KOH TALU – A huge amount of garbage has been found floating off three beaches on Koh Talu in southern Thailand, prompting concern that it will affect coral reefs and egg-laying sites of endangered sea turtles.
More than three tonnes of trash were collected from Ao Yai, Ao Thian and Ao Muk beaches on the island in the southern tourist province from Wednesday to Friday, said Phaopipat Charoenpak, marketing manager of Koh Talu Island Resort and secretary-general of the Siam Marine Rehabilitation Foundation.
The trail of garbage, including plastic and glass bottles, foam boxes and lightbulbs, was about one kilometre long on Ao Yai and Ao Thian beaches and about 400 metres long on Ao Muk, he said. Traces of engine oil were also found.
Mr Phaopipat said resort staff and foundation volunteers had been collecting the trash every morning since Wednesday from the beaches, which are popular snorkelling sites because of their bountiful coral reefs.
He expressed concern over the impact of the trash on hawksbill sea turtles as the endangered species often came to lay eggs at the island, particularly at Ao Thian. About 1,000 hawksbill sea turtle eggs are spotted at the beach every year.
Floating garbage would also affect the tourist image of the island as this is the peak season for visiting the coral reefs, he added.
Mr Phaopipat said he was not sure why such a large amount of garbage had washed ashore at this time, as there had not been any strong winds or waves lately.
Beaches in Prachuap Khiri Khan faced a similar phenomenon in late January and early February last year. At the time, authorities said the trash was believed to have been carried into the Gulf of Thailand during severe floods in far southern provinces a few weeks earlier. It subsequently floated north and eventually came ashore.
By Chaiwat Satyaem