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Phi Phi's Maya Bay: Overcrowding an environmental disaster

Standing room only at overcrowded Maya Bay beach. (Photo from Facebook page of marine biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat)

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Although it is now the low season, world-renowned Maya Bay in Phi Phi Marine National Park is overcrowded with tourists and boats, posing a serious threat to the environment, marine biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat has warned.

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Biologist: Overcrowding destroying Phi Phi's Maya Bay

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KRABI – Although it is now the low season, world-renowned Maya Bay in Phi Phi Marine National Park is overcrowded with tourists and boats, posing a serious threat to the environment, particularly coral, marine biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat has warned.

Mr Thon, deputy dean of the fisheries faculty at Kasetsart University, said he was shocked during a recent visit to see the entire bay was jammed with both long-tailed and speed boat ferries as tourists from inside and outside the country, particularly China and Europe, crammed on to famous Ko Phi Phi Leh island.

The beach was densely crowded with tourists, with only standing space left, he said.

Mr Thon, who was on a visit to gather information on coral bleaching and the effects of tourism, said he was aghast at what he saw at the country's most famous marine park, even though it is now the low season for tourists.

"Those responsible for promoting tourism have done a very good job, but they should also think of the consequences that will follow," he said.

A 2014 photo from the Tourist Authority of Thailand gives tourists a very different impression.

"There are now too many tourists for the island to take.  Officials of the Phi Phi Islands Marine National Park accompanying me were also left speechless.

"They said that a few days earlier Maya Beach alone was visited by about 5,000 tourists each day and the park collected entry fees of 1.6 million baht from them.

"The revenue may be high, but I don't think it's worth what will happen to the island after the tourists are gone," said Mr Thon.

The renowned biologist and environmental champion said all boats leaving Phuket seemed to be heading for Ko Phi Phi Leh and Maya Bay. There was hardly any space left there for a boat to moor.

He said tourism at the marine park had not been properly managed.

From what he saw, it would be a difficult task to solve the problem of bleaching of the coral.

He did not blame the park officials as they had done what they could. The entire  Phi Phi Islands Marine National Park had only 18 officials, and 10 of them were assigned to oversee Maya Bay, he said.

As a result of over exploitation, nearly all of the coral in the area of Maya Bay had died, and the remainder  would probably die off soon with such a large number of tourists and tour boats, Mr Thon said.

He said there were now only 14 toilets on Maya Beach, which was certainly not enough for the 5,000 or more tourists a day.

More toilets were being built.  But, with limited space  available, the number was unlikely to exceed 20, he added.

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Vocabulary:

accompany : to go with someone - ไปกับ,ไปด้วยกัน,ไปเป็นเพื่อน

aghast (adj): filled with a feeling of great shock, fear or disgust when you see or hear something . - ตกตะลึง,อกสั่นขวัญหนี

assign : to give a person a particular task or position - มอบหมาย, สั่งงาน

bay : a part of the coast where the land curves in so that the sea is surrounded by land on three sides - อ่าว

biologist : a scientist who studies biology - นักชีววิทยา

blame : to say or think that someone or something did something wrong or is responsible for something bad happening - ตำหนิ

bleaching (noun): causing to become white or pale by a chemical process or by the effect of light from the sun; making something white or pale in this way - การฟอก, การฟอกสี, การฟอกขาว

champion (noun): someone who publicly supports or defends a set of beliefs, political aims, or a group of people ผู้สนับสนุน (เพื่อปกป้อง), ผู้ปกป้อง - ผู้สนับสนุน (เพื่อปกป้อง), ผู้ปกป้อง

consequences : results of effects of something - ผลที่ตามมา

coral (noun): a hard substance that is red, pink or white in colour, and that forms on the bottom of the sea from the bones of very small creatures - หินปะการัง

cram (verb): to push or force somebody/something into a small space; to move into a small space with the result that it is full - ยัด,ยัดเยียด,อัด

dean : a senior official at a college or university, often the head of a faculty or department - คณบดี

densely (adv): in a way that contains a lot of people, things, plants, etc. with little space between them - หนาแน่น

deputy : a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง

effects (noun): changes that somebody/something causes in somebody/something else; a result - ผลกระทบ

entire : including everything, everyone or every part - ทั้งหมด

environment : a place, including all the physical conditions that affect it - สภาพแวดล้อม, สิ่งแวดล้อม

exceed : to go beyond an official limit; to be greater than a number or amount - เกินปริมาณ

exploitation : unfair treatment of someone, or the use of a situation in a way that is wrong - การใช้หาประโยชน์อย่างไม่ถูกต้อง

faculty : a group of departments in a college which specialize in a particular subject or group of subjects - คณะ

fee : an amount of money that you pay to be allowed to do something - ค่าธรรมเนียม

ferry : a boat for taking passengers across an area of water, especially as a regular service - เรือรับส่งข้ามฟาก

hardly (adv): almost no; almost not; almost none - แทบจะไม่

heading for : moving towards; moving the direction of - มุ่งหน้าไปยัง

impression : an opinion or feeling that you have about someone or something you have seen but do not know very well - ความรู้สึก

jammed : to become very crowded with people or things - แน่นขนัด

limited : not much or enough; not very great in amount or extent - จำกัด

marine : relating to the sea and creatures that live in it - เกี่ยวกับทะเล

moor : to attach a boat, ship, etc. to a fixed object or to the land with a rope, or anchor it - ผูกเรือ, จอดเรือ

officials : people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

overcrowded (adj): with too many people or things in it - ซึ่งแออัดยัดเยียด

overcrowding (noun): having too many people or things in something ซึ่งแออัดยัดเยียด - ซึ่งแออัดยัดเยียด

oversee (verb): (past form: oversaw) to watch or organise a job or an activity to make certain that it is being done correctly - คุมงาน,ควบคุม

particularly : especially, or more than usual - โดยเฉพาะ

pose : cause something, especially a problem or difficulty - เป็นเหตุให้

promote : to encourage or support something - สนับสนุน

properly : in a way that is correct and/or appropriate - อย่างเหมาะสม, อย่างถูกต้อง

remainder : the part of something that is left after that rest have been considered, left, finished, etc. - ส่วนที่เหลืออยู่

renowned (adj): famous and admired for a special quality, skill or achievement - ที่มีชื่อเสียง

responsible for : to have a duty to do something - มีความรับผิดชอบ

revenue : income from taxes or business activities - รายได้

season (noun): a period of time during the year - ฤดูกาล, ช่วงเวลา, ระยะเวลา

shocked : very surprised and upset - ตกใจ

solve (verb): to successfully deal with a problem or difficult situation; to find out who is responsible for a crime - แก้ปัญหา, คลี่คลาย, หาคำตอบ

speechless : not able to speak, especially because you are extremely angry or surprised - ไม่สามารถพูดได้

task : something that you have to do - งาน, หน้าที่; ภารกิจ

threat : a danger - อันตราย

unlikely : not expected to happen; probably won’t happen - ที่ไม่น่าจะเกิดขึ้น

warn : to make someone conscious of a possible problem or danger - เตือน

worth (noun): useful, important or good enough to be a suitable reward for the time spent or the effort made - คุ้มค่า, คุ้มค่ากับความพยายาม

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