Weird Creature of the Month – March

Catfish diving khao sok thailand ao nang krabiThe fish get their name for their prominent barbels that resembles a cat’s whiskers. Despite their name, not all types have those prominent barbels. Catfish range in size and behavior from the longest and heaviest, Mekong giant catfish from South-east Asia, to species that eat dead material on the bottom. Even to a tiny parasitic species that lives in the amazon basin, and are known to swim up through the human urethra.

There are some types that are armor plated and some types that are naked. Neither of them have any scales.In some species; the mucus-covered skin is used in cutaneous respiration, where the fish breathes through its skin.

Catfish are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night and sleep during the day. They therefore have highly developed senses. Most catfish are bottom feeders. In general, they are negatively buoyant, which means that they will usually sink rather than float due to a reduced gas bladder and a heavy, bony head.

Catfish have chemoreceptors across their entire bodies, which mean they “taste” anything they touch, and “smell” any chemicals in the water. Their barbels and chemoreceptors are more important in detecting food, since the eyes on catfish are generally small.

Catfish are of considerable commercial importance; many of the larger species are farmed or fished for food. Many of the smaller species are important in the aquarium hobby. However, these fish will bite and can damage objects in the aquarium. Due to both its aggressive and its predatory nature, this species should be kept alone.

Various species of catfish can be found inland or in coastal waters. They can inhabit freshwater or saltwater, many prefer shallow running water and some live underground. Some species inhabit caves.

Native to the Mekong area in Southeast Asia, with recorded sizes of up to 3.2 m and 300 kg, the Mekong giant catfish currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest freshwater fish.

Thai and Laos anglers consider it a “spirit fish,” bringing good luck to those who catch them. The Giant Catfish has long been a great delicacy. Some years ago, Bangkok restaurants had to order the catfish one year in advance, and a small bowl of tom yam pla buak was priced at a minimum of 150 baht.

This catfish is in danger of extinction due to overfishing, as well as the decrease in water quality due to development and upstream damming, the species no longer inhabits the majority of its original habitat. Fishing for the Mekong giant catfish is illegal in the wild in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, but the bans appear to be ineffective, and the fish continue to be caught in all three countries.

Since the 1980’s, the Thai Fisheries Department has run a breeding program, and many are now stocked in reservoirs and private lakes. These fish have been released in some of the largest lakes in Thailand. The flooded valley which is Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok is one of the last places, where you have the chance to see one alive in the wild.

 

Weird creature of the month – February

Mermaids SCUBA diving thailandThe mermaid is a creature that has been fascinating the mankind for thousands of years. And since the earth contains approximately three quarters of water it’s really not that strange people believed that the mermaid existed.

Half men, half fish creatures go all the way back to the Greek mythology and even further than that. The one of the most famous ones from that time was probably Triton – the half man, half fish merman messenger of the sea. He was the son of the sea god Poseidon. You can actually see worship of mermaid goddesses in more modern religions as well, like Hinduism.

Christopher Columbus wrote about them in his log book from when he discovered America. He had seen, what he thought, were three mermaids outside the coast of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately these mermaids were a bit of a disappointment for him as he described them as very manlike in some way. What Christopher Columbus probably saw was three Caribbean manatees (sea cows), as you can imagine he never thought of mermaids the same way again. If you saw a couple of manatees from a distance and were expecting to see mermaids they could perhaps be mistaken for mermaids, with their fin and their cubby little arms?

A mermaid is a creature that is half woman, half fish and the male species are called mermen. Their names come from the word “mer” meaning sea. The mermaid has for some reason been a big interest for humans, while the mermen is often forgotten. There are many descriptions of the mermaid, the most common one is that she is very beautiful, with long hair which she likes to comb. Sometimes she sits on a rock and sings the most beautiful of songs just to lure sailors to their destruction.

Behind each mermaid there is a story, so you can imagine there are plenty of stories. Some say they will bring fortune to humans by granting wishes. Others say they bring cure for deadly illnesses. Some mermaids even marry and live their lives with humans.

MermaidsMermen SCUBA diving thailand

One story like that we all know is Disney’s “The little mermaid”. The little mermaid is based on H.C Andersen’s story with the same name, but there are some big differences between them. In the original book the mermaid went through intolerable pain during the transformation when her fin was ripped apart to become two human legs. And for every step she took it felt like razor blades were cutting in to her feet. On top of that, the prince did not fall in love with her, as he married another lady. So the poor little mermaid ended up as foam on the ocean waves, as the spell said she would do, if she didn’t get her prince.

Like I mention earlier some mermaids brought good fortune and luck, but there were some of them who was accused of doing not so very nice things. The mermaids would swim up to the sailors and tell them there were doomed and caused ships to capsize. If you saw a mermaid it was a sure sign of a violent storm to come. Other mermaids would deliberately drag men down to their underwater kingdom or squeeze the life out of a drowning man.

So, do they exist? Probably not, but there have been some rapports around the world about stranded mermaids. The latest one was after the tsunami 2004, a mermaid had been washed ashore on a beach in India. It got enough attention that an English-language newspaper in Singapore, The Straits Times, eventually exposed the hoax for what it really was. To many people these stories illustrates a hope, that there is something out there that no reason or logic can explain. And with all the water surrounding us in the world, who really can say that there are no mermaids out there? ­­

Kon-Tiki Thailands very own fish T-shirt

Kon-Tiki Thailand Fish T-Shirt

Ever wondered what souvenir’s to bring home to your friends??

Search no further, but get the Kon-Tiki fish T-shirt, it is made in 100% cotton and you can find them in green, black, blue and red. We have them available from kid’s sizes in XS, S, M and L as well as adults in size S, M, L, and XL. They are just 300 THB.

It has our traditional Kon-Tiki logo in the top left side of the chest. But the best thing is the back.

Here you can find some of most popular fishes of the Andaman Sea. Weather you spotted a sea snake when snorkeling on Bamboo Islands on our Snorkeling Safari tour or you saw a sleeping Leopard Shark around the Phi Phi Islands you can find them on the back. Together with many others like the Lion Fish, Moorish Idol and even a hawksbill turtle.

My preferred one? The Clark’s anemonefish, because many times they share the anemone with other marine life like the nice porcelain crab.

As you might know, we are “Inspired By The Sea“, so we hope this t-shirt will inspire your friends and families.

Below you will find our web site address and here you can check out our snorkeling and diving tours for the coming season.

One of our guests bought our T-shirt, and took a picture with the T-shirt on in a characteristic place of her town and sent it to us. We were very happy to see the T-shirt in their home town. Please send your picture to us on our facebook and share this with us.

Kon-Tiki Lanta is releasing a new Android app to support Project AWARE

Andaman Reef Guide diving thailand

“Andaman Reef Guide” is a simple application that holds a database and interesting facts about the species on the reefs of the Andaman Sea.

By purchasing this app for around 100 baht the user will get access to 300 pictures and information about the coral reef. 20% of the profits will go to Project AWARE, a foundation that supports the conservation of the marine environment.

The application is also linked to monthly updates on the Kon-Tiki website that holds more in depths information regarding specific marine species.

The app will soon also be available on AppStore for iPhone.

The application can be purchased here:
http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.kontiki.fishid&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImFpci5jb20ua29udGlraS5maXNoaWQiXQ

Read more about Project Aware:
http://www.projectaware.org/