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The Kingdom of Thailand is in Southeast Asia , bordering Laos and Cambodia to the east, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia to the south, and the Andaman Sea and Myanmar to the west. Thailand is also known as Siam, which was the country's official name until May 11, 1949. The word Thai means "freedom" in the Thai language and is also the name of the majority Thai ethnic group Thailand is divided into 75 provinces, which are grouped into 5 groups of provinces by location. There are also 2 special governed districts: the capital Bangkok and Pattaya.

Thailand is home to several distinct geographic regions, partly corresponding to the provincial groups. The north of the country is mountainous, with the highest point being Doi Inthanon at 2,576 m. The northeast consists of the Khorat Plateau, bordered to the east by the Mekong river. The centre of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand. The south consists of the narrow Kra Isthmus that widens into the Malay Peninsula.

Most of the seagrass meadows are multispecies, located in enclosed or semi-enclosed embayments from the intertidal area ot 5m in depth depending on seagrass species. Among the 12 species of seagrasses found in Thailand, Halophila ovalis is the most widely distributed, because of it's ability to grow in different habitats. Enhalus acorodies, the largest species, is also common in the major seagrass areas. Seagrasses are more abundant in the Andaman Sea than in the Gulf of Thailand.

The four most important seagrass areas in Thailand are Haad Chao Mai National Park, in Trang province on the southern coast of the Anadaman Sea and just north of Malaysia, Ko Talibong (Talibong Island), also in the Trang Province, Kung Krabane Bay, in Chathaburi province on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, near Cambodia and Ko Samui (Samui Island), in Surat Thani province, and part of the southern coast of the Gulf of Thailand.

Seagrasses in Thailand are threatened by a combination of illegal fisheries and fishing practises, and land based activities especially mining. Another major threat is reduced water clarity in many areas resulting from upland clearing, development along rivers and destruction of mangroves.

The Asian Tsunami catastrophe on December, 26, 2004 affected many countries that share the waters of the Indian Ocean. It caused tremendous loss of life and property of millions of people and damaged to coastal areas.

In Thailand, the tsunami hit the Andaman Coast (954 kilometres in length) between 9.40 and 10.30 a.m. local time. The first waves passed almost unnoticed four to ten kilometres offshore. The second series of waves, however, up to 10 metres high, impacted severely on the six coastal provinces along the Andaman Sea, namely: Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun. The level of devastation in the six provinces varies significantly. The most affected province is Phang Nga, in particular Khao Lak district. Phuket and Krabi provinces were also severely impacted. In Ranong, Trang and Satun provinces, offshore islands sustained severe damage, but lesser impacts were recorded on the mainland.


The marine research station and Sea Turtle Conservation & Wildlife Sanctuary Project in Ranong province was destroyed. Sadly, 9 staff died and many people were injured. The village behind the station was all destroyed and more than 70 people died. In addition, two dugongs and three dolphins were carried inland by the waves. One of the dugongs and two of the dolphins died.


The seagrass meadows along the Andaman coast of Thailand cover an area of 7,937 hectares. To estimate the impacts of the tsunami disaster on the seagrass meadows, a rapid assessment was undertaken by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources of MONRE covering approximately 70 per cent of the total seagrass area. Based on the results, 3.5 per cent of the inspected areas are impacted, through siltation and sand sedimentation, while 1.5 per cent of the inspected areas suffered total habitat loss. The most impacted sea grass meadows are those of Yao Yai Island, Phang Nga Province, which registered an estimated total habitat loss of 10 per cent.


The seagrass meadows of Talibong Island, Trang Province, which are the largest seagrass areas in Thailand’s Andaman coast providing foraging grounds to a large dugong population, did not suffer any loss, although 10 per cent of the area is impacted by siltation or superficial erosion. It is estimated that it will take three months for seagrass to recover from siltation. However, it is not yet known how long it will take to recover from sand sedimentation. The assessments also revealed that seagrass meadows covering the inter-tidal zone appear to have prevented soil erosion of beaches during the tsunami event, such as at Kuraburi, Phang Nga Province.


 

Phra Thong Island

Principal watchers: Monica Aureggi, Naucrates
Occasional watchers:
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Comments: Phra Thong Island, (about 100 km2) is situated in Phang Nga province, on the west coast of southern Thailand, about 200 km North of Phuket. It is part of a group of three islands near the mainland. The eastern coast of the island is covered by mangroves, while fine sand beaches (total length 15 km ) occur on the western side.

Tourist development was limited to three small resorts which had bungalows made with local materials that did not disturb the beauty of the island. All the resorts were washed away by the tsunami. Flora and fauna are still natural and rich in number of species. The island doesn't have electricity or roads.

The tsunami completely destroyed one of the three fishing villages of the island and damaged a second one. International organizations and Thai Government are working towards the rebuilding of the local community livelihood.

Most seagrasses in the area are intertidal, coming to the surface during low tide, in particular spring tide. It is likely that there are significant areas of subtidal seagrass. In late 2005, Naucrates and Seagrass-Watch formed a partnership with, to assess and monitor the seagrasses surrounding Phra Thong Island. Naucrates plan to survey the seagrasses of the area and establish Seagrass-Watch long-term monitoring sites. The main reason for doing this is that it is a foraging area for juvenile sea turtles and dugong. Only a few animals remain, but it is probably the biggest seagrass area left in the region. Seagrass-Watch will help provide technical expertise on mapping and monitoring, including assisting with the analysis and interpretation of findings.


 

 

 

Songkhla

Principal watchers: Dr Anchana Prathep
Occasional watchers:
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Comments: Sites are planned to be established in the near future.


Songkhla is a border province in Southern Thailand, adjoining the state of Kedah in Malaysia.

Songkhla covers an area of 7,393.9 square kilometers (approximately 1,848,472 acres). It is divided into 16 administrative Amphoe (districts), with a population of the province is 1,159,672.

 


 

 

 

Trang

Principal watchers: Chatcharee Supanwanid, Royal Thai Forestry
Occasional watchers:Trang Marine Research Station
Location: Haad Chao Mai National Park
Site code:
Issues: Benthic push-net fishing
Comments: location of the very first Seagrass-Watch rapid assessment workshop in 1998

Chatcharee Supanwanid assesses seagrasses using Seagrass-Watch methodsTrang is the one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, and is located on the coast of the Andaman Sea, and contains 46 islands together with the mainland area.

The southern coast of the province is protected in the Mu Ko Phetra National Park.

Southern Thailand's sunny, clear, inshore waters are ideal conditions for the lush seagrass which were 'pastures' for fish, crabs, prawns, molluscs, and most importantly, dugongs. The dugong was once abundant in these large expanses of seagrass along Thailand's southern shores, until pushnets and intrusion by trawlers began to damage the ocean floor. Meanwhile, gill nets, pollution, noise, and habitat destruction have been blamed for the 75 dead dugongs which washed onto the districts' shores between 1979 and 1998. When a dugong began to frequent the coastal waters along the regenerated sea grass bed of Ban Chao Mai village in 1995, it caused a stir in the media as live dugongs had not been seen in a long time, and most young people had never seen one.

The dugong, nicknamed Tone, being from a popular, 'cute' species, was instrumental in consolidating government support for the seagrass protections zones (which are protected by the government regulation with village cooperation). For Yadfon, the dugong became a flagship for conservation in the area, and in Trang the dugong image can be seen on municipal property such as garbage cans.

 

 

 

 
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