Phuket dolphin, turtles, whale shark join list of dead and dying marine life
By Prasit Tarnsirisin
PHUKET, Thailand — The deaths of a dolphin, three turtles and a seven-metre whale shark at the weekend have illustrated the Phuket region's losing battle to save its marine environment.
The dolphins and the turtles died at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre at Phuket's Cape Panwa while the male whale shark washed onto a beach at Koh Lanta in Krabi.
''We did our best to save them [the dolphin and turtles],'' said marine biologist Dr Patcharaporn Kaewmong. ''We wil autopsy the dolphin to see what led to its death.''
The 1.2 metre female spinner dolphin was taken to the Phuket centre on September 27.
A virus apparently caused it to become separated from its pod and it swam close to shore at Mai Khao, one of Phuket's quieter west coast beaches.
Turtles, many with flippers or carapaces severely damaged, have washed ashore in greater numbers than ever before at Phuket's west coast beaches this monsoon season.
Those with pierced shells are usually unable to dive to feed and need constant care.
The seven-metre whale shark became the latest marine creature to be beached yesterday at Klongnin, Koh Lanta. Locals and marine biologists buried the carcass after taking DNA samples.
Awareness of the threats to the Phuket region's marine inhabitants has never been greater. Hundreds of volunteers turmed out for a Go-Eco dive on September 30 that cleared dumped nets and trash from Phuket's surrounding coral reefs.
However, precise preventative action is required to stop the dumping and save the turtles especially. Turtles once hatched at all Phuket beaches, but no longer.
Local authorities mostly declare an interest in a ''livable and sustainable'' Phuket and sometimes even propose erecting more statues of dolphins to show they mean what they say.