Author: Liam Taylor
The controversial decision to close one of Thailand’s most famous tourist destinations from holidaymakers is showing almost immediate results as reef sharks have returned to the area for the first time since the ban was instigated.
Maya Bay was made famous by the 2002 Hollywood movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio and soon up to 5,000 tourists were descending on its shores every day. A study last year revealed about 80% of coral in the bay had been destroyed by boat anchors, litter, oil and other chemicals in the water.
Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation announced an initial visitor ban of four months beginning in June this year. This initial period yielded results but officials deemed it necessary to extend the restriction indefinitely last month.
A strong sign of the project’s initial success surfaced late last month when video of numerous blacktip reef sharks, an extremely important predator in the local ecosystem, swimming in the bay was made public.
Sharks are an excellent indicator of reef health but officials are being careful when it comes to making any big proclamations about ecosystem health in the area. Until the ecosystem “fully recovers to a normal situation” the DNP will continue to maintain a complete ban on tourists throughout the bay.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.