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 sharks that scuba divers love the most. They feed on plankton, always swimming slowly, preferring warm water because there is plankton there. The largest size could be around 11-12 meters. Also, they are curious animals. If you see a whale shark 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 animal is super concentrated on eating that they do not care about its 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 to breathe on the surface every once in a while. If you see Sea Turtles coming to the surface, please ensure you are not blocking their way.
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 shapes, and some have round body shapes, but this kind of fish has a cuboid body shape with black spots, cute looking but shy. It is okay if they look awkwardly confused when people are around and not knowing which direction to go. Yellow boxfishes might keep spinning around instead.
COMMON NAME: Yellow Boxfish
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ostracion Cubicus
SIZE: Not more than 45 cm.
Barracudas give you a scary and respectful appearance owing to their large size, dark spots over the body, and long lengths that look like a sword. You can see Barracudas commonly in the water and the dish. Even with a scary-looking but they can quickly get scared. So, they like to stick with the groups. Bring your wide lens with you if you see them because the group can be massive, except for the Giant Barracuda, which only stays on its own.
COMMON NAME: Barracuda
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sphyraenidae
DIET: feed on an array of prey, including fish, by biting them in half. They also 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 fear them the most. Banded Sea Snakes are 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 smelly like papaya salad. It is not aggressive in general, but it could be if you touch them or cause any other harm.
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.
These interesting-looking tiny creatures move approximately 0.005 KM/Hrs. Nudibranchs (or Sea Slugs) are picky eaters but mostly love to eat sea moss and other rotten things under the sea. They do not have to hide behind anything like others because they are poisonous. The different colors are poison, appear from their food, and attract other animals. Commonly found on seafloors all over the world.
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. BLUESPOTTED RIBBONTAIL RAY
You can see Bluespotted ribbontail ray mostly at night because their favorite food, like crabs and shells, comes out at night. 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 stingrays.
COMMON NAME: Bluespotted ribbontail ray
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.
Batfish have broad, flat heads, slim bodies, and baby faces. The look changes as they grow older. It is the kind of fish that pays attention to details. Sometimes they swim through to get the small fish quickly. Just the bubbles that scuba divers make can draw their attention from them. Batfishes 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.
Continue reading about marine life in Part II of this article.