Phang Nga Bay Marine National Park was declared a protected Ramsar Site of international ecological significance in August, 2002. Phang Nga is a shallow bay with 42 islands, comprising shallow marine waters and intertidal forested wetlands with at least 28 species of mangrove; seagrass beds and coral reefs. At least 88 bird species, including the globally threatened Malaysian Plover and Asiatic Dowitcher can be found within the site, as well as 82 fish species, 18 reptiles, 3 amphibians, and 17 mammal species. These include the Dugong, a vulnerable species, White-hand Gibbon, the endangered Serow, and the Black Finless Porpoise
Phang Nga Bay is a 400 km² bay in the Andaman Sea between the island of Phuket and the mainland of the Malay peninsula of southern Thailand. Since 1981, an extensive section of the bay has been protected as the Ao Phang Nga National Park. The Park is situated in Phang Nga Province.
Phang Nga Bay has incredible scenery and is a popular spot with tourists. It used to be that the only way to see the bay was by tour boat from Phang Nga city, although you could take a boat from a small fishing village near Phuket. Opting to hire a private boat you'll still see the infamous "James Bond Island" but the local fishermen giving tours know of dozens more truly beautiful and unique locations of interest.
In the late 1990s sea canoe tours went into service as well. There are now several companies offering these tours. They depart from Phuket, saving the long drive up to Phang Nga town. You ride on a large boat up into the bay. At selected places, the boat stops and you get off the big boat onto the sea canoes, two tourists and one guide to each canoe. The guide does all the work. You just have to keep your camera dry.
Limestone cliffs with caves, collapsed cave systems and archeological sites are found about Phang Nga Bay. Some 10,000 years ago, when sea levels were lower, one could walk from Phuket and Krabi.
Above is the most famous of the many islands in the bay, the so-called James Bond Island, a needle formed limestone rock in the sea, which featured in the movie The Man with the Golden Gun. Nearby villages include Ao Luk. Ko Tapu is about 20 metres, or 66 fee tall, with the diameter increasing from about 4 metres, or 13 feet near the water, to about 8 metres, or 26 feet at the top. It lies about 40 metres, 130 feet to the west from the northern part of Khao Phing Kan.
A local legend explains the formation of Ko Tapu island, as follows... There was once a fisherman who used to catch a lot of fish each time he went to the sea. However, one day he couldn't catch any fish despite many attempts, picking up only a nail with his net with each cast. He kept throwing the nail back to the sea and catching it again. Furious, he took his sword and, with all his might, cut the nail in half. Upon impact, one half of the nail jumped up, splashed into the sea, and speared itself into the sea floor, forming Ko Tapu.
A scientific explanation of the Ko Tapu formation suggests that, during the Permian period, the area was a barrier reef. Tectonic movements ruptured the reef and its parts were dispersed over the area, and flooded by the rising ocean. Wind, waves, water currents, and tides gradually eroded the formations forming peculiar shapes, such as Ko Tapu. Tide related erosion is visible at the bottom of the rock.
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