Strange days in The Similan Islands. We had 6 guests on board and there was hardly another boat in sight. The new national park restrictions are in full force and things are eerily quiet.
So this blog is dedicated to a weird and wonderful photo taken at Koh Prathong Wreck this week. It perfectly sums up the mood of diving in the Similans right now. Here is ‘Space Dive‘, from our very own Takeshi Omura…
After a smooth crossing to The Similan Islands, we awoke to a serene setting moored in the idyllic honeymoon bay. After a quick coffee, we headed to West of Eden for dive #1. During the dive we saw old familiars, the seemingly ever present spearing mantis shrimp at the entrance to the channel. New hard coral growth at the north end of the dive site points to the slow but steady recovery of the Similans.
We noticed considerably less boat traffic, probably due to the marine park’s efforts to manage the area more effectively. Maybe coincidentally, we saw dolphins on our cruise up to elephant head rock. Watching the dolphins jumping, spinning and playing made me feel positive about the future.
At Three Trees the sunlight hit the water perfectly, providing a tranquil blue environment. We admired schooling barracuda and turtles in our slow drift along the reef. Relaxed and content, we moored up in Donald Duck Bay for the afternoon.
We hopped over to Ao Guerk beach (some of us literally) for an afternoon stroll around island #8. Having the island virtually to ourselves the islands wildlife was out in force. Birds singing and squirrels darting around with their young playing in the sand. A real treat.
Visiting the national park office to show our paperwork, you really get the feeling that they are extremely proud of what they are starting to achieve. All smiles and chats with national park employees on the beach. A real positive vibe starting to materialize.
Two large bumphead parrotfish were the highlight at Christmas Point.. Koh Bon turned up a pair of Pharaoh cuttlefish just off the west ridge. Koh Tachai demonstrating perfectly how marine life can adapt to changing conditions. Our first dive was pretty still as we cruised around the main pinnacle watching all the inhabitants of the ecosystem go about their daily business.
The second dive at Tachai, just before sunset, the current started to pick up. We watched as some of the smaller fishes hid away and the more dominant and predatory life started to think about the last chance to hunt. A good days diving was had by all. We headed north to Koh Surin, where we spent the night.
It was a gloomy start with heavy showers as we approached Torinla bay. With this years new schedule, Torinla is somewhat new to us at Big Blue. A morning drift dive after a light on the line with large snapper, jacks and trevally. Then a steady cruise back to Richelieu Rock ready for the rest of the day.
As always, Richelieu Rock delivered. Plenty of life of all shapes and sizes, giant barracudas cruise around the rock with menace written all over them, whilst tiny box fish flutter in the moving water. The shallows are covered in meadows of turtle grass, vibrant in colour and abundant in life. Mating Pharaoh cuttlefish here, soon descended in to a bit of fisty cuffs between two males, an awesome sight.
The fishing net we started to remove on our last trip has now been completely removed by the DMCR (Department of Coastal Resources) with assistance from the Venus Marina. I’m sure not an easy job, so massive thanks goes out to the people responsible for their efforts.
But the best news of the day belonged to our stewards Bao and Ooy. With a bit of phone reception in the Surin Islands Bao received news he had become a father to a lovely daughter. Welcome to world Moe. We look forward to meeting her very soon.
Our final days diving consisted of 2 wreck dives. The first was the Koh Prathong wreck and second was the Boonsung. We found lots of little critters and, as always, large schools of snapper, fusiliers, puffer fish and much more.
Thank you to everyone that joined us this week. It was great to meet you all. Hopefully see you again soon!