23 May 2024

The warming of the water in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea has resulted in a rare phenomenon, being described as “steamed” grass, meaning seagrass, the main food source for dugongs, is not surviving the rise in sea temperatures.

This, in turn, is forcing mammals to stray from their habitats to seek new feeding grounds, according to Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, vice dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University.

A marine expert, Dr. Thon said that a recent study of sea grass in the Gulf and the Andaman, conducted by a research unit from the Faculty of Fisheries and the sea grass crisis committee, shows that sea grass in the Andaman Sea, off Trang and Krabi provinces and parts of Satun, are being seriously affected by global warming, resulting in unusually low tides and warmer seas.

Similar problems have also been detected in Phang-nga and Trat provinces, although sea grass in the Gulf, off Prachuap Khiri Khan down to Pattani, remains mostly healthy, he said.

He explained that rising sea temperatures lead to the warming of the sea bed, resulting in the “steamed” grass phenomenon, which is new to Thailand.

He also said that the survey shows dugongs are tending to scatter, instead of feeding together in a large herd, to seek new feeding grounds where sea grass is aplenty, such as around Phuket.

Dr. Thon said that this is a problem which cannot be tackled easily, because the seas are getting warmer every day and the problem is getting worse due to global warming, although authorities concerned are trying to rehabilitate the sea grass.