Thursday, November 25, 2010

Snorkeling The Reefs

When Ko Samet turned out not to be a paddler's paradise, at least in terms of interesting kayaks to paddle, I looked around for alternate water activities. Large motorboats would arrive off the beach each morning, people would climb aboard over the stern and off they would go, returning each evening, all happy and tanned. We soon found out they had spent the day snorkeling the reefs surrounding some small offshore islands. That sounded interesting, so we booked…

The trip out to the islands took less than an hour and we anchored in picturesque bays, moving every now and then to sample different sites. The equipment this time was in excellent condition and seemed brand new!

While the scene above water was totally engaging, what we saw under the the surface was shocking. Most of the coral was dead and the marine life usually associated with reefs had mostly disappeared. The cause? The guides put the blame squarely on recent increases in water temperature. It appears that coral can only live within a relatively narrow temperature range and that had been exceeded in this area. In spite of this disappointment, it was good to be swimming in the clear water and seeing what once was. Will it return? Will the commercial fishing be able to sustain itself in these changing times? Only time will tell, but it did make me think about how our impact on the planet is slowly but surely putting the squeeze on us. It led me to post a carbon dioxide watch widgit here on the blog to remind me to curtail the size of my personal footprint...

We finished the day by visiting a small island park where we were served refreshments of juice and fresh fruit. Here as well, we got to know some of our fellow snorkelers more personally. In particularly, this lady, a Thai befriended us and we ended up traveling back to Bangkok with her the following day. Throughout the trip we were treated to incredible hospitality and kindness by local people. It was very heartwarming!

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