The Phuket Wan Tourism News reports that the destruction of a coral reef to develop a sea walking venture has gone on unabated, despite the local police being informed of the destruction. Marine biologists with the Phuket Marine Biological Centre presented eye witnesses as well as photographic evidence that a reef off Khai Nai is being destroyed by “sea gypsies” that were contracted by a sea walking company that wants the area cleared of coral. The local police said that there is nothing that can be done unless the police see the destruction themselves.
Dr. Nalinee Thongtham, a marine biologist said to date, more than 300 square meters of coral reef has been destroyed and is missing. She also said that many species of fish, lobster and shellfish that are native to the reef have appeared in a fresh food market on Phuket. “Alarm bells are ringing. “Phuket’s reason for attracting tourists is disappearing before our eyes,” Thongtham told the paper. Phuket in the last several decades has become a prime tourist destination, with diving a huge source of income for the province. The 2004 tsunami destroyed many of the province’s resorts with most, if not all already rebuilt.
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Sea walking is the practice of walking underwater with weighted belts and an oxygen helmet. It is becoming increasingly common in tourist areas where coral reefs are present. The problem with this practice is that the areas to be walked need to be of a fairly flat surface, and most of the areas in which these ventures occur are in areas with high reef biodiversity. Companies come in and remove coral reefs in order to make space for the so called “sea walkers,” which in turn destroys the biodiversity that the sea walkers are supposed to see. Check the video of sea walkers in Thailand. Notice the lack of reef structure anywhere in the video. Also keep note of what these tourists are feeding these reef fish. Bread!