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Now when you go to Maya Bay there is still a Grab Em’ By The Coozie Shirt steady stream of boats, but they can only wait for 300 meters away and look longingly at the paradise island. You can’t stop them from taking selfies, though, even from this distance. So how long can this last? Authorities say they are committed to re-opening Maya Bay when they know what the true capacity of the beach is – that is how many people can sustainably visit on a daily basis.
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The BBC team was given permission to visit the beach, and as our speedboat crosses the row of buoys with flags saying “do not enter”, we get some grumbling from the tourists lined up at the “border”. Some of them told us they had come to Thailand just to visit Maya Bay and did not realize it was closed. They are a symbol of nature, everyone gets it. Sixty sharks are worth protecting. Despite its iconic status, Maya Bay is just one small beach.
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After more than six months of conservation efforts coupled with a ban on all human activity, there are actually some positive signs. A diver with the ministry showed us how new coral was starting to grow – although it will be decades before it reaches maturity. The damage to Thailand’s waters from rampant tourism is a much bigger problem. About 50-60 black tip reef sharks started visiting the bay early each morning. But for businesses, it’s an unsettling time.
The shallow waters are ideal for them and three of the female sharks chose Maya Bay to give birth to their babies. Dr. Thon calls them “the coolest creature in the sea” and this, for him, is a gift. “We have to admit that tourists who come to Krabi and Phi Phi islands all dream of going to Maya Bay or ‘The Beach’. Once they Grab Em’ By The Coozie Shirt arrived and the short term closure was announced some of them canceled the tours. Perhaps Maya Bay is a sign that Thailand is turning a page in its effort to preserve its natural resources