Stolen coral seized but gang flees
RAWAI: More than 400 pieces of stolen coral were returned to the sea today after police interrupted a gang transferring it from a boat to land on Saturday night. Marine Police were given a tip-off that the gang would be landing their contraband at Rawai at 10 pm. When the officers arrived, they saw four people moving the coral to land from a long-tail boat. The gang slipped away in the dark but police seized three 100-liter plastic tubs containing the coral, along with a motorcycle and sidecar. The coral was taken to the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) where coral reef biologist Niphon Phongsuwan identified the coral as being 269 pieces of Mookda, or Catalaphyllia jardinei, and 194 pieces of Tuainam, or Cynarina lacrymalis. PMBC staff returned the pieces to the waters of Ao Makham this morning. Pol Lt Chatchai Sakdee told the Gazette that coral stolen in Phuket is usually sold to dealers in Bangkok who, in turn, sell it to aquarium owners. He said officers would continue to hunt for the thieves.
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