Bleaching forces diving site closures
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Bleaching forces diving site closures

Snorkelling and diving sites at several marine national parks in five provinces have been closed due to the worsening coral bleaching situation.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) recently announced the urgent closure of snorkelling and diving sites in Mu Ko Phetra National Park in Satun, Hat Chao Mai National Park in Trang, Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park in Krabi, Sirinat National Park in Phuket and Mu Ko Chang National Park in the eastern province of Trat.

The closures were due to coral bleaching from April 2 until Wednesday, the DNP said.

The agency revealed that coral bleaching has been detected at 152 locations in 21 marine national parks, nine in the Gulf of Thailand and 12 in the Andaman Sea.

Some 54 of the detected coral fields are suffering extremely severe bleaching (over 50%), 56 have severe bleaching (11-50%), 39 have medium bleaching (1-10%), three have pale colouration, and seven have dead coral.

Assoc Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine environment academic and lecturer at Kasetsart University, posted on Facebook to report the coral bleaching situation at Ko Losin in the Gulf of Thailand.

He said 50% of the coral around the island, both in shallow waters and at depths of 20 metres, were bleaching due to the increased water temperatures.

However, he said he believed most of the bleaching coral around the island would recover since it is far from the coast.

Meanwhile, the authorities have also announced the annual rainy season closures of six other marine national parks, including Mu Ko Similan National Park, Mu Ko Surin National Park, Laem Son National Park, Mu Ko Lanta National Park, Tarutao National Park and Hat Chao Mai National Park. They are scheduled to reopen at the end of September or mid-October.

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