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Dive Review of Siam Adventure Divers in
Burma/Mergui Archipelago

 
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Siam Adventure Divers, Mar, 2011,

by Randall S Preissig, TX, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 30 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 6003.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Cayman, Cozumel, Bonaire, Virgin Islands, Red Sea, Sipidan, PNG, Truk, Ponape, Palau, Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia, Cocos, Galapagos, Thailand, other
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 15 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions 100 feet maximum, one hour maximum, three minute safety stop
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There was a rinse bucket. No table, no segregated area for cameras.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 2 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Rarely do I feel let down after a live aboard trip. This time I did. I feel strange writing a negative review, but I strongly believe that Undercurrent serves its readers best by warning them of shortfalls as well as telling them of undiscovered "new" divesites. This review will be limited to the 4 days and 13 dives in Burma.
There were two big problems with this 6 day trip(two days were in the Thai Similans and were typical of Similan diving--please see my other reports re the Mermaid 2. Those 6 dives at Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai and Koh Bon were much better and included a giant manta sighting). First problem was the diving in Burma(Myanmar). Gross, and I mean gross overfishing is wiping out the fish population. This includes "finning" of sharks, which has essentially eliminated sharks from Thai and Burma waters! I did not see one shark in 49 dives in Burma and Thailand(see my other current reports)! Fishermen can make a month's profits by selling one shark for its fins--guess where all the sharks went? Dive masters report seeing fewer than 10 sharks in an entire season! Far worse is the dynamite and "chemical bomb" use that has and continues to decimate the reefs as well as the fish population. Even more unfortunately, some of the bombs contain weed killer! Even the regular fishermen are complaining that they can no longer catch fish. We routinely had fishing boats at all our dive sites. On one of our 13 dives in Burma waters a bomb went off so close to us that I was looking toward the surface for the rest of the dive to make sure one wasn't floating down on us! Divemasters report routinely hearing such explosions every trip. Some of the dive sites had gross evidence of explosions with most of the coral stripped off the walls above 60 feet and piles of rubble below. We found the remains of a bomb at one of our dives. And we were taken to the best dive sites!! Our friendly guides were often photographing deep seafans--wonder why? We did see two eagle rays, cuttlefish, some baitfish schools with rainbow runners feeding, an octopus, a sea horse, pipefish, and a school of small snappers, but the overall impression was one of a once beautiful place that has been largely destroyed. BURMA IS CERTAINLY NOT THE VIRGIN AREA IT IS ADVERTISED TO BE!! And reportedly whale sharks and Mantas are now rarely sighted-victims of finning, overfishing and dynamiting. Thailand diving is better, although it shows damage as well. Diving Burma is simply not worth the extra expense and trouble. I would hesitate to state this so bluntly, but my opinion was seconded by divemasters who have dived the area for years and have noticed the shockingly rapid degradation of the Burma reefs. Aparrently there is no coast guard, etc. in Burma to enforce the few laws nor the will to do so.
The second big problem was the condition/quality of the Jazz itself. Supposedly it will hold 18 divers, but we were quite crowded with 13 of us. They advertise 4 dive masters and a tour leader, but we only had two dive masters. Ric and Clive did their best, but their attitude clearly had been worn down. For instance, they no longer lead night dives. This resulted in 3 night dives being either missed or severely compromised--clearly an unacceptable miss rate. The Jazz has one air conditioner in the main lounge area. Each room is fed air OUT OF THIS LOUNGE AREA by a tiny fan in the wall of each room!! As if this weren't bad enough, the AC couldn't be set low because it "might break" and the people who had deserted their rooms to sleep in the lounge didn't want it cooler. The smell of bug spray and mold was almost overwhelming in some rooms. The food was good and no one got sick on the trip, but I used to inspect kitchens for the health department and I can tell you that the tiny hot hole that the food came out of was down right scary, and we were warned not to go in there!
We were told that the future of the Jazz is uncertain. Also, apparently 3 out of the 4 liveaboards servicing Burma may not be doing so next season. Frankly, neither change will be a loss to diving.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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