Big Blue Diving - Koh Tao - Thailand - October
October

October (58)

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 10:41

Where is your favourite place to dive Erin?

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As a diving instructor, I get asked a lot of the same questions. One of the most frequent questions I am posed is,
“Where is your favourite place to dive?”
I am probably asked this at least once a month – which is a lot when you’ve worked in the industry for years! It’s one of my least favourite questions; not because I don’t have an answer, but because I have too many answers!
I don’t have a favourite place to dive.
Instead, I have favourite dives. Dives that stick out in my memory like a warm, familiar glow. A lot of these warm, fuzzy memories include “firsts” – my first octopus, my first shark, my first turtle. I suppose you could say that I’ve lost my “scuba virginity” to a lot of marine life!
I may decide to tell the story of how the first turtle I ever encountered underwater swam directly up to me and floated motionless in front of me, looking me in the eyes – he held a much better hover than I could at that time!
I can still see the wisdom in his ancient eyes. We stared into each other for what felt like an eternity, but for what was probably only seconds. In this moment, I felt that we completely understood each other. That we were connected by nature. That we were nature. It was truly magical.
I may tell the story of a night dive, where a Caribbean Reef Octopus was feeling particularly photogenic. She was more than happy to hang out with our group and put on a colour changing display for us. This was my first experience with marine life changing colour underwater.
I may instead go for the time I dove with a pod of wild dolphins. I was so overcome with awe, that I couldn’t pull my eyes off of them, despite the fact that I was terrified. Hundreds of dolphins, racing below me! It was entirely overwhelming. Within my awestruck mind, my only thought was that to get in their way would be like getting trampled by horses. To date, that is probably the scariest awesome thing I’ve seen.
I may instead decide to tell my student about how absolutely terrified I was of sharks when I started diving. How I made my Open Water instructor promise not to show me a shark. How after my Open Water Course, I begged and begged for him to “take me to where the sharks live.”  
After doing a classic spit-take with his coffee, in a very amused way he responded, “I told you, we really don’t get sharks here. Did you think I was lying?”
Without pausing, I responded, “Of course you are, it’s a ********* ocean, they’re everywhere! You’re an instructor, you know where they live! And I want you to show me.”
Somehow, two days later, we found my first Blacktip Reef Shark. As we rounded a patch of coral on the drift dive, we came face-to-face with the beauty. Spotting the shark simultaneously, we turned to each other, high-fived and happy-danced elatedly. Like my instructor had promised, sharks weren’t scary at all – they were magnificently beautiful.
 Most likely though, I will tell my most recent “favourite dive” story. This one took place a year ago on Koh Tao. I’m a certified solo diver and on this perfect day with bright skies and calm, flat seas, I had the day off of work. I decided to do what anyone in love with diving would do on a day off – I jumped on our morning boat which was headed to Chumphon. I brought my gear to dive solo: pretty much two of everything (you are your own buddy, so you’d better have a spare SMB / Mask / Computer / Tank / Etc. if anything goes wrong).
As we were pulling up to Chumphon Pinnacle (an incredible, deep dive spot), the Captain received a radio message, “whale shark on the dive site.”
Elated, I checked and double-checked my gear. I had seen more than 20 whale sharks by this time, but I had never had a chance to solo with one. This had been a personal dream of mine ever since I certified as solo.
I had no trouble finding the gentle giant. Well, not that giant, probably about 4 meters, as we tend to get the juveniles here. She didn’t seem to mind the divers taking pictures of her and staring in disbelief.
But then she saw me, alone amongst the schools of other divers. And she seemed to get a playful gleam in her eye. I like to imagine that she thought,
“Hey, you’re alone, and I’m alone. Let’s play!”
And with that, she started to follow me! I flipped onto my back and swam away to give her the appropriate distance. But she kept coming. I turned off to the left – she followed. She sped up, and I got the feeling that we were playing chase. We must have completed at least one and half full circles, before I decided to cut sharply into the center of our circle. She continued to circle me.
I was alone inside her circle.
She was alone in her circling.
About a hundred divers were stuck outside that circle, looking on in envy.
That was the best diving day of my life.
So far…
As I sit here writing this, our morning boat has just returned from Chumphon Pinnacle. I know they’ve reached land, because inside the office, I can hear the jubilant returning war-cry of our divers, carefully planned in unison as their long-tail touches the beach:
“WHALE SHARK!”
I smile to myself, thinking that quite a few people have just added to their personal “favourite dive” stories.

Friday, 19 October 2018 05:47

Best Divesite in the Gulf of Thailand

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Another Full Day Trip to the Gulf of Thailand's best dive site Sail Rock! It’s a big granite pinnacle that breaks the surface half way between Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui and as there are no other rocks around it acts as a congregation point for all the fish in the surrounding area. The pinnacle drops down to 30 metres in the sand and is typically dived in a circular route around the rock, spiraling slowly shallower. If currents are strong however, divemasters will guide customers around the sheltered areas, avoiding hard finning in the currents. There are other outer rocks a little deeper that can be seen from the main pinnacle and are home to reef sharks. On a clear day, with light filtering down into the crystal blue water, the granite boulder looks stunning. Enormous schools of trevally are all over the dive site and they energetically harass the smaller fish which bunch together and move as one for protection from these darting raids. Sail Rock is best known for its chimney, a large swim-through that is entered at around 20 metres and can be exited in 2 places, first at around 10 metres or shallower at around 5 metres deep. The chimney's cavern-like area is a haven for all sorts of fish life like schools of glassfish that appear to block your exit, only to part at the last second to reveal the holes. Truely the best dive site in the Gulf of Thailand!

Friday, 19 October 2018 05:31

3 Whalesharks around Koh Tao

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Whaleshark spotted at Chumphon Pinnacle yesterday morning & surprise surprise another one seen at Twins deeper Pinnacle more affectionately called 'No Name' yesterday afternoon. There's also a rumour going round that there was another whaleshark at Sail Rock as well, but we were actually at Sail Rock yesterday & none of us saw anything even closely resembling a whaleshark in that 30 Meter visibility but then it was hard to see past all those schools of fish that it might have been. Guess we'd better go back & find out! 3 whalesharks in 1 day! That's probably about the same amount of people arriving on Koh Tao today.

Thursday, 18 October 2018 14:29

Sailfish at Twins

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If Scuba Diving was a game of poker we'd have a Full Texas Djin Rummy Hold Em House Flush! Sailfish at Twins yesterday! Less than 3 meters long but bigger then 2 meters & fast as feck! Quickest fish in the sea clocking speeds of over 100 km per hour. The sail is normally kept folded down and to the side when swimming, but gets raised when the sailfish feels threatened or excited, making the fish appear much larger than it actually is. This tactic has also been observed during feeding, when a group of sailfish use their sails to "herd" a school of fish or squid.  They can appear in a startling array of colors, from subdued browns and grays to vibrant purples and even silver. Their body colors are often highlighted by stripes of iridescent blue and silver dots. Sailfish can change their colors almost instantly; a change controlled by their nervous system. The sailfish can rapidly turn its body light blue with yellowish stripes when excited, confusing its prey and making capture easier, while signaling its intentions to fellow sailfish.

The English and Irish are quite good at changing colors too when they first get to Koh Tao. Amazing how quick they turn from ghostly white to lobster red.

Thursday, 18 October 2018 15:08

Here's what our children are writing about The Sea.

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1) This is a picture of an octopus. It has eight testicles. (Kelly age 6)

2) Oysters' balls are called pearls. (James age 6)

3) If you are surrounded by sea you are an Island . If you don't have sea all round you, you are incontinent. ( Wayne age 7)

4) Sharks are ugly and mean, and have big teeth, just like Emily Richardson. She's not my friend no more. (Kylie age 6)

5) A dolphin breaths through an arsehole on the top of its head. (Billy age 8)

6) My dad goes out in his boat, and comes back with crabs. (Emily Burniston age 5)

7) When ships had sails, they used to use the trade winds to cross the ocean. Sometimes, when the wind didn't blow, the sailors would whistle to make the wind come. My brother said they would be better off eating beans. (William age 7)

8) I like mermaids. They are beautiful, and I like their shiny tails. How do mermaids get pregnant? (Helen age 6)

9) I'm not going to write about the sea. My baby brother is always screaming and being sick, my Dad keeps shouting at my Mum, and my big sister has just got pregnant, so I can't think what to write. (Amy age 6)

10) Some fish are dangerous. Jellyfish can sting Electric eels can give you a shock. They have to live in caves under the sea where I think they have to plug themselves into chargers. (Christopher age 7)

11) When you go swimming in the sea, it is very cold, and it makes my willy small. (Kevin age 6)

12) Divers have to be safe when they go under the water. Two divers can't go down alone, so they have to go down on each other.
(Becky age 8)

13) On holiday my Mum went water skiing. She fell off when she was going very fast. She says she won't do it again because water shot up her fanny (Julie age 7).

Thursday, 18 October 2018 14:56

30 meter visibility

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Awesome visibility out there. Its got to be nearly 30 meters at a lot of our dive sites right now. Which means thats there's actually now almost twice the amount of marine life to see as there was last month when the viz was only 15 meters! But possibly not as good as some of those Similan Island dive sites where the viz often reaches 60 meters, which is obviously twice as good as what we have here right now & 4 times as many fish to see as last month or 4 times better than what we had here last month  & only twice as many fish as what we have here right now! See for yourself. Its better than last month but not as good as the Similans!

Thursday, 18 October 2018 14:43

Chocolate Cake at Sail Rock

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Its another exciting Full Day Trip to Sail Rock tomorrow. Departing from Koh Tao at 7am we cruise off for a 2 hour jolly to the number 1 divesite in the Gulf of Thailand with a nice cooked breakfast on the way. Then its a deep dive followed by morning tea then a second dive venturing off to Sail rocks secret pinnacle... sssshhhh.... then we're off again in search of the elusive Samran Pinnacle, seldom dived as there's no mooring line or descent line. We'll have a spot of lunch on the way. An exquisite Thai buffet with possibly the worlds best Massaman Curry chicken. And once we've done all that its beers & chocolate cake all the way back to Koh Tao. Thats what we're doing tomorrow. What are you doing?

Thursday, 18 October 2018 11:38

The Full Moon Party

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Some time ago, a group of tourists found that the most beautiful moon was in Koh Phangan. They arranged a party along the crescent-shaped beach of Haad Rin to celebrate the Full Moon night. From then on, people from all over the world come to join the celebration. And now there are 7,000-10,000 people at the party each month. The party begins at dusk, when the round yellow moon makes its appearance over the white sand beach. As the evening progresses the beach explodes into a dancing frenzy of trance, techno, drum and bass, commercial dance and reggae. Jugglers and fire-eaters entertain the crowds as the night goes on and with the brilliant impromptu fireworks display, the party atmosphere is complete. There are no barriers here, no inhibitions, just people enjoying themselves with one unified intention, to rejoice in the magic that is the paradise of the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party! 'Put your hands in the air'

Thursday, 18 October 2018 13:30

Where are they now? Part Deux.

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A look back at some of our glowing stars at Big Blue Diving over the last 10 years or so to catch up and see whether they are the still the supreme athletes of the Scuba Diving Industry, somewhat saggier and greyer perhaps, but having pursued their dream & travelled that flight path that they mapped out for themselves in tight apple catchers, are they still the Top Guns of their diving Domain, having left Big Blue? Or have they become the Donald Trumps of the Industry? So far gone up the nether regions of their own backside that the only way for them to see daylight again is with a re-enforced rinse of the good old fashioned Thai Bum gun!

It’s time to play Top Gun or Bum Gun!

Guillaume ‘G’ Fargues- French by nature. Cycling around the streets of Koh Tao in his blue & white stripey shirt, red crevatte, beret & Baguettes poking out his basket, G was originally employed as a crap DJ at the Big Blue Bar, but after one too many head banging tunes this MC Hammer was then utilised as an Instructor for Big Blue from about 2005-2009 before, he was brain washed into doing something he didn’t really want to do, and joined the Dark side.
As part of a new elite group of Scuba Instructors at Big Blue, DJ G was the original cast off mold of the perfect SSI Instructor and was very much ‘untouchable’ as a Top Gun here, taking on the responsibility of training all our up and coming Divemasters and prospective Instructors.
But the attraction and lure of the PADI Empire became too much and after staffing a number of IDC’s with Sith Course Directors Jonas Samuelsson & Tim Hunt, from Bans Diving, G then completely hung up his bikini bottoms at Big Blue, and turned his back on SSI to become a PADI Course Director.

Which was his first faux pas for our favorite Frenchie.

Garlic crunching his way through many an IDC, G is sadly now one of the worlds most experienced PADI Course Directors, having literally certified 1000’s of new PADI Divemasters & Instructors at the Bans Instructor Development Course, alongside his TV show wife supermodel Course Director Natalie Hunt, who has been carrying him all these years. 

Now with child, wife & dog in tow G still resides in Koh Tao at his Koh Chateau, bathing in his legendary status as the Baron of Bans, the biggest Dive Center in the world. But don't you go thinking its all roses & sun drenched plums for this Gay Paris for the French are reknowned for throwing it all away & giving up easily, so maybe we need to rescue G now with a good rinsing of the Thai bum gun before it all goes merde, or will his Top Gun legacy continue? 
Qu'est-ce que tu penses?? Top Gun or Bum Gun?

Thursday, 18 October 2018 11:59

Whaleshark Whisperer

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Whaleshark Whisperer strikes again! I told you it would be going to Chumphon Pinnacle & lo & behold there it was, trying to hide behind a rabbitfish no less! Shame we weren't there to see it but at least we know it was there according to the reports of another dive boat in the area. Whalesharks have been seen around the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Eastern Pacific Islands of the Northern Galapagos, Malpelo, Cocos, the Revilligigedo Islands, the Sea of Cortez, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Maldives, the Seychelles, western Australia at Ningaloo Reef, the east coast of South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Malaysia, Comores Islands and of course here on Koh Tao, Thailand. Whaleshark whisperer says next siting will be tomorrow morning at Chumphon again! Anyone fancy a bet?

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