By PDJIMCO my-paydayjim.co.uk
Shark Point Phuket is one of the most popular diving sites in Thailand. It is visited by dive centres from Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and other Thai diving locations. It is located between Phuket and Phi Phi, and one of its three main pinnacles just breaks the surface, but does not look interesting from one's dive boat. However, below the waves PADI divers are guaranteed a wonderful diving experience in tropical water, exploring rocks and corals covered in healthy and colourful marine life.
This wonderful Thailand diving location is situated 25m from the east side of Phuket and a little further from the world-famous diving islands of Koh Phi Phi. It has officially been a national marine park for twenty years, in order to control activities there and protect the marine environment. Diving at Shark Point Phuket is something that should be experienced by all those who visit Thailand for diving and can even be explored several times by each diver due to its size and amount of inhabitants which call it home or use it for shelter, feeding or cleaning. The locals refer to Shark Point as Hin Musang and it was named Shark Point in the late 1970s by the first European divers who visited the site via longtail boat and saw many Leopard Sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum / varium) and Bamboo Sharks (Hemiscylliidae) resting on the sandy seabed or hiding under rocks.
However, these two harmless and docile cartilaginous fish species should not be the only reason to visit this great Thai diving location. There are many other fishes there as well as a huge and healthy variety of corals, anemones, other invertebrates and marine reptiles, such as the commonly-seen Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrine) and also the occasionally spotted sea turtles. Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) are easily seen at many other Thai diving sites, but here at Shark Point they are not as common. PADI divers at Shark Point Phuket can expect to see the aforementioned creatures as well as a huge variety of reef fish and the corals, sea fans and anemones on which they go about their daily lives. One of the most special of the bony fish to look out for at Shark Point Phuket is the tiny yellow seahorse. Divers should pay special attention to their Divemaster during the pre-dive briefing in order to understand all the different sign-language symbols. It is very easy to treat the dive briefing like the safety demonstration on a plane. Thinking 'yeah yeah, let's get on with it' doesn't help when you are 20 metres underwater and trying to understand what your Divemaster is showing you. A big fish, shark or turtle is easy enough, but seahorses are incredibly small and well-disguised, so knowing your Divemaster's signal for one will be very helpful indeed.
Other difficult-to-spot fish at Shark Point are Scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae) and accidentally touching one would definitely ruin one's dive and possibly their whole vacation. Various species of puffer and box fish such as the Porcupine Pufferfish (Diodon holocanthus) are completely harmless and easy to spot swimming around the reef. In addition Lionfish (Pterois) which are quite poisonous but also beautiful and easy to see are relatively common here, too. Glassfish, Fusiliers (Caesionidae), and Trevally (Carangidae) can all be seen in schools in and around the reef. Potato Groupers (Epinephelus tukula), large, shy and cumbersome fish, are also commonly reported here. Of the creatures which look fierce but just hang around waiting for night-time, Moray Eels (Gymnothorax) are probably the most recognized and remembered. These eels are nocturnal predators but lacking swim bladders they rely on darkness to catch their prey. During the day they hide most of their bodies in cracks and crevices but look scary just because they open and close their mouths in order to force water (containing oxygen) through their gills. All species of Moray Eels are harmless if left alone. Swimming close to them and photographing them is perfectly ok, but touching is a big no-no.
The topography of Shark Point diving site consists of three main pinnacles. The northernmost breaches the surface and underneath divers can see a relatively steep northern rock and then the area flattens out a little towards the south end, where it again becomes nearer to the surface (approx. 10m). Water conditions are fantastic for the health and diversity of the marine life. Deep and remote surrounding seas provide nutrients and keep visibility at 20m+ for most of the diving season. However, the currents can be challenging from time to time. Those 'current junkies' who prefer such conditions should be satisfied, but most others can relax in the knowledge that there is plenty of shelter from such currents and any respectable dive center and Divemaster will plan all dives around the conditions to maximize the safety, enjoyment and time underwater of the divers in their care.
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