The team of 30 divers were by led Kasem Sukwaree, Director of the DMCR Phuket’s Natural Resources and Environment Office, together with Director of the Phuket DMCR’s Conservation Department, Suchart Rattanareangsri.
Actively planting the sea fans were volunteers from the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, Songkhla DMCR, among other agencies.
Lending a hand as part of an underwater conservation educational project at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC) were students from Baan Laem Panwa School and Baan Nabon School.
“The 250 one-year-old sea fans were collected from the Phuket Deep Sea Port and grown before being planted at the artificial reef off Koh Maithon,” explained Mr Suchart.
“This project has been ongoing for many years and we have good support from many officers, and especially from volunteer divers and students who care for the environment,” he said.
“Natural sea fans have been decreasing in number because of many factors, but mostly because they are fished. Sea fans sell for anywhere from B100 to B10,000.
“People like to use them for decoration, as a traditional medicine and even to wear as a good luck charm,” Mr Suchart said.
“The sea fan is a protected animal. Phuket DMCR officers have previously arrested smugglers, who are usually local residents that know how to avoid being caught by officials.
“They take orders from people who want them, then after collecting them, hide the sea fans and try to smuggle them off the island at night, so it is hard to catch them.
“Any persons who see the snuggling are urged to inform us,” Mr Suchart said.
Call the DMCR Phuket office at 076-393566-7.