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  1. #1
    Loathes Snorkels String's Avatar
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    Post Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar (Burma)

    Not a detailed trip report as im way too tired, more of a few general observations.

    Ive just done 6 days on a liveaboard to the Mergui archipelago in Myanmar.
    Generally this is a fairly remote and mainly uninhabited island chain in the andaman directly north of Thailand (Richelieu, Surins) and obviously is a LOT quieter.
    There are some "established" dive locations there but not many, most of it is just jump-in-and-see type diving.
    First thing that struck me were the currents, swirling and occasionally strong (neaps helped). The other thing was the amazing colour and abundance of soft corals - every rock on the westward side is covered in vastly different colour soft corals.
    As the whole area in limestone some sites have swim-throughs, tunnels and even caves (western rocky for example has a tunnel right through it). There seem to be a large number of smaller fish life (fusiliers and the usual suspects), some bigger trevally and barracuda but we didnt see any of the real big stuff.
    On the macro side of things, tons of nudibranchs (which i generally ignore), loads of seahorses, ghost pipefish, mantis shrimp and so on.
    You're unlikely to see any other boats at all except fishing boats (more on that shortly) and the chances of seeing any other dive groups underwater are pretty much zero unlike the Thailand dive sites just to the south.

    On the more negative things, the visibility was relatively low. Apparently way lower than normal the first 3 days (5m of dark, green, UK style feel) but did get better the last 2 days to a blueish 15m or so. The water was also 2c colder than thailand (27c) so we froze our arses off.
    As its not a marine park of any sort we did see fishing net and line on quite a few of the sites, no evidence of dynamite but something to be aware of and might explain the lack of big stuff. That said maybe we just weren't lucky or right place/right time for anything big or vis. Hard to tell until i go back.

    The main downside is my camera flooded in the rinse tank on Christmas morning when the dome detached from the housing. The terrible ikelite "design" of no screw, no lock, no bayonet fitting finally undid me like ive seen it do to so many before. Im guessing the water was slightly salty as the camera and the lens are both totally and utterly dead (70D and 10-17) but sh*t happens. Riding my luck with an ikelite housing in particular anyway so now im looking at upgrading.

    Top side the scenery is stunning, towering limestone cliffs covered in jungle, some tropical beaches with nobody there and so on.

    A few photos:-

    North Rock (Frog Rock) by Richard Whitcombe, on Flickr

    Christmas. Deserted tropical beach on Hlaing Gu Island (Myanmar) by Richard Whitcombe, on Flickr

    Octopus mating - with an audience by Richard Whitcombe, on Flickr

    Western Rocky cave by Richard Whitcombe, on Flickr

    Ridiculously colourful soft corals,"Frog Rock" (North Rock, Myanmar) by Richard Whitcombe, on Flickr

    Well hidden Scorpionfish by Richard Whitcombe, on Flickr

    Big seahorse (Western Rocky) by Richard Whitcombe, on Flickr

    Colour everywhere by Richard Whitcombe, on Flickr
    Last edited by String; 27-12-2017 at 06:32 AM. Reason: Because ive forgotten how to type. and spell.

  2. #2
    Not short, just concentrated awesome ;) smileydiver's Avatar
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    Very interesting reading, thank you!
    The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever - Jacques Cousteau

  3. #3
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    were the chinese not allowed in some yrs ago and fished the majority of big stuff?

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    Quote Originally Posted by String View Post
    The main downside is my camera flooded in the rinse tank on Christmas morning when the dome detached from the housing. The terrible ikelite "design" of no screw, no lock, no bayonet fitting finally undid me like ive seen it do to so many before. Im guessing the water was slightly salty as the camera and the lens are both totally and utterly dead (70D and 10-17) but sh*t happens. Riding my luck with an ikelite housing in particular anyway so now im looking at upgrading.
    Been there, done that. I don't think we ever regretted upgrading to a Sea & Sea housing (although it is a heavy old bugger when travelling). We did manage to get the lens cleaned and reconditioned (Tokina 12-24mm) but it stopped working again about a year later. Not even sure anyone does stuff like that anymore, world is just too throw-a-way now.

    At least you got some good shots to keep as memories

    Sharon

  5. #5
    Loathes Snorkels String's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greatwhite View Post
    were the chinese not allowed in some yrs ago and fished the majority of big stuff?
    That's what the official government line is. Since stopped..... Allegedly.

    I'm there again next month and going further offshore so guess I'll have more of a feel for any big stuff there.

    Sent from my BTV-DL09 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Prior Member Tim Digger's Avatar
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    Interesting reading. Thanks Did you access this from Thailand? I presume that there is nowhere developed that way in Myanmar? Still using Ikelite myself but would not use without a vacuum system now. Difficult to use Ike strobes with other housings though possible manual only I think>
    PS Nice pics.
    Evolution is great at solving problems. It's the methods that concern me.
    Tim Digger

  7. #7
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    Sorry to hear about your housing, I've had that happen to me and know the pain.

    I've been diving the Mergui Archipelago on and off for the last 10 years and will be returning in March this year. The water colour always seems to pickup in February/March and the larger life begins to appear. Black Rock is a manta aggregation site and can get quite busy, up to 50 Mantas have been sighted there on when visited by MMF researchers in previous years. It also seems to attract whale sharks.

    Black Rock is generally as far north as liveaboards go in the Mergui but there are some hidden gems if you go further north, such as West Cannister, that are truly exceptional dive sites that are completely untouched.

    This March we're heading out to the Burma Banks, I haven't dived them before so will be interested to see if they're recovering or if they're still fished out.

  8. #8
    Loathes Snorkels String's Avatar
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    Just did a black rock trip and instead of the 1 scheduled day there we ended up doing 3 due to the Mantas. We've got at least 50 individual spot patterns during that time so a LOT of them around.

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    this thread brings back some very good memories; I also did the trip a few years ago and though initially I was a bit disappointing as I wasn't lucky to see any of the big stuff (I went off season) I had a wonderful time and I would definitely go back.
    The topography was very interesting indeed, caves, caverns, etc. while it was, as you said, an exploratory trip which made for some interesting dives. Looking back at my pics I see some very solid macro photos and colourful corals; I recall I also dived in one bay which was almost like diving in Lempeh, lots of nudis, seahorses, etc.
    Probably the biggest selling point is that it is unlikely you will see any other boat around you which is something that I really value.

    here are a few pics from the trip with my old G11 (!);
    Quiz: what can you spot in the last picture?














    more here: https://goo.gl/JgBdx4

  10. #10
    Not short, just concentrated awesome ;) smileydiver's Avatar
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    I can see the scorpion fish in the last pic, am I supposed to be looking for something else too?!
    The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever - Jacques Cousteau


 
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