Solitary male when not mating...
The Andaman see is home to many cephalopods such as octopus, squid and cuttlefish... If you come dive with us it's pretty much a guaranteed sighting!
Big reef octopus, (Octopus cyanea) a diurne specie with an amazing camouflage ability.
Theses 2 pictures were taken only few seconds apart. The Octopus can change not only it's color but also it's skin texture in the blink of an eye!
During the mating season you can have a chance to see more than one at a time, otherwise it's a rather solitary specie.
Mating season for cuttlefish (Sepia pharaonis) is from November to January, and it's very frequent to witness some kinky business while diving :)
Often seen in pairs, they are actually 3 or even 4 when mating...
While their best way to defend themselves is to blend in, they can also spray a cloud of ink to surprise it's predator and escape...
Solitary male when not mating...
The pygmy squid, (Idiosepius paradoxus) hard to see due to its micro size (about 5mm) lives on coral reef and are to be seen at night, hanging on corals or floating away with the current.
The pelagic kind of squid , hanging in mid water. They can team up in order to hunt cooperatively, using active communication!
Always in group from small to big schools, they are an easy catch for the local fishermen, still using the lamparo that attract them close to the surface...
In this article I wanted to present the various rays you can encounter in the Andaman sea. Most of the pictures below were taken in the Mergui Archipelago located off the coast of Myanmar and some in Surin and Similan islands in Thailand.
We can see 2 different kind of rays, the first kind are resident: they stay most of their time laying on the sea floor such as the stingrays, then the second kind are pelagic: they swim mid water from the depth all the way to the surface and travel long distances such as eagle rays and Manta rays!
Khul's stingray or blue spotted stingray (Neotrygon kuhlii) lying on the bottom...small size up to 50cm diameter it lives near the surface but can go at greater depth up to 90m.
Kuhl's Stingray hiding in the sand...
Blotched fantail stingray (Taeniura meyeni), laying on the sea bed, hunting at night.
can be found from 5m to 60m in small group or alone.
Not shy at all, they can get big!!! from 50cm to 200cm
Jenkins whip ray (Himantura jenkinsii) laying on the sea bed, preferably sandy bottoms, can also be found in small groups or alone at the same depth range as the marble rays. Their size can go up to 150cm.
A lot less common, the porcupine stingray (Urogymnus asperrimus) a rather solitary specie, lives at the depth of 30m on sandy, coral and sea grass bottoms Round shape up to 150cm diameter.
Cow nose eagle ray (Rhinoptera bonasus) spending most of the time swimming alone, they can be found in large groups. Often with cobia and remora.
Wing span up to 240cm they live anywhere between the surface and 110m deep.
Remora getting a free ride...
The Giant oceanic manta ray (Manta birostris) is the largest type of ray in the world and can travel across oceans. It can grow up to 7m across and weight up to 1,350kg and can live up to 50 years! A lot bigger than the more common " reef mantas" which are often encountered in Maldives and Indonesia for example.
They are filter feeders and consume large quantities of zooplankton.
Can be seen easily from the surface, as they spend day time within the 0 to 30m depth area. They are usually not shy and hang around feeding station, or cleaning stations.
In small to large group (up to 50 individuals) they are playful with one another.
Breaching the surface to get rid of parasite is not a rare sight.
Apart from humans, who are the most ferocious predator, they can be attacked by sharks, leaving some nasty bites marks!
"Black Rock" in the Mergui Archipelago, is a pretty famous dive site where we have spotted up to 50 mantas at once. It has been established by Andrea Mashall, the queen of Mantas that Black Rock may very well be the mating station where you could see the biggest All oceanic mantas gathering in the world !
" Thanks you guys, I enjoyed this trip a lot! "
" I have had an incredible week exploring the Mergui Archipelago with you all. When the conditions were rough, you all found a way to keep spirits up and something fun to do. Everything was perfect! "
" Une très jolie croisière de 7 jours avec une équipe professionnelle et sympa, ainsi que le staff toujours souriant et joyeux!!! De belles découvertes avec manta et requin baleine ... "
" A really nice 7 days cruise with a professional and sympathic crew, the staff is always smiling and happy!!! Nice discoveries with manta and whale shark ... "
Let's say, it didn't start the right way due to tough conditions on the first days which made us change the itinerary.
But finally, it ended in a fantastic one! Big, small, very big and very small!!! There was everything ;)
Lucky folks on board: Brad from USA, Eric from France, Iryna from Ukraine, Steve and Rachael from England, Magdalena from Germany, Jess from Australia and Marcello from Brazil.
Let's start with the BIG!
It has been incredible to spot a manta, where we had never seen them before!
Same for the whale shark!
Every kind of rays were here to say bye bye: Kuhl's, marbled, manta, eagle ...
Same for our beloved nudibranches, starting with the fatty spanish dancer!
And all the other colourful ones!
And from the seahorse family ...
Nice series of portraits ...
Lots of fun with a great bunch of people!
Thanks Mergui Archipelago for this unbelievable season ...
Congratulations to Jess for her Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certifications! It hasn't been easy conditions but now, you have the "surge" specialty ;)
Has been a pleasure to dive again in this beautiful place, meeting amazing persons!
It's time for us now to rest and enjoy our holidays!
And also it's time to say goodbye to our fantastic boat: the MV Thaï Sea ... It has been a pleasure sailing with you all these years, we will miss you a lot ...
" 2 croisières incroyables avec the Smiling Seahorse! Tout est parfait ... plongées inoubliables en Birmanie et en Thaïlande!!! Mantas, requins baleines, requin léopard, requin guitare ... le TOP!! "
" 2 incredible cruises with the Smiling Seahorse! Everything is perfect ... unforgettable dives in Burma and Thailand!!! Mantas, whale sharks, leopard shark, guitar shark ... the TOP!! "
" Croisière de 3 jours géniale! Equipe extraordinaire, repas excellents ... Et beaucoup de poissons: raie, requins baleine, requins pointe noire ... N'hésitez pas, c'est vraiment exceptionnel! "
" Amazing 3 days cruise! Great team, excellent food ... And a lot of fishes: ray, whale sharks, black tip sharks ... Don't hesitate, that's really exceptional! "
" Tout était parfait: les sites de plongée, les guides, l'ambiance, la nourriture, le comfort ... Et la cerise sur le gateau: le requin baleine à Richelieu !!! "
" Everything was perfect: the dive sites, the guides, the atmosphere, the food, the comfort ... And the cherry on the top: the whale shark at Richelieu !!! "
" Not fluent in Finnish ... sorry! But looks good, NO?!!! "
Right after celebrating Songkran, the Thaï New Year, we headed to the the Surin and Similan islands for our last trip in Thailand of the season.
On board, we welcomed very soon to be "spoiled customers" ;)
Starting with Mélanie, Max, Geoffrey and Isabelle from Belgium; Christophe, Bénédicte, Mathis and Christelle from France; JP and Henriikka from Finland.
The conditions were great, amazing visibility, low current and lots of life all around.
From day one in Surin, we have been lucky enough to spot black tips, lots of Kuhl's rays, ghost pipefishes, turtles ... and so much more!
Day two, in the morning, we went to Koh Bon, where the serious stuff started ;)
Beginning with nice sceneries and big schools of fishes ...
... to a guitar and a leopard shark ... Unfortunately, we don't have any picture of the first one.
But enjoy the second one ;)
Paragraph. Cliquer ici pour modifier.
And then, it was time for Koh Tachai and its beautiful corals!
On the way, we met a group of dolphins at the surface.
Look at this splendid colors!
Back to the boat, it was barbecue night!
And a box game, we will remember!
Third day, cherry on the top: Richelieu Rock!
And last but not least ... the biggies, everyone was expecting to see!!!
" The diving was at all times safe, professional and designed to maximise the diving experience ... the dive sites were spectacular: bright corals, diverse marine life and exclusive access in small dive groups. "
" Première croisière plongée pour nous, un régal ... une super semaine. On attend le nouveau bateau et on revient! "
" First liveaboard for us, a delight ... a great week. We wait for the new the boat and we come back! "
" ... des beaux sites de plongée, des chips à volonté, beaucoup de serpents, de la bonne cuisine ... Léandre qui a perdu sa dent le premier jour dans l'eau (première plongée)! "
" ... beautiful dive sites, all you can eat chips, lots of snakes, good food ... Léandre who lost his tooth on the first day in the water (first dive)! "
" What an amazing week ... The diving was awesome and the amount of different species blew me away. I loved every minute of the trip. "
" It's truly been an amazing week out here with you. Everyone's been so accommodating and lovely. "
" Super nice trip, amazing dives, fun team, good food. Couldn't ask for more ;) "
" My seahorse adventure was a delight! An accommodating staff always willing to assist and make sure its guests are happy and enjoying themselves. Wonderful diving in remote areas ... "
" We are definitely smiling, from the guests to the crew ... remembering our disco night, our BBQ, our laughs, a fantastic holiday. "
" Trop heureux d'être revenu! L'équipe est toujours formidable ... Merci pour votre bienveillance et votre bonne humeur ! "
" So happy to be back! The team is always fantastic ... Thanks for your caring and good mood ! "
" Thank you very much for an amazing week! All crew were great, very helpful and sweet "
" Great super wonderful crew. It's nice to dive in dive sites without crowds. "
" Merci pour cette magnifique croisière ... toujours autant de plaisir à plonger avec l'équipe du Smiling Seahorse. C'était génial!! "
" Thanks for this amazing cruise ... always so much pleasure to dive with the Smiling Seahorse team. It was great!! "
" Dive, eat, sleep, dive ... what else? Manta rays !!!!! "
" Merci de nous avoir fait partager votre passion. Vous nous avez accueilli comme des hôtes et non des clients. Spots splendides, nous étions seuls au monde! "
" Thanks for sharing your passion with us. We have been welcomed as hosts, not guests. Splendid dive sites, we were the only ones in the world! "
" C'était super trop bien = Mantas Madness! Equipe formidable! Merci! "
" It was over the top = Mantas Madness! Terrific team! Thanks! "
Coming straight from the island of Koh Tao, we were very happy to welcome on board Sairee Cottage Diving Team for a wonderful trip in the Mergui Archipelago, starting with: Trevor, Bear, Barry, Farrell, Emma, Lionel, Gary, Martin, Natalie, Nicholas, Paddy and Sameer.
We had the chance to see mantas again, first at Black Rock; and second, we spotted some on Western Rocky from the surface. Unfortunately no picture ... so you'll have to take my word ;)
Fantastic conditions with no current and an amazing visibility
Beautiful corals and fishes everywhere! Jacks, barracudas, fusiliers, snappers, emperors ...
Lucky enough to meet big and small underwater. Beginning with sharks: bamboos and white tips ...
Huge marbled rays ...
Octopuses and cuttlefishes ...
Giant morays ...
Stone fishes ...
Millions of shrimps, all kinds ...
Seahorses and relatives ...
Pineapple fish ...
It has been a great ambiance on the boat too ... Never running dry like real pirates do ;)
Hoping to see you again next year for some new overseas adventures !!!
" Big bravo à l'équipe du Smiling Seahorse ... ne changez rien."
" Big bravo to the Smiling Seahorse team ... don't change anything."
" The care taken by the staff was exceptional. This whole trip was fabulous. The experience was unforgetable. A total delight."
" Des images plein la tête qui resteront gravées! Une équipe au TOP du TOP!!! "
" My head filled with images which will remain! A over the TOP team!!!"
Still not fluent in German, sorry ... ;)
" I will remember this trip for the rest of my life. Truly incredible. Absolutely exceeded my expectations. Thank you for setting the bar high. "
" Super deuxième croisière, toujours aussi génial. Staff super, plongées incroyables. "
" Great second cruise, same great deal. Super staff, unbelievable dives. "
" C'est toujours super top. See you next time! "
" It's always super great. See you next time! "
" The entire crew was absolutely fantastic: from the atmosphere to the food, to all of the assistance with the dives. We could not have asked for a better experience. "
" Je repars les valises pleines de souvenirs. Un spectacle de la nature époustouflant à Richelieu! "
" I'm leaving with my suitcases full of memories. A breathtaking show from Mother Nature in Richelieu. "
" ... fasciné par le premier trip en Birmanie où on s'éclate avec les mantas à Black Rock ... Après la Birmanie, les Similans ont été l'apothéose finale. "
" ... fascinated by the first trip in Burma where we had great fun with the mantas in Black Rock ... After Burma, the Similans have been the final apotheosis. "
" Deuxième séjour avec le Smiling Seahorse et notre premier requin baleine! Equipage et staff toujours au top. Ici tout est possible!! "
" Second cruise with the Smiling Seahorse and our first whale shark! Top team and staff. Here, everything is possible! "
" Thank you all so much for an amazing wonderful time. Loved every minute!!! And of course the highlight seeing and swimming with a whale shark ... "
Pascal, Patricia and Bertrand from France, Qiao and Mingkun from China, James from Canada, Thomas and Andreas from the US, Engin from Turkey and Joachim from Germany were on board for this cruise. Everybody had a good time on board and some great dives.
We were back in the Mergui Archipelago for a 6 days trip and decided to change our itinerary and offer the chance to dive in the famous "Black Rock" !
Thank you for our captain who did a lot of navigation and let us have an amazing day of diving there ! Manta, Eagle Rays, Stone Fish, huge school of trevally, beautiful nudibranch and so many different species of shrimps and crabs during the night dive !
It's always a pleasure to see those amazing creatures swimming in the blue like they are flying, so graceful and beautiful Manta's.
Thanks everybody for reading this post and stay connected for the next trip, three more and it's the end of the season.
Camille and Franck are the owners of The Smiling Seahorse, a dive company operating MV Thai Sea on the Adaman Sea.
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