Mantas, Mantas! They seem to be everywhere at Koh Bon recently! What an amazing start to this, trip number 145 on Manta Queen 2.
After a promising check dive on Koh Bon's West Ridge, in which several groups spotted a Manta Ray, excitement was high before dive number two. After deciding to switch it up a bit and do Koh Bon Pinnacle for the second dive, we all did the traditional Manta call during the briefing... Nipple rub... CHECK!
Even our Panda Bear mascot got in on the action...
We dropped into the dive site with high hopes, and we were not disappointed. We saw Ornate Ghost Pipefish, A Blotched Fantail Ray, some really big groupers, a Black Banded Sea Snake... and a Manta Ray! She came to visit us when we were on our way to the safety stop. Did a few circles around all of the groups and then left and swam off into the blue.
Dive three was again back on Koh Bon's West Ridge, hoping for more Manta action. Well, mission accomplished, as just five minutes into the dive we had one Manta swing by a few times to say hello. Then we saw a Hookjaw Moray Eel, a few big Tunas, a Cobia, and then more Mantas! There were a total of three different Mantas on this dive, and everyone on the boat was together on the West Ridge, with two Mantas at the same time and no other boats around! It was just us as one and then another and another Manta came cruising past to get a good look at all of Manta Queen 2's divers. They are so beautiful, cruising around effortlessly in the currents, sometimes coming in quite close to take a good look at us. It was sweet!
In addition the mantas, we had a large Napoleon Wrasse come by to show off a bit. Beautiful. Then at the safety stop, one group had a lone Black Tip Reef Shark come by and circle them a few times. Just out in the blue. Cool!
The sunset dive this time was at Tachai Pinnacle. We saw loads of cool stuff, but the highlight had to be a school of several hundred large Tunas passing by. Nice.
After a wonderful dinner and a good night of sleep, it was up early on day two for one more dive at Tachai Pinnacle before heading North to Richelieu Rock.
The morning dive was really great, with excellent viz and a lot of life. We saw Barracuda, Dogtooth Tuna, Fusiliers, Batfish and so much more. There were Octopus and Moray Eels out hunting, small Stingrays in the sand, and loads of cool Nudibranchs among the rocks. It was a really nice dive for all.
And now, for the main attraction, Richelieu Rock. Over the course of three dives there, we saw all of the following: Ghost Pipefish, Harlequin Shrimp, Orangutan Crabs, Zebra Morays, Tigertail Seahorses, Juvenile Angelfish, Devil Scorpionfish. Tiger Egg Cowries... I could go on and on.
Oh yeah, and a boat full of happy divers, because we also had a Whaleshark! There have been so many this season, but it's still amazing every time. This one cane between the dives, so nearly everyone jumped in and snorkeled with her for a while. She was about four meters long and stayed around for 20 minutes or so, coming and going into the blue and then back around again. Finally she left, and we all headed back to the boat to finish our lunch. Another great day at Richelieu Rock is in the books! The last day was awesome, with dives on the new HTMS Phra Thong wreck and the Boonsung wreck.
The Phra Thong in Thailand's newest wreck, and it's changing fast.
Just in the last few weeks there has been so much life moving in. Today we saw more new stuff, a school of large Big Fin Reef Squid, a huge Nudibranch (I'm not sure what type, but it was at least 15cm long...
We also saw the Hispid Frogfish again, although this time it was a different, much smaller specimen:
The final dive of the trip on the Boonsung Wreck is always fantastic, and this week was no different. We saw Frogfish, Ghost Pipefish, Porcupine Pufferfish and so many Honeycomb Moray Eels. Even the Blue Spotted Stingrays were hanging out in the sand again. Sweet!
There were no fewer than ten courses on board this trip! Julie taught four PADI Advanced Open Water students - Morgane, Camilo, Miguel and Alex. Good effort guys, on completing your Advanced course onboard during the trip. Congratulations, and welcome to the 30 meter club! :-)
Mark had five Nitrox students, Thomas, Per, Mohammed, Ahmed and Mohammed. He had fun with them!
Joe was teaching as well, with his lone student Elisabeth completing her Deep Specialty course. Awesome!
A special thanks goes out to Stefano also.
He was a cool dude, always lively and even standing in for some impromptu briefing action. He actually did pretty well, and knew what I was going to say some of the time! Nice.
Well then, another trip is in the books, and Manta Queen 2 has certainly had a fantastic season this year. Come and join us before the season ends, I promise you'll be glad you did!