Dive 281: Richelieu Rock, Andaman Sea (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:48:00
Max depth: 28.0 metres
Temperature: 30 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 02:49:00

A nice way to end the dive trip with a relaxing dive around Richelieu Rock. There is just so much to see in terms of hard and soft corals, and then fish of various sizes and colours.

As soon as we descended to around 26 metres, I saw a little moray eel freeswimming around with a coral grouper following it around as if it were hanging around for scraps. Then under a ledge I saw two white-eyed moray eels poking out of the same hole checking me out. So cute!

I also saw quite a few little yellow cube boxfish as well as some dark, white-spotted boxfish, pufferfish, a large porcupinefish hiding in a hole, massive schools of fusiliers, a scorpionfish, a few little shrimps hiding in the cracks, a pineapple fish, colourful damselfish.

Annoyingly, the dive guide James managed to piss me off one last time before we finished the trip. He’d signal for a safety stop so we’d swim out into the blue but I like to ascend slowly from whatever depth to 5 metres. He seemed to want me to rush the whole time, even from finishing the safety stop to hitting the surface he’d pop up straight away whereas I liked to take my time. As soon as the safety stop finished he was up on the surface, peering down at me and telling me to hurry up and get to the surface. Annoying.

Dive 280: Richelieu Rock, Andaman Sea (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:54:00
Max depth: 27.1 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 13:48:00

A fantastic dive site with so much to see. There are so many beautiful soft corals and fish life on the top of the rocks and loads of other schooling fishlife swimming around the rocks.

We started the dive swimming off behind one of the big rocks and dropping down to about 25 metres where we saw a yellow tigertail seahorse. We then slowly made our way back to the top of the reef and back to the boat poking our heads around and looking for cool stuff.

Sophie saw an octopus out and crawling over the reef, changing colour and texture as it went along – fascinating stuff.

I also saw a few of the cute little yellow cube boxfish, lionfish, barracuda up near the surface, a couple of little freeswimming moray eels, a blue and white harlequin shrimp, two cleaner pipefish swimming together, tiger egg cowries on a far, lots of coral grouper and parrotfish, ring angelfish, emperor angelfish, lots of anemonefish including a tomato anemonefish, and an adult bent stick pipefish.

Dive 279: South East Rocks, Koh Torinla (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:49:00
Max depth: 20.4 metres
Temperature: 30 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 04:00:00

A nice relaxing dive on the site, which is basically a whole lot of big granite boulders starting at about 10 metres sloping down to around 25 metres.

I saw loads of fusiliers, a very cute baby bent stick pipefish, a Schultz pipefish, quite a few hunting flutemouths, a couple of spider crabs sitting on a sea fan, partner gobies with their little shrimp companions, a pretty flatworm, phantom bannerfish, lionfish, a couple of decent sized moray eels including one that looked like it was about to have a square off with a grouper, garden eels poking out of the sand, cute little yellow cub boxfish, pufferfish, a big porcupinefish hiding under a rock, 5-line snapper, oriental sweetlips, a few dogtooth tuna, lots of black and white striped cleaner shrimp and a few batfish.

 

Dive 278: Turtle Ledge, Koh Surintai (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:45:00
Max depth: 24.1 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 02:54:00

A fairly nice dive despite a some marathon swimming against a mild current. I don’t like diving for the bloody exercise!

We jumped in and descended onto some big boulders. There was a bit of current swirling around the boulders but usually just a few big fin kicks would get you back behind a big boulder to hide from it.

A third of the way through the dive, the DM James swims off into the blue. He mentioned before we jumped in that if the current was OK then he would do this and we were to follow him, which we did, but he quickly swam out of sight and we could only spot him from his bubbles. We finally caught up to him at a massive boulder that was the size of a small house (perhaps a single room cottage sized house) but we swam around it and then drifted back with the current back to the reef.

He later told us back on the boat that we should’ve kept up with him so that we would have enough bottom time to hang out there to look for big fish and rays but since we swam so slowly then we didn’t have time to stay out there. He seemed pretty shirty about it but hey, we weren’t bloody told that we had to keep up so we just did our usual leisurely paddle pace.

Still, a good dive with lots to see – a couple of big morays, some cute little cube box fish (a little juvenile yellow one and a dark one whitespotted one), a couple of lionfish, lots of little garden eels poking their bodies out of the sand, a cleaner pipefish, a big spotted grouper underneath a rock, oriental sweetlip and schools of grey sweetlip, ring angelfish, batfish, giant triggerfish, and big schools of yellowback fusiliers. Kept looking in the sand to find some partner gobies but no such luck.

 

Dive 277: Batfish Rock, Koh Tachai (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:46:00
Max depth: 27.7 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 12:09:00

A nice dive back at Batfish rock. We descended down the mooring line where there was a fair bit of current on the surface, which died down a little on the bottom. We swam around the big boulders, finding lots of batfish, bluefin trevally, giant trevally, coral groupers, large brown groupers, fusiliers, a mantis shrimp scurrying along the sand, giant triggerfish, a banded sea snake free swimming in the water, and lots of colourful butterflyfish and angelfish.

We swam out into the blue a few times, seeing more giant and bluefin trevally patrolling amongst the schools of fish. Saw a school of barracuda in the distance. The whole time a couple of friendly batfish followed us around, swimming right up to our faces, and Sophie and I would have a giggle as they would check us out.

Got annoyed at the dive guide James again, who kept on telling me to come up shallower as we were heading back to the mooring line at around 8 metres. No idea why he has a problem if I want to have a slow ascent rate. We were still at 41 minutes of a planned 50 minute dive so there was no fricking rush. What the…

Dive 276: Tachai Reef, Koh Tachai (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:41:00
Max depth: 15.5 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 30 metres
Buddy: Tom
Surface interval: 03:08:00

Night dive

A pretty nice and relaxing dive off the back of the boat straight into the reef. I was hoping to see a giant moray swimming out hunting but no such luck for me, although everyone else bloody saw one!

Saw quite a few parrotfish sleeping in their holes, lots of feather stars that closed up with the light shining on them, hundreds of cleaner shrimp, a spiny lobster’s antennae poking out of a hole, a red crab that was about 15cm wide, and bannerfish.

Still had 150 bar left at the end of the dive – shame the planned dive time was so short!

 

Dive 275: Batfish Rock, Koh Tachai (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:51:00
Max depth: 22.6 metres
Temperature: 30 C
Visibility: 40 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 02:54:00

What a stunning dive! We descended onto Batfish Rock and swam amongst the big granite boulders where there were soft corals and sea fans sprinkled around. There were schools of little fish everywhere, giant trevally and bluefin trevally cruising past and hunting the little fish, a school of batfish hovering near the bottom and as we cruised past one of them followed us around for about 10 minutes. We swam off the main rock and out into the blue where there was a massive school of barracuda hovering in midwater and occasionally swirling around us and in front of us with a few giant trevally swimming with the school as well. The batfish was still following me at this point, and would come up and swim very close to my face and when I reached out to touch it, it almost looked like it would let me stroke it before it turned away at the last moment.

Also saw amongst the big boulders some large black sweetlips, oriental sweetlips, a brown grouper that was about a metre long, a banded sea snake, a giant triggerfish moving bits of coral between its jaws to get at some food, a flutemouth, quite a few anemones with anemonefish, filefish, and lots of various colourful reef fish.

We ascended up the mooring line where we hung on for dear life during the safety stop as it seemed like the current was roaring, even though it wasn’t so bad on the bottom. But as soon as we let go of the line to drift back to the boat the current seemed OK.

Sophie and I were all smiles back on the boat!

Dive 274: The Ridge, Koh Bon (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:41:00
Max depth: 28.0 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 15 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 03:09:00

Our second dive of the day and we dropped down in a similar spot to the first, descending down near the ridge and then having a relaxed pootle around.

As soon as I came around the tip of the ridge, I could hear frantic tank banging so I followed everyone’s gaze to see a MANTA RAY!! It was a bit of a way in the distance, further away than yesterday and with poorer visibility but it seemed to just be hovering in midwater above our heads. The current was absolutely ripping past the point and I actually had to hold onto the rocks to stay in the same spot if I wasn’t going to get swept out past the point. Wish I had been a little closer to it!

After this we hovered over the ridge and the reef for a while, checking out the cleaner wrasse, napoleon wrasse, bluefin trevally, angelfish, a couple of smashing mantis shrimp scurrying along the gravel, juvenile anemone fish, fusiliers, and a purple ribbon of nudibranch eggs swaying on the reef.

About half an hour into the dive everyone swims off into the blue, presumably to look for the manta again. Our dive guide James signals that we make a safety stop, at which point I’m mightily annoyed since I still have 100 bar and we were only 35 mins into a 50 min dive plan. I even signalled to him that I still had 100 bar and he just told me to ascend a little. Was pretty incensed during the safety stop (made for interesting buoyancy control) and came back to the boat with 80 bar and still 9 mins of dive time remaining.

Dive 273: The Ridge, Koh Bon (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 00:54:00
Max depth: 27.1 metres
Temperature: 27 C
Visibility: 15 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 18:57:00

A new dive group, a new dive leader and a new buddy. We dived the same site as yesterday but the visibility had dropped a fair bit since. Not sure if it was the rain or the current.

We dropped down on the ridge, and the current was a fair bit stronger than yesterday. We saw a spiny lobster hiding in a hole, before we swam out deeper into the blue to look for mantas. We stayed out hovering just above the reef for a little while, but there was no manta sighting. Quite a few giant trevally cruising past though.

Back on the reef we swam over big patches of dead coral. I saw quite a few bluefin trevally, juvenile fusiliers, a giant moray hiding in a hole with a banded boxer shrimp crawling over cleaning it, an anemone with lots of juvenile anemonefish and a little porcelain crab as well, a giant triggerfish, bannerfish, and moorish idols.

Towards the end of the dive, Sophie was low on air so she ascended with the dive guide James while I tacked onto another group for a few minutes more pottering around and the safety stop.

Dive 272: The Ridge, Koh Bon (Thailand)

Standard

Dive time: 01:00:00
Max depth: 27.1 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 40 metres
Buddy: Axl
Surface interval: 02:37:00

MANTA!!!! After Axl going through the dive brief without mentioning the M word in case he jinxed us, we descended onto the ridge and within 1 minute of hitting the bottom at around 20m, On banged furiously on her tank and signalled a ray. We followed her pointing and sure enough there was a manta ray swimming at our depth coming within 10 metres of us. It was accompanied by a couple of pilot jacks. It was so beautiful, with black and white markings on its body. It swam past us, did a u-turn then swam past us again before disappearing into the blue. We all cheered!!

We continued swimming along the ridge, saw a banded snake snake and a big giant moray close to the sandy bottom, along with a peacock mantis shrimp scurrying along the sand. I heard someone squeal behind me and saw an eagle ray swimming by. Score! Already an amazing dive and we were only 10 minutes in.

We came up to the top of the reef and pottered around a bit where we saw a couple of Napoleon wrasse, a big blue one and a smaller more coloured one. Also saw another giant moray, loads of moorish idols, a hermit crab, juvenile trevallies schooling juvenile fusiliers into balls and then attacking (a bit like our own nature documentary happening in front of us), a few lionfish, a porcelain crab hiding in some fire coral, anemonefish, some large groupers, butterflyfish and angelfish, some black snapper, and some barracuda at the surface. Amazing dive!