Starring blenny, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
There aren’t many places left in the world where you can join a liveaboard cruise and dive in a country that is largely unexplored and untouched, but take a trip with this week’s featured photographer Franck Fogarolo on his boat the MV Smiling Seahorse in the Mergui Archipelago, and that is exactly what you can expect.
Franck co-founded the Smiling Seahorse Dive Company, based out of Ranong, Thailand, with his wife Camille in 2012, and has been leading dive trips in Myanmar ever since. He works as the tour leader and photographer aboard every trip, which has enabled him to cultivate a level of expertise in diving, guiding and underwater photography that is unparalleled in the region.
Before taking the plunge into scuba diving, Franck became obsessed with the ocean and underwater photography while freediving in the Arabian Sea. Although he was able to hone his underwater photography skills with just a mask, fins and snorkel, he quickly got frustrated with the limitations of holding his breath and soon decided to expand his potential and increase his bottom time by becoming a certified diver. He is now a PADI MSDT instructor, and enjoys teaching new dive courses and specialities to his guests on his cruises.
In 2018, Franck and Camille built and launched a brand new liveaboard vessel tailor-made for underwater photographers, and if his extensive portfolio and trip reports are anything to go by, divers who join one of their trips to Burma will not be disappointed.
Probably Southeast Asia’s best-kept secret, the Mergui Archipelago offers a very large array of photo opportunities with vibrant landscapes and varied marine life, from the biggest ocean pelagics to the smallest of macro critters. The images Franck submitted for this feature were all taken somewhere in the region, and include some interesting wide-angle work such as fighting cuttlefish and schooling snapper, as well as some great fish portraits and super-macro subjects.
It is clear that there are plenty of subjects to shoot around the underwater pinnacles and coral reefs in Myanmar, so if you want to get off the beaten track and dive sites few others have enjoyed, consider a trip with the Smiling Seahorse team—and don’t forget your camera!
Black tigertail seahorse, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Basket star shrimp, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Candy crab, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Cornetfish, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Fighting cuttlefish, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Flabellina nudibranch, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Giant frogfish, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Juvenile shaded batfish, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Marble ray belly, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Nurse shark, Burma Banks, Myanmar
Schooling snapper, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Squid, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Skeleton shrimp, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Pinecone fish, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Yawning seamoth, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
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