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Kamala Beach empty as officials ramp up ‘fish safety’ patrols

Kamala Beach empty as officials ramp up ‘fish safety’ patrols

PHUKET: Kamala Beach was nigh empty of swimmers yesterday (May 3) as officials and lifeguards patrolled the beach to warn beach-goers of an “aquatic animal” in the waters that had bitten an 8-year-old boy on Sunday.

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By The Phuket News

Wednesday 4 May 2022, 12:27PM


The boy, Naphat Chaiyarak Khrystenko, which Thai media are highlighting has aThai mother and a Ukrainian father and all who live in Phuket, suffered deep lacerations to his lower right leg requiring more than 30 stitches to close.

At Kamala Beach yesterday were Kathu District Chief Siwat Rawangkul along with officers from the Kamala Subdistrict Administrative Organisation (OrBorTor) and the Kamala Police.

Mr Siwat downplayed the impact the news has had, saying tourists were at the beach “as usual”, while photos of him at the beach showed nearly no people at the beach at all.

Mr Siwat explained that the patrol was to warn tourists of what had happened and had posted warning signs urging tourists to emphasise safety and to be careful of “aquatic animals” when playing in the water.

“The incident may be just an accident that happened, but we have put in place measures for people to be careful of all kinds of aquatic animals,” Mr Siwat said.

“At the same time, we have lifeguards patrolling the beach on foot to monitor the area, along with advising tourists [of the situation] during the day and evening of every day,” he said.

“Kamala OrBorTor has a patrol boat to take care of safety on the other side of the swimming area,” he added.

Mr Siwat said that audio warnings in Thai and English were being played in the area, and local residents and business operators have been asked to help monitor the situation.

Dr Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, Director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) and the leading marine biologist on the island, yesterday said that he was adamant that the bites were inflicted by a small shark.

“It’s very unlikely to have been a blacktip shark due to the nature of the attack being very violent. The injuries are believed to be caused by a bull shark,” Dr Kongkiat said.

“However, we cannot confirm exactly which species it is, but the wounds were definitely caused by a shark, because the scene of the incident is not known for barracuda,” he added.

“It’s very rare that something like this happens,” Dr Kongkiat noted.

However, long-term local lifeguard Rattaphon Phromprung disagrees. He remains confident that the animal that bit young Naphat was a barracuda, not a shark.

“Although this has rarely happened, there have been incidents like this before,” Mr Rattaphon said.

Mr Rattaphon pointed out that the most recent similar incident was in 2017, when a Japanese tourist was bitten at the beach.

In that incident, Dr Kongkiat also was confident that the culprit was a shark, but was overruled by another expert who found favour with the Phuket Governor at the time in declaring that the fish that bit the Japanese tourist was a barracuda.

“As for the impact on the tourism image of Kamala Beach, if a barracuda bites someone there is absolutely no effect, but if the news goes out that it was a shark, there will be some impact for sure,” Mr Rattaphon said.

Among the few people at Kamala Beach yesterday was tourist Paichayon Donlao, on holiday from Chiang Rai. Mr Paichayon arrived in Phuket on Monday and was unaware that a young boy had been bitten at the beach.

“I arrived yesterday [Monday] and I haven’t been following this news at all. I just came to know this. I understand that people are afraid that something might happen to them, but I think it probably doesn’t happen regularly, just rarely,” he said.

“Just now, I saw a school of fish coming to swim in the shallow water. I thought that small sharks would come here to eat small fish as well. We’ve all heard of incidents abroad where tourists who go into the water have been bitten and injured, but for this people should not be afraid,” he said.

Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtub

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Kurt | 06 May 2022 - 08:20:04

On May 02, Dekaaskopp did ridicule my suggestion of having 'Beach Water Patrols'.  Well khun Dek, see now. Kamala OrBorTor has since May 4th a beach water patrol boat in operation. Reported in PN) Well Dek?

BigaAResort | 05 May 2022 - 16:41:02

Low season starts so we need story' s like that ! that's all horst

Kurt | 05 May 2022 - 15:33:03

Mr Siwats 'down playing 'the danger and his comment about 'tourists at beach as usual. proves him to be a liar! More and more this Thai officials underline the opinion of: 'Never trust a Thai to much".  Only what you see yourself, feel yourself, experience yourself, analyse yourself as a foreigner. For your own good!

christysweet | 05 May 2022 - 12:53:04

So the lifeguard appears to be admitting he's saying barracuda because shark will make people afraid. The chasm  on honesty between east and west on full view here. 

JohnC | 05 May 2022 - 09:46:41

It's not just Kamala beach that is nigh empty. Most beaches this last week have been mostly deserted because there are basically no tourists coming here and all the yachts and other boats at beaches have also gone. It is near the time when the SW monsoon is approaching. It has nothing to do with a baby shark nipping a boy at one beach. Even in normal times this month always starts the quiet se...

 

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