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Thailand Temporarily Closes Iconic Marine Parks to Combat Coral Bleaching Crisis

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Imagine the vibrant underwater world, a kaleidoscope of colors bursting before your eyes; an aquatic ballet where fish dart among coral castles. This vision, however, is facing a threat that has prompted a rather drastic, yet necessary, measure. In a bid to safeguard the breathtaking beauty of Thailand’s marine realms, authorities have taken a bold step. The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has hit the pause button on the underwater spectacle in several of the country’s marine national parks across five provinces.

Yes, you read that right. Some of the most iconic snorkelling and diving destinations — including the serene waters of Mu Ko Phetra National Park in Satun, the picturesque Hat Chao Mai National Park in Trang, the world-renowned Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park in Krabi, the pristine Sirinat National Park in Phuket and the lush Mu Ko Chang National Park in the eastern jewel of Trat — are temporarily off-limits. The reason? A concerning uptick in coral bleaching that needed immediate action. From April 2 until a specified Wednesday, these underwater treasures will remain untouched, a rest period for the reefs.

The statistics tell a stark story; coral bleaching isn’t just a sporadic issue but a widespread concern affecting 152 locales across 21 marine national parks. From the serene waters of the Gulf of Thailand to the vibrant seas of the Andaman, this is a challenge of considerable scale. The bleaching severity varies, with some places witnessing over half of their coral population in distress, while others report lesser impact. Regardless of the degree, each bleached coral is a sign that our oceans are asking for help.

Amid these revelations is a beacon of hope, lit by Assoc Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine environment aficionado from Kasetsart University. Through a Facebook missive, he offers a glimmer of optimism for the coral near Ko Losin, floating in the Gulf of Thailand. Despite half of the coral at this site suffering from the bleaching malaise, there’s a belief that its distance from the polluting shores could mean a story of recovery and resilience. A testament to nature’s indomitable spirit, perhaps.

In tandem with these closures aimed at coral conservation, there’s the annual hiatus brought on by the monsoon’s arrival. Six more marine parks — Mu Ko Similan, Mu Ko Surin, Laem Son, Mu Ko Lanta, Tarutao, and Hat Chao Mai — will take their regular seasonal bow, planning to greet visitors again with renewed vigor by the end of September or mid-October. As these natural wonders rest, heal, and rejuvenate, they remind us of the critical balance needed between enjoying nature’s marvels and preserving them for futures to witness.

So, as the gates to these underwater paradises temporarily close, let’s take this moment to reflect on our interaction with the natural world. It’s a time to recognize the fragile beauty beneath the waves and to contemplate actions that can help ensure its sparkle isn’t dimmed. The hope remains that, with care, those vibrant underwater realms will continue to thrill and inspire awe in all who have the privilege to behold them, for generations to come.


  1. OceanProtector98 May 25, 2024

    It’s a necessary step but what happens after they reopen? Unless there’s a permanent change in how we treat our oceans, this feels like a temporary fix to a permanent problem.

    • EcoWarrior21 May 25, 2024

      Agreed! Temporary closures are not enough. There needs to be stricter regulations on water pollution and global warming efforts.

      • RealistRick May 25, 2024

        While I agree with the sentiment, I think we also need to be practical about what can be realistically achieved in the short term. Protecting coral reefs requires global efforts and a complete restructuring of our international priorities.

    • OceanProtector98 May 25, 2024

      True, I didn’t think about the practical side of things. It’s just frustrating to see band-aid solutions. We definitely need global support and action.

  2. DiverDan May 25, 2024

    I dive in these parks all the time and the coral bleaching is heartbreaking. But closing them impacts tourism and local economies. It’s a tough call.

    • LocalLivelihood May 25, 2024

      Absolutely agree, Dan. As someone who relies on tourism, these closures hit hard. We’re in a catch-22 situation where we need to protect our natural resources but also sustain our livelihoods.

    • SustainableSue May 25, 2024

      Has anyone considered eco-tourism or sustainable tourism models as a solution? Educate tourists, limit visitors, and increase fees perhaps?

      • DiverDan May 25, 2024

        Eco-tourism sounds like a good compromise. It can actually add value to the experience, knowing you’re not harming the ecosystem. It might even attract a more responsible type of tourist.

  3. ClimateKid May 25, 2024

    Why don’t people see this as the HUGE warning signal it obviously is? Coral reefs are the canaries in the coalmine for our oceans.

    • SkepticalSteve May 25, 2024

      Canaries in the coalmine might be a bit dramatic, don’t you think? The earth has gone through changes before. We might just be seeing a natural cycle.

      • ScienceGeek May 25, 2024

        SkepticalSteve, this is not just a ‘natural cycle.’ The rate of change and the direct correlation with human activity is unprecedented. Corals are dying because of human-made pollution and global warming, not just natural fluctuations.

  4. PolicyPusher May 25, 2024

    What we need are stronger international laws on ocean protection. National efforts are great, but oceans do not respect borders. It’s a global issue that needs a global solution.

    • EcoWarrior21 May 25, 2024

      Absolutely! International cooperation is key. We must push our leaders for global treaties that enforce strict marine protection laws.

  5. Jennyfromtheblock May 25, 2024

    I’m planning a trip to Thailand next year. Hoping these beautiful places will be open and healthy for all of us to see. It’s important we all do our part to ensure they remain that way.

    • ResponsibleTraveller May 25, 2024

      Remember to follow all guidelines and support local conservation efforts when you visit. Every little bit helps in maintaining these gorgeous sites for future generations.

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