On 15 February, Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort, which is managed by S Hotels & Resorts, a Singha Estate subsidiary, officially launches its new “Marine Discovery Centre”, a new attraction and social enterprise supported by Singha Estate with active participation and sponsorship to be sought from international and domestic visitors to the islands.
The Marine Discovery Centre will house a series of colourful, interactive displays explaining the life cycles and habits of many marine species endemic to the Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, as well as information on area natural attractions and a gift shop. The innovative new environmental attraction will also play host to a special program to re-introduce Clownfish – better known as “nemos” – back into the region’s once plentiful waters.
“Unfortunately, since the world fell in love with a cartoon fish called Nemo the natural population has been devastated due to the collection and sale of clownfish,” says Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a respected environmentalist, marine biologist and lecturer at Kasetsart University who is senior advisor to the project.
“The rush to capture these endearing fish has slowed in recent years because breeding them in captivity has become more cost effective. We therefore have a rare opportunity to actively re-build the Clownfish population around Koh Phi Phi and attract visitors to the islands at the same time,” he added.
To help restore natural balance, Dr. Thon and the staff at Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort have designed and built a Clownfish nursery within the Marine Discovery Centre where they will raise and breed a particular species of “nemo”, releasing the fish into the ocean when they are mature enough to fend for themselves.
Adding to the hands-on appeal for guests and visitors, snorkelers and divers will be able to join regular “nemo” release trips by boat, supported by fun environmentally conscious activities organized back at the resort, including film screenings and eco-friendly parties.
Utilizing social media channels, guests will also be able to follow the release program online when they return home and can even “adopt” a Clownfish and have it returned to the ocean.
The Marine Discovery Centre at Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort will also be used to raise nurse sharks, another species whose numbers have been dramatically depleted in recent years. The slow-moving bottom-dwellers are generally harmless to humans and can grow to an impressive four metres in length. With no species known to regularly to prey on nurse sharks, their demise is almost entirely caused by fishing and habitat destruction. Experts therefore believe it is best to re-introduce them within the boundaries of the Marine National Park.
“At Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort we take our role as the human hosts in this beautiful natural destination very seriously and we are always looking for ways to protect and preserve the environment that supports us,” says Chao Treenawong, General Manager of Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort.
“We look forward to welcoming guests from around the world to visit our Marine Discovery Centre as we encourage them to learn about, and take an active role in protecting Thailand’s unique marine species,” he adds.