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Dive Review of Siam Adventure Divers in
Burma/Mergui Archipelago

March, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Randall S Preissig, TX, US
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 6003
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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 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
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  
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  
 
 

Overall Rating

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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