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Photography winners
photo-competition-winnerAfter a lot of pacing up and down, head scratching (which doesn't fully explain his lack of hair), and a little bit of repetitive strain injury on his eyes, manager of Big Blue Movies, Wayne, finally managed to choose a winning photo as submitted to our photography competition. The standard of pictures was really high and we received a lot of inspiring photos with some great conservation captions, but in the end we could only pick 3 winners. 3rd prize goes to Sebastian Åkerblom of dive4photos, for his photo of the jeep taken at junkyard, surrounded by marine life. 2nd prize goes to Big Blue videographer and SSI instructor James Emery, for his beautiful shot of a saddleback anemonefish taken at Sairee reef, with the caption "I don't need a circle to stay healthy". This highlights the contention in having an artificial stone circle at dive site twins to protect a solitary anemone, which many people believe is doing more harm than good.
But 1st prize goes to our very own divemaster Phil "fishlad" Smith, for his photo of a nudibranche doing a little tightrope walk on a fishing net, taken at Southwest pinnacle. Phidiana Militaris for those of you down with the latin names of these beautiful sea slugs. His caption was "not all fish cages destroy life", which is probably rubbing it in a bit if you're a talking nudibranche sitting on the outside of a cage looking in at the poor fish on the inside, plus you're gloating that you, as an underwater gastropod are actually able to understand English! Pretty clever caption actually as there are abandoned fishing nets all over the ocean, and it just shows that the rope will begin to harbour life given enough time.
So phil wins a free place on one of our full day trips to Chumphon marine park (we may even allow him to fun dive), James wins a free coral workshop afternoon with Big Blue Conservation, and Sebastian wins a Big Blue Conservation bag for life. Congratulations to you all!
The photography competition was a huge success, so much so that we will run another one in the future. All proceeds to the competition will go to Swim4sharks 2014, to raise money for various shark conservation projects in and around Koh Tao. If you'd like to view the winning 3 entries, go to our facebook page here.

You may call them pufferfish, but if we wanted to be fancy then you would say that they belong to the family Tetraodontidae, of the order Tetraodontiformes (Ever learn the classification series- Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species?). There are at least 120 species of puffers in 19 genera. They are most diverse in the tropics, relatively uncommon in the temperate zone, and completely absent from cold waters. They are typically small to medium in size, although a few species can reach lengths of greater than 100 cm.
The puffer's unique and distinctive natural defences help compensate for its slow locomotion. It moves by combining pectoral, dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. This makes it highly manoeuvrable, but very slow, and therefore a comparatively easy predation target. Its tail fin is mainly used as a rudder, but it can be used for a sudden evasive burst of speed that shows none of the care and precision of its usual movements. The puffer's excellent eyesight, combined with this speed burst, is the first and most important defense against predators.
Its backup defense mechanism, used if successfully pursued, is to fill its extremely elastic stomach with water (or air when outside the water) until it is much larger and almost spherical in shape. Even if they are not visible when the puffer is not inflated, all puffers have pointed spines, so a hungry predator may suddenly find itself facing an unpalatable, pointy ball rather than a slow, tasty fish. Predators which do not heed this warning (or which are "lucky" enough to catch the puffer suddenly, before or during inflation) may die from choking, and predators that do manage to swallow the puffer may find their stomachs full of tetrodotoxin, making puffers an unpleasant, possibly lethal, choice of prey. This neurotoxin is found primarily in the ovaries and liver, although smaller amounts exist in the intestines and skin, as well as trace amounts in muscle. It does not always have a lethal effect on large predators, such as sharks, but it can kill humans. known as pakpao in Thailand, they are occasionally accidentally eaten believe it or not as by-catch.
For us divers, they are common all over the Gulf of Thailand, and we see them regularly on the dive sites close to Koh Tao, with perhaps the most common one being the masked porcupine fish.
If you see one, give it a bit of distance and never try and touch it. If it has to puff up, it's a very stressful event for it to have to go through.


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Read 1199 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 October 2017 08:24