Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thailand - Similan and Surin national marine park, Diving in tsunami waters

Our dive boat, the MV Mariner

We begin a two part liveaboard dive trip in the Northern islands of Surin which lie just south of Myramar/Burma. This is our 4th time diving with Sea Dragon.

Our dive team
The first 3 days Volkmar and Meg join us for the underwater adventure. Weather was perfect. Luckily the rain gods were in hibernation. There are a lot of granite boulders scattered around underwater. On Day #2, we dived twice at the world famous Richelieu Rock (an underwater pinnacle) which is spectacular

Seahorse at Richelieu Rock
Then we headed south to Koh Tachai and Koh Bon on Day #3 which are isolated islands between the Surin and Similan island clusters. We were actually shocked by the lack of hard and soft coral actually I should say the coral graveyard. These sites were glorious in the past and now over 90% of the coral was dead! We were told that the warming trend of the water in early 2010 created this. Well if this is a sign of global warming then, it’s a calamity

 Here some pictures of the damaged corals
Damaged corals
Fishing net at Koh Tachai

Damaged Staghorn at Koh Bon
Thankfully, some coral survived

Who said this is hard work?
We also found on our underwater tour that there were quite a bit of fishing nets, cages, and ropes, plus other abandoned objects that local fisherman lost or cut loose. Quasi-anchors made out of rocks wrapped inside nets descend and crash into the reefs and wreck havoc when they try to uplift them and we could see when some were just cut free as they were too strongly lodged into the coral. Now this is a national marine park and each non Thai visitor pays a fee to keep the park protected. The fee was about 70 USD for 6 days per person. It makes me wonder where the money is being spent? We didn’t see much preservation. There were many fishing boat lights out at night in the distance while we anchored on a mooring line in the protection of the islands.
After biding Volkmar and Meg goodbye on the 9th and spending a brief few hours on land, we returned to the boat with a new batch of divers to continue on to the Similan region.
Patrick enjoying his time
between the diving
there are a bit of limestone islands mixed in with granite boulder formation which allowed us some swim-throughs as the boulders were sometimes stacked tightly together.
What did we see? A few sharks and one manta ray were the bigger creatures. Then on a more venomous level: lion fish, scorpion fish, stone fish, sea snakes. Weather wise the trip was a 10/10. Food: 9/10. Boat & Crew: 8/10 and dive sites: 5/10. But we’ve been spoiled a bit by some extraordinary dive regions last year: PNG, sipadan and komodo.

The diving was actually not all that bad, but we took only few pictures as we enjoyed taking movies with our brand new HD quality underwater camera. check out your two movies YouTube embedded below:

Now we are carrying our dive equipment for the next segment of the travel: the land part. So 20 kg strapped to Patrick’s back is the price of that trip.

Karin our Visitor number TWO! specially coming up
from Krabi to met us for dinner in Khao Lak
When we arrived back on land with a bit of a swaying swagger in our step, our friend Karin (who we met 10 years ago in Sumatra and then periodically in different countries after that) was there to greet us at our resort. She made the 3 hour journey from Krabi to spend the evening with us and then return again to Krabi at 8am. So she wins award #2 for connecting with us on our journey. It was a sweet 6 hours rendezvous.

We are now heading via Bangkok to Cambodia.