Aerial survey spots abundant sea life in Trang

Aerial survey spots abundant sea life in Trang

A herd of dugongs feed on seagrass in Trang.
A herd of dugongs feed on seagrass in Trang.

About 170 dugongs, 27 Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and 141 sea turtles have been sighted along islands in Trang during an aerial survey, says the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR).

The discovery was the result of cooperation between the Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre, Lower Gulf of Thailand, and another research centre in the Western Upper Gulf. They were searching for rare sea creatures around Koh Libong, Koh Mook and adjacent islands.

The search was conducted using an aerial line-transect method and an unmanned aerial vehicle controlled by volunteer pilot Eduado Angelo Loigorri and Pinyada Pithansiri, DMCR director-general Sopon Thongdee said yesterday.

It showed there are about 170 dugongs living in the area. From their analysis, they found the dugongs would search for food and mate along fields of seagrass. Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and sea turtles were also spotted.

Meanwhile, Chalermchai Suwannarak, director-general of the Fisheries Department, said staff have received impact assessments of bottom-trawl fishing on sea creatures in the Saya de Malha Banks area of the Indian Ocean.

Of 14 types of sea creatures, three are estimated to be low risk and 11 are moderate risk.

The report found trawl fishing has no impact on the seagrass in the Southern Indian Ocean, Mr Chalermchai said.

The decision to call for a risk assessment was made at the eighth meeting of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) in July last year. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) participated as an observer.

The DSCC brought up a paper indicating the impact on the ecosystem of trawl fishing around Saya de Malha Bank.

The DSCC called on Thailand to stop fishing around that area until an assessment on protecting sea creatures including seagrass was conducted.

The SIOFA considered the proposal was not based on scientific information. However, it agreed to allow the SIOFA Scientific Committee to carry out the study.

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