PHUKET: A brilliantly colored mantis shrimp (stomatopoda) pops out of its burrow and scurries towards a broken piece of coral. Its legs spin out below it like the Road Runner – but it’s not that fast, at least its legs aren’t.
We kneel in the sand to watch the biological wonder. It looks almost comical as it arches its head up, prim and proper, with its legs going, going, going and yet so many divers only give this bafflingly gifted creature a cursory glance, before chasing dreams of leopard sharks and manta rays.
With the right dive buddy, dedicating a whole dive to staking out a mantis shrimp’s burrow to get to know it personally is rarely a waste of air. Though many sea creatures are stunning to look at, they often lack an essence that tags them as individuals. A jeweled sea urchin is simply a jeweled sea urchin, as a butterfly fish, is a butterfly fish, is a butterfly fish. It feels as if the understanding of the interaction is one sided – mantis shrimp are very different.
Our mantis shrimp, “Harold”, peeks out from his den, his eyes, each set atop a stalk, like a submarine’s periscope.
The beauty of Harold and his brothers, sisters and cousins is that they are common in Phuket waters, yet there is very little that is common about them.
Armed with the fastest limb strike in the world (80kmh), these tiny creatures can hit with the impact of a bullet, enough force to crack the glass on an aquarium or hammer through a mollusk’s shell (click here for YouTube video). In fact, the strike from their raptorial claw is so quick that it creates a tiny air space behind it, which makes a snapping sound as the water collapse around it.
Even if the shrimp misses its target with its claw or hammer (depending on the sub-species), the shock wave from the collapsing bubble can be enough to kill or stun its prey.
To complement the quickest punches in the world, this little invertebrate, also known as a “thumb splitters” for painfully obvious reasons, have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. So as we lean in for a better look, we’re also getting eyed up, and pretty hard too.
Here we are blowing bubbles and watching Harold with only three kinds of light receptors in each of our eyes, while Harold is seeing the world in vastly more detail with ten light receptors, allowing him to see into the infrared and ultraviolet range.
What’s more stunning than the simple complexity of a mantis shrimp’s eye, is what’s going on behind it – mantis shrimp are the only invertebrates that can recognize individuals of their own species and remember the outcome of fights against rivals.
In fact, there is a rumor of a diver in Phuket who gained the trust of one such individual, though the diver supposedly lost a fingernail in the process. By bringing a tiny piece of fish to the same thumb splitter every time he dove at a particular site, the diver was able to establish a relationship.
So if a man ever bets you a bottle of top-shelf whiskey that he can get a mantis shrimp to eat out of his bare hand, it’s best to believe him – unless you’re okay scurrying for your wallet.
— Isaac Stone Simonelli
‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people
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.
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.
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.
21% of Thai teenagers are gambling
PHOTO: Gambling, local style, Rai Et, north-east Thailand – Pinterest
Early in October the Thai Health Promotion Foundation met to discuss the gambling situation in Thailand in 2019. Also present were the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related groups.
The meeting was set up after a report revealed that more than half (57%) of the Thai population, or 30.42 million people, gamble. The director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University shared the report, which was based on data from a survey of 44,050 people across 77 provinces.
The figure is an increase of 1.49 million people from 2017. While most Thai gamblers are of working age, 2.4% of the total were aged between 15-18 years. This means that 21% of that age group are gambling.
According to California’s Council on Problem Gambling, youth, like everyone else, gamble for many reasons, including entertainment; socialisation; competition; loneliness, and boredom; to get rich quick; to impress others; be the centre of attention; make new friends, and because winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence.
“The California Council on Problem Gambling lists depression as one reason youth turn to gambling, noting that depression can just as easily be an effect as a cause. This is especially important to note in a country like Thailand.”
In an article in The ASEAN Post, it was noted that in December 2017, Thailand’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) reported that an estimated one million teenagers are believed to suffer from depression, many of whom go untreated, with two million more are at risk, making upward of three million among a population of eight million teens then.
The DMH said that stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.
“It is clear from studies that depression and gambling go hand-in-hand: the unfortunate case in Thailand is that it is affecting children too.”
SOURCE: The ASEAN Post
Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare
A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.
She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.
She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.
Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.
“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”
This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.
The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.
The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.
SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum
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