Scuba Diving Kata Beach Phuket: Sharkey's Nursery

Sharkey's Nursery

Oui Iain and Max all smiles

"Hey Guys, why don't we have a Sharkey Scuba fun dive on Kata Beach today?" Iain, the Boss said. "Wah Hoo! OK!" squealed Oui (the REAL Boss) and Max alike!

A FUN DIVE off the north end of Kata Beach is always good. We affectionately call it "Sharkey's Nursery". You'll never be disappointed on this gently sloping reef with it's abundance of marine life, including plenty of juvenile and macro, sending even the most macho of men cupping their hands to their face saying "isn't it so cute"! It's a perfect dive for anyone of any level with something for everyone, or if you don't have time for a full day trip out but still want some great diving. During high season (November to April) you can expect flat seas, white sand, glorious sunshine, blue skies, and idyllic surroundings. Today was no exception although the water was a rather cold 26 degrees Celsius!

The New Boss

Abbie on beach cover

Back to today's dive and the Sharkey team (including Iain, Oui, and myself) were ready to go. In addition, the latest member of the team made her first appearance this year. Abbie, along with Auntie Oor, were given "beach cover" duties. We were told later that Abbie had confused her duties by "covering herself with the beach!" That, of course, was in between eating ice cream, making cool sand castles, going on the swing and sleeping in a hammock. Bless.

Let's Go Diving!

Kit Up, Buddy Checks, Camera, Action! Strolling down the hot white sands we wore the grin of champions past the admiring sunbathers. We've had one of the busiest and most enjoyable Christmas and New Year periods ever, both in and out of the water. We loved having many family members visiting, new friends and re-visiting friends, all diving with us. A great time was had by all. Now was our chance to be completely selfish!

What a Laugh!

Risbecia Pulchella Nudibranch

Entering the water we were all by now laughing and joking. Iain pretended he couldn't swim and had water in his eyes. I actually thought he looked like a beached whale, especially after all those minced pies he had eaten over Christmas! After a short surface swim of silliness to the buoy it was regulators in and down we went. We had agreed to hug the edge of the reef on the way out and come back over the sand to find whatever we could. Still continuously laughing and joking underwater we all initially had to keep clearing our masks but it was not long before the marine life came to greet us.

Iain spotted a couple of nudibranchs on the sand. One (a Risbecia Pulchella) had us all fixated by baring it's "teeth" as it's skirt waved up and down in a rhythmic hypnotic dance across the sand. What a start! Oui and I "hi-fived" each other while Iain shrugged as if to say "it's only a slug!"

Talk to the Animals

Striped Eel Catfish

Passing well camouflaged scorpion fish and Iain's particular favourites, lionfish, by the dozen, we next came across an adult cuttlefish. It was very curious and majestically came in for a closer look at us. I think it was trying to identify what type of shark Iain had printed on his wetsuit. Well of course everyone knows "Sharkey" right? Overhead a huge school of Forsters barracuda and yellow snapper came in to see what the fuss was all about. "Oh! It's the Sharkey Team. Welcome back again", they said. Or was that just me enjoying myself too much and thinking I can talk to fishes again?!?!

Not long after saying "Thank you and goodbye" to the cuttlefish Oui was tugging on my fin excitedly as she pointed out two juvenile bent stick pipefish together in the sand. I think they were love sick teenagers personally. They were very intertwined and at one moment their tails touched with the heads coming together in a heart shape. I kid you not. Iain had moved on after a large shadow caught his eye. It turned out to be hundreds of adult eel catfish squirming over each other on the sand. Amazing stuff! "I LOVE Kata Beach" There I have said it now and am proud of it.

Amazing Array of Aquatic Animals

An hour into the dive and to a maximum depth of eight meters we decided to turn around especially as the refreshingly cool water had Oui signalling she need to pee! Heading back over the sand we passed a blue-spotted stingray, juvenile striped eel catfish, razor shrimpfish, clown shrimp, squat shrimp, spearing mantis shrimp, and various juvenile reef fish on small coral bommies, to name but a few. The best things were a robust ghost pipefish with another bent stick pipefish, and the smallest baby pufferfish I have ever seen.

One hour and forty five minutes later we arrived back on the beach, smiles and hugs all around at yet another awesome dive on "Sharkey's Nursery". Over lunch we chatted excitedly about what we had seen and that we could not wait until our next dive there.

Bentstick pipefish Tiny Pufferfish Rhobust ghost pipefish

Your Turn

If you are interested in a dive or two with us off Kata Beach then please contact us and we will be more than happy to show you the wonders that await you underwater. Please note that diving at Sharkey's Nursery is only possible between November and April due to weather conditions.

N.B. All pictures were taken by Oui on the day of that dive - 16th January 2009.

About The Author

Maximilian Hand works as a divemaster and instructor for Sharkey Scuba in Phuket. He loves diving all year round and would love to share his dive adventures with you. Max's favourite local dive site is Koh Doc Mai, probably the best place around Phuket and Phi Phi for the "small" stuff. If you are interested in utilising Max's expertise, or any other meber of the Sharkey team, to go in search of these critters or for any other dives then the good news is they are all available for hire!




Thailand liveaboard

PADI student


Whale shark

Manta ray