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Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report: Prologue

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Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are a group of nine islands situated in the Andaman Sea, some 60km west of Khao Lak, or roughly 90km north north west of Phuket, Thailand. It was supposed to have been one of Jacques Cousteau’s favourite diving locations. The liveaboard trip I was about to embark on was for six nights with five days of diving; there would be four dives a day except the last day when there were to be only three, so nineteen dives in all. It would also include the Islands of Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock; the island of Koh Surin was no longer visited due to the Tsunami’s damage to the reefs. I was to be accompanied on the trip with two of my dive buddies from the UK, Neville and Sharky.

We were collected from our accommodation in Kata Beach, Phuket, at around 5pm by a minibus and taken to the offices of the boat owner at Chalong. We were there to congregate with the rest of the divers and the tour leaders. We filled in the usual liability waivers and waited for everyone to turn up. Once we were all together, we walked 400m to the pier. Waiting for the pier bus I savoured the air; the last time I would experience these smells for a week, also the last time I would be on terra firma. The pier bus turned up and took us and our equipment down the very long pier to the awaiting boat, the Jonathan Cruiser. We all clambered aboard and headed for the meeting/eating area on the middle deck.

Ear-ly problems

The liveaboard’s normal tour guide, Alex, had had an ear infection and had been told to stay out of the water. Luckily for everyone, Mats and his girlfriend had booked themselves on this trip. Mats had previously been the guide a few years ago for a couple of seasons, before returning to Sweden, and he knew the sites well.

The journey got under way the minute we were all aboard. The sun was now setting and we said goodbye to land. Mats then went through the boat and dive briefing with everyone. Free tea, coffee, water and toast all day, anytime you wanted it, would be available; other drinks you had to pay for. There would only be time for tea and toast during the first dive briefing at 7:30 every morning however, as the first dive of the day would be at 8am – eek! Then breakfast would be served once everyone had surfaced and were back safely on the boat. The next dive would be at 11am, followed by lunch, then the next dive 3pm (or 2:30pm if we were to do a dusk dive at 5:30pm instead of a night dive at 7pm), followed by the evening meal. After the briefing we were shown to our cabins. Neville and Sharky shared, leaving me with Alex  (a different Alex from the poorly dive guide Alex). I asked if he snored; he said he didn’t, which is good because I can’t sleep in the same room as someone who snores! I think due to the proximity of the sea it was a good thing he didn’t snore, as he may have found himself inadvertently swimming at 2am. He seemed quite happy that I took over most of the cupboard space with my camera equipment (well he didn’t say anything, anyway). We sat around and got to know some of the other divers for a while, trying to work out which beach was which, as we steamed up the west coast of Phuket .

We were on our way, steaming through the night. The only thing to do now was sleep, as we were going to be up early the next morning.

Read Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report: Day 1 here.

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

BLUE EARTH – Future Frogmen Podcast Series – Deep-Sea Stories From a Shadow Diver: a conversation with Richie Kohler

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A series of conservation educational podcasts from Future Frogmen, introduced by Jeff Goodman.


Deep Sea Stories From a Shadow Diver: a conversation with Richie Kohler. 

This episode of the Blue Earth Podcast is a conversation with Richie Kohler. He’s an explorer, technical wreck diver, shipwreck historian, filmmaker, and author.

Richie was featured in Robert Kurson’s incredible book “Shadow Divers ”. It’s a thrilling true story about Richie and John Chatterton’s quest to identify the wreck of an unknown WWII German U-boat (submarine), 65 miles off the coast of New Jersey. They dedicated six years of their lives attempting to identify the wreck.

Richie has travelled the world and explored many deep wrecks, including the Andrea Doria, Titanic, and Britannic. He’s the author of “Mystery of The Last Olympian” about the Britannic.


Richard E Hyman Bio

Richard is the Chairman and President of Future Frogmen.

Born from mentoring and love of the ocean, Richard is developing an impactful non-profit organization. His memoir, FROGMEN, details expeditions aboard Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s famed ship Calypso.

Future Frogmen, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and public charity that works to improve ocean health by deepening the connection between people and nature. They foster ocean ambassadors and future leaders to protect the ocean by accomplishing five objectives.


You can find more episodes and information at www.futurefrogmen.org and on most social platforms @futurefrogmen.

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Marine Life & Conservation

New Fisheries Act misses the mark on sustainability, but what now?

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A better future for our seas is still beyond the horizon, says Marine Conservation Society

The UK’s landmark post-Brexit fisheries legislation has now become law. The Fisheries Act, the first legislation of its kind in nearly 40 years, will shape how the UK’s seas are fished for years to come.

The Marine Conservation Society, which campaigned for amendments to the legislation throughout its development, is disappointed by the removal of key sustainability amendments and by the removal of a commitment to rolling out Remote Electronic Monitoring.

The charity has committed to pushing the UK Government to go further than the framework which the Fisheries Act sets out, with greater ambition for the state of UK seas.

Sandy Luk, Chief Executive of the Marine Conservation Society said: “UK Government and devolved administrations must act urgently to deliver climate and nature smart fisheries under the new Fisheries Act. This is a key condition if our seas are to recover to good health. The UK Government removed key amendments from the legislation while making promises on sustainability and the introduction of remote electronic monitoring. We will continue to hold the government to account over these promises.”

“I’m pleased to see the recognition of the important role fisheries play in our fight against the climate emergency.  However, even with a climate change objective in the Act, actions speak louder than words. We must get to work delivering sustainable fisheries management, which will have a huge benefit to our seas, wildlife and the communities which depend upon them.”

The Fisheries Act has become law against a backdrop of the ocean’s declining health. UK waters are currently failing to meet 11 out of 15 indicators of good ocean health and over a third of fish in UK waters are being caught at levels which cannot continue into the future. Whilst the legislation failed to address some of the more pressing issues facing UK seas, including overfishing, there is still an opportunity to affect change in the years which follow.

Sam Stone, Head of Fisheries at the Marine Conservation Society said: “The Fisheries Act marks the start of a new era of fisheries management in the UK, but the next two years will be critical in defining what this looks like. The new Act has some good objectives, but we now need to come together to make sure it really delivers the on-water change that is desperately needed for ocean recovery.

“There is genuine opportunity to create fisheries that deliver for coastal communities and for the environment, but it means moving away from ‘business-as-usual’. The UK and devolved governments now have the powers to move forward with progressive new management in their waters. That means proper incentives for low impact fishing, proper monitoring of catches and proper commitments to sustainable fishing.

“In the short term, the four nations must work together to make impactful changes, starting by addressing the UK’s most at risk fish stocks. Recovery plans are needed for our depleted stocks, including new catch limits, selectivity and avoidance measures, protection of vital habitats and fully documented catches. Rolling out Remote Electronic Monitoring with cameras on larger vessels throughout the UK should be top of the agenda if future policy is to be as well informed as possible.”

For more information about the Fisheries Bill and the Marine Conservation Society’s work, visit the charity’s website.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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