Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thailand Part 2: Diving the Similian Islands

The next stage in our Thai adventure took us to the Similan Islands via a liveaboard dive boat for 4 nights. We completed 13 dives over the course of the trip and saw some amazing vistas both above and below the water.

The weather was fair and the seas calm allowing for great visibility of the abundant and diverse sea life.

The areas we dove in ranged from soft and hard coral bottoms to huge granite boulders that provided many swim throughs and caves to explore.dodging the pirates by ducking through an underwater cave

The Similan Islands provide a fertile ground for the huge abundance of live. We saw many species of animals that we had never seen before such as lionfish, harlequin shrimp, nudibranch, seahorse, blue spotted-stingrays, a sea snake and many more.Lionfish or alien creature?

We found Nemo!

Chris hiding in the school of fish

Most significantly, on the second morning, we looked up after frantic pointing by our guide to see a WHALE SHARK!!!!!

If Amy has spoken you to about diving at any point over the last several years she will no doubt have informed you that it was her mission to see one of these. All the anticipation, hoping, and wishing could not have prepared us for this, the thing was huge, dwarfing anything else we have seen. Imagine swimming along and then seeing something the size of a small school bus come past you.
Amy at her happiest moment - that's the whale shark she's pointing at

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean (whales are bigger but they are mammals). The one we saw was between 15 and 20 feet long. It swam over us then turned around and came back twice. They are extremely rare and everyone was freaking out with excitement. When we got to the surface, there were high fives all around.One of our dive group to give you an idea of the size - he's around 6ft tall without fins

We also encountered some large manta rays on two dives, they were beautiful and graceful as they flew through the water.

Is that manta about to attack Chris?!

Of the 13 dives we completed, one of these was a night dive. This is difficult to describe as it is both terrifying and awesome at the same time. In fact, it is mostly the terror that makes it awesome. We saw some different species at night and carefully tried to avoid the poisonous critters such as the lionfish, scorpionfish, and stonefish. No casualties to report. Some excitement at the end of the dive though as the current picked up and one of our divers was swept past the mooring line of the boat. We ended up forming a human chain to save her from disappearing onto the blackness. Good times.

Overall, the dive trip was the highlight of our tour in Thailand and the diving was among the best we have had. I would recommend it to anyone who dives and is keen to see some breathtaking scenery.

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