Thailand and Burma

Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock and Mergui Archipelago in Easter 2002.


When travelling so far as to Southeast Asia, I prefer to have 3 weeks to my disposal. I wanted to go back to Similan Islands where I was 3 years ago, and this time I also wanted to dive Burmese waters - the Mergui Archipelago.
The first 5 days I went again with old "Daranee" - this time rebuild - to Similan Islands and further north to Koh Tachai, Koh Bon and Richelieu Rock.
I had a 3 days interval before the next liveaboard, which I spent on daytrips to islands and reefs south of Phuket.
The liveaboard to Burma was 7 days with"Shortcut 2". My goodness it's cumbersome to deal with the Burmese authorities, because on top of immigrational bureaucracy, we had to make a big detour first up north, and then around some big islands to go south again to our target reefs.
Well the waiting and travelling was well worth it, although we were denied to go to Black Rock because of piracy in that area few days before :o(

Topography

The 9 Similan Islands are characterized by these big boulders, and it continues under the water revealing some fantastic waterscapes - but difficult to photograph when the water isn't ginclear. The visibility was not bad though, I reckon it changed between 20 and 30 meters.



To begin a little slowly let's take some Sea Snails - although they are houseowners, they are not very abundant.
All the houseless nudibranchs are collected on their own page - as well as Butterflyfishes and Anemonefishes. To see them click at:
Flatworms and Nudibranchs.
Butterflyfishes.
Anemonefishes.
Notice the cunning little predator, who protects himself and also his offspring by utilising the effective warning colours of his prey - the coral Tubestraea coccinea. You can see, that the eggs at the bottom right are orange as well

Chicoreus microphyllus. ( 8 cm )

Chicoreus ramosus. (25 cm )

Cowrie sp. ( 5 cm )

Egg cowrie. (12 cm )

Tiger cowrie. ( 8 cm )

Wentletrap. (1 cm ) ... dining on the next coral polyp.

Love On the Reef.


Pharao cuttlefish.

Reef octopus.

Zebra sharks.

It was springtime under the water as well. It was easy to come close to the mating cuttlefish since they were so focused on their business, normally they are quite reserved. Notice the lurking rival behind them.

And the Octopi too didn't flee into a crevice, he was so busy with a fingertip around her.

Notice the excited colouration of both males.

The Zebra sharks were also in the mood, a slowly elegant 'pas de deux' around the pinnacles.


From the Similan Islands we went further north to Koh Tachai, Koh Bon and finally one beautiful morning we arrived at Richelieu Rock close to the Burmese border.
This was what awaited us, and before we hit the water there were 9 diveboats gathered around this tiny piece of rock - only visible at low tide. It might seem incomprehensible to those who haven't been down there. But believe me, it's worth all the hustle and bustle - a breathtaking profusion of life.

And there I met my first Whaleshark :o)
Such a restrained aristocratic movement in spite of the constant harassment from Cobias, Remoras - and divers.


And the Mantarays, just as majestic as the Whalesharks. We saw then both in Thailand and in Burmese waters

Scools of fish.

Richelieu Rock is characterized by its abundance of life - especially clouds of little ones. But here I'll show some schools of adults.

Round Batfish.

Redtail Butterflyfish.

Bigeye Snapper.

Blackspot Snapper.

Burma.

After the return to Patong on Phuket Island we went by bus 150 km to the north, where we boarded 'MV Shortcut 2' in the evening.
The next morning our eyes met Port Victoria in Burma with all its contradictions in appearences. The people are extremely poor, but the turists and first of all their gods live luxuriously.
To the left a hotel and to the right a temple.

But their waters outside Mergui Archipelago - Oh my goodness gracious what a paradise!


Harlequin Ghostpipefish.

Let us start quietly again with Seahorses and their relatives the Ghostpipefishes.

These timid and elusive creatures hardly venture outside their territory, which barely seems more than 1 square meter. Once discovered the divemasters can locate them again and again, the difficulty is to find them the first time.

Charming little wonders!


Tigertail Seahorse.

Yellow Seahorse.

Tigertail Seahorse.

And now to the sharks.

A little island was split into two by a 25 m deep and narrow cleft, ending in a 25 m long and totally dark swim-through. This is called 'Shark Cave'.
In the twilight outside the cave, about 10 Grey Reefsharks were cruising back and forth over our heads. They are absolute beauties!
In contrast to the highspeed Requiemsharks, we saw many of these dosile Zebra Sharks as well.

Grey Reefshark.

Zebra Shark.

... and then a lot of fish.


Bluering Angelfish.

Steephead Parrotfish female.

Silver Pompano.

Blue Razorfish.

Foxface Rabbitfish.

Goldsaddle Rabbitfish.

Vanikoro Sweeper.

Redtoothed Triggerfish.


And at last some poisonous little beauties - the scorpionfishes.

I can't stop photographing them, they are so inviting in their motionless confidence in their own camouflage.
Even putting a macro lense close to the face will not trigger any movement.


Bye for now!.....next time I'll be chasing Hammerheads in The Red Sea.


Devil Scorpionfish.

Bearded Scorpionfish.

On such a salver the camouflage is compromised :o)

=> Emergency Exit...hvis du er faret vild ;-)