Record sea temperatures devastate coral reefs and marine life

Image courtesy of the XL Caitlin Seaview Survey

Record sea surface temperatures in Thailand’s eastern gulf coast are causing severe damage to the region’s aquatic life, raising concerns among scientists and local communities. Coral reefs that were once vibrant and colourful, situated about 5 metres underwater, have turned white due to coral bleaching.

This phenomenon indicates deteriorating health caused by elevated water temperatures. Data reveals that sea surface temperatures in the Eastern Gulf of Thailand reached 32.73 degrees Celsius recently, with underwater readings slightly higher at around 33 degrees, said Lalita Putchim, a marine biologist from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR).

“I couldn’t find a single healthy coral…almost all of the species have bleached, there’s very little that’s not affected.”

In the Trat archipelago, including over 66 islands, and stretching over 28.4 square kilometres of coral reef, Lalita observed that up to 30% of coral life was bleaching, with 5% already dead.

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“If water temperatures do not cool, more coral will die. It’s global boiling, not just global warming.”

The rising temperatures are not just affecting coral reefs but are also impacting other marine life and the livelihoods of local fishermen.

A local fisherman Sommay Singsura, recounts that his daily seafood catch has dramatically decreased. While previously earning up to 10,000 baht (US$275) a day, he now sometimes returns empty-handed, reported Bangkok Post.

“There used to be jackfish, short mackerel, and many others … But now, the situation isn’t good. The weather isn’t like what it used to be.”

According to the Dean of Marine Technology at Burapha University, Sarawut Siriwong, coral reefs serve as both a food resource and habitat for marine life and act as natural barriers preventing coastal erosion.

“If bleaching causes marine life to decrease, fishermen will need to spend more to get their catch, which could see selling prices rise. While this [coral bleaching] would affect food security, at the same time, their [community] income stability is also at stake.”

Eastern Thailand NewsEnvironment NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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