The bleaching of coral reefs — in which stressed coral expels colorful algae living inside — is the reason cited by tourism officials for closing several dive sites in Thailand. According to the Daily Mail, while the reason is clear for the closures, the cause of the bleaching is up for debate. Sunan Arunnopparat — the director of the department of National Parks — claims that global warming is to blame as surface waters of the Andaman Sea have peaked at 4 degrees Celsius warmer than normal.
Marine scientists, on the other hand, blame unregulated tourism — visitors walking on the coral, boats mooring overtop the reefs, and contaminated water — as the main culprit. Whatever the case, Thailand is sure to see a big loss in tourism revenue as the country has been a big draw for divers. The reefs that are set to be closed in an effort to restore them are the ones that have suffered 80% and greater bleaching. Says Mr Arunnopparat,
We did not close all of the national parks, just some of the dive sites. Tourists can still go see the forests and the mountains in these parks.
[Image: jon hanson / Flickr]