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Scuba Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand
Dive Site: Chumphon Pinnacle
Location: Koh Tao, Gulf of Thailand
Description: Underwater pinnacle
Depth: 30 metres (98 feet)
Visibility: 20 - 25 metres (65 - 80 feet)
I was lucky enough to do my first deep dive at this site and was not disappointed. As we descended through thousands of fish to about 18 metres we were surrounded by curious batfish. On the side of the pinnacle the rare site of a lionfish was pointed out by our dive leader. As we neared 30 metres we could see a single cobia which we initially mistook for a shark. A few minutes later several grey reef sharks came into view. After looking at us curiously they went into the thermocline.
As we slowly ascended following the pinnacle we saw white-eyed moray eel, trevally, a solitary scorpionfish and thousands of blue damsel fish. As we neared the end of the dive coming over the top of the pinnacle at about 12 metres sea anemones are in abundance with the ever present pink anemonefish.
I have dived this site many times in my short diving career and I have always been thrilled at the vast numbers of fish.
James Howard, PADI Advanced Open Water
If you go to Koh Samui or Koh Tao to dive, this is a site not to be missed. It is about 75 minutes in a speed boat from Koh Samui and 15 from Koh Tao. From Koh Samui I would recommend The Dive Academy or Captain Caveman's dive school. Both have excellent staff, are well run schools with customer care and safety being a priority. Both have new dive boats that leave early for the dive site.
Suitable for divers of all levels with the top of the reef about 14m below the surface and the bottom at approx 31m. There is very little current with visibility usually about 18m and on a good day 25m. The reef is a granite rock formation and is covered in hard and soft corals. There are loads of anemones and loads of pink anemone fish. You will see a variety of fish including shoals of batfish, some large barracuda (the big fish are usually on their own and have large yellow eyes) they are quite inquisitive and will come up to you and take a look but will then gracefully swim away. There are some large shoals of small barracuda, large groupers, parrotfish, white eyed moray eels, triggerfish, angelfish, the list is endless there are a lot more that I don't know the names of.
On most dives you will see grey reef sharks. Most of the dive guides have a little trick to draw these up off the bottom. Some tap their cylinder, others take an empty plastic water bottle and keep making a noise by crunching it up. The sharks that are about 2m in length come up from the bottom to investigate; the most I have seen at any one time was five. You do get the odd sighting of whale sharks at this site but I have not seen one myself yet. For the underwater photographer there is a never ending amount of subjects to take pictures of. As you make your way up the shot line take your time and look at the fry that gets in the weed on the line.
This is a site that you can dive over and over again and always enjoy yourself and see something new. It is one of the best sites in this area. Thousands of fish, big and small, loads of corals, water temperature around 28° centigrade most of the year - what more can you ask for.
One last point that is worth a mention October and November are not good months to dive the Gulf Of Thailand. The weather is changeable and the visibility reduced, but is still better than most U.K. dives.
Brinley Meredith, PADI Advanced Open Water
Chumpon Pinnacle may be considered to be Koh Tao's premier dive site. Underneath the southern most buoy line lies a large hole and fairly short swim-through exiting at approximately 24m, the perfect depth for this site. Head SSW and after 50m encounter the southern most pinnacle 'Barracuda Rock' where, surprise surprise, you will find a few large groupers and schools of various 'cudas.. chevron, pick handle, yellow tails. Lots of Spanish mackerels and the greys are here. Some get quite large, maybe 3m, although many suspect that these are in fact bull sharks. We also see infrequent visits by whale sharks and brides whales.
Claude Kelly, PADI OWSI
The visibility can be variable from one side of the pinnacle to the other. A shark (pictured) came up at me and attacked a large grouper just behind me (nervous moments!).
Advise this dive for advanced and above due to the depth. The water temp is usually 28 to 30 + degrees and can be full of plankton in March when I usually visit Koh Tao. Rinsing ears is essential and it's a good idea to get some mild antibiotic ear drops, available in town which are diver designed. Warning: take plenty of sun protection as it has reached up to 50°C when I have visited!
Mick Hatswell, MSD
In fact, all the sharks at Chumphon identified as grey reef sharks are in fact bull sharks, find out more at in an article at www.bigpinkshark.com .
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