Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Amazing Dive Sites Of Phuket Thailand Part 3. Koh Doc Mai

The dive sites of Phuket Thailand has always been a big draw for scuba diving and for Phuket snorkel tours alike. What makes Thailand Phuket especially popular is the diving is easy with mild currents and shallow depths. Ok there are many other places with shallow diving but very few are as stunningly beautiful with such a varies sea life as when scuba diving Thailand.


When diving Phuket there are many choices. Do you dive the east side in the gulf of Thailand or the west side in the Andaman ocean?  What will follow will be a guide to let you know the best dive sites, the most popular dive sites, when is the best time to dive them to help you get the most out of the scuba diving Phuket has to offer. It does not matter if you have never tried it before or are an experienced diver diving in Thailand will will impress you.






First up is a well known dive site to all divers who have been diving in Phuket as it is the location of the the third dive of many day trips. Many  Phuket dive centers use Koh Doc Mai as its a great but easy drift dive that you need to pass on your way back from other locations such as Phi Phi and King Cruiser. The other bonus is that being a nice long drift dive that even if other boats are there before you then they will be further along the wall when you begin your dive and everyone drifts with the current at a similar speed. 


Koh Doc Mai literally means "flower island". There are different stories of how the place got its name - some say it is because the island was once full of blossoming flowers, and others claim its name comes from the underwater beauty around its shores. The little limestone island stretches vertically down 24 - 28 meters, creating a wall all around. Although the west side, with hard coral extending out from 12 - 18 meters, is shallower, the east wall is more popular with divers. There are many cracks and crevices along the walls at all depths, but the most frequented visit is a big cave and small cave located on the east side of the island. However, the small cave is narrow and long, so divers who have not obtained a cavern diver specialty are not encouraged to penetrate the cave. There is no access onto the island. The currents are  light to moderate and run in a north-south direction. The current is stronger on the north side at low tide, and on the south side during high tide but well with in the ability of any open water diver as Phuket diving is easy compared to many other locations around the world.  On days with strong current, there may be up-currents or down-currents as well. While the debris and rubbish has since been cleared by co-operative activities by locals, divers and aid organizations, you will still see the scattered rocks nearer to the shore. At depths of 4 meters, you will see coral reefs, extending from the shore, mostly consisting of brain corals and pore corals, stretching to a depth of about 12 meters.



Marine Life
A good variety of small creatures make this site a favourite for Phuket dive shops. Tigertail seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish and anglerfish are among the species frequently found along the walls. Go slowly and check crevices in the wall or the sea fans and you may spot them when they move. The walls are also a paradise for macro photographers, as colourful nudibranch, flatworms, tiny white eyed morays and groups of 10 or more dancing shrimp are guaranteed to make an appearance.

Do examine cracks and small crevices for giant morays, and enjoy the schools of yellowline snapper, trevally and fusilierthat usually swim along the wall. For those interested in bigger fish, great barracuda may be seen clser to the wall if there are strong currents, and leopard shark may also catch a few winks at the bottom of the wall.

Dive Trip

Dive slowly if you don't want to miss the small creatures this divesite is famous for, but with any good Phuket dive shop their instructor will not let you miss anything.  Thailand Divers is know for its very experience instructors who have been diving these sits for many years as they live here all year round. Many newer Thailand dive centers will use gap year students and backpackers as guides as a cheap way to get guides in the busy times but if you want to get the best from the diving then its better to go for experience over quantity of divers everytime.  It should be possible to get half way around the island in an hour. It is usually a one way dive along the wall side, but it can get tricky when there are strong currents, as the up currents and down currents can rapidly reduce visibility from a good 25 meters to 10 meters very fast.  

Get advice from your dive guide or boat crew on where to end your dive and ascend, and plan to have enough time to swim back if you go pass the assigned area. Depending on the season and sea conditions, it might take the boat more than 10 minutes to realize that your group is up on the other side where they can not see you. At the end of the dive, ascend with caution and beware of boat traffic. Use a safety balloon. When surfacing, swim away from the island so the boat can make a pick up easily.

Koh Doc Mai is a great dive to end you open water course Phuket with as its fun, and different type of dive site compared to the sloping reefs that have been where you were doing most of your skills on.  When you learn to scuba dive Phuket has some great spots and Koh Doc Mai is the last dive on the way home from places like Phi Phi  and thus a great way to end the course especially if a Whale shark makes an appearance. Its also is a great spot for other dive courses Phuket such as Advanced course or for a deep dive too as there is plenty to explore just a bit away from the wall too but be aware of the current as its very easy to drift away from the pick up spot and find yourself in deep water too but thats when the experience of the instructor really pays off and you will get a great dive as they know there is far more there than just a wall dive. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Amazing Dive Sites Of Phuket Thailand Part 2. King Cruiser

The Amazing Dive Sites Of Phuket Thailand Part 2.  King Cruiser


The dive sites of Phuket Thailand has always been a big draw for scuba diving and for Phuket snorkel tours alike. What makes Thailand Phuket especially popular is the diving is easy with mild currents and shallow depths. Ok there are many other places with shallow diving but very few are as stunningly beautiful with such a varies sea life as when scuba diving Thailand.






When diving Phuket there are many choices. Do you dive the east side in the gulf of Thailand or the west side in the Andaman ocean?  What will follow will be a guide to let you know the best dive sites, the most popular dive sites, when is the best time to dive them to help you get the most out of the scuba diving Phuket has to offer. It does not matter if you have never tried it before or are an experienced diver diving in Thailand will will impress you.



For those people who love wreck diving there is a collection of wrecks now around the eastside of Racha Yai to the south but these have all been put here for the scuba divers. When diving in Phuket there is one wreck that far out does all the others. The wreck of the King Cruiser car ferry. There is just so much to see here. There are literally tens of thousands of fish covering the wreck. Phuket scuba diving as mentioned in other blogs is not difficult but this is the only real advanced dive and thats due to the depth.



The King Cruiser wreck is the wreck of the car ferry of the same name that sank off the West Coast of Southern Thailand on 4 May 1997. The ferry was operating between Phuket and the Phi Phi Islands in southern Thailand when she hit a submerged collection of rocky pinnacles at Anemone Reef 10 miles off Phi Phi Island. The impact split the reef in two and also tore a large hole in the hull limiting its seaworthiness to a further thousand meters. The vessel sank within 2.5 hours. 561 passengers were rescued included Thai and foreign tourists. They were safely taken to two police patrol boats and 4-5 fishing boats, which had raced to the rescue in response to an emergency call. Causes Of The Sinking The ferry was on a regular crossing in normal conditions and the Anemone Reef was charted and well known by captains in the area. This has led to various unproven theories as to why the accident occurred. Theories include insurance fraud due to the owners experiencing financial difficulties on the unprofitable route and also that local dive companies paid the captain to sink the vessel as, up until that time, there were no wreck dives around Phuket. The captain was found to be negligent. While the debris and rubbish has since been cleared by co-operative activities by locals, divers and aid organisations, you will still see the scattered rocks nearer to the shore. At depths of 4 meters, you will see coral reefs, extending from the shore, mostly consisting of brain corals and pore corals, streaching to a depth of about 12 meters.






Dive Site Information

The vessel is now a popular recreational dive site  for many divers who come scuba diving in Phuket and acts as an artificial reef to compliment the Anemone Reef. The vessel sits upright on a sandy bottom in around 30m of water rising to ~10m at the top of the wreck. The wreck remains in one piece although the foreword upper deck has collapsed. The simplest and safest point of entry is through the vessels stern where divers can explore the once active car decks.



Machinery still sits on the deck. Inside the car deck are a couple of vehicle tires and an engine trolley. Rows of passenger seats and low coffee tables fill the inner recesses. The collapsed foredeck is at 16 meters where there is a stack of plastic picnic tables and chairs often surrounded by a cloud of Snappers. The upper deck is split from front to back.

As well as the wreck there is lots of coral growth and an abundance of fish. sea fans and soft coral can be found growing along the sides and top of the wreck. Schools of big eye trevally are often spotted circling above the captain's cabin. Large schools of snapper hang around the entrances to the car deck and along the remains of the upper deck, plus lionfish can be seen dotted around the wreck. There are also occasional encounters with leopard sharks and blacktip reef sharks, great barracuda and turtles. If you are really lucky then there have been whale sharks spotted on this dive location.



The King Cruiser wreck dive trip can be booked in most Phuket dive centers. As mentioned before it is an advance dive so if you are an uncertified diver then it is out reach for the PADI Discover scuba diving in Phuket but there are other better locations for this.  But that does not mean its out of reach for other courses. This a great wreck to dive if you complete your open water course Phuket and want to directly go onto your advanced course. Its only the depth that makes it and advanced dove as the top is 16 - 17 meters but the deepest point is around 32 meters. For those wanting to learn to dive in Phuket this is a great follow on dive. The viz in high season can be awesome but during the months of July to September there can be days when its drops and it can be a bit bumpy during this time of year.


The Stunning and Varied Dive Sites Of Phuket Thailand Part 1. Anemone Reef.





The dive sites of Phuket Thailand has always been a big draw for scuba diving and for Phuket snorkel tours alike. What makes Thailand Phuket especially popular is the diving is easy with mild currents and shallow depths. Ok there are many other places with shallow diving but very few are as stunningly beautiful with such a varies sea life as when scuba diving Thailand.


When diving Phuket there are many choices. Do you dive the east side in the gulf of Thailand or the west side in the Andaman ocean?  What will follow will be a guide to let you know the best dive sites, the most popular dive sites, when is the best time to dive them to help you get the most out of the scuba diving Phuket has to offer. It does not matter if you have never tried it before or are an experienced diver diving in Thailand will will impress you.


First up is a well known dive site to all divers who have been diving in Phuket but it is not dived very often due to many Phuket dive centers preferring a larger dive site just a few  minutes away with a more impressive name to the more impressionable diver.  However this means the other site gets crowded and can get very busy during high season. Where Anemone reef is left alone and is often far more to see here as many shy creatures move here to avoid the crowds and noise of Shark point. 


Anemone reef is located around 25 - 27 km to the east of Phuket. 

  

 Anemone reef is a pinnacle with the top being between 3-5 meters under the water, giving this divesite its Thai name "Hin Jom". It's English name is similarly straight forward - sea anemones dwel in stunningly dense populations in the shallow areas, presenting an amazing view of the sea's own version of a living carpet. The pinnacle has a north - south orientation, with a small sloped channel close to the south part. The depth ranges from 5 - 25 meters, and while there is a gentle slope down to the sandy bottom on the east side, it is steeper on the west side. Because of the quantity, quality and variety of marine life that lives in the beautiful soft coral and sea fans that cover the pinnacle, Anemone Reef is the choice site for naturalist courses and is no doubt a favorite among photographers as well. The currents are mild to moderate running in a north - south direction. The current on the north side will be stronger at low tide, and vice versa. Located around 25 - 27 Km to the east of Chalong Bay which is where most of the Phuket scuba diving trips depart from each morning.  




Anemone fish and clownfish are common, as are big schools of snapper that cloud the pinnacle. Schools of yellowtail barracuda are also often seen circling the rock, together with groupers, oriental sweetlips, juvenile harlequin sweetlips, scorpionfish and soldierfish that flit among corals, cracks and crevices. Leopard sharks, black tip and white tip sharks have been seen here on many occasions. Small critters such as seahorses are also found here on occasion. At the shallow areas near the mooring line, a couple of ornate ghost pipefish and even an anglerfish have been seen here before. This is a relatively easy dive as is most of the scuba diving in Phuket

The dive starts from descending down to the side of the pinnacle. Divers can then choose to go either clockwise or counter clockwise from the bottom, and the dive ends at the top of the pinnacle near the mooring line. Going around the pinnacle should pose no problems except in strong currents, so try scheduling the dive time near slack tide to get the most out of this site. It is also advisable to take your time on the dive - you might find a surprise among the cracks or in the dense anemone areas. Do look away from the rock once in a while, as there is an abundance of fish everywhere, and keep a watch out for leopard sharks that may be asleep at the bottom close to the rock. At the end of the dive, ascend with caution and beware of boat traffic. Use a safety ballon if you are not at the mooring line.



Anemome reef is a huge draw for all underwater photographers as there is just so much colour and such a huge variety of marine life here from the very tiny Nudi branch's to the largest fish in the ocean, massive whale shark are all regularly seen here. The Whale shark population has exploded in the Gulf of Thailand in the last few years and the better Thailand dive centers do have a run trips everyday to the locations that give you the best chance of seeing them. 




The great thing in Phuket is it has been a big draw for scuba diving for many years and Phuket dive centers like Thailand Divers have been helping people who want to learn to scuba dive Phuket for many years. The amazing dive sites like Anemone reef can be visited by new divers who are doing their open water course Phuket on their third day. The dives are not deep and not difficult and as mentioned before stunningly beautiful. Any good Phuket dive shop can take you to these amazing places and yes on just you second day in the ocean you may be diving with sharks. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Underwater World of Phuket Thailand As Seen By Thailand Divers


The Amazing Underwater World of Phuket Thailand.



    Just a short boat ride off shore, there are some stunning underwater places to explore in Thailand Phuket in particular. It is the main gateway to the underwater sights that rank up there with the best in the world and depending how much time you want to spend underwater, there are several ways to explore it.


 One Day in Phuket scuba Diving,

         
With as little as one day up your sleeve for scuba diving Thailand you can still enjoy three different  great dive sites – a huge wall dive,  a wreck, and a reef – and still be back for happy hour. When diving Phuket most  boats leave daily from Chalong Bay, and take in three dive sites with the furthest just a couple of hours  cruising. When in Phuket diving the trips really are cruising as the dive boats here are large and very comfortable. They have chefs on board, sun decks, three or more showers plus more deck showers to rinse off after the dive. Power points to charge cameras, shaded eating areas and large saloon.


One option when scuba diving Phuket is the King Cruiser wreck. 


         The first dive of the day, the wreck King Cruiser is on a sunken car transporter ferry, which is so big you won’t get to see all of it on the one dive. The ferry sank in 1997 after hitting Anemone Reef. The boat is sitting with the top around 17 meters and the bottom at 32m. The wreck is approx 90m long, 30m wide and 15 high.

    And the reef, called Anemone Reef, for good reason guarantees you some of the cutest Clown fish around.  This is also a good location for Tigertail Seahorses which live on the huge sea fans. There are also a good chance to see Leopard Sharks here too around the base of the reef.




    The closest is Koh Dok Mai or Flower Island provides a home to many sea creatures.which is also the most characteristic of the region, being a limestone pinnacle that rises steeply from the ocean floor. Underwater it presents as a wall with vertical gutters and crevices and even some caves, home to all sorts of cryptic crevice dwellers. This is normally the last dive of the day as its done on the way back to Phuket.

         

Keep an eye out for white-collared butterfly fish as well as the many Black tip reef sharks (totally harmless) and Hawks Bill Turtles.




Over the course of the day you could see anything from seahorses to scorpion fish, barracuda to banded coral shrimp, stone fish, sea snakes, many nudibranchs, Ghost pipe fish, painted spiny lobsters, frog fish, Blue spotted sting rays and if lucky the largest fish in the ocean The Whale Shark. This is what makes diving in Thailand so exciting as you just never know what will turn up.



      These day boats have all the dive gear you need on board. As well as showers, they provide and serve you  a cooked breakfast, large hot buffet lunch and afternoon tea, plus tea, coffee, drinking water. Other soft drinks are available at a very small cost as is ice cold beer for the way back.  So all you really need for the day is your dive card, sunscreen and swimmers. A good Phuket dive shop will put as much effort into good food and comfort as well as being blessed with great diving. 



Three Days’ Diving

If you have three days spare for diving in Phuket you will be able to cover the three main day trip locations from Phuket.
Koh Phi Phi.  The terrain here is also limestone pinnacles made famous by the movie The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The range of diving is immense, from Phuket snorkelling tours in Lana Bay on the north-western tip of Koh Phi Phi, to Bida Nok, which offers a most dramatic marine topography: caves, swim throughs, drop-offs and overhangs.
        All around Phi Phi Ley are steep walls and coral bomies with an amazing number and diversity of nudibranchs, as well as the usual colourful reef fish like butterflyfish, coralfish and parrotfish.


Phi Phi can also be done during low season (May - Sept) on an overnight live a board which includes a great night dive. Talk to any good Phuket dive center like Thailand Divers who can arrange Phuket liveaboards all year round. But remember in Green season there are far less options to choose from as the national parks are closed. 


More than three days, or just if you prefer liveaboards and as the Similan diving is best in the world then this is a great option. 
       If you have three days or more available, you’d be crazy not to book a liveaboard trip and head out to the similan islands and Surin  Islands National Parks – about 1.5 hours from Phuket by speed boat or 3 hours cruising on the dive boat.(which is usually done while you sleep). Here you will be spoilt with some of the best diving in the region and the world if you include Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock.


The similan island diving is so diverse. Here are massive granite boulders, stacked up long ago by some giant god of the sea, to create a playground for fish and divers alike. Mixed in with white sandy bays and shallow reefs teeming with life. Throw in a turtle breeding ground for good measure. Diving in  the Similans and the surrounding area you may be lucky enough to see manta rays cruising through, but you’ll certainly find turtles, and some of the biggest giant morays I have ever seen. Mix in the powder-blue surgeons, white collar butterflies and black tail angels and you’re in for a visual feast.



    The pinnacle, literally, of the trip will be a day diving Richelieu Rock, a rock so famous it even has its own website. A large, horseshoe-shaped rock, completely submerged, Richelieu is home to everything from the smallest ghost pipefish to hordes of batfish, schools of swirling snapper,  giant cuttlefish and of course the giant Oceanic Manta ray and Whale Shark.



 Even three dives on the rock won’t be enough: you’ll be planning your next trip on the way home.
For more information on Similan island trips just talk to Thailand divers on their live chat and they can give you all the latest information.



The Similan liveaboards have several great options from a one night trip to 10 days or more. The choice is yours. The trips can depart everyday from 15th October till mid May so you can fit the trip to your holiday and not your holiday to fit the trip. The 5 day 4 night trips will get you a full round trip. There is a choice of boats from to be honest very nice  boats and accomadation low cost trips to total luxuary. 5* chefs, state rooms and private charter super yachts. When in phuket scuba diving is a must. You will not find a better place for your first ever experience or if its your 10,000th dive. phuket thailand has stunning sights both above and below the water. A chance to go on one of the Similan islands liveaboards is a chance you dont want to miss. 





      

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Similan Islands Has Far More Than Just Diving.

The Similan Islands has Far More To Offer Than Just Scuba Diving.

Phuket Thailand is a world famous scuba diving location with many scuba divers of all abilities visiting each year from all over the world.
Thailand phuket especially has amazing wildlife both below and above the waves that it brings photographers and other nature lovers to these tropical shores each year.  Beautiful birds, lizards, reptiles, fish and other mammals cover the islands and in some cases the oceans too.



As many may already know the Similans are a chain of nine islands to the north west of Phuket in the Andaman ocean. These largely uninhabited islands are exactly what comes into people minds when you ask them to imagine a tropical island. White sandy beaches, palm trees, no people or buildings, light blue sea and calm bays set against a deep blue sky.  These islands along with Koh Bon and Koh Tachai make up the Similan national park.



These isolated bays and reefs are what makes scuba diving Thailand as popular as it is. The Phuket snorkel tours come here too as they really are what people imagine a tropical island paradise should be.  However there is plenty to see on land too. Step off the soft white sand and into the jungle. Take a hat and shoes too so as not to step on anything. There are brightly coloured birds, crabs, lizards and all manner of other creatures. You really do feel like an explorer looking for and discovering new animals that no one has seen before.




Diving Phuket can be great too dont get me wrong, but there is something about being on a beach with no other foot prints, in a bay with no other sounds or boats in sight that adds a magical quality to the location. Scuba diving Phuket is a great experience as you can have a 5 star hotel in the evening and be on a deserted tropical island during the day and this is what makes the similan island tours as good as they are.



The other option rather than going all the way back to Phuket each day is to get onto a similan liveaboard.  This is when you stay overnight or two on a large boat in an air conditioned cabin moored in one of the sheltered bays. this way you still get the great food but you can spend more time diving or snorkeling each day. Just pop into a good dive shop Phuket has a good selection but try to pick one that been around a good few years as they will have a better choice and more experience to get you what you want. There are plenty of Phuket liveaboards to choose from so dont stick to the first option. make sure the phuket dive center offers you a few options.



The last thing is not forget your camera as you never know what will turn up at any minute. Keep the camera with you at all times as we all know the minute you dont take it something amazing will turn up. So no matter how long you are in Thailand please make sure you leave a day or two to explore the magical Similan islands.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Quick Guide To Some Of The Fish You Will See Diving In Phuket Thailand and The Similan Islands XI

Thailand Divers Fish and Marine Creatures Guide From Phuket Thailand  & The Similans  






 What this will be is a quick guide to some of the amazing fish we see when diving in the waters off Phuket Thailand.  Different fish will be featured everyday and as the Similan islands season is about to start too these fish will be for sure seen in these waters too. The scuba diving around Thailand Phuket is some of the best you will find anywhere. From the shallow bays of the Racha Islands that are perfect for people who want to discover scuba diving Phuket is ideal. Then again the sloping reefs are ideal location for people who want to learn to scuba dive Phuket has dive sites for all levels of diver. Then as many experienced divers will know that just to the north west of Phuket lies the Similan islands and these are normally done on a liveaboard trip for 2-4 days.  This is by far the best diving Phuket has and the nicest way to get the most out of the diving as it gets you (on the 3 or 4 day trip) to have a day diving Richelieu rock which is situated just north on the Similans and is part of the Surin islands national park. Phuket liveaboards to the Similan islandand other destinations are available from all good Phuket dive center.




What strikes many new divers as odd is when a group of experienced divers all gather around a small bit of coral or plant life, all pointing and taking photos. All you can see it a small unidentifiable thing thats doing nothing. When what you want is the big stuff.  The chances are that the divers are all looking at a rare "Nudi".  I was the same. There are many divers now who spend their whole dive looking for the tiny critters and taking photos of them. When people come scuba diving Phuket they will hire a private guide just so they can spend time scouring the site for these tiny yet beautiful guys.  Many people chose to go scuba diving Thailand especially as there is an abundance of rare and colourful creatures like these Nudibranchs. Phuket diving is a big draw as there are so many great divesites close by and Phuket has all the big hotels too so you can dive in the top locations and still return to a top hotel in the evening. 



Diving in Phuket has another great advantage and that is the chain of islands just to the north west of Phuket. These are called the similans and the diving here is some of the best in the world. It is possible to do day trip to the similan island national park from Phuket but its far better to visit on a similan island liveaboard. This way you can have two or three days there in an air conditioned cabin with great food and not have to waste time returning each night. This way you get to do four dives per day rather than the two on a day trip. Being a marine national park means no fishing, no touching and above all its closed for six months of the year so everything is in its natural state and there is just simply so much to see.


A nudibranch is a member of what is now a taxonomic clade, but used to be a suborder, of soft-bodied, shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks, which are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms. The clade Nudibranchia is the largest clade within the heterobranchs, with more than 3,000 described species. The word "nudibranch" comes from the Latin nudus, naked, and the Greek brankhia, gills.



Nudibranchs are often casually called "sea slugs", a non-scientific term. This has led some people to assume that every sea slug must be a nudibranch. Nudibranchs are very numerous in terms of species, and are often very attractive and noticeable, but there are a wide variety of other kinds of sea slugs, and these belong to several taxonomic groups that are not very closely related to nudibranchs. A fair number of these other sea slugs are colorful, and can be confused with nudibranchs. These other marine shell-less gastropods or "sea slug" groups include additional heterobranch shell-less gastropod groups such as the Cephalaspidea sea slugs including the colorful Aglajidae, and other heterobranchs such as the Sacoglossa, the sea butterflies, the sea angels, and the often rather large sea hares. The term sea slug is also sometimes loosely applied to the only very distantly related, pelagic, caenogastropods within the superfamily Carinarioidea, and may also be casually used for the even more distantly related pulmonate sea slugs, the Onchidiidae.Distribution :Nudibranchs occur in seas worldwide.Habitat :Nudibranchs live at virtually all depths of salt water, but reach their greatest size and variation in warm, shallow waters. Hence the tropical water around Thailand is what makes Phuket scuba diving as popular as it is for divers and underwater photographers alike. 





Description


The body forms of nudibranchs vary enormously, but because they are opisthobranchs, unlike most other gastropods they are bilaterally symmetrical because they have undergone secondary detorsion. Most species have venomous appendages on their sides. these are used to deter predators. Many also have a simple gut and a mouth with a radula. Their eyes are simple and able to discern little more than light and dark. NudibranchThe eyes are set into the body, are about a quarter of a millimeter in diameter, and consist of a lens and five photoreceptors. They vary in adult size from 20 to 600 mm. The adult form is without a shell or operculum (a bony or horny plate covering the opening of the shell, when the body is withdrawn). The name nudibranch is appropriate, since the dorids (infraclass Anthobranchia) breathe through a "naked gill shaped" like branchial plumes of bushy extremities on their back, near their tail rather than using gills. By contrast, on the back of the aeolids in infraclass Cladobranchia there are brightly colored sets of tentacles called cerata. Nudibranchs have cephalic (head) tentacles, which are sensitive to touch, taste, and smell. Club-shaped rhinophores detect odors.

Reproduction


Nudibranchs are hermaphroditic, and thus have a set of reproductive organs for both sexes, but they can rarely fertilize themselves. Nudibranchs typically deposit their eggs within a gelatinous spiral.

Feeding


Most nudibranchs are carnivorous. Some feed on sponges, others on hydroids, others on bryozoans, and some are cannibals, eating other sea slugs, or, on some occasions, members of their own species. Other groups feed on tunicates, barnacles, or anemones. The surface dwelling nudibranch, Glaucus atlanticus is a specialist predator of siphonophores, such as the Portuguese Man O' War. This predatory mollusc sucks air into its stomach to keep it afloat and using its muscular foot it clings to the surface film. If it finds a small victim Glaucus simply envelopes it with its capacious mouth, but if the prey is a larger siphonophore the mollusc nibbles off its fishing tentacles, the ones carrying the most potent nematocysts. Like some others of its kind Glaucus doesn't digest the nematocysts, instead it uses them to defend itself by passing them from its gut to the surface of its skin. Its things like this is what makes them so addictive to watch. They move slowly so easy to film and are very colourful and varied to look at. This is another reason why on a similan liveaboard you tend to get photographers together as they move at a much slower rate so they can get great shots of Nudies. 

Colors and camouflage

Among this group can be found the most colorful creatures on earth. In the course of evolution, sea slugs have lost their shell because they have developed other defense mechanisms. Their anatomy may resemble the texture and color of the surrounding plants, allowing them to camouflage (cryptic behavior). Others, as seen especially well on chromodorids, have an intense and bright coloring, which warns that they are distasteful or poisonous (aposematic coloration). Nudibranchs that feed on hydroids can store the hydroids' nematocysts (stinging cells) in the dorsal body wall, the cerata. This is why places like the Similans is such a great place for nudibranchs is the colourful surroundings which makes for amazing nudies and a similan liveaboard such a great place to spend a few days diving. The nematocysts wander through the alimentary tract without harming the nudibranch. Once further into the organ, the cells are brought to the specific placements on the creature's hind body via intestinal protuberances. Nudibranches can protect themselves from the hydroids and their nematocysts It is not yet clear how, but special cells with large vacuoles probably play an important role. They can also take in plants' chloroplasts (plant cell organelles used for photosynthesis) and use them to make food for themselves. Another method of protection is the release of a sour liquid from the skin. Once the specimen is physically irritated or touched by another creature, it will release the slime automatically.

Taxonomy


The taxonomy of the Nudibranchia is still under investigation. Many taxonomists in the past treated the Nudibranchia as an order, based on the authoritative work of Johannes Thiele (1931), who built on the concepts of Henri Milne-Edwards (1848). Newer insights derived from morphological data and gene-sequence research, have confirmed these ideas. On the basis of investigation of 18S rDNA sequence data, there is strong evidence for support of the monophyly of the Nudibranchia and its two major groups, the Anthobranchia/Doridoidea and Cladobranchia.

So like so many before you when diving take the time to actually start looking for the small stuff as everyone can see a eight meter whale shark but how many miss the one centimeter nudi? and what is the most colourful?? When considering a liveaboard similan islands is a serious place to think about. Easy diving and so much to see and all in easy reach of even the newest  PADI open water diver. This way you can see these great guys even when you learn to scuba dive in Phuket.  Similan diving is in the top ten locations in the world and Richelieu rock which lies in the surin island national park and is done on many similan islands liveaboards was in Jaques Cousteau's top ten of all time. So pop into a top dive shop Phuket like Thailand divers and see whats on offer as there will always be a trip leaving that will suit your time frame and budget. Then you too can get hooked on these magical creatures too.