Foreign diver faces fine for touching whale shark in Thailand (video)

Photo via Facebook/ อรรถพล เจริญชันษา

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) fined a foreign tourist for touching a whale shark while diving at Mu Koh Surin National Park in the southern province of Phang Nga.

Drama erupted among local travel agencies in the southern provinces of Thailand after a video and pictures of a diver touching the tip of a whale shark’s tail were shared on multiple social media platforms.

In the video, a group of divers can be seen trailing the whale shark from behind, with one diver extending his hand toward the animal’s tail. Another member of the group is seen pointing a finger at the first diver to warn him to stop his action.

The incident reportedly occurred on March 31 at Richelieu Rock, a popular diving spot within Mu Koh Surin National Park.

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Thai netizens and local divers urged the travel agency responsible for the diver in the video to step forward and clarify the incident.

Many criticised staff members and diving trainers for their negligence in allowing the diver to touch the animal, expressing concerns that such actions could harm both the animal and the divers involved.

A Thai woman, Suparat Thoncharoenphong subsequently stepped forward to clarify that the diver who touched the whale shark was a foreign customer. She stressed that the diving trainer from her company had instructed all divers not to touch marine life before the diving trip, yet this diver ignored the caution.

Suparat stated that she promptly reported the incident to the DNP, resulting in authorities imposing a fine on the diver.

“I believe that no travel agencies encourage their customers to touch any marine life but it still occurred. I have never condoned wrongdoing by my customers. My travel agency has never concealed any illegal actions from the authorities either. As a diving enthusiast myself, I cannot condone such actions. Let’s work together to prevent such acts in the future.”

Whale sharks are protected wild animals under Thailand’s Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, as their populations have significantly declined due to hunting for their fins.

According to Section 16 of the act, hunting or any action that harms protected animals can result in imprisonment of up to four years, a fine of up to 40,000 baht, or both. The specific fine imposed on the diver has not been disclosed to the public.

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at

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