Since diving in Koh Tao, guiding and teaching, the dive site Laem Thian has become one of my favorite places to practice this amazing sport. Located in the northeast of our island it is not one of the most visited, therefore is a good dive for advanced diver´s and also beginners with some experience.
It has more than 10 swim-troughs give the opportunity to test the buoyancy of the best divers and on top of this you will find different types of nudibranch laying on the dark areas, Blue Spotted Ribbontail Rays hiding under the rocks and sometimes the majestic Stingray gliding like an eagle in the blue. A perfect place to use your torch during the day to check every nook, to have a meeting with the curious Moray Eel and enjoy the capricious architecture made with huge stones and passageways.
One of the best moments on the dive is when you reach the cave which is close to the surface where you can fell in your chest the roar of the waves smashing against the rocks.
Bluespotted Sting Ray
The blue spotted ribbontail ray (Taeniura lymma) is a species of stingray. This species is common throughout the coral reef-associated habitats. It is a fairly small ray, not exceeding 35 cm in width, with a mostly smooth, oval pectoral fin disc, large protruding eyes, and a relatively short and thick tail with a deep fin fold underneath.
Like coming from another planet this unbelievable creature rests during the day hiding under the rocks burying herself in the sand. They wait until the night, and emerge from their hideout to meet in small groups and follow the rising tide onto sandy flats to root for small invertebrates and bony-fish in the sediment. When the tide recedes, the rays separate and withdraw to shelters on the reef.
Because Its attractive appearance and relatively small size has resulted in its being the most common stingray found in the home aquarium trade. However, it seldom fares well in captivity and very few hobbyists are able to maintain one for long. Many specimens refuse to feed in the aquarium, and even seemingly healthy individuals often inexplicably die or stop feeding.
Its beautiful and futuristic design and its spirit of liberty make me respect and admire this animal which I see so often in the Koh Tao dive sites.
Batfish are a large disc shaped semi-pelagic fish, which can be found on many of Koh Tao’s dive sites, with the best places to spot these being Chumphon Pinnacle, South West and the Sattukut Wreck. These are curious fish and fantastic for photography, so be sure to take a camera with you if you are venturing to these locations.
Their stripes can be varying levels of clarity, and it is rumoured that the more faded they are, the older the fish. Not much is known about their breeding habits, it is believed they spawn out in the ocean and the juveniles make their way to sheltered coastal regions. The juveniles start off with a long body and their body grows outwards to give them a rounder shape as seen in adulthood. As with any larger, semi pelagic fish, it is tricky to know exactly their habits and growth cycles, but here’s hoping that marine biologists can find out more!
These guys not only inhabit Koh Tao’s underwater Pinnacles, but also inhabit as far East as the Red Sea, as far South as Australia and West toward Papua New Guinea. They have been spotted in Hawaii and the Caribbean, but are not natives, so seem to have been aquarium releases due to their adult size (can grow to 70cm long)
If you ask any dive professional on Koh Tao what their favourite fish is, chances are that they will say without a moments thought Whaleshark. Now don’t be misunderstood; here at Reef, we love Whalesharks as much as the next divers, but we try to appreciate each of the creatures on Koh Tao for its own merits, and one of our particular favourites is the Shrimp [or sometimes prawn] Goby.
What’s So Special About a Goby?
Not only are Gobies a beautifully coloured fish in their own right, being found in a whole rainbow of different hues and patterns, but they live in an amazing symbiotic relationship with a shrimp.
The Goby and Shrimp both share a hole in the sand, which the Shrimp makes and maintains. In exchange for a home, the Goby acts as the eyes and ears for the shrimp, and lets it know when any predator gets too near. A simple flick of the Goby’s tail sends the shrimp scurrying back into the safety of the burrow.
If you get lucky enough to come diving with us on Koh Tao, be sure to look out for these cute little fellows scattered around in the sand, but be sure to approach slowly or all you will see is an empty entrance to the burrow with no Goby and no Shrimp!
Whales have been the subject of fascination for centuries, from the petrified sailors of the early whaling fleets of America, influencing Captain Ahab’s loathing for the creatures, to the admiration of marine life lovers who are in sheer awe of these prehistoric majestic mammals.
Whales are from the order of Cetacea and are divided into two sub orders: the toothed whales (Ordontoceti) & the baleen whales (Mysticetes) which means they have bristle like teeth. They travel extensive lengths across all oceans and their sheer size is astounding: the blue whale can reach lengths of more than 100 feet and weigh up to 200 tons – as much as 33 elephants!
Despite living in the water, whales breathe air. And like humans, they are warm-blooded mammals who nurse their young. A thick layer of fat called blubber insulates them from cold ocean waters. They use sound to communicate