Friday, 22 November 2019

Kata Cubes

Thursday 21st November 2019.


8 of us descended onto the nearby Kata Reef for a shore dive and we were rewarded with visibility as good as the day before was poor! Lucky us! Every day is so different according whether or not there is heavy rain or strong wind to agitate the night sea into mukiness or crystal clarity.


 We enjoyed the company of extremely experienced local divers Steve Ancliffe, the PADI Master Instructor that I like to send my guests to if they wish to further their diving expertise, along with his wonderfully talented wife, Sky.
 Mr Russell Shaw from Bournemouth came along with his partner Sirada, otherwise known as Pat, who owns our favourite Chalong restaurant that many of you who have come to stay will have enjoyed eating at over what is now 15 years of wintering here.
 There is that cheeky rascal Kannika who has now officially changed her name in the last couple of days from what I thought was a great Thai name of Chokchai (which means Good Luck!) to my family name as part of the process of morphing from a Mz to a Mrs.

'Mrs' in Thai is 'Nang' so we're all currently confusing her by doing Frankie Howard imitations of 'Oooooo, Nang!'
 We have Oona with us. Oona is the amazing lady who holds 'it all together' at Ian Taylor's Skin Deep Diving Company in Portland and she is also an Instructor. Her husband, Brynn, has years of Freediving as well as Scuba Diving experience and could have probably done all this dive without using tanks at all as the maximum depth is only 11 metres. This means we have dives always in the region of an hour long but on this occasion we managed an hour and a half and still emerged with over 25% of air left. It's certainly great to relax and go diving with such experienced people.
 I couldn't find Brynn....he's as adverse to having a photo taken as me....but fortunatey the 'Ooooo, Mrs!' ain't at all camera shy...so here she be again!
 We all thought that the giant puffer fish were very friendly fish...but today, for the very first time, one deliberately bit Russell's finger whilst he was trying to film it....and it was a proper blood drawing, flesh chunk removing bite! Very impressive indeed and allowed Russell to relive and demonstrate the attack back at The Tamarind Restaurant much to our amusement.
 This shore site is famous for the concrete cubes that the Thai Government allowed to be dropped into the sea about half mile offshore. It's a bit of a swim to reach and is not an easy place to find at times because of the fluctuating visibility and current but well worth the effort especially on a day like yesterday when the whole area was packed with marine life. There are stacks of little moray eels hiding between the cracks in the cubes. These are very inquisitive creatures and will emerge from their hiding places to pose for the camera.

 This may look like to be a large eel but it is really very small indeed and very cute. I'm sure they'd still enjoy biting Russell tho' if he put a finger  close enough. Morays have needle sharp backward slanting teeth to they're sure to inflict a memorable nip to anyone silly enough to try.
 When you are on one of these dives, I just wish I could show everybody who comes to stay what we are seeing. The biggest fish are the batfish and giant pufferfish. Very occasionally there is a reasonable size grouper hanging around but mainly the cubes are home to literally thousands of little fish with so many different species that you really do feel that you are swimming in a 30 degrees tropical aquarium.
 The batfish follow you around and will often come very close and swim between your legs. It's all very relaxed down there and I think the fish are as curious about us as we are about them. There's certainly so sense of fear or threat....well; apart from Russell and his mate of course.
                                       Little morays always seem to be laughing at us.
 The beautiful and elegant batfish glide around and inbetween the concrete cubes.
 If you take your time and look closely there are all sorts of colourful and tiny creatures around such as this nudibranch wandering gently along one of the many hoirzontal surfaces.
 The variegated moray eel is spectacularly marked...and you can just see its tiny  but needle sharp teeth.
Moving away from the cubes we can sometimes see stingray and, as we did today, cuttlefish.

But now...the real highight of our dive...check these rarely seen creatures out in the photo's below.
Introducing the Robust Ghost Pipefish!!





The real highlight of the dive was in seeing these two Robust Ghost Pipefish....and it was great that we had the experienced eyes of Steve Ancliffe with us who spotted them.....I mean, they are NOT easy to spot. Apart from being very tiny (although the photo makes them look  much larger than they are) they look like little bits of green or brown pieces of seaweed being wafted about in the gentle current.


This was a really great dive.....and it's one of the many attractions that makes Phuket such a great place to visit. Part of staying here at my Thai House is to try out some diving...it's all free with all the gear supplied...as part of your holiday if you'd like to try it!!

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