Tarutao National Marine Park
Tarutao National Marine Park |
The History of the Tarutao Marine Park goes back to 1939 when a prison was constructed on Tarutao Island. During the Second World War, due to lack of supplies, both prisoners and guards became a much feared group of pirates. After the war the British Naval Troops restored order and the Corrections Department closed down the prison. Villagers from nearby provinces settled on Tarutao Island to cultivate rice, fruit and rubber. In 1972 the National Park was declared, and most settlers where relocated. Sea gypsies where the original inhabitants of the waters in the Andaman Sea, moving from beach to beach depending on season and the availability of food. Today most Sea Gypsies have permanently settled down, and a small Group lives on Koh Lipe.
The Tarutao National Marine Park consists of a group of 51 islands in the Southern part of the Andaman Sea, near the Thai - Malay border. 2 clusters of islands lay in between 20 and 70 kilometres from the mainland. The largest island is Koh Tarutao and is over 10 kilometres wide and about 26 long. This mountainous island is covered mainly with rain forest and there are several mangrove swamps. A few long sandy stretches of unspoiled beach and some caves can also be found. The second group of islands that makes up the marine park is the furthest away from the mainland and includes Koh Lipe, Koh Adang, Koh Rawi and Koh Dong. The largest islands Adang and Rawi are almost completely covered with rain forest. During rainy season several waterfalls run of Adang into the sea. The waters around Koh Lipe and it's neighbouring islands are very clear and house a wide variety of living coral and other marine life.
There are basically 2 seasons that determine the weather in the area: wet and dry. Wet season starts at the end of May when the monsoon brings plenty of rain and rough seas. Dry season starts early November. Temperatures are between 27 and 30 degrees Celsius year around. The start of the dry season (November and December) tends to be the mildest, with coolest temperatures, while the end of the dry season (April and May) tends to be a little bit hotter. Humidity is high year around (80 to 85 percent).
Fauna & Flora
The waters around Koh Lipe, Koh Adang and Koh Rawi house an enormous variety of marine species, including: dolphins, mantas and other rays, sharks, sperm whales, but also plenty of reef fish like clown fish, angelfish, lion fish and all sorts of coral. And although over fishing has taken its toll on the fish population and some of the coral has been damaged there is still an abundance of marine life in this area. Other wildlife that can be spotted mainly on the larger islands (Koh Tarutao - Koh Adang - Koh Rawi): crab eating macaques, wild pigs, monitor lizards, mouse deer, hornbills, sea eagles, snakes, ... Most of the park is covered with a mix of rain and monsoon forest.