Khun Wichai, or “Noom” has been head of Reserved Marine Lives Conservation Center for 4 years. The center was found in 1990 by Mr. Sombat Sae Iew (Pa Cheng) who initiated buying turtle eggs with his own money to protect turtle babies from natural or human risks until they’re strong enough then to release them to the sea. In 1997, there was correction of trawling law that expands trawling area for boats much closer to the shores, which causes danger to turtles laying eggs on the beach. Since then, together with pollution and more incoming tourists, there have been much fewer turtles found and in many years none at all. Also, some turtles are injured by fishing boats. The duty of this center is to constantly watch out for injured turtles so they could save them immediately. As the duty to heal injured marine lives belongs to Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, but once noticed, it would take them a few hours to arrive the area. The center would take first action to bring the injured turtles to proper places with initial treatment before the official department takes over. However, they currently do not have their own proper place to keep the turtles during waiting, they have to ask help from other private shrimp farms, which is not quite efficient.
Khun Noom has been actively participating in this project voluntarily since 1990 under the leadership of Pa Cheng. He has been taught to protect marine lives since he was young, so it sticks to his heart. His actual job was minivan driver for tourists in the past 10+ years. But due to high competition and his deteriorate eye conditions, he decided to quit and switch to growing vegetables instead. His short term wish is to have an official office for his center, which is planned to be on Mai Khao soi 7 near the beach. His longer term wish is to bring back the tradition of “turtle parade” that releases young turtles back to the sea, which has disappeared for 20 years. This would be special event for Phuket that would generate revenue to support the center’s activities as currently it relies purely on donation.