Friday, March 10, 2017

Thailand, Koh Tao - part 4

When the wind from NE or E was stronger, there were many fishing boats anchored in our bay, since it was so well protected. But on this morning it was very calm, and still these two were dancing around one another for almost an hour to get anchored and tied side by side. Maybe the crews just wanted to have breakfast together.

Only on two days wind was blowing from SE and rolled some waves into our bay, normally sea was calm and visibility in the water good even when the E or NE wind was strong. From what we've seen, the bays on E, N and even on W side got quite choppy and water less clear. I guess we were really lucky with our hotel and it's location, especially since I chose it from the photos on the Internet without any deep knowledge about the location, winds and surroundings.

Here are some more snorkelling photos. We found this pretty Cowry shell in our bay.

I know you've seen one or two of these Groupers in my previous posts, but I just couldn't stop photographing them. I named them Pyjama groupers.

These are Buterflyfish, very similar to Racoon buterflyfish from Maldives.

I was amazed of how many Mushroom corals there were in some places.

I'm not sure what this is, could be a zoanthid, but even more mysterious are the round things on the left lower edge of it - a couple of anemones maybe. I only discovered them while studying the photos on my computer at home.

This one has many names, my favourite is Zig-Zag oyster.

These must be Cup corals, I've never seen green ones yet.

And this one looks like Acropora coral.

This one is quite similar to Blacktip grouper, that we often saw in Maldives.

Again I don't know what this shiny turquoise stuff is, it looks like it is encrusting a branch of Acropora coral.

Different Parrotfish

And a Pyjama grouper once more - this time because of it's pretty blue fins draped around him.

With this one I'm totally clueless - I've never seen anything like it, so I'm not even sure if it's a plant or an animal. I saw several more, but they were difficult to spot despite their colour, since they were 1 - 2 cm small.

Here is the sea urchin section - first is a Slate pencil sea urchin ...

... these are Diademas or Long spine sea urchins ...

... and here is a Diadema detail.

This photo is not just pretty because of the colourful anemone in which the Clownfish are sitting, but I also think that the orange spots above the anemone where the smaller Clownfish is, are their eggs.

This is a Fan worm, I've seen plenty of similar ones in Caribbean and in Adria.

Couldn't resist posting another photo of Christmas Tree worms.

A blue sponge

And one more Parrotfish.

We had a really great time in Koh Tao, lots of adventures, snorkelling, nice people and great food. If it weren't for the long journey, I'd go back tomorrow.

Here is one more sunset, photo was taken from our balcony at Pinnacle hotel.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Thailand, Koh Tao - part 3

Our bungalow was quite spacious. I guess we were lucky when picking a hotel.

Hotel beach was rather small, but had nice shade. Here is Captain, preparing for next snorkelling.

We snorkelled every day, mostly in "our" bay. I guess we were lucky with location of our hotel as well. For me good snorkelling was way more important than lots of bars and restaurant and lots of people like in bigger villages. Although there were 2 more restaurants just couple of steps from hotel, both good, and in Chalok bay there were plenty more.
This is a Barrel sponge among Mushroom corals.

Pretty little green coral polyps

If I remember correctly, is this one called Slingjaw wrasse.

There were couple of Triggerfish around, but they were quite shy, not as happy to attack one's fins as their relatives in Maldives.

Our biggest adventure was hiring the local long tail boat for a snorkelling round-the-island trip. This beautiful vessel is Hulk, the name has maybe something to do with the green bimini. Isn't it pretty?

We were picked up from the beach beneath hotel by this mostly silent and seriously looking skipper. We teamed up with a very nice couple from our hotel for the trip, which not only halved the costs for the boat, but got us a delightful company as well.

We motored by the Chalok bay...

... and made first stop in Shark bay. We jumped into water with our masks and at first it looked like the luck was not on our side. But as we almost gave up searching for sharks, we discovered a couple a bit bigger ones - more like teenagers not babies - almost right behind our boat.

Next stop was Hin Wong bay on the East side of the island. In this time of year the wind blows from NE or E, so the ride was quite choppy and the waves seemed to push all the plastic waste into the bay.  Plastic waste is unfortunately one of the island's big problems, you see it everywhere on land and in the sea.

This is another long tail boat that had the same route planned as we did.

Snorkelling in Hin Wong bay was very good, despite all the plastic floating in the shallow water.
I guess this is also a sort of Grouper, there were quite many around.

I couldn't figure out what these bright blue things were while snorkelling, but I've taken a photo anyway. Only at home, looking at this on my computer, I realise they look very much like Tunicates.

And I wasn't sure what this was as well, but seeing it on my computer I'm quite sure - these are Corallimorphs, relatives of anemones.

Another colourful Parrotfish

This is one of few Surgeonfish that we saw, look at the orange scalpels near it's tail, they can do some serious damage.

This one is a Porcupinefish, they can also be found in Caribbeans.

And this is me just out of the water.

Our next stop was Mango bay at the North side of the island. The ride there was choppy and wet, and the waves were rolling into the bay. Because of that the visibility in the water wasn't great and exactly at that time clouds covered the sky and the sun. So not an ideal situation for taking photos and this one was one of the best - a Barrel sponge with nice green coral, it could be Lesser valley coral, a relative of Brain coral.

And the best snorkelling place was our last stop - the Japanese gardens on the East side of the Nang Juan island. I don't know why it's called Japanese gardens, but it's really very pretty despite the tens and tens of snorkelling and diving boats that come there every day.

I saw baby Mushroom corals ...

... and the only Sea pearl here.

I love the shape of this coral, it looks like it is made of piped cream ornaments, just like on a cake.

This one is called Scribbled leatherjacket, I've also seen them in Caribbeans.

On our way back Captain tried to steer the boat and he wasn't too bad.

Just before we landed I managed to take a photo of our resort - the building left on top of the hill is a reception, high square building on the right with grey roof is a restaurant, a bit to the left is our bungalow and above the Pinnacle sign is a pool. Left from the sign is a restaurant where we ate couple of times, they are building a new terrace that's why there are pillars, and to the left is hotel's beach.