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.
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!
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!
Welcome to the vibrant world of nudibranchs
For me nudi-hunting is like collecting stamps...
Now, I am the type of diver who can usually be found hovering in one place for minutes at a time treasure hunting with my mask a short distance from the reef or seafloor. Many people don’t know that the biodiversity in a square meter of coral reef is unmatched by any other ecosystem on the planet, a rule to which the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (Burma) is no exception. The region is filled with a cornucopia of colours, shapes and textures that if you take your time and look closely you can find some bizarre little rarities that can bring a tear to your eye.
What exactly is a nudibranch?
These “sea slugs” are hermaphroditic which means that each individual has both female and male reproductive organs on the right side of their body. They can lay up to 25,000 eggs at a time in a mucous ribbon-like formation that will take roughly a week to hatch.
Nudibranchs are carnivorous and love to eat sponge, hydroids, algae, coral, anemones and even other nudibranchs. They can be found mostly in shallow reefs in warm salt water, but there are some species that live in deeper or cold waters and some can even survive the lower salinity of brackish water. They are found in great abundance at any of the dive sites of the Mergui Archipelago in Burma.
What is so special about nudibranchs?
Although they are small, they have developed some very industrious techniques to protect themselves. Many nudibranchs display bright colours for a multitude of reasons. Some practice what’s called aposematism which is colouration to suggest to predators that they aren’t tasty or can be toxic. This is a technique used by the Phylidiidae family that we often see in the Indo-Pacific.
Some nudibranchs that feed on the stinging cells of jellyfish or hydroids can actually recycle them and use them as weapons. Glaucus atlanticus or the Blue dragon nudi can be found floating near the surface and feeds on the nematocysts of the Portuguese man of war Jellyfish and similar species. It will eat the stinging cells and pass them harmlessly through their body where they can then be displayed on their skin or in appendages called cerata making them harmful to predators.
Some can also make their own chemicals (regardless of what they eat or where they live) to serve similar purposes or can even secrete an acidic mucous when disturbed.
Some nudibranchs will feed on plant cells and use them to create their own food sources. A particular group of sacoglossan sea slugs will eat certain algae found in soft corals and recycle their chloroplasts so they can create their own nutrients through photosynthesis. This means that once it has eaten enough it doesn't need to eat any longer. The algae in its body will use the sunlight to create enough nutrient for its host to survive.
How do you identify a nudibranch?
Using their scientific names is the best way to accurately identify nudibranchs even if it can be a bit of a mouthful. Taxonomy is the way we classify living things in biology and it is an intricate science. Basically speaking, plants and animals are divided into family trees that get more specific as you travel downwards eventually allowing you to name individuals.
Instead of branchial plumes, Aeolid
nudibranchs are covered in appendages called cerata which increase surface area for gas exchange and also can be used to display ingested chemicals or stinging cells for defence.
There are 4 main Nudibranch families:
Doridoida, Aeolida, Dendronotida and Euarminida. The most common families are "Aeolids" and "Dorids" which each have specific identifiable features.
Dorids all have a distinguishable branchial plume on their back end which they use to breathe. Their mantles are often smoother and more regular shaped than Aeolids which are typically much spikier.
Some of my favourites are ID Please (Marine Creature Identification) and Nudibranch Central on Facebook.
What kind of nudibranchs can we find in the Mergui Archipelago?
A selection of the prettiest Nudis we found in Myanmar
Thanks to the authors and contributors!
This blog post was written by Katie O. with the help of Camille L. and several facebook groups who could identify some of the less common nudis.
Are tiger sharks dangerous?
lucky enough to meet one at the Burma banks, it is tiger sharks I want to write about.
Far behind the whale sharks, tiger shark are still one of the largest shark species
measuring 3 to 4 meters, for an average weight of 500kg ! Usually found in
temperate and tropical oceans, tiger shark is usually a loner that hunts at night.
Here is a little FAQ about the mighty Tiger sharks!
In all honesty, you'd rather go diving, right?
If you need a good excuse to go diving and not to the gym, we've got you covered! We have listed 5 very good excuses to go diving instead!!!
Not only diving is way more fun than the gym but you can now also say:
"Diving is good for you" !
Diving with Giant manta is a dream for many divers
About Giant Oceanic Manta Ray...
The Smiling Seahorse Diving Blog
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.
Keep tuned for more fishy stories :)
Diving In Thailand
In The Press
Marine Life Fish ID
Scuba Diving Various
- Best Burma dive sites
- Marine life in Andaman Sea
- The Mergui Archipelago
- Best dive site in Thailand