Due to a late pick up we didn’t leave the port til early in the morning and it wasn’t until an hour or two before wake-up that we arrived at our destination. The captain snuck in a couple winks as everyone else woke up to get their first taste of the Similan Islands.
Decorator crab on night dive
The diving started off a little bit murky with about 15 – 20m much less than what we are used to, and the weather has water conditions have been so unpredictable we couldn’t guess what was going to happen. We would just have to wait and see. Turns out we got lucky their too: there wasn’t many thermoclines and the water temperature peaked around 31oC, basically a warm bath. Most people were able to jump in with the basics on and even enjoying the freedom of diving in your bathing suit. The night dive at the end of the first dive is the only one we complete on the trip and for some people it will be their only one so far in their scuba career. So congrats to those guys and hopefully you were able to embrace the dark and look at all the creatures that only come out at night.
Spindle Cowrie (left) and Softshell Cowrie (right) using camoflauge blend in to surroundings
Second day and we did one final dive in the Similans, at Elephant Head Rock before heading up to Koh Bon. Even though we had two dives on Koh Bon nothing big swam by so we had to amuse ourselves with all the other stuff on the reef; sea snake, napoleon wrasse, octopus, pipefish. Unfortunatley this trip did lack some of the ‘large’ sightings we’ve been lucky enough to spot this year, that’s how diving is and whats keep getting the sightings so great, and hopefully we kept everyone excited with all the amazing macro. Some of the highlights include a Leaf Scorpionfish on Deep Six, loads of seamoths, ghost pipefish, sea horse, frogfish, so many nudibranch…
Third day began with an impromptu song by trip leader Chris and musical maestro June on the ukulele. Due to the musical genius and feel good nature of the song everyone woke up clear eyed and ready for the last full day on the boat highlighted by the three dives on Richelieu Rock. One of the nicest ‘treats’ we found under water was the baby harlequin shrimp (below left) with the adult.
The last day and is a ship wreck double-header on the Pratong and Boonsung Wrecks. The Pratong is definitely coming along with the infamous Hispid Frogfish (below) and the standout. The last dive on Boonsung is great as always and lots of Kuhl stingrays and barracudas around the site as a bonus.
Big thanks to everyone who came out and made this; the official last trip of the season on Manta Queen I, a really fun time and a great way to finish things off. Congratualtions to our new advanced open water divers, welcome! Hopefully see you under water sometime in the near future.
Photos courtesy of Rachel Bayer and Chris Eyres