

    For those saying it’s too late, it’s never too late. New protected areas, stronger regulations on pollution, and concerted global effort on climate change can turn the tide. It’s all about the will to make it happen.

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