Hi and welcome back to another scuba diving blog for Sairee Cottage Diving, Koh Tao. This time I would like to discuss an issue not new to dive professionals. This issue is regarding the oceans Whip Coral. We all know not to touch coral for our safety and theirs. Corals take decades to grow so even if we break of the tiniest piece it slows down the overall growth of a reef. We help avoiding this by maintaining proper buoyancy and by keeping a safe distance from coral formations.
All of this seems to be forgotten when it comes to Whip Coral. Far too often I see dive guides or instructors staying well clear of the usual hard corals, yet swimming too close to these long bendy corals. They may not break as easily as others, but they can get tangled in dive gear causing them to bend, stretch and even snap or ripped out at the base completely. Even if divers only brush past Whip Coral this can cause damage to certain species of marine life that live on these corals. In Koh Tao you can see Zanzibar Shrimp, Saw Blade Shrimp, Xeno crabs and Whip Gobys to name a few.
The way to locate these animals, is to check the whip coral closely. They tend to try and hide when divers get near them, by moving around to the far side. To get them to walk back around, you can put your hand to the far side (without touching it) and they will shimmy around so you can see them. We must remember that whip coral are also delicate and play host to marine life that thrives in this unique environment. They need to be treated with the same care as other coral.
With these skills you will be able to identify different coral types and be able to locate macro marine life like those mentioned in this blog.