Status of coral reef in Thailand

During 1994-1998, the coral reefs were monitored in order to produce the map of coral reef distribution in Thailand which illustrated coral reef conditions. This indicated that coral reefs were distributed in mainland and islands with a total area of about 128,256 rai, half of them were found in Andaman Sea and another distributed in the Gulf of Thailand. However, that number was not included coral patches found in coastal rocky shores and pinnacles where soft corals and sea fan were dominated. Presently, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources is trying to survey the coral reefs where the previous surveys were not covered, approximately 10%.  For instance, in 2009, they explored coral reefs in several areas in Tai Muang District, Phang Nga Province, located far from the mainland. These reefs were separated into individual reefs and extending to Mai Khao Beach (Ko Phuket) as locally called “The Thousand Reefs”. Some coral reefs may have potential to be SCUBA diving sites but not for snorkeling diving because the locations are quite far from the coast and it’s not safe for snorkeling divers. According to the survey, live and dead coral coverage were recorded during the survey. These data illustrates that how much density of live and dead coral are found and these coverage data were then used to analyze coral reef condition by comparing the ratio of live and dead coral coverage in each area. The ratios which considered as a decision criteria for classifying coral reef condition include a) the ratio 3:1 refers to a very healthy reef, b) 2:1 refers to a healthy reef, c) 1:1 refers to a fair reef, d) 1:2 refers to a poor reef, and e) 1:3 (or higher) refer to a very poor reef. The coral reef conditions of each area were shown below: (Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, 2012b).  

Table 3 Area of coral reefs in Thailand

Zone

Province

Area (rai)

Total area (rai)

Eastern Gulf of Thailand Trat

17,635

25,428

62,480

Chantaburi

585

Rayong

3,141

Chonburi

4,067

Middle Gulf of Thailand Prachuap Khiri Khan

988

36,514

Chumporn

5,030

Surat Thani

30,496

Lower Gulf of Thailand Nakhon Si Thammarat

350

538

Songkhla

110

Pattani

78

Upper Andaman Sea Ranong

2,592

38,108

65,776

Phang Nga

23,810

Phuket

11,706

Lower Andaman Sea Krabi

11,811

27,668

Trang

4,120

Satun

11,737

Total

128,256

Source: Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (2012b)