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The Smiling Seahorse

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A dive knife ... what for?

​When you start buying your own gear, it's a never ending story ;)

Even if you are supposed to get one as soon as you become an advanced open water diver... it might not be the first thing you'll think of.

The main point to understand is that a dive knife is not a weapon, it is a tool. It should never be used to harm or touch aquatic creatures or deface the underwater environment.
The most important use of it is to free yourself or your buddy  in case you get stuck in a fishnet or with vegetation.

But you can also become a heroe  by freeing a poor entangled animal ... or removing an abandoned fishing net from a dive site.

​There are so many ... how to choose?
​Here are some tips to help you to find the one which will work best for you, depending on your needs and the environment you are diving in.
​What should you pay attention to ...

​​MaterialStainless steel or titanium?
One advantage of the titanium is that it pretty needs no maintenance. The knives do not rust and are corrosion resistant. They are lighter, more flexible and harder to break.
Titanium is the high level choice so it is significantly more expensive.
Stainless steel will need maintenance not to rust. It needs to be cleaned with fresh water, dried and oiled or rubbed with silicone after each dive. 
You'll have to choose between 300 or 400 series. The lower the number, the more resistant the blade is to corrosion. However, a lower number blade will loose its edge faster.Shape
The extremity of the blade can be blunt or pointed.

​For most recreational divers, blunt tip should be fine. And better not to puncture your air hoses or wetsuit!

A blunt tip is great for prying, digging, hacking and chiseling.
A sharp tip is great for puncturing and cutting.
You can also choose a dive knife with both straight and serrated edges, for more adaptability! SizeDespite what people may say ... size does matters!

Remember you are carrying a scuba knife in case you are entangled ... not to make you feel like a superhero!

You should rather go for a medium size (4 inches).
Smaller ones can fit anywhere but make sure you can grip the knife securely.
Bigger ones can be too cumbersome and dangerous.
The medium ones are the more practical, and they can be strapped to a variety of easy-to-reach locations.Attachment
​Your knife can be strapped almost everywhere ...

​On the calf "James Bond" style, on the leg "Lara Croft" style ... or more simply on your BCD pocket or inflator hose . In this case, make sure it is a medium blunt one!

Wear the knife where it is easy to be reached with one hand.Other features ton consider ...

line cutting notch

finger grips

security lock

 fixed or foldable blade

And remember to use your dive knife safely and responsibly!
Want a knife for your next cruise with us? Check out our catalogue.

#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse

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Our latest newsletter: October 2017


What's up in Ranong?!
Fresh News from The Smiling Seahorse

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Fresh news from
The Smiling Seahorse


We have a Last minute offer to share with you:

10% OFF on the 8th to 13th of November cruise! 
Book now mentioning this newsletter or regret it later!
*Offer valid until the 20th of October for new bookings only

Our annual schedule

Reduced : Trip 3
November 8th to 13th 2017


Trip 3's Itinerary here

I guess an even bigger news this year is: We are building a new boat!!!

As all good things it will take time and we plan to launch it in October 2018.
We are so excited!!!
We designed it according to what YOU said would be your ideal liveaboard:
- The boat will be slightly bigger but we'll keep small number of divers onboard, so the atmosphere and service will remain the same
- A steel boat with two powerful engines to go explore even further
-  AirCon in all cabins and doors opened toward the outside to enjoy the ocean breeze and the seaview!
- Private bathrooms with hot shower and toilet
- A bigger room dedicated to Photographers 
- A nice lounge area with couches and bar
- A huge sundeck on top 
- Bigger staff quarters for our "Dream team" :)
This season might be the last chance for you to be back on MV Thai Sea who will be dearly missed...

Season 2016/2017 was a great one. We had a fantastic team onboard MV Thai Sea, some lovely customers and so much fun!

Our best moments this year:
We had 2 absolutely stunning "Manta festivals" were we could spot a maximum of 30 individuals on a single dive!

We had dolphins playing with our boat. Met some gracious leopard sharks mating! We swam next to huge nurse sharks in our secret caves...

The macro life was also plentiful with frogfish, ghost pipe fish, shrimps and our infamous smiling seahorses all over the place!

For those who, like me, love shrimps of all kind...

We had some magical moments, both above and below the water and enjoyed this feeling of being alone at the end of the world!

Will Strassman made a super video of his trip with us, which I'd like to share with you as I certainly loved it!

A week of diving in Mergui Archipelago

It's becoming old news but we remain just as proud: we got the certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor for the 3rd year in a row!!!!! Bring it on 2018!!!

MV Thai Sea Instructors

3 Instructors speaking French, English and Portuguese will join Franck this season on MV Thai Sea:
Sophie was loved by all for her contagious smile and jokes all day long. She will be back onboard  for another season. 

Instructor since 2001, Allan has been diving around Ranong for 3 season already but also worked in other areas of Thailand, Bahamas, Egypt, Madagascar and France. 
Quiet and wise, passionate with sharks, he will share with you his long experience and love for the sea.


Camille (yes a second one) has been diving in France, Spain, Thailand, Indonesia and South Africa. 
Fun, outgoing, spontaneous, Camille will share with you her enthusiasm for small critters and larger pelagic.

Check out our calendar




See you soon!
Franck & Camille
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#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse

The new season is starting soon, can't wait really! La nouvelle saison va bientôt commencer, on est trop impatient!

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Namaste :) Yoga and diving ...

At first sight,  we could think that yoga and diving are two completely different activities with nothing in common.
But if we look further ... while diving, the deeper we go, the more we disconnect from our everyday life, from the  world, from space and time, from problems, from bad energy in general ... isn't it the same with yoga?
From this perspective, we can see that combining their practice has a beneficial impact on both.

Remember your Open Water?
The neverending: "Breathe deeply, slowly, continuously" ...
Reminds you something?
Or one of the hardest underwater skills ... the hover!

​Looks like a yoga position, right?

​An improved physical fitness and a more relaxed state of mind are among the numerous advantages of yoga.
And these are not the only benefits ones:

strenghten the back, the heart and the muscles

limber the joints

expand the capacity of the lungs

improve the breath control

increase your flexibility

The direct effects on diving will be:

lower air consumption

longer dives

better buoyancy

And also:

​antidote against panic

no more anxiety before and during the dives

better concentration and responsiveness

more patience

stimulation of the immune system

more appropriate oxygenation

better digestion

less back pain due to the gear weight

and a lot more ...

​​As you see, breathing and relaxation techniques have a direct positive effect on the air consumption but not only ...

Yoga strengthens our body, our mind, our spirit ... and that makes the underwater experience even more vibrating and surreal!
Its practice improves the scuba diving experience  ... you feel connected with yourself, the ocean, the marine life, the surroundings ...
So remember ...

#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse

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Nautilus: the Facts

Nautilus is a cephalopod and a nearby relative of octopuses and squids. This creature can be found in the tropical waters of Indian and Pacific seas, close to the coral reefs, near depth areas of 300 to 600 meters. Nautilus are  (like most marine species these days) affected by overfishing and by the fact that their beautiful shells are sold as ornaments. 

Some Fascinating Nautilus Facts:

Nautilus measure 20 to 25cm in average. Its shell is white to orange with brown zebra stripes. Internal side of the shell is pearly white. ​​

The Nautilus' shell is made of isolated chambers, Nautilus are born with 4 chambers and build new chambers through time. Grown-up nautilus have more than 30 chambers.  The creature (looking like a little octopus) lives in the newest chamber, which is also the biggest. The other chambers are filled with air and water to control buoyancy. A tube called the siphuncle goes through each chamber and is used to pass liquid and gas from one chamber to the other. The gas is initially diluted in liquid in one chamber and bubbles out when released in a second low pressure chamber. Just like opening a can of soda..

Nautilus moves by jet-propulsion by blowing out water through a siphon. Position of the siphon decides the direction of the nautilus: front, back, upward or descending. Nautilus has 90 tentacles, situated outside the shell to catch and manipulate their prey. Nautilus has a beak which cuts their food (crabs, shrimps and fish), just like other members of the octopus family.
But unlike other members of the family, nautilus has poor visual perception. Eyes can only recognize light from dull, their smell is over developed and used for hunting their preys.Nautilus spends their day at depths and moves toward the shallow water to hunt when the sun goes down. 
Nautiluses mate only once a year. 75% of nautilus caught to be studied are male and only 25% are females. Researchers don't really know why. Nautiluses are living fossils. They have been living on planet earth for the last 500 million years with no adjustments in their appearance. Nautiluses occupied the Earth 265 million years before dinosaurs showed up. 
Nautilus has a long life expectancy. It can survive over 15 years in nature.

Paper Nautilus

The reason I wrote this blog post is because we recently came accros this little fellow!
After some research, we found out that this weird creature is called paper nautilus or argonauts.
We apparently encountered a female Argaunaut as male are 10 times smaller (rarely passing the size of 2cm) and dont have a shell.
Little is known about these creatures but I found these few facts  interesting enough to share!
One of the male's arm serves as a penis and is snapped off his body during sex to inseminate the female. The arms then remains inside the female body.
The female then secretes the papery shell with the tips of two tentacles. She lays her eggs inside the paper shell before using it as a house for herself. 
But the real cool fact about argonauts is their BCD (buoyancy control device).
they are the only creature known to trap air bubble from the surface.
They swim to the surface, suck in some air from small vents on the top of their (non-compartmented) shells, close the holes with a tentacle before turning upside down and pushing themselves below the surface where they reach neutral buoyancy.
​They can then swim effortlessly and weightless!
Have you ever encountered weirder octopus?

#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse

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We do care! We love it!

​​​Coral reefs only add to the incredible natural beauty that exists beneath the water.

They are fascinating ecosystems important to all life on earth !
And guess what … coral are not plants, they’re actually animals !
Have a look on this nice video:

Do you know how coral reefs grow ?
It is as simple as that : free-swimming coral larvae go for a ride … they find a nice spot to settle down, attach themselves to a hard surface ; and there begins the process of forming coral reefs.
Then, a coral polyp secrete a skeleton from the underside of its skin. It divides  itself in half and making exact genetic copies of itself. As more and more polyps are added, a coral colony develops. Eventually the coral colony becomes mature, begins reproducing, and the cycle of life continues !How  fast does it grow ?
​Different species = different rates !
It depends on water temperature, salinity, turbulence, and the availibility of food.

​Massive corals are the slowest, between 5 and 25mm per year.Staghorn corals can add 20 cms to their branches each year.

What’s the best spot for them ?
They grow best in warm waters (21-29°) and need salt water to survive. They prefer clear and shallow water, where lots of sunlight filters through to their symbiotic algae, which gives them all the energy they need to grow their skeleton.How old can they be ?  
The geological record indicates that ancestors of modern coral reef ecosystems were formed at least 240 millions years ago !
Most established coral reefs are between 5 000 and 10 000 years old.What's the largest one?
The world’s largest one is the Breat Barrier reef in Queensland, Australia. Composed of over 2 900 individual reefs and 900 islands, stretching for over 2 300 kms. It can be seen from outer space !

What can you do to protect them ?
As a diver to minimize your impact on them :

Watch your fins

Control your buoyancy

Don’t touch or come into contact

Don’t leave your equipment hang loose

Don’t break coral

Don’t take any piece of coral

Don’t pollute or leave trash in the water  …

#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse

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Guest book December 2016

Our guest book posts from December:
"The food was delicious and plentiful""
"Thanks to the crew for their infinite helpfulness and patience"
" the burma trip was fantastic"
"great diving, great company, great food and overall great experience!
"amazeball trip with memories that will last a lifetime"
"la tete remplie de beaux moments, aussi bien dans l'eau que sur le bateau avec le meilleur staff de tout l'ocean"
"this trip was a wonderful experience for us! "

#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse

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This is the end ...

Amazing trip with amazing people for the last cruise of the season!
We were very happy to welcome on board: Andrea from Switzerland; Claire from England; Larry and Michael from USA; Leah from Canada; Annika from Finland; Bertrand, Arnaud, Thierry, Isabelle, Victor and Christelle from France!
It was a special trip of course ...
The diving conditions were great and plenty of wonderful underwater creatures!
What we will mostly remember of course was the positive, funny, enthousiastic atmosphere on the boat!
It has been a great season, lots of great people met on the way, great diving: mantas, sharks, eagle rays and so so so much more :)
Amazing corals and astonishing scenaries ...
Special thanks to the best team ever!

Nothing would have been possible without you guys!

​And also to the "bosses"! Thanks for your trust and support!

Special welcome again to the new mascot of the Smiling Seahorse, the cuttest and coolest baby on earth!

Enjoy your holidays everybody, take care and see you next year!

#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse

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Eagle ray at Seafan Forest !

It was our last trip 3 of the season and what an adventure!
​With a multinational group on board: Alex  and Matthew from England; Ute from Germany; Alaitz from Spain; Jeff from the USA; Patrizia from Italy; Nicolas, Jean-Marc and Marie-France from Switzerland; Hugo and Xavier from Belgium; and Fabien and Audrey from France.
The weather was hot, the sky was blue and the water was flat ... from the first day at Dragon Island and Tower Rock ...

​To the last day at Horseshoe Island ...

The visibility was amazing as you can see here at Submarine!

The highlights of this trip were a eagle ray at Seafan Forest and nurse sharks at Tower Rock!

​The scenaries were magical ...

Nice schools of fishes ...

Plenty of colourful nudibranches ...

​Spanish dancers ...

Funny crabs ...

​And other ones ...

​Ghost pipefishes ...

​Portraits session ...

A smiling seahorse ...

​Three remoras stucked together ...

And juveniles along the way ...

​Happy divers ...

Besides the diving, let's do some island hopping ...

And meet some locals ...

​Refresh ourselves in the water ...

Beautiful views from above ...

Unforgettable sunsets ...

​And a mysterious moon ...

It has been a very nice cruise with  warm people!

Congratulations to Hugo, only 15 years old, who succeeded his Advanced Open Water and fought his fears from sharks and morays!

And also to Alaitz for her Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certifications!
It was a pleasure to welcome Patrizia and Jeff on board again!

Special dedication to our favourite swiss couple who spend the 3 last cruises with us! We will miss you, your outfits and your humour!

#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse

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Mantas' magic ...

It was our last trip of the season in Thailand ... and it was the most unforgettable one ! A 60 minutes dive surrounded by mantas all around, no words can describe this magical moment! 
Our customers were in heaven of course!

Happy happy faces!
We were very pleased to welcome on board: Bertrand, Ghislaine, Gilles and Marie Annick from France; Jean-Marc and Marie-France from Switzerland; and Team Poland composed of Anna, Monika O.,  Michal, Aleksandra, Hubert and Monika W.
The conditions have been fantastic ... Turquoise, clear and hot waters, no current and fishes everywhere!
A giant aquarium!

For the pleasure of the photographers ...

Huge variety of corals ...

​Pleasure for the eye ...

​A colourful kaleidoscope ...

Let's not forget the shiny angelfishes ...

Portrait session!

Can you resist this smile?!

Turtle, snake, barracudas ...

​Some new encounters ...

And our boss' favourite : the juvenile shaded batfish!

Skeleton shrimps ...

And thousands of these little ones ...

Sparkling glassfish everywhere ...

Schools of trevallies hunting ...

And a school of Polish diving!

​Let's keep the best for the end, never enough!

​And as always!

It was the second time for Ghislaine this season, it was a pleasure to have you again on the boat!
Jean-Marc and Marie-France are joining us for their third cruise in a row!
And congratulations to Bertrand for his Rescue course and welcome again for the Divemaster one!

#diving #review #thesmilingseahorse
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