Holtuis' anemone shrimp (Ancylomenes holthuis) (Text and Images by Alex Tyrell)

Known by many as “student central”, this famous destination has some incredible muck diving on offer for divers willing to put their prejudices on hold

“MUCK” AND “CRITTERS” are two words not normally associated with the popular dive destination of Koh Tao, located in the Gulf of Thailand. Renowned for diver training, there being more dive certifications issued here than anywhere else in Asia, the hope of most visiting divers, plus the majority of working dive professionals, is to see a turtle or a sea snake whilst on a dive. Those with greater ambitions have the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark, at the top of their wish list of marine life encounters.

However, away from the tried and tested dive sites, out in the sand, there is another world to discover that is home to many different creatures not encountered on the reefs. You need to know where to go though, as not all sand is the same. You need to find the nutrient rich “muck” that supports a variety of benthic marine life: sea pens, various species of algae, solitary corals, heart urchins and stinging hydroid colonies. Areas that can be prone to current are rich in fields of soft coral in the genus Dendronephthya. This is a completely different environment to the established dive sites around the island, which are formed from granite boulders or pinnacles, covered in hard coral growth.

Read the rest of this article in 2017 Issue 3 Volume 147 of Asian Diver magazine by subscribing here or check out all of our publications here.

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