Thailand Divers Fish and Marine Creatures Guide From Phuket Thailand..
What this will be is a quick guide to some of the amazing fish we see when diving in the waters off Phuket Thailand. Different fish will be featured everyday and as the Similan islands season is about to start too these fish will be for sure seen in these waters too. The scuba diving around Thailand Phuket is some of the best you will find anywhere. From the shallow bays of the Racha Islands that are perfect for people who want to discover scuba diving Phuket is ideal. Then again the sloping reefs are ideal location for people who want to learn to scuba dive Phuket has dive sites for all levels of diver.
Then as many experienced divers will know that just to the north west of Phuket lies the Similan islands and these are normally done on a liveaboard trip for 2-4 days. This is by far the best diving Phuket has and the nicest way to get the most out of the diving as it gets you (on the 3 or 4 day trip) to have a day diving Richelieu rock which is situated just north on the Similans and is part of the Surin islands national park. Phuket liveaboards to the Similan island and other destinations are available from all good Phuket dive center.
One of the most common and most varied fish you will see when scuba diving Thailand will be the butterfly fish. This just like the land based butterfly there are hundreds of different colors and types under the sea too. The tropical waters you find when diving Phuket and places in that part of the world are an absolute dream for photographers both above and below the water. There is more colour beneath the waves than in any tropical jungle. Diving in Thailand is really something you need to see to be able to believe it. As most people know Thailand and the whole S.E Asia is a very vibrant coulorful place but that only is a reflection of the wildlife and the variety of colour beneath the waves too.
The butterflyfish are a group of conspicuous tropical marine fish of the family Chaetodontidae; the bannerfish and coralfish are also included in this group.
The butterflyfish are a group of conspicuous tropical marine fish of the family Chaetodontidae; the bannerfish and coralfish are also included in this group. Found mostly on the reefs of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, there are approximately 120 species in 10 genera. A number of species pairs occur in Indian and Pacific ocean, members of the huge genus Chaetodon, and their taxonomy has often been confused by whether these should be considered species or subspecies. Recent work using DNA sequence data has resolved many of these questions. Also, numerous subgenera have been proposed for splitting out of Chaetodon, and it is becoming clear how the genus ought to be subdivided if that is desired. Butterflyfish look like smaller versions of angelfish (Pomacanthidae) but unlike these lack preopercle spines at the gill covers. Some members of the genus Heniochus resemble the Moorish Idol (Zanclus cornutus) of the monotypic Zanclidae. Among the paraphyletic “Perciformes”, the former are probably not too distantly related to butterflyfish, whereas the Zanclidae seem far less close.
Description and ecology
Butterflyfish are fairly small, mostly from 12 to 22 cm (7-9 in) in length. The largest species, the lined butterflyfish and the saddle butterflyfish, C. ephippium, grow to 30 cm. The common name references the brightly coloured and strikingly patterned bodies of many, bearing shades of black, white, blue, red, orange and yellow. Some species are dull in colour however. Many have eyespots on their flanks and dark bands across their eyes, not unlike the patterns seen on butterfly wings. A great location to find a large variety are national parks like the Similan islands or Surin islands. Their deep, laterally compressed bodies are easily noticed through the profusion of reef life, leading most to believe the conspicuous coloration of butterflyfish is intended for interspecies communication. Butterflyfish have uninterrupted dorsal fins with tail fins that may be rounded or truncated, but are never forked.
Generally diurnal and frequenting shallow waters of less than 18 m (though some species descend to 180 m), butterflyfish stick to particular home ranges. Here diving in Phuket so many of the dive sites are 15 meters and above anyway it means that the huge variety of butterfly fish found here are with in easy reach of anyone doing a dive course Phuket will amaze you. The corallivores are especially territorial, forming mated pairs and staking claim to their own head of coral. Contrastingly, the zooplankton feeders will form large conspecific groups. By night butterflyfish hide amongst the crevices of the reef and exhibit markedly different coloration than they do by day. Here in the waters around Phuket these fish are around in huge numbers. This coupled with the great 40 meter plus vizability of the Similan islands is what makes the Similan islands diving such a draw for so many each year.
Their coloration also makes butterflyfish popular aquarium fish. However, most species feed on coral polyps and sea anemones. This poses a problem in most reef tanks where a delicate balance is to be maintained. By far the best place to see them is a place like the Similan island national park just off the north west coast of Phuket. Species kept in the hobby are therefore the few generalists and specialist zooplankton feeders. Any dive shop Phuket has quite a few but a good one will have all the books and fish ID slates to be able to help you identify them or at least the more common ones. Then if that fails then we still have the internet too.
Butterflyfish are pelagic spawners; that is, they release many buoyant eggs into the water which then become part of the plankton, floating with the currents until hatching. The fry go through what is known as a tholichthys stage, wherein the body of the postlarval fish is covered in large bony plates extending from the head. They lose their bony plates as they mature. uch a curious armoured stage is seen in only one other family of fish, the scats (Scatophagidae). The condition in the Similan Islands and the water all around Thailand make this such a perfect place for fish like the butterfly fish to live which is what makes Similan islands diving as popular as it is.
Taxonomy, systematics and evolution
The family name derives from the Ancient Greek words chaite (“hair”) and odontos (“tooth”). This is an allusion to the rows of brush-like teeth found in their small, protrusile mouths.
The Chaetodontidae can be divided into two lineages that might arguably be considered subfamilies. But this is not usually done, and the subfamily name Chaetodontinae has fallen out of use as it was a leftover from the times when the Pomacanthidae and Chaetodontidae were united under the latter name as a single family. Hence, Chaetodontinae is today considered a junior synonym of Chaetodontidae. In any case, one lineage of Chaetodontidae (in the modern sense) contains the “typical” butterflyfishes around Chaetodon, while the other unites the bannerfish and coralfish genera. As the “Perciformes” are highly paraphyletic, the precise relationships of the Chaetodontidae as a whole are badly resolved.
The fossil record of this group is marginal. This is mainly due to the fact that they are restricted to coral reefs where animal carcasses are liable to be dispersed by scavengers, overgrown by corals, and even if they fossilize it is likely that sooner or later erosion will destroy them. However, there is Pygaeus, a very basal fossil from the mid-late Eocene of Europe, dating approximately from the Bartonian 40-37 million years ago (mya). Thus, the Chaetodontidae emerged probably in the early-mid Eocene. A crude molecular clock in combination with the evidence given by Pygaeus allows to place the initial split between the two main lineages to the mid-late Eocene, and together with the few other fossils it allows to deduce that most living genera were probably distinct by the end of the Paleogene 23 mya.
For those thinking of a truly world class destination for a dive trip this year should take a look at a Similan liveaboard. The similans, surin islands and above all richelieu rock is considered to be one of the top ten dive sites of the world. For any certified diver looking for a liveaboard Similan islands will take your breath away. But be warned there are many boats that go on these cruises each week but the numbers are limited and being one of the greatest liveaboard destinations on earth dies mean the places fill up very fast. People do book up for next year as they depart this years trip. Phuket Thailand is a massive draw to all scuba divers or those wanting to get certified as there are very few places are as good.