When confronted with the hustle and bustle of popular tourist destination Koh Samui, it’s easy to forget Samui and the Gulf of Thailand was once renowned for many unique natural wonders, to be discovered by those in search of places and experiences off the beaten track.
In fact, our forest spa’s original ‘raison d'être’ was to preserve, and give access to, a large area of hillside forest, with an abundance of tropical plants and birds and butterflies, giant granite boulders, and its unique atmosphere of peace & tranquillity.
For those with patience and eagerness many of our region’s original natural wonders are still here to be found. One of these are the pink dolphins of Khanom.
South-west from Samui, across the waters of the Gulf of Thailand, lies the small beach town of Khanom. Khanom is situated on the mainland, and belongs to the southern Nakhon Si Thammarat province. Sitting at the mouth of a small river flowing into the sea, it is both a fishermen’s village and a quiet beach resort. In the vicinity of the town, there are half a dozen sandy beaches of all sizes, dotted in between the limestone mountains of the beautiful Khanom coastline.
Khanom’s coast is home to a small group of dolphins, often called the Pink dolphins of Khanom because of their unique skin colour, which can be a flecked mixture of white, grey and, yes…pink!
Khanom’s dolphins are a local population of a larger group belonging to the Chinese White dolphin species, which is a sub-species of the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin. According to Thailand’s Department of Marine & Coastal Resources, there are only a total of 150 of Chinese White dolphins left in the Gulf of Thailand, 60 of which live in the waters around Khanom.
This, of course, makes them candidates for extinction, and some measures have been put in place to safeguard the remaining dolphins. Educational programmes for the local fishermen are aimed at changing behaviours, so less dolphins are hurt and killed in encounters with boat propellers, fishing nets or carelessly disposed rubbish.
Despite these low numbers, individual or groups of dolphins can be spotted regularly from Khanom’s beaches. To maximise the opportunity for an encounter, local guides take tourists out on boats, and, notwithstanding the weather, find it easy to spot dolphins to go in for a closer look and greeting (while always keeping a safe distance of at least 50 metres).
The dolphins oftentimes appear very relaxed, effortlessly gliding past, and seem content to move at slow speeds, taking it easy without a care in the world. Other times, they can appear playful, showing off with jumps and hitting the water surface with the tail fins, and reaching speeds of up to 37kph.
These guided trips, often on traditional longboats, have much more to offer than just an encounter with the pink dolphins, and offer great opportunities to see and explore the coastline, small islands and amazing rock formations of the area.
Khanom’s pink dolphins are wonderful example of the region’s diversity of flora and fauna, and must be protected and preserved from extinction. Your support of eco-friendly tourism and natural preservation initiatives is an important contribution.
Until next week.
Your Tamarind Springs blog team