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Over 80% of the coral at 14 popular diving sites have been damaged, resulting in a lengthy closure 


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Endangered coral reefs cause dive site closures

A coral reef at Koh Aeo in Phuket, has been turning white as a result of coral bleaching, the Phuket Marine Biological Centre says.

Last April and May, divers in the Andaman Sea from Phangna to Satun reported abnormally high water temperatures and massive coral bleaching, the worst in 20 years.

There were hopes that cooler temperatures accompanying the arrival of the monsoon would allow the coral to recuperate.

That hasn’t happened. The situation has become so bad that the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department announced yesterday that it was closing eighteen popular diving sites for up to 14 months.

Over 80% of the coral at each diving site had been damaged, department chief Sunan Arunnoparat said yesterday.

Bleaching, or a whitening of coral as it loses its natural pigment, is caused by a rise in sea temperatures which has been linked to global warming. Scientists says warm temperatures force the algae living in the coral and giving it its colour, to detach from the corals' shell.

Mr Sunan said he could not say how long the dive sites would be closed but diving activities probably would be banned until the end of the monsoon season in October.

The problem is that even when the situation improves it takes a long time for damaged coral reefs to recover.

Niphon Phongsuwan, a marine biologist at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre says coral reefs in shallow waters at depths up to 10m will take three to four years to recover. Coral in deeper seas will take more time to recuperate.

If the bleaching is extreme, the reefs may die altogether. That would be a disaster for Thailand’s lucrative diving industry.
 
Adapted from stories by Apinya Wipatayotin and Chadamas Chinmaneevong

endangered – at risk or in danger of being harmed, damaged or destroyed เป็นอันตราย
coral reef – an area of coral, the top of which can sometimes be seen just above the sea แนวปะการัง
site – a place where something happens or is สถานที่
abnormal – not usual or typical ผิดปกติ ไม่ธรรมดา
temperature – a measurement of how hot or how cold a place or object is อุณหภูมิ
massive - very large in size, amount or numberใหญ่โต
bleach – to become white or pale by a chemical process or by the effect of light from the sun; to make something white or pale in this way ฟอก, ฟอกสี, ฟอกขาว
accompany – to happen or appear with something else  มากับ, ร่วมกับ
monsoon – the season of heavy rain during the summer in hot Asian countries มรสุม
recuperate – to get better after being ill or injured ฟื้น
situation – all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place  สถานการณ์
wildlife – animals, birds, insects, etc. that are wild and live in a natural environment สัตว์ป่า
conservation – the protection of plants and animals, natural areas, and interesting and important structures and buildings, especially from the damaging effects of human activity การอนุรักษ์ธรรมชาติ, การป้องกันความสูญเสีย, การสงวนไว้
popular – a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ
pigment – a substance that exists naturally in people, animals and plants and gives their skin, leaves, etc. a particular colour; a coloured powder that is mixed with a liquid to produce paint, etc  เม็ดสี, สีย้อม
link – to connect เชื่อม
algae – very simple plants, such as seaweed, that have no real leaves, stems or roots, and that grow in or near water สาหร่าย    
detach – to remove from something ถอดออก, แยกออก
ban – to officially say that someone is not allowed to do something   ห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
recover – to become healthy and fit again after an illness or injury การฟื้นไข้
marine – relating to the sea and creatures that live in it เกี่ยวกับทะเล
shallow – not deep ตื้น
depth – the distance down either from the top of something to the bottom, or to a distance below the top surface of something ความลึก
extreme – much more severe or serious than usual  ที่รุนแรงที่สุด
disaster – an extremely bad situation ความโชคร้าย
lucrative – earning a lot of money ที่มีกำไรงาม

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