Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dolphins Have Made Phuket Their Home Once Again.

Here in phuket thailand the last few years have seen the return of some wonderful creatures that used to be around all the time and had for some reason left the local waters. Whales, Manta Ray, Orca’s, Whale sharks are always in the news. However for those lucky enough to have been in phuket scuba diving 8-10 years ago will be aware that the numbers of Bottle nose Dolphins had almost vanished.  The boats when taking people scuba diving in phuket regularly had Dolphins escorting the boats until about 6 years ago when they suddenly vanished.cf4a7-549248_205919872855426_1236415236_n
Unlike the popular book the Dolphins had not left the planet before its destruction but had just moved to a new location. The waters round James Bond Island to the north and Yao Yai became their home.  The problem was the amount of boat traffic. Trips to places like bamboo island and many other phuket snorkeling tours combined with the fishing boats both day and night had just become too much for them.  Out in thesimilan islands they were seen from time to time too but never with in easy sight of the people staying on phuket.
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Then three years ago a small boat started to take people from phuket scuba diving to a small island called Maithon that all the boats used to pass on there way to other places but never stopped or went too close. The island was not too spectacular compared to other locations in the area but it had lots of shallow reef and was close  to phuket so was a good location for a 2 dive trip and for those learning scuba diving in phuket.
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It soon became clear that the divers were not the biggest things in the water. On only the second trip we could hear the Dolphins and during lunch as we sat there with the engine off sure enough a couple of Dolphins came to investigate from a distance. Then day after day with just small numbers of divers on a small boat the Dolphins got used to us. we could hear them almost every dive and when we we on the boat they came closer and closer.  They were still too shy to come close to us underwater. They followed us as we can hear then but just out if sight. At this time we thought there was 12 – 15 of them in the pod.
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The following year a pod of Orcas was seen in the similan islands and at the time I did not know this but Orcas are the biggest of the Dolphin family. They are called killer whales as they are a killer of whales and not because they are whales that kill. This pod was the first in many many years and one was even seen in the busiest bay on the island this year.
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Patong bay which was full of jet ski, parasailing, long tails and many other craft in the middle of high season had a visit from a full grown Orca.
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Back to the ever growing pod on Maithon. Now the numbers were growing and they were seen from Maithon to Koh Doc Mai. Then they followed the boats further and further and can be seen from Phuket all the way toPhi Phi. There area was getting larger and larger as the numbers were growing. During monsoon season as  is the case this year they return back to Maithon.
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The way things look now id that they have made there home in the water off phuket thailand and are happy here. They are used to boats of people scuba diving in phuket passing them and slowing to look at them. They know the people in phuket scuba diving are no threat and they are as interested in us as we are in them. What is need now is the same trust to be built up by the other small boats as it will only take one aggressive speed boat driver to scare them off. Getting too close when there are young around and they will vanish again.
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If these beautiful creatures are allowed to live in peace then their numbers will grow and their area will grow. It wont be long before they let us snorkel with them at places like bamboo island or james bond island.  Then if all the people who go to the similan islands on liveaboards each year need another reason. How cool will it be to dive with Manta’s and whale sharks then have a quick snorkel with Dolphins too all in the same day.phuket scuba diving is some of the best in the world and also offers amazing phuket snorkeling tours too.phuket thailand really does have it all and it just must be cared for as an island paradise can so easily be lost.
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