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Sea Worlds

Skål International Thailand Executive Board meets in Chiang Mai

Dispatches from a distant world

Until modern technology enabled divers and marine researchers to survey marine life in it’s natural habitat, the deep dwelling creatures of Japan’s Suruga Bay had mainly been studied as dead specimens, either hooked by fishermen, or drawn into nets. Today, submersible vehicles and remote control cameras allow us to observe their world. We can now watch squid as they shoot through open water, at 2,000 feet or more, and marvel as these elongated and streamlined missiles swim upward, with tentacles down, rippling like flamenco dancers.

Blue ringed octopus, three inches long

The cool deep waters which fill the bays around the islands of Japan are filled with chimaera, which swim at 1,400 feet. The Japanese call this silver chimaera ginsame, silver shark. Like those distant relatives, chimaeras have skeletons of cartilage, not bone. On deepest dives; the true abyss (at 7,000 feet or more) observers find the cusk eel, dancing in slow motion with the grace of a phantom. Not a true eel, it has long pelvic fins, which help it find food. As with many of the species found at these depths in the Nankai Trough, little is actually known about the cush eel, but its scientific names is as regal as its demeanour; Spectrunculus grandis.

The question marks of these waters exist not only in great depths. At 180 feet, which marine biologists refer to as the ‘middle kingdom’, a place where scuba divers cannot safely venture, the menagerie of life is various and abundant. Given the expense of using manned submersibles, scientists have tended to pass through this zone in their hurry to study the bottom. Only in recent years has this niche been examined more intensely by a new generation of unmanned remotely controlled vehicles.

Many of the species at this level, such as the snipefish, dragnets, spinefish, and bottom dwelling rockfish, are ‘lunch’ for larger predators. Camouflage and symbiotic relationships with other species or physical aspects of the environment are keys to their enduring survival.

This vast and watery universe gives up her mysteries slowly. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, species of mid-level water fish, closely related to those found in Japanese waters were thought to have at one time disappeared. When a snipefish was recovered from the belly of a rockfish off the coast of Southern California, it was the first found in that region for more than 40 years.

A few years later, while looking for mackerel, purse seines (large nets attached with floats to fishing boats) accidentally found two schools of the supposedly rare snipefish which were estimated to contain about 15 million individuals. The fish had always been there, in the depths. But their numbers could not be revealed by what then was the state of the art method of collecting, which is to dip-net specimens drawn to the surface by a spotlight.

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Skål International Thailand Executive Board meets in Chiang Mai

Pattaya bids for World Congress in 2006

by Murray Hertz,
President Skål International - Pattaya and the East

Representatives and club presidents of the four SKåL Clubs of Thailand from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket met in Chiang Mai last weekend at the Amari Rincome Hotel for the semi-annual executive board meeting. Skål International is a prestigious and influential organization made up of travel professionals from all over the world.

The National Committee: (sitting l-r) Murray Hertz - President-Pattaya and the East, Bessie P. Samargachan - National Committee Treasurer, Khun Malai Sakolviphak - International Councillor and National Committee President, Margaret Bhadungzong - President Chiangmai and the North and Somsak Charnsirisakskul, National Committee Secretary. (Standing l-r) Pratheep Malhotra VP Pattaya and the East, Robert de Graaff from Phuket and the South, Ken Hill - Chiangmai and Somsak Kiratipanich from Bangkok.

In addition to the internal club matters discussed, the major issue of the meeting concerned the bidding for Pattaya to host the Skål World Congress in 2006. The congress, which brings in top travel executives from all over the world is expected to attract thousands of delegates to Pattaya should Pattaya win the bid. In 1996, the 57th Skål World Congress was held in Bangkok. Well over 1000 delegates from all over the world visited Thailand for this important tourism event.

Somsak C. (r) commemorates the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death by singing a few of his favorite ballads.

The major competitor for this very important event is Bali, the world-famous resort in Indonesia.

Eight Pattaya hotels were invited to submit quotations for rooms for the delegates, but only the Royal Cliff and the Amari Orchid complied. The Skๅl executive committee expressed great disappointment at the apparent lack of interest among the other hotels but will soon send out another offer for bids in hopes for a better response.

Among other matters discussed was Phuket’s bid to host the 2005 Asian Skๅl Assembly. The Asian Assembly brings together members of all the Asian Area clubs and like the World Congress, attracts hundreds of the area’s top travel agents, airline executives, tour operators, hoteliers and other travel executives. Phuket’s main competition for the assembly will be Kuala Lumpur.

Skållegues enjoy cocktails at the poolside of the Amari Rincome Hotel under the watchful eye of GM Marc Dumur (5th from left)

The Executive Committee also approved a donation of $250 for the victims of the recent floods in the northern provinces of Thailand.

The committee stressed that SKåL International Clubs in Thailand are the only organizations that encompass the entire travel and tourism industry from all parts of the world. SKåL plays an important part in the promotion of tourism in Thailand. International Councilor Malai Sakolviphak emphasized the important advisory role that SKåL plays in the tourism industry of Thailand.

Khun Malai and Khun Bessie present President Margaret with a donation to help the flood victims in the north of Thailand.

A cocktail reception was held for the delegates of the Executive Committee, as well as members of Skål , Chiang Mai and was followed by a dinner at La Gritta Italian restaurant in the Amari Rincome Hotel.

Pattaya was represented by club president Murray Hertz and vice-president Peter Malhotra. Other delegates were Somsak Kiratipanich from Bangkok, Somsak Charnsirisakskul, also from Bangkok as well as Bessie P. Samargachan, executive committee treasurer from Bangkok. Margaret Bhadungzong, club president from Chiang Mai, International Councilors, Malai Sakolviphak, also from Bangkok, Ken Hill from Chiang Mai and Robert de Graaff from Phuket.

The next meeting will be held in Pattaya in March of 2002.

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