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Similans Divers Regret Absence of Big Fish

Similans Divers Regret Absence of Big Fish

Sunday, November 9, 2008
Latest News:
Three Indonesians executed by firing squad about midnight on Saturday for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. Australian travellers have been warned of possible reprisals. Last minute diversions can be expected to Phuket.

Similans Photo Album

FIRST reports from divers who have seen the Similans this season say it is delightful. But there are few big fish.

Phuketwan spoke to a couple who spent four days and three nights on a liveaboard there from November 2.

They enjoyed the diving and snorkelling so much that they stayed an extra night, and they would have liked to stay longer.

The highlight: on one dive, a turtle approached the group and touched one of them in the chest a couple of times, before swimming off.

Australian David Butt said: ''There is nothing like plunging off the back of a boat into a seemingly endless ocean.''

He and his friend, Kate Morison, enjoyed having fresh fish brought from trawlers in the area and cooked fresh on the live-aboard for each meal.

They and others on the boat slept under the stars some nights.

Ms Morison, who has yet to learn to dive, said: ''I could snorkel for longer in the sea without having to be dropped off at a beach.

''The first time, one of the dive instructors took me snorkelling, which was good.''

Mr Butt rated diving off Elephant Head, large boulders on top of even larger boulders beneath the surface, as the most memorable experience.

''At one stage we tried to swim from the boat to an island but it was further than we thought,'' Ms Morison said. ''The crew came to pick us up in a dinghy.

''When we stepped ashore, there were no other footprints on the island, other than the crabs.''

The live-aboard is capable of holding 16 passengers and a crew of 10.

Mr Butt said that he saw many different species of fish, but seldom spotted large fish, apart from a school of hundreds of metre-long barracuda.

''Maybe there are problems with fishing still,'' Mr Butt said. ''Some of the trawlers seemed to be awfully close to the islands.''

Ms Morison delighted in the water being so clear there were times when she could photograph fish clearly from above the surface.

''At night you could see lights from the squid boats all across the horizon,'' she said. ''Who does the policing here?''

The couple plan to return as soon as possible and are hoping to also try some diving off Malaysia next time.

The cost with Similan Pro Dive was 5000 baht a day to dive and 3000 baht a day to snorkel.

Tents were being erected on shore ready for the official opening of the Similans season, on November 15.

Another dive company, Seafarer Divers of Chalong, is offering the following rates for divers from Europe.

The rates are for six days, five nights, five diving days in the Similans region:

VIP PASSENGER / 3 cabins / Maximum 2 passengers per cabin.
- Per diver (tanks & weights): 750 Euro.
- Per Nitrox diver (tanks & weights): 825 Euro.
Per non-diver: 675 Euro.

FIRST CLASS PASSENGER / 2 cabins / Maximum 4 passengers per cabin.
- Per diver (tanks & weights): 650 Euro.
- Per Nitrox diver (tanks & weights): 725 Euro.
- Per non-diver: 575 Euro.

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