The trip started as normal, with two amazing dives on Koh Bon's West and North Ridges. Dive one had minimal current and excellent viz. By the time we were ready for dive number two the current had picked up a bit and was coming from the North. We jumped in on the North Ridge and explored some of the beautiful boulders in the deeper areas there. The highlight of the dive for some of the groups were the two Ornate Ghost Pipefish that I found hiding among the whip corals at 28 meters. Other groups... Saw two different Manta Rays! Cool!
After a brief discussion about whether or not we should stay and try for the Mantas again on dive number three or stick with the schedule and go to Koh Tachai for dive number three, it was decided that we would leave. As we were arriving in Tachai a few hours later, I learned over the radio that there had been a Whaleshark at Koh Bon just after we left. Oh well, I guess you miss some. Little did we know, the disappointment wouldn't last long. After the dive at Tachai we learned that there had been a Minke Whale right over the top of the dive site just a minute before we arrived. That's always encouraging, to know that there are some big mammals around. And then it happened. Late in the surface interval, someone yelled Whaleshark! We all ran to the side of the boat expecting that we might see a dark shape way out in the distance. Instead, what we saw was a 2.5 meter baby Whaleshark, right next to the boat!!! It was right at the surface, swimming lazily against the current just below us! Some of us jumped in the water to snorkel with it, but it was gone by the time we got in. A few minutes later it was back again, and this time I was ready. I jumped in and snapped a few photos of it, just underneath the boat
It left again for several minutes and then returned for a third time. At this point we had been up from the previous dive for more the two hours, so we all went downstairs and suited up. Again it was gone once we got into the water, but at least nearly every one of our divers saw it at the surface from the boat only a few minutes earlier. Winner!
The following morning saw an amazing dive at Tachai, with literally thousands of Yellow- backed Fusiliers schooling around several of the groups from all different directions:
Add to that two different large schools of circling Barracuda:
Mating Octopus, Giant Trevally and even a juvenile Devil Scorpionfish, and you've got a recipe for one amazing way to wake up in the morning!
Then it was on to Richelieu Rock for the final three dives of the day. Conditions have been especially nice there this past week, and this trip was the same. Highlights included a baby Tigertail Seahorse, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, a juvenile Trapeze Angelfish and a crowd favorite, two different sets of Harlequin Shrimp!
All in all, an unforgettable day of diving for all. Day three was the usual schedule of dive one at Koh Bon Pinnacle. Always a treat in good conditions, we experienced great viz and very little current this time around. Our little buddy Stewie the Stonefish was home as usual, and one lucky group saw a Blotched Fan-tail Ray swimming by. Add to that schools of Bluefin Trevally and Rainbow Runners, and it was a very nice dive indeed.
The final dive was on the Boonsung Wreck, an old tin mining dredger that sunk in the 1980's. Absolutely teaming with life, the Boonsung wreck is always a fantastic way to finish the trip. Large schools of Baraccuda, Trevally and Fusiliers cover the wreck. Smaller stuff like Nudis and Spearing Mantis Shrimp can be found as well. Ornate Ghost Pipefish are usually around, and there are always tons of Honeycomb Moray Eels hanging out of the nooks and crannies.
There is this very friendly Grouper that lives down there, and it always seems to be especially interested in Mark. Maybe she's a girl. Can you blame her? :-)
It really is a great dive, every time. This time we did see something special, a baby Octopus! So cute, shy but curious, it would poke its head out of the hole, then retreat, then come up again. Really nice. A great way to end the trip.
Congratulations to all of our students on board! We had three different PADI courses going this trip, with newly certified Open Water divers (Gabriella and Haaken), Advanced Open Water divers (Renata, Mari and Robert) and Nitrox divers (Michael, Monique and Michael). Awesome! Great job guys. Welcome to the family!
It's sad when a fantastic trip like this one comes to a close, but the good news is that Manta Queen 2 is going out again tomorrow evening for another three day tour! :-) Come and join us on any of our adventures scheduled this season.
Khao Lak Scuba Adventures has five boats, all running different schedules in the Similan and Surin Island National Marine Parks. We are sure to have something that will fit your needs. Until next time... Happy bubbles, and here's to all the big stuff swimming around!!! Yeah!!!