Muck Diving on Koh Usen

Last week we were lucky enough to encounter 2 manta rays in 3 days! Unfortunately those 2 days were the only 2 that Joel, our divemaster didn’t dive, in a long time – he missed out on the mantas.

To make up for it we decided that afternoon to go for a staff fun dive. The boat was going to our closest dive site, Koh Usen, where some students were finishing their open water course. Joel and I decided we’d do something different so we just took a compass heading, dropped in on the reef,  and set off away from the reef out over the sand. As we got deeper, the visibility dropped to about 5m, so we slowed right down and scaled down our search to lool for smaller creatures.

What we found in the seemingly desterted sandy bottom was incredible! Every anomaly in the sandy bottom was a hiding place for some type of unusual creature. We found several Spearing mantis shrimp, perfectly camoflauged in their holes, with just their crazy eyes, swiveling on small stilts to watch us, giving them away. It seemed almost every anemone or sea pen we passed was host to a small army of cleaner shrimps, which often came scurrying towards us to see if we were in need of a clean. A few beautiful tube anemones were home to the almost entirely transparent commensal shrimp. You can really see right through these delicate looking creatures, just the very bright markings on the tail, make them easy to spot. We also found some brightky coloured crabs, we’ve not yet been able to find in any of our fish ID books!

Just when we were about to turn around we found what we’d been hoping for; an old concrete  mooring block lying on the sand. At first we saw nothing more, just an old concrete block and a tangle of rope, upon looking more carefully however, we realised this was the perfect hiding place for beautiful pair of Ornate ghost pipefish. Not much is known about these very shy creatures, except they can be very hard to find, so we felt priveleged to have stumbled across them  so close to our front door!

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