Lessons from the Koh Tao PADI Diving Course: Part 2 – Hazardous Marine Life in the Gulf of Thailand

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Lessons from the Koh Tao PADI Diving Course: Part 2 – Hazardous Marine Life in the Gulf of Thailand

99% of the time these concerns aren’t based on fact, but more on hearsay, so it’s our job to put the facts straight and alleviate their anxiety. But that’s not to say that there aren’t some marine species that you need to look out for!

So putting the records straight, here’s a review of the hazardous, (and not-so hazardous) marine life you’ll come into proximity with scuba diving Koh Tao, Thailand.


Following many generations of Hollywood movies, sharks have developed a pretty fearsome reputation, leaving new divers either intrigued or petrified!

The reality is that scuba diving in Koh Tao, you’ve got to be lucky to see a shark, but when you do it’s a fantastic experience. Bull Sharks at Koh Tao’s Chumphon Pinnacles grow to an impressive size, but when you do spot one, they swim away quickly. There are no known occurrences of them attacking divers in Koh Tao (preferring to eat small fish!).

In the extremely unlikely event that you did encounter a shark which was behaving aggressively, you should remain still and calm, and slowly move away.


Koh Tao’s Titan Trigger-fish on the other hand are a different deal, and are well know to the local diving instructors and PADI Divemasters.  The trigger-fish are extremely territorial, and build nests out on the sand, near many of the Koh Tao dive sites. Whilst most of the time, the trigger-fish can be seen peacefully feeding on corals, at other times of year it’s best to keep away from their nesting area as this will only provoke an unwelcome reaction!


Fortunately Koh Tao diving doesn’t normally involve coming into contact with jellyfish. The most common time to see jellyfish is when you’re sitting at safety stop depth above one of Koh Tao’s deep pinnacle dive sites, with jellyfish drifting past in the current. The best action is to face into the current and keep a look-out – if you do spy a jellyfish drifting towards you, move out of it’s path. If you’re unfortunate enough to receive a sting, once back on the boat treat the sting with vinegar and remove any remaining tentacles using forceps.

Scorpion Fish

Scorpion-fish are masters of camouflage, merging in amongst the corals on most of the Koh Tao dive sites. Normally pretty small, the scorpion-fish is lined with a series of spines as a (self defense mechanism).  Generally, scorpion-fish sit very still, so if you control your buoyancy and try not to touch the corals (which you shouldn’t anyway), you won’t have a problem. If you were unlucky enough collide with a scorpion-fish and get your skin punctured by one of those spines, most likely you’d suffer local pain and swelling, which can be relieved by bathing in hot water to denature the venom.


Magnificent anemones look spectacular and are abundant on the Koh Tao diving sites. But be careful not to brush against them – contact with bare skin can leave an irritating rash.

Rocks and Corals!

By far the most common cause of injury from diving is due to bad buoyancy control, or putting your hands where you shouldn’t. Most of the corals (and many rocks) are very sharp so grabbing them can result in cuts. It’s important to get these properly cleaned, as there are many bacteria living in the tropical water, which can lead to an unpleasant infection if left untreated.

So that takes care of our commonly encountered hazardous (or not so hazardous) marine life. Check back again soon for part three of our series of lessons from the Koh Tao PADI Open Water course where we’ll look at the buddy system and how to communicate underwater, or for more info, check out the Simple Life Divers website [].

By Simple Life Diving Koh Tao
Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, ST Thailand, 84360
tel/fax: +66 77 456 329

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