Published: Friday 31 December 1999

-- Pollution at the popular Bang Poo resort is threatening the survival of migratory seabirds that come from Siberia. Discharge from factories and the death of the mangrove forest -- destroyed by an attack of worms -- are believed to be the major causes of water pollution which has killed marine life, leading to a food shortage for the gulls. A dyke to keep out water has aggravated the problem. The gulls migrate from Siberia around this time of the year to escape the harsh winters. The estimated 10,000 arrivals this year is unusually high compared to past years. Rungroj Chukmongkol of the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand said the dyke, which was constructed by the provincial public works department about two years ago, had stopped the natural circulation of seawater off large areas of the coast and in the mangrove forest and it had become polluted. This has led to the death of both the forest and sea creatures. He suspected that no environmental impact study was conducted before building the dyke.

Chukmongkol said it that the waterways should be opened to permit flow of seawater. To residents and tourists alike, the food shortage situation is evident. Many have tried to ease the situation by giving birds such food as fried pork fat and chicken skin. A restaurant worker at the Bang Poo resort said the gulls seemed to be very hungry. "We have prepared two huge buckets of fried pork fat for sale to tourists and it is normally sold out. The amount has to be increased on weekends," he said.

Srisuk Rodphitak, a 60-year-old vendor, brought eight of her nieces and nephews with her to the resort to give food to the birds. She said she pitied the birds. "It seems they are very hungry because they fly very close to us to draw our attention." A long-time resident of the area, she said the environment in the province has deteriorated noticeably, with grave consequences for seabirds. Another tourist, Suchada Ritthiboon, expected the food shortage to worsen later this year when the number of gulls increased.

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