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Video: Similans + Burma dive safari

  • cybervlad

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    Similans, Koh Bon, Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai, Burma. April 10-19, 2010
    Duration: 10:00



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_3gg09rUMk x



    #1 Posted: 24/1/2011 - 23:50

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  • SBE

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    Great vid cybervlad! Where does Richelieu stop and Koh Tachai start? Is it worth going to Burma to dive?

    #2 Posted: 11/7/2011 - 23:29

  • swag

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    yes great vid richelieu would have to be right up there as my fave dive stop. I think it was named after papal emissary or something as the papal purple colours are in all their various hues stunning.

    @sbe yes i,ve heard diving the burma banks is well worth leaving from ranong,not done this but on that ever growing list

    #3 Posted: 12/7/2011 - 06:20

  • cybervlad

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    Hello,

    Thanx for comments!
    Unfortunately, I can't tell on which dive site each part of footage has been taken, because I edited this video non-chronologically.
    But I have photo-report, where each dive represented as follow:
    1. Briefing board's picture with divesite's name and plan (schema)
    2. Screenshot from dive computer with profile of this dive
    3. Several pictures taken while this dive

    Here are links:
    Dives # 1-10
    Dives # 11-20
    Dives # 21-30

    And some pics between the dives :)

    We didn't dive at Burma Banks, only nearest Burmeese islands. Dive sites are intresting (see photo-report above), but Richelieu Rock is best-of-the-best

    #4 Posted: 12/7/2011 - 10:50

  • SBE

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    There was a similar dive trip going from Ko Phayam about the same time you went cybervlad (4 days/3 nights) but it cost 13,500B. Quite expensive and my budget is a bit limited as I intensely dislike having to do that thing they call *work* too often! ;-)

    I was asking because I think I've heard rumors of dynamite fishing in the Burma Banks? Not sure at all though so wanted to check because it would be quite an expensive little jaunt to go there and look at a load of dead rubble! But maybe that's where you saw the ghost pipefish, frogfish and nudibranchs?

    You didn't see mantas around Ko Bon? That's the only place I've seen any while snorkeling! Wonderful sight. (Now I just need to see a whale shark).

    You guys should check out the Bandas. Every time I went snorkeling I saw huge giant Napolean, they're almost as common as parrot fish there.
    I chickened out of diving there because I'm a beginner and the security is still abysmal (dive facilities just starting there) I went on a day trip mostly for divers and one guy's mask broke when he jumped in. No spare masks, no spare straps either...dive master totally unconcerned and said we go down now so the guy had to dive with a mask tied on with a bit of string I found in the boat. Not for me! But maybe you guys could cope. Snorkeling is amazing there anyway. I've seen huge pods of dolphins both times I've been....hundreds. Sharks, turtles, giant groupers you name it. Coral was pretty intact too even though most of Thailand got bleached (But looking at the currents and the way Fukushima is going, the coral triangle might get wiped out in a few years... so go soon).

    #5 Posted: 12/7/2011 - 16:25

  • cybervlad

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    SBE, I heard nothing about dynamite fishing in Burma, but heard a lot about it in Vietnam, ever heard explosions underwater.

    Yes, you are right, most of the nudibranches and leopard shark I meet in Burma, but ghost piperfishes and amazing tiger cowries we found at Richelieu Rock.

    Manta Rays was at Koh Bon, but I only saw light shadows slided in the deep while we were at safety stop. So, I can't say that I actually saw it :)

    It's very sad that some dive professionals neglect safety issues - I mean your story about guy who dived with broken mask. It's why I always have spare stripes for my mask/fins, I don't want to miss intresting dive in the similar situation.

    #6 Posted: 13/7/2011 - 18:56

  • SBE

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    Ah good, sounds like it's well worth the dosh to check out the Burma Banks (and Richlieu of course) then!

    You sound pretty experienced cybervlad... if you don't need nannying (like I do) on dives then I'd really recommend places like the Bandas if you haven't been there already. Nothing I've seen in Thailand compares with it but the dives are pretty expensive, $80 a pop last Februray/March. Very remote and very few dive companies (as yet) but still a lot cheaper than places like Raja Ampat. Used to be no diving facilities at all apart from one overpriced hotel in Bandaneira (with crap equipment) which had a monopoly, so most people just snorkeled ....but you see more snorkeling there than on most dives elsewhere anyway. Just jump into the sea with a mask and snorkel right in front of your GH at sunset and there are mandarine fish galore (in amongst the concrete rubble and odd plastic bag... I've never seen a mandarine fish on a nice coral reef there but I think they only come out to play at dawn and sunset so maybe that's why).

    BTW, if you want something different and exceptional, I know a "secret" place where people like dive instructors with several thousand dives under their belts go for exceptional diving... Olele village near Gorontalo, central Sulawesi... most divers head straight to the Togeans where there is a fair amount of dynamite/cyanide fishing damage and completely miss it. (Shhh...I promised not to publicize Olele too much.) ;-) No bomb damage there because it's too deep, continental shelf goes straight down, fantastic canyons to explore and loads of pelagics, plus unique species of giant sponges there that you'll find nowhere else in the world apparently. Sometimes strong currents so you need to be fairly experienced. *sigh*.

    http://www.miguelsdiving.com/advice_for_diving_gorontalo.php

    Sulawesi is also the only place I've snorkelled in the company of a dugong (but no humans) for several hours too...round the back of Siladen near Manado. I saw a weird fish there once (before I had an underwater camera alas) that I've never been able to identify....looked a bit like floating green seaweed. I sensed that it was toxic as I could see what looked like spines, some kind of scorpion fish maybe? But I don't really know....looked a bit similar to a ghost pipe fish too, but with dangling green seaweed decorations.... not a species I've ever managed to find in a book. Any idea what it might have been?

    Plus the muck diving off the Lembeh Straits of course. I must go and check that out before I need a zimmer frame because I love weird and wonderful strange critters that look like they came from another planet.

    #7 Posted: 13/7/2011 - 20:42

  • swag

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    @ sbe thanks for the link to gorontalo that looks like my kind of place, and btw yes you must dive richilieu/koh bon/tachai some day they really are quite stunning. The thing that impressed me so much about the similans was the variety of dive site styles from boulder canyons coral gardens pinnacles with big fish it was a real eye opener.
    cheers
    swag

    #8 Posted: 14/7/2011 - 08:18

  • cybervlad

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    SBE, please note, that "Burma Banks" is a name of a divesite, not all the divesites in Burma. Unfortunately, I didn't dive at Burma Banks, but few other dive sites (Three Islets, Rocky One, Boulder City, Western Rocki, Moulain Rouge etc). So I can't tell anything about Burma Banks except information from descriptions.
    As far as I know, Burma Banks relatively difficult divestie because of profile - there are no shallow parts, so after some time at 20-25 meters you can't continue over shallow part of reef.
    See map:
    http://www.divetheworldburma.com/images/de/karte-mergui-archipelago.gif

    Thanks you very much for link to Gorontao. I heard about this place from Stephen Wong and Takako Uno - famous inderwater photographers, who were at the boat while our trip.
    So, Sulawesi in my plans

    p.s. Mandarine fish, photo taken in Dauin, Negros Oriental, Philippines:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cybervlad/3946975024/in/photostream

    #9 Posted: 14/7/2011 - 10:32

  • SBE

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    You've actually MET Stephen Wong and Takako Uno Cybervlad? Wow. They co authored a book about Gorontalo with William Tan and Rantje Allen. (There's a copy in the Melati Hotel in Gorontalo BTW). Stunning underwater images, simply stunning.

    Thanks for the clarification, sorry I should have said Burma, not Burma Banks. The dive site where you can see ghostpipefish, frogfish and nudibranchs was called Western Rocky and I wasn't sure whether it was in Thailand or Burma!

    There are many divesites around Gorontalo...the canyon near Olele village that I mentioned is accessible from the beach. I was thinking of wandering over there to check it out snorkeling but my friend mentioned strong currents and waves sometimes. It didn't seem a very sensible idea to go snorkeling on my own in the middle of nowhere where strong DOWN currents were possible!

    The best time to go there is the opposite of practically everywhere else in Indo (including the Togeans) ie late November to early April (ish). In fact I think Miguel's is only open during rainy season, because that's when dive conditions around Gorontalo are optimal.

    Swag I've already been to Ko Bon on a dive boat (only as a mere snorkeler alas) but it didn't seem that great to me there except for the mantas? Not much coral and stuff to look at from up where I was! BTW only one of the divers saw mantas on that trip too...the divers all sat on the bottom waiting for the mantas to swim over them and I just paddled round the other side of the island to where the mantas all happened to be hanging out that day. That's when I decided I simply had to invest in an underwater camera or casing! Some of them were just a meter or two beneath me, wonderful sight, even from above. But it's like looking at big circles of baracuda from above when snorkeling... you can't get those classic spectacular views you see in dive magazines.

    Do you use a big fancy underwater camera with strobes and stuff to take those movies Cybervlad or just casing on an ordinary camera?

    #10 Posted: 14/7/2011 - 15:29

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  • SBE

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    Sorry I just edited something and did yet another time warp! Somtam really should fix that bug!

    #11 Posted: 14/7/2011 - 15:30

  • cybervlad

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    SBE, yes, I am lucky, I really met them in this safari You can see Stephen in 2 photos in album "Between dives", linked above.
    It is a great great honour for me to meet Stephen & Takako. Very friendly and intresting people.

    > Do you use a big fancy underwater camera
    > with strobes and stuff to takethose movies
    > Cybervlad or just casing on an ordinary camera?
    No, I use simple P&S camera (Canon PowerShot A650IS) with internal flash and standard UW case (from Canon). And hand torch for better focusing :)

    #12 Posted: 14/7/2011 - 15:45

  • SBE

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    Aha, you use an underwater torch too. Brilliant idea! That would explain how your mandarine fish picture looks so much better than any of mine do! I took dozens of pictures, tried a flash and all sorts of settings but I just couldn't get a decent unblurred shot due to low light levels at dusk. The flash bleached out all the colours.

    Thanks!

    #13 Posted: 14/7/2011 - 16:32

  • cybervlad

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    SBE, I use torch only for searching ob,jects; the torch mounted on the mask:
    http://www.watersportswarehouse.co.uk/shop/scuba-diving-equipment/torches/uk-mini-q40-torch-with-mask-744880.html
    When I found something intresting, I switch it off and use small low-power hand torch just to help my camera to get focus.
    But the picture of mandarine fish taken without torch, because mandarine fishes are very shy. To "catch" them I was waiting patiently, hovering above corals in the dusk, and when I saw moving I have pushed button. Camera then produces "focusing red beam" and takes a picture with flash. Depending on distance between camera and object I adjust the power of the flash (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 or full power).
    It was about still pictures at the dusk :) But when I take video footage at night (like Marble Stingray), of course I use both of my torches - mask mounted and handy.

    #14 Posted: 15/7/2011 - 10:44

  • SBE

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    Hmm my underwater camera doesn't do a red focusing beam or give strength options for the flash (I don't think.. it's at the repair shop but will recheck when I get it back). Hope there's some setting I missed because I don't really want to buy another camera! I've got two others but there's no dedicated casing available for them unfortunately.

    Might buy an underwater torch anyway though so I can go snorkelling at night :-)

    #15 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 17:26

  • swag

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    It's an interesting conversation this, I mean I love to dive but always thought diving + camera would be too hard work. Don't know wether it's the thought of not being able to do justice to what I'm seeing or just general ineptitude lol.
    Anyway spent a week just recently diving off the Gili's in Indonesia which SBE you would know well. The staff there finally convinced me to take a camera out on one of our deep drift dives on Nitrox which meant I had plenty of time once my buoyance was set.
    So away I went snapping at will trying to focus in and out trying to get some landscape shots etc. Dive shop proceeded(sic) to download and burn said CD. When I got home and viewed about 60 odd photos I reckon there was maybe 5 or 6 that I thought did justice to what I was seeing.
    The thing that got me was I was so intent on capturing the moment that I sort of missed the flow of the dive and the upcoming landscapes etc, maybe it's me but while I had harboured ambitions of going further into the realm of underwater photography the whole experience kind of left me cold and I felt hhhmm maybe not for me .

    #16 Posted: 17/7/2011 - 10:30

  • SBE

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    Only been to the Gilis once a few years back Swag, and was not all that impressed with the snorkeling there. Lots of turtles but I didn't see much else of interest. Coral seemed pretty wrecked too though I believe they are now making artificial reefs using metal frames. Is the diving any good there? (What you saw anyway)

    I find diving a bit like your experience with underwater cameras. I'm not very confident yet and I seem to spend most of my time looking at depth guages and whatnot and paying very close attention to the instructor/dive master rather than actually looking at the fish!

    Because of the costs of diving I'll always be doing more snorkeling than diving I think (unless I win the national lottery) and one of the advantages of snorkeling is you have no time constraints so you got plenty of time to both look and take pictures. I find photos very useful for trying to identify fish and critters because I can never remember exactly what they looked like afterwards and the books often have pictures of several similar species. (Did it have 5 spines or 7 kind of stuff.)

    PS You could try fiddling with an editing program on your bad pictures. My previous underwater camera (olympus tough series) had terrible image quality straight out of the box. The only thing it was any good at was taking pictures of other snorkelers underwater...very frustrating! But by adjusting the contrast/exposure etc you could improve the images quite a lot. (Very time consuming however!)

    #17 Posted: 17/7/2011 - 17:36

  • swag

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    I actually didn't think much of the diving on the gilis apart from three dive sites. These were Deep Halik , Deep Turbo and Secret Garden. The first two were 30mt drift dives which would have to be my favourite sort of diving. The last was a fantastic soft coral dive really spectacular.
    I was there for a week doing 2 morning dives each day so pretty much covered what it had to offer. The inner reefs and coral was pretty shot.Bleached and looked a lot like a graveyard. It wasn't until you went further out and deeper that it was really quite good. In the end I just kept going back to the 3 dives I mentioned before.Having Nitrox certification really helps on the deeper longer dives and it's a lot easier on your body.
    I know what you mean about fiddling with gauges and positioning yourself when you start off diving. That's an entirely reasonable thing to happen and is quite normal.It's just experience and then it becomes second nature.
    Also yes they are making great progress on the Gili's with this new form of artifical reef thast uses a very low form of electric current to stimulate growth.All up the Gilis is actually trying pretty hard with the recycling and encouraging people not to use straws etc. I was quite impressed

    #18 Posted: 18/7/2011 - 07:29

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