A favorite for many divers, we have a few interesting facts to share about this gentle giant: the whale shark! Everything you need to know about the largest fish on the planet.
Now, more than ever, we are being conscious of our impact on the planet and its ecosystems. We take new steps every day towards more sustainable lifestyles, and that is just amazing.
That being said, there’s still a long way to go in terms of humans reconnecting with nature, and we must change a maximum of behaviours in many aspects of our lives. Here, we are going to discuss responsible scuba diving. Basically, are you an eco-friendly diver ?
Let’s bring to light some considerations you should be aware of for the next time you go visit the underwater world, from fin kicks to photography skills, we got you covered!
Arguably one of the best experiences a diver could ever have is to dive with giant oceanic manta rays. We are lucky to see them regularly during our cruises in Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar and compiled a list of the questions we most often answer about these gentle giants.
Diving with Giant manta is a dream for many divers
About Giant Oceanic Manta Ray...
Quite famous since its recent association to the coronavirus, the pangolin is quite a curious scaly animal!
Let's learn a bit more about this edentate insectivorous living in tropical forests around the equator.
New year 2020 cruise
Once more a group of very international guests is ready to join the MV Smiling Seahorse for a week of diving and celebration. Bring it on 2020!
Could we possibly wish a better end to 2019 ?
On the first day of the cruise around South Twin, we had the pleasure to dive 3 times with plenty of Oceanic Mantas!
On the 2nd day we spotted 8 different Seahorses around Shark Cave, Square Rock and Submarine dive sites!
It was also time to say goodbye to 2019 and we celebrated the New Year with a firework and enthusiastic divers ready to party! What a great night we had!!! Dancing the night away in the middle of the Mergui Arquipelago was a night to remember.
Tiger Tail Sea Horses
We started 2020 with a new adventure. We decided to navigate West to the Burma Banks, some huge flat sandy seamounts in the middle of nowhere! These underwater hills are covered by hard corals, some thousands of years old and so so massive!
Because the floor goes very deep around the banks, it is a great spot to meet with sharks, many sharks and many different sharks.
This time we were in awe to observe a Silvertip Reef Shark, swimming into the blue, and plenty of nurse sharks, chilling on the bottom, hiding below a rock, or cruising around. With a 30m visibility and a cristal blue water, we couldn't have started the year better than that!
We finished this incredible journey around the South West of Mergui Archipelago, we started with Seafan Forest, which was absolutely gorgeous, full of life, from Stone fish to school of Barracudas, Golden trevallies, yellow fin snappers etc...
During the dive we found a big ghost fishing net covering the East part of the reef. The 4 instructors onboard decided to go for an extra dive in between 2 dives and take it off! Ghost nets are not only ugly, they continue to kill fish which will never end in a plate and will just be wasted at the bottom of the ocean.
Seafan forest is one of our favourite dive sites, we just cannot leave this net there. It was a 20 minutes work for our team of 4, but we managed to remove it all, and to set free a beautiful stone fish caught in the net! It was a great satisfaction for all of us.
The fishing net we removed from Seafan Forest
Congratulations to David, Liz, Tav and Schezo for becoming Nitrox divers, and thank you Jeff for coming back, year after year, for now 8 seasons!!
Happy New Year to all of you !
We had the privilege to welcome on board Thanda Ko Gyi, a 41 years old birman woman, volunteer for Marine Mega Fauna Foundation (MMF), and founder of Myanmar Ocean Project, an NGO registered this year supported by National Geographic and World Animal Protection.
Her goals within MMF are to study the behaviour of the Mantas, collect data about their migration, and identify/ reference them.
Her goat in Myanmar Ocean project is to protect the archipelago by collecting ghost nets and educating locals.
So she was delighted to come onboard and help us in our big clean up project, to remove as much fishing nets and lines from the dive sites as possible.
We also had the support this week of Anuar Abdullah, a Malaysian marine biologist, foundator of Ocean Quest Global who just started a coral nursery in Mergui Archipelago and gave us an interesting introduction to his award winning technic to protect/ re-grow/ replant coral. What a great project!
That was such an interesting trip when we all learnt a lot about the technics of those 2 brilliant heroes trying to save our blue planet!
If you want to help Anuar and Thanda with their missions, please check their website and do not hesitate to send picture of Manta you could have spot during your dives on mantamatcher.com. You will help to study their migration and will receive some news of the Manta you spotted. And maybe give it a name!!
Seal-face puffer fish
We have been so lucky to have great acounters with oceanic Mantas during 3 dives of our first day!! We identify 4 individuals! And even if the wind has been tough with us with wavy conditions, we managed to spot great creatures like seahorses, pipefish, frogfish, picachu nudis, big jankins sting rays, cuttlefishes mating and the second whale shark of the season!!!
Thanks Thierry Lagrave for sharing his pictures with us this week when our in house photographer was away!
And big Congratulations to Nell, Yasmin and Lili for becoming nitrox divers!!
We had a great time together, and we hope to all meet you soon!
The smiling sea horse team!
We care for the ocean because we love it!
Coral reefs only add to the incredible natural beauty that exists beneath the water.
They are fascinating ecosystems important to all life on earth !
And guess what … coral are not plants, they’re actually animals !
Have a look on this nice video:
Do you know how coral reefs grow ?
It is as simple as that : free-swimming coral larvae go for a ride … they find a nice spot to settle down, attach themselves to a hard surface ; and there begins the process of forming coral reefs.
Then, a coral polyp secrete a skeleton from the underside of its skin. It divides itself in half and making exact genetic copies of itself. As more and more polyps are added, a coral colony develops. Eventually the coral colony becomes mature, begins reproducing, and the cycle of life continues !
How fast does it grow ?
Different species = different rates !
It depends on water temperature, salinity, turbulence, and the availibility of food.
Massive corals are the slowest, between 5 and 25mm per year.
Staghorn corals can add 20 cms to their branches each year.
What’s the best spot for them ?
They grow best in warm waters (21-29°) and need salt water to survive. They prefer clear and shallow water, where lots of sunlight filters through to their symbiotic algae, which gives them all the energy they need to grow their skeleton.
How old can they be ?
The geological record indicates that ancestors of modern coral reef ecosystems were formed at least 240 millions years ago !
Most established coral reefs are between 5 000 and 10 000 years old.
What's the largest one?
The world’s largest one is the Breat Barrier reef in Queensland, Australia. Composed of over 2 900 individual reefs and 900 islands, stretching for over 2 300 kms. It can be seen from outer space !
What can you do to protect them ?
As a diver to minimize your impact on them :
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: Elween, Julien and Simon 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.
Keep tuned for more fishy stories :)
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- About Myanmar liveaboards
- Best Burma dive sites
- Marine life in Andaman Sea
- The Mergui Archipelago
- Best dive site in Thailand