Coral bleaching forces closures of Prachuap Khiri Khan’s best snorkeling locations

Ko Chan in the Hat Wanakon National Park.

Officials have announced the closure of snorkeling activities around Ko Chan and Ko Thai See due to coral bleaching, effective June 11.

The head of Hat Wanakorn National Park, Suporn Phonpan, stated that recent monitoring efforts have revealed significant coral bleaching in the shallow reefs surrounding these islands. The phenomenon, exacerbated by June’s low sea levels, poses a threat to the marine ecosystem and presents safety risks for tourists.

“To prevent further ecological damage and ensure the safety of visitors, we have decided to temporarily close Ko Chan and Ko Thai See to all diving and snorkeling activities,” Phonpan said.

The closures are intended to allow the coral reefs time to recover. Park officials will monitor the situation and announce the reopening of these areas once the bleaching subsides and sea levels rise to safer levels.

Despite these closures, other areas of Hat Wanakorn National Park remain open for visitors to enjoy.

Ko Chan and Ko Thai See are renowned for their snorkeling opportunities, attracting numerous tourists each year.

The temporary closure aims to preserve the natural beauty and health of the marine environment for future visitors.

The news comes after marine biologists and environmental agencies in May reported alarming levels of coral bleaching across nineteen national parks in Thailand, including Hat Wanakon National Park and Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, both located in Prachuap Khiri Khan province near Hua Hin.

Hat Wanakon National Park was found to have experienced coral bleaching rates exceeding 80% in areas around Ko Chan. Similarly, Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, a popular destination for nature lovers, has also suffered substantial coral damage.

Bleached coral at Ko Chan. Photo taken in May 2024. Image: DNP