Good news: Reef sharks seen swimming in Maya Bay

A school of Blacktip Reef Sharks laze in the shallow waters of Maya Bay in Krabi, where conservationists are trying to restore the tourist-damaged ecosystem. (Photo from Nopparat Thara Beach-Phi Phi Islands National Park)

A school of Blacktip Reef Sharks have been seen swimming in Maya Bay, boosting park officials' hopes as they try to restore the damaged ecosystem of the famed tourist destination.

The Nopparat Thara Beach-Phi Phi Islands National Park reported that the sharks were seen on Tuesday swimming in the bay, which was closed to visitors four months ago. 

The sighting, the second in recent days, shows that the environment is rejuvenating as new coral is planted on reefs in the tourist-damaged bay, it said.

The Blacktip Reef Shark is not dangerous to swimmers and frequents shallow water, according to Sharksider.com, a website providing information on all sharks.

Maya Bay, in Krabi, was close indefinitely in June as the influx of tourists had damaged the bay and its ecosystem, especially the coral reefs, with wastewater and garbage.

It became famous as the location for the movie "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio, shot there in 1999. (continues below)

(Video by Nopparat Thara Beach-Phi Phi Islands National Park)


The small bay on Phi Phi island covers only 18 rai but has absorbed more than 1 million tourists a year since the movie was screened, according to the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.

The bay was "severely damaged", Chongklai Worapongsathorn, deputy chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said in an interview with CU Radio of Chulalongkorn University last Thursday. 

Maya Bay still needed more time for nature to recover, he said.

Officials of the Marine National Park Centre 3 in Trang help restore damaged reef at Maya Bay in Krabi in July. (Photo from Marine National Park Operation Centre 3)