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Thailand Twin Centre: Part One



7 years on from my last visit to Thailand and specifically Phuket, I find myself back here in a place that has so many memories for me. I visited back in 2010 and then again in 2012 with my girlfriend and had an amazing time exploring a country full of culture and adventure. Now I am back again to explore the underwater world around Phuket and the Similan Islands.

We are on a two week dive itinerary organised by The Scuba Place taking in some land-based diving and a liveaboard. Week 1 has seen us based in Kata Beach, Phuket and diving with Sea Fun Divers to the sites popular with divers who visit the area. Sites such as the King Cruiser Wreck, where we unfortunately got zero visibility but I got the sense in good vis it would be an amazing site, Shark Point and Koh Doc Mai. With sites also in Phi Phi National Park, Racha Yai and Racha Noi islands it was an enjoyable 5 days of boat diving. A delicious lunch, soft drinks and water were all included in the package adding to the experience creating a great day out on the water.

The visibility ranged from site to site, with crystal clear waters at the majority of sites but we were also hit with some interesting visibility at others. One site even treated us to the full spectrum of vis as we had a few metres visibility at most down at around 18 metres but as we came up the vis improved to around 30 metres.

Even when the vis wasn’t great it didn’t stop us from all getting a glimpse of some amazing marine life throughout the 5 days. The schools of snapper were a real treat on most sites and in particular in Phi Phi National Park as they engulfed the pinnacles and would slowly part as you drifted through them.

Black tip reef sharks, turtles, frogfish, cuttlefish and stingrays were some of the exotic marine life that the group encountered on a more infrequent basis. Whereas stonefish, scorpionfish and sea snakes were an abundant part of the diving wherever we went and were seen on most dives during the trip. Seeing some of the extraordinary gorgonian fan corals in great sizes was a real treat for me personally.

There is certainly a lot more to Phuket than diving as there is an array of tours on offer from land to sea. With a full day free before our trip on the liveaboard we chose not to rest but to organise a trip with John Gray’s Sea Canoe. Our trip took us back on the water but not under it as we went out to Phang-Nga Bay to explore the amazing marine geology on offer at this natural wonder. We squeezed under caves as we lay on the canoes to avoid the low ceilings that then opened up into stunning lagoons called Hongs (Thai for Rooms).

Between the group a wide range of wildlife was spotted as we saw a family of macaques, water monitor lizard, kingfisher, mudskippers, brahminy kites, and a hornbill even gave us a fleeting glimpse as it flew overhead. We then finished up the day making a flower “Kratong” and heading out as the sun set to light a candle and watch it float in the water. We also had the treat of witnessing bioluminescent plankton sparkle like stars as you waved your hand through the water. The trip was a great day out and an alternative to being underwater that was topped off by being served a delicious lunch and dinner onboard. John Gray himself was even present on the tour and it was great to see him gathering rubbish along the way as he paddled along. Any tour where the owner is conscious about pollution on the ocean gets my vote.

All in all the first week on this two week itinerary has been great with all the group having an amazing time. The food in the restaurants has been extremely tasteful, whether its been authentic Thai or enjoying an alternative, more western-style, dish. A night on Bangla Road in Patong was an enjoyable change from quieter Kata Beach. As the night draws in, it becomes a walking street full of bars and life. The live music in some of the bars is amazing with very talented musicians on show. But now it’s time to head out on the liveaboard and fingers crossed for some amazing diving in the Similan Islands.

Sean’s trip is organised by The Scuba Place. For more information and to book call +44 (0)207 644 8252, email or visit

Sean Chinn’s scuba diving adventure started in a freezing cold quarry back in January 2011. Maybe the reason he wasn't instantly hooked! However, after an amazing trip to Indonesia in 2013, he realised he needed to see more of the underwater world. With no photography background, he enlisted some help in developing both his diving and photo skills. This kickstarted his diving and underwater photography adventure which has become something of an addiction. Seeing and photographing wildlife is Sean’s real passion in diving but he is always keen to try new ideas.


Protecting England’s Wreck Sites: Site Security Protocols Launched



The security of heritage assets is of the utmost importance; a monetary value cannot be attached to the significance of a site or its associated artefacts. This statement is true for both on land and underwater sites.

The policing of underwater sites however, is often a trickier affair, with out-of-sight often equalling out-of-mind. Unfortunately, a site’s underwater location does not stop thieves from stealing or damaging artefacts.

To aid in the protection of our underwater cultural heritage, a selection of sites of historical, artistic and archaeological importance have been protected by law under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 ( Historic England manage these sites on behalf of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, Digital and Sport (DCMS), and a team of Licensees, effectively voluntary custodians, play a key role in their ongoing management.

The licensees work tirelessly on the wrecks and have had a special relationship with them since the very first days of the Protection of Wrecks Act. If it wasn’t for them, many of the sites would still be unknown and we would have very little knowledge of many of the existing sites. Their presence on the sites acts as a deterrent to anyone thinking of accessing the sites illegally and their monitoring ensures that the sites are understood and enjoyed by many people.

To further aid in the physical protection of these significant sites, Historic England funded a partnership project between the Protected Wreck Association (PWA and MSDS Marine ( This national-level project has seen the development of Site Security Plans for protected wreck sites. The model developed is based on the highly successful model developed by Ron Howell and the SWMAG team who are Licensees for the Salcombe Cannon and Moor Sands protected wreck sites.

A Site Security Plan is the end result of a process which assesses how secure a site is from illegal access. By completing two very easy to use but highly specialised forms, the site is given:

  • Its own Site Security Champion
  • Its own Heritage Crime Officer in the Police
  • A level of risk of heritage crime occurring to enable appropriate response to be put in place and to allow targeting of resources
  • Quick win opportunities to decrease its level of risk
  • A protocol for the licensees to follow every time they access the site
  • Specialist guidelines to enable crime reporting to enforcement authorities
  • A toolkit consisting of: A High Vis vest, to help identify the Site Security Champion to the public / authorities and pocket-sized card, summarising guidance on reporting crimes.

The project team will be supporting Licensees and their teams in completing a Site Security Plan and Risk Assessment for each Protected Wreck Site. MSDS Marine will be contacting Licensees inviting them to book a slot to work through the process. Individual Licensees and teams can also follow the guidance to complete the documents on their own with MSDS Marine on hand to support as required.

The Site Security Forms are accessible on the Protected Wreck Association website, in the members only area . If you are not a member and would like to join, this is an excellent time, as its free!

Assessing the security of a wreck site will inform Historic England of any sites which are at a high risk of heritage crime, and aid them in the future management of these sites. It will assist Licensees in highlighting areas for concern and in turn offer positive actions that can be taken to reduce the threat. It is hoped that the scheme will help put practical measures in place to ensure that the sites are protected from illegal activity in future.

Alison James, Project Manager at MSDS Marine said: “I spent ten years working at Historic England managing England’s protected wreck sites and at times was incredibly frustrated by being unable to ‘police’ the sites. The model we have developed is based on the highly successful model developed by SWMAG which has been shown to work on a number of occasions. We hope this will make a real difference to the sites and the teams that work on them.”

Professor Mike Williams, Chair of the Protected Wreck Association said: “We are delighted and grateful that Historic England has funded this project. It will enable us to undertake valuable work to support our members, who are dedicated volunteers protecting our maritime heritage.”

Hefin Meara, Marine Archaeologist at Historic England said: “We are pleased to support this important project and recognise the enormous contribution that licensed volunteer divers are making to help protect England’s fascinating marine historic environment.”

For more information please visit ,, and

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Take an immersive dive below the waves off the Welsh coast using 360 VR: Seagrass Meadows (Watch Video)



A week-long series from Jake Davies…

Below the waves off the Welsh coast, there are a range of species and habitats that can be seen. However, you don’t have to venture too far from the shore to see them or don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. Using 360 videos provides an immersive feeling of being below the water and encountering many species and habitats from diving one of the most important habitats and species that aren’t often seen whilst diving. For more of an experience of being below the waves, the VR videos can be viewed using a VR headset.

Take a calming VR dive at one of the largest and densest seagrass meadow found along the Welsh coast, located at Porthdinllaen in North West Wales.

Seagrass meadows are important habitats as they provide a range of ecosystem services from carbon sequestration, production of Oxygen, coastal protection and act as a nursery area for many commercial fish species such as plaice and cod. Seagrass also help to improve water quality within the region as seagrass blades (leaves) help to trap particles within the water column, often making them great sites to dive in at due to increased visibility.

Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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