Jacques Cousteau style! Dive the Similian & Surins

Trip Start Mar 21, 2012
Trip End Mar 25, 2013

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Flag of Thailand  , Ranong,
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Similian and Surin islands archipelago off the West coast of Thailand is known for its deep blue waters, rich in marine life and extremely comfortable diving (warm water and great visibility)! Ben dove here on a four-day liveaboard in 2003, almost ten years to the day. That trip was one of his best diving experiences so he was keen to do it again to share the magic with his wife! 

Jacques Cousteau explored and named many of the great sites we dove in the Similan and Surins, the most famous being Thailand's Richelieu Rock!

There have been some changes, some natural, some human-affected, that have made diving here not quite what it once was. The never ending Chinese desire for shark fin soup and unchecked  fishing have elimated most and scared the remaining once common Leopard and Whitetip reef sharks. (In comparison, Ben saw these sharks on almost every dive during his trip ten years ago).
High-powered speedboats (with up to three 300 horsepower outboards!) bring day tripping crowds searching for the feelings and solitude of untouched sand to the Similans' pristine beaches. Unfortunately, “leave-no- trace” ethics haven't made its impact with these groups and their Styrofoam packed-lunches and plastic-wrapped fruit is commonly left or blown out of these water rocket ships. (This isn't completely unique to Thailand's coastal waters, though they sure do like their plastic and Styrofoam.) In line with this theme, we happen to be reading the story about the Plastiki expedition, the trans Pacific crossing made by a 60-foot catamaran built out of 12,500 reclaimed plastic
bottles and other recycled PET plastic and waste product.  A few factoids of particular interest:
  • 80% of ocean pollution begins on land.  (We've heard more than one person blame ocean floating trash on fisherman in a number of courtries including Canada.  Though it might sometimes be true, this stat makes one wonder.)
  • Every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic garbage.  Every square mile! 
  • Ocean Gyres, The Pacific Trash Vortex, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch... you've probably heard about some swirling mass of garbage and marine debris that's gets hyped up by each new story teller... it's real, but it may not be how we envision it.  A quick glace at the Wikipedia article will add some insight...

All that aside, the visibility underwater is phenomenal! Diving in 30-40 meter visibility, in perfectly tropical blue 28-30 degrees Celsius water is a truly marvelous experience. It's akin to being on a mountaintop on a clear and warm winter or early Spring day, being able to see for miles in all directions. Instead of seeing countless summits and deep endless valleys against the cobalt blue sky, your eyes feast on neon coral superstructures and endless fish in vibrant colors.     

Our four-day liveaboard schedule had us up at 6am everyday and finishing our last dive just as the sun was setting. Four dives a day may not sound like much but the constant gearing up, sucking in the moisture-less air from your regulator, and submitting the body to two—sometimes three— atmospheres of ressure is surprisingly exhausting. (This coming from two very active people!)Despite not seeing a whale shark or a manta ray, we did see hundreds, if not thousands, of different fishes, like the Jenkins ray, tiger shark, seahorses and pipefish, octopus (changing  colors!), cuttlefish (mating in orgies!), bannerfish, scorpionfish, sailfish, dancing derbin shrimp, and many others, including dozens of different and often electrifyingly bright fish!

Here's a glimpse of what life was like on the boat, and a teaser of what's under the surface of the
Andaman Sea! (Note: Some of the footage was taken by us above water. But, most of the footage, and all which was below the surface, was taken by a self-proclaimed South African “drunkard,” who was very talented at capturing amazing footage underwater we might add.)

Video link: http://vimeo.com/60535091
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Max on

I remember swimming in east java and finding an engine block on the reef. what's this? well, an anchor to moor to while dynamite fishing of course. you guys are brilliant, why didn't I think of that?

JD on

If you are in the neighborhood, and you want to see some more interesting diving, you should check out Sipaden, just off of Semporna.

Have fun you guys!

colleencowman on

what a fun water ballet - the fish's and the divers', lol! awesome footage!

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