Today was our last day on the live aboard. We only did two dives, both on the Boonsung wreck. The Boonsung wreck was a tin dredger that sunk over 30 years ago, and tsunamis have broken it into six pieces. Our guide said there’s loads of marine life to see, thousands of fishes, shrimps, sea slugs, etc. We descend the buoy line into nothing. The visibility is about two meters, you could see the person in front of you and the person behind you. It was not the oppressive blue of the days before, this water was frighteningly brown. We were trying to stay close to the wreck but not too close to hit something but not so far away to get lost. Everywhere was brown, sometimes you would think you saw something because there was a darker smudge of brown. Parts of the wreck would jump out at you from the brown. The French couple was practically swimming on top of me. There was one point we swam into a school of fish; the fish were going everywhere and I was getting dizzy because there was no way to orient yourself with the flat visibility. There was one point where the schools of fishes disappeared. When the fish disappear it’s usually because something bigger is close by, except we couldn’t see anything. We were trying to navigate our way back to the buoy line when a huge pufferfish swam past; it was larger than an American football. It was so close I could have touched it. We ended up doing a free ascend without the buoy line because we couldn’t find it. During our safety stop there was a little striped remora hanging out with us. Striped remoras are usually found with bigger animals like sharks or whales. When we got to the surface the boat captain didn’t see us so the current kept pushing is farther and farther away from the boat. We were able to get the attention of one of the crew members. I’m not a claustrophobic person, small spaces don’t really make me that nervous. However, I’ve only ever gotten claustrophobic in the water on days like this where you should be able to see a lot but you can’t. Your mind starts playing tricks on you and it’s not a pleasant experience unless you are prepared for it.
The second dive was at the same place again; I was more mentally prepared to dive through tea again. Sometimes if you dive the same place more than once the visibility will change throughout the day, getting better or worse as the tides change. The visibility was a bit better, about 5 meters instead of 2. At first, I wasn’t too thrilled with it, you still couldn’t make out much. Then our guide pointed out a huge unicorn moray eel, it was about as big as my arm; the way it was in the wreck made it look like a giraffe head and neck sticking out. We were swimming along the sand between the pieces of the wreck, I was looking at the partner gobies along the bottom, and I decided it would be a good idea to look where I was going so I didn’t smack into the wreck. When I looked up the football sized puffer fish was two inches away from my mask. It looked at me like “silly human, you aren’t supposed to be underwater,” then casually swam off. All the schools of small fish that made me dizzy on the first dive were back. They didn’t make me dizzy this time but I had a surreal moment in the water when the school swam around me. There were so many of them it was like I was in a bubble of fish, I couldn’t really see my buddies. Through the school of fish came five or six puffer fish, the little fish swam around them too. The puffer fish and I were in a bubble of small fish. We saw another unicorn moray eel, this one was hiding better than the first one. We had to ascend because I got cold. Even wearing two wetsuits I still got cold. It wasn’t the instant cold of a thermocline, it was a creeping chill that seeps into your bones and you don’t notice until you realize you are shivering. As we were ascending, there were six or seven lion fish swimming around below us, they were all fanned out probably being aggressive towards each other.
At the end of the live aboard, I filled my diving logbook. I have 54 dives, I came to Thailand with 15. My guide gave me a new logbook since I finished mine. The last dive with the pufferfish and the dives with the manta rays had to be my favorite dives. I want to go back with a proper camera during the middle of the high season to try and see more animals. It was an amazing experience and the boat staff was fantastic.