It’s the end of another great Similan diving season in Khao Lak and the national parks are now closed for the next six months to rest and rejuvenate. After a busy few months there are some exciting developments at Thailand Dive and Sail, plus we take a look at the interesting news about closure of Koh Tachai for the foreseeable future.
Scuba Courses in the Similans
Firstly, lets catch up with what we have been up to this season. From the very beginning when the Similans opened, we have taught many courses. It seems to have been the focus for us this time around. The instructors joining Thailand Dive and Sail were Deano, Colin, Hans and Gary. All instructors are both PADI and SSI certified and they taught all sorts from refreshers, to Open Water Courses, to the Photography Speciality Course.
Colin started the season off with a few Open Water Courses conducted on board the MV Nemo I, a flexible liveaboard that we use for educational purposes. The Nemo is a great boat for this as people can join and depart whenever needed, meaning that we can do an Open Water Course with 2 days onboard. If students really enjoy the diving they can also stay for longer to take their Advanced so that they can dive deeper. Or they can just stay on board for more fun dives.
Later in the season Deano joined our team and took a few people out for Open Water Courses, also on the Nemo, but also over day trips too. Day trips are another way to take courses in the Similans, they allow you to stay on land at night, while still experiencing the Similans during the day followed by the Boonsung Wreck on the second day. Deano took a few PADI courses and some SSI online course too.
Exceptional Marine Life in the Andaman
This year we were not disappointed for marine life. There was an influx of Mantas over a period in late February, with it not being uncommon to see them daily for some people (looking at you, Clive!). There have been a number of theories about why there were so many this year. One possibility is that there was an increase in food for Mantas here due to the changes in the water temperature. Whatever the reason, we are not complaining.
Whale Sharks were also on the Similans ‘Eye Spy’ list this year. One of our first students learning to dive had the best luck when she saw one of these gentle giants at the Boonsung Wreck, of all places, and only on her 3rd dive! That is certainly a special introduction to diving, so we’re pretty sure she’s going to stick with it ;)
Latest News About Koh Tachai
Over the past week Koh Tachai has been in the news throughout the world due to an announcement from the department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation in Thailand. The government agency has stated that the island and the immediate area surrounding it (except two sites that may be used for diving and educational purposes when the national parks open again in October) will be closed indefinitely.
This action is not entirely surprising; last year we were warned that there was a tremendous impact on the environment directly surrounding the island. We have most definitely seen the increase in day trip speedboats visiting the area in the past few years. Just a few years ago Koh Tachai was the island that we suggested people visit as it was the “quiet” one, back then. This is very far from the truth these days.
As mentioned previously, two sites will remain open for diving and educational purposes, so this is great news for the diving industry. The area will now be allowed to recover.
Unfortunately, this may have an unintentional negative impact on the Similan Islands. On a daily basis it is estimated that Koh Tachai was visited by up to 1000 people. Phuket and Khao Lak operators will now need to find an alternative destination for these visitors, so lets watch this space and see what happens to the Similan Islands themselves.
Thon Thamrongnawasawat, the deputy dean of the faculty of fisheries at Kasetsart University, said the beach on Koh Tachai should hold only 70 people but sometimes numbers reached more than 1,000. – The Guardian
Thailand Dive and Sail Team Update
The team have been busy this year, Clive has continued in his position as Cruise Director on the Thailand Aggressor and it looks like he will be taking an even more active role in the running of the boat for 2016-2017 – watch this space. If you’d like to dive with Clive, get in touch with us and we can let you know which Thailand Aggressor trips he will be on (most of them, quite likely;) ).
Itt has also been all over the place, in her first year as a divemaster she has definitely racked up some experience. She has worked on the Thailand Aggressor with Clive, worked with our friends at the Deep Andaman Queen quite a few times, been on board the Nemo private guiding, working on Aquatik and also had a trip out on the MV Oktavia. She has been a busy diving bee!
New Thailand Dive and Sail Team Member
We would like to introduce Gabriel, our newest recruit to the TDS team. Gabriel will be joining us as the new Operations Manager. He has worked with Clive on board the Thailand Aggressor for the past couple of years, so is familiar with the Similan and Myanmar dive sites and knows Thailand Dive and Sail well.
Gabriel decided that he wanted to work in the diving industry after his first dive back in 1996. He has been working in the business for more than 10 years and has dived all over the world, including: Greece, Barbados, Brazil, Maldives (working for the four seasons), USA, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillipines…so we can safely say he has a lot of experience with the world’s dive sites!
Thailand Dive and Sail Website Update
Lastly, and one of the most important things that has happened at Thailand Dive and Sail this year, is the re-vamp of our website. It’s been a long time coming, but finally we have streamlined the site and made it a lot more user friendly. We are still working out some kinks in it, but overall we are very happy with how it works. Hopefully from now on it will be a lot easier to navigate for customers, and will continue to be informative for those simply looking for information about diving in the Similans and Mergui Archipelago.