Nautilus is a cephalopod, a nearby relative of octopuses and squids. This creature can be found in the tropical waters of Indian and Pacific seas, close to the coral reefs, near depth areas of 300 to 600 meters. Nautilus are (like most marine species these days) affected by over-fishing and by the fact that their beautiful shells are sold as ornaments.
Nautilus measure 20 to 25cm in average. Its shell is white to orange with brown zebra stripes. Internal side of the shell is pearly white.
We set off from Ranong in the afternoon of April 19th for a 3-day dive trip in the Similans and Surin National parks. We made a stop on Koh Phayam to pick up a few guests, and then headed straight for the Surin Islands, Koh Chi specifically, for our first dive of the trip.
After our first dive, with all groups comfortable in the water, we decided to head to Richelieu for the following 3 dives of the day. There, we were greeted by schools of trevallies, and more great visibility, with only a few areas of thermocline.
We were lucky not to face any current and the water was very calm, allowing us to dedicate our time underwater to admiring the wonderful corals, schools of trevallies, barracudas, and fusiliers.
After this excellent day of diving, we set off for the Similan National park starting at Koh Bon, where we dove twice in the morning of April 21st. On the first dive, all groups decided on the pinnacle dive, where we marvelled at schools of glassfish as they spread and regrouped around hunting emperor fish. On the second dive, most groups set out for West Ridge in the hope to find one of the resident octopuses. No Manta today, but instead, cute baby box fish were spotted, as well as marble shrimp.
On the following two dives, we headed to Koh Tachai, were once again, we were lucky to escape the currents and had very peaceful and pleasant dives. The schools of fish were plentiful, and the barracudas seemed to be waiting for us at the safety stop!
On our last day, we dove Richelieu Rock twice before sailing back to Ranong and reached the pier around 7pm. On the way back, we were lucky to see some dolphins swimming next to us, and the captain slowed down so we could follow them for a while. It was a lovely way to end the trip .
Oupsi it looks like I have been a bit late publishing this one...
We departed in the evening of April 13th for a 4 nights / 3 days trip over the Thai Songkran holiday. Leaving in the evening allowed us to sail at night and wake up bright and early for our first dive at 7am on Koh Chi Island, Surin. This is our usual spot for the first dive, aka “check dive” of the trip.
The peanut shaped island has a slopping reef going from 5 to 18 meters, finishing on a sandy bottom, and is great for finding bentstick pipe fish, sea moths, Pikachu nudibranchs, as well as turtles, black tip reef sharks, and parrotfish.
While the visibility was not the best for Surin on our first 2 dives, (10 to 15 meters) several groups were happy to spot 2 turtles, a pipefish, a baby box fish and lots of colorful angel and butterfly fish.
On the agenda for that afternoon, a visit to a Sea gypsy village and a night dive on Surin before departing for Koh Bon in the morning…or so we thought…
After a full day of great diving, we went back to Surin for 2 morning dives, were we drifted with current on Torinla and finished the trip off with 2 dives on Richelieu Rock. There, the currents had cleaned the plankton from the water, improving the visibility considerably back to it’s normal self, and we had two great dives, visiting our regular friends, the giant frog fish, ghost pipe fish, harlequin shrimp and we even found a new baby seahorse!
In the evening, we celebrated our successful trip with a Barbecue and Ti Ponch cocktail and sailed back to Ranong in the morning.
What a lovely way to spend Songkran, we are glad we were so lucky to have you all with us on this trip!
Our most recent trip took place from April 9th to 11th; we departed Ranong in the evening 9th to wake up in Surin National park, ready for 3 full day of diving, 4 in the Surin islands, followed the next day by 2 dives on Koh Bon and 2 dives on Koh Tachai and ending with 3 dives on Richelieu Rock the following days.
On this trip, we had 2 advanced open water students and a majority of young divers, many who experienced night diving for the first time during this trip. We are happy to report they both graduated with honors and everyone loved night diving!
When jumping in the water on the morning of our very first dive of the trip, our first group spotted a turtle swimming at a very shallow depth of 3 to 4 meters and decided to follow it for a little while. It proved to be a great idea as behind the turtle, they discovered 3 black tip reef sharks circling around the reef. Later on during the same dive, another group spotted an eagle ray passing by. What a fantastic way to start our journey!
During the rest of the day, Surin made for incredibly lovely dives, with some coral dives mixed with a drift and muck dive, all the group saw blue spotted sting rays sleeping in the sand, some cuttlefish were spotted, a juvenile pipefish, and even a hump head parrot fish!!
The following day, we sailed to koh Bon for 2 morning dives. The visibility was great and currents allowed us to do 2 dives on the pinnacle. Some of us chose to dive the West ridge and got to hang out with one of the resident octopuses, saw lots of shrimps, nudibranches, while others dropped on the pinnacle, traversed to west ridge and spotted a black tip reef shark.
While Koh Bon had only mild to no current, koh Tachai had stronger currents bringing in a plethora of barracudas, jacks and the usual schooling batfish. On our sunset dive, we sought shelter from the current and began our search for small creatures and found plenty of nudibranchs, lobsters, box fish, baby scorpionfish and more.
In the evening, we feasted on our usual Barbecue, and played a really fun game called the box game. We’ll let you figure out the rules for yourself, photos are better than words sometimes! With all the young and flexible guests onboard, it made for a lot of laughs and good vibes. The cocktails might have also helped.
On our last day, we dove 3 times on Richelieu Rock before setting back to Ranong. On top of the usual harlequin shrimps, ghost pipe fish, frog fish, tiger eye coweries, we were lucky to spot another eagle ray, who came to see us off until next time. No Whaleshark this time, but we are keeping our fingers crossed for the next time.
Thanks everyone for making this trip a great one, and hope to see you back onboard soon and again, congrats to our new AOW!
March 25th marked the departure of a very special liveaboard: our Manta and Whaleshark expedition 2021 and we got lucky!!!
We had been working on putting this exciting trip together for the past few month, and it was an absolute pleasure to welcome onboard 2 lovely marine biologists: Ms. Jamie Piyada Monmaneerat, project leader of Thailand Manta Project and Ms. Kirsty Magson, conservationist currently documenting on the whale shark population in Thailand who alternated giving us daily presentations on Mantas, Sea slugs, Whale Sharks and the damage of plastic on the environment.
We sailed off from Ranong early morning with a boat full of enthusiastic divers and our itinerary took us to Koh Chi in Surin national park, Koh Tachai, Koh Bon, Rocky Point, 3 Trees, Turtle Rock, Nam Chai in the Similan islands before heading back north at Richelieu Rock; A total of 21 beautiful dives.
We had amazing weather conditions with blue skies and sunshine during the whole trip and as could be expected during full moon, we faced a considerable amount current during some of our dives, but this also brought it’s reward: currents make the perfect conditions to bring in large pelagic!
On the first 20 dives, we saw turtles, jenkill rays, an eagle ray, reef sharks, countless amounts of nudibranchs, harlequin shrimp, a giant frog fish, pairs of ghostpipe fish, more anemone fish eggs now showing their eyes, and many schools of jacks, trevallies, barracudas and fusilliers and so much more!
On the very last dive, we were greeted upon entering the water for our very last dive of the trip by a stunning baby male whaleshark who graciously swam around us for the whole duration of our dive on top of Richelieu Rock. What a show!! He passed, disappeared, came back until we ran out of air... As whaleshark sightings have been sparse this season, we felt so privileged to witness this encounter and emotional that it lasted so long. What an amazing way to end our trip!
Kirsty quickly looked into her whale shark database and was delighted to record this new individual as part of the whale shark population!
Another highlight of the trip was the return of Alex Tyrrell onboard, professional photographer who organized 3 black water dives. What an amazing surprise when we saw a Nautilus swimming at 5 meters on our 2nd black water dive! If you haven’t tried Black water diving yet, and you are an avid photographer, we highly recommend it, we are surely hooked!
During our last cruise we also encountered a juvenile sail fish, baby octopuses and so much more! Apparently we found a great spot to find wonderful and rare sea treasures and will incorporate black water dives more regularly on our cruises!
As when all good things come to an end, we felt sad to say goodbye, but happy we made new friends with the lovely guests we had onboard this week and thankful for the fantastic time we have shared.
Keep tuned for more fishy stories! to learn about Marine life in the Andaman Sea.
We still have some space onboard for the Last month of the season! See you soon!
We sailed off from Ranong on March 9th with 15 dive professionals from Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Tao for a unique “Photographer Special” expedition.
Another special trip onboard MV Smiling Seahorse; On the agenda, a total of 15 dives: 10 dives on Richelieu rock, 2 on Koh Bon, 1 on Koh Tachai and 2 amazing black water dives!
In Richelieu Rock it is always a difficult to select what lense to use for a dive as the marine life is so diverse from the smallest to the biggest critters, we alternated wide angle and macro lenses to capture the best of Richelieu Rock; our regular underwater friends the harlequin shrimp (we even saw a few cute little babies this time), the giant frog fish (yay, he is back after hiding so well on our last visit), the ghost pipe fish (2 pairs), the baby seahorse (as well as an adult yellow tiger tail seahorse) were all dashing and ready to pose for our cameras. We also saw so many cowries, they seem to be in season at the moment!
The visibility was a good allowing 30m of crystal clarity on most dives which paved the way for glorious encounters with a few tornados of jacks and schools of barracudas to please the videographers. One group of lucky divers even spent a nice moment with a passing eagle ray!
Our 8th dive of the trip on March 11th was something completely new to us and to many of our divers: a blackwater dive. Due to logistics, we split the groups in 2 and organized 2 back-to-back dives for an intimate group of 10. The principle for this is to set up a floating line in the blue with multiple lights attached to it, that attract plankton which in turn attract small fish, which potentially attract bigger fish. Depth for the dive was capped at 18 meters, and we ran approximately 45 minutes dive in the dark, in awe face to the plankton, larvaes, squids and jellyfish.
On Friday, we headed towards Koh Bon where we dove the coral-covered pinnacle. We love it for the mystical feeling it gives us knowing that there are always chances of a glimpse at something big! One group enjoyed a beautiful eagle ray at depth, while the others discovered a cool stone fish hiding on the top. Dive 2 and 3 saw us diving koh Tachai, where the usual school of barracudas was hanging out in the blue, as well as the trigger fish and the sweet lips. One group even lucked out by sighting a leopard shark!
At night, we were all ready for our second black water dive! We inverted groups and those who jumped in first the previous night jumped in second this time and off we went for an incredible 45 minutes dive. Much to our surprise and awe, the waters were full of newly hatched baby sailfish that we felt so incredibly privileged to admire and capture on camera as well as a deep water fish rarely seen by any diver: a juvenile tripod fish, still living the pelagic life befor settling down on the deep sea floor!
There were also lots of squids, alien looking plancton shapes, jellys, baby crabs, little fish larvea, squid and even a pelagic yellow snake! It was a truly a amazing dive! Now that we have discovered blackwater diving, we are surely hooked!!
We celebrated our underwater discoveries with our customary bbq night and drinks, and sailed back to Richelieu rock for our last day.
You might know the saying "less is more"? Well, this surely didn’t apply to our last day at Richelieu rock and we would even go further and say we just can’t get enough of this dive site!! If you want to take a cruise of a week on Richelieu Rock, we might be the right boat for you!
Highlight of the day was going back to visit the clark’s anemone nest we had seen on our last trip, and even finding a new nest this time of tomatoe anemone fish full of tinny little eye-baring eggs! A cuttlefish made an appearance and we spotted a bamboo shark resting in a crevasse. We bid farewell to all our regular buddies: the ghost pipefish, the giant frog fish, the harlequin shrimp, the school of fusiliers and can’t wait to visit them on our next trip.
See you again next Week Richelieu and to all our wonderful guests onboard this trip, we certainly look forward to have you back onboard (next week for some, soon & later for the others) !
Our Liveaboard trips
Only one month left of this "out-of-this-word season"!
Join us for an unforgettable cruise, Thailand has never offered such fantastic dives away from the crowd! Conditions are amazing with more than 30-40 m visibility, Macro life is striving and we just can't get enough!
The Smiling Seahorse’s last trip felt very exclusive with only 9 guests onboard, including 6 members of the “girls that scuba” group and it was also the occasion to welcome a new female team member: Laurence, dive master who wrote this blogpost today :)
We started the itinerary with a check dive on Surin islands, were we bumped into a cute yellow box fish, some peacock mantis shrimp and an eagle ray, who came to greet us. One group saw again the elusive Giant guitar shark who is often seen but never photographed this season!
We knew then that this trip was going to be a good one! The day continued at the South of Surin with a night dive. There, the highlight was seeing the sleeping parrot fish in their bubble, the beautiful sail-fin surgeon fish, and active moray eels hunting out of their holes. Our night dive was a bit late this week, we jumped in at 8pm when the sea was completely dark and night critters already well on their way.
After a good night sleep, we made it to Koh Bon, were the first dive saw us jumping on the Pinnacle. Here, we were lucky enough to encounter 4 massive marble rays at the bottom who shallowed up so we could enjoy spending time with them, and in the blue, we were mesmerized by a school of barracuda and a second eagle ray swimming right towards us. The curious batfish buddied up with us for a while as well.
Our next stop was Koh Tachai, where we dove twice, first on the second pinnacle, and then on the first pinnacle. The visibility was exceptional and the schools of fish remined us of a ballet until the green monster hit us, showing a varied temperature from 31 degrees to 27 degrees in an instant. The feeling of it passing by is quite special, one second the visibility is perfect and the water is warm, and the next your sight is blurry and the water becomes colder. Fish tend to avoid it so the closer the Green monster gets to you; the more schools of fishes are pushed towards you. We especially enjoyed the swim through on the first pinnacle, as well as the beautiful purple coral.
From there, we sailed to Richelieu rock, for a 4 dives day. Our new favorite friend, the baby seahorse was in the same spot where we had seen him last week. Our regular partners in crime, the harlequin shrimps, cowries, ghost pipe fish, batfish and the schools or fusiliers were all here too, and during the afternoon dives, what a thrill it was to look into the blue at the schools of giant trevallies, schools of jacks, yellow fin barracudas out for the hunt. A few of us were lucky enough to get a glimpse at the future generation of clark’s anemonefish before they hatch. We can’t wait to visit them on the 10th to see how they grow.
We finished off the trip with our usual Ti’ Ponch and Barbecue night, under the shinning stars as we sailed back to Ranong. It’s was nice to meet you all, guys and can’t wait to have you back onboard again.
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The Smiling Seahorse Diving Blog
A blog about our diving adventures in Burma and Thailand. Diving trip reports, guest reviews, fishy stories, wildlife fun facts and much more...
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The Smiling Seahorse has been running dive cruises from Ranong since 2012.
Our team of instructors are reporting with a short blogpost after every trip.
Camille, Franck and some guest writers also contribute during the off season writing on various topics.
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- About Myanmar liveaboards
- Best Burma dive sites
- Marine life in Andaman Sea
- The Mergui Archipelago
- Best dive site in Thailand