HD Video of Scuba Diving in the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (Burma)

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Highlights of a scuba diving expedition I made to the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (Burma) in 2007 with Santana Diving. Before diving, I had a chance to go ashore at the town of Kaw Thaung, formerly known as Victoria Point during British rule, on the Burma/Thailand border. Kaw Thaung's proximity to Ranong in Thailand makes it one of the more affluent Burmese towns, but poverty is still evident. Nevertheless, the Burmese people, and especially the children, continue to smile and were delighted to see their image on my video camera's screen. At the Buddhist temple of Pyi Daw Aye ZayDe on the hilltop overlooking Kaw Thaung, Buddhist monks and young trainee monks smile in the sunset in front of the golden pagoda.

Heading out into the Mergui Archipelago, I encountered a huge diversity of marine life from Burma's top dive sites. At Black Rock a spotted eagle ray forages in the sand for food while red mangrove snapper school in the open water above. A whale shark swims close to the rock itself, initially hidden from my view by a school of chevron barracuda. Morays with attentive cleaner shrimps make their homes amongst the boulders.

At Fan Forest Pinnacle (also known as Western Rocky Pinnacle or Hin Taleh) a pair of Octopus cynaea flee from the camera. A red lionfish hovers over the submerged pinnacle as vast schools of small fusilier sweep in the currents. Here I found a zebra moray and a pair of greyface morays amongst the rocks.

At Shark Cave (also known as Three Stooges, Three Islets or In Through The Out Door), in the heart of the Mergui Archipelago, a large tawny nurse shark sleeps in the cave during the day, accompanied by a live sharksucker. Outside the cave I came across a blotched fantail ray and a lion's mane jellyfish, glowing in the clear but unusually green water. Disguised on the reef, a devil scorpionfish waits in ambush, while a juvenile red emperor snapper seems to enjoy the defensive possibilities of the company of a red lionfish. At night I discovered a Jenkins' whip ray swimming around the island, and a mass of different shrimps, crabs and morays were out hunting.

Although there are not many possibilities for challenging cave diving in the Mergui Archipelago, the cave through the middle of Western Rocky Island always makes an exciting dive. A Chromodoris gemininus nudibranch was one of the macro treats I found on the wall above the cave.

We made a brief trip out to the Burma Banks. Sadly the sharks for which the Burma Banks are famous have all but disappeared, but I was able to get nice footage of marine life on the reef, including anemonefish, a leopard blenny, and a red spotted coral crab at Silvertip Bank.

The video closes with a beautiful Spanish dancer shot on a night dive at North Twin, followed by a trademark Myanmar sunset, shot during a visit to North Twin island itself.

This video was shot in 1080-50i HDV with my Sony HVR-Z1P camera and is delivered here in 720p HD.

View the names of all the dive sites and names of all the tropical fish and other marine life by turning on closed captions with the CC button. Here is the full shot list of locations and species names:

0:05 - Kaw Thaung (Victoria Point), Myanmar (Burma)
0:15 - Buddhist pagodas opposite Kaw Thaung
0:19 - Buddha images at Kaw Thaung temple
0:22 - Buddhist monks at Piw Daw Aye pagoda, Kaw Thaung
0:46 - Kaw Thaung
0:50 - High Rock, Mergui Archipelago
1:12 - Mottled Fusiliers, Dipterygonotus balteatus, at Fan Forest Pinnacle
1:18 - Clark's anemonefish, Amphiprion clarkii, at Silvertip Bank
1:28 - Day octopus, Octopus cyanea, at Fan Forest Pinnacle
1:38 - Sawtooth barracuda, Sphyraena putnamae, at Black Rock
2:07 - Red lionfish, Pterois volitans, at Fan Forest Pinnacle
2:14 - Fan Forest Pinnacle (Mergui Archipelago)
2:20 - Spotted eagle ray, Aetobatus narinari, at Black Rock
2:30 - Mangrove red snapper, Lutjanus argentimaculatus, at Black Rock
2:40 - Whale shark, Rhincodon typus, at Black Rock
3:06 - Live sharksuckers, Echeneis naucrates, "hitchhiking" on whale shark
3:16 - Western Rocky Island, Mergui Archipelago
3:28 - Shark Cave, Mergui Archipelago
3:35 - Tawny nurse shark, Nebrius ferrugineus, at Shark Cave
3:44 - Canyon at Shark Cave
3:50 - Shark Cave
3:54 - Rhizostome jellyfish, Crambione mastigophora, at Shark Cave
4:40 - Devil scorpionfish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus, at Shark Cave
4:12 - Juvenile emperor red snapper, Lutjanus sebae, and red lionfish, Pterois volitans, at Shark Cave
4:18 - Blotched fantail ray, Taeniura meyeni, at Shark Cave
4:40 - Jenkins whipray, Himantura jenkinsii, at Shark Cave
4:50 - Crocodile fish, Cymbacephalus beauforti, at High Rock
4:55 - Leopard blenny, Exallias brevis, in cauliflower coral, Pocillopora sp., at Silvertip Bank (Burma banks)
4:59 - Red-spotted coral crab, Trapezia rufopunctata (or T.tigrina), at Silvertip Bank (Burma banks)
5:05 - Durban hinge-beak shrimps, Rhynchocinetes durbanensis, at High Rock
5:11 - Anemone hermit crab, Dardanus pedunculatus, at Shark Cave
5:20 - Greyface morays, Gymnothorax thyrsoideus, at Fan Forest Pinnacle
5:24 - Fimbriated moray, Gymnothorax fimbriatus, & greyface moray, Gymnothorax thyrsoideus
5:30 - Giant moray, Gymnothorax javanicus, &skunk cleaner shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis
5:37 - Honeycomb moray, Gymnothorax favagineus, at Black Rock
5:41 - Zebra moray eel, Gymnomuraena zebra, at Fan Forest Pinnacle
5:45 - Goniobranchus geminus (nudibranch) at Western Rocky Island
5:51 - Spanish dancer, Hexabranchus sanguineus, (nudibranch) at North Twin
6:13 - Sunset at North Twin, Mergui Archipelago

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Nick Hope