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Dive Review of White Manta in
Thailand/Andaman Sea

White Manta, Dec, 2007,

by Ian Kennedy, CAlifornia, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 3770.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Australia, NZ, Hawaii, Fiji, California, Florida, Cozumel, USVI, Puerto Rico
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, dry Seas choppy
Water Temp 84 to 0 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 40 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Diving with DM in a group
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large rinse tank on deck. Power adapters provided for re charging on board.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments I spent three days, and two nights, on board the White Manta, out of Phuket, Thailand, at the end of November and beginning of December, originally for a trip to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. The cabin was clean and comfortable, although the bunk became a little hard during a night bouncing around in the fairly large seas. I had arranged my trip through Sunrise Divers in Karon Beach, Phuket. Jamie at Sunrise Divers turned out to be a very helpful and accommodating person.

The entire crew were unfailingly generous, friendly, and welcoming. The food on the boat was outstanding, generally Thai. We were given more than enough to eat often fresh seafood like crabs, squid, and mussels.

We did not depart from the port until about mid-day. We went out to Shark Island and did two dives. The group on board the boat, about 16 divers, was split into three groups. The less-experienced divers went with Chris, who was from England. Another group went with Jimmy from Singapore, and my group of five more experienced divers went off with John from Indonesia. We did two dives that day, both of them down to around about 80 feet. Unfortunately, John tended to be rather keen on covering a lot of ground at a fairly good pace, so I did not have much of a chance to do a lot of photography. I spent most of the dive keeping an eye on John and the rest of the group. A fellow photographer, from Brazil, found the same problem. Unfortunately, Shark Island was depleted of sharks and there was not a lot else to see. The seas were fairly rough, and visibility was poor at about 30 feet. Fortunately, the water was warm at around 84 Fahrenheit.

We had to return to port to pick up some new divers who had arrived. As it turned out, this was a stroke of luck for one of our fellow divers a woman from Holland, in her mid 40s , who had traveled to Thailand with her father two days prior to embarking on the trip. Apparently, she had also had four hours of dental surgery the day before. As we sat in port waiting for our new divers to join us, she complained of a very bad headache and also pain in her hips. Her dive buddy reported that the dives, to 80 ft, were normal with good slow ascents and safety stops. Several of us, who were sitting with her, believed that she probably had decompression sickness despite the dive profile, and we thought that she should go immediately onto oxygen. However, the DM in charge suggested that they would keep an eye on her condition and see how she was in the morning. This struck us, and her, as rather unsatisfactory treatment. About an hour after the symptoms began, she exhibited a skin rash on both the legs. After that, there was no more debate about the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, the crew was unable to immediately locate an O2 tank. This seemed extremely unsatisfactory. They eventually located an oxygen cylinder of some sort, certainly not the green tank that is supplied by DAN. She was administered pure oxygen and the symptoms began to clear up almost immediately. She was eventually taken off to hospital. I learned later that she underwent two treatments in the Phuket chamber, and her condition was completely resolved. The physician advised her to avoid diving for six to eight weeks, and to make sure she was satisfactorily hydrated in the future. The story had a happy ending, but the handling of the situation on the boat was less than satisfactory.

That night we set sail for Hin Daeng. During the night we encountered very heavy seas, and periodically I almost levitated off the bunk. The boat would plow into the waves and shoot up to meet the next onslaught. Quite a night! During the night, a television came off its mounting in the lounge area, and fell onto the head of John, our DM, who was sleeping in the lounge. Fortunately, he was not injured. The seas were so rough that we had to put into Phi Phi harbor for shelter. Given the conditions of the seas, we could not make it to Hin Daeng. We spent the second day diving around Phi Phi at Ko Doc Mai. Yet again, the visibility was not great, the pace set by John was not conducive to photography, and there was not a great deal to see, other than the usual moray eels, some nice soft corals, sea fans and lots of urchins (watch where you put your limbs). We returned to Phi Phi Island that evening for shelter and did a night dive. We saw some large lobsters and a few other critters but nothing spectacular. The next day, our final day, we spent at the Palong Wall, and Koh Bide Nai. We finally got to see a leopard shark, the only shark sighting (or large animal for that matter) on our three-day outing. The islands themselves were quite spectacular, set in the ocean, rising up almost vertically from the sea. Below the surface, visibility was again not great, and other than the shark there was not a great deal of life. The last dive turned out to be the best of the whole trip. There was a decent amount of fish life, colorful corals, anemones, and other interesting things. It goes to show the benefit of shallow diving - more life, more light, and longer bottom times.

While I was in Karon Beach (one hour and $20 from the Phuket airport), I stayed at the Karon Beach Hotel which is right next door to Sunrise Divers. My room was clean, and comfortable. I ate dinner and breakfasts at the hotel restaurant where the food was very good, and the service very friendly, as usual.

Photos are at
gallery.mac.com/kennedyim
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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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