• Poland tourist and Thai girl Missing in Phuket

    A Poland man and a Thai girl rented kayaks with some friends in Phuket on 7 December 2019. When they were out in the water the waves had separated them from the group of friends. The tourist contacted the friends stating that he was able to get back into the kayak but there was no kayak paddle and the location was unclear. There have been no other communications made from either the tourist or the Thai girl since they went missing. It is estimated that the waves might have pulled them to a nearby island.

    Officials from the Navy (Third Naval Area Command), Phuket Tourist Police, other related officials, and the kayak owner worked together in searching for the 2 missing persons. The news went public to the media on 8 December 2019. Officials and friends of the missing persons went on a helicopter search provided by the tourist police starting in the early hours of the 8th. The first goal was to check all areas nearby where they went missing. They have searched several areas that the kayak could’ve floated to including Karon Beach, Koh Kaew Phitsadan Island, and Promthep Cape.

    Credit: Sanook
    Credit: Sanook

    The missing persons are 1. Matthew 27 years old from Poland and 2. Wirakan 23 years old from Nakhon Sawan Province. The search continues on 9 December 2019 with new search plans involving Aircraft, Naval ship no.991 and no.233, Marine Police boat no.814, speedboats, and more. All areas that have not been searched will be cleared and the search will continue until both missing persons are found. The friends are holding onto hope that both the tourist and the Thai girl will be found safe and sound before they are brought back to Phuket.

    FB Caption: The tourist stated that he was able to get back into the kayak but there was no kayak paddle and the location was unclear.


  • Is Thailand Prostituting Its Resources?

    Shin is angry.

    As one of Thailand’s foremost marine conservation photographers, Sirachai “Shin” Arunrugstichai sees on a daily basis dead baby sharks discarded as trash by fishing trawlers, tourist speedboats crushing coral, and dead whales cut open and full of plastic.

    “We are prostituting our resources for others to use,” he said. “We are eating the world to extinction right now.”

    But despite Thailand’s bleak environmental situation, Shin says social media is offering glimpses of hope this World Oceans Day.

    Overfished, Overtouristed

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef
    A fishing boat’s haul from the Andaman sea, taken in October 2016. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Courtesy

    Thailand should be teeming with coral reefs and sea life, with ocean flows from the Indian, Pacific and Andaman seas. But since picking up the camera professionally four years ago, the country’s foremost marine photojournalist has only seen our waters overfished and ecosystems ravaged.

    “The sound of tens of thousands of fish slapping the water as they’re pulled up by huge nets is deafening,” Shin, 31, said. “Nets and trawlers catch animals and fish too young to be caught. They’re sold as trash for 7 baht a kilo and then used as animal feed.”

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef
    Bycatch from a trawler. Taken in Phuket in 2012. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Courtesy

    Shin offers a photo of a trawler’s bycatch taken in Phuket – dead baby sharks, rays, and starfish among juveniles of commercially viable species such as mackerels that, had they grown, could have fetched an even better price.

    “I understand that this is the livelihood of fishermen and it’s the industry’s process,” he said. “But overfishing leads to stock collapse and then ecosystem decline, and we will have to deal with those consequences.”

    While Thailand started industrial-scale fishing in the 1970s, Shin says most commercial fishermen and related state authorities have yet to consider managing sustainable resources. And one of the most wasteful and harmful practices, of course, is fishing for shark fin soup.

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef
    Parts of a Spottail shark arranged to symbolize disappearing shark numbers in Ranong, taken in April 2018. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Courtesy

    According to a 2017 Wildaid report on shark fin consumption in Thailand, the country is the world’s top exporter of shark fin. Almost a third of Bangkokians have consumed, or plan to consume, shark fin, mostly at big-dinner events such as weddings.

    “It’s most harmful to consume at the top of the food chain – like sharks, since they naturally have a low birth rate, laying only a few eggs or giving birth to a few live pups per season,” Shin said.

    If you aren’t planning to swear off fish entirely, Shin recommends eating as low as possible along the food chain. Examples include shells that only eat sediment, or fish from certified sustainable sources such as Fisherfolk.

    Shin, who graduated with a Master’s in ecology from Prince of Songkla University, has a soft spot for sharks. He remembers rejoicing to see Blacktip sharks return to Maya Bay.

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef
    Tourist boats milling around Maya Bay December 4, 2017 before its closure in 2018. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Courtesy

    “Maya Bay is really cool because it’s an ideal shark breeding ground: a sheltered, shallow lagoon with lots of biodiversity,” Shin said. “So the Blacktip sharks that swam there were all pregnant, like an expectant mothers’ club meeting spot.”

    The world-famous Maya Bay in Krabi, overrun with tourists, was closed in June 2018 after marine experts pleaded for measures to allow the local ecology to recover. Only six months later, officials spotted sharks giving birth to pups.

    It was a rare win for the environment, though the tourism industry usually trumps.

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef
    Tourists on Maya Bay in December 4, 2017 before its closure in 2018. The bay could see up to 5,000 tourists in a single day. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Courtesy

    “Maya Bay had a maximum capacity of 170 people at any given time. But this rule was never enforced,” Shin said.

    The choice between preserving Thailand’s marine life and making a quick buck by bringing in a raucous tour boat that harms coral should be painfully obvious – but not so for many tourism operators.

    “We are actually saving the hearts and minds of tourists by closing off these places. Otherwise they would come and see that it’s not as beautiful as advertised in brochures,” Shin made his case for the closure.

    When visiting beaches, Shin asks that tourists wear coral-friendly sunscreen – he recommends ReReef brand – as some chemicals in regular sunscreen can harm the environment. Additionally, don’t go to over-touristed places whose ecosystems are trying to recover, or to places where tourist capacities aren’t enforced. Look at nature from afar rather than swimming down to perch on coral for a selfie.

    “Some people get way too close just because they want a picture with a clownfish. Is that really worth the risk of damaging the ecosystem?” asked Shin. “Is your 20,000 likes worth more than the life of a piece of coral? A lot of people will say yes.”

    Finding Hope

    Though an award-winning freelancer, Shin regularly shoots features for the Thai edition of National Geographic, travelling to other provinces at the first news of environmental degradation.

    On a recent Monday, Shin had just returned from photographing Marium, an orphaned baby dugong found in Trang waters.

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef
    Marium, an orphaned dugong, eats sea grass in Trang in May 2019. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Courtesy

    “She’s so cute! She swims under boats thinking it’s her mom, cuddles humans, eats seagrass and drinks milk before falling asleep snoring in people’s arms,” he said, smiling. “Usually when I get to photograph dugongs, it’s super depressing – cut to pieces during necropsy to determine the cause of death, or drowned from entanglement in fishing gear. Hope is very rare.”

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef
    A young dugong’s decapitated head after a necropsy to determine its cause of death October, 2016 at Phuket Marine Biological Center, Phuket. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Courtesy

    Though Shin feels isolated and “miserable” in wasteful Bangkok, away from creatures such as Marium, he is heartened in continuing the fight online.

    “I’m so happy every time there’s online drama. Thais are getting more aware and vocal,” he said. “Before it was just ecology academics arguing in our small circles. Now, it’s people posting about bubble tea places that use seven pieces of single-use plastic for a single cup.”

    Alongside friend and fellow oceanographer Thon Thamrongnawasawat, Shin regularly takes to Facebook to descend on ocean-destroying behavior like Poseidon.

    A cooking show that ordered its contestants to cook endangered stingrays? Slammed. A celeb posting videos of himself feeding fish in a pristine coral reef? Personally challenged by Shin.

    “He didn’t admit he was wrong and even posted that he was an expert in environmentalism,” Shin said, referring to Poomjai “DJ Poom” Tangsanga, who in 2015 ignited drama over the clips. “I was like, no, I’m the expert, and you’re wrong.”

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef
    ‘Why, bro?’ Shin says, throwing his hands up in the air.

    Online rage, often against celebrities mistreating animals in the name of merit, is a sign for Shin that Thailand’s plastic-guzzling habits can change.

    “Of course, it’s easier to live irresponsibly. Some women would rather use a plastic straw so their lipstick doesn’t smudge, without thinking about the consequences of that straw,” Shin said. “But I feel a little happy when I ask for no bag at the cashier, and the person behind me copies and asks for no bag too.”

    It’s those little things that give Shin a small beacon of hope for the fate of Thailand’s oceans.

    “Do I seem like a mad preacher to you?” he asked, half-laughing.

    Thailand prostitue resources fishing beach sea coral reef


  • Strong final day closes out successful 2019 Top of the Gulf Regatta

    PATTAYA, Thailand – An AP on shore delayed this morning’s start but the wait wasn’t too long and just over an hour later the AP was down and the sailors headed out to their rides for the final day of racing. The delay was a good call, as come start time the wind had picked up and was blowing a resectable 8-10 knots. It lasted through the afternoon and ensured all classes got in a number of races on the final day and wrapped up a successful series for all the classes.

    Keelboats and Multihulls

    IRC Racing 1 was already a foregone conclusion come today but it was great to see the two TP52s, Team Hollywood (AUS) and THA72, out on-the-water and racing hard. Having been a long-time supporter of the Top of the Gulf Regatta, Ray Roberts brought his ‘new’ TP52 this year to take on Kevin and Tom Whitcraft’s Thailand-based THA72. They finished the series undefeated and in the process stopped THA72 from securing a third win in four years.

    With a number of Thai ex national team sailors onboard and 2010 World Optimist Champion Noppakao Poonpat at the helm, THA72 have taken it upon themselves to support local talent and are providing a much needed bridge from dinghies to big boat racing for Thai sailors.

    As the winds softened and the races got shorter in IRC Racing 2, Fujin (AUS) came into their own. They put together a string of seven wins from the last seven races and with that, won the class. Tenacious (AUS) performed better in the long races at the beginning of the series, but kept Fujin honest throughout, finishing second overall ahead of Lawana (THA) who claimed third on count back from Ink Zone (AUS).

    After a slow start to the series, Team Spray (JPN) found their sweet spot and strung together a series of firsts and seconds, finishing today with a 1,2 scoreline and top the standings. MoonShadow2 (GBR) enjoyed the stronger breeze earlier on in the regatta and had to settle for second overall with SailQuest Hi Jinks (USA) in third.

    Twelve-strong Platu class delivered some close racing. Photo by Guy Nowell.

    The Platu class traditionally delivers some of the closet racing in the regatta, and this year did not disappoint with just seconds the deciding factor in many of the races. Of the 12 Platus competing this year six made the podium but it was Chris Way’s Easy Tiger V who put in a dominating performance finishing with six firsts and three second places in the 12-race series to win by a whopping eight points.

    Last year’s winner, Team ViewPoint, placed second just two points ahead of top Thai boat, Pine Pacific, skippered by Ithinai Yingsiri.

    A single race for the Multihulls and another bullet for Bob Garner’s BladeRunnerIX (GBR) saw them finish their series with five wins from six races and a comfortable class victory. Sonic (THA) placed second overall with a string of second places beating out the French entry, Edenko.

    Thailand S\V14 Para Sailing Championship

    Two races wrapped up a fun, and competitive four-day series for the Para Sailing class and inaugural Thailand S\V14 Para Sailing Championship. Paisol Pateh/ Mahseedi Hadumor (THA) have barely put a foot wrong all regatta dropping their final race score (a six) to finish top of the standings and 11 points clear of Kasempon Hondee/ Suraphong Chitkong (THA) with Kristo Priks/ Peep Krusberg (EST) in third. Finishing strongly with a win in the final race of the series, Russel Vollmer (RSA)/ Cherrie Pinpin (PHI) settled for fourth overall.

    Thailand Optimist Open Championship

    Known for the Optimist class and support of youth sailing in Thailand, the 15th Top of the Gulf Regatta saw more than 80 youngsters split into Gold and Silver fleets, compete in the new Thailand Optimist Open Championship. Four races for both fleets turned the final day into a marathon and resulted with all competing a 10-race series.

    Losing his way a little in the middle of the regatta, Panwa Boonak (THA) bounced back today with a 9 (his drop), 2,1,1 to win comfortably. Second place went to Bowonnan Chanram (THA) who edged out M.L. Weka Bhanubandh by a point, who had to settle for third overall.

    In the Silver fleet, Pitipoom Jaroenpon (THA) dominated with a 23 point winning margin from Supakan Kerdsakul (THA) in second and Amonwan Aphiwatudomkun (THA) just three points further back in third.

    Dinghy Classes

    Three races for all the dinghy classes (8, 9, 10, 11) today wrapped up their series and in Class 8 a 1,3,2 on the final day was enough for Albert Nazarov (RUS) to claim the title ahead of Ralf Donner in second and Apichart Tongmak in third.

    Ahmad Latif Khan B.Ali Sabri Khan (MAS) finished strong in Class 9 with a 2,1,1 to take the title ahead of fellow Malaysians Nur Shazrin Mohamad Latif in second and Israr Hazim B.Ismail in third.

    In Class 10, Patcharee Sringam (THA) carved out a three point lead to claim class honours ahead of Mohammad Shahieran Rin Raiman (MAS) in second and Eric Owen Tan Chang Fook in third. Meanwhile in the double-handed dinghies (Class 11), the Thai duo of Jedtavee Yongyuennarn/ Chakkaphat Wiriyakitti finished their series with a 2,1,2 which wasn’t enough to overhaul the consistency of Muhammad Syafie Bin Ali/ Ikrami Hakimin Bin Markham (MAS) who held on for the class win. Fellow Malaysians, Muhammad Fauzi Kaman Shah/ Omar Ac Faroue placed third.

    Plenty of action on the dinghy course. Photo by Guy Nowell.


    Three races today completed the four-day series for the windsurfers and Ahmad Danish Abdul Hadi Kame (MAS) dominated RS:X, their only second place becoming their drop race. Geh Cheow Lin (MAS) secured second ahead of Nuur Fatin Solehah Binti Abdul Rahman (MAS) in third.

    The RS:One class was similarly dominated by Ilham Bin Wahab (MAS) who win seven of the eight races. Muhammad Izzudin Bin Abdul Rani (MAS) finished his series in style with a win in the final race to secure second place ahead of Darron Chin Hui Jie (MAS) in third.

    IOM RC Yachts

    Twelve radio controlled yachts competed in the IOM RC Yachts class at this year’s regatta and completed an impressive 27 races over two days. With four discards allowed, Dean Martin had the edge and finished with 73 points to top the standings and claim the winners prize. Second place went to Kosit Kanithadis who won on count back, tied on points with Waranan Yusanon who had to settle for third place overall.

    Full results for all races in all classes are available at

    The 16th Top of the Gulf Regatta will take place 1st to 5th May, 2020 at Ocean Marina Yacht Club. For more information:





  • Yanui the crocodile catcher team’s first croc captured at sea

    One of the Surat Thani-based crocodile catcher team says that ‘Yanui’ is the first crocodile he has caught in the sea – and a lot more difficult than catching ‘Laypang’, which was captured in a lagoon off Layan Beach last August.

    The head of the crocodile catcher team, Nikhom Suksawat, said on Tuesday: “It took 12 days to catch the crocodile because the weather was very poor with waves up to 3 metres high. The plan kept on changing all the time. The crocodile kept moving and our strategy had to change as well.

    “We had to check the sea level every time before starting the catching operation, as safety had to be a key concern at all times. We had to make sure that the crocodile could really be caught, and we were able to anticipate its escape routes, otherwise it would have been more difficult to follow as it learned from our mistakes.

    “Yanui was more difficult to catch than Laypang last year as Laypang was in a lagoon, which was a closed area and much easier to control. For Yanui, we had to wait for to her to come to the water surface. After that we would use lights to steer Yanui to another target area where we had more control over the situation.
    “When we saw Yanui’s red eyes, we used two layers of fishing nets to enclose the crocodile, before capturing it.”

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