Written by Pin
Koh Tao Marine Lives
With the coral reefs lying along Koh Tao's beautiful shores, this small island is well-known for its spectacular underwater world. When there are coral reefs, there are other lives. Koh Tao's ecosystem provides opportunities for divers to see various marine lives around the island, and these are some of our favorites:
1. WHALE SHARK
COMMON NAME: Whale Shark
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Rhincodon Typus
DIET: Carnivore, feed on plankton, which includes copepods, krill, and fish eggs
SIZE: 5-12 meters.
There are some kind of friendly sharks that scuba divers love the most, feed on plankton, always swimming slowly. Preferring warm water because there are planktons there. The largest size could be around 11-12 meters. Also, they are curious animals, if you see one around you, there is no need to chase after it. They might swim around to look at you very carefully. Sometimes, even rub their faces with scuba divers. Be careful not to touch them because their skins are very sensitive with bacteria from human bodies.
2. SEA TURTLE
COMMON NAME: Sea Turtles
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cheloniidae, Dermochelyidae
DIET: Omnivore, eat a variety of plants and animals
SIZE: 60 Cm. – 2.5 Cm.
This kind of animal are super concentrated in eating that they do not really care about their surroundings. They move around so little and slowly to save the energy. You can see them mostly where there are soft corals (jelly coral) and seaweed (but jellyfish is the most preferable). They cannot breathe underwater, so they need to come breath on the surface every once in a while. If you see Sea Turtles coming up to the surface, please make sure you are not blocking their ways.
3. YELLOW BOXFISH
COMMON NAME: Yellow Boxfish
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ostracion Cubicus
SIZE: Not more than 45 cm.
Some fish have flat body shape, some have round body shape but this kind of fish they have cuboid body shape with black spots, cute looking but really shy. Do not be surprised if they look like they’re awkwardly confused and not knowing the direction to go. They might just keep spinning around as well.
COMMON NAME: Barracuda
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sphyraenidae
DIET: feed on an array of prey including fish by simply biting them in half. They also seem to consume smaller species of sustenance that are in front of them.
SIZE: Maximum size can be around 2 meters.
Barracudas give you scary and respectful appearance owing to its large size and dark spots over the body, long lengths look like a sword. You can see them commonly in the water, and on the dish as well. Even with a scary looking but they actually easily get scared. So, they like to stick with the groups. If you happen to see them, make sure you bring your wide lens with you because the group can be massive. Except the Giant Barracuda, it only stays on its own.
5. BANDED SEA SNAKE
COMMON NAME: Banded Sea Snake or krait
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Laticauda Colubrina
DIET: Sea birds, sharks, and some bony fishes feed on banded sea krait. They paralyze their prey first and swallow it whole.
SIZE: Female ones are around 128 cm. and the male ones are 75 cm.
In the sea, people scared of them the most, venomous with bad visions but great sense of smell. It would never directly aim and attack you from its sight unless you have eaten something really strong smell like papaya salad. It is not aggressive in general but it could be, if you pull the tail or make any other harms.
COMMON NAME: Nudibranchs (Sea Slugs)
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Nudibranchia, suborders Aeolidida and Doridacea
DIET: Carnivore, prey includes sponges, coral, anemones, hydroids, barnacles, fish eggs, sea slugs, and other nudibranchs.
SIZE: Microscopic to 46 Cm. long
These interesting looking tiny creatures move approximately 0.005 KM/Hrs. They are picky eaters but mostly love to eat sea moss and other rotten things under the sea. Commonly found on seafloors all over the world. They do not have to hide behind anything like others because they are actually poisonous itself. The different colors are poison, appear from the food they had and attracted other animals as well.
7. BLUE SPOTTED STINGRAY
COMMON NAME: Blue Spotted Stingray
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Neotrygon kuhlii
DIET: feed on shrimp, small bony fish, mollusks, crabs and other worms
SIZE: Body part up to 47 cm., total lengths 70 cm.
You can see them mostly during the night time because their favorite food came out at night, crabs and shells. Be careful, do not get too close to them because the tails are dangerous spike. They do not like to hide at the bottom of the sea covered with sand like other species of stingrays.
COMMON NAME: Batfish
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ogcocephalidae
DIET: Batfish feed on algae or plankton, depending on the species.
SIZE: 35-65 cm.
Batfish have broad, flat heads, slim bodies and baby faces. The look changes as it grows older. It is the kind of fish that pays attention to the details. Sometimes it just swim through to get the small fish really quickly. Just the bubbles that scuba divers make can draw the interest from it. It can stay both in shallow water and deep water.
9. CLEANER WRASSE
COMMON NAME: Cleaner Wrasse
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Labroides dimidiatus
DIET: external parasites of the damaged or sick tissues of other fish
SIZE: Its maximum size is 11 cm.
In the underwater world, there are gas stations too. It is not for refilling energy but for cleaning. They are generally territorial around a coral formation called a ‘cleaning station’. The Cleaner Wrasse will be at the same spot waiting for other fish come stop by. They announce their services by swimming up and down in a distinctive movement to attract fish of all sizes to ask for the services of the cleaner wrasse by adopting odd positions
10. JUVENILE FLYING FISH
COMMON NAME: Flying Fish
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Exocoetidae
DIET: Omnivore, feed on zooplankton
SIZE: Its maximum size is 32 cm.
Sometimes we are excited to see Flying fish, but who knows how cute they look like when they are juveniles. It has to be during the night, a little bit under the water on the way to surface. Get the flashlights on the water, you may see these juvenile flying fish dancing on the surface of the water.
11. PUFFER FISH
COMMON NAME: Pufferfish
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tetraodontidae
DIET: Carnivore, mostly invertebrates and algae
SIZE: Up to 90 Cm.
Puffer fish are well known about inflatability. It is actually developed because they are slow and clumsy. They can chill in the middle of ocean floor, on the sand without having to worried about anything. The pufferfish can change colors as well. They contain toxic with the puffing so, do not make them blow up because they can do it only several times in their lives and every time, they are at risk with their own heart rates.
COMMON NAME: Damselfish
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pomacentridae, demoiselle
DIET: Herbivore-based, consume plant and animal foods alike
SIZE: Up to 30 Cm.
There is this kind of fish that do farming by themselves. They are called Damselfish. They are found in shallow water, take care of the seaweeds, their favorite food. They will grab carbon bubbles by mouths and put them in their seaweed farm. They can get angry when people get through their farm, you can notice the color changed from black into yellowish-orange.
13. SEA ANGEL
COMMON NAME: Sea Angel
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Gymnosomata
DIET: Only sea butterflies
SIZE: 2-5 Cm.
Whenever there are seasonal Jellyfish and a lot of plankton, maybe it is not too bad in the sea when you can see these little Sea Angels. They are tiny, around 2-5 Cm. They are Micro Photographer’s favorite. These creatures with their translucent, gelatinous skin, luminous glow and mysterious looking almost make them seem unreal, but these sea angels are living in the depths of our ocean.
14. MOREY EEL
COMMON NAME: Morey Eel
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Muraenidae
DIET: carnivorous predators and feed primarily on smaller fish, octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and crustaceans
SIZE: 15 -450 Cm.
These creatures are probably the alien that human can imagine. They have 2 sets of jaws; the second ones are hiding inside the main mouth farther back in the head with another set of sharpening teeth. Their eyes are small but they have developed a good sense of smell as well. The Moray Eelsare fish, not reptiles.
15. COBIA FISH
They are usually found on the table, but around Koh Tao, they might be too big for the table. They can be around 1-2 meters long. Their swimming gestures look exactly like sharks. People are easily getting scared of them. There are a couple of points to be noticed around their head and mouth areas to separate them with sharks down there.
COMMON NAME: Cobia Fish
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Rachycentron canadum
DIET: carnivores, feeding on crustaceans, cephalopods, and small fishes, their favorite is crab.
SIZE: Up to 200 Cm.