Pakbara: At Crossroad

A Sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus, the symbol of the Andaman sea of Thailand bleeds profusely, while being pulled onto a longtail boat with a hook by a fisherman in the middle of the sea of Satun, Thailand. The abundance of large predatory fishes indicates the biological richness of this sleepy province, yet the upcoming large-scale development in Satun could spell ecological disaster to the most untouched region of the Andaman sea of Thailand.

Group of tourists with colourful kayaks on a small beach surrounded with jagged karst formation at Prasat Hin Phanyod, located in Mu Koh Phetra National Park. Eco-tourism industry has been growing steadily in this area from the initiative of local community.

A large colony of Gorgonian sea fan, Melithea sp. with an unusual white colouration beneath a school of fishes at Hin Khao, Satun, Thailand. During the recent research expedition, an uncommonly large number of octocorals with white colouration were found to be dominating the reef in this area, which was speculated by researchers to be relating to the low-light condition of the murky yet nutrient-rich water.

Within a small grotto by the sea, a paleontologist with his assistant search for fossils embedded on the cave wall. To accommodate road construction for deepwater port, limestone mountains full of prehistoric fossils were exploded for construction materials.

Fossil collections at Natural History Museum at Kampang Wittaya school. The limestone mountains around Pakbara and adjacent areas is one of the prime fossil site of the nation, containing fossils from a wide range of geological periods, dated back to Precambrian period.

Aerial scenery of community park and Pakbara Bay at twilight. The deepwater port is proposed to be built right at the park and extend into the shallow Pakbara bay, which raises concerns from conservationists on the massive dredging operation need to be involved.

Tourists rest in a cabin of a speedboat, which travel from Pakbara to Koh Lipe, a well known tourist island of the southern Andaman Sea of Thailand. Pakbara is usually known as a gateway to other more well-known travel destinations in the southern Andaman Sea of Thailand, such as Koh Lipe and Koh Tarutao.

A Streaked spinefoot, Siganus javus hovers in place while being block by a large school of Bigeye snappers, Lutjanus lutjanus at Talang Pinnacle located within Mu Koh Tarutao National Park. The productive marine ecosystems of the sea of Satun nurture high-value industries, such as tourism and fishing industries, which the coastal communities of the Andaman Sea primarily rely on.

An Urak Lawoi diver in his crudely made diving equipment carries a fish trap over a sandy bottom, while his diving buddy swims after him from behind, Koh Adang, Satun, Thailand. Urak Lawoi or usually known as Chao Lay (Sea people in Thai) is an aboriginal Malay tribe, who reside on a small number of islands along the Andaman coast of Thailand. Since their livelihood is closely tied with the sea, the ongoing industrial development along the Andaman sea raises a concern over the future of this abo

Mictyris thailandensis, a new species of soldier crab described in 2013 from the southern Andaman coast of Thailand digs its bunker into the grey sand on a beach near the rivermouth of Pakbara, Satun Thailand. M. thailandensis can only be found at a few beaches near Pakbara village of Satun, thus there are concerns on the possible impact to these soldier crabs from the upcoming development of deepwater port, which may completely destroy the limited habitat of this endemic species.

Colonies of healthy Staghorn corals, Acropora sp. in the intertidal zone of Koh Bulon Lae at low tide under the morning light, Satun, Thailand. According to the most recent assessment by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, ~80% of the shallow reefs of Thailand have already degraded, with only ~6% can be considered as healthy. Yet, the healthy reefs of Satun province could be shortly decimated by the upcoming plan to develop a large-scale deepwater port.

Before sunset, members from several conservation groups in southern Thailand play soccer for friendly matches on Pakbara beach. Despite the claims for improving the economy in the southern region, the plan to construct the deepwater port has been intensely opposed by the local communities.

Pakbara is a sleepy fishing village in Satun province, the southernmost tip of the Andaman coast of Thailand. The village is mostly known as the gateway to other more well-known tourist islands, thus there have been little coastal development activities in Pakbara area until recently. At the present time, there is a national plan by the Thai government to develop a large-scale deepwater port at Pakbara, which is promised to improve logistics, and import-export industries of the nation. However the cost of this development could be an ecological disaster to the southern Andaman sea of Thailand, which would greatly impact the livelihood of the coastal communities and high-value nature-based industries in the adjacent area also.
© 2019 Sirachai (Shin) Arunrugstichai
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