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Turtles, dolphins continue to wash ashore

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Turtles, dolphins continue to wash ashore | The Thaiger
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BANG TAO: A green turtle weighing about 5.7 kilograms was found at Le Phang Beach at about 9 am Tuesday.

Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, a biologist at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC), told the Gazette that the female sea turtle, bearing a hard shell 39.5 centimeters long and 37cm wide, was suffering from exhaustion and had difficulty breathing.

The turtle was taken to the PMBC at Cape Panwa about 3 pm.

“The green turtle is two years old, very tired, but has no injuries and does not appear to be suffering from any illness. It was exhausted from swimming in strong waves over the past few days and was too weak to swim back to the sea,” K. Kongkiat said.

The recovery of the Le Phang turtle follows two hawksbill sea turtles found stranded ashore, one at Surin Beach on Monday and another at Mai Khao on Friday.

PMBC biologist Karnjana Adulyanukosol, told the Gazette that both turtles – each about 30-centimeters long and about two years old – were snared in fishing nets.

The turtle found at Mai Khao died from its injuries, but the other turtle is being treated at the PMBC.

“The turtle we found at Surin Beach was wounded on one of its front flippers, but fortunately the muscle was not destroyed,” K. Karnjana said.

“The turtle was also very tired from being trapped in the net and a lack of food. We are giving it antibiotics and we will try to feed it some liquid food as well,” she added.

Two species of sea turtles commonly associated with Phuket, the Olive Ridley and the Leatherback,

both face increasing difficulty finding nesting sites on the island and have as a result been laying fewer eggs. Both species are at risk of completely disappearing from local waters, K. Kongkiat said.

However, turtles are not the only species washing ashore. K. Kongkiat said that a mature-aged, spotted male dolphin, 2.2 meters long, was found dead at Karon Beach yesterday morning.

“Although we found that the dolphin’s lungs were not greatly inflamed, it had no food in its stomach, which means that it was probably sick and had not fed for a long time. If so, this dolphin would have been left behind by the school it was with, as this is what dolphins instinctively do to survive,” K. Kongkiat explained.

“The PMBC is worried about the variety of different dolphin species that are being washed ashore. When dolphins wash ashore or beach themselves they are usually of the same species, but in the past two weeks alone we have had specimens of four different species wash ashore,” he said.

A dead dolphin washed ashore at Kamala last Thursday and two dolphins were beached a week earlier: one at Karon Beach on July 1 and another Tai Muang in Phang Nga on July 2.

Both dolphins were suffering from respiratory illness. The dolphin found at Tai Muang died the following day.

K. Karnjana said that the dolphin found on Karon Beach is slowly recovering at the PMBC’s Marine Endangered Species Unit, and staff have even named it “Nong Red”.

“Nong Red is beginning to eat on her own and we’re hoping for a full recovery,” K. Karnjana said.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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