Posted by: thoughtfulnomad | September 26, 2010

Shark Watching and a Beach Cleanup

I left Phi Phi Island yesterday and took a ferry to Lanta Island. I was supposed to go from Phi Phi to Phuket Island to take a flight to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. A few days before I was supposed to leave some people I met told me about protests that were going on in Chiang Mai. The same group that caused huge conflict in Bangkok earlier this year were apparently having a rally in Chiang Mai. It was supposed to be peaceful, but that’s what everyone said about Bangkok and that lead to killings and bombings around the city. So instead of flying to Chiang Mai I went a little farther south to another island. I was having a really hard time thinking about pulling myself away from the islands anyways, so I’m completely okay with still being in the south. I would actually stay here even longer except that my one month visa is going to be running out soon.

We ended up not seeing any sharks on our day tour, so I booked another tour with 3 other people I had met to go shark watching the next morning. We went with an actual dive shop at 7am and swam around with our guide for a few hours. We saw black fin sharks which are completely harmless. It was amazing to be able to swim with sharks in water that had perfect visibility. They weren’t very big; I’d say the biggest was about 3.5 feet, but it was amazing nonetheless. We had to swim with our arms behind our backs because if we had them in front of us the sharks would get scared and swim off. They pretty much just hung out near the ocean floor and didn’t come closer than about 15 feet to us.

One of the divers at the shop mentioned that some people from other dive shops around the island were planning to do a beach clean up the next day. A combination of ships dumping trash and waste coming over from Phuket Island has left the bay a complete mess.

(side-note: I’m sitting on my bed typing and just noticed a frog in my room. Not going to lie, though…it’s better than the roach that was in my bed while I was staying at that bungalow in Phi Phi.)

I figured that if I was fortunate enough to be able to appreciate Phi Phi Island, I should do something to help keep the place so beautiful. I asked for some information on the clean up and went out with 7 dive instructors to a remote bay on the other side of the island the next morning. The people were all really nice and laid back. A couple of them had come to Phi Phi on vacation and just never left, which I can completely understand. We took one of their diving boats to get to the bay, which would have actually cost hundreds of Baht to do if I were to hire that type of boat to do some sightseeing. The bay was beautiful with perfect white sand and jade colored water, but trash was just piled up along the coast and floating in with the tide. The seven of us spent a few hours filling up 60 big black trash bags with trash. It was ridiculous how much garbage there actually was; you could literally stand in one place for an hour and just pick up the pieces as it floated onto the beach. After about 3 hours we took a break to eat some lunch that they had packed and then ended the day by weighing all of the bags before loading a second boat with them. The end result was 610 kilos of trash picked up as well as a huge chunk of wood that one of the boat captains kept to use for his motor. We took our boat back while the one with the trash headed for the “rubbish boat” to take the bags back to the mainland.

 

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