SIMILANS: The marine national parks at the Similan and Chumphon islands have each launched an underwater trail along which divers can enjoy a self-guided tour of corals and other underwater marine life. Divers will be handed three plastic cards with the pictures and names of the many corals and tropical fish they are likely to see as they travel the 100-meter, circular trail. Once they have completed the trail, which at the Similans is off Koh Si, divers will have to return the cards and will be given a questionnaire asking how many times they touched coral, their opinions about the trail, and any feedback and suggestions on how the trail can be improved. Polphut Bualoi, Chief of Sirinath National Park, told the Gazette that the funds for the trail and the cards came from the park entry and “user pays” diver fees. Once these fees have been paid, there is no extra cost to enjoy either trail. He explained that each park has 500 sets of the cards, which cost a total of about 400,000 baht to produce. He added that the new fees have also funded repairs to moorings in the Similans National Park and studies of the growth of sea grass and ways to revive coral reefs.
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