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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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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