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 There are some kinds of friendly shark that scuba divers love the most, feed on plankton, always swimming slowly. Preferring warm water because there are plankton 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 to bacteria from human bodies.
COMMON NAME: Whale Shark SCIENTIFIC NAME: Rhincodon Typus DIET: Carnivore, feed on plankton, which includes copepods, krill, and fish eggs SIZE: 5-12 meters.
2. SEA TURTLE This kind of animals is super concentrated in eating that they do not care about their surroundings. They move around so little and slowly to save 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.
COMMON NAME: Sea Turtles SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cheloniidae, Dermochelyidae DIET: Omnivore, eat a variety of plants and animals SIZE: 60 cm. – 2.5 cm.
3. YELLOW BOXFISH
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 shy. Do not be surprised if they look like they’re awkwardly confused when people are around and not knowing which direction to go. They might just keep spinning around instead.
COMMON NAME: Yellow Boxfish SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ostracion Cubicus DIET: Omnivore SIZE: Not more than 45 cm.
4. BARRACUDA 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 can 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 for the Giant Barracuda, it only stays on its own.
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.
5. BANDED SEA SNAKE In the sea, people scared of them the most, venomous with bad visions but a good 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 touch them or make any other harms.
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.
6. NUDIBRANCH 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 poisonous itself. The different colors are poison, appear from the food they had and attracted other animals as well.
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
7. BLUE SPOTTED STINGRAY
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 spikes. They do not like to hide at the bottom of the sea covered with sand like other species of stingrays.
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 47cm., total lengths 70 cm.
8. BATFISH Batfish have broad, flat heads, slim bodies, and babyfaces. The look changes as they grow older. It is the kind of fish that pays attention to the details. Sometimes they just swim through to get the small fish quickly. Just the bubbles that scuba divers make can draw the attention from them. They can stay both in shallow water and deep water.
COMMON NAME: Batfish SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ogcocephalidae DIET: Batfish feed on algae or plankton, depending on the species. SIZE: 35-65 cm.
to be continued PART II ...