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Thailand - Diver facing 10 years in prison for destroying coral reef

A diving tourist from Thailand faces 10 years in prison for a photo he took while diving when coral reefs could have been destroyed. Asian and European media have reported a story about a Thai diver, Wisutra Rattanasathian. The man faces up to 10 years in prison for sitting on a coral reef fragment while
Published: March 1, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 00:10
Thailand – Diver facing 10 years in prison for destroying coral reef

A diving tourist from Thailand faces 10 years in prison for a photo he took while diving when coral reefs could have been destroyed.

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Asian and European media have reported a story about a Thai diver, Wisutra Rattanasathian. The man faces up to 10 years in prison for sitting on a coral reef fragment while diving. The evidence in the case is a photo … which the defendant himself posted on social media.

Thailand 10 years in prison for coral reef destruction
Police with photo of diver as evidence in case

Rattanasathian took the photo late last year while diving near the small island of Koh Khram Noi. He then used the photograph in a video he posted on his social media in February this year. This was the start of his troubles, as the photo caught the attention of the Thai Coast and Sea Protection Agency.

Penalty for the possible destruction of coral reefs

Thai officials reviewed the footage and then notified the police. Now the reckless diver faces draconian penalties. This could be a fine of 1 million THB (€27,500), 10 years in prison or a combination of both.

Touching or sitting on reefs puts corals under stress, can damage their tissue and prolonged contact can even kill them. I want to remind everyone to help protect the environment. Do not under any circumstances touch or tamper with corals. If you do, we will draw consequences in relation to protecting our natural resources Wongipong Wongin said.

It is possible that the court will take as a mitigating circumstance the fact that the tourist himself reported to the police when he saw the whole thing escalating. In his defence, he said that he had no idea that he had sat on a coral reef and thought it was just a rock. He then apologised for his behaviour and said that he would never knowingly put a coral reef at risk of damage. However, this is undoubtedly a warning to every diver to take due care underwater.

has occurred in the past a similar situation which ended with the deportation of divers from Thailand.

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About author

Julia
My love for scuba diving started as a 12-year-old in the Canary Islands, at which time I took my first Open Water Diver course. This love for the blue turned into a huge passion that accompanies me to this day. Although blue is hard to come by in the Baltic, no conditions are terrible for me. In this sport, I find peace, patience, courage, focus, and balance. I have recently started to engage in underwater modeling and I am fulfilled with this.
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