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Entangled manta ray ensnares international attention

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Entangled manta ray ensnares international attention | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The sighting of a 5-meter manta ray entangled in heavy ropes off Koh Racha Noi has galvanized marine experts from as far away as Bangkok and Singapore to come to its rescue.

Nantarika Chansue, the director of the Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animal Research Center and faculty of Veterinarian Sciences at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, has called on the entire Phuket community for help, suggesting that community members post comments on “Save the Manta” Facebook event (here) if the pelagic animal is spotted again.

Once Dr Nantarika is notified of another sighting, she can coordinate her team, staff from the Marine Life Park in Singapore and relevant Thai government bodies to launch an emergency rescue mission.

Photos taken by Zylane Lee of the manta ray on February 12 started to circulate on Facebook within the Phuket dive community this week.

“It was swimming alright to our untrained eyes,” Ms Zylane’s mother, May Yuen Wu, who took video footage (view here) of the manta ray during the dive, told the Phuket Gazette.

“This was our first time to see a manta and we were very happy to see it as that’s our purpose for returning to Phuket for diving every year,” she said.

“It only dawned on us that the manta was having problems at the very end [of the dive] when it swam closer to me. We wished we could do something, but we couldn’t. We were sad and heartbroken to see such a beautiful creature in such a state,” she said.

Dr Nantarika told the Gazette that she hoped it wasn’t too late to save the manta ray.

“I’m not sure if the animal is still alive, because the rope went across his mouth. So it depends on whether he can eat or not… If he can eat we have more time to get the rope out,” Dr Nantarika told the Gazette yesterday.

“The first thing to do is find the animal,” she said.

Staff at the Marine Life Park on Sentosa Island in Singapore are reportedly ready to come to Phuket to help in the rescue mission as soon as the animal is spotted.

The Marine Life Park, the world’s largest oceanarium, houses the world’s largest collection of manta rays, including the only giant oceanic manta ray in captivity.

“Members of the Marine Police and Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) from Bangkok as well as Phuket are also ready to take action,” Dr Nantarika said. “Everybody is ready, we just need to know the current location [of the manta ray].”

Even Phuket fishing boats have been put on alert and are ready to respond if necessary according to Dr Pinsak Suraswadi, Acting Director of Marine Resource Conservation and Restoration Division, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

Dr Nantarika explained that she has also been in touch with international animal handler, Fred Fan.

“Mr Fan is one of the best animal handlers in the world. I contacted him because has a great deal of experience with manta rays… he is willing to help us as much as he can,” she said.

Dr Nantarika explained to the Gazette that Mr Fan suggested the possible need of an enormous net 300 to 400 meters across for the rescue mission.

“I would prefer not to give it [the manta ray] a tranquilizer, but if it looks like it will be dangerous for the people working with it we might consider the option,” Dr Nantarika said.

“This is a huge animal, it’s not like a dolphin where you can go in and cut the rope, a manta can actually flip you over,” she added.

Dr Nantarika thanked the Phuket diving community, especially Darren Gaspari from Aussie Divers Phuket, who has been a driving force behind the movement to save the entangled manta ray.

With heads of relevant departments in Bangkok for the 16th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to handle a variety of wildlife issues including the protection of sharks and manta rays (story here), Dr Nantarika took the opportunity to bring the top brass together to discuss the establishment of a Marine Endangered Animal Stranded Network, which would be a contact point for sightings of stranded and distressed animals like the recently sighted manta ray.

“We need this network because at present there is no coherent way to deal with the many distressed dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays that we find. We can just appeal to locals and divers for help,” Dr Nantarika said.

“The reason I want to do this is because so many of the animals we’ve attempted to save have died because we don’t have enough resources,” she added.

The center would help provide necessary training for locals in Phuket and other areas where distressed marine animals are often found.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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Phuket

Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works

The Thaiger

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Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works | The Thaiger

The Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority says Rawai’s mains water supply will be shut off tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) as new water pipes are fitted in front of The Title Beach Front condo resort complex on the town’s beachfront.

The mains water supply will be shut off from 9am until 4:30pm along the beachfront strip.

The PWA says the areas affected will be along Wiset Road along the Rawai beachfront road, as well as Soi Yanui and Soi Ruafaed.

Residents and businesses are being urged to collect water for use during the day today, before tomorrow morning’s shut-off.

As usual, the PWA say…“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Contact the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority on 076 319173 or 082 7901634 for more details.

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