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April 2009

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Thursday 30th April 2009-

2009-04-30Sail Rock. A large granite rock that rises 15 meters above the surface & descends some 40 meters plus below! Its full of fish and various hard and soft corals.There is a "chimney" which you enter at 18m and can exit through a window at about 10m or go to the top and come out at 5m. Two divers at a time can come up the chimney,but take care when entering so that you don't cause any damage and look out for small shrimps & white eyed moray eels & if you were lucky enough to be diving there yesterday in 30 meter visibility we hope you managed to avoid the large Whaleshark there too! No wonder our Sail Rock trips are always a sell out, everyone has a whaleshark of a time!

Can't emphasize enough how important it is you take good care of your health when you first arrive in Thailand. Dehydration is the biggest thing that hits most new comers especially form chillier climes! The heat, the sweating,the swimming in salt water, the lack of H2O intake & often the latent excess of booze can all lead you straight to the Koh Tao clinic & a drip! You just don't realise how much fluid you lose when you are under the heat of the Thai sun! So sup up people! Stay healthy! Drink water! & have a great holiday in Thailand without having to spend a day in the clinic. Top Doctors recommend it!

Well the weather outside is gorgeous. There's a big sun in the sky, the sky is blue, & there are no clouds! There's not a breath of wind, the sea is nice & flat & a tropical 30 degrees & visibility is an above average 20 meters at most divesites. & because viz is sooo good lately we've been managing to venture out a little further than normal on our dives & guess what... we saw 4 reef sharks at Twins yesterday! Ooh its a good life here! Sunshine, tropical seas & reef sharks! Top that off with a sunset beer & a bevvy of beauties in their bikinis. Its hard to imagine a better place to be right now. Aren't we the lucky ones!

Wednesday 29th April 2009-

2009-04-29We at Save Koh Tao are asking for your assistance in recovering the sea turtles from our Turtle Head starting and Nursery Program. Sometime last night or early this morning the turtles and their in-sea enclosure baskets were taken from Ao Leuk. They were most likely loaded up into a longtail boat or similar small craft while the staff slept. These turtles were being held in a natural but predator free environment for the next few months to allow them to grow larger before being released. This program is a joint program between Save Koh Tao and The Thai Navy, and these turtles were the property of the Thai Navy. If you know about or hear anything about these turtles please notify us or get them returned somehow to us.We will not be pressing charges, but if it is the Thai Navy who discovers who took them than there will be harsh consequences. Just last month a Koh Tao resident was fined 40,000 baht for taking a Giant Clam from the sea. Thank you for your assistance and please help us to spread awareness about the benefits of marine organisms and what can be done to make positive impacts instead of negative ones so that we can reduce these types of problems.

Our slightly plump resident Tech Instructor has decided to get fit & in true Canada style has got his group of tech divers to get fit with him! To even think about being a tech diver you now have to go through an equivalent of the Divemaster Waterskills, the swim, the tread, the tired diver tow & the snorkel. However because this is Tech Diving & we're talking about Canada you now have to be able to run, do press ups, lift weights, do chin ups, fold clothes, & parade around the place topless & sweaty & revealing your moobies!

Unfortunately the 3 month fishing ban imposed on the fishing fleets operating from the provinces of Chumphon & Surat Thani are now over. You can tell because the horizon was awash with lights last night! Such a shame. & it seems like this mornings massive undiveable current at Chumphon Pinnacle might be a good indication as to how much fish life is around at the moment! Strong currents equals schools of fish!

Tuesday 28th April 2009-

2009-04-28Well lets see. After 9/11 the impact on tourism in Thailand was affected but really only slightly. Then there was the invasion of Afghanistan & Iraq & the fear of terrorism in the skies & the Bali bombs, & the huge reduction in tourism. Then after that we had SARS & then the Bird Flu, & then we had the Tsunami. After that there was the overthrow of the Thaksin government & the Military coup,& then there was more political unrest, & then the airport problems last year, the current economic crisis & then the street rioting just last month. So how is Thailand going to cope with the Swine Flu. Pretty bloody well if you ask me! We've had heaps of practise!

Dive into the Big Blue with Sharks! One of the big debates on Koh Tao according to some people at least is whether the sharks just off to the south of Barracuda Rock are Grey Reef Sharks or Bull Sharks! Well I reckon there are both but in recent days it has been the Bull Shark that has been seen cruising around at 30 meters. Chumphon has to be one of the very few places in the world where you can safely get this close to Bull Sharks. Anyone want to come & play? Do something exhilarating. Dive with sharks!

Tattoos- perhaps the attraction of tattoos in this day and age isn’t so much in their existence, but rather in the stories they tell. Dan wants to have an Excalibur Sword that fires bullets tattooed the length of his forearm. (Wonder whats on his mind). Lala wants the date she dived with her 1st Whaleshark tattooed on the side of her foot small enough to be lasered off when she's gets married & then she'll put that date in. Who can forget Tuesday who had the Big Blue Dolphin emblazoned across her back. Then there was the guy who had the words 'Chinese Symbols' tattoed down his leg in Chinese symbols font! Darren had his Hok Tao Divers Turtle & so did his protege Matthias. & Canada has more ink on him than a recently shafted octopii! So what kind of tattoo would you get? How big, what would it be of & where would you put it?

Monday 27th April 2009-

2009-04-27Sorry to have to keep repeating myself. I know its boring for all of you who read this daily (thanks for that) but there was another Whaleshark this morning at Chumphon Pinnacle! Whale sharks are considered to be good-luck fish. The Japanese fishermen are careful not to catch a whale shark. They call them "ebisuzame" which is a good luck symbol. Obviously very good luck as our big Japanese group diving with us have now seen 2 whalesharks in 3 days! If they keep this up they'll have seen 8 whalesharks by the time they leave! Now if that aint ebisuzame I don't know what it is!

With Big Blue Tech becoming increasingly busy with cave diving, rebreather training and technical diving Canada has found the necessity for a full time personal assistant! & He's found that person with our former Dive Master intern Cory Lewis. Cory showed a great interest in Nitrox Diving, Deep Diving and Gas Blending. It was his continued interest in all things tech that earned him the full time job. Cory was welcomed into the team by both the technical and recreational diving department and after his extremely popular performance as Sandy in our Grease rendition at last months festival, Cory has also been welcomed in by the boys at the Koh Tao Cabaret too!

Where have all my DM's gone? Well Ollie, our Swiss Zoolander, is still doing his IDC. Big Paul, our poker playing Canadian got bitten in his arse by a tiny spider in Malaysia & is now home recovering. Amanda is also recovering at home ( a different home though) from overwork & underplay leaving Andy to run 3 boats in the morning 3 boats in the afternoon & a night dive every night! & you thought being a DM was an easy life! Why do you think most of us are Instructors!

 Saturday 24th April 2009

2009-04-24Its raining Japanese! The start of a big holiday in Japan today! The end of April through to around May 5th is called "Golden Week" since there are so many Japanese national holidays during this period. Many Japanese offices close for about a week to 10 days. People take a vacation and travel around the country, so tourist attractions in Japan are very crowded during Golden Week, so people escape abroad for a week or so. Which is why its raining Japanese here today! Golden Showers!

I beleive the Koh Tao Electricity Board need to replace the electrician they have working for them. He's rubbish! We've been having a lot of problem in Koh Tao at the moment with dodgy electricity & terrible internet connection. Not quite sure what the problem is but its been a week already of really dodgy power. Some poor peasants haven't had electricity for a few days already but hey Canada & Yvonne that's what you get if you live in the sticks.

It seems like wherever we go right now we are being followed by a Whale Shark! Yesterday Amanda showed all her divers what a Whale shark looked like at Sail Rock & thismorning everyone got to see again another Whale shark this time at Chumphon Pinnacle. Rumour has it our mate Jack Cousteau dived for 20 years before he saw a whaleshark, & he'd spent 2 years diving this area. Obviously don't want to be diving with Jack! You want to dive with Big Blue!

Thursday 23rd April 2009

2009-04-23Was there another shooter on the grassy knoll? Did Saddam have WMD's? What does DMT Duncan get up to in his spare time? What (or who) really went down in the Banana Resort room 16 with two members of BB staff, a whole load of booze and 2 ladyboys after their Similan trip? These are all questions for which, in all likelihood, we will never know the true answers. All that's left for us to do is speculate, surmise, make stuff up and then disseminate widely to all and sundry through the Big Blue Blog ;)

So here goes... Why were they there in the first place, were they invited back to give them a Queer Eye for a Straight Guy-style makeover? How to explain the cries heard from their room in the small hours of 'No, ****, no!'? (real names withheld because one of the guys is MUCH bigger than me). Perhaps he was about to lay a vowel on a Triple Letter Square and therefore ruin the game of Scrabble they were enjoying? After waking up and finding his wallet and dive computer missing, did ***** ponder on what else he had lost that night. Innocence, anyone? Dignity? It may have been a Stinger in more ways than one....?

Veteran dive guides all over the west coast were in awe of BB DM Paul's guiding skills as he led his group of DMT's through three dive sites in one dive! One way to escape the crowds underwater is to swim in the opposite direction for sure and who really needs to see the huge coral bommie covered in a variety of soft corals, sponges, anemones and fish. The bommie that's big enough to spend an entire dive on and a National Geographic team once spent a week filming in just this one place! I get it Paul, its been done to death, exploring is much more fun...

Finally, our Sonia is counting the cost after her James Bond-style backroll from the RIB on a Similan night dive. How she managed to hook her fin through the strap of 2 Vytec dive computers and one Oceanic Shadow mask and launch them all into black depths I'll never know - Good Job though, Sonia!

Wednesday 22nd April 2009-

2009-04-22I believe its called Murphy's Law! As we all know, Murphys Law states 'The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet'! So with Golden Week coming up now was not the time to be dropping our bread or for that matter to be having a problem with Banzai! Apparently Banzai propeller has a problem & we need to take the boat to the Chumphon dockyard & take it out of the water & fix the problem which means we are in the market for a new boat for a week or so to take care of our Japanese colleagues. So everyone say Konichiwa to Seafarer! Seafarer say Konichiwa back to everyone!

'Bill and Harry had been dive buddies since college. Almost every weekend, they went diving, summer and winter, drysuit or shorty. On one rare occasion, Bill invited Harry to his home for dinner. (Bill was married, Harry was not.) During dinner, Harry noticed that every time Bill spoke to his wife he used very loving terms — Honey, My Love, Darling, Sweetheart, Pumpkin, and so on. It was when Bill’s wife was clearing away the dishes and carried them to the kitchen that Harry remarked, “That is really nice — after all these years that you’ve been married, you still keep calling your wife all those pet names.” Bill looked round quickly and whispered, “To tell you the truth, Harry, I forgot her name years ago.”
Boom boom!

Many thanks G & Hannah from Asia Divers who together organised todays beach clean up along Sairee Beach. & thanks to all those who turned up today to rid our beaches of the filth & debris that has been washed ashore in recent days! You wouldn't believe how much crap has collected in just a few days. & it was great to see so many people come down & give us a hand. Especially all those who had absolutely nothing to do with us or diving but were still willing to help out & lend a hand. Free beer for everyone! Whoops did I say that out loud!

Tuesday 21st April 2009-

2009-04-21The PADI Open Water Course used to be the most asked about course when it came to email enquiries. Of course we get heaps of enquiries about everything else as well but it was the Open Water Course that was way above anything else when it came to email jabber. But that seems to have changed for now. Because right now the focus is on the PADI Divemaster Course & in this time of recession & redundancies who 's surprised. & looking at the PADI website today there are over 150 jobs posted around the world for diving professionals! & if you do your SSI Instructor Course you are guaranteed a scuba diving job! So its not really a surprise then is it that more than 70% of our email enquiries these days is for the bright ones among you who realise there is more to life than offices, bills, a shit job & the fear of unemployment! Make the best decision of your life! Sign up for Divemaster Course! It'll change your life!

How's this for a James Bond entry... diving from a helicopter! If a giant stride is just not as daring as it used to be, then Dive Charter Curaçao in Willemstad has an entrance that is positively not for the faint-hearted. Divers are flown in full dive gear to the sites, beneath as well as over bridges, before the chopper hovers 2m above the water. They climb out and drop themselves backwards into the water simultaneously, after the dive a fast RIB takes you back to the helibase to receive your certificate of participation. The price is US $249 with tanks, weights, guided dive, helicopter ride, boat ride back, a photo CD of the whole trip & a banana in your pocket!

Not sure our Big Blue Mascot is doing very well at the moment. Poor old Ugly dog. He is looking a little under the weather. We've had the vet come in & she's given him a jab which should get rid of these rashes & spots & the vet is coming around today to give him another jab but its more than just a case of a spotty dog. Ugly's paws are inflamed & on occassion weeping. The paws are very swollen & patchy & it looks like agony for poor old Ugly & the vets don't quite seem to know what it is. But she has clearly got some sort of toe infection. So if anyone knows the correct treatment to cure an ugly dogs paws then please drop us a line & let me know. Sonia is going to kill me if I don't take care of Ugly while she's away!

Monday 20th April 2009-

2009-04-20Whaleshark at Shark Island this morning! Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), grow to lengths over twelve metres and have been allegedly reported as large as twenty. Koh Tao plays host to these rare creatures typically between the months of March and October, however reported sightings around the island and Sail Rock also cover December, January and February; possibly proving that whale sharks use unreliable calendars, or more likely, that we still know very little about their migratory habits. The whale shark cruises the oceans feeding on krill, plankton & small fish and is harmless to divers and snorkellers, although my favourite report is that of a Japanese snorkeller who did once manage to get sucked into a Whale Shark's mouth but was quickly spat out again!

I'm afraid the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Actually that's putting it a little mildly. The weather has completely turned on us! Its big waves, strong winds & taxi's to Maehaad right now as its just too choppy to get out on the longtails at Sairee right now! That marks a change in the season. Officially the summer is over & we're now on our way into winter! So we'll put the summer thongs back in the cupboard now & get the woolly bikinis out!

Voulez vous? Ooh its sooo sweet! Me thinks our little Frenchman is in lurve! Yesterday G couldn't wait to tell everyone how long it would be till 'my little Canadian' gets back! ooh le passion! L'Amour, Le lust! There aint nothing going to hold this frenchman back from his true lurve! I believe he's paid a Burmese housekeeper to clean his room, he's bought 15 red roses to bury her under, (one for every minute he's known her!) & he's got his 'baguette' out, along with a nice bottle of Chianti chilling & he's got his Christina Aguillera CD ready! Aint no one as romantic as our G, n'est pas!

Sunday 19th April 2009-

2009-04-19Time for a room make over! Its not terribly busy right now in Koh Tao despite the great diving so we are going to grab the opportunity to be a little bit of interior decorating. So with the help of Kymmie, our world famous choreographer & home improvements expert we are going to be painting some walls, putting up some pictures, changing some fittings & fitting some changes! You won't recognise the place by the time we've finished! Our fan rooms we'll be upgraded to deluxe rooms, the bungalows we'll call villas' & our AC Rooms we'll call studio apartments. Yeah man! We're jammin!

Seems we are getting reports from all 4 corners of Koh Tao. Its the triggerfish season! Triggerfish are extremely territorial, and especially during the breeding season in April/May they will protect their nest aggressively. During these months the male will guard the nest against all on-comers, including divers who choose to unwittingly swim into the 'Protection Zone' which goes directly up from the nest in a cone shape (as they can see upwards). Their bites can cause infection as they contain a natural poison called Ciguatoxin, which can have serious affects on humans, and they use ramming techniques to scare other creature's away (including divers).Titan's are generally short sited, so can not see well at distance. They usually feed on hard corals or hard bodied invertebrates and divers! So if you see a triggerfish, be afraid. Be very afraid!

Our West side Posse are going to be closing up shop this week & will be returning home to their Motherland- Koh Tao & a hero's welcome! Its not been easy in Khao Lak this year. A dreadful start to the season brought about by the airport closure, & then the economic crisis & finally a nasty accident on another dive centre's Liveaboard boat in the Similans could have spelt disaster for some, but not for our band of merry men & women! So Nice one Rick & Fanette & Sonia & Team Japan. Now come over here & give us a cuddle!

Saturday 18th April 2009-

2009-04-18Kop Khun Krap P'Piak! Today G, Rich & Spaz took with them a couple of DMT's & 1 Boat captain to attach the new buoy line we made yesterday to Green Rock. Very nice of P'Piak to offer to lend a hand. In fact very nice of P'Piak to take over the whole show & undo the knots we so carefully made yesterday, cut the rope & shorten the line & affix the mooring to somewhere completely different to where we'd planned to put it. Still not sure anyone fancied telling P'Piak differently. So anyway now we have a brand new & perfectly good mooring line at Green Rock... right over the Trigger pits. Excellent!

Scuba diving Satanists who hacked off the arms of a submerged statue of Jesus Christ are being hunted by Italian police. The attack was carried out at a depth of 75ft below the surface of the sea on the statute which is known as the Christ of the Abyss. It was sent to the bottom of the Mediterranean by Pope John Paul II in December 2000 at a ceremony for the Italian Diving Association and is a well known landmark for divers. The hands of the Christ were raised upwards and it faced out to sea and it was a symbol for anyone who had anything to do with the Mediterranean. 'Someone has deliberately wanted to attack a religious symbol that is held very dearly by fishermen, divers and locals - we hold a yearly procession to the statue.' A police spokesman on Giglio said: 'Because of the depth it is very unlikely that the statue was damaged by a propeller or net. 'It looks like a very deliberate attack and because it is 25 metres underwater someone was very well equipped to go down there and take off the arms. 'It's possible it could be an attack by Satanists who knew the statue was there and who also knew that it was a very revered symbol for the locals so it is a line of investigation.'

Sounds like there has been a few more sitings of Black Tip Reef sharks over the last few days. DM Andy reckons he saw a nice one at Aow Leuk the other afternoon, & today DM Lisa saw a couple at Barrracuda Rock at Chumphon Pinnacle. That's great news. Its about time the sharks came back & paid us a visit. It feels like ages since we were diving with sharks on a regular basis. Woohoo. Its Shark Safari Season!

Friday 17th April 2009-

2009-04-17Got to give a huge thank you to P'Chok our Big Blue Carpenter who's job it is to go around the resort fixing things, making things and generally just being an all round handy man! Well over the last couple of weeks P'Chok has been making us a very nice outdoor classroom & reception area in anticipation of the summer high season. It all started as a necessity for our live stage show of Grease last month & now we've turned it into the best outdoor classroom on Koh Tao! It looks awesome & we're all very happy with it. Now lets see if P'Chok can't make us a swimming pool with diving board next!

Nicely done Olga! In a time of deep recession & a very negative employment market it appears that our very well trained Divemaster par excellence from Espana has managed to find herself a job as a DM at one of Koh Tao's larger Dive centers! Congratulations Olga. You see guys don't ever let it be said there are no jobs in diving. There are heaps of jobs & if you find the right aptitide, apply the right attitude & deliver a little Latino latitude then you just can't fail. I bet looking like a foxy Flamenco Dancer helped as well of course! Felicitaciones Foxy!

"Hey Jim. Exciting news! I wanted to let you know that the United Nations has declared June 8th as World Oceans Day. The concept of a "World Ocean Day" was first proposed in 1992 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Ocean Project has been working closely with the World Ocean Network for the last six years to promote and coordinate World Ocean Day events and activities with aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations and agencies, universities, schools, and businesses. Each year an increasing number of countries and organizations have been marking June 8th as opportunity to celebrate our world ocean and our personal connection to the sea. With the World Ocean Network, we also developed and widely circulated a petition to the United Nations urging them to officially recognize World Ocean Day. With help from our Partner organizations, tens of thousands of people from all parts of the world signed online or paper copies of the petition. Your participation in all of this made a real difference. While official U.N. designation is not going to change things overnight it is an important step in improving the health of our world's ocean. Now we need to capitalize on this fresh momentum! I hope you will be involved in planning or participating in a World Oceans Day celebration near you in June. Please visit the World Oceans Day website to list your event, get celebration ideas, access the media and outreach kit, and more. Cheers! Bill Mott, Director,The Ocean Project" Congratulations to all! Making this happen was truly a worldwide effort!

Thursday 16th April 2009-

2009-04-16In order to reduce incidences of structural damage to the reefs around Koh Tao, The Save Koh Tao Group and the Thai Navy will be undertaking a mooring buoy project tomorrow & the day after. For this project, 10 mooring buoys will be installed or repaired in the areas around the island deemed to be most at risk of anchor damage. They are Mango Bay, Red Rock, Japanese Gardens, Green Rock, Barracuda Rock, Sai Nuan, Sai Tong, Shark Island, Aow Leuk, & Laem Thien. It is hoped that by working with the local community for the installation, maintenance, and repair of these buoys that we can increase the amount of education and awareness about human impacts on coral reefs and reduce those impacts for Koh Tao. Inst G & DM Spaz & their team of DMT's will be installing the buoys at Green Rock & Red Rock tomorrow! Its a great day out! Have fun Buoys!

It's really important that you help us bring the award-winning documentary Sharkwater to China. China is the largest consumer and trader of shark fins in the world, fueling the growing demand for shark fin soup that is destroying our oceans within our lifetime. Most Chinese consumers don’t know that shark fin soup contains shark, because the translation literally means, "fish wing soup". Shark populations have dropped more than 90% in 30 years, destroying the most important ecosystem for our own survival. Conservation isn't just saving species and ecosystems, it's saving humans. This is a huge consumer awareness issue that we have the power to change. We urgently need your help to create a Chinese version of Sharkwater that will target an audience of over 300 million people. We can change the world, with your help. WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1- Donate now to the non-profit foundation SAVE THE BLUE that is working with us and WildAid to bring Sharkwater to China & receive a special custom-made tribal shark pendant, shirt or bag! Wear your special shark pendant with pride to engage people in making shark conservation an international priority! It’s cool to save sharks!
2- Post this article in your blog and help us get the word out.
3- For TEFL, TOEFL and Nat. teachers working in China or the SE Asia region: Use sharkfinning as a discussion topic in your classes.
4- Act Now & Donate to bring Sharkwater to China.
Thanks for helping us save sharks,
Rob Stewart and the Sharkwater Team.

Mass evacuation form Big Blue tonight with Inst Deano & DM Paul taking over Duncan, Laura, Cory, Emma, Colin & Alan for a Liveaboard trip with Wicked Diving in Khao Lak. Departing the day after tomorrow the guys are going to be spending the next 3 days & nights cruising the 9 beautiful islands of the Similans & then the 3 greatest divesites of the Surin Islands at Richelieau Rock, Koh Tachai & the 'Manta Magnet' that is Koh Bon! Have a great trip guys. May the Manta's be with you!

Wednesday 15th April 2009-

2009-04-15What's with that terrible fashion accessory of the mid 80's the bandana & its introduction into scuba diving? I know certain staff members have been diving with a bandana for a while here at Big Blue, but I never had either of them down for fashion trend setters. But Emily, G, it seems the ridiculous underwater look you have adopted has now brought about the top selling scuba related item on the market these days... the neoprene bandana! So I guess you guys will be upgrading soon. & then I reckon you better start another underwater trend. How about an underwater onion necklace? Just as cool!

Well it looks like the problems in Bangkok have subsided a little. In fact it actually looks like the government have taken the necessary action needed to completely quell the Red Shirted uprising. Thank God. Thai authorities have issued arrest warrants for 13 protest leaders and the man the protesters support, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The group has been charged with inciting a public disturbance and illegal assembly. So who won? Well lets be honest- Nobody! Not the red-shirts, not Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva either. Not Thaksin Shinawatra. In fact 3 years of intractable political conflict are taking a debilitating toll on Thailand. There appear to be no towering, Obama-like figures in Thailand, who can win the respect of both camps. Well apart from P'Piak our illustrious Captain.

Canada is planning his next Cave trip to the Khao Sok Marine Park. This will be our 3rd trip & so far our busiest. Its been a resounding success the cave trips as its not just the opportunity to do some very cool & different diving but also an opportunity to see another very beautiful part of Thailand. Khao Sok National Park is located on the mountain ridge which separates the east and west coasts of the Thai peninsula. Originally the north side of the park was bounded by the Pasaeng River. However, since the construction of Rachabrapah Dam in 1982, and the formation of the artificial lake, the boundary of the park has been extended to include the reservoir. The reservoir itself covers an area of 165 square kilometers. & about a gazillion little nooks crannies & undiscovered caves! Fark Yeah! Let's go Cave Diving!

 Tuesday 14th April 2009-

2009-04-14So after a heavy day of violence things have now settled down a bit! I am of course talking about Songkran & the violent water fighting that went on all day! There was mass shootings & territorial raids on neighbouring dive shops & local businesses & witnesses say that the amount of water being spilt was criminal! People were going down everywhere in a barrage of water fire & liquid. There were scenes of hysteria & mass panic when the ice water came out about midday & some people needed considerable looking after by the end of play last night. Bodies were strewn all over the beach. What a fantastic day! Happy Songkran everyone!

In the interests of entertaining the staff I've been asked to dish the dirt on yesterday's sordid goings on! But thats not really cricket is it! After all if Oli & Tina wish to re-enact the love making scene in 'From Here to Eternity' between Burt Lancaster & Deborah Kerr in front of 200 people then who I am to tell the world! & if G stopped drinking by 6pm because he couldn't get that lovely lady off his lips is that really her fault? What about Soren? Did he? Didn't he? & Om ?? & Lee??? & what about that kiss between Becky & Helen? & who was that girl that went to Bans bar at 3 in the morning & did an impromptu striptease on the bar & then came into work this morning a little red faced & late? & why doesn't Dan's phone work anymore? & Hannah, what have you done with Thomas? Surely you didn't consume him whole did you?

A breakthrough study has discovered all octopuses, cuttlefish and some squid are venomous. It was previously thought that only the blue-ringed octopus was the one to watch out for. Scientists have found that, while the blue-ringed octopus remain the only species dangerous to humans, other groups have been quietly using their venom for predation. Venoms are toxic proteins that performed functions such as paralysing the nervous system. "We hope that by understanding the structure and mode of action of venom proteins we can benefit drug design for a range of conditions such as pain management, allergies and cancer." Octopuses, cuttlefish and squid - known as cephalopods - remain an untapped resource for drug development. The team analysed tissue samples from cephalopods from Hong Kong, the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica. The different species' genes were then studied for venom protection and it was found that a venomous ancestor produced one set of venom proteins, but over time additional proteins had added to the chemical arsenal. The animal worlds equivalent to Rambo.

Monday 13th April 2009-

2009-04-13Happy Songkran Everyone. I believe the year is 2553 today! Happy New Year or as you say in Thai Sawadee Pi Mai! Right, now then... lets go find ourselves a great big water pistol & and have ourselves a big water fight! Happy New Year Thailand. Dryest person standing at the end of the day is a Ponce!

Oh dear. As you've probably seen there looks like another another bout of political tension here in Bangkok. Last November it was the Yellow Shirts who staged anti government protests culminating in the closure of Thailands International Airport & consequently led to the positioning of the current Prime Minister. Now we've got the Red Shirts demonstrating against what they see is an illegal government. They are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva & would like to reinstate deposed leader Thaksin Shinawatra who is currently in exile in Dubai (whoops that's supposed to be a secret!). So the whole thing is a bit of a mess & there doesn't seem to be a very obvious way of solving the problem. Lets just keep our fingers crossed that things will work themselves out & that tourism in Thailand won't be too badly affected. Meanwhile if you are on your way to Thailand or are planning coming rest assured here in Koh Tao there aint no red shirts or yellow shirts! Today we're all wearing wet shirts!

Whaleshark at Southwest Pinnacle! Its getting kind of boring! Amazing isn't it. That's about 5 consecutive days with the Big Fish & people now want to see something else! But they can't cos there is a bloody great big Whaleshark keeps swimming through into view! Thoughtless beast!

Sunday 12th April 2009-

2009-04-12Songkran Festival starts tomorrow! Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year. This is the time for Thais to pay homage to Buddha images, clean their houses, and sprinkle water on their elders in a show of respect. Anyone who ventures out on the streets is likely to get a thorough dousing of water, all in good fun, but also quite welcome at the peak of the hot season. So being the fun seeking people we are here at Big Blue you can pretty much count on there being a rather large party here tomorrow. Anyone arriving tomorrow please don't wear anything you don't want to get wet! There'll be discounts for ladies who forget to wear their brassieres! There'll be savage water dousings for chaps in speedos!

An Israeli Inventor has developed a breathing apparatus that will allow breathing underwater without the assistance of compressed air tanks. This new invention will use the relatively small amounts of air that already exist in water to supply oxygen to both scuba divers and submarines. The system uses "Henry Law" which describes gas absorption in liquids. As all DMT's will tell you this law states that 'the amount of gas that can be dissolved in a liquid body is proportional to the pressure on the liquid body'. The law works in both directions lowering the pressure will release more gas out of the liquid. This is done by a centrifuge which rotates rapidly thus creating under pressure inside a small sealed chamber containing sea water. The system will be powered by rechargeable batteries. Calculations showed that a one kilo Lithium battery can provide a diver with about one hour of diving time.The invention has already captured the interest of most major diving manufacturers as well as the Israeli Navy & if everything goes according to plan, in a few years the new tankless breathing system will be operational and will be attached to a diver in the form of a vest that will enable him to stay underwater for a period of many hours. You go first. I'll watch!

Its a Full Day Trip to Sail Rock. Considered the premier dive site in the Gulf of Thailand, Sail Rock is 15m above and 35m below surface pinnacle that lies between Koh Tao and Koh Pha-ngan. Its famous for its natural underwater vertical swimthrough or chimney which divers can enter at 6 metres and exit at 18. It is also the visiting site of many larger pelagics including chevron barracuda, big schools of mackerel, jacks, trevally and tuna. You may encounter a seasonal whale shark or marlin here also. Top site. Top day out.

Saturday 11th April 2009-

2009-04-11Imagine being in the water with a shark six times your size and weighing nearly 15 tons, with a mouth that at full gape can open to over a metre in width. It’s not the stuff of nightmares but it is an experience many scuba divers who come to Thailand have at the top of their Must See lists – an encounter with the enormous, enigmatic and perfectly harmless whale shark, which can grow up to a staggering 12 metres in length and is officially classified as the world’s biggest fish. Congratulations everyone who saw the whaleshark at Chumphon Pinnacle this morning. Commiserations DM Paul who wasn't on the boat & has yet to break his Whale shark virginity.

Not the sort of thing you come across every day but well worth another look, even a closer inspection! Today there was a posse of 9 naked divers at Chumphon this morning. It looked like it was 6 fella's, 1 chick, & what looked like a couple of asexuals. Hard to tell from the distance they were at. Not sure which diveshop they were with but they were obviously being taught the PADI Naturist Course. We obviously don't do enough of this here at Big Blue, so from today we will be promoting it heavily from here on in. In fact if you come in & say you want to do your PADI Naturist Course we'll even give it to you for free! Please note PADI Naturist Course is not a real certification... but it bloody well should be!

In the interests of creating more space in our equipment room so that we can take better care of the 15 new sets of equipment we have just purchased, the equipment room looks like a bombsite today! There's hammering, drilling, screwing, banging & swearing going on all over that room! Mo is obviously very excited its all happening & has even come into work on his day off which is either highly admirable or completely crazy. Anyway once its all finished its going to create about another 3 meter square area of space especially for our DMT's & all their lovely brand new equipment! In fact there's still enough space for an other couple of BCD's if any of them want to buy a new one or two!

Friday 10th April 2009-

2009-04-10Another Whaleshark at Chumphon Pinnacle today! Its a beautiful thing! To be in the water with one of these behemoths is a truly humbling and exhilarating experience, especially as, despite their size, whale sharks remain one of the ocean’s most rarely encountered creatures. Little is known about their migratory patterns, their mating habits, or even about their numbers – while the whale shark is a protected species in Thailand, they are considered endangered by both CITES and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and they are hunted across Asia for their fins along with other shark species. Therefore everytime a whale shark is spotted it’s a cause for celebration. Think I'll have a large Chang!

It's that time of the month again. The party people are all going to be arriving here from Koh Phangan over the next few days. Koh Tao is going to be bursting at the seams! & what seems to be the majority nationality on holiday at the moment- Israeli. Some nationalities are here all the time like the English & Germans! In January though its the Scandies, the French in Feb, The Irish in March. Right now its the Israeli's. Next month the Dutch will be here in Full force. Then we'll have the Japanese. In August the Italians. September time we'll be predominantly Spanish. & then before you know it there will be scantily clad Scandies running up & down the beaches again! But for now its Israeli season. 'Yalla! Yallo Bo!'

The day after a man lost his wife in a scuba diving accident, he was greeted by two grim-faced policemen at his door."We're sorry to call on you at this hour, Mr. Wilkens, but we have some information about your wife. ""Well, tell me!" the man said.The policeman said, "We have some bad news, some good news and some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?"Fearing the worse, Mr. Wilkens said, "Give me the bad news first."So the policeman said, "I'm sorry to tell you sir, but this morning we found your wife's body in the Gulf of Mexico.""Oh my god!," said Mr. Wilkens, overcome by emotion. Then, remembering what the policeman had said, he asked, "What's the good news?""Well," said the policeman, "When we pulled her up she had two 5 pound Spiny lobsters and a dozen good size Stone crabs on her.""If that's the good news than what's the great news?!", Mr. Wilkens demanded.The policeman said, "We're going to pull her up again tomorrow morning."

Thursday 9th April 2009-

2009-04-09Well the results are in! This years KohTao Festival was a resounding success with a total of 2million Baht being raised all together & a total of 360 kilos of trash being collected off Sairee Reef. That is a whole truck load of garbage that is no longer messing up our underwater environment. The Save Koh Tao Group were given 10 new Mooring Buoys to install at certain divesites by certain dive shops- Big Blue will be tying up a line at Japanese Gardens on the 18th April- & all in all 26 sea turtles were released into the ocean & we have another 20 being raised & nursed in Aow Leuk for the moment untill they are a little bit bigger. Nice one Koh Tao Community! We doubled what we achieved last year! Imagine how much good we can do for Koh Tao if we can do the same again next year!

Well this rather unpleasant wind has meant we've had to send Bang up the coconut trees to chop down a lot of these dangerously close to falling and landing on your head coconuts. We don't usually do this till May or June but you know Paradise can be a dangerous place! According to some experts, 150 people die every year due to falling coconuts. When the coconut palm, which is on average 25 metres high, lets drop it's 2 kilogram coconut, & it hits your soft sun-soaked skull at a speed of 80 kilometres an hour, its going to smart like a mother father!

If a picture speaks a thousand words how many thousands of words do you think this particular picture is worth? This stunning photo of a diver's close encounter with a 70-tonne whale off New Zealand is one of the winners of the Wildlife Photographer Exhibition of the Year. The picture, taken by Brian Skerry, won first place in the competition's 'Underwater World' category. Now what would you rather do slaughter them or photograph them?

Wednesday 8th April 2009-

2009-04-07Its a landmark day at Big Blue today. ACE Marine Manager & Camera Queen is doing her Divemaster day this afternoon. After nearly 5 years Heather is finally about to be qualified as a PADI Divemaster. I wonder how many years it will take her to do her Instructor Course? Today Heather will take out our boat with about 20 divers out to the No 1 divesite in Koh Tao -Chumphon Pinnacle, & today instead of filming everyone & everything this time there will not be a camera about on her personage at all! It could be very unsettling for her with no camera so its a bit of a stress test for her as well! Good Luck Heather... hope you can find your way back to the boat without looking thru your viewfinder?

Ten decommissioned military aircraft have been dumped in the Andaman sea, about three kilometres off Phuket, to create an artificial reef for divers. Dubbed the "Coral Reef Squadron", the skeletons of four DC-4 Dakotas used in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and six Sikorsky S-58T helicopters are being sunk near Koh Weaw. The operation, run by the Thailand Diving Association was initiated by the For Sea Foundation shortly after the tsunami struck the Andaman coastal provinces in 2004, causing grave damage to coral reefs in the area. It aims to create new diving sites to replace those destroyed by the tsunami, and to ease the tourist load on existing natural coral reefs. Excellent idea. & we'd like a 10 here in the Gulf as well please!

Well its been at least a week since one of us had a bike crash so I guess we can't be entirely surprised to come to work this morning & find that both Emily & Kelli have gone & injured themselves trying to perform an Evil Kneivel like manoeuvre over a pot hole cunningly disguised as a puddle! What with Hannah & her foot, Kymmie & her tummy, Lara, Donna, Dan & now Emily & Kelli, & Jodie all wrapped up in plasters & bandages its looking more like a Doctors surgery around here than a Dive Center.

Tuesday 7th April 2009-

2009-04-07So its getting to the end of the season for our west coast friends. Soon the winds will step up a notch & the heavens will open & rain down swimming pools worth of water every minute. But by all accounts its been quite a season. Heaps of ghost pipefish, Whalesharks, leopard sharks, dolphins & manta's but of all the stories & photos I've seen & or heard I got to give Church the award for best find & proof- the ever elusive White Manta. Congratulations Church. You get 2 thumbs up & an eggnog!

The island can breathe a sigh of relief today. Luckily Spaz & Scobby are both off to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party so the rest of us can sober up a bit at last. Its been fun but it aint been healthy! So our renegades are off to party with the masses. To wreak havoc & devastation wherever they go. To cause controversy, raise chaos & dance with the masses! Pretty much the same sort of thing they've been doing here for the past few days! Same same but different!

Last week on our last Full Day Trip to Sail Rock, ACE Video Camera Girl Extrordinnaire Heather filmed another whale shark. After studying the images and entering them into the ACE photographic identification database we are happy to confirm that this young shark, as of yet unknown sex, called April, is back in the area for at least the second time! This is the first ever match on returning whale sharks; April was first seen on 5 February 2008 at Chumphon Pinnacle and came back to Sail Rock on 30 March 2009, just over a year later. This is incredible news and we are delighted to see one of last years sharks alive and well and back in the same area. Congratulations to Heather who seems to have an affinity for this particular shark as it was her that first filmed and identified April last year and went on to name her after Heather's sister. What a great story and a real triumph for the shark database. This is the first true confirmation that we have returning visitors, a giant leap into the understanding of the whale sharks migration patterns. High 5 Heather. Ace 1 ACE!

Monday 6th April 2009-

2009-04-06Where has everyone gone? The place is feeling a little bit streamlined right now with so many people injured or on holiday. After all Barry left last night for the UK & won't be back for 3 weeks, G went upto some PADI tupperware party in Bangkok, Simon & Jodie went off for a Big Mac & a movie in Samui, Tim is having a romantic week away with his young lady friend, Kelli & Helen our trusted & reliable Freelancers are finding themselves a little bit at a loose end with not much work around for them & Donna's gone & injured herself. Meanwhile Jim just got back from a trip to the 'Other side', Amanda's just returned from her first Manta Ray Dive in the Similans & our Japanese Team are all in Japan at some Dive exhibition! Good job things are quiet. Might have to go to the Full Moon Party with Spaz & Scobby... then again I might not. Sometimes life is just too precious!

So Big Blue Tech chartered the Mv Trident to take 15 people wreck diving the other day. We collected the 15 from our divemaster internship pool who were eager to try something a bit deeper and challenging from their everyday diving.cAfter a briefing and orientation from the night before we all met at 7 am and loaded into taxi’s for the drive to the main pier where we met the Team who would be helping lead the divers below. As we steamed towards the wreck we had breakfast while being treated to live music being played by Alan on the Fiddle/Violin. The techies tied on to the wreck using a shot line system and then in groups of 3 we descended to the wreck. The conditions were not ideal, a bit murky, bit of current, bit of chop but none the less a thrill for everyone. Many were combining the 40m depth with their PADI Deep Diver Specialty. After 2 dives and a good lunch the bar was open and we sailed back to Koh Tao for a mighty big knees up. All in days work!

It's just not in my nature to go round spreading gossip. In fact I'm not even out very often so don't really even know when gossip is actually gossip but with the relentless barrage of information I've been receiving from people lately I know that the other nights "Live Act" between an ex DMT currently working at another Grand Dive shop, (likes windmills wooden shoes & tulips), & current country Bumpkin DMT, (likes Olive oil & coming back to Koh Tao every year for the past 9 years) is very saucy gossip indeed! Very Red Hot & Dutch! But as I said. Its just not in my nature to gossip!

Only 8 sleeps left till Songkran!

Sunday 5th April 2009-

2009-04-05Despite the many positives to living in the tropics there are also a few negatives- the constant heat,mosquitos, the dangers of falling coconuts, gecko poo & of course unreliable electricity, phone & internet connections! So apologies to those of you who have been trying to contact us in the last couple of days. It seems we've had a small problem on the island with our local communications. It appears it blew up yesterday afternoon & rumour has it it won't be repaired for another 3-4 days! So if you are having problems contacting us or think we're being rude by not contacting you then please relax. We're living in the tropics & someone forgot to put the coin in the island meter again!

Koh Tao has its first little red fire engine! It looks like its just stepped out of a Thomas the Tank Engine story! Perfect for Koh Tao! Well you would of thought so at least. But unfortunately its first big test was yesterday & I'm afraid it didn't do very well. When the island's main electricity grid blew up & caught fire it took no time at all for the little red truck to arrive & get its hose out ready to put out the fire. Unfortunately a small boy needing a wee could have put more water over the fire than the little red truck did as someone had forgotten to fill the truck up with water! Still it was its first big outing & I think it got stage fright! Poor little useless red fire engine.

Not sure quite what has happened to the weather. Haven't seen skies this dark & grey since the monsoon! & I hate to say it but the weather forecast aint that great for the next few days either which of course sucks big time! Its Full Moon here on the 9th & the Songkran Aquarobics kicks off on the 13th so its going to be a very busy period. Guess it doesn't really matter if it rains really after all we're all going to get wet even if its glorious weather, only now we can all go home with pneumonia too! Only 9 days left till Songkran!

Friday 3rd April 2009

2009-04-03Hello all! Looks like another busy day at Big Blue!!
Canada and Matt have been in the Tech shed all day nailing, hammering, sawing and painting, their meant to be improving the place but the result is yet to be seen! but in all fairness their actually doing a very good job. Canada has worked very hard to make Big Blue Tech one of Koh Taos leading Technical diving schools and all the hard work is really starting to pay off so for those of you that want to go deeper, darker, and longer or just wanna look really cool in technical diving gear then here is the place to do it!

DMT Lara is nearly finished with her "resort info" sign giving directions to everywhere you want to go around Big Blue....the dive shop, the office, the beach.......the sleeping dog! Lara is fast becoming our resident artist so if your coming soon you'll be able to see her handy work all over the resort...cheers Lara!

This morning saw the end of two more DMT courses and the start of two more professional diving careers as both Justin and Josie had their DM day this morning, this basically means they have to run the dive trip dealing with all manner of logistics, planning and above all good customer service! they both did very well and i'm sure they'll be found dancing on the bar tonight after their DM challenge! Well done guys!!

Instructor Dan is looking forward to teaching his first open water course since his broken hand incident, which is very good news for all of us here as he has been climbing the walls trying to keep himself busy and at last he can feel useful again....Thank god!!

Countdown to Songkran.......10 days!!!

Thursday 2nd April 2009

2009-04-02Well well well, sorry for the missing day guys but after Andy and Emily's joint birthday bash the night before yesterday seemed to come and go in a hazy blur! not that we were all hung over because as you all know we here at Big Blue are diving professionals and never touch alcohol, more like the evening left us with lots of questions and we were all busy trying to answer them!

Questions such as....

1:How is the love Triangle between Duncan, Mickey and Alain going to play out???
2:Will DM Paul throw his keys into a bush thus locking himself out of his house, break into afore mentioned house then forget it all in the morning leaving himself locked inside his own house after every party in the future??
3: And last but by no means least is anyone ever going to figure out who the very illusive girl is that Instructor Craig is spending alot of time with at the moment???...beware guys the island is small and you cant keep a secret forever!!!

Answers on a postcard please!
Ok, so staff personal lives aside what else do i have for you? it seems that every other day someone somewhere is spotting a Whale shark, obviously i don't need to state what an awesome experience this is, also the turtle has taken up residence at White Rock again, We call him Trevor {I'm not sure why,he just looks like one} and if that's not enough for you the sharks are coming back to Chumpon Pinnacle again.....Get in!

We're now on the official countdown to Songkran!! for those of you who don't know what 'Songkran' is then allow me to explain...its the Thai new year festival! Which translated means an all island everyone included free for all water fight, you will have to look long and hard to find someone not carrying a water pistol so if your planning on coming out to us anytime soon..bring a shower cap and a kagool!!

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