You’d never know this unless you’re a local living in Krabi, as it’s not advertised anywhere but my friend showed me this and I thought it was so cool I had to share it with everyone. The government of Krabi maintains this fishery department, and what they do is raise fish in these large outdoor saltwater pools and then release the fish into the wild on a schedule. (PHOTOS & VIDEOS BELOW)
It really had me excited because I used to fish a lot in Florida and Hawaii. There’s nothing more exciting than pulling up a couple of pound grouper, fighting a snook, or getting a Permit or Jack Crevalle of any size on the line. This fish department had all these fish! Well, variations of them I guess you could say.
The first thing I saw was a sea turtle that looked to be the same kind as I’ve seen while snorkeling in Maui. The colors were the same, though the pattern I can’t be sure of. I can’t remember the pattern on the shell – but I’m pretty sure – same as in Maui. I walked out on the pier where there were a number of net-enclosed pens for fish of each type to grow large in.
Some of them were quite large. If you know what a grouper is, it starts out small. I’ve caught some 6-inch groupers in the rocks in Florida. The rock groupers have a beautiful, intricate pattern that’s amazing to look at. There were some here! These were a couple of pounds. Then there were some larger – groupers that were in the 100kg range. Yes, no lie – 220+ pounds. They were massive.
There was a short feeding time where the staff came over and launched some silver baitfish into the pool where the biggest fish were. The sound of the jaws opening and grabbing the small baitfish was awesome! You’ve gotta see this if you have kids – they’ll love it. You can stand on the pier just a foot above the fish and watch them eat. You can take video or photos at will.
Someone said we could buy the baitfish to feed them with – but I didn’t see where. We looked for where to do that – but couldn’t find it. Maybe you’ll be more persistent. It was 40 degrees Celsius when we went and we knew we’d be back so we didn’t pursue finding the place to buy the baitfish for long.
The coolest fish for me was the ULUA. In Hawaii, they spend long nights sitting on the cliffs trying to catch these massive ULUA which are overdeveloped Jack Crevalle – Crevally.
They grow to be over 100 pounds and fight like the devil when you hook one. There are 15 or so big ones here in the main pool that were also eating the baitfish. One of the staff launched the fish about 12 meters away into the water and the Ulua raced to get it – it was amazing how fast they are.
I’ve never caught a big one and I can verify that the stories of catching a big one in Hawaii where the fish rips off 100 meters of line and snaps a 100 lb. test line must be true. These things are like the killer whales of fish. Amazing!
Though I didn’t take many photos because my cheap Sony digital camera died on me with two different sets of fresh batteries there were many types of fish. I saw colorful reef fish, poisonous lionfish, moray and other eels, fish that looked exactly like “Snook” but without the lateral line, pompano, jack crevalle, and more in the big ponds.
Then, there is a section of over 100 aquariums in the shaded area that are worth looking at. Some of the fish come to the top with their mouths open thinking your staff and going to feed them. There was a group of Nemo looking fish that did this – it was comical.
Very cool for kids to see. There are another 30-50 species of fish in the small tanks. There is also a building you can walk into that has some nice aquarium fish – another 15 tanks or so.
You can’t put your fingers in the tanks at the Krabi Fish Department – but it’s fun nonetheless.
Here are some pics and videos. Directions follow photo section.
There’s about 250 meters of the pier to walk around.
This fish had the most amazing blue color – but of course, the camera doesn’t show it very well. You’ll know it when you see this one. Exceptionally pretty. It’s some kind of snapper I’m guessing.
Reef fish with the parrot beak teeth. There were some reef fish picking apart a wound on a bigger fish, they eat anything.
Some grouper under the surface. These were 2-4kg.
Big grouper. This one was 20-30kg or so.
My favorite game fish – ULUA. They are basically Jack Crevalle but they get big – not as big as huge Permit – but over 100kg.
A couple of ULUA here. If my camera was working I could have got pics of the 15 or so at the same time. Darn this camera!
Many Nemo fish in the smaller aquariums.
A pufferfish I believe. We have them in Florida, but not this color – same shape though. Catch one and it blows up like a balloon and floats when you throw it back in. When it feels safe it lets the air out and swims away.
Yet another grouper shot. I love this fish. Did you ever have a grouper sandwich? Amazing place in Clearwater Beach, Florida just north of the Pier 60 volleyball courts. What was the name? Hmm, Smitties? Munchies? Mo’s? Crabby Bills? FRENCHY’s, that’s it! If you’re ever in Clearwater go to Frenchy’s and get a grouper sandwich, fries, and “She crab” soup and thank me later.
Directions: If you’re on the way to Ao Nang Beach from Krabi town you’ll make a left at a stoplight at the top of a small hill. You’ll go down that road until you see a large gas station on the left side at an intersection with some signs. There might be a sign for the FOSSIL BEACH (Gastropod fossils).
If you find on your map the FOSSIL BEACH you’re basically there because this is less than 1km from the Fossil beach on the right side. You CAN’T miss this place as it has a big plastic Orange NEMO fish in front of it. Go through the gate – there’s NO CHARGE! Free! Go down the main road – don’t veer left or right. Soon you’ll see big pools and cars parked somewhere – park near them. Enjoy it.
Important Phone numbers for your stay in Krabi (Railay and all over Krabi province):
- Krabi Emergencies: Dial 1669 from any mobile.
- TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) Regional Office: 07.562.2164
- Krabi Tourist Police: 07.563.7208
- Marine Police: 07.561.2756 and 2757
- Krabi Airport 7 km east of Krabi Town: 07.563.6541 and 6549
- Immigration: 07.561.1097
- Krabi Bus Terminal in Krabi Town: 07.561.1804 and 1184
- Thai Airways International: 07.562.2439 and 2441 and 2442
- Krabi town Hospital: 07.563.1768 and 1769
Photos from Thaipulse.com used with permission.
Copyright © Vern Lovic.