A Hint of Low Season But Still A Great Days Diving In Phuket
Grey skies and a humid atmosphere greeted us as we boarded our dive boat in Chalong but thankfully there was no wind or waves on the way to Phi Phi and a comfortable journey ensued with the hope of better conditions under the waves than we had above.
We weren’t to be disappointed, visibility in the bay at Koh Bida Nok was excellent and a quick swim up into the shallows brought a brief glimpse of a couple of blacktip reef sharks cruising around in less than 3m of water. Heading deeper we found a hawksbill turtle munching away on bubble corals and we’ve yet to reach 5m depth or 5 minutes into the dive!
The ‘finger’ on the west side of the bay was blanketed with a large school of yellow snapper and juvenile barracuda, seemingly corralled into tight groups by the large groups of golden trevally. Outside the bay the conditions did deteriorate slightly, the visibility dropped to around 8m and the temperature plummeted to a ‘freezing’ 27c.
Not to be deterred, we still managed to find harlequin shrimp and needle cuttlefish. The resident schools of yellow snapper had gathered together, thousands of these little yellow fish surrounded the divers and made for a great safety stop.
For the second dive we headed off in a leisurely fashion to Turtle Rock, ironically the only dive of the day where we didn’t see turtles but it was still a pleasant dive. At the deeper coral bommies we found batfish, a seahorse, peacock mantis shrimp and plenty of colourful nudies. A cleaning station at the bottom of the reef had a line of very large marbled and coral groupers waiting for attention and a female needle cuttlefish was delicately depositing eggs in amongst the rocks.
Shark Point was the final dive of the day and hopes were high of spotting the leopard shark that been seen on our last two visits. We dropped straight onto a small group of very large pickhandle barracuda, the biggest being close to 1.5m long. A stunning pair of perfectly camouflaged red & white ornate ghost pipefish still make the west side home and the tigertail seahorse on pinnacle two was easily visible today.
40 minutes into the final dive and still no shark.. but just as we were making our way to the safety stop the long elegant shape of these stunning benthic sharks could be made out against the sand. Fortunately the shark was resting in only 12 metres of water giving us a few precious minutes with this increasingly rare shark.
Eventually we dragged ourselves away and spent our safety stop amongst the beautiful red and purple soft corals at the top of the reef. A great days diving with lots of different species, to list them all would take hours. Phuket is truly an amazingly diverse diving location and worth a visit for all levels of divers.
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