Diving in phuket just got a whole load better if not a little bit more scary.
For many divers who come to phuket thailand for their holiday like the clear warm waters and stunning underwater locations. Where to most people scuba diving in phuket is a place for coral reefs,
turtles, harmless reef sharks and the most aggressive thing you will encounter is the odd trigger fish. Phuket scuba diving to all the adrenaline junkies has always been quite tame.
People who like to dive with sharks to get that buzz tend to go to places in Australia or South Africa so they can jump in cage and see a Great White. Other locations too boasts Tiger sharks, Bull sharks or Hammerheads. Yes thats all very well except Phuket Thailand has just got a whole load better.
For many years now Phuket thailand has been a good base for dive trips around the Andaman ocean, out to Phi Phi and live aboard trips to the similan islands and Surin islands and the world famous Richelieu Rock. These places offer 30 meter plus viz, Hawksbill turtles, sea horses Black and White tip reef sharks. There are also many dive sites that we can find leopard (or Zebra) sharks. For the last few years the Whale shark population has grown massively too. From day trip locations from Phuket itself from 3-4 sightings a season 6 years ago to 3-4 per week now sometimes even more. Out in the Similan Islands too the population of Manta Ray and Whale Shark seems to have risen in the last few years too. The great thing here in phuket thailand we can quite happily dive with whale sharks where in other locations you are restricted to snorkeling.
Still for the real adrenalin junkie diving in phuket does not quite hit the spot. Being in 5 meters of water with ten black tips swimming round you is fun and great for photos as we all know they are totally harmless. Then last December for the first time in many years there was the first sign that the oceans off phuket thailand were changing. Sitting on the sun deck on a live aboard in the similan islands just off the island of Koh Bon one evening thinking what a great day was had with three manta rays that day. A quick glance out over the water towards the sunset changed the whole trip totally. At first it looked like a Dolphin breached the surface then a second and third. This is not unusual in these waters but what was odd was the size of the shapes we could see against the sun. They were huge. it looked like a family of four or five. As they got nearer we could see clearly the white underside. A pod of Orca's. There were two adults and two or three young. They were just relaxing in the evening sun and one even started jumping clear of the water. All of a sudden there was a new animal in the dive sites that had not been around for years and now a family quite at home.
This in itself is rare and a one off sighting on a trip out in the ocean between two islands only really visited by liveaboards heading north to richelieu rock. That year there were the other odd sighting here and another there. This along with sightings of other whales of different types kept the season interesting. Then come November 2015 and talk began as to if the Orca family will return. Do they live here? were they just passing through? were they put off last year by the boats and divers? will they return? December came and went with nothing. Oh well. Then come the new year and then right in the middle of Patong bay which is the busiest beach on the island. In the middle of the day on the main beach of the big party town with long tails, jet skis, swimmers and parasailing boats everywhere up rises a huge black and white shape. Yes the Orca's were back. This time not out in the ocean but in the islands biggest party town beach right in the center of all the noise.
Now scuba diving in phuket is a place for all types of diver. People who like exotic creatures, or macro. There are dolphins, turtles and all manner of reef life and harmless sharks. Now phuket scuba diving can be listed as a place for a real chance to see something awesome and will get even the bravest diver a real buzz and without the cage. The Orca's look like they are here to stay, as for them to be seen in the noisiest beach on the island and to be quite happy there seem to me like they are here to stay. This will be a huge boost for the tourism industry as anywhere you can get a chance to see whales is always a big draw but to see then from the beach or small boat or even snorkeling or when scuba diving in phuket must be a great thing for the island of Phuket.