In the sprit of developing new dive locations to reduce pressure on already busy dive sites, Koh Tao has recently received a decommissioned Thai Navy Vessel as its latest addition to the growing list of artificial reefs to grace Koh Tao’s waters.
It is no secret that most divers love shipwrecks. There’s something about diving in and around something that we know should be floating on top of the water. But one undeniable factor about artificial reefs whatever form they take is they attract a wide variety of life and from a marine life perspective become very interesting very quickly.
The HTMSSattakut was launched in 1944 in the US before being transferred to the Royal Thai Navy. After it was decommissioned the Thai Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) purchased, stripped, cleaned and prepared the vessel for the purpose of promoting tourism underwater in Koh Tao.
Originally sunk on the 18th of June 2011 the ship ended up in a boat channel on its side. It was decided that the location and position were less than suitable and in late July a salvage team was brought in and the Sattakut was righted and shifted to its current home.
It is now only a few weeks since work ceased on the positioning of the wreck and once again the pace of life arriving at the site is already astonishing and impressive. It probably helps that the location is just 20-30 metres from an already established site, Hin Pee Wee. This no doubt helps the migration of marine life.
The first few dives have been in great visibility and the salvage team has done an amazing job. But what has been surprising is the variety of life that already exists on the site. Fusiliers have moved in to the mid-water above feeding on passing Zooplankton. Rabbitfish scour the wreck as the algae begins to grow. A lone Pickhandle barracuda cruises around on the hunt and a reasonably large Jenkins stingray is a regular visitor. Even an inquisitve Hawksbill turtle has been for a look on a few occasions. Juvenile groupers have moved in with some entertaining filefish as a number of species of Damsel fish take up residence in the more complex areas of the ship.
On a more macro level, tiny bryozoans, filter feeders, coat some of the rails and a few urchins have moved in who, like the rabbitfish, scour the decks for algae and other organic matter. Limpets and other barnacles have taken up residence on the steel hull. Even some rare filefish have been spotted cruising the waters.
As time passes this site will become a premier destination for Koh Tao and has already become a popular stop. With many boats a day visiting the site it is helping to reduce the pressure on Koh Tao’s other sites which helps spread the crowds and preserves our natural reefs for the benefit of all.
Marine Life Observed on 1 diveat the HTMSSattakut:
- Fusiliers (2 species)
- Snapper (2 species)
- Grouper (2 Species)
- Jenkins Stingray
- Great Barracuda
- Red Breasted Wrasse
- Pink Ear Emperor
- 5 lined Cardinal Fish
- Yellowstripe Scad
- Gold Spotted Trevally
- Porcupine Puffer
- Blue Barred Parrotfish
- Java Rabbitfish
- Damselfish (5 Species)
- Limpets (like barnacles)