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. 



Monday, August 22, 2016

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

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 island and other destinations are available from all good Phuket dive center.




There are over 32 species of seahorse, mainly found in tropical and subtropical coastal and reef waters all over Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. This is what makes Thailand Phuket in particular such a great place to go looking for seahorses. Places like the Similans which is a chain of islands off the north west of Phuket in a marine national park and home to many protected creatures.  The Similan national park also includes a couple of islands further north mainly Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. Then to the north again lies the Surin islands. Again another national park and this one is the hone to the world famous Richelieu Rock. When in Phuket diving there are many good dive sites but if you have the time and want something special then a Similan liveaboard is well worth a look. 






Seahorses are a genus (Hippocampus) of fish belonging to the family Syngnathidae, which also includes pipefish and leafy sea dragons. There are over 32 species of seahorse, mainly found in tropical and subtropical coastal and reef waters all over Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. Colonies have also been found in European waters such as the Thames Estuary.From North America down to South America there are approximately four species, ranging from very small in size (dwarf seahorses are only about an inch long) to those much larger, found off the Pacific Coast of Central America (the foot-longHippocampus ingens). Hippocampus erectus are bigger and fatter seahorses found anywhere from Nova Scotia down to around Uruguay. These fish form territories, with males staying in about one square meter of their habitat while females range about one hundred times that area. They bob around in sea grass meadows, mangrove stands, and coral reefs where they are camouflaged by murky brown and grey patterns that blend into the sea grass backgrounds. During social moments or in unusual surroundings, seahorses turn bright colors. According to co-founder of Project Seahorse, Amanda J. Vincent, mates can blush a shade of creamy yellow when meeting each other in the morning. She even encountered one male who took the shade of the orange tape she used to mark the grid in the study area. Thats what makes the seahorse such a great thing to watch as when diving in Phuket there is so much color that the seahorses are as varied in colour too. 


Physical description


Seahorses and pipefishes are notable for being the only species in which males become "pregnant".

Courtship


When two parties discover a mutual interest at the beginning of breeding season, they court for several days, even while others try to interfere. During this time they have been known to change color, swim side by side holding tails or grip the same strand of sea grass with their tails and wheel around in unison in what is known as their "pre-dawn dance". They eventually engage in their "true courtship dance" lasting about 8 hours, during which the male pumps water through the egg pouch on his trunk which expands and cleaves open to display an appealing emptiness. When the female's eggs reach maturity, she and her mate let go of any anchors and snout-to-snout, drift upward out of the seagrass, often spiraling as they rise. "The female inserts her ovipositor into the male's brood pouch, where she deposits her eggs, which the male fertilizes. The fertilized eggs then embed in the pouch wall and become enveloped with tissues."
New research indicates the male releases sperm into the surrounding sea water during fertilization, and not directly into the pouch as was previously thought.Most seahorse species' pregnancies lasts approximately two to three weeks. If you are in Phuket scuba diving at the right time of year this can bee seen in many locations.
As the female squirts anywhere from dozens to thousands of eggs from a chamber in her trunk into his pouch, her body slims while his swells. Both seahorses then sink back to the bottom and she swims off. Scientists believe the courtship behavior serves to synchronize the movements of the two animals so that the male can receive the eggs when the female is ready to deposit them. The eggs are then fertilized in the father's pouch which is coursed with prolactin, the same hormone responsible for milk production in pregnant women. He doesn't supply milk, but his pouch provides oxygen as well as a controlled environment incubator. The eggs then hatch in the pouch where the salinity of the water is regulated. This prepares the babies for life in the sea.Throughout the male's pregnancy, his mate visits him daily for "morning greetings". The female seahorse swims over for about 6 minutes of interaction reminiscent of courtship. "They change color, wheel around sea grass fronds, and finally promenade, holding each other's tails. Then, the female swims away until the next morning, and the male goes back to vacuuming up food through his snout."
In some recent studies, it has been noted that male seahorses frequently seem to take unusual interest in each other, particularly in the months leading up to the breeding season. They have been observed engaging in rituals in which they pair up and appear to orally stimulate the egg pouches of their partners. It has been speculated that this might serve to clean the pouches in preparation for breeding, as well as to provide sexual pleasure. Homosexual behavior has been observed in some 1500 other species throughout the animal kingdom, so to researchers these findings come as no great surprise.  

Birth


The male seahorse can give birth to as many as 2,000 babies at a time and pregnancies last anywhere from 40 to 50 days, depending on the species. When the babies are ready to be born, the male undergoes muscular contractions to expel the "fry" from his pouch. He typically gives birth at night and is ready for the next batch of eggs by morning when his mate returns. Like almost all other fish species, seahorses do not care for their young once they are born. Infants are susceptible to death from predators or being swept into ocean currents, where they drift away from rich feeding grounds or into temperatures too extreme for their delicate bodies. Fewer than five infants of every 1,000 born survive to adulthood, helping to explain why litters are so large. The survival rates of these infants are actually fairly high compared to fish standards, because they are initially sheltered in their father's pouch during the earliest stages of development, while the eggs of most other fish are abandoned immediately after fertilization. This makes the process worth the great cost to the father of incubating his offspring. This can be seen in several locations around Phuket but also on a Similan island trip too.


Costs


This entire process costs the male a great amount of energy. This brings into question why the sexual role reversal even takes place. In an environment where one partner incurs more energy costs than the other, you would expect the lesser of the two to be the aggressor. Within the seahorse species, males are shown to be the more aggressive sex and sometimes "fight" for female attention. According to Amanda Vincent of Project Seahorse, only males tail-wrestled and even snap their heads toward each other. This discovery prompted further study in finding out whether males actually are incurring more costs than their female counterparts. To estimate the female's direct contribution, researcher Heather D. Masonjones of Amherst College performed a chemical analysis of the energy stored in each egg. Furthermore, to measure the toll that pregnancy takes on a male, Masonjones built a tiny respirator that records oxygen concentrations in water flowing into and out of a chamber. Before a male became pregnant, she checked his baseline need for oxygen. Then, she monitored the increase as pregnancy progressed. The male's body had to work hard by the end of the pregnancy, consuming almost a third again as much oxygen as he did before mating. To correct for oxygen used by the growing brood, Masonjones managed to keep ¼ inch-high preemie seahorses alive outside the pouch so she could measure their oxygen needs. Although they undergo weeks of pregnancy, males directly contribute only half as much energy for offspring as females do. Therefore, they do in fact fit into the widespread pattern of the less-invested sex being the less-choosy.


Adaptations


The question of why it is the males who undergo pregnancy rather than the females is actually not entirely known, though some researchers believe male pregnancy allows for shorter birthing intervals, hence more offspring. When looking at which sex has the ability to produce more young if they had an unlimited number of ready and willing partners, males have the potential to produce 17 percent more in a breeding season. Also, females have "time-outs" from the reproductive cycle that are 1.2 times longer than those of males. This does not seem to be based on physiology, rather mate choice. When the female's eggs are ready, she must lay them in a few hours or else she has to eject them onto the sea floor which is a huge cost to her physically, as her eggs amount to about a third of her body weight. To protect against unwillingly losing a clutch, the female demands a long courtship period. Furthermore, the daily greetings help to cement the bond between the pair. Another study conducted by Amanda Vincent of Project Seahorse shows the importance of this daily ritual. She kept a female in a tank with two males and when the female filled one male's pouch with eggs he was then taken away, while she was left with the other male (the one not impregnated). During the weeks of her mate's pregnancy, the female and her tankmate greeted each other daily, clinging to the same bit of grass and changing color, but according to Vincent did not display signs of serious courtship. When the original mate had given birth he was returned to the tank. The female then had a choice between him and the other tankmate. While both males expressed enthusiasm for her attention, even tail wrestling and whacking each other, in all six tests the female rejected her original mate and presented the next clutch of eggs to the tankmate that she had greeted each day. The importance of the daily meeting is extremely high in maintaining their monogamous relationship. Although monogamy within species is not common, it does appear to exist for some. In this case, the mate-guarding hypothesis may be an explanation. This hypothesis states that "males remain with a single female because of ecological factors that make male parental care and protection of offspring especially advantageous." Because the rates of survival for newborn seahorses are so low, incubation is essential at the beginning stages of life. Though not proven, males could have taken on this role because of the time period in which it takes females to produce their eggs. If the males carry the offspring while the females gather the nutrients needed to produce new eggs (which is again, 1/3 of their body weight), then they can continually reproduce batch after batch together, depending on one another for efficiency in spreading both of their genes.

Pets


The one thing that all Phuket dive center will tell you is never take anything from the wild as a pet. If you must have them as a pet then make sure they are from ones born in an aquarium. While many aquarium hobbyists will keep seahorses as pets, seahorses collected from the wild tend to fare poorly in a home aquarium. They will eat only live foods such as brine shrimp and are prone to stress in an aquarium, which lowers the efficiency of their immune systems and makes them susceptible to disease.
In recent years, however, captive breeding of seahorses has become increasingly widespread. These seahorses survive better in captivity, and they are less likely to carry diseases. These seahorses will eat mysis shrimp, and they do not experience the shock and stress of being taken out of the wild and placed in a small aquarium. Although captive-bred seahorses are more expensive, they survive better than wild seahorses, and take no toll on wild populations.
Seahorses should be kept in an aquarium to themselves, or with compatible tank-mates. Seahorses are slow feeders, and in an aquarium with fast, aggressive feeders, the seahorses will be edged out in the competition for food. Special care should be given to ensure that all individuals obtain enough food at feeding times.
Seahorses can co-exist with many species of shrimp and other bottom-feeding creatures. Fish from the goby family also make good tank-mates. Some species are especially dangerous to the slow-moving seahorses and should be avoided completely: eels, tangs, triggerfish, squid, octopus, and sea anemones.
Animals sold as "freshwater seahorses" are usually the closely related pipefish, of which a few species live in the lower reaches of rivers. The supposed true "freshwater seahorse" called Hippocampus aimei was not a real species, but a name sometimes used for individuals of Barbour's seahorse and Hedgehog seahorse. The latter is a species commonly found in brackish waters, but not actually a freshwater fish.



Use in Chinese medicine


Seahorse populations have been endangered in recent years by overfishing. Therefore, seahorse fishing is strictly illegal. The seahorse is used in traditional Chinese herbology, and as many as 20 million seahorses may be caught each year and sold for this purpose.Medicinal seahorses are not readily bred in captivity as they are susceptible to disease and have somewhat different energetics than aquarium seahorses.
Import and export of seahorses has been controlled under CITES since May 15, 2004.
The problem may be exacerbated by the growth of pills and capsules as the preferred method of ingesting medication as they are cheaper and more available than traditional, individually tailored prescriptions of raw medicinals but the contents are harder to track. Seahorses once had to be of a certain size and quality before they were accepted by TCM practitioners and consumers. But declining availability of the preferred large, pale and smooth seahorses has been offset by the shift towards prepackaged medicines, which make it possible for TCM merchants to sell previously unused juvenile, spiny and dark-coloured animals. Today almost a third of the seahorses sold in China are prepackaged. This adds to the pressure on the species.


But for sure the best thing is to go and see them in the wild. Here they are in their natural state and happy. The best place for sure is to join any of the Similan islands liveaboards. These can be from an overnight trip or for as many days as you wish. They can be booked from any good Phuket scuba diving center and this is by far the best way to enjoy the Similan island diving. But these beautiful animals are so abundant that they can be seen when you learn to scuba diving Phuket as they are on so many day trip dive sites too. 



Sunday, August 21, 2016

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

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 island and other destinations are available from all good Phuket dive center.



Here in  Phuket Thailand and many parts of the tropics the Parrot fish is seen just about everywhere. They are sometimes alone or in large groups. They come in so many different colors just as the flying parrot does. They also have a strange swimming style which uses the fins just behind the gills to swim with just as birds have their wings. These can be seen just about anywhere but in the marine national parks like the Similans then they can be found in large schools (or flocks) as they can resemble flocks of birds. The Similan island national park is only open for 6 months of the year and is patrolled all year to keep out all fishing boats and any boat thats there out of season. This keeps the Similan islands as some of the best scuba diving Thailand has to offer. 




Parrot fish are named for their dentition; their numerous teeth are arranged in a tightly packed mosaic on the external surface of the jaw bones, forming a parrot-like beak which is used to rasp algae from coral and other rocky substrates (a process called bioerosion). Many species are also brightly coloured in shades of blue, green, red and yellow, but are not especially popular as pets. Although they are considered to be herbivores, parrot fish eat a wide variety of organisms, that live on coral reefs. Some species, for example Bolbometopon muricatum may include corals (polyps) in their diet. Their feeding activity is important for the production and distribution of coral sands in the reef biome and can prevent algae from choking coral. The teeth grow continuously, making it hard to curb overgrowth in the aquarium. Ingested during feeding, coral rock is ground up by the pharyngeal teeth. After they digest this it is excreted as sand thus at times creating small islands and the idyllic sandy beaches of the Bahamas and Caribbean. This is quite clear in the tropics too which is what makes a Similan liveaboard so appealing.  One parrot fish can chew coral into 90 kg of sand each year. Maximum sizes do not vary widely within the family, with the majority of species reaching 30 centimeters to 40 centimetres (16 in) in length. However, a very few species, such as the humphead parrot fish , are much larger, up to 100 centimeters. Their bodies are deep, with large, thick cycloid scales, large pectoral fins and homocercal tail fins. The pectorals are the parrot fish's primary means of locomotion, the tail only used when speed is required. Some parrotfish females can turn into male parrot fish.


Life cycle


The development of parrot fish is complex and accompanied by a series of changes in color termed polychromatism. For most species, adult males and females have different color, the females usually displaying drab tones of green, brown or gray, and the males a vivid, neon color. In the Mediterranean parrotfish (Sparisoma cretense), it is the females that have neon color with the males being a drab gray. ParrotfishIn most species, the juveniles have a different color pattern than the adults and some tropical species this juvenile coloration can be altered temporarily to mimic the appearance of other species. As the juveniles mature they enter what is termed the initial phase coloration during which they may change color and gender. For most species, initial phase fish are usually males that have the beginnings of the adult male coloration. However, initial phase fishes may include generally mature females. The many varieties of color the parrot fish has presented to us are all part of the many phases the parrot fish goes through. Feeding parrot fish of most tropical species form large schools grouped by size. Fights of several females presided over by a single male are the normal in most species, the males vigorously defending their position at any challenge. If the dominant male of a school is removed, one of the females will change gender and adopt the dominant male role. Parrot fish are pelagic spawners; that is, they release many tiny buoyant eggs into the water which become part of the plankton. The eggs float freely, settling into the coral until hatching.


Economic importance


A commercial fishery exists for some of the larger tropical species. Their meat is rarely consumed in the US; however, it is considered a delicacy in many other parts of the world. Protecting parrot fish is proposed as a way of saving Caribbean coral reefs from being overgrown with seaweed. Although any good Phuket dive shop is strongly against fishing on these reefs they are around in huge numbers and they are a great quality meat. But again they do keep the reefs clear of weed and stop the reefs from choking. large numbers can also chew through vast areas or coral in a very short time if the delicate balance is disrupted too much. 

Mucus


A number of parrotfish species, including the Queen parrotfish (Scarus vetuala) excrete two different mucus types during day and night. Prior to going to sleep each night, the parrotfish extrudes mucus from its mouth, forming a protective cocoon that envelopes and secures the fish at a particular location and hides its scent from any predators. It also acts as an early warning detection system, allowing the parrotfish to flee, when it detects its protective membrane is disturbed by predators, such as a moray eel. The mucus also has antioxidant properties to repair any bodily damage and to repel any parasites, which when produced during the day, provides added protection for the parrotfish from UV light.

As said for many other types of fish. Here in Phuket scuba diving we are blessed with great day trip sights just off the coast. You dont need to go on a Similan liveaboard to get great diving and see all these amazing creatures.  But as anyone who has been will tell you that the Similan diving is as good as people say and if you can make the time to join one of the Similan islands liveaboards then you really should and you may just see the giant Humphead Parrot fish. 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

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








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 island and other destinations are available from all good Phuket dive center.



Pipefish (Syngnathidae) are small fish, which with the seahorses, form a distinct family. Pipefish look like straight-bodied seahorses with tiny mouths.

Today is the turn of the pipe fish. This is a macro photographers dream. They are in themselves a very attractive fish and they also tend to live in very attractive location too. Big sea fans and soft corals are always a good spot to have a look. The other great thing is they can often be found with their young in tow too. There are so many great places to go scuba diving Thailand will give  you a great chance to see these little guys. Not all dive sites and trips will get you to the right locations but as these guys never travel too far that any good  Phuket dive shop will be able to advise you on the dive trips where you can see them. 



 The name is derived from the peculiar form of their snout, which is like a long tube, ending in narrow and small mouth which opens upwards and is toothless. The body and tail are long, thin, and snake-like. They have a highly modified skeleton formed into armored plating. This dermal skeleton has several longitudinal ridges, so that a vertical section through the body looks angular, not round or oval as in the majority of other fishes. A dorsal fin is always present, and is the principal (in some species, the only) organ of locomotion. The ventral fins are constantly absent, and the other fins may or may not be developed. The gill-openings are extremely small and placed near the upper posterior angle of the gill-cover. Most of the pipe-fishes are marine, only a few being freshwater. Pipe-fishes are abundant on coasts of the tropical and temperate zones. Most species of pipefish are less than 20cm in length and generally inhabit sheltered areas in coral reefs, seagrass beds and sandy lagoons. Many are very weak swimmers in open water, moving slowly by means of rapid movements of the dorsal fin. Some species of pipefish have tails that are prehensile as in seahorses. The majority of pipefishes have some form of a caudal fin (unlike seahorses), which can be used for locomotion. There are species of pipefish with more developed caudal fins, such as the group collectively known as flag-tail pipefish, are quite strong swimmers. There are approximately 200 species of pipefish.



Reproduction


Pipefish, like their seahorse relatives, leave most of the parenting duties to the males. Courtship tends to be elaborately choreographed displays between the males and females. Pair bonding varies wildly between different species of pipefish. While some are monogamous or seasonally monogamous, others are quite gregarious. Many species exhibit polyandry, a breeding system in which one female mates with two or more males, and are thus sex-role reversed. This occurs because males invest more energy in the offspring than do females, as a result of male pregnancy. This tends to occur with greater frequency in internal brooding species of pipefish than with external brooding species. Male pipefish have a specially developed area to carry eggs, which are deposited by the female pipefish. In some species this is just a patch of spongy skin that the eggs adhere to until hatching. Other species have a partial or even fully developed pouch to carry the eggs. The location of the brood patch or pouch can be along the entire underside of the pipefish or just at the base of the tail, as with seahorses. Young are born freeswimming with relatively little or no yolk sac, and begin feeding immediately. From the time they hatch they are independent of their parents, who at that time may choose to view them as food. Some fry have short larval stages and live as plankton for a short while. Others are fully developed but miniature versions of their parents, assuming the same behaviors as their parents immediately.

General

It is the case that pipefish possess a swimbladder. The literature on its size and positioning is very scant, with an aged volume dating from 1934 the only known publication containing specific information. The laterally-flattened spheroidal swimbladder is approximately 1/25 the length of the whole animal and apparently highly acoustically reflective at commercially important frequencies. This appears to apply to juveniles also.


The pipe fish do make amazing photos as they are easy to shoot as they dont move very fast. If anything the just seem to drift from one side of the plant or coral that they live on to the other. The great thing about diving in Phuket is that you dont need to go too far to see them as they are in easy reach of all open water divers which means that you can see them when you learn to dive in Phuket.  Just ask the guys in the Thailand Divers office where are the best locations to see these stunning fish and they can point you in the right direction. But you can always go a step better and go on a Phuket liveaboard and spend a couple of days enjoying some Similan island diving.  For any certified scuba diver with an open water license or above can join any of the Similan islands liveaboards and have a few days diving some of the best dive sites in the world.  These range from an over night trip to a massive two week trip. No matter how long a trip you want or what ever your budget then there will be a trip for you as all good dive center phuket has some really good ones who have trips departing everyday and for all price ranges too.  Here you will see many fish as good as the ornate ghost pipe fish of all colours.  Diving in Phuket Thailand will really take some beating.