REPORT: THE SERIOUS TRUTH ABOUT CORAL SITUATION IN PHU QUOC THAT NO ONE TELL YOU (Updating…)
Some of the fringing coral reefs in South Phu Quoc Island (An Thoi archipelago area) such as the one of Gam Ghi (or Dam Ngang Island), Fingernail Island (Hon Mong Tay or Hon Xuong), Kim Quy, Hon Buom which are the most frequently visited island by most so-called snorkeling tours, island hopping, local tours… in Phu Quoc, a large area of corals account for 80 – 90% is under very bad health condition or dead.
With about 21 coral reefs located along the tropical water of Phu Quoc Island, 3 reefs in the North, and 18 reefs in South Phu Quoc. It is supposed to be that you will see vivid marine life in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, but a sad truth that many people do not know or diving shops & snorkeling & boat tour companies are trying to deliberately ignore an overstatement about the current situation of corals or do not tell you that vast areas of corals are dying here in Phu Quoc not only due to weather condition changes but also human affects. Throughout observations of corals in the past few years, OnBird could bring out a reliable brief about the bad situation happening to corals in Phu Quoc Island now.
THE REASON BEHIND THE CORAL DEGRADATION IN PHU QUOC ISLAND
Weather conditions change is one of the influences but overfishing including chemical fishing, unsustainable, uneducated and irresponsible snorkeling & island hopping & scuba diving tours and sea walking clubs are the most significant harmful impacts on coral reefs in Phu Quoc. Come to Phu Quoc nowadays you will see a lot of broken, dead corals at popular snorkeling & diving sites such as: Kim Quy, Hon Buom, Dam Ngang, Mong Tay, May Rut…. Sadly say that at OnBird, instead of advertising the featuring coral spots to tourists as many as possible then we have to try keeping them hidden from massive tourism with a hope that those beautiful coral spots are safe from the impact of a huge number of tourists every day.
EXISTING THREAT TO CORAL REEFS IN PHU QUOC
Emissions from restaurants on the island: Small islands such as Mong Tay, May Rut Ngoai, May Rut Trong, and Hon Vang in South Phu Quoc is now invaded by big restaurants, they don’t have any waste treatment system, especially wastewater (from food, shower with soap) is all polluting the sea and coral reefs.
Sea Walking Clubs: The area of these clubs is not fixed but moving to different areas in different seasons, the area they allowed to set up their platform is originally not a vivid area but a calm water area by season. Thereby they have to build their own so-called artificial reef to attract first-time tourists; they adverse that it is Coral Park and coral garden but basically they remove alive corals from coral reefs and then bring them to their area and build up a so-called artificial reef. There is a risk of dying corals when removing and transferring between areas. As alive creatures, when the corals are removed from their original places (their habitat will be changed: different depths, different water quality, different water flow cycles, different sunlight exposure…) the corals will be degraded.
Especially with numerous daily tourists (tons of sun cream in the water will poison corals), they also fish feeding and change the fish behavior, so all of these are harmful to the so-called artificial coral reefs by Sea Walking Clubs. As a result, when coral died they kept going to natural coral reefs and picking then cutting the corals and removing them into their areas. This is definitely destruction. With patient observations of corals, we found some differences in coral reefs after a few years.
Irresponsible managed Island Hopping & Snorkeling Tours by Speedboat: Their anchors are damaging most of the coral reefs in South Phu Quoc Island. Guests who don’t know about corals but just care about fun will choose these tours at cheap prices for a fun outing even though the price turns out expensive in comparison to professional-managed snorkeling & diving experiences in terms of experience gained on the trip. Many of these tours allow tourists to feed fish with bread or any unnatural spray to fish, which is harmful to their inhabitants and coral reefs. Never anchor your boat inside the reef, there are boulder corals that play the role of reef builders that look like the rocks outside, please don’t treat them like stones.
Big Wooden Boat Tours: With numerous attendants on the trip up to 50s to hundreds of people and just a few on-boat watching guides (no underwater guides), they fail to manage or keep the safety for all guests strictly as well as for the corals.
Invasive coral or Harmful corals: The coral reefs in Phu Quoc are witnessing an increasing area of button corals a kind of invasive corals that invade the areas of hard corals, stony corals, and rocks…prevent zooxanthellae algae residing in hard coral tissue to expose the sun to product food for corals. The Coral Mountain which is the largest cactus coral colony in whole Phu Quoc is now invaded by the Button corals. The button polyps corals are growing fast and strongly, covering as well as blanketing almost everything in the water regardless of live corals.
Overfishing: From our observations at seagrass areas and coral reefs as well as our experiences of organizing deep-sea fishing (which have been closed since Jan 2024) we are seeing a dramatic decline in the fish population in Phu Quoc water which directly impacts coral reefs and marine life of Phu Quoc.
Fish feces play an important role in recycling nutrients on coral reefs around the world and on Phu Quoc. Fish feces can provide a variety of nutrients to benthic organisms such as corals, algae, and microorganisms. The decline of fish populations leads to systemic marine biological imbalances in coral reefs, causing reefs to be controlled or improperly cared for by marine life.
WHAT WE CAN DO?
Look and dive if you can to see if your boat anchoring on sandy areas or corals.
At OnBird, we protect the coral reefs in Phu Quoc Island in our way, it’s at the core of our operation and all that we do. Apart from the incalculable intrinsic value, we are very directly reliant on a healthy coral reef for our existence as a snorkeling & diving company. We understand the coral reef is a fragile ecosystem, subject to numerous threats. We are committed to protecting the reef and the environment in general. We are thrilled to be in a position to conduct a minimal-impact Reef operation. At OnBird Premium Snorkel we provide a small number of reef trips, a big experience.
With our small efforts, we are trying to impart the right skills, especially snorkeling skills, and proper underwater behavior to snorkelers, and divers visiting Phu Quoc participating in the snorkeling experience with Onbird so as not to spoil coral damage when joining snorkeling in Phu Quoc Island in particular or other places in general.
- We protect the reef by promoting a strict “Take only photos, leave only bubbles” policy (no feeding fish, no small fishing on snorkeling)
- Educate our customers about reef ecology with informative marine talks and teaching reef conservation courses
- Not using chemical sunscreen which contains harmful ingredients to corals
- Use very fuel-efficient and economical vessels, with modern diesel engines.
- Choose sandy areas for anchoring.
- Underwater Instructors to accompany and observe in the water during snorkeling time
- Explore new sites regularly, which helps to avoid sites becoming “over-used”
According to our statistics, 90% of people participating in scuba diving trips are inexperienced people, some are experienced but they don’t have a basic understanding of the corals, leading to many of them damaging the corals by accident.
One of the reasons we keep our safety standards strictly is to protect the corals from any unexpected human mistake during the experiencing time.
PHU QUOC CORAL RESTORATION
OnBird team has been spending time thinking of solutions to restore beautiful coral reefs in Phu Quoc effectively and cheaply. We make use of broken coral branches to attach them onto new placements to help coral eggs shorten their time of building skeletons. Or OnBird is developing a kind of natural biorocks from deadly corals. In the photos below we captured simple steps in attaching or planting corals onto new placements or restoring broken corals in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam. (Keep updated)
WHERE TO SEE LIVE and Featuring CORALS IN PHU QUOC?
99.9% of total travelers visiting Phu Quoc Island have no opportunity to visit featuring coral spots of Phu Quoc Island because it requires professionals accompanied by operators and underwater instructors as well as understanding and knowledge about the coral reefs of Phu Quoc Island. The photos below were taken in Phu Quoc Island by OnBird team.
By investing time in exploring coral spots in Phu Quoc Island, OnBird builds up our own internal coral map in Phu Quoc and the corresponding coral status, geographical coral terrain, water conditions, and good timeframes based on daily water conditions. Please make reference to our snorkeling & diving spots list as well as our discovery-oriented snorkeling experiences in Phu Quoc in advance to see more and see better with an effective time budget.