24 August, 2008

It is true! Diving at Chumphon Pinnacle is a lot of Bull….Sharks!!

A few months back I read a little insert in a regional diving magazine announcing the discovery that what were believed to be large Grey Reef Sharks at the Chumphon Pinnacle dive site, located in the waters between Chumphon on the mainland and the island of Koh Tao in southern east Thailand, were, in fact, Bull Sharks.

I must admit I totally forgot about that reading until boarding the dive boat bound for the Chumphon Pinnacle this past Tuesday. On a fine August morning the Chumphon Pinnacle can be a very busy dive site with half a dozen boats neatly lined up at the only two mooring lines but on a windy afternoon with choppy sea you can end up having the site all to yourself with a few privileged companions. I got to experience both.

The top of the pinnacle lies at about 15 meters deep and with a sandy bottom at just over 30 meters the site provides for easy navigation. However, visibility can get rather poor.

On our first dive, past the frenzied traffic of divers ascending and descending the mooring line to and from the top of the pinnacle and on the way to the sand field at the bottom I caught (unfortunately not on camera) one of the most fascinating sea life scene for me so far. A large Barracuda swam by me and turned to hover just above my head before darting forth and, with a loud SNAP!! sound, cut in half a passing fish of which it quickly ate the first half. Within a split second a second large barracuda dashes for the second half followed at great speed by a shark. SNAP!!! goes the Barracuda and off goes the shark having missed his chance for a tasty morsel. Some action!!! It happened so fast I really cannot tell what kind of shark that was.

A different story at the bottom where the very distinctive, stocky shapes of Bull Sharks roaming the sands restlessly and rather uncaring of the daring few divers getting close enough to get a good look through the silt hovering between 25 and 30 m, confirmed what I had been reading months earlier. Magnificent creatures which seem to be wanting to make a clear statement about their name and status in the shark family. Below is a video of one of the Bull Sharks taken on the first dive at Chumphon Pinnacle.

The second dive at Chumphon Pinnacle was a different experience as, while we were the only one diving on the site last Thursday afternoon, visibility at the bottom was rather poor and the Bulls would just materialize in front, behind or on your side 2 or 3 meters away from you and even then only as a majestic silhouette. The second video below is very poor in definition but serves to provide an idea.

More on Bull Sharks at the Chumphon Pinnacle here.

All videos and pictures below are taken by Marco Gorin whom retains copy rights.

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