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 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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"We emailed Dive & Sail almost 1 month ago to arrange a diving day trip. The stuff - Sam, always replied me with first speed, and provided me with alternatives and suggestions. At the end, we went to the Similan Island for our day trip, the pick up was on time and then we met up 2 more persons from Khao Lak, then we were transferred to the jetty point, when we all got on the speedboat, the ride was quite bumpy...it was fun though. Then after 1 hour 20 mins, we arrived on the big boat at Similan. We had Sarah as our DM for us, clear briefing and taking good care of us. We had a bit of problem with the first dive as the current was kind of strong. But the 2nd dive was much nicer and more relaxing. We had a lunch in between dives and the food was ok. Then we also had time to relax on the top deck, a surprise came for everyone on the boat while we were relaxing, a turtle swum near the boat....everyone was so exciting and some jumped to the water to swim with him."★★★★★ by Amy L 22.04.2013 0.3