MAYA BAY, Thailand: On any given day in Thailand’s Maya Bay, as much as 40 blacktip reef sharks cruise within the cyan shallows whereas about 4,000 vacationers go to its white-sand seaside flanked by towering cliffs.
Shark numbers have improved since virtually each final one was pushed from the bay by the inflow of tour boats and vacationers eager to see the uninhabited idyll that was made well-known because the set of Leonardo Di Caprio’s 2000 thriller The Seashore.
The sharks returned after a tourism ban and the COVID-19 pandemic between 2018 and 2022 halted all guests to the bay.
Authorities allowed restricted tourism to renew in 2022, and now conservationists say shark numbers are scaling down once more, leaving Maya Bay struggling to strike a steadiness between preserving a pristine ecosystem and sustaining livelihoods depending on tourism.
“We do not discuss closing down all over the place or lowering the tourism numbers, however I believe we’re speaking about managing it correctly,” mentioned Petch Manopavitr, a marine advisor to Thailand’s Nationwide Parks Division.
Maya Bay lies in Phi Phi Leh Island, a spec of limestone rock lined in emerald-green vegetation within the Andaman Sea off Thailand’s west coast.
Marine researcher Metavee Chuangcharoendee mentioned that due to the pause in tourism the island was as soon as once more functioning as a nursery for younger sharks.
She and different researchers on the Maya Shark Watch Undertaking use underwater cameras and drones to rely sharks and observe their behaviour, feeding areas, and breeding patterns. Within the yr between November 2021, after they initiated a pilot examine, and the tip of 2022, they seen a lower within the variety of sharks as vacationers progressively returned.
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