The entire diving community in Thailand heartily welcomed some uplifting news last week. The Thai government declared that all sunscreens containing harmful chemical substances for coral reefs are banned from all marine national parks nationwide. The government based their decision on scientific data showcasing these chemicals “deteriorate coral reefs, destroy coral larvae, obstruct their reproductive system and cause coral reef bleaching.” The ban applies to sun lotions containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor or butylparaben. Violations of the ban can lead to a steep fine (max 100,000 THB or 3,000 USD), although officials have not said how they plan to enforce the ban. Thailand is not the first country to introduce such a ban: Palau, Hawaii, and France were earlier trendsetters.
The Junk Liveaboards, in conjunction with Oceans For All Foundation, organized a special Leopard Shark Expedition from 8 to 12 April 2021. This expedition aims to assess the current situation of leopard sharks – presence, numbers, and habitat – in the Thai Andaman Sea. The first edition explored the Similan & Surin Islands. The data collected during the expedition provide the basis of a Leopard Shark Conservation Petition. This petition will be presented to the Thai Government in order to protect the leopard sharks. David Martin, founder of Oceans For All, joined us on board to guide us through the first Leopard Shark Research Expedition.
On 8 April, everyone embarked The Junk from Chalong Pier in Phuket. Just as we set off on our way out to the Similans, there was instant excitement. David Martin, together with the assistance of everyone onboard, released 5 small bamboo sharks back into the ocean. The bamboo sharks originated from his foundation’s shark breeding program. Our four youngest guests got to name the bamboo sharks. They were baptized: Charlotte, Bob, George, Astrid and Austin. All guests took great delight in sending these little sharkies back home to the ocean. A unique event!
The Junk Liveaboards has teamed up with Oceans For All Foundation to organise two special Leopard/Zebra Shark Expeditions. Save the dates: 8-12 April and 4-8 May. The aim of these two dive liveaboard trips is to assess the current numbers of leopard sharks in the Andaman Sea. We will explore the South Andaman Sea around Phuket as well as head north to the Similan Islands. The conclusions of this research provide the basis for the Conservation Petition. This petition is to be presented to the Thai government with the ultimate goal to protect the Leopard Sharks and their habitat in Thailand. Anyone with a diving qualification is welcome to join these 4 night/5 day expeditions.
The first trip in April ventures out to the Similan and Surin Islands. In May, the second expedition focuses on the area south of Phuket & Koh Phi Phi. Are you a fan of leopard sharks and do you want to make a difference? Be part of the change for leopard sharks!