Around 100 bottlenose dolphins were spotted in the waters off the west coast of southern Thailand as the country's national parks remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said on Tuesday.
Officials of the Mu Ko Similan National Park islands in the Andaman Sea said they were carrying out a patrol operation near neighbouring Bon Island on Monday when the dolphins appeared beside them, reports Efe news.
"While on patrol, about a hundred bottlenose dolphins gathered to swim in the west near Ko Bon, located in Mu Ko Similan National Park," the park's Facebook page said in a post accompanying a video of dolphins leaping out of the clear water and playing beside the boat.
No sign of fear
The dolphins "did not show signs of fear at all" and were "swimming daringly and even jumping to greet the officials", it added. While around 50-100 dolphins are often found in the area, a park official told Efe news that the drop in human activity was a factor in their more frequent appearances at the moment.
Amid the ban on inbound flights and with the country's heavily crowded beaches now empty under the restrictions put in place by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19, as well as the absence of the usual number of fishing boats and tourist speed boats, nature has been on the rebound.
Last month, environmentalists said the 11 endangered and rare leatherback sea turtle nests found since November on Thailand's west coast beaches in Phuket and Phang Nga was the largest number in two decades.
No such nests had been found in the previous five years. Around the same time, Marine National Park officials in southern Trang province found a school of 22 dugongs, including mothers and their babies, feeding on seagrass off Libong Island. Sharks have also been spotted in the shallows of some beaches.