Corals, beaches in Thailand’s Ao Prao still unharmed by oil spill
Shallow corals in Ao Prao and nearby areas remain unharmed by the recent oil spill, as does the sea life, according to divers from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
The divers have inspected the shallow corals within the bay, which is about 300 metres wide, and coral reefs in deep water in the outer areas of the bay, as well as marine species. They have found no oil traces on the surface of the corals.
Meanwhile, Chief of the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park Thawat Jenkarn led officials on a land based inspection along the beaches of Ao Prao. He said that no traces of oil have been found, except for some unidentified black patches, some of which were collected and sent for tests.
He said, however, that park officials remain on the lookout for oil slicks or dissolved oil droplets, which may breach the protective booms and washed ashore.
Although Samet Island is safe from the spilt oil, several resort operators and food vendors have complained that the number of tourists has dropped substantially after bookings were cancelled.
A resort owner in the Ao Prao area, said that, during the weekends, his resort had been fully occupied, but not last weekend, when it was reported that some oil was moving toward the bay.
A seafood shop-owner on Mae Ram Phueng beach, which was hit by the spilt oil last week, complained that all the seafood she had ordered are about to rot because there are no customers.
A seafood vendor said that, during the Chinese New Year’s festival, fresh seafood normally sells like hot cakes, but not this year, because the seafood is scarce because small-scale fishermen have not been allowed to set sail by the provincial authorities to make their catches.
Many businesses wonder whether or when they will be compensated, either by the government or by Star Petroleum Refining PCL, whose offline pipeline was the source of the oil spills last week.