Diving the Mergui Archipelago

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In February 2014 I traveled alone to Thailand and went diving in the Andaman Sea for 7 days on a liveaboard. The Deep Andaman Queen is not a luxury dive boat, but the cabins were clean and air conditioned (a necessity in the heat). There was always plenty of food at all meals, and the crew was exceptional. The dive masters were excellent as well. I give the boat itself a C plus, but the crew and dive masters receive an A plus! As we all know, service and safety is more important than 5 star meals and cabins (though I love the boats that pamper you). The dive platform was large and ample as well. I journaled each day and eventually turned my entries into blogs. Here is one of my journal entries about the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (formerly Burma):

It is beautiful here, but to be blunt, the diving is less than great.  The visibility is poor to fair, and we’ve seen nothing major to report, except for a sea snake (my first sea snake!!!).  If I was seeing large pelagics, as in the Revillagigadoes Islands  in Mexico, I wouldn’t mind the conditions, but when there isn’t much to see except coral (which is gorgeous) it is a bit disappointing.  You know how desperate I am for animals when I take several photos of sea cucumbers!  Of course, these sea cucumbers are really incredible. I’ve never seen sea cucumbers walking around on a million legs before.

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As in so many other places around the world, we are at odds with fishing boats. It may be illegal, but there is dynamite fishing going on here, and you can see the “rubbish” and “rubble” it brings up from the bottom. The dive sites definitely show signs of having been fished in this manner.  Longtail fishing boats are everywhere and most of the dive sites have had at least one boat hanging around, ready to dynamite it for fish. It is distressing to see.

Tam 3I saw two small blue spotted rays. Except for the sea snake, that’s about as exciting as it got. If you think there are a lot of sharks in the Andaman, you would be dead wrong.  The water is nutrient rich here, huge numbers of small fish, unbelievable numbers of schools of silversides and glassy sweepers and chevron barracuda, but the question is: where are the predators and the pelagics?  Nary a one.  No turtles, dolphins, sharks, mantas, only the two small rays, and nudibranchs.  I do love the tree coral and the feather stars!  They are fascinating. I also like the huge schools of fish, but I long to see something a bit bigger.

Due to the water conditions we are not going to Black Rock, supposedly the best dive site in the area. The description speaks of whitetip and blacktip sharks, and majestic mantas and whale sharks. I was so looking forward to see Black Rock, but the ship captain knows best, and it just isn’t going to happen.

I’ve enjoyed my dive buddies, the “boys”.  Most passengers are couples, or in a dive group from Spain, so I’m hanging with Chris, the American wild and crazy guy, the Finn twins, and Mauro, from Italy but living in Finland. I seem to always hang out with the guys. So far, I haven’t run into another woman traveling and diving alone. Next to the actual diving I love meeting the divers, and being part of a group of people who love to dive as much as I do.

For more from Tam, visit www.travelswithtam.com.

Tam Warner Minton

Tam Warner Minton

Tam Warner Minton is an avid scuba diver, amateur underwater photographer, and adventurer. She encourages "citizen science" diving, whether volunteering with a group or by one's self. For Tam, the unexpected is usually the norm!

One Reply to “Diving the Mergui Archipelago”

  1. John Topham says:

    Love this for the honesty. Sadly there will always be disappointing experiences in diving as well as magic ones.

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