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NEW Rapid Coral Growth at Similan Islands Dive Sites

14 January 2013

Healthy signs of coral recovery are being wittnessed at many of the dive sites in the Similan Islands Marine National Park. Relatively cool water temperatures (28°-29°C) have been recorded from January 2012 to January 2013 resulting in rapid growth of many species of coral.

In May 2010 the shallow coral reefs fringing the Similan Islands were devasted by prolonged high water temperatures which caused coral bleaching on an unprecedented scale. By June that year the cooling rains that typify the start of Thailand's rainy season still had not arrived leaving vast areas of reefs dead with little hope of recovery.

Although evidence of the coral bleaching is still clear to see, closer inspection reveals new growth at all depths. New coral colonies can be seen forming on granite rocks as shallow as five meters deep and dead coral structures appear to be emerging back to life as new polyps take hold and grow where their predecessors left off.

Amongst the fastest growing types are purple soft corals (Dendronephthya hemprichi), Green cup coral (Tubastraea micrantha) and numerous staghorn corals and table corals species.

New coral growth in the Similan Islands
New soft and hard coral growth at 'Breakfast Bend' dive site in the Similan Islands

In November 2012, Thailand Dive and Sail conducted dives in the Similan Islands with three biologists from Germany, they were amazed by the amount and speed of the new coral growth revealing the natural productivity of the Andaman Sea.

Notable dive sites with the highest amount of new coral growth are at Christmas Point, situated to the north west of Island Nine and at Elephant Head Rock, situated of the southern tip of Island Eight.

One thing is clear, the Similan dive sites have a much healthier appearance than the 2011/2012 Thailand dive season. Hopefully this young and fragile trend will continue and the water temperature will remain constant allowing for the same growth rate for the next couple of years. More information about coral reef recovery can be found here.

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Great Liveaboard Experience

"When we decided to go dive the similans, we searched the internet, lookin' for some good operators to go and dive with. That's how we found "Thailand dive and sail with a smile ;-)" on tripadvisor. Dive with a smile was exactly what we got. We started emailing and got very fast and good responses. We had a lot of questions 'coz we were about to go on our first liveaboard, but Sam, who we were emailing to, took the time to give us all the answers we needed. She also assisted us on bookin the boat and things like that. So the good feeling started allready at home with the communication on e-mail. Unfortunaltely, due to circumstances, we had to postpone our holliday and had to re-arrange our trip,... But this was no problem for "Dive and sail" and they helped us out perfectly. Always a smile :-) btw: Sam is female hahaha ;-) In Thailand, one day before the trip, Rick picked us up to try all the equipment before we get of on the liveboard. The first meeting was again... with a smile and a very warm feeling. We met Sarah, our diveguide. It was sheer coincidence she was Dutch, what off coz was easy for us Belgian divers :-)..... . So we spend the next 5 days with her on the boat and underwater. Sarah has a very warm heart and she will do anything to feel you comfortable. When you forget something, she will get it for you, even when she must take of her diving gear again haha. We did no course with her, but I can imagine that she's an instructor with a lot of patience. So if you feel insecure about that... ask for Sarah! She showed us loads of things underwater during the trip and made our first liveaboard one not to forget. She really is a good dive guide who showed us many times things we would easily have overlooked shouldn't she have pointed it to us. Nudibranches, shrimps, even a seahorse we saw. So, our honest advise, if you plan on diving the similans, get in touch with dive and sail, they surely will help you out.And if you're lookin' for a good guide, go, go dive with Angelina Jolie, as the other guides on the boat sometimes called her...... ;-) Thanks Sarah for the guiding and maybe we meet again!"

★★★★★ by zondagskindje 19.04.2013


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Thailand Dive and Sail LogoThe philosophy behind Thailand Dive and Sail is to provide divers with the right trip tailored to their needs. Built up of a small team of experts who have dived in the Similans for more than a combined 25 years, our knowledge about this amazing Thailand diving destination is almost unrivalled. Read more about Thailand Dive and Sail


Ric Parker
Ric Parker

“My story of getting into scuba diving, and then shark conservation, is a story that starts with me ‘not’ getting into scuba diving, mainly because of a fear of sharks.

Back in 2001 I had been in Thailand for 3 weeks and was snorkelled out. I was really nervous about the diving... Read more...

Ric Parker
Clive White

Clive has always had a close affinity with the sea; he grew up in the south of England from the age of 12 and the sea was never far away.

The ocean beckoned from a young age and he spent a lot of his childhood either sailing or windsurfing... Read more...


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