Twenty tourists and guide arrested after damaging corals during ‘sea walking’ trip

Twenty tourists including their guide were arrested after allegedly damaging corals during a diving trip in Thailand. The group booked a ‘sea walking’ trip where they wore snorkels and stepped on corals before picking them up to pose for pictures off the coast of Ta Yai beach in Chonburi province. Footage of the stunt was seen by marine wildlife authorities who then raided the tour company ‘Sea Walker’ on March 19. The tourists as well as their guide and operator of the Popeye ship where they boarded were taken to the Pattaya City Police Station for questioning. They were charged with the violation of Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act and Marine and Coastal Resources Management Promotion Act for allegedly hurting wildlife after they were seen touching, grabbing, and moving corals while they took photos and videos with them. The group also allegedly pulled sea anemones and fed marine animals which were considered an illegal activity under Thai marine laws. Marine and Coastal Resources Office director Puchong Saritdeechaigool said: ‘Sea Walker had been open for a while but had no license or approved zones to continue their business. ‘We are still managing the areas for undersea tourism. The zoning would be designed to lessen the damage on sea animals and marine resources and control the use of diving equipment.’ Police and marine officials are now working to prevent other diving companies encroaching onto protected areas with similar tours.