We as divers have a natural interest in the natural world and all it’s wonderful inhabitants. Scuba diving brings us close to our marine friends so that we can observe them in their natural habitat doing whatever they were doing before we came along on our dive.
The goal is to have as small of an impact on their environment as possible and we spend hours training to achieve the best possible position and buoyancy for that to happen. All though scuba divers do occasionally accidentally touch the reef (or purposely, but not on Sea Bees watch) it is still a much more eco friendly activity than others.
We are also putting pressure on each other as dive operators and diving professionals to keep reducing our environmental impact and “name & shame” pages on facebook etc are not unheard of. We affiliate with various organisations in Thailand to financially support the work of those actively working to save the marine world.
But, as a diver on holiday whether in Phuket, on Phi Phi, in Khao Lak or any other location in Thailand you might not dive every single day but also do other tours. If you love nature and animals as much as we do, here are some dos and dont’s when it comes to the many exciting tours offered to you around Phuket, Khao Lak, Phi Phi and elsewhere in Thailand.
Don’t: Thailands only Dolphinariumin Phuket
Who doesn’t love dolphins? They are so cute and intelligent. They are also wild animals that belong in the sea. Three of the dolphins in the dolphinarium in Phuket are born in captivity and shipped in from Ukraine; the other five are directly link (caught) in the annual slaughter in Taiji, Japan. By going to see this show, you support the activities there. If you are not familiar with the slaughters of dolphins in Taiji check out the documentary “The Cove” (not for sensitive viewers).
Do: Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Center
Around Thailand you can bump into various animals kept by touts who offer you to take a picture with the wild animal, do not do this. Most of them as juveniles and to capture them the touts shoot down their mothers and then it’s easier to catch the babies. However, there is a place you can go to see these amazing animals. In the north of Phuket, in Thalang, there is a rehabilitation center for Gibbons. There is a few which will never be rehabilitated and those you can visit and take pictures of and support a good cause at the same time.
Don’t: Elephant trekking Thailand
It doesn’t matter which Elephant camp you choose or however nice the mahout seemed, all the elephants currently working with carrying tourist around in Thailand have been abused in order to “kill their spirit” so that they will obey their trainers. This is normally a very painful and stressful experience for the elephant where they keep them awake for several days by hitting, stabbing, pulling and even using fire to scare them. It’s also been calculated that on Phuket there are 216 elephants serving over a million tourists yearly. That’s 30-40 tours a day carrying 2-4 people per elephant!
Do: Phang Nga Bay tours
The natural beauty of Phang Nga bay and all the islands, lagoons and limestone formations there is truly mind blowing! A lot of tour agents arrange kayak tours in the areas including some swimming, walking, caves, and amazing views. You have a good chance of seeing monkeys and birds in the wild and there’s even been dolphins and whale sharks spotted from the boats in the area!
Don’t: Tiger Temple
As much as these animals do need our help as their natural habitats are getting smaller and smaller and there are not many places left in the world where they can live undisturbed, they do not need their picture taken together with tourist all day every day whilst drugged to not “misbehave”. Recently the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi (near Bangkok, Thailand) was closed and the authorities found various items to prove that the people responsible keep the tourist version of the tiger temple as a cover for an illegal and highly unethical trade of tiger skins, teeth, meat and even pickled tiger babies. Do not support this kind of trade and treatment by going to the Tiger temples around Thailand.
As a general we suggest that when you book a tour or activity that in any way involve animals (wild or not), do ask yourself:
- Does this activity truly benefit the animal?
If not 100 % sure that the answer will be yes, investigate further by searching the Internet, ask your diving instructor or simple don’t do it.
Nature, Thailand, the animals and all of us at Sea Bees Diving thank you for choosing carefully what you do on your holiday, nothing will change until the demand changes!
Team Sea Bees 🙂