The beach nobody can touch

About 50-60 blacktip reef sharks started visiting the bay early each morning. The shallow waters are ideal for them and three of the female sharks chose Maya Bay to give birth to their babies. Dr Thon calls them “the coolest creature in the sea” and this, for him, is a gift.

“They are a symbol of nature, everyone gets it. Sixty sharks are worth protecting.”

So how long can this last? Authorities say they are committed to re-opening Maya Bay when they know what the true capacity of the beach is – that is how many people can sustainably visit on a daily basis.

But for businesses, it’s an unsettling time.

“We have to admit that tourists who come to Krabi and Phi Phi islands all dream of going to Maya Bay or ‘The Beach’. Once they arrived and the short term closure was announced some of them cancelled the tours. They couldn’t go to the selling attraction,” said Ekawit Pinyotamanotai, president of the tourism council of Krabi.

Despite its iconic status, Maya Bay is just one small beach.
The damage to Thailand’s waters from rampant tourism is a much bigger problem.

The total area experiencing coral reef damage in Thailand has increased from 30% to 77% in just one decade, according to Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat.

He blames polluted water released by beachfront hotels and plastic waste dumped into the ocean as the main causes.

Perhaps Maya Bay is a sign that Thailand is turning a page in its effort to preserve its natural resources

But for a nation so hugely dependent on tourist cash, it could also just be proof of how dire a situation has to get before action will be taken.

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