Thursday, February 6, 2014

Scuba Diving in the Surins: Day 1

This past weekend Tim and I decided to get the hell out of Dodge (well, Bangkok) during Thailand's recent elections and do some scuba diving.  We'd heard that Thailand's scuba diving is generally only so-so compared to that of Indonesia, with the exception of the Surin and Similan islands, two small groups of islands in the Andaman Sea off Thailand's west coast, north of Phuket and close to the Burmese border.  At Scuba Steve's urging, we decided to book a 3-day liveaboard to the Surins and Richelieu Rock with Wicked Diving.  Good thing, too, as both the diving and the folks at Wicked were lovely.  I'm planning my next trip back already (well, not reeeeeally, but if any friends/family visit Thailand and insist on a liveaboard, I could be very easily convinced).

So here's the video, photos and description of the first day of our trip with Wicked (you can read Wicked's trip report here, too)...  Friday night we boarded the boat, ate a great meal, got our equipment ready for the next day's early morning dive, and tried to settle in our cabins as the boat lurched (oy, seas were rough that night!) towards the Surin Islands. 

Early Saturday morning we got up and headed out on our first dive, joined by divemaster Dan (you'll see him rocking the yellow snorkel in the videos), fellow diver Jun (blue fins and a camera).  Dive #1, Ao Pakkad, which was relaxing, pretty, and full of schools of sparkly little glass fish.  Sometimes they covered the reef like a blanket and you had to basically sweep them aside to see the other critters!  Also: very curious/friendly tall-fin batfish that alternated between zipping around, sneaking up on you from behind and generally hanging about.

Highlights of the below video:
  •  glass fish, glass fish and more glass fish
  • one of the many tall-fin batfish stalking fellow diver Jun at 0:18
  • lots of lionfish (at 0:46, 4:10)
  • Tim reluctantly waving (1:22)
  • scorpionfish, master of disguise... see if you can spot him at 1:26
  • cute little sea star at 1:51
  • 2 morays, 1 rock at 2:59 (and below)

Dive #2, Torinla Pinnacle, is a big, submerged pile of granite, including some major boulders.

The currents were strong when we dove, so we had to descend while holding onto the boat's mooring line.  You can see in the video below, as we descended, we caught site of something pretty awesome: 5 absolutely enormous (like I think they for sure outweighed me and were at least 5 feet long, probably more) and endangered (and therefore rare) napoleon (also called humphead) wrasse!!  You can see them coming out of the blue over the rocks in the video at 0:13.

Other video highlights:
  • yellow five-lined snapper nosing around the rocks at 0:28
  • big, beautiful blue-ringed angelfish at 0:44
  • bubble, bubbles, so many bubbles surrounding us as we ascended to the surface since the current was pushing all our fellow divers' exhaled bubbles up towards us

Not captured on video, but super cool:

Dive #3 was at Koh Torinla, a lovely site.  Right off the bat?  A big 4-5 foot wide Jenkins' ray!:

I don't know why I love feather stars so much, but I do.  So pretty:

The Koh Torinla site had its fair share of curious tall-fin batfish:

 Highlights from the dive video:

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