|Marine Mammals in Thailand|
Phuket’s marine biological research centre has published a poster of cetaceans (whales, dolphins & porpoises) it believes are present in Thai waters. This lists 22 species, the largest being the fin whale, growing to 27 metres and the smallest the finless porpoise, just 1.9 metres.
Many of these species are rare in these waters, and their inclusion in the list might have been based on just one or two positive sightings over many years. The average visitor taking to the sea here has a good chance of spotting the most common of the marine mammals here, the bottle-nose dolphin.
On a one-week dolphin and whale watching cruise in March 2002 in Burmese waters adjacent to Thailand this photographer saw three different species of cetacean: bottle nose dolphins in abundance, Indo-pacific humpback dolphins and a single Byrd’s Whale. On another occasion I have photographed a single killer whale, or Orca, on a return trip from the Similan islands.
Bottle-nose dolphins are quite common in the waters between Phuket and the Phi Phi Islands, the most likely spot for visitors to see them. Divers heading for the Similan islands will more than likely cross paths with dolphins, which sometimes delight passengers when they surf in a boat’s bow wave.
In addition to the whale-dolphin family the Andaman coast is home to a small remnant population of dugongs, a marine mammal closely related to the American manatee. There gentle creatures, sometimes called sea cows because they graze the sea grasses in shallow water, grow to 500 kilogrammes.