Richelieu Rock is one of the most magnificent and popular diving sites of Thailand. Richelieu Rock is probably the best diving site for you to see the Whale Shark. It is located at 18 kilometers away on the East of Koh Surin Island and a part of Mu Koh Surin National Park. The best way to visit Richelieu Rock is by using the liveaboard, as though they are mooring buoys available but they are not enough buoys to serve every ship (sometimes, there are more than 10 ships visiting the island.) Therefore, you may only use cash to pay the national park’s admission fee, whereas the national park’s staffs may come to collect the fee at your boat, or the liveaboard may take care of it for you. Most liveaboards will schedule two diving trips for the Richelieu Rock, or more than that, as per customers’ demand.
It will be quite difficult for photographers to decide which lens they should use to take the underwater picture of the Richelieu Rock. But of course, the wide angle lens will always be the best option for taking pictures of whale sharks and many other beautiful – interesting living creatures of this site.
During the low tide, some rocks will appear over the water’s surface. And if you dive to the maximum depth of 35 meters, you will see the horseshoe-shaped rock. However, the current at some parts is quite strong and there are many small rocks that have been broken from the big rock.
The idea of diving here is to start from the deeper area, dive around the pinnacle and rise to the safety stop spot. The Richelieu Rock is made of lime stones. The underwater visibility of this site is quite dynamic and changing quickly with the tide. Someday you may have a really clear visibility while the other day you may have poorer – green visibility, where you can still see things. These little green spots are planktons, the most favorite – and only – food of the whale sharks.
Although the Richelieu Rock is promoted as one of the best place in the world for seeing the whale sharks, it is not a sure thing for you to see one. You may need some luck to found them here.
However, the whale sharks are harder to find, by comparison to the previous years. Someday you’ll find them and the other days you may not. The time of the year where it is highly likely for you to find the whale sharks are around February to April. You may get lucky and see them easier around that time. If you are luck enough to see the whale sharks, do not approach them, just float around and wait for them to swim back to you. These big and kind whale sharks usually afraid of divers that form a wall of eyes that scares them away. In any case, do not touch the whale sharks. Doing so may damage the algae shell over their skin which causes further diseases.
Even without these whale sharks, the Richelieu Rock is still a very magnificent and good diving spot. There is no other diving spot in this area that has so much abundant marine lives as the Richelieu Rock. There are many large oceanic species that come and go to this spot, including the dogtooth tunas, mackerels, even a large group of chevron barracudas.
The Richelieu Rock is covered with many types of corals, sponges, anemones, and sea fans. It hosts an amazing biological diversity of oceanic lives, such as Moray eels and lionfish, large schools of snapper carpets that look like a large underwater wall, hundreds of glass fish, many master of undersea camouflage, such as shrimps and pipefish. You may frequently found the Harlequin ghost pipefish and the yellow tigertail seahorse as well.
Most of the yellow tigertail seahorse lives on the southwestern area of the horseshoe, in an area well known by the diving guides. Many people expect them to be blind by the countless amount of strobe flashing as many divers visit the area and take their pictures. Other types of seahorses can also be found in the small caves under the rock, as well as clown shrimp, frogfish, leaffish, and mantis shrimp. You may even find the giant octopus here, though they will try their best to hide and camouflage themselves from divers. There are also many cuttlefishes that love to swim in pair over the sandy surface.