MV Scuba Adventure Liveaboard – 4th to 8th December 2011

North Andaman Liveaboard –  Similans, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai  and Richilieu Rock MV Scuba Adventure departed from Patong on the evening of the 4th en-route to the Similans. Kath, the Tour Leader and Steve, the Dive Master welcomed on board Lucrezia and Rene from Switzerland, Mats from Sweden, Guido and Gianna from  Italy and Peter and Karen from England. With the boat briefing completed, cabins allocated, equipment set up we had a relaxing dinner where everyone became acquainted.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similan Liveaboard MV Scuba Adventure

We woke to the beautiful scenery of Island 5 and 6, which is the home of Anita’s Reef. With the dive safety and dive sight briefing done we kitted up for our first dive of the trip. Anita’s reef did not disappoint. The stunning coral bommie was covered in glass fish, which was a sight to be seen. Nudibranch, Fusiliers, Snappers were all out in their glory. The pristine white sand was home to the dancing Garden Eels and Khuls rays.  A banded pipe fish was found on one of the large boulders on the corner of Island 5.  After breakfast we headed to Island 9 and North Point. This site is a combination of huge rock formations and reef. It is briefed as “but one get one free!!”  The rocky formation has several swim throughs together with coral gardens nestled between the rocks.   Turtles were in abundance as they poised for the photographers in the group. The turtles here are not at all shy and continued munching away as if to say”Oh they’re only divers!”   We also saw a banded sea snake head to the surface for air. In the shallows a rock formation was covered in Purple Dragon Nudibranch. A treat for the macro lovers on the boat.

After lunch we arrived at Koh Bon for our 3rd dive of the day. We were fortunate as we were the only divers in the water at this popular sight. We dropped in on the corner and made our way to the West Ridge. A large school of yellow snapper were below us as we reached the ridge. On the ridge there were hunting Long Nosed Emporers, Trevelly and Rainbow Runners.  A Devil Scorpion was camouflaged amongst the broken coral on the reef.  A meter away was an octopus hiding in a rock. There was so much to see!!! The glass fish again, were food for the larger hunters…a feeding frenzy. A Mantis Shrimp quickly ran across the reef, which was a first for some of the divers.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Mantis Shrimp

A highlight of the dive was to see 2 Napolean Wrasse swimming around us for a while.  The divers who chose to do the night dive on Koh Tachai Reef saw many different types of crabs, shrimps and spent about 10 minutes with a free swimming moray, which hunted successfully catching an unsuspecting fish for dinner!!

Day 2 and the Captain started the engines at 3.40am. We were on our way to Richelieu Rock. Here we did 3 dives. The Rock is worthy of multiple dives as the marine life here is so prolific. A school of giant barracuda were waiting our arrival! Fortunately, we were able to locate a sea horse and 2 ornate ghost pipe fish.  Cuttle fish were in abundance as they displayed their courtship ritual. The whole area was like being in fish soup with large schools of fish swimming around us. Cleaner pipe fish were found in the crevices, mantis shrimps along the bottom hiding and a devil scorpion camouflaging itself as a piece of coral. Needless to say there were many more creatures too numerous to mention. One highlight was seeing a zebra moray free swimming in the shallows.

The 4th dive of the day was a sunset dive at Jetski Rock on Koh Tachai. A chilled out relaxing dive. The trevellies were in menacing hunting mode as they circled the glassfish on the reef. They are truly the “Gangsters” of the reef. A moray was enjoying being cleaned by a cleaner shrimp as the surrounding marine life prepared for bed. The sunset when we surfaced was spectacular and gave the perfect ending to a great day. Day 3 started with the morning dive on Koh Tachai Pinnacle. With a slight current it was easy navigate around the site.  The corals on the pinnacle are beautiful. Soft corals, gorgonion sea fans, whip coral are abundant.  A few barracuda were hanging above the site and the resident bat fish were between two huge boulders. Rene and Lucrezia were lucky and saw a leopard shark. They did have photographic evidence, so we had to believe them!!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Leopard Shark

The second and third dives were on Koh Bon. Hunters were menacing as they circled amongst the glass fish and then without warning a feeding frenzy. The third devil scorpion fish of the trip was also seen. However, the icing on the cake at Koh Bon was the manta on dive 2. We were in the shallows coming towards the end of the dive when the manta appeared. This amazing creature brought smiles to all our faces as it approached us several times. Dive 4 was a sunset dive in the Similans and on West of Eden on Island 7. This dive was relaxing as we slowly worked our way along the reef swimming between the coral blocks. Glass fish in abundance, feather stars in every colour and an array of fish. Day 4 and an early start on Elephant Head Rock and boy oh boy did it pay off…..As soon as we dropped in we had a white tip reef shark laying on the bottom at 20m. As we approached it swam away. However, several minutes later we saw two side by side. Elephant Head has some lovely swim throughs and one of the white tips swam into it. Kath was the only diver to see this. The huge granite boulders with the coral gardens between are very impressive. The second dive on Shark Fin Reef was an easy dive for the end of the trip. Shark Fin reef has dramatic scenery of huge granite boulders. In one of the long cracks in a rock there resting was a Jenkins Ray. Further along the reef we saw a large school of giant barracudas. This was the first trip of the season to the Similans and Richelieu Rock and if this trip was anything to go by then we should have a wonderful season.

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