Tourism has been growing steadily in the Andaman Sea region as it offers spectacular reefs and gorgeous vistas.
Unfortunately, sea temperatures in the region rose to 30 C for three months this past year. This rise cause massive coral bleaching with 60%-90% of the Andaman region's corals being lost. Coral bleaching is the loss of color from coral due to overly high temperatures driving out microscopic organisms that dwell in the coral, causing a whiting of the coral tissue and ulimately it can be fatal for the coral. Hence, the need for coral rehabilitation.
A couple of days ago, Thailand's Natural Resources and Environment Ministry asked the state's National Parks Department to close 18 dive spots in the region in order to allow for assesments and allow the coral to rejuvenate.
There is no definite answer to how long the reefs will be closed, but there have been speculations that it could be for up to a year.
Areas closed include: Similan and Surin islands, Chumphon marine park, Phuket, and Koh Phi Phi. This ban on diving will most likely be met with opposition from the tourism industry which relies heavily on the appeal of the reefs in the region.
What do you think of the closure of Thailand's reefs? Do you think it's worth it to rehabilitate the coral?
Thanks to Greg Knapp for the banner image of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand.