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Breathtaking Turn of Events! Thailand’s Turquoise Paradise Turns Eerily Green Overnight: A Sinister Sea Scare or A Natural Wonder?

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The beautiful and mesmerising island of Koh Lan, located off the coast of Pattaya Beach in Chon Buri, has recently been the focus of attention for an unfortunate maritime occurrence. The typically azure seawater around this much-visited island has turned an unsettling shade of green, causing quite an uproar among tourists and prompting an immediate response from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR).

The change in colour was first noticed over the weekend. After images of the strangely green seawater were posted to the “We Love Pattaya” Facebook page, an inspection of Ta Waen Beach on Koh Lan was quickly carried out by the DMCR. Swimming in these waters was discouraged by the authorities due to reduced visibility caused by the greenish hue.

Apichai Aekwanakul, the deputy director of the DMCR, pointed out that the chief cause behind this eye-catching transformation was Noctiluca scintillans. This is a non-toxic type of phytoplankton, which typically blooms annually in this part of the eastern seaboard.

The phenomenon has been linked to ongoing wastewater discharge into the sea around Koh Lan, believed to be the primary culprit. As Mr Apichai explained, the blooms of this phytoplankton tend to become more prominent during the rainy season. The rain tends to wash excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater into the sea, which leads to the phytoplankton blooming more abundantly, causing the sea to become green and emanate a foul smell.

The DMCR, together with other related agencies, are appointed to probe further into the matter, researching potential health risks and whether it is a necessity to issue warnings. This situation is not something to be taken lightly and their prompt attention to detail is commendable.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a renowned lecturer from Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Fisheries, urged environmental enthusiasts to closely follow the developments of this unique plankton bloom. The bloom along with the unexpected spawning of leatherback turtles in Phuket are noteworthy oceanic phenomena that shed light on changes in the marine environment brought about by a combination of natural fluctuations and human interventions.

According to Mr Thon, the surprise appearance of the plankton bloom during a period of impending El Nino impact is a cause for concern, as it defies regular weather patterns. Usually, a reduction in rainfall would slim the chances of a bloom, but this year the reverse has been seen, particularly along the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in the Gulf of Thailand’s upper region.

Regrettably, this irregularity seems to be happening more frequently due to global warming, as acknowledged by the United Nations. Mr Thon also pointed out that these occurrences might potentially impact tourism, especially during the peak season.

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