All photographs are the original work of Nishan Perera, and cannot be used without the written consent of the photographer. Unauthorized use of images is a violation of intellectual property rights and may be subject to legal action.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Similan Islands: The jewels of the Andaman Sea

The Similan Islands are a group of nine granite islands in the Andaman Sea, about one hundred kilometers northwest of Phuket, Thailand. The name is derived from the Malay word Sembilan, meaning nine. These islands and surrounding marine waters comprise the Similan Islands Marine National Park, one of the most popular diving destinations in SE Asia. The reefs around the islands are famous for colorful coral gardens and a high diversity of reef fish. It is also a popular destination to see large pelagics such as manta rays and whale sharks that are attracted by nutrient rich upwellings. The western sides of the islands are exposed to seasonal rough seas and have dramatic wave eroded boulders, ledges and drop offs, while the more sheltered eastern sides have gently sloping coral gardens. 

Like many reefs in the Indian Ocean the Similan Islands suffered extensive coral bleaching in 2010 resulting in the death of many hard and soft corals. While it is possible that they will recover with time their long-term future is seriously threatened by global climate change. In order to reduce human impacts the Thai government has close off some areas from tourism in order to allow the reefs to regenerate. Seasonal closures have proven to be highly effective in allowing habitats and animal populations to recover from mass mortality events or chronic stress caused by both anthropogenic causes and natural events. We wonder if Sri Lanka could ever follow such policies, both in our marine and terrestrial protected areas.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Either I have time travelled or else I have not been active in the water but its been more than four months since this blog has had a new post. I would like to think its the former, thus I have no reason to be depressed for not diving much, but unfortunately I have to admit its been the latter. Sitting in Sweden trying to finish off a PhD that seems to be eroding my brain rather than enhance it, my thoughts turn to the tropics. Its east coast dive season in Sri Lanka now. And whether its the shallow coral gardens of Pigeon Island and Batticaloa, or the black coral forests enveloping the majestic HMS Hermes, the tropical Indian Ocean seems a lot more inviting that the cold Baltic Sea outside my window. The ocean is so close, yet so far away.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Time to head east

The Southwest Monsoon has set in on the west coast so its time to head over to the east coast. Looking forward to a season of discovering some new dive sites. With more areas opening up its time to explore the fringing reefs between Trincomalee and Batticaloa.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Far Away in the Andamans

Located nearly 900 km east of India the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are some of the few remaining unexplored islands in the world. Rain forests, mangroves, and pristine beaches above water contrast with rocky pinnacles, coral reefs and thousands of fish. Some islands are inhabited by indigenous tribes that have little to no contact with the outside world. Havelock Island is one of the few islands open to and developed for tourism and is the main gateway for scuba diving in the Andamans. Around Havelock, reefs teem with marine life. From colorful soft corals and clouds of anthias, to multihued reef fish, large groupers and napolean wrasses to schools of barracuda and trevally. Get away from the chaos of mass tourism, get away from the chaos of cities and a million people, get away to the Andaman Islands where life moves at the pace you want it to.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


In February we dive the wreck of 'Medhufaru', a Maldivian ship sunk off Mt. Lavinia in 2009. In less than two years the wreck has become an oasis for marine life. Thousands of fusiliers school around the wreck while colorful reef fish swim around like marine butterflies. In its death, the ship has given life to the ocean. What was once a symbol of industry and engineering is now a piece of living art, providing sustenance to fishermen and enjoyment to divers. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Worm dance

Polyclad flatworms closely resemble nudibranchs in external appearance. The main distinguishing characteristic is the absence of external gills that are found on nudibranchs. This species is known for its free swimming behavior that makes it appear as if it is dancing in the water. It will actively swim in the water column to move from part of the reef to another. The worm dance may be a popular break dance move but flatworms give it a whole new meaning!

Monday, March 7, 2011


Close up of a semicircle angelfish (Pomacanthus semicirculatus). This species is common on coral and rocky reefs in Sri Lanka, being most common on reefs with ledges and caves, as well as shipwrecks. Large angelfish are territorial, and males tend to defend a harem of several females. They are capable of making a loud clicking or thudding noise with their swimbladders and it is not uncommon for divers to hear this if a large angelfish is disturbed. Angelfish posses a cheek spine, as is visible in this photograph. This is the main distinguishing characteristic between angelfish and the closely related butterflyfish that do not posses such a spine.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Back to Cargo Wreck

We never get enough of the Cargo Wreck. Just 20 minutes boat ride away its got to be one of the best wreck dives in Sri Lanka. Whether you are a tech diver looking for a wreck to penetrate or just a casual diver looking for a fish filled dive the Cargo Wreck ticks all the boxes. With everything from resident pipefish and marble rays to visiting eagle rays and tuna there is something to see no matter what the sea conditions or visibility is like. After hundreds of dives here I'm still not tired. In fact, the more you get to know the wreck the more enjoyable it seems to become.