PHOTOGRAPHS showing tourists reportedly abusing sensitive marine creatures in Thailand’s resort island of Phuket have drawn local outrage.
On Saturday, Facebook user Khanchit Klingklip, took to the social networking website to post pictures of the yet-to-be-identified tourists handling various creatures, including starfish, off the island of Racha Yai.
His post read: “again, destroying the property. Who caught it? Who is taking responsibility? (sic)”.
In wake of the post, local authorities launched a probe into the incident.
The Nation quoted Marine Resources Conservation director Suchart Ratanruangsri, as saying staff have been assigned to investigate the claims.
Suchart said the authorities were currently searching for the operator of the speedboat seen in the photographs.
While the markings on the speedboat make it clearly identifiable, officials said the vessel did not appear to be a regular at the jetty Chalong, the main departure-point for such boats heading to Racha Yai.
The director said authorities have constantly reminded tour operators and tourists about regulations over the handling of sea creatures or coral.
Despite the incident, Suchart said most tour companies had abided by the rules as they understood the importance of ensuring the coral around Phuket remained untouched.
Suchart said tourists who took any illegal “souvenirs” while on their boat trips could be charged under laws that protect marine life.
Earlier this month, Khancit, who is a tour guide and conservationist, posted camera footage of an alleged illegal tour guide feeding coral fish during a diving trip with two Korean women.
“It is a recurring problem. I have had problems with this group of Korean guides before about feeding fish, and I once caught them diving down and sitting on and touching the coral,” he said, as quoted by The Phuket News.
“That time, it didn’t make the news because I only complained to the company I was working for”.