White sandy beaches, turquoise water and sun – Thailand is an absolute holiday paradise for tourists from all over the world. But mass tourism threatens Thai biodiversity and causes massive coral death.
Environmental protection in Thailand
Banning certain sunscreens is just one of the measures Thailand is taking against the increased coral death. Because the cnidarians also suffer from the numerous excursion boats that drop their anchors in the bays. In 2018, among other things, the famous Maya Bay was closed and new corals were planted there. The beach is from the 2000 movie “The Beach” known, in which Leonardo DiCaprio also played and has since attracted countless tourists.
Nevertheless, the decision caused criticism. If a bay is closed, the tourists would gather on another beach accordingly. This would then be even more overcrowded and more severely damaged anyway.
What protects people harms the environment
Sun creams are a threat to the diversity of nature. They contain substances such as oxybenzone, octocrylene and parabens, which bleach the corals. The problem occurs particularly often in tourist places for swimming and diving – with scarce 40 million Tourists (as of 2019) endanger the corals enormously.
Around half of all common sun creams contain substances that are toxic to corals. These reflect ultraviolet light and cause the corals to bleach. As a result, the corals die and can no longer multiply.
Instead, sunscreens based on zinc should be used, as these do not harm the corals. If the prohibition is violated, fines of up to € 2,500 are foreseen.
Also the pollution of the sea by Plastic waste is increasingly a problem in Thailand. Now several volunteer organizations are organizing in cooperation with the thai tourism association Collection campaigns to rid the waters of plastic. The collected garbage is then too Flip flops, Handbags or paddle boats processed.
Similar bans in the Caribbean and Hawaii
The first ban on sunscreens was issued by the west Pacific island Palau in 2018. It did not come into force until 2020, but it nevertheless marked a milestone in the protection of corals. At the beginning of 2021 they also closed Hawaii and some other Caribbean islands and banned appropriate sun creams to protect the corals.
At Maya Beach in Thailand, the corals have recovered thanks to replanting and paused tourism. In order to protect the corals in the long term, boats are no longer permitted there. The tourists can only reach the bay by land and are only allowed to stay there for a maximum of one hour. In addition, Maya Beach is completely closed for four months of the year so that the underwater world can relax.
Corals as an indication of a damaged environment
Corals are an indicator of how human activity affects the world’s oceans. Advancing climate change, global pollution and the use of fossil fuels.
Is it the Corals bad, as well as the surrounding water. According to a study by the UNESCO Most of the reefs could have completely disappeared by 2100. The ban on harmful sunscreens can curb further species extinction, but it cannot stop it entirely. After all, factors such as overfishing, rising temperatures and the exhaust gases from ships also damage the underwater world. In order to avoid further species extinction, it is not only necessary to do without bleaching sun creams, but also to drastically reduce global CO2 emissions.
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