In water: Snorkeling in Thailand

Rewind to January 2011, when we escaped the snowy winter and went to Thailand. Snorkeling in Thailand was great! Most tourists snorkel the coral reefs and so did we, but we also snorkled in the rainforest(!).

Coral reefs. We went on two trips to popular destinations in the Andaman Sea. Much too popular, we think. The first company we went with ran a terrible, large scale operation with something like 8 big boats leaving from the mainland at the same time. Arriving at the extremely busy snorkel spots, the crew immediately threw the anchor and dumped food overboard to attract fish, which both are a total no-no, of course. This first trip left us with nothing but a very sad sense of exploitation. By contrast, our second trip was absolutely great! We went with Medsye, an eco conscious and very knowledgeable operator. These guys really know their stuff, and could tell us beforehand that “at this reef, you are likely to see the following species…”, with great accuracy. They also lectured us at length about how to behave on the reef so as not to disturb its various inhabitants, about the life cycles of various life forms, etc. A really great trip with a highly recommended operator!

Here I come! M jumping into the waters of Surin Island Marine National Park.

Rainforest creeks. In addition to the coral reefs, we also enjoyed snorkeling knee-deep rainforest creeks and watching freshwater ‘aquarium’ fish in their native habitat. Both dad and M are fish nerds and spent long hours studying the environments and natural behavior of the fish in the wild. What type of eco systems do they live in? What do they feed on? What other species live here?

Cool water rainforest creek.

A half-hour trek up through the rainforest right across the road from our hotel took us to this hidden jewel, a plunge pool below a small waterfall. Really nice to snorkel in with its cool, crystal clear water. Here we found three interesting species: a cyprinid, most likely Danio kerri, blue and iridescent yellow, dashing around near submersed roots and vegetation; a golden-copper colored barb, possibly Puntius orphoides, roaming the open sandy areas; and the killi Aplocheilus panchax, hiding among roots and leaf litter near the banks of the stream. The latter had fantastic colors, blue and bright orange. Much more colorful than any aquarium strain we’ve come across back home.

Exploring the aquatic fauna in the Khao Lak – Lam Ru National Park.

Another little creek emerged from the rainforest onto a ‘secret’ beach in the Khao Lak – Lam Ru National Park. Here we found at least two Rasbora species, a Badis species, and, again, Aplocheilus panchax. M & M spent a long time snorkeling and watching the fish. We also snorkeled in the sea and saw a sizeable Moray eel among the rocks. It was big enough to make the encounter a bit scary!

Ready? You bet! Let’s go look at that moray eel again…

M & M’s UPF50 swim suits provided perfect sun protection when snorkeling, swimming and playing on the beach. M & M wore their suits pretty much all the time. Mom & dad need to get shirts like these too for our next trip. We definitely want to go back!

Lush! Can you feel the humidity?