WOW!! What an absolutely awesome final Whale Shark Program trip!
Congratulations to our 4 participants: Jess, Tammy, Megan & Will. These super eco-divers completed 3 PADI specialty courses during the trip:
- - Manta Ray Awareness
- - Shark Conservation Diver
- - Whale Shark Awareness
During our 1st day’s diving in Similan Islands we saw white tip & black tip reef sharks, sea moths, ornate ghost pipefish, green turtle & the mother of all jellyfish!
On day 2 we did our Manta Ray Awareness specialty dives at Koh Bon. We were lucky enough to encounter giant manta rays on both dives. These ocean wanderers were about 4m wide (although some enthusiastically estimated they were 8m!). Our pre-dive manta calls (aka nipple rubbing!!) were more effective than we ever imagined – as well as 3 mantas, they also attracted a blotched fantail ray, black tip & white tip reef sharks AND a whale shark!! Unbelievable!
Our Shark Conservation Diver specialty dives were conducted at Koh Tachai amid turbo current! Flying like masts on a flag pole, we tightly held the buoy line and descended to spot a grey reef shark hunting on day 3's sunrise dive.
We then sailed to Richelieu Rock to complete our Whale Shark specialty dives. Sadly there were no whale sharks sightings here, despite 3 being seen on Blue Guru’s Richelieu trip just days before. Even without whale sharks, Richelieu Rock is always amazing and our divers saw their 1st ever seahorse: a female tigertail seahorse.
Time to get wrecked on the last morning! The 1st of 2 wreck dives was at Koh Phra Thong’s new wreck, HTMS Prathong. Having just completed the briefing, there was a shout: “whale shark, whale shark”. OH YES! We had a 3m whale shark swimming at the surface around the boat and the wreck's mooring line. Simply breathtaking! After only 1 month since HTMS Prathong was sunk, the rate at which marine life is being attracted to this new wreck is phenomenal. Besides the excitement of a whale shark visit, there are also already resident frogfish, robust ghost pipefish, nudibranchs & mantis shrimp.
All shark & ray sightings from the Whale Shark Program trip have been added into Blue Guru’s database for our Ocean Action Project, which is this year sponsored by Project AWARE. It was of particular note that there were no fishing boats seen at all in Similans National Park, yet when we got to Surin National Park there were 8 fishing boats visible around Richelieu Rock’s “Marine Protected Area”.
As a Shark Guardian dive centre, all our shark, ray, turtle & seahorse sightings have also been reported to eShark - a 6 month survey covering the whole of Thailand.
In addition, we submit our Whale Shark sightings to Ecocean & Shark Trust and our Manta Ray sightings to Manta Matcher to inform important international research into the individual identification & migration patterns of these vulnerable megafauna. So pleased we can contribute both whale shark AND manta ray photos.
What a superb end to the season!