Scuba Cat Diving is a pioneer of Environmentally Friendly Scuba Diving in Phuket.
For many years we have actively looked for new ways to help our coral reefs and beaches around the Phuket area.
The founder of Scuba Cat Diving, Mike Stark created Marla’s Mystery – the first artificial reef in Phuket.
Marla’s Mystery is named after Mike’s daughter…. Marla.
"Mike, Prisana, Eric, Marla and Glen"
Back in 1989 Mike, a PADI Instructor made his first of many dive at Racha Yai Island located south of Phuket, Thailand. For many years he continued to enjoy the incredible beauty of the underwater environment.
By now many divers were coming to Racha and it had become the busiest dive location close to Phuket due to its amazing underwater beauty. This was having an impact on the tranquillity of what had been and he realized he needed to find a way to help the reefs sustain these multiple visitors.
He had an idea, “Wouldn’t it be great to to create a new dive site located a short distance away from the existing reef to help relieve diver congestion and create new habitats for marine life”
Mike found the hull of a confiscated smuggling boat which had been lying abandoned in a Phuket shipyard for years. She was big boat, over 30 metre in length, everything had been stripped from her. Mike could see her as a safe and environmentally friendly artificial reef.
After many hours preparing her for her final voyage and 15 years of shipyard fees paid… she was ready.
November 11th 2000 was the chosen night.
Mike was not happy with only sinking her he wanted to take her final journey with her.
“Chris, Jessie and were are standing on the stern of “Marla’s Mystery” clad in dive gear. It seemed only proper that we escorted her to her new home. The filling of the boat was a slow silent, process and we had plenty of time for speculation of what about to happen. The bow appeared to be sinking first; hence we were at the stern. Torches were switched off; the full moon would supply all the illumination we needed.
As the sea poured in the bow of the boat she rose up in the air in classic style, rapidly the stern was rapidly submerged, and us, for the ride to the bottom. There was no turning back ! We were being sucked down with the boat; the vortices produced had me going fins over head just like being in a washing machine. On the first revolution I sensed our support vessel was beening sucked over the sinking boat- sure hoped they didn’t panic, start the engine and turn the propeller guys! Then going down again- making sure to clear my ears. Had been having some ear problems of late; I thought it might hurt. Going up again, no pain, looks like my clearing had been successful. Going down, as helpless as any other piece of plankton adrift in the ocean. How deep were we going? I reassured myself that we are exactly at the chosen location and the bottom would be where we expected. My next thought – was there any chance that I would somehow get sucked under the boat and then crushed like a bug? I hadn’t thought of that before! A quick reassurance, the boat was dropping much too fast; I would never get caught underneath.
"Marla's 10 years later"
Suddenly there was a loud thud…. the boat crashed into the bottom and my washing machine cycle is over. I turned on my torch and found myself in the middle of a dust storm as the fine sand was thrown up by the impact slowly settles. I saw two other torch beams close by and we duscovered ourselves on the deck of the boat. Tentative OK signals were exchanged and when the reality of the situation sunk in High 5’s and squeals of delight filled the new reef. A glance at our computers showed the 30 meter ride to the bottom had taken slightly less than a minute.”
Scuba Cat Diving continue to Dive at Marla’s Mystery when ever possible, the change in her over the years has been incredible. Life is now abundant on her and more and more things appear around her. If you dive it today you will see bath tubs all around her, this is due to the “Bath tub” race Scuba Cat held on her 1st Sinking anniversary and Artificial Cubes sunk to enhance the reef.