February 2011 Archives

Recent Trips to Hin Daeng/H.Muang & Similans/Surin on Mermaid II

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from Takako Uno & Stephen Wong and Courtesy of Mermaids Liveaboards

Our recent trip to Hin Daeng & Hin Muang took place on Jan 21st to 24th 2011. We did 8 dives with Mermaid's itinerary. The visibility was nice, over 18m at the Red Rock & 12m at Purple Rock; while at the Koh Ha Chimney and Twin Cathedral, we had over fantastic 30m.  Despite we didn't run into Manta or Whale Shark, the marine life was really good. 

Coral 29t Soft Coral & Sea Whip 3153 Stephen WONG.jpgDivemaster Andrea found a pair of Harlequin Shrimps and guests found Tiger-tailed Seahorse at the Chimney.  Takako found Peacock Mantis Shrimp running around, and DM Ray found its cousin, the Giant Mantis, staring out from its lair.  Schooling fish, like the Bengal Snappers, Blue-striped Snappers, Hatchet (or Bullseye) and heaps of Glassfish were posing for cameras.  Soft coral and hard corals were healthy and blooming in the current.  The light-purplish-colored soft coral fields at the exit of Chimney simply blew our minds.  We have NOT encountered such tall soft coral (some over 1.3m tall) and large soft coral fields in Asia.  The Sea Whips nestled amongst the colorful soft corals and the giant submarine arches really made Stephen's trip, while the friendly fish and dozen species of Nudibranchs gave Takako chances to get good shots.

Staying on Mermaid II, we continued with the Similans/Surin Special from Jan 24th to 30th.  Visibility at most Similans' sites hit over 30m.  Despite seeing some dying hard corals due to the recent coral bleaching on some reefs here, we encountered schooling Goatfish, Snappers, Surgeonfish, Horse-eyed Jacks, Blue-spotted Jacks, Blue-spotted Stingrays, gazillions of Glassfish (Stephen's favorite) and lots of wonderful smaller creatures.  Anita's Reef was incredible for macro. 

DM Andrea again found the rare Ceratosoma magnifica Nudi and a juvenile Rock Remover Wrasse captured DM Lara's attention, while Takako located the rare nocturnal Reef Lobster, Enoplometopus occidentalis, and a juvenile Fuscus Triggerfish (both our first).  At Shark-fin Reef, we located over 5 species of Shrimp-Gobies in an area less than 16 sq m, while DM Cassandra pointed to us two large Dogtooth Tunas mildly cruising at X'mas Point.  Then, friendly turtles came to the back deck of the boat playing with guests near Elephant Head. Andrea discovered possibly a new species of Pygmy Pipehorse.  Then, Richelieu Rock again delivered its world class magic - schools and schools of fish, including 3 species of Barracudas - the Chevron, the Yellow-tailed and the Small.  We both missed the pairing Cuttlefish at the shallows, as Takako was busy with Seahorse, Pipefish, Blennies, Tiger Cowry, etc., while Stephen was having fun with a 1.3m Flowery Grouper (the giant fish was initially in a cave and blocked completely by massive clouds of Glassfish) and nearly got stabbed by the 7# resident Lionfish.

Here at Richelieu, guests also encountered a large Marbled Stingray and Ghostpipefish.  Soft Corals and Sea Fans at Richelieu, Koh Boh and Koh Tachai looked superbly healthy.  2 Spotted Eagle Rays soared in front of all divers at Koh Boh Pinnacle.  Despite the vis was not perfect, Boon Song Wreck gave possibly more pounds of fish than any local fish market.  Cruise Director Ramon discovered a pair of Stonefish on the wreck (we missed, too busy with other creatures).  Takako brought Stephen to observe the family of 1m long, oddly-looking African Pompano on the side of the wreck (another first time observation in our lives on this trip), with some individuals still have long trailing fins.  Sorry, too far for fisheye, no pix of the Pompano ... sobs!

Not trying to blow sunshine up anywhere, but these two trips were awesome and full of surprises. The crew and their friendliness made the trip for everyone.  Then, of course, we miss Chef Ting's delicious gourmet! In a jiffy, we want to go back, especially when the vis has been so good.  

Takako Uno & Stephen Wong
Marine Wildlife Photojournalists

www.TakakoUno.com & www.StephenWong.com

Seahorse 01tc Tiger-tailed 6756 Takako UNO.jpg

Coral 06t Soft, Sea Fan & Glassfish 3552 Stephen WONG.jpg

Crab 01t Porcelain 6256 Takako UNO.jpg

Shrimp 01tc Harlequin 5543 Takako UNO.jpg

Turtle 13t Green & Mermaid II 3516 Stephen WONG.jpg

Dive training with Dive Asia

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Dive Asia offers the complete range of PADI diving courses for beginners and previously certified divers - from PADI Open Water Diver to PADI Divemaster and PADI Instructors. Dive Asia's three PADI Course Directors and additional Master and Staff Instructors guarantee the quality of your training in our fully equipped education facility at Kata Beach. With air-conditioned classrooms and up-to-date teaching aids ,Dive Asia provides you with a comfortable and relaxed course environment - just what’s needed for stress-free and fun learning experience.