Archive for January, 2012

Marine Life of Phuket – Octopus

Posted on January 31st, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Marine Life of Phuket – Octopus

Octopuses are the master of disguise on a reef. Many times someone may be pointing at apparently nothing and then as with a 3D photo and octopus appears!!!! This remarkable creature is compelling watching as it changes colour and texture. Camouflage is possible due to specialized skin cells that can change colour, opacity and reflectiveness of the epidermis. It is believed that the colour changing is a means of communicating with others and also to warn of danger. The muscles in the skin enables the octopus to alter the texture of it’s mantle so as to blend in with it’s surroundings, for example, the bumpy texture of a rock. There is also evidence to suggest that octopus living on a complex habitat such as a reef and are more active during the day have a more developed skin than the sand dwelling and nocturnal partners.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC

There are 300 recognised species of octopus worldwide. All are known to be venonmous, but only the blue ringed octopus is deadly to humans. Octopuses have 4 pairs of arms and 2 eyes and are bilaterally symmetric. There is no internal or external skeleton, which enables the creature to squeeze through small spaces if fleeing from predators. They are regarded as the most flexible and intelligent of all invertebrates having both having long and short term memory.  There is only one hard part of the body, this being the beak, or mouth that is found at the centre point of the arms.

Octopuses have very good eye sight and some species are able to distinguish colour. They are also able to distinguish the orientation of their body to the horizontal using two organs that are attached to the brain called statocysts. There is also an automatic reponse that keeps the eyes orientated, so that the pupil slit is always horizontal.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Thailand Liveaboards

The sense of touch is excellent and the suction cups found on the arms have numerous chemoreceptors that enable the octopus to taste what it touches. The arms also show a variety of complex reflex actions. This is due to 2/3 of the neurons of the complex nervous system being located there. The arms also have tension receptors, so the octopus can determine if the arms are stretched out, but the receptors are not sufficient for the brain to determine the actual position of them.

This creature also has three hearts, two are branchial hearts that pump blood to each of the two gills and the third pumps blood through the body.  The blood contains a copper rich protein called hemocyanin, which is effective for transporting oxygen in cold conditions and environments where there is low oxygen pressure. The protein is dissolved in the plasma and gives the blood a bluish colour.

The life expectancy of the octopus is short from 6 months to 5 years. The death of the octopus is genetically programmed and results after reproduction. The male of the species may live for a few months after mating, but the female will die shortly after the eggs are hatched.  During reproduction the male will insert a specialised arm called a hectcotylus into the female’s mantle where it deposits spematophore (packets of sperm). Some species can keep the sperm alive inside the female for a few weeks until the eggs are mature. Once fertilization occurs the female will lay her eggs, which she hangs in strings from her lair or individually on the substrate. This varies depending on the species.  A female may lay upto 200,000 eggs. The incubation period is approximately a month. During this time she is the protector and will gently blows a current of water across the eggs providing them with enough oxygen. However, it is to her detriment as she will not hunt. It has been known for the female to ingest one or more of her arms for sustenance.  Once the eggs are hatched she will leave being very weak and defenseless thus dying.  The larval octopus will drift for a while in clouds of plankton where they feed. . Plankton eaters such as mantas and whale sharks are obviously a threat to the larvae. When they are ready they will descend to the ocean floor.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Plankton Eater

Octopuses move by crawling on their arms or by swimming. They swim in a horizontal position with the arms behind. Movement is by expelling a jet of water from a contractile mantle. This is one of the primary defense mechanisms as they are capable of fleeing at great speed. Another form of defense is the use of thick blackish ink, melanin, which is dispersed in a cloud. It is believed that the ink reduces the olfactory organs of some hunters that hunt by smell, for example, sharks. It is also known that an octopus is capable of detaching an arm as a distraction when under attack.  The mimic octopus is highly flexible and is able to change shape to look like other creatures. It has the capability of changing to look like a more dangerous creature than the one that is attacking.

These remarkable sea creatures are worthy of watching while on a dive. If you are lucky enough to see one then do not get too close as the octopus will hide in crevices and cracks in the substrate. It is better to observe from a distance away and slightly elevated. Be patient and wait motionless. The octopus will eventually gain confidence and gradually come out into the open for you to enjoy the moment!!!!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similan Liveaboard

If you would like to know more about the identification of species why not sign up for on a  Underwater Naturalist Specialty Course, which will enhance your knowledge and highlight the key things to look for, or a cruise on board MV Scuba Adventure or MV Scuba Fun for a chance to see these for yourself.

Marine life of Phuket – Harlequin Shrimps

Posted on January 25th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Marine life of Phuket – Harlequin Shrimps

Harlequin Shrimps are a very flamboyant looking and a delight to see. There are two species of harlequin shrimps, namely the Hymenocera Picta found in Hawaii and Hymenocera Elegans found in Andaman Sea. They are commonly known as clown shrimp, painted shrimp and dancing shrimps.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Harlequin Shrimps


The Harlequin shrimp is unlike other species in that it is a slow mover and not very agile. The beautiful bodies have stunning coloration with the body being a pinkish white or white with large purple edged pink spots. There may also be red and orange tones depending on the local environment.  The shrimps vary in size averaging between 2cm-4cm. The females are larger than the males and can be identified by the coloured abdominal plates. The male’s abdominal plates are white. It is believed that the vivid appearance of the shrimp is enough to deter predators. It also indicates that it may be toxic to eat as brightly coloured creatures often are. This is not the case with the shrimp. The two large flat pincers constantly move even when the shrimp is stationery, hence the common name “dancing harlequin shrimps”. The eyes are positioned on the end of stalks and the antennae are flattened, looking very leaf like.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Harlequin Shrimp

Harlequin Shrimps are very shy and are found in mating pairs. They are monogamous and are very territorial usually covering an area of up to 10m square.  They are predominately nocturnal and will feed during twilight or under the cloak of darkness. During the day they are found in hiding places on a rocky or coral substrate.  This species of shrimp are rare and do suffer as a result of coral damage. The Indo-Pacific species is more common that the Hawaiian species, because over the years the latter has been actively collected for the aquarium trade.

Moulting occurs once a month. During this process the shrimp will hide until the new shell hardens. It is usual for simultaneous molting to occur. The molting also gives the opportunity for the shrimp to replace missing limbs, this may take more than one regeneration.  The mating couple will reproduce after the female as completed her molting process. She will lay between 100 and 5000 eggs per season and tends to them until they are hatched.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Adventure

The Harlequin Shrimps are predatory carnivores. They are ruthless and extremely strong. The shrimps work as a team and detect their prey by scent. They live on a diet of starfish. Once the starfish has been located the pair will prize the arms from the rock and overturn it, thus rendering the starfish helpless.  The starfish may be 10 to 20 times larger than the shrimps. It has been known for the shrimps to drag the starfish to the lair where it acts as a living larder. It is kept alive by the shrimps feeding it.  The shrimps dine on the tube feet starting at the tips and working inwards to the centre plate, thus keeping their food source alive for as long as possible. Occasionally, a starfish may detach an arm or two to make an escape!!!! It is fortunate that starfish have the capability to rejuvenate their limbs…..

If you would like to know more about the identification of species why not sign up for on a  Underwater Naturalist Specialty Course, which will enhance your knowledge and highlight the key things to look for or a cruise on board MV Scuba Adventure or MV Scuba Fun for a chance to see these for yourself.

Hin Deang/Hin Muang Dive Trip Summer 2011 on MV Scuba Adventure- Vincent Moy Tour Leader

Posted on January 21st, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Hin Deang/Hin Muang Dive Trip Summer 2011 on MV Scuba Adventure- Vincent Moy Tour Leader

I was very excited to take this trip out during the “summer season” as tour leader on MV Scuba Adventure. All season the local sites from Phuket had been performing so well, with lots of great visibility dives and an abundance of marine life both (very) big and small. I also knew that during the high season the dive sites of Hin Deang and Hin Maung are awesome, but I didn’t know what to expect from a trip this time of year?

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand MV Scuba Adventure

Scuba Adventure

… It was not a disappointment!

So here we go:

Day 1:

Shark Point – Great visibility to enjoy all the lovely soft corals, fans, sponges and tons of marine life including the odd leopard shark. Hi-light of the dive: a large marble patterned tiger tail seahorse.

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand  5 * CDC

Shark Point

Koh Bida Nok – Again tons of marine life, especially the trevally and schools of fusiliers, and a nice big hawksbill turtle at the start. Hi-light of the dive: absolutely the 10-20 black-tip sharks seen during the dive, especially getting up real close to 5-10 of them in the bay, before they finally torpedoed passed us.

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand  5 * CDC

Koh Bida Nok

Koh Ha Yai – A beautiful late afternoon dive to enjoy the caverns (known as the Cathedral) and swim-through’s. Hi-light of the dive: the view looking out at the silhouetted divers the from the back of the Cathedral.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC

"The Cathedral"

Koh Ha Lagoon – A comfortable night dive in the protected lagoon between islands 2 and 4. Our group explored the east side wall of island 2 and the sloping reef between. Hi-light: For me the macro life amongst the vivid soft corals on the wall, for others the giant barracuda following us!

Day 2:

Hin Muang – Oh my God! The visibility! We could see the bottom… and which ever side you are on, it goes down a very long way! Lot’s of life; and the soft corals looking bigger and more colourful than ever. Hi-light of the dive: All of it, in stunning visability. It was like a scene from the movie The Abyss but with the lights on! Diving – the best reason in the world to get up with the sun.

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand Hin Mueng

"Stunning Visibility"

Hin Deang – Awesome vis continued, we could even see the outer pinnacle from the main rock! Whichever way you looked there was marine activity and mild currents meant an easy swim to appreciate it all. Hi-light of the dive: Did I mention the large manta ray that made it’s way around the rock to the outer pinnacle!

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand  5 * CDC

"Manta Ray"

Koh Ha Neua – An early afternoon dive made the best of the huge purple soft corals on the southern side of this site. The shallow hard coral reef at the end of the dive was full of fish, whilst weaving in and out of the soft-coral coated rock channels rewarded us with nice nudi’s and a brilliant yellow tigertail seahorse. Hi-Light of the dive: A spotted eagle ray hovering over the purple soft coral field.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC

"Sea Horse"

Koh Bida Nok – With the currents reversed and an exciting dive the day before, we chose to go again from the other side of the island. This dusk dive showed us some more big fish (black-tip sharks), kuhl’s rays, mantis shrimps, morays, nudibranchs. Hi-light of the dive: I guess taking the time to see all the things we hadn’t noticed on the other dives – Bida Nok is one of the richest and most varied dive sites. Oh, and it being a dusk dive so some of us could visit Phi Phi Don and enjoy an evening on land.

Day 3:

Koh Bida Nai – Yet another sunny day, this early morning dive provided more sharks and a small school of big pick-handled barracuda. Hi-light of the dive: Swimming through the hundreds of fusiliers and trevally that hang out in the sunshine over the beds of stag horn coral, then back up the reef to the glittering chevron barracudas.

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand  5 * CDC

Koh Bida Nai

Anemone Reef – Of course anemones but also lots of colorful soft corals make this a beautiful pinnacle in good visibility… and it was! A turtle, lot’s of fish, little current, nudi’s and a few bamboo shark made it even better. Hi-light: A pale-yellow seahorse out in the sand (I like seahorses!)

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand  5 * CDC

Anemone Reef

Koh Doc Mai – A nice surprise… an extra dive thrown on to the end of the trip! This wall dive is awesome for macro – wonderful nudibranchs, ornate ghost pipefish, more bamboo sharks, all sorts of morays, this site can have it all. Hi-light: We got to dive again, ha!

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand  5 * CDC

Koh Doc Mai

Apart from the great visibility and relaxed diving (with it’s heart racing moments – sharks, manta, eagle ray), for me it was the wonderful variety of dive sites and marine life that made the trip one of the best. Also helping to make the diving awesome was that, during most of the trip, we were the only boat diving the sites… well, we were on the Scuba Adventure!

Scuba Cat Diving Green Star Award – a first for Thailand

Posted on January 20th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Scuba Cat Diving Green Star Award – a first for Thailand

Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand  Green Star Award

"Another first for Scuba Cat Diving"

Green Star Award Program 

 Go green and earn recognition for your conservation practices
with the new Green Star™ Award

On January 20th 2012, Awarded Scuba Cat Diving, 5 * CDC, Phuket, Thailand, the Green Star Award for our dedication to environmentally responsible business practices and commitment to conservation of underwater habitats.

We are proud of being the first dive business in Thailand to be awarded such prestige. We are committed to to push our eco programs and practices to ensure the future sustainability of our Ocean Planet.

  Green Star Award Program

Did you fall in love with the aquatic realm the first time you went underwater? If you’re like most divers, your first experience meeting and greeting the denizens of the deep most likely left a lasting impression – and sparked a deep sense of caring about the health of our ocean planet.

On a more practical level, the commitment of divers to environmental conservation helps preserve dive sites around the world — so divers like you can return to favorite sites year after year.

There’s more to going green than simply jumping on the eco bandwagon.

The Green Star Award identifies Scuba Cat Diving as one that cares about the environment and is acting to protect it.

About the Award  

Dive Centres and Resorts who have earned the Green Star Award demonstrate a dedication to conservation across a wide range of business functions, including (but not limited to):

  • Water conservation
  • Energy use
  • “Environmentally friendly” transportation practices
  • Optimized waste management
  • Use of sustainable materials
  • Conservation leadership

Project Aware, Phuket, Thailand