An Expedition With A Difference

Join Manta Ray expert and leading scientist from the Marine Megafauna Foundation, Dr. Fabrice Jaine, on an exclusive diving and research expedition to explore some of the best manta hotspots in Southeast Asia.

2015 Expedition dates:

Senior Scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, award winning underwater photographer and notably a world leading expert on manta rays, Dr. Fabrice Jaine will once again host the 2015 Ray of Hope Expedition from Thailand. The expedition will visit the Myanmar Archipelago and the Similan Islands for an activity packed 8 days and 8 nights.

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Dr. Fabrice Jaine: Your Host for the Ray of Hope Expedition 2015

Dr. Jaine has a long history with marine life. After gaining a BSC in Marine Biology from the University of Queensland, Jaine decided to spend more time in the field with Great White Sharks in South Africa.

A few years later he joined Project Manta, a leading research body, which in turn led to his PhD practice. Dr. Fabrice Jaine was the first person in the world to complete a PhD on the movements and diving behaviour of these mysterious animals.

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Consequently he was later to appear on Nat Geo Wild’s “Manta Mystery” documentary. After completing his groundbreaking doctorate Dr. Jaine was invited to join the Marine Megafauna Foundation in 2013. This charity organisation spearheads research about and conservation efforts for manta rays.

Working together with Dr. Andrea Marshal, ‘Queen of Mantas’ (as named by the BBC), Dr. Fabrice now focuses on research to unravel the connectivity patterns of manta ray populations across the globe and aims to integrate knowledge about the movements of these creatures into conservation policy.

Fabrice has gained respect as an accomplished photographer too, winning a number of awards for his work. His stunning photography has been featured in Ocean Geographic, Australian Geographic, Sport Diving Magazine and others.

You can follow Fabrice on his facebook photography page.

Make a Difference: Be a Part of Manta Research and Conservation

The 2015 Ray of Hope Expedition will be Dr. Fabrice Jaine’s second excursion to the Andaman sea with Thailand Dive and Sail. These custom tailored research trips were originally created to encourage more people to get involved in citizen science. This branch of documenting manta rays’ activity is vital for learning more about their behaviour and habitat; therefore it is very important to reach out to as many people as possible, to gather information from all corners of the world.

Each Ray of Hope trip is unique in its objective, but all are focused on one thing: the conservation of manta rays. They are tailored to engage guests in learning more about these creatures and hopefully, enjoying many dives with them in some of Southeast Asia’s manta hotspots.

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As previously mentioned, Dr. Fabrice Jaine will be hosting the 2015 ‘Ray of Hope’ Manta Expedition, visiting the Mergui Archipelago in Burma and the Similan Islands in Thailand. The Marine Megafauna Foundation have been conducting research in this region for the last 4 years, in an effort to enhance conservation of manta rays. Each day of the expedition will be dedicated to a new area of the Andaman Sea, with the aim of encountering and documenting as many Manta Rays as possible. Focus on these majestic creatures will not only be limited to the water, but will be a part of evening education presentations and workshops too. Underwater photography will also be integrated into the liveaboard experience.

Conservation efforts often continue onto land, too. In 2014 our Ray of Hope Journey ended in Khao Lak, with a presentation given to the local diving community. Dr. Fabrice Jaine offered up his knowledge and experience to the community, who were captivated by the new information about Manta rays, some first hand expert knowledge and ground breaking discoveries that the Marine Megafauna Foundation had made.

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Marine Megafauna Foundation Partner with Thailand Dive and Sail

2015 sees the 5th year that the Marine Megafauna Foundation partner with Thailand Dive and Sail for the Myanmar and Thailand Ray of Hope Expedition.

Established in 2009, the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) was established for conservation efforts, including research and documentation, for large marine life. The focus has been on sharks, manta rays, turtles and other endangered marine animals, and they continue their work throughout the world.

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Together Thailand Dive and Sail and the Marine Megafauna Foundation have put together the best itinerary yet, with 8 days of diving in the Mergui Archipelago and Similan Islands and 8 nights on board a mid-range liveaboard vessel.

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On this exclusive trip there will be the opportunity to take advantage of Dr. Jaine’s wealth of knowledge about manta rays for the duration of the expedition. Evenings will be spent at leisure and the days will be spent exploring the turquoise waters of the Andaman. Dive sites will be chosen based on their value to manta research, these include some of the most remote and spectacular manta viewing sites in the world. Guests will have the opportunity to watch and learn from Fabrice as he performs visual transects and sets camera traps to record behaviour. All information gathered will be used for MMF’s manta documentation and all ID shots will be uploaded to ‘Manta Matcher’, an online database aimed at tracking manta rays and learning more about their behaviour and migration habits.

Thailand and Burma Explored

The Mergui is the ideal destination for a Ray of Hope exploration. It is home to numerous world famous dive sites, renowned for their colour saturated reefs boasting incredible fish and invertebrate life. This is still a fairly untouched area for the diving community, although it is explored by more and more people each year. Despite the blast fishing that takes place here there is still a wealth of marine life to view. Some of the dive sites are very remote, so it is very rare to encounter another diving liveaboard out at sea here. The marine life that is found here, together with the stunning islands and lack of human impact on the area make this a destination not to be missed by keen and intrepid divers.

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As the excursion heads back into Thailand it will cruise through some of the top dive sites on this side of the border. Dive destinations such as Koh Bon and Koh
Tachai are also famed for their giant manta life; this past season in particular saw an incredible few months of manta visitors (and whale sharks) making Koh Bon one of the favoured dive sites of the season.

If you are a keen conservationist, diver and are as enamoured by manta rays as we are, then do not miss this opportunity to explore Thailand and Burma with one of the few manta ray experts in the world. Make history with us and contribute to manta research and conservation, while enjoying a relaxing holiday in a beautiful location.

Manta Hotspots and Other Top Dive Sites

The Ray of Hope trip focuses on any potential dive sites that may be of use for Manta research and those that we believe to be the best in the area. This year we have managed to incorporate an extra day in the Mergui into our itinerary; this will allow us to explore further afield to one of the most interesting sites out in the Mergui Arcgipelago – the Burma Banks.

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Starting from Ranong means that we will maximize underwater time; heading straight into Burma to start our underwater explorations. Sites that will be included on this leg of the trip will include Western Rocky and the Three Islets (‘In Through the Outdoor’, ‘Shark Cave’), the latter being one of the best macro sites in the region. One of the major highlights of the trip will be the famous Manta hotspot, Black Rock. In 2012 Dr. Andrea Marshall encountered over 30 different manta rays there in just one day. This led to invaluable research and one manta that was identified there, and then again in Koh Tachai. Dr. Marshall has identified Black Rock as one of her top 10 dive sites, so it’s definitely not to be missed.

After leaving Burma we will head to the Thai dive sites along the west coast, these will include Richelieu Rock, arguably the best dive site in Thailand, Koh Tachai and Koh Bon. This past season saw a surprising increase in the numbers of larger pelagic marine life in these 3 prominent destinations, we are hopeful that the manta and whale shark sightings here will once again be sensational.

Contact us for a more detailed itinerary.

Non-Profit Work in the Mergui Archipelago

Thailand Dive and Sail established the See and Sea Organisation in 2011 to help the indigenous people of the Mergui. Over the past 5 years we have taken advantage of the Ray of Hope excursions to continue our work in this area, as it is in keeping with the theme of the trip and the guests that join us find it a fascinating aspect of the excursion too.

The 2015 Ray of Hope Expedition will also incorporate these cultural highlights and community work into the itinerary working with the Moken, or Sea Gypsy people as they are otherwise known, on Bo Choo Island. This ethnic group are very much a part of the marine environment; they have previously lived their lives at sea and it is integral to their culture. These days, due to land borders and modern day life, they have moved onto the islands in this part of the world. In Thailand, however, they are unrecognised by any government and are one of the 10 poorest ethnic groups in the world. Despite their economic situation, they are a very friendly and welcoming community and we really enjoy visiting them each year.

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Previous visits to Bo Choo have included donations of glasses for those with poor eye sight, a significant contribution of malaria medicine to the local clinic and education supplies for the local school. We always encourage our guests to contribute and take an active part in this philanthropic work. Each year the Ray of Hope divers leave with this community work as one of their highlights of the trip.

The Chosen Vessel for the Ray of Hope Burma and Thailand Excursion

An activity packed itinerary for this type of research expedition needs a substantial and reliable liveaboard vessel. The MV Deep Andaman Queen will once again be the chosen boat from which to explore the Mergui Archipelago and Similan Islands.

This will be the second year that the Ray of Hope has been conducted from the Deep Andaman Queen. It is a large mid-range boat, perfect for an extended trip out at sea. It is in fact one of the largest liveaboard boats venturing into these areas, and at 28 metres long and 7 metres wide she has plenty of room for the 21 guests plus divemasters and staff on board.

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This twin engine steel hulled vessel accommodates guests comfortably in a variety of cabins with different configurations. All cabins are ensuite with air- conditioning and include master, deluxe double, standard double, twin, triple or quad bunks. The diving facilities are also superb; boasting one of the largest dive decks in Southeast Asia – guests will not be disappointed. This dive deck has separate entry and exit points, camera and equipment rinsing facilities and two fresh water showers. The Deep Andaman Queen has two Bauer mariner compressors onboard, so those who are certified can dive on enriched air (Nitrox).

If you would like to read more information about the Deep Andaman Queen you can see the statistics below or take a look on the webpage.

Deep Andaman Queen Statistics:

* 28 metre, twin-engine steel vessel (7m beam)

* Double, twin, triple and quad bunk rooms with en-suite bathrooms

*Air-conditioned state rooms, lounge & dining area

*Large sundeck & shaded outside areas and spacious dive deck

*State-of-the-art galley serving mouth-watering meals

*Indoor sitting area with TV/DVD/Stereo sound

*Latest diving and safety equipment and satellite communication

*Speed boats

Ray of Hope 2015 Tour Rates:

*Standard Quad Cabin: 68,000THB per person sharing

*Standard Triple Cabin: 71,500THB per person sharing

*Standard Twin Cabin: 76,750THB per person sharing

*VIP Cabin: 85,550THB per person sharing

*Master Cabin: 96,000THB per person sharing

Manta Research Trip Price Includes:

*$200US Donation to the Marine Megafauna Foundation and See and
Sea Organisation

*Khao Lak and Phuket transfers to and from your hotel

*8 day/8 night Liveaboard cruise with Deep Andaman Queen

*Food and non-alcoholic beverages

*8 diving days diving – 12L tanks, weight belts, weights and torches provided

*Research activities and evening talks by biologists

*Cultural visit to Bo Cho Island to meet the Moken sea gypsies

*Donations to the Marine Megafauna Foundation & the See and Sea Organisation

Manta Research Trip Price Excludes:

*International and/or domestic flights

*US$300 National Park & Visa Entry Fees (US$300 to be paid in cash on the boat)

*Dive gear hire, if required (600THB per day)

*NITROX tank fill (250THB per tank or 3,500THB for full package)

*Underwater cameras / housings

*Onboard telecommunications

*Stopover costs & Gratuity

*Travel Insurance (Dive insurance and travel insurance are highly recommended)

Booking and Cancellation Policy

Contact us if you would like to book your space on this Ray of Hope 2015
Burma diving trip.

*The itinerary of this trip is subject to change at the discretion of the tour leader, due to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances. In this unlikely instance no refunds will be offered.

*Bookings are only confirmed with a 50% deposit, this will hold your space on this research expedition of a lifetime.

*Balance of payment is due by the 7th January.

*Cancellations received up to 45 days before departure will be refunded the full deposit minus 1000THB for bank fees.

*Cancellations received less than 45 days before departure will not be refunded the deposit.

*Cancellations received less than 30 days before departure will not be refunded the full trip price.

Join Fabrice and the TDS team for an unforgettable expedition

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