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Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report: Day 5

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Read the prologue to this trip report here.

Read Day 1 here.

Read Day 2 here.

Read Day 3 here.

Read Day 4 here.

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It was our last day of diving on this trip. I remember having so many different feelings at once; I was feeling sad that it was our last day, but I was looking forward to the last three dives (which were three of my favourites). At the same time I was also looking forward to dry land, a decent night’s sleep and real Thai food.

Thai 3

Deep Six

Deep Six is another site covered by huge boulders. As we descended down the shotline our attention was immediately focused on another Zebra Shark resting on the bottom. We all made our way down to see it and take photo. We scouted around the other side of the rocks to a maximum depth of 42m before making our way round the boulders, going past areas encrusted with hard corals and sea fans, through shoals of surgeonfish, glassfish and all the usual reef fish.

Elephant Rock

Our penultimate dive was back on Elephant rock. This time though we were going to navigate it in the opposite direction. We entered the water in the same place as our last dive here, but by swimming the other way we covered ground we hadn’t before. The boulders were huge; swimming at around a depth of 30m I was still 15m from the bottom. In the distance, about 35m away, I could see the outline of a large shark; I couldn’t tell what type of shark though, so I headed towards it, camera at the ready. I wanted to get a photo before it got spooked, but alas it was too far away, and it soon started to move off. I have since tried cleaning up the photo – it looks like a large black tip, but I can’t be sure. As we made our way around the boulders there were lots of fish waiting for their photo to be taken. Angel fish, Banner fish, Hawkfish, Lionfish, Orange-lined Triggerfish, Freckled Hawkfish, Harlequin (Andaman) Sweetlips and Oriental Sweetlips all queued up for a photo opportunity. A very rewarding dive from a fish lover’s point of view.

Thai 2

Boulder City

Our last dive. The most southerly of dive sites on the Similan islands, it is close to Islands 1,2 and 3 which you are not allowed to dive on, for various reasons – one of which is there is a turtle breeding ground in that area; also, the authorities are doing research into the recovery of the reefs there after years of bad fishing methods (i.e. dynamite fishing). Another open site with no protection from the currents, we were advised to stay close to the rocks just in case. Once again as we descended we saw another Zebra Shark and headed over to take photos. We swam around the boulders which had a smattering of corals, a few sea fans and schools of surgeonfish. All of a sudden I was confronted by a Bump-head Parrotfish. It was huge, and also the first one I had ever seen. It was approximately one metre long, with a huge head.

Time was flying, and unfortunately there were no shallow reefs to spend the last of our time and air. Dive over.

As soon as we got back on the boat, we started to make our way towards the harbour at Chalong. It was going to be a long trip – we would arrive around 2am, but stay on the boat until morning. It was our last night’s sleep in the bunks with a small fan instead of air-con, our last night together and the last night on the water.

We were all up early in the morning for tea and toast. Once the boat moored up along the quay, we all said goodbye to the crew and went ashore. The land was moving with the gentle motion of the water, or so it seemed, for several hours. The minibuses turned up and we all went our separate ways.

To be concluded – come back next week to read the epilogue to Mark Milburn’s Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report.

Mark Milburn is the owner of Atlantic Scuba in Falmouth, Cornwall, England, and is an SDI/TDI/NAS/RYA Instructor and a Commercial Boat Skipper. Although often referred to as a maritime archaeologist, he prefers to call himself a wreck hunter. Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba by visiting www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Guides invited to apply for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship

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Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification

The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.

As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.

Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:

  • have completed and passed all modules of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
  • be able to demonstrate they or their employer are not financially able to purchase the certificate
  • be a national of a country which receives official development assistance from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.

Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.

Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”


Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit www.greenfins.net/green-fins-dive-guide-scholarship-applications to apply.

To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit www.greenfins.net/appeal/sponsor-a-dive-guide.

Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Go Fish Free this February

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There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.

Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.

Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.

“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”

To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit www.fishfreefebruary.com

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Competitions

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Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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