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Patong wastewater a factor in rise of red sea urchins, says expert

Patong wastewater a factor in rise of red sea urchins, says expert

PHUKET: Phuket marine life expert Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong has identified wastewater released into the sea as among the key contributing factors leading to red sea urchins being washed ashore at Patong Beach.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 18 March 2021, 11:07AM

Dr Kongkiat, Chief of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC), which is operated by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), urged people to not collect or eat the red sea urchins, which have washed ashore in the many hundreds during the past two spring tides, most recently on Monday (Mar 15).

The sea urchins have risen to the surface close to shore at Patong Beach to feast on a bloom of macro algae in Patong Bay, Dr Kongkiat said.

“These algae are the food of the sea urchin. Algae thrive and are carried by the water currents, as well as sea urchins,” he explained.

“The phenomenon of sea urchins stranded on the beach is explained by the phenomena of these algae blooms, together with this period being the spring tide with high tides,” he added.

Dr Kongkiat urged people to not remove the sea urchins for the area

“We shouldn’t take these sea urchins out. We should help them into the sea to serve as the ‘Cleaner of the sea’,” he said, as the urchins will eat the macro algae.

Dr Kongkiat pointed out that the algae bloom was the result of higher concentrations of nutrients in the beach water.

“For algae to be able to bloom, it needs food like fertilizer we use to feed plants,” he said.

“These fertilizers do not come from just anywhere, but are elements of the wastewater that we release into the sea,” he said.

Phuket officials at all levels for more than a decade denied that wastewater being released into Patong Bay was a consistent contributing factor to algae blooms at Patong Beach.

However, Patong Municipality health officials in 2016 finally admitted that during the heavy influx of tourists during the pre-COVID tourism high season as much as 20% of Patong’s wastewater flowed untreated into the bay.

The rise in effluent being released into the bay consistently led to algae blooms, the health officials admitted.

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maverick | 19 March 2021 - 14:52:21

Last time I checked Patong was devoid of people, so it makes one wander where this wastewater is coming that is allegedly contributing to the algae bloom - which is also a natural phenomenon 

Kurt | 18 March 2021 - 11:59:56

....eye- and ear infections. They say 20% untreated release. Nice try to talk the untreated  polluted water release percentage down with a 'white lie'. Guess it is more about 50%. Stand knee deep in water at Patong beach and see the faeces particulars around your legs some days.

Kurt | 18 March 2021 - 11:53:36

I wrote earlier about Patong underwater pipe line that release urine/faeces in the middle of Patong Bay. It seems to be still in operation. Actually quite dumb to do such release in  'horse shoe' formed Patong Bay. There is no current like along other west coast beaches that 'refresh' the water. One reason why we have regular that 'bloom', besides skin rash, eye- and ear in...


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