The order came today (Aug 30) while Governor Norraphat inspected the northern reaches of Bang Tao Beach, a stretch of sand also known to locals as Lay Phang Beach, where the crocodile was seen from the shore.
“I was told that many people spotted the crocodile last Thursday and Friday (Aug 24-25), but it was from a long distance and they were not sure what it was,” Gov Norraphat said.
Since then few swimmers have been brave enough to enjoy a swim at the beach, the Governor was told.
“Officials from the Phuket office of the Department of Fisheries have confirmed from pictures we have received that the crocodile was a fresh water crocodile. The area is not suitable for saltwater crocodiles,’ Gov Norraphat explained.
“We have set up a team to search for the crocodile,” he added.
“We have ordered Phuket Fisheries officials to contact offices that are expert in catching crocodiles and have them on standby.
“Officials in the area have been ordered to keep an eye out for the crocodile. Phuket lifeguards have been searching the sea on jet-skis, and drones have been also used to check the area,” Gov Norraphat said.
An official from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) told The Phuket News that that the crocodile, caught on drone video footage swimming off the coast of Bang Tao Beach last Thursday, was likely to have escaped from a crocodile farm. (See story here.)
However, Phuket Fisheries Chief Paiboon Bunlippatanon today noted, “There used to be two crocodile farms in Thalang, but both farms were deregistered in 2016 and sold all their crocodiles.
“It is possible that the crocodile came from one of the big freshwater sources in Thalang that are connected to the sea, where a crocodile would live,” he added, without citing an examples of where.
However, Mr Paiboon, added, “Officers are keeping an eye on beaches and big fresh water sources 24 hours a day. Also, crocodile show operators are on standby so if the crocodile is spotted, they can safely catch it,” he said.