Featured Image Credit: Nemo’s great uncle via Flickr
By Eva Gruber
The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej ruled Thailand for 70 years, and 126 days. He was, at the time of his death, the longest serving head of state in the world, and one of the longest reigning monarchs in the world. The King was much beloved and adored by all Thai people, for his many philanthropic acts throughout his lifetime and reign which improved the lives of his people throughout the country.
Thailand adored their King so much that they did not tolerate any signs of disrespect to his name. His face was printed on their money, and if you dropped a bill in the street, stepping on it to catch it was blasphemy. Before every movie played in a theater, all movie-goers had to stand and sing in honor of his praise.
He passed away on October 16th, 2016, at the age of 88 years. Thailand is currently going through a national year-long period of mourning. Many Thais are mourning in their own way. Almost everyone is wearing black, the traditional color of grieving. Stores are selling mostly black clothing, with their most colorful items stored away or on the clearance racks. Even their mannequins are draped with colorless clothing. Hotels are asking guests and tourists to show respect by wearing somber and conservative clothing, preferably black. Sporting events are cancelled for the next 30 days.
The Phuket Aquarium is mourning his death, and honoring his legacy by planning the release of 989 seahorses. The aquarium has released a statement announcing this plan, and that they need volunteer divers to assist with the effort. The event is planned to take place on December 5th, 2016, from 9 am – 12 pm – so if you are in the area this could be a beautiful international effort in honoring the late king, as well as his love for the ocean surrounding his beloved tropical country. The event is limited to 20 volunteer divers. Email the Aquarium for more information and to volunteer.
The seahorses were all captive-bred at the Phuket facility, and will be released into the Andaman Sea which surrounds the peninsula of Phuket, in cooperation with the Marine Resources Research Center and the Andaman coast Department of Marine and Coastal Research.
This act is not only to honor the late king, but to also honor his legacy in loving and protecting the sea. Seahorses in Thailand have seen a drastic decrease in population from illegal poaching for the pet trade, as well as to dry and sell as souvenirs in markets around the world. Thailand represents 90% of the world’s trade in seahorses. Late in September, the country released a statement saying they plan on ending this trade, which is wonderful news for their marine ecosystem. Releasing this population might help increase the threatened populations of seahorses in the area, which would be the perfect homage to King Bhumibol.