Sanya's Coral Reefs - Part 1
Many come to Sanya to scuba-dive and snorkel over the coral reefs. However, poor tourism planning means that the coral reefs are being damaged, although the establishment of a Marine Protection Area in 1990 is helping to slow the rate of damage.
The 5,500 hectare reserve contains at least 110 species of reef-building corals and 30 species of soft coral, including species of Acropora, Porites luteu, and Goniastrea aspra down to 2 metres. Coverage is as high as 70% in the bigger bays. These reefs create a home for 300 species of fish and 300 invertebrates, with 60 large benthic algae also found here.
There are three main areas of coral reef:
- around the islands to the west of Sanya city
- around the Luhuitou peninsular and either end of Dadonghai
- in the centre-west section of Yalong Bay
In 1996, the Yalong Bay Coral Reef Protection and Tourist Development Site was set up, and the facilities and services replicated later in Dadonghai Bay and at Ximaozhou. These monitor the three part marine reserve, which receives no funding from Beijing - it is to be hoped that local businesses and hotels provide financial support, but I certainly saw no evidence of this at hotels in the area. Considering that 1.5 million people visit Sanya annually, and a good proportion of them visit the reefs, I would hope that there is some form of mechanism so that people impacting the reefs actually pay!