Dive 274: The Ridge, Koh Bon (Thailand)

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)

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)

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!

Dive 271: Koh Bon Pinnacle, Koh Bon (Thailand)

Dive time: 00:56:00
Max depth: 35.4 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 40 metres
Buddy: Axl
Surface interval: 14:54:00

What an absolutely spectacular dive! We descended onto the pinnacle and it is just covered in beautiful soft corals and an amazing array of fish life. On top of the pinnacle were big schools of little fish and a small school of predatory giant trevally scoping out the little fish and occasionally darting in for a feed. Scary looking things.

We swam down to towards the bottom of the pinnacle to around 35m and there were still loads of colourful corals. We saw a giant moray eel actively swimming about. The fish life on the pinnacle is just amazing. However the top of pinnacle is at around 20m so we were running low on NDL by the time we got to the top although I still had 130bar of air. We swam off into the blue to get to the main reef, which was around 200m of heavy swimming in the blue at around 13m. After feeling like I had sucked my tank dry already, we got to the reef and I still had 80 bar.

The reef had a lot of dead bleached coral with little fish swimming around. We saw another giant moray actively swimming around. We came across a massive group of muppet dives from another boat, arms flailing about. It looked pretty damn funny.

I also saw loads of lionfish, bluefin trevally, pufferfish, longfin batfish, clownfish and anemonefish, and golden pilot jacks.

Dive 270: Three Trees, Similan Island #9 (Thailand)

Dive time: 00:58:00
Max depth: 26.2 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 30 metres
Buddy: Axl, Stefan
Surface interval: 03:06:00

Another superb dive with a descent into the blue into 20 metres of sand and large boulders. Lots of sea fans, a few barrel sponges, and loads of red and purple soft corals. Axl pointed a few cool things like a spearing mantis shrimp, a cute little juvenile oriental sweetlip swimming like mad on a piece of fishing net, a white feather star walking around on the sand, and a tiny pipefish.

Halfway through the dive, Stefan’s French buddy had a problem so Axl surfaced with him and I completed the dive with Stefan. He was taking photos so swimming along slowly, which suited me fine since he always found some cool stuff to photograph that I always missed.

I also saw a massive circular batfish, a spiny lobster, a lionfish, loads of closed up anemones with anemonefish and clownfish poking out from the top, a clown triggerfish, masked porcupinefish, a parrotfish with a remora clinging to its left side, yellowfin emperors, and right at the end we saw a school of around 30 blackfin barracuda and a lone dogtooth tuna circling around us on the safety stop. Nice dive!