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Win 10 free fundives

 

Saturday 25th October

stickers-on-tanksWith only another 60 days left until Christmas is here we thought it would be nice to give you all a chance to win 10 free fundives with us here. Its not a quiz so no need to send your answers to us on a postcard, but we do want you to send us some pictures of yourselves. While you are here we want you to ask us to give you some Big Blue Diving stickers and then your mission is to take a picture of yourself with the stickers stuck in interesting places? so if you are off to India and you can stick one on the Taj Mahal (without being arrested though please- although inside a prison cell would be a good place to put a sticker too) or if you happen to know someone in the celebrity circles stick it to them. Be as imaginative as possible and give us a giggle too, so if you want to win 10 fun dives grab those stickers and get sticking! Email us your pictures to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. we will announce the winner of this competition in the end of November. Good luck!!

The big bossman was in the bar last night for a quiet (ahem) drink with his beloved team. Its funny how the rounds get bigger when the boss is buying the beer! He was treated to a Dirty Dancing treat when Patrick Swayze wannabe instructors Sid Bufton and Matt Waters began lifting our newly certified Open Water ladies. Luckily no injuries occured as there was plenty of safety catchers willing to help the poor damsels if the were dropped by their dance partners! See what we put on just for you Jim, now have a safe trip back to Samui with clear plastic seasick bags and unseasoned boat travellers. Until next time.

Really bad joke of the day-

How many people does it take to circumsise a whale?

Four skin divers :)

 

Turning Divemasters into Zombies

Friday 24th Octoberscuba-zombies

Time again to say congratulations to some of our newly graduated Divemasters in the time honoured tradition of a Big Blue Divemaster Challenge. Supposedly dressing up as zombies Jai, Brett, Tania, Mikey and Alex were beaten, abused, whipped, spanked and bitten, they moaned and groaned as any good zombie can, then they decided to leave P'Dangs and come to the bar and join us for a little party. Dave, David, Stefan, Ory and Elle, after getting their acts together decided on a homeless theme. Reminders of an old DM who slept at the petrol station and ate out of bins. The Dive Master course is a very rewarding course that develops a wide range of skills both in and out of the water and what better way to say well done but with a night full of games and frivolity! Well Done to you all.

It is the time of year when the wind direction changes leaving the ocean on Sairee beach looking like a mirror and sunsets that drags people away from their dinner and beer to take pictures. And people wonder why we left our mundane lives to come and live here...... hummmm! We have had a few random days of much needed rain but the diving is still amazing. Perfect conditions for all the types of diving we have to offer whether it be a beginner diving course, freediving or technical diving. So don't just think about it get your ass on that ferry and come play.

 

Big Blue from the Air

 

Dive Sites from above
sail-rockHere's something you don't see every day, a photo of Sail rock from the air! It was taken by Big Blue SSI instructor and professional photographer Andy Campbell. He's got one of those "quads", or as I like to call it, a radio controlled helicopter. They seem to be the latest gadgets that people are playing with, and someone has had the brilliant idea of attaching a Go pro to the underneath of it, making it possible to literally look down on the things we see every day! Understandably he was very cautious with it at first, as high tech electronics and water don't tend to mix to well. But over time he's been getting more daring with it, to the point where he'll happily now take it on board the boat and fly it off the deck during his surface interval! We've now got some amazing shots of our fun diver boat Porponawa, and our tech boat Big Blue. When you have such beautiful locations as Chumphon Marine Park and Sail rock in the background, the end result is just stunning. We've also got incredible footage of both our dive resorts, and Sairee beach from the air! If you want to see some of these shots, have a look here at the video uploaded by Big Blue Movies of the 3 day trip to Chumphon Marine Park, organised by the Big Blue Dive Club. If you want to be in any of the aerial shots, then you'll have to come to Big Blue and go diving!

Koh Tao history in brief
It can be quite hard to find out detailed information about the history of Koh Tao, but if you do dig around, you can find some fairly consistent stories of how if came to be the place it is today. It was likely a stopping off point for Malay fishermen for centuries, due largely to its isolated position in the Gulf of Thailand. In the 1800s, there would have been a couple of small villages, while later on in the 1890’s King Chulalongkorn visited the island – which is marked with a monument on Sairee beach. The island remained a quiet place for decades, with a few fishing families and farmers and not much else.
After the Siamese Revolution of 1932, the country moved from being an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy (of sorts). Koh Tao was used as a political prison in a similar way to Koh Tarutao in the South. In 1947, the prisoner inhabitants were given a Royal pardon and shipped off out of exile to the neighboring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. The island was once again abandoned.
The legend then goes that two brothers from Koh Phangan sailed to Koh Tao and settled on the land that is now considered Sairee beach. They farmed and fished and lead a fairly simple lifestyle occasionally trading with those on Koh Phangan.
The Vietnam war came about, which created a tourism boom in Thailand during the 1960s and 1970s for American GIs on R&R. Early backpackers began to explore the Islands in the gulf of Thailand, with dive trips originating from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. The first full moon party being held on Phangan in the late 1980s. Gradually tourism began to increase on the Islands, and the island began to become more and more developed. First with a few simple shops and dive huts, then resorts, and later bars and other non diving related business. Larger ferry companies such as Lomprayah, Seatran and Songserm began to serve the island with overnight buses originating from Bangkok to fill the many spots on a growing dive industry. The island developed its two main areas of Sairee beach (which is now full of nightclubs, resorts and dive shops) and the sleepier “local” side of Chalok Ban Kao as well as the busy port of Mae Haad.

 

 

Chumphon Marine Park 3-day trip!

 

3-day trip and full day trips
chumphon-marine-parkAll dive bags are packed, the breakfast and lunch have been ordered, and hopefully everyone participating will have had (by the time this goes to press) a good nights sleep and not overslepted for the 6am departure to begin their three day, 8 dive trip to Chumphon Marine Park! Organised by the Big Blue Dive Club (running out of Big Blue Tech), the trips have become a monthly event, with the aim of allowing people to dive some of the less frequently dived areas within the Gulf of Thailand. The previous trip to Angthong Marine Park was a great success, and this trip looks to be even better, for the simple reason that we already know that the diving is epic there!
Big Blue Diving is the only dive resort on Koh Tao that goes to Chumphon Marine Park, and in all of the full day trips we've run there, we've never known the visibility to be bad. In fact its always been amazing! Also, because the dive sites are not often dived, the fish are more curious of divers. Plus, well, you know, it's a protected area, so the marine life is thankfully extremely abundant. It also has a purposely sunk wreck called the HTMS Prab, which is now a haven for all manner of marine creatures, and sits much shallower than the HTMS Sattakut.
If this is all making you jealous don't despair, although you've missed out on this trip there will be others. Additionally, on the 21st we are running a full day trip out there on our fun diver boat; Porponawa; the fastest dive boat in the universe! Three dives, breakfast, lunch, chocolate brownies, water and as many soft drinks as you can cope with! If you're interested, you just need to go to the Big Blue office to sign yourself up.. then all you have to do is turn up on the day!

Blue Whale numbers on the rise
It's not often we get good news about the state of the marine ecosystem, but here's some encouraging research. California blue whales are believed to have increased in number to up to 2,200! Historic whaling of these incredible animals saw 346,000 of them killed in the colder waters surrounding Antarctica, but since the practice was banned in 1966 they have increased their populations dramatically. The Californa whales live accross a huge area, from Alaska to Costa Rica. The number of blue whales caught in the Pacific was much lower, approximately 3,400 between 1905 and 1971, and their numbers are not as accurately known as for the California whales. But it's a good sign that protecting them has paid off. Let's hope their increase in numbers continues.

 

 

Rest in Peace Cesare Benelli

 

Cesare Benelli
Cesare-benelliSome very sad news this week, the founding father of scuba diving in Koh Tao passed away; Cesare Benelli. Many years ago he set up a dive school in Koh Samui, called Samui International diving. This was the first dive school in Samui and he took divers to sites such as Sail rock. Not one to just do the same old thing, he realised that as more and more people came to learn to dive or go fun diving, he needed to be able to offer them more, so started exploring the Gulf of Thailand. It wasn't long before he began running trips to Koh Tao, which, in those days was an overnight trip... no lomprayah ferries back then! He discovered many of the dive sites that we visit every day, and legend has it that he named White rock, Red rock and Green rock after the colours of the Italian flag, his homeland.
Seeing that the diving in Koh Tao was better than in Samui, he opened the first dive school here- Planet Scuba. Over time more and more people were drawn to Koh Tao to come diving, and so it slowly developed into the diving mecca it is today. I'm sure it was only a matter of time before people discovered the diving on Koh Tao, but Cesare was the driving force in making it popular early on.
Cesare brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people through discovering the beautiful dive sites we have. May you rest in peace.

Koh Panghan Airport
Announced to great fanfair in 2011 that a new airport was going to be built on Koh Panghan, once construction began everything seemed to go very quiet. But they have a website and everything, and apparently the opening date is now going to be September 2014! Wait a minute, it is Septemeber 2014.... So who knows how close to completion it is, and when it will be finally open for business. The runway will be much shorter than at Koh Samui airport, due to the mountenous terrain, so ti will be limited to 50 seater turboprops, and initially will only run two flights a day to bangkok and back.
It will be interesting to see what the costs will be though, i'm sure they will be very competitive, and it's an hour nearer than Samui, so hopefully it will be a viable option for getting to Bangkok cheaply. No doubt there will be a grand announcement once it's all completed.

 

 

Great time to visit Big Blue

 

September is go!
chumphon-sidemountTrue to form, September is looking good so far on Koh Tao. The sea is flat calm, the weather is scorching hot, and the underwater visibility is absolutely breathtaking! Every dive site is just incredible to dive at the moment. At Chumphon pinnacle yesterday you could see the bottom from the boat, and when diving the pinnacle you could see way way off into the distance; even the thermocline at 40 metres seems to have gone on holiday! I dived the HTMS Sattakut a few days ago- our very own purposefully sunk artificial reef, and again you could see practically the entire vessel from the surface, all 48 metres of it, which is unheard of!
There is a huge array of marine life all over the place too, in the last month we've seen whalesharks, a pod of pilot whales and false killer whales, and on the macro scale the Bruce Lee of the ocean: the mantis shrimp.
September is always a great time to visit, but this is the best one in years! It's a little quieter than usual too, probably because people have been put off visiting Thailand due to the coup. Yet it hasn't affected anything, there is no curfew, no army presence on Koh Tao (and barely any visible signs in Bangkok either). Life continues as it always has- great diving, Sun, sea, lounging on the beach, and a huge choice of amazing food to choose from. Bet you're annoyed you went to Blackpool instead now aren't you....

Mantis Shrimp facts
These little critters are amazing in every conceivable way, so here's a few facts to show you why:

- They can grow up to 11cm long.
- They're very brightly colored. Their shells can be blue, green, red and orange. The forearms are often covered with spots.
- Their eyes are located on long stalks that move independently. They have exceptional eyesight that is used both for the detection of prey and predators.
- Their eyes are also the most complex in the animal kingdom. They can see ultraviolet and polarized light. They have trinocular vision which means that they can see objects using one of the three different parts of eye.
- All mantis shrimps can be divided on spearers and smashes, based on the morphology of appendages and tactic they use to kill the prey.
- Spearers have spiny appendages that are used to stab soft-bodied prey such as different types of worms and fish.
- Smashers have club-like appendages that easily smash shell of snails, oysters, crustaceans and molluscs.
- They attack their prey extremely quickly- 50 times faster than the blink of an eye. With a velocity of 10 meters per second, their punch has the power of a .22 calibre bullet.
- Smashers are famous for their incredibly strong punches that can break the glass of an aquarium!
- Most species of mantis shrimps are solitary and territorial creatures. They fiercely defend their home against intruders.
- They are able to recognize their neighbours by smell, and also by their shape.
- Some species of mantis shrimp are monogamous and spend up to 20 years together. During mating, they often fluoresce.
- Females can lay eggs in the burrows or keep them in their forelimbs until they hatch. Some species exhibit parental care. The female lays two sets of eggs, one for her and the other for the father to take care of the eggs until they hatch.
- Larvae of mantis shrimps swim as a part of zooplankton up to 3 months. They show aggressive behaviour even during the larval stage.
- Mantis shrimp can survive more than 20 years in the wild.

 

Changes at Big Blue Conservation

 

New manager at Big Blue Conservation
lizzieSad news today, our head of Marine conservation, Lizzie May is moving on to pastures new and leaving Koh Tao. She's decided to go back to University, which involves getting up late, not really doing anything, and then getting drunk every night. Why she has to go half way around the world to do that I don't know.. she could do that right here!
But seriously, she applied for uni, and based on the work she's done at Big Blue conservation they practically begged her to do the marine biology course!
Lizzie did a fantastic job for us here getting the message out about the importance of looking after our oceans, organising and leading beach clean ups, teaching marine conservation courses, planting coral in our coral nursery and showcasing why it matters, and of course, organising this years hugely successful swim for sharks charity event.
We'd like to thank her for all she's done and wish her all the best with her studies and beyond.
Rachel Linarts will be taking on the role of managing Big Blue Conservation. She's got a lot of experience as a dive instructor, through teaching people to dive in the freezing waters of the UK! She's been on Koh Tao for over 3 years and has probably just about acclimatised to the warm water by now! She is hugely passionate about marine conservation and will no doubt put her own stamp on the eco-shack. Good luck Rachel!

10 things you can do to save the ocean
Given the eco theme, it seems only fitting to get the marine conservation message out. Read these and then do them"

1. Try to reduce your Carbon Footprint and save energy that you use- Your everyday actions contribute to the effects of climate change.
2. Make Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices- Global fish populations are plumeting because of over-fishing, loss of habitat and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for over exploited species by choosing seafood that is healthy and sustainable- no-one wants to see a dead, lifeless ocean.
3. Use less plastic- Plastic floats around in the oceans for a long time before finally degrading, during which time it entangles tens of thousands of marine animals. They also eat it, which not surprisingly also kills them
4. When you go to the beach, clean up after yourself- If you're feeling really helpful go and help out beach clean ups.
5. Don't Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life- Don't buy coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products. Don't release those lantern things into the ocean, they kill turtles.
6. Only buy dog food that contains sustainable seafood- Much of it currently comes from over-exploited sources, which contributes hugely to their decline. 
7. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean- There are loads of them that are local to you, and they all do important work
8. Speak out about marine conservation- Contact your local parliamentarian and lobby them to enact laws to protect the oceans. 
9. Act responsibly when on the ocean- whenever kayaking, or on a boat, never throw anything overboard. 
10. Educate Yourself about marine conservation and marine life- The more you know, the better decisions you can take and influence others that will help conserve the oceans!

 

Pride of the Fleet returns

 

Waverunner is Back!
MV-waverunnerFinally, the news we've all been waiting for, our flagship boat MV Waverunner has arrived from it's monumental refurbishment in Chumphon, and it's looking amazing! She arrived two days go to zero fanfare becuse no-one recognised her! But on Wednesday morning Big Blue divemasters and instructors arrived for work to see a huge dive boat moored up with a Big Blue paint job. Some of them were convinced it was just a cheap copy from China, but when viewed through binoculars it was obvious that such fine workmanship could only mean it was the real deal.
Yesterday it was used in anger to take our open water students out on their first two open water dives, and it behaved like a dream. The difference in interior design is astonishing. Before the refurbishment having more than 15 divers setting up their equipment was like trying to go skipping in downtown Tokyo and not get arrested. But now you could easily fit 60 people on board, have them all set up at the same time and then swing their regulators around their heads without touching anything! There is a, you guessed it, huge area upstairs for relaxing out of the Sun, and there's even a mobile phone charging point!
The captain has been arranging the Feng Sui in his cabin, and by the constant smile across his face he must be pretty happy with it.
Every single employee at Big Blue cannot wait to get on board and see it for themselves. It's taken a while to completed, but it was worth the wait and we're all really proud of it.

Jet skis
Whilst on the boat the other day at Mango bay, I noticed that there are two new naval vessels operating in the area- a couple of jet skis. Now, i'm not really jet ski-ist, as they are a lot of fun to ride around on, but I really can't think of many things that would be worse for Koh Tao than jet skis whizzing around all over the place. Why? Because they are hired mainly by people who, a- have no idea how to ride them, b- may well have been drinking, and c- Are not aware of things they need to look out for and where they should and shouldn't drive them.
Mango bay is the perfect example of this. It's a great location for taking try divers or open water divers out on their first ever dives in the ocean. It's shallow, it's mainly sand, the sea bed slopes really gradually, and you can show them some beautiful marine life without fear of them damaging the coral. On the surface there are of course longtails to be careful of, but this is why divers use Deplayed Surface Marker Buoys (DSMBs), and also use the ears attached to the side of their heads.
Someone on a jetski will be going so fast they won't notice bubbles on the surface that show the position of divers underwater, and they wouldn't know what a DSMB is or what it is for.
The two jetskis I saw ran straight over two DSMBs that were close together, and just carried on going. I don't think I really need to explain why this was dangerous and stupid.
There are lots of jet skis in Pattaya, we don't want them in Koh Tao, it has a totally different vibe here and we want to keep it that way, so lets hope that they disappear soon and we don't see anymore.

 

2014 Swim for Sharks

 

Swim for Sharks went Swimmingly!
swim-for-sharksThis year's Swim for Sharks was a great success, with 20 competitors and fun-swimmers making their way around the Islands of Nang yuan yesterday afternoon. The overall winner was a young lad called Bonk, who covered the 3.4kms in an astonishing 56 minutes and 40 seconds. Second place went to Big Blue instructor and previous winner Nick Bufton, with an impressive 1hr 1 minute swim. Third place went to Rachel Linearts, who did it in a very impressive 1hr 14 minutes.
Once the competitors got back to land and had a few hours rest, it was time to go to the Big Blue bar for a big party and a raffle... in that order. Everyone was buying t-shirts, wristbands and raffle tickets to help raise money for shark conservation projects, and in between boogieing the night away some amazing prizes were given away, including a sharkskin rash vest, two tickets for a luxury hotel in Koh Tao, a Mares dive computer provided by SSI, and a free sidemount course provided by Big Blue Tech.
For any residents of Koh Tao that may be wondering why there seems to be an outbreak of mohicans today, it's because they all shaved for sharks too! Offering to part with their barnets to raise some more cash. Even Big Blue videographer Barry put his money where his mouth was and forced to see his much-loved blonde locks fall to the floor with each swipe of the razor. Mini Ant, or Tony, as we like to call him seemed to enjoy that a little too much, but it was all for a good cause and Barry (and all the others) were more than happy to look ridiculous for the next few weeks!

Top 10 amazing creatures of the ocean
Completely unrelated to Koh Tao in any way, shape or form, but pretty fascinating nontheless, Big Blue Conservation have been posting facts about the most amazing creatures in the ocean, and some of them are pretty damn grizzly to say the least. Here's one of the oddest ones; the tongue-eating louse.
This parasitic crustacean latches onto the tongue of its primary victim, the spotted rose snapper, and doesn’t let go. Once it does, the louse sucks the blood out of the tongue, until the organ wastes away. When that happens, the louse essentially becomes the new tongue, attaching its body to the stub of the old organ. It then feeds on the remains of food that the snapper doesn’t completely swallow.
Amazingly, the snapper isn’t harmed too much by the entire process as it continues to live and feed after the louse makes a permanent residence. Though the spotted rose snapper is the louse’s main target, the crustacean has been found sporadically in several other species.

 

Big Blue Selfie

 

Big Blue Selfie
big-blue-selfieSwim for Sharks 2014 is almost underway, and I don't want to bombard you with posts about it, but it is for charity, and there seems to be more and more amazing prizes being given away every day. Big Blue Conservation has just launched #bigblueselfie, which is open to any previous Big Blue customer. All you have to do is have a photo taken of yourself wearing a Big Blue t-shirt in front of a famous landmark, or some kind of jaw-dropping backdrop somewhere on the planet. Then you simply have to share it to the Big Blue Diving facebook page... easy! We've had some interesting ones already, including the ASDA car park in Lancaster, UK... classy I know.
But why bother? Well i'm glad you asked. The winner will receive a FREE Deep, Wreck, and Nitrox course, worth around 15,000 baht! This will increase your maximum diving depth for 40 metres, allow you to stay at depth for longer through the benefits of nitrox, and teach you how to navigate safely around a wreck. What more could you ask for from simply having your mugshot taken in a certain t-shirt? It's also an incentive to get yourself back over to Koh Tao!
The competition has already begun, and closes on the 31st August 2014. The prize voucher is valid until 31st August 2015. To get you started, to the right is one of our instructors Phil on a recent holiday in Germany at Neuschwanstein Castle.. lovely stuff!

Sharkfin imports
This time last year, it seemed like an unwinnable battle, trying to prevent sharkfinning from happening, or stopping the fins themselves from being imported into the Countries where they are consumed. But then a campaign was begun that gained momentum fast, which led to 15 intercontinental airlines deciding that they would ban shark's fins from being carried on their flights! Now Thai Airways has also made the decision to embargo shark fins... hurrah!! It's only a matter of time before other airlines follow suit, and the illegal industry will find it way harder to get their product to market. Let's keep the pressure up!

 

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