Murky water at Koh Samui beach caused by plankton bloom, not oil spill: officials


The smelly, murky water putting off tourists from swimming in the sea at Maenam Beach in Koh Samui, southern Thailand, is not an oil spill but caused by a plankton bloom, which is a natural phenomenon, according to the Director of Koh Samui Harbour Authority, Arun Buppako.

The photos circulating of green murky water at the beach show dead plankton floating on the surface of the water, said the director. Officials inspected the area and found no oil spills, he added.

According to NaewNa, the director said…

“Plankton blooms are a natural phenomena that happen every year. One main contributing factor is that when wastewater from the community is released into the sea, it acts as nutrients for plankton, causing them to multiply quickly. When the oxygen in the water depletes, the plankton dies, turning the seawater green.

“Or plankton blooms happen when the season changes… It is not dangerous to swim in this water, but tourists might not want to swim in it because of the strong fishy smell.

“Tourists may worry that swimming in this will irritate their skin. People with sensitive skin might develop a rash from swimming in this water.

“After four to seven days, the water will return to normal.”


French and German tourists complained that a smelly oil spill prevented them from swimming at Maenam Beach yesterday in Koh Samui, Surat Thani province, southern Thailand.

A German man told reporters that he went to the beach to sunbathe and play in the water. But when he tried to go swimming, he noticed a foul smell emanating from the sea. The water was brown and looked oily, so he didn’t dare get in.

Locals went out on a boat and brought back water samples which they said were “murky” and “rancid.”

A French tourist who went to Maenam Beach yesterday said she was “really disappointed” because she couldn’t swim as she intended. When she saw the state of the water, she said she was “unhappy but still loved Koh Samui,” reports MGR Online. Fed up, the Frenchwoman opted for a traditional Thai massage instead.

Tourists fly from thousands of miles away to experience Koh Samui’s world-famous white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. So it’s understandable that the tourists were frustrated that the beach didn’t look how it does on the postcards.

Right now it’s not clear whether the oil at Maenam Beach is from the possible oil spill reported in the Gulf of Thailand last week,

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) deployed marines to help contain a possible oil spill from a damaged oil storage vessel, the FSO Bechamas 2, after an explosion on board that killed one crew member. The other 28 crew members were safe.

The ship was carrying 400,000 barrels of crude oil when the explosion happened during routine maintenance, around 207 kilometres from Sattahip Naval Base in Chon Buri province.

The RTN was deployed to help plug the leak that let seawater into the hull of the ship and help to transport the deceased back to shore.

Foreigners can't swim at Koh Samui beach due to smelly oil spill

Foreigners can't swim at Koh Samui beach due to smelly oil spill
Photo via MGR Online

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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