17/18 Moo 1, Koh Tao Suratthani, 84360 Thailand         Info @ Big Blue Diving        +66 (0) 77 456 050

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WHALESHARKS AND MORE WHALESHARKS

Friday 27th Novembernovember whalshark

 

Again sorry that the blog hasn't been updated for a few weeks I have been on holiday, but I'm back and there is a lot to catch up on...so let's get started.

Firstly the waters around Koh Tao right now have been full of Whalesharks. They have been hanging around Chumphon Pinnacle and Southwest for the last week or so, with many very lucky Open Water students on their 3rd ever dive have had there first ever siting of these magestic beauties. Even some of our staff member have had their Whaleshark cherry popped. Our videographer Alex who has been working here for over 5 months has managed to miss them each time, but this time finally kept his eyes open and managed to get some footage of the big fish. We were even having to wait for it to swim past the back of the boat just so we could jump into the water. Even Captain Boy from Enzo jumped in to dive with it as is just kept circling the boat.

This time of year is our monsoon season, we have been lucky so far that we haven't had that much rain (oh bugger... I have just jinxed it, it will rain all week now) while your on holiday the best place to be in the rain is underwater, so don't let the rain put you off, your going to get wet anyway! And with the biggest fish in the ocean hanging around what better place is there to be than playing with that. But I will say when the sun is out its bloody hot!

Our boat Enzo went off for its yearly paint, the old red and grey boat now matches the rest of our blue and white fleet, and it looks lovely. It has also had a few alterations downstairs as well and looks lovely. Now Enzo is back Waverunner has now gone for it's make over ready for our Christmas period after monsoon. Yey

 

And All The Awards Go To.......BIG BLUE DIVING

 

topgunMonday 26th October 2015

The other night SSI Thailand came to Big Blue Diving for it annual awards ceremony. Big Blue Diving's own Simon Garrity who has strutted himself up the SSI ladder in neon pink speedos to the heady heights of International Training Director and Training and Business Development for East Thailand (ooooooh-la-la) was back on the microphone to present the awards.

There were some huge awards given out to both the instructors and the dive school itself.

Big Blue Diving was awarded the prestigious President's Club Award for our significant contribution to the diving industry.

We were awarded the Diamond Dive Centre Award for 2015 for having the highest amount of diving certiciation throughout thr whole of the SSI rschools and resorts across the world.

Not too shabby hey?

Many of our instructors have hit some milestones and have wholeheartedly earned the grandeur and acknowledgement for their achievement

Iain Goodfellow- over 200 lifetime professional certifications

Tim Morrish- Instructor Trainer rating

Nick Bufton- Platinum Pro 5000 and Master Instructor with Over 1350 Lifetime Certifications

Germaine McGuire- Platinum Pro 5000 and Master Instructor

Neil Draycott- Excellence in Snorkelling and Skin Diving

Luke White- over 1300 lifetime certs

Sonia Scott- Master Instructor

Steven Taylor- 60% Continuing Education in 2014

Plus many more instructor who have the highest certifications and the largest amount of students that go on from open water to advanced, including Ernesto, Denja, Alex and Ant.

Big Blue Diving has some of SSI's most senior and most qualified instructors. We are very proud of this fact and the proof is in the comments and reviews we receive from our students and guests on a day to day basis. The whole dive team work their hardest to guarantee you have the best time while your here and more importantly you leave here being the best and safest diver you can be. We are all a big family here working alongside each other daily, but really if you do what you love doing everyday it's not really work now is it!

The work that goes in behind the scenes to make sure the operation runs smoothly is down to the Manager Steve-o and the team of Divemasters. Even though they DMs cannot get instructor awards, we all feel that we have quite possibly the best and most hard working Divemasters on Koh Tao. Their passion and pride is quite obvious once you have had a day diving with them. So yes a big well done for the instructors and their achievements but also a very big, huge, massive well done needs to go to our Divemasters- Nick, Steph, Sunna, Steve, Angel and the Geordie Steven.

And while I'm at it, I can't leave without mentioning the boat and land staff who fill hundreds and hundreds of tanks for us, the drive us around the dive sites of Koh Tao every day, rain or shine. Always smiling and always ever vigilant to the safety of our guests and other divers in and under the water.

Having worked here for a number of years now with some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure (and misfortune) to meet, I hand on heart have to say I couldn't wish to work for a better dive school. (And I have worked at a few!)

 

Flying Jai Swings For Big Blue- get in line ladies

 

Wednesday 14th October 2015flying jai

Massive congratulations are in order to the Flying Trapeze who raised over 160,000 baht for the Koh Tao Rescue Team. Over 400 of Koh Taos finest turned up to show their support for the event. Flying High Jai Kennedy flew through the air in his prissy man tights and dazzled us all with his flexibility doing the splits nearly 10 metre above us, and what a lovely sight it was (said no-one except Ruth). 9 volunteers from various dive schools on Koh Tao joined in the show, flying upside down and being caught at the other end. Gemma who runs the Trapeze put on a great show and a huge round of applause should go her way for teaching these guys everything in just one month.

One of our lovely guests really has fallen in love with the water! Ivana arrived only to do her Open Water certification but has now stayed on and completed her Advanced, Deep and Nitrox Specialties, React Right First Aid and if that wasn’t enough she is now a Level 2 Freediver. She just can’t get enough after finishing university she will be heading back to complete the Divemaster training with us. Now that is dedication for you, well done Ivana!

Some of our lovely spoilt mentors are off with our DMTs to Khao Lak for the first Big Blue liveaboard of the season, they will be off exploring the delights of the Similan and Surin Islands and making the most of the McDonalds which is situated conveniently right opposite the Big Blue Khao Lak office, oh the joys of the mainland! Have a great time and we will look forward to seeing the pictures when you get back!

 

At least Our Staff Can get Out Of Our Pool

 

Friday 9th October 2015getting out the pool

Unless you have been on another planet or your from a weird country you may have noticed that the world is going crazy for the Rugby World Cup which is being played in England. We have a large variety of staff from all over the place and the last few weeks have been interesting. Our Saaaf Aflikan instructor was abused for his team losing to Japan of all teams, and unfortunately for some of us English people we also lost a few too many games to get that far through, but with the groups as they were it was always going to be interesting. Lucky we only have one welsh and one kiwi here so it's been ok. But needless to say we haven't heard the end of it!! So now we aren't into it anymore we can all get back to work and the best thing for all of you coming over here is that every single one of our English instructors can get out of our (swimming) pool so no dramas there.

It has been a busy few weeks to say the least, Rick has taken on Jai to be his new Donnie in the Tech shack, Raqel has been holding her breathe below the waves with her freedivers and the rest of us have been teaching people how to blow bubbles. The weather is hot, the sea is (mostly) flat and the beers are cold. What more could you want. Whether it's recreational diving, technical diving or freediving (it's not free you still have to pay!) we can cater to everyone.

Now changing the subject completely. Koh Tao is a great community to live in, and when the Koh Tao Rescue team asked how we could raise some money for them to help with medical supplies and training new volunteers the Flying Trapeze said they would put on a show. There will be raffles and big prizes, games, and drinks and chances to donate to a very good and much need volunteer service. It's not all diving on Koh Tao and our very own Jai Jai Jai Jai Jai Jai Kennedy has been secretly nipping into the tech shack to put on his sexy 'man' tights and has been swinging about like a fairy hoping that a big burly man on the other end will catch him. Now Jai is no stranger to the Trapeze as he wowed us all not so long ago with his antics a inter dive shop trapeze challenge/ DMT social. Getting top marks he has decided to be he face of Big Blue Diving. Now I have abused him a bit for his tight wearing ways, I can talk about it seriously. The Rescue Team on Koh Tao are unbelievable they are all volunteers who will drop what the are doing to go to the aid of someone who has had an accident. Far too many people on holiday are having motorbike accidents and ATV accidents thinking they are Evil Kenival and not thinking about what blind corners and sand could mean. The majority of the call outs are from bikes. So please if you do come to Koh Tao please be careful on the roads if you do rent a bike, and don't learn here if you have never ridden one before. But any way we will all get to see Jai up high, trying to fly and not die or else we'll sigh and have cry....Go Jai!!!

 

Welcome To Our World

 

Sunday 20th September 2015originalliabarrett

Working as a diving professional has to be one of the best jobs in the world. We get to play around in the water nearly every day having the freedom and tranquillity of being completely weightless and submerged in silence for the duration of the dive. No phone calls, no emails, just peace and quiet surrounded by an environment so foreign to anything seen on land. Believe it or not but teaching new students how to dive while rewarding is also mentally and sometimes physically hard work.  Not only are we taking new divers to breathe under the water for the very first time, we have to make sure you have understood what we have been teaching you in the pool and the classroom, that you are comfortable and relaxed and most importantly you are diving within safe limits. But it is also AWESOME! The days are long but the first jump in from the boat and the first descent into the new world is unbelievably cool! I have lost count on how many times I have given the time to go up sign and received the thumbs down sign along with head shaking ‘no we don’t want to go back up’. The most common question asked by our students here has to be 'Do you not get bored doing the same thing every day?' The answer quite simply is no. Every day and every dive is completely different, yes the dive sites may be the same but you never know what you might find under the surface, and for many of you it is the first time you have seen any of these marine creatures up close and personal. I have been lucky enough to have seen heaps of turtles but I am more excited for you, my students to see one for the first time, being in his/her world and knowing that they are comfortable with you stay and just hang out and watch them eat and swim or chill out on the bottom. Finding a new baby fish on a dive site also gets our juices flowing, seeing a baby harlequin sweetlips or a new baby Nemo still puts a smile on our face. Ask any member of staff now they ended up working for Big Blue and nearly all of them will say that they came here on holiday/ travelling and fell in love with the sea and Big Blue and just never left. Whether it was from doing the open water course here or already being a certified diver the atmosphere is unbeatable and no one ever wants to leave, it may also have something to do with the taste of a nice cold beer after a day’s diving while watching the sun set over the beautiful Gulf of Thailand. Most of us did our Divemaster training here and hung out working or just fun diving and then taking the next step and becoming an instructor. A career change or break from the daily grind back home is never a bad thing and whether it is for 6 months or 6 years the experience you gain whilst working in this industry is second to none and all transferable to any other job in the world, from customer service, sales, multicultural relationships health and safety to managing logistics and paperwork.

So do you want a change and do something different or turn your hobby into a way to travel the world and make some money then why not visit bigbluepro.com for more information on how to have the best job in the world!

Photo courtesy of Lia Barrett

 

This Weeks Favourite Fish- The Yellow Boxfish

Monday 7th September 2015yellow-boxfish

It is Hot Hot Hot right now and the diving is lovely, a couple of Whalesharks have been hanging around lately so everyone is out on our early boats to try and catch a glimpse of the gentle giant.

Many of you travellers are now trying to squeeze as much into your holiday in a short space of time. For those of you who only come to Koh Tao for a night or two we offer a one day try dive, this is not a certification but a taster of what diving is all about. With a maximum of 2 people per instructor we guide you around one of our shallow dive sites, with the option of completing a second additional dive. If after this day you are hooked (which most people are) change your travel plans and stick around for a few more days a get your full Open Water Diver certificate. With nearly all currencies being particularly strong right now it is the best time to come over and get your licence. All of our courses start every single day so no need to worry about availability.

Everybody has their own favourite fish to see and one of the most popular on Koh Tao is the Little Yellow Boxfish. The yellow boxfish AKA Ostracion cubicus, can be found in reefs throughout the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean as well as the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has been known to reach a maximum length of 45 centimetres (18 in). As the name suggests, it is box-shaped, with tiny little dorsal fins and puckering pink lips. When they are juveniles, it is bright yellow in colour with blue spots. As it becomes older, the brightness fades and on very old specimens the colouration becomes blue as the spots get larger. The fish's diet consists of marine algae, worms, crustaceans and small fish.

Interestingly as a defensive mechanism when stressed or injured it releases an extremely poisonous protein from its skin that proves lethal to any fish in the surrounding waters.

In 2006, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its Bionic concept car, which was inspired by the shape of the yellow boxfish. It was assumed that due to the extreme agility with which boxfish can manoeuvre, that their shape was aerodynamic and self stabilizing. However, if you have ever seen one try and swim you may think this is a rather stupid idea and funnily enough when an analysis by scientists was performed they actually found that the boxfishes agility is instead due to the combination of an aerodynamically unstable body and the manner in which the fish use their fins for movement. Good job Mercedes, maybe you should have done your research first!

Welcome To Our New Shop

 

1st September 2015new shop

So it is official the new dive shop is now open and it looks amazing. Lots more space for the shop girls so Jess and the Aeys are happy and the Divemasters have their own little area to work in, it’s all open air (until it rains) and very cool, no air-con needed right now but I’m sure we will be installing some when it gets hot and toasty here. It didn’t take long for us all to get used to it and it’s as if we have been in here for ages.
 
We have recently amended our on-line booking form to include the check the box once you have read through the medical statement. It clearly states that you need to read the statement so please be sure to just to make sure that there are no problems once you get here. If you do answer any yes’ on the form you can print it off and have it signed by a doctor at home before you travel here. This medical goes for ALL courses and for you if you are already a certified diver. We have your health and safety as priority here, so please help us to help you.

It may be getting that time when everyone is heading back to school, but we also have school days everyday here. We have just signed up a new bunch of Divemaster Trainees, who will be working and studying alongside our dive professionals. The course includes classroom lectures, in water workshops and skill demonstrations, but the best part of the course is the unlimited diving every day. The trainees shadow our current team of Divemasters and learn how to lead safely and find all the cool fish, stingrays and nudibranchs. The course also sees them assisting our instructors during all the various courses we have on offer. Divemaster is the first step to being a professional and is the first step to getting paid work in the diving industry. Many of our Divemasters decide to work and gain experience for a few months before they go on the next step of training to become an instructor. The course is designed to allow the trainees to cover all aspects of diving. Many who assist courses realise early on that they want to be an instructor, as the feeling we get when we see the faces of brand new students seeing their first ever parrot fish or turtle is priceless and is the ultimate reward. If you think you have what it takes to be a dive professional, patience, good sense of humour, you are a hardworking team player and have a zest for life you are already half way there. Contact us at bigbluepro.com for more information on the packages we have. Our office is way better than yours!

 

Swim For Sharks 2015

 

group shots4s30th August 2015

This year’s Swim for Sharks was another amazing success. First of all we would like to thank Rachel for organising the event, Shark Guardians who came to give a presentation and show their support, Scotty for roasting us up two pigs on a spit for the meal at the after party, but mostly for the kids who came down to show their support and the swimmers and snorkelers who participate in the swim. The money raised will go to Shark Guardians and Sea Shepherd.

The day started with the young children who came to swim in the pool and play games and have their faces painted, there were also giant sharks made out of sand on the beach (which actually survived all night until the tide came in).

The swim around Koh Nang Yuan is 3.6km or 3600 metres, just to put that into some perspective that’s 72 lengths of an Olympic size pool or 144 lengths of your typical 25m swimming pool in most leisure centres, or 300 lengths of our Big Blue confined pool!  We couldn’t have asked for better conditions, the sea around Koh Nang Yuan was completely flat. A small current around by Green Rock on to the final leg of the swim pushed the swimmers in the last few metres. The competitors who raced went off first, then the snorkelers followed by the fun swimmers.
 
Our very own Nick Bufton had decided that beating his personal best of 54 minutes was his main goal, not surprising as his main competitor was one of Mojos DMTs from New Zealand’s National Swim team who just missed out on qualifiers to The Rio Olympics and decided to go travelling instead! Nick lost obviously but he smashed his PB by 6 minutes, coming in at 48 minutes 45 seconds, only 3 minutes behind the professional Kiwi swimmer. Needless to say we are all extremely proud of him and his efforts for this fantastic event as we are for everyone else who took part.(Far too many names to write).

Koh Taos infamous Trigger fish claimed a few victims along the route stopping to nibble and head-butt the swimmers as they swam over them. FACT more people have been attacked by Trigger Fish than a shark on Koh Tao, probably because there are no more sharks left on Koh Tao as they have been over fished and served up in soups and in restaurants around Samui!

The evening event was just as fun seeing the traditional charity head shaving. Poor Jai Kennedy had his whole head shaved and now he looks like the end of a dirty cotton bud. But the money raised from just last night’s antics came to 75,000 baht and that not with what was raised for the actual swim and t-shirt sales.  
So again a massive Sharky fin thank you to everyone involved.

 

Evolution At Its Stinkiest

 

10th August 2015salps

We have all been pretty slammed with work over the busy July as it is always our busiest time of the year, what with everyone being on their summer holidays. So apologies for not keeping the latest news updated, just not enough hours in the day for me to do it but I’m back now.

This time of year we tend to get some small jelly fish looking things wash up on the beach which then as the tide starts to go out they are left behind and the sun cooks leaving the beach stinking.

They are not jellyfish at all but are called Salps, and unbelievably interesting and important they are…
Salps are part of a group called tunicates, members of this group have a kind of primitive backbone, which jellies lack and no stinging cells. The animals can also "give birth" to long chains of clones, and recent research finds that they may actually be a weapon against global warming.

Part of their life cycle involves asexual budding, where one salp creates a chain of hermaphroditic clones that stay connected, (imagine that, what shall I be today? male? Female? Na lets be both!!!) The chains in some species can get up to 15 meters long. Sometimes, the salp chain comes out in shapes; one species creates a wheel of salps, while another species organizes its chains into a double helix.

Eventually, the salp chains break apart. All the individuals that are released turn into females containing one egg. Males from a previous generation of salps will fertilize the females, producing an embryo. The "mother" then develops testes and goes on to fertilize the eggs of other nearby salps, all while the embryo continues to grow inside of it. That embryo eventually pops out and grows up to create another chain of clones.
Salps' cloning tendencies also let them take advantage of algae blooms. The animals gorge themselves on the algae and pump out chains of salp babies. All that eating also produces large fecal pellets that sink rapidly, as much as a thousand meters a day.

This is a salp's secret weapon against climate change. The algae that they eat uses carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to grow and we produce a lot of it! The salps then eat the algae and all that carbon. When the animals produce their pellets, that carbon sinks to the bottom of the ocean where it's essentially removed from the carbon cycle.

Essentially, salps repackage carbon into big pieces that sink very quickly into the ocean, it's natures unique way of trying to balance out how much CO2 is in the atmosphere.
So as stinky as they are and they feel like squishy crushed grapes when you walk on them after they have been washed up, these little critters are vital to our planet and seeing the swarms of them just goes to show how much we have polluted our planet.

 

New Resort Nearly Ready And A Few Promotions

 

Monday 13th July 2015steveo

Our spanking brand new resort is nearly ready for us to move in to, the last few fittings are being put in, the new doors and windows are on the way, so not long till we can have an official opening party, any excuse for a party is always welcome.

Not only do we have a new resort but we also have a new Dive Operations Manager. Our fearless leader Jim who has been the driving force at Big Blue for nearly 10 years has decided, with much sadness to slowly take a step back from the daily runnings of the show. He is still the Big Man in charge but our new DOM will be taking over the reigns. So without further ado everyone at Big Blue Diving would like to congratulate Steve-o our very own Yorkshire Pudding. Having proved himself over the years and being a staff and customer favourite we are all looking forward to working with him in his new role.

More promotions in store, Guy and Petra have decided to fly the nest and move onto a new adventure, this means a mentor position has been made available, a number of possible candidates were mentioned in this highly valued position and the team has decided that Tim will be joining the 6 person mentor team. Tim has more years that you would think to look at him and is super excited to be back in the professional level training programme. So another big congratulations to Tim.

While I am at it there are also few new additions to the Divemaster team. Steph the unfortunate girlfriend of our sleep walking instructor Mr Silwood and Angel, these clowns have both been around the place for years so we thought to make the place look tidy we would hide them in the shop and put them to work. I would like to say we have the hottest Divemaster team but that wouldn't be true, although Steven does work at the booking office now and Nick is on holiday, so nearly.

 

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