Top 8 Coolest Creatures To See Diving From Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta, on the west coast of Thailand, has perhaps the best land-based diving in all of Thailand. It boasts easy access to some great dive sites, including Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, Koh Ha, and the dive sites of Koh Phi Phi are also only a short trip away. During your dives on these great dive sites, you are sure to bump into some amazing creatures along the reef. Starting with the smallest, here are my favourite eight reef denizens to spot on your dives…

  1. Harlequin Shrimp

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Harlequin Shrimp, IDC, Divemaster

The colourful harlequin shrimp is perhaps the funkiest and coolest of all shrimp. They are commonly encountered hiding in the reefs around Koh Lanta, often munching on a sea star. Harlequin shrimp don’t stray too far once they have found a nice spot with plentiful supply of food, and when your dive guide knows where they are hiding out, they can be found quite easily…

2. Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Divemaster, IDC

The ornate ghost pipefish is another cool visitor to the reefs surrounding Koh Lanta. They come in a variety of colours, and can be seen in pairs or as solitary individuals. Ornate ghost pipefish can change their colour to suit their chosen home among the branches of gorgonians, in floating weeds, or feather stars. They can be tricky to spot, but again, once found, they often stay in one location for a while…

3. Seahorse

Seahorse, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Seahorses are another common spot amongst the reefs of Lanta. They can even be spotted very close to shore on Lanta’s beaches, but are also common on dive sites such as Koh Ha. the tiger tail seahorse is the most commonly encountered seahorse on Koh Lanta’s dive sites, and are spotted year round…

4. Frogfish

Frogfish, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Perhaps a less frequently spotted critter in the area is the frogfish. These cryptic creatures are a master of disguise and can be difficult to spot. The are still seen quite often on the dive sites around Koh Ha and Hin Daeng, as well as on the wrecks around Koh Phi Phi…

5. Turtle

Turtle, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Hawksbill turtles are a regular sight on all the dive sites around Koh Lanta. They are often encountered munching on bubble coral, or just cruising by in the blue close to the reefs. Green turtles are also occasionally spotted in the area…

6. Leopard Shark

Leopard Shark, Zebra Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

The leopard shark, also known as the zebra shark, is a commonly encountered shark in the waters around Koh Lanta. They like to rest on the sand, and are often seen at dive sites like Hin Bida, Bida Nok, and Bida Nai. When they are resting on the bottom, you can get close enough for a good photograph if you approach them very slowly. They are also a great photo subject when they are swimming, with their distinctive long tails scything through the water…

7. Manta Ray

Manta Ray, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

If you want to dive with the majestic manta ray, then you need to book yourself on a trip to Hin Daeng & Hin Muang – two sea mounts in the open ocean. These two stunning dive sites are home to many cleaner fish, and the mantas come to get preened. You just hang back and watch the spectacular show as the mantas circle the cleaning stations. Mantas are my favourite animal to just hover and watch…

8. Whale Shark

Whale Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

And last, but definitely not least, we have the giant whale shark – the biggest fish in the ocean. Whale sharks are very common, but you still need a little luck to be in the right place at the right time. They are commonly encountered at Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, and at Koh Ha. They are also sometimes seen at Bida Nok, close to Koh Phi Phi. Diving along and then seeing the unmistakable shape of a whale shark emerging from the blue is a truly unforgettable experience…

If you haven’t dived from Koh Lanta yet, maybe it’s time to add it to your bucket-list and come see the amazing creatures of the Andaman Sea. Lanta boasts a nice mixture of dive sites for both beginners and experienced divers alike. It is also a beautiful island to spend your non-diving days relaxing on the beach enjoying delicious Thai food or even a sunset cocktail…

If you would like to dive Koh Lanta, email Lanta Diver – a five-star PADI IDC centre offering day trips to all the sites mentioned above. Lanta Diver also run all recreational courses, as well as professional-level courses such as Divemaster & IDC programmes. And if you are looking for a great hotel on the island, look no further than Mook Lanta Eco Resort. What are you waiting for ?

Photos by Narcosis Nick and Richard Reardon

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The Sharks Of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

The idyllic island of Koh Phi Phi on the west coast of Thailand is famous for once, briefly, being home to Leonardo DiCaprio and friends during the filming of the hit movie ‘The Beach‘.  Koh Phi Phi’s surrounding waters are also home to some amazing sea creatures.  The diving here is exceptional, with great biodiversity, good macro critters, plenty of turtles and stunning corals, but for me, the big draw is the sharks…

PADI IDC Thailand
The stunning tail of a swimming leopard shark…

The sharks around Koh Phi Phi present no problem for anyone who wishes to enjoy these beautiful, warm waters.  The main sightings are of leopard sharks and black-tipped reef sharks, with occasional bamboo sharks and from time to time whale sharks pass through too…

The Leopard Shark

PADI DC Thailand
A leopard shark resting on the seabed at Pileh Wall, Koh Phi Phi

Common Names: Leopard shark, Zebra shark.

Latin Name: Stegostoma fasciatum.

Family: Stegostomatidae

Identification: Body scalloped with two distinct ridges running from behind head along each flank into caudal fin (tail). The immense caudal fin is almost as long as the body. First and second dorsal fins low and long with a free rear margin. Pectorals well-developed. Body colouration cream, yellow, or greenish-yellow, with dense black spots. Juveniles have vertical lines of black on cream. Hence the two common names of leopard or zebra shark.

Size: Maximum length 3.5m. 25cm at birth. Colouration changes at around 90cm.

Habitat: Inshore and offshore adjacent to reefs.

Abundance and distribution: Red Sea south to South Africa, west to Indonesia and Samoa and from Japan to Australia.  

PADI IDC Thailand
Distribution of leopard sharks…

 

Behaviour: Usually seen resting on the sand or rubble adjacent to reefs during the day. Hunts in same area nocturnally. Feeds on molluscs, crustaceans, and occasionally on bony fishes.  The leopard shark is quite approachable, and it’s possible to get nice and close for a photograph.

Reproduction: Oviparous. Up to four purple to brown egg cases are laid at a time. During mating the male bites on to the pectoral fin of the female. Juveniles are rarely seen and probably inhabit waters deeper than recreational scuba allows.

The Black-tipped Reef Shark

PADI IDC Thailand
A male black-tipped reef shark in the shallows…

Common Names: Black-tipped reef shark, Indo-Pacific black-tip shark, black-tip shark.

Latin Name: Carcharhinus melanopterus

Family: Carcharhinidae

Identification: Well defined black tips on all fins. Dorsal fin tip black/white demarcation line extremely distinct and unique. Dorsal colouration grey/tan. Ventrum (underside) is white. Snout is short and bluntly rounded.

Size: Maximum length 2m. Size at birth 45-75cm.

Habitat: Very shallow coral reef flats and slopes. Occasionally on deeper reefs and in brackish water.

PADI IDC Thailand
Black-tipped reef shark (photo Neutral Buoyancy Images)

Distribution: Indo-west Pacific Red Sea to southern East Africa including Madagascar. Present along much of the shallow coastline of the Indian Ocean and throughout South East Asia from Southern Japan to northern Australia. Abundant in many South Pacific Island chains including much of French Polynesia. Also present in the Mediterranean (via the Suez Canal).

Behaviour:  Swims constantly either alone or in small groups. Does not school.  Black-tipped reef sharks are a very shy shark, and it can be difficult to get close enough for a photograph.

Reproduction: Viviparous (live young). Litter number 2-4.

Most likely if you do come and dive at Koh Phi Phi the sharks you would encounter would be either the leopard shark or the black-tipped reef shark.  But occasionally we are lucky enough to be graced with the presence of the world’s biggest fish…

PADI IDC Thailand
Me snorkelling with a whale shark…

If you’d like to come to dive at Koh Phi Phi and learn more about these, and other sharks, then you should consider taking the AWARE Shark Conservation Diver course or the PADI Reef Shark Awareness course.  These courses will teach you all about shark biology and behaviour and help you to learn to identify sharks not only to species, but also to gender.  You will also learn about the current threats to sharks from man, and what you can do to help…

PADI IDC Thailand
PADI Reef Shark Awareness Specialty

If you are a PADI Instructor, you can also complete the corresponding PADI Specialty Instructor Training courses with me and become qualified to help spread the word about the plight of the world’s sharks too. For further details, send me an e-mail, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions…

PADI IDC Thailand
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The Sharks Of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

The idyllic island of Koh Phi Phi on the west coast of Thailand is famous for once, briefly, being home to Leonardo DiCaprio and friends during the filming of the hit movie ‘The Beach‘.  Koh Phi Phi’s surrounding waters are also home to some amazing sea creatures.  The diving here is exceptional, with great biodiversity, good macro critters, plenty of turtles and stunning corals, but for me, the big draw is the sharks…

PADI IDC Thailand
The stunning tail of a swimming leopard shark…

The sharks around Koh Phi Phi present no problem for anyone who wishes to enjoy these beautiful, warm waters.  The main sightings are of leopard sharks and black-tipped reef sharks, with occasional bamboo sharks and from time to time whale sharks pass through too…

The Leopard Shark

PADI DC Thailand
A leopard shark resting on the seabed at Pileh Wall, Koh Phi Phi

Common Names: Leopard shark, Zebra shark.

Latin Name: Stegostoma fasciatum.

Family: Stegostomatidae

Identification: Body scalloped with two distinct ridges running from behind head along each flank into caudal fin (tail). The immense caudal fin is almost as long as the body. First and second dorsal fins low and long with a free rear margin. Pectorals well-developed. Body colouration cream, yellow, or greenish-yellow, with dense black spots. Juveniles have vertical lines of black on cream. Hence the two common names of leopard or zebra shark.

Size: Maximum length 3.5m. 25cm at birth. Colouration changes at around 90cm.

Habitat: Inshore and offshore adjacent to reefs.

Abundance and distribution: Red Sea south to South Africa, west to Indonesia and Samoa and from Japan to Australia.  

PADI IDC Thailand
Distribution of leopard sharks…

 

Behaviour: Usually seen resting on the sand or rubble adjacent to reefs during the day. Hunts in same area nocturnally. Feeds on molluscs, crustaceans, and occasionally on bony fishes.  The leopard shark is quite approachable, and it’s possible to get nice and close for a photograph.

Reproduction: Oviparous. Up to four purple to brown egg cases are laid at a time. During mating the male bites on to the pectoral fin of the female. Juveniles are rarely seen and probably inhabit waters deeper than recreational scuba allows.

The Black-tipped Reef Shark

PADI IDC Thailand
A male black-tipped reef shark in the shallows…

Common Names: Black-tipped reef shark, Indo-Pacific black-tip shark, black-tip shark.

Latin Name: Carcharhinus melanopterus

Family: Carcharhinidae

Identification: Well defined black tips on all fins. Dorsal fin tip black/white demarcation line extremely distinct and unique. Dorsal colouration grey/tan. Ventrum (underside) is white. Snout is short and bluntly rounded.

Size: Maximum length 2m. Size at birth 45-75cm.

Habitat: Very shallow coral reef flats and slopes. Occasionally on deeper reefs and in brackish water.

PADI IDC Thailand
Black-tipped reef shark (photo Neutral Buoyancy Images)

Distribution: Indo-west Pacific Red Sea to southern East Africa including Madagascar. Present along much of the shallow coastline of the Indian Ocean and throughout South East Asia from Southern Japan to northern Australia. Abundant in many South Pacific Island chains including much of French Polynesia. Also present in the Mediterranean (via the Suez Canal).

Behaviour:  Swims constantly either alone or in small groups. Does not school.  Black-tipped reef sharks are a very shy shark, and it can be difficult to get close enough for a photograph.

Reproduction: Viviparous (live young). Litter number 2-4.

Most likely if you do come and dive at Koh Phi Phi the sharks you would encounter would be either the leopard shark or the black-tipped reef shark.  But occasionally we are lucky enough to be graced with the presence of the world’s biggest fish…

PADI IDC Thailand
Me snorkelling with a whale shark…

If you’d like to come to Koh Phi Phi and learn more about these, and other sharks, then you should consider taking the PADI Reef Shark Awareness course.  This course will teach all about shark biology and behaviour and help you to learn to identify sharks not only to species, but also to gender.  You will also learn about the current threats to sharks from man, and what you can do to help…

PADI IDC Thailand
PADI Reef Shark Awareness Specialty

If you are a PADI Instructor, you can also complete the PADI Specialty Instructor Training course with me and become qualified to help spread the word about the plight of the world’s sharks too. For further details, send me an e-mail, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions…

PADI IDC Thailand
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Shouting Out For Sharks…

Many species of shark are now on the brink of extinction, and they need our help.  During the month of April, Khao Lak Scuba Adventures will be making a huge effort to gain as many signatures as possible for Project AWARE’s Give Sharks A Chance petition

 

Project AWARE aim to gather as many signatures as possible to present at the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) conference being held in Pattaya, Thailand in March 2013.  Hopefully, if enough signatures can be presented the committee will listen and sharks can hope for better protection and a better future.

Sign it !!!

 

Also in April, PADI Course Director Richard Reardon will be teaching the PADI Reef Shark Awareness Distinctive Specialty Instructor course at Khao Lak Scuba Adventures during their Instructor Development Course (IDC).  This course will allow the new instructors to help spread the word about the plight of sharks and how people can help.  They will be qualified to teach this course to all their diving students in the future – teaching them all about the biology and behaviour of sharks as well as educating them on various shark conservation projects.

The Reef Shark Awareness Distinctive Specialty

 

If you’re in Khao Lak, pop into the Khao Lak Scuba Adventures shop and sign your name on the petition too.  If you’re not in Khao Lak, then you can still help.  You can also sign the petition online, by following this link – Give Sharks A Chance.

More signatures being added...

 

And a couple more...

 

You could also download the petition signing sheets yourself and begin collecting the signatures yourself.  If you have your own website, you can also add the petition widget to your website and help collect signatures that way too…

So, wherever you are there’s no excuse – give the sharks a big shout out in April, and spread the word…

Click on the image and sign the petition...

 

Follow me on Facebook too...

 

PADI IDC In The Philippines…

Our Next PADI IDC In The Philippines…

Thresher Shark Divers, on beautiful Malapascua Island in the Philippines, still has spaces on the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) scheduled to start on 11th October 2011.

The idyllic beach on Malapascua Island…

 

Our dedicated IDC team of experienced PADI Professionals will be there to support you from the moment you arrive at Thresher Shark Divers to the moment you leave.

Debriefing IDC candidates…

 

Our PADI Instructor Courses have been developed to make our candidates well-rounded PADI Instructors who can work anywhere in the world.

You will gain knowledge in areas as diverse as risk management, teaching children, hands-on experience of the business of diving, and PADI standards & procedures.  There will also be lots of practical teaching workshops plus PADI Specialty Instructor training

Help spread the word about shark conservation…

 

Upon successful completion of the PADI Instructor Exam (IE) you will be a certified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor!

The world can be YOUR oyster…

 

Pre-requisites:

  • You must be a qualified PADI Divemaster (or equivalent)
  • Minimum 100 logged dives
  • Successfully completed a sanctioned CPR & First Aid Course in the last 24 months

So what are you waiting for ?  Come and join us….

Feel free to e-mail me for more details: info@go-pro-in-paradise.com

IDC Thailand

Reef Shark Awareness

Thresher Shark Divers has the luxury of being able to offer great chances of seeing sharks.  Monad Shoal is only twenty minutes away, and is the ony place on the planet where thresher sharks can be sighted on a reliable daily basis !!!  Also the incredible Gato Island is very close, where divers have a very high chance of seeing white-tipped reef sharks.  For a few months each year, we are also graced by the presence of hammerhead sharks at Kimud Shoal.  The staff at Thresher Shark Divers are very passionate about these creatures, and offer two PADI Specialty courses to help educate divers about the biology and behaviour of these magnificent predators – Thresher Shark Diver & Reef Shark Awareness.  These courses also inform participants about the plight of sharks and various conservation projects established on their behalf.

Reef Shark Awareness Distinctive Specialty
Reef Shark Awareness Distinctive Specialty

 

The Reef Shark Awareness course is now also available to our IDC candidates as a PADI Specialty Instructor rating, so more people can help spread the word about how we can help keep shark numbers healthy.

 

Help Give Sharks A Fighting Chance - Sign The Petition
Click on the image and sign the Project AWARE petition...

 

Bite Back - Shark conservation

Nitrox & Deep Specialty Training

Over the last few days, Divemaster trainee Lou has also completed her PADI Enriched Air and Deep Specialty courses with me.

Lou analysing her tank...
Lou analysing her tank…

We’ve had some excellent dives. The highlight for me was the first dive at Monad Shoal. About twenty minutes into the dive we had an excellent thresher shark encounter. A beautiful female shark was circling in front of us, being attended to by the local cleaner wrasse.

PADI IDC in Thailand
Thresher shark

After about ten minutes or so she returned to the depths. This also signalled the end of the no-decompression limits for the air divers. Whilst those guys were on their way back to the line for their ascent, we were also graced by the presence of a huge manta ray. It swooped slowly in for a leisurely loop around the cleaning station before heading back out into the blue…

Manta ray
Manta ray

We were also fortunate enough to see three thresher sharks the following morning during our 40m dive. One at the very beginning of the dive before we reached our maximum depth, so I wasn’t sure if Lou’s big smile was shark or nitrogen narcosis induced.  The other two were circling a cleaning station a little later in the dive.  As we were diving on air for this dive, we ended up having to leave them to their cleaning ritual and head to the ascent line happy, but wishing we had a little more bottom time available…

In the next couple of days we’ll also be starting the PADI Wreck Specialty…

PADI IDC in Thailand
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