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January 2011

Sunday 30th January 2011-a

And again! Man if Scuba Diving was a game of poker we'd have a Full Texas Djin Rummy Hold Em House Flush! Sailfish at Twins yesterday! Less than 3 meters long but bigger then 2 meters & fast as feck! Quickest fish in the sea clocking speeds of over 100 km per hour. The sail is normally kept folded down and to the side when swimming, but gets raised when the sailfish feels threatened or excited, making the fish appear much larger than it actually is. This tactic has also been observed during feeding, when a group of sailfish use their sails to "herd" a school of fish or squid.  They can appear in a startling array of colors, from subdued browns and grays to vibrant purples and even silver. Their body colors are often highlighted by stripes of iridescent blue and silver dots. Sailfish can change their colors almost instantly; a change controlled by their nervous system. The sailfish can rapidly turn its body light blue with yellowish stripes when excited, confusing its prey and making capture easier, while signaling its intentions to fellow sailfish. So whalesharks, bullsharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Marlins, & Brydes Whales. Not bad for January!

Did you know one million plastic bags are used every minute of the day and almost three millions tonnes of plastic are used to bottle water globally each year? Would it surprise you that 80% of all marine debris is plastic? In some areas of the ocean, plastic outweighs plankton 6:1, and on Koh Tao, 3 turtles were killed last year from ingesting plastic bags. So a massive thanks to everyone that helped out at the beach and underwater clean up event yesterday, Koh Nang Yuan is now a cleaner paradise. We had a whopping 52 people participate in our monthly clean up this month, and with 6 million tonnes of debris entering the oceans each year, we needed each one of them. So a big thank you to all who helped out.And a big thank you from The Eco Gods too!

Word of warning travellers who are on your way here over the next few days. Its turned a little choppy! Not quite sure why. The sun is out, the sky is blue, the viz is great, there's no rain but there are quite big waves! So take your seasickness pills, neck your valiums & sleep! Oh yeah & biggest tip of all! Come by Seatran Ferry not Lomprayah Catamaran. Seatran gives you white  bags to throw up in. Lomprayah gives you sea thru bags to examine your breakfast with!

 Thursday 27th January 2011-
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And our reputation for being one of the best dive shops in the world to dive with continues! This morning a Whale shark! Another one. That makes 5 this month! That's more than 1 a week! Add that to our tally of 4 Brydes Whales I'd say we've had a pretty good month! So congratulations all those who lost their Whaleshark virginity this morning. By that I mean all those who have never seen a whaleshark before seeing one today! Not losing their virginity to a whaleshark! That would just be silly. And a bit gross!

SSI Simon is gearing himself up for next weeks mammoth SSI Instructor Training Course with 4 candidates all off whom will also be gearing themselves up for their Instructor Training Course with SSI Simon! 10 days of learning how to teach, control, demonstrate, assess, anticipate & develop their Scuba skills to such an extent that they'll be able to teach their butties off! Their little SSI Butties!

Having a massive influx of bookings for our zero to hero Dive Instructor Internships. Over 7 months you do your Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, 2 months of Divemaster training, then get as much dive experience as possible become an Assistant Instructor then a PADI Instructor, an SSI Instructor & at some point during this whole process become an underwater videographer as well. Included in the package you get 7 months accommodation & a full set of your own dive equipment! And after all this fun you'll then be a fully trained diving professional & we will guarantee you a job somewhere in the world in the dive industry. So anyone else fancy a change in lifestyle? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a good time!

Tuesday 25th January 2011-c

Big Blue Diving proudly presents Koh Tao's newest & probably best boat with the MV Naga, a beautiful wooden Turkish built Sailing & Diving boat with 8 luxury cabins which will be cruising all the best sites in the Gulf of Thailand from Chumphon Pinnacle to Sail Rock, & overnight trips to the Angthong Marine Park or the Chumphon Marine Park! Right now its parked right outside Big Blue here on Sairee Beach & looks really quite spectacular. So in addition to our fleet of 3 boats we are now adding the Naga to our list of things to do on Koh Tao. Not just diving this boat also offers sailing trips around the island & sunset cruises, dinner cruises & private parties. With overnight trips starting at just under 10000 bt this boat is really offerring trips no one else on the island offers. Just another reason to choose Big Blue as the islands best, most original, highly versatile dive shop to spend your holiday with on Koh Tao!

Students at Big Blue are exchanging their BCDs for lab coats and their masks for lab goggles today as they get stuck in to some science! We are collecting samples of algae from corals to investigate the impact of the bleaching last year on symbiotic algae communities. Sound interesting? Come to learn to dive with Big Blue and you could help study the wonderful underwater world with Big Blue Conservation (lab coats not provided).

Confusion and anger rippled through the Phuket and Andaman diving communities recently in the wake of a hasty government decision to close many prime popular diving sites in seven marine parks. The logic behind the closures eludes the dive companies, who do not see themselves as being responsible for the natural phenomenon of coral bleaching. Many are now concerned that the ban on diving at 18 key sites in the seven marine parks – six along the Andaman coast – will simply lead to overcrowding at other popular spots that are in some cases outside marine parks. Coral reefs off Phuket are popular but not included in the marine parks, so pressure is likely to grow at these sites to the point where some dive industry people believe they could be quickly destroyed. Ho hum. 3 steps forward 2 steps back. Amazing Thailand :)

Sunday 23rd January 2011-
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When you're hot you're hot! & right now Big Blue is on fire! This must be one of our most successful months for Marine Life encounters with numerous dives with turtles, Whalesharks, Bull Sharks, python snakes, marlins & then yesterday morning on a routine morning trip to South West Pinnacle we snorkeled with a family of 4 Brydes Whales the largest measuring up to 12 meters in size! So congratulations all our Open Water Students who wisely opted to pay the 9000 Bt for their course rather than do the cheaper priced courses they were being offered on their way over to Koh Tao. You got to dive with Brydes Whales. I hear those bargain hunters did 4 dives off Sairee Beach & 1 dive in the pool! Didn't get on a boat once all course & didn't dive deeper than 10 meters all week! Serves them right for being cheapskates! Serves our divers right for knowing a quality Dive outfit when they see one!

Not the sunniest day I've ever know in Thailand! Don't know quite what happened but today is an atrocious day! Absolutely pouring down! Great for the island & our ever depleting water reserves, terrible for all those who traveled down from Bangkok in their singlets! Well terrible for the girls. Great for the guys! If you catch my meaning. Wink wink nudge nudge!

Just thought you should know, that if you are on your way to Koh Tao in the upcoming few days you should most definitely consider booking ahead. Absolutely no rooms at all last night on Sairee Beach & despite the weather doesn't look like there's been too many check outs this morning either. All our usual affiliate resorts are all full, we are pretty much all full & by the sounds of it its not just Sairee Beach that is chock a block! Chalok Baan Kao is too! Chalok-a-block! Brilliant!

Wednesday 20th January 2011-e

Hi Jim, I just wanted to send a quick note to you and ask you pass on my massive thank you to your team. I have just returned from 2 weeks on Koh Tao where I was simply fully immersed in the 'Big Blue' dive school experience. It is quite simply the best trip I have had in a very long time. I just wanted to thank you and all of the team, from my Dive instructor Nick [Legend] to my 2nd instructor [when I tagged on some dives with some friends he was teaching]... Dan....they were both top top guys. Right through to the DMTs [which I might become early next year] and all the staff in the shop and restaurant and equipment room etc.... I am a massive fan and I know I will now dive for the rest of my life thanks to the team at big blue. I know you guys are busy but if you can pass on this thanks I would much appreciate it. See you all in the future. Have a great year. Jarrod.

Big Blue Tech is honored to win 2 awards this year from TDI/SDI (Technical Diving International - Scuba Diving International) in recognition of our success in issuing the most certifications. Last year Canada won the award for the highest number of certifications in 2009. & this year he's gone & done it again! The second And the second award we won is for being the largest TDI & SDI certifying Dive Center which is a new award for us this year as anohter dive shop won it in 2009.  The success illustrated by these awards shows the continued return of our students and the enjoyed experience new students have to stay with us and progress through the levels of diving we have to offer. Along with our strong business practices, safe diving practices and a good group of instructors and staff we hope our reputation is matched by the image these awards represent. And if this month is any indication we hope to get two more again next year!

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

Tuesday 18th January 2011-
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Off to dive the Trident ship wreck today just south of Shark island for an awesome 30 meter deep wreck dive on the legendary Tech Diving liveaboard. Koh Tao has only 1 proper wreck but it appears we are about to get another! The Department of Coastal resource management have now given their approval for the sinking of a retired Naval vessel 49 meters long 7 meters wide & 18 meters high here in Koh Tao somewhere just north of Nang Yuan Island. That is (pardon my Irish) firkin awesome! Can't wait. Apparently its going to be towed here & sunk sometime in July. Just in time for high season. How thoughtful!

Its the first Full Moon Party of the year tonight & pretty much like every Full Moon party its going to be very big with literally thousands of face painted party people bopping to the sounds of techno techno techno techno! Totally not my cup of tea but then again I am a Duran Duran fan! Anyhow with that many people travelling on to Koh Tao in the days that follow its going to be another week of room chaos with people who haven't booked anything traipsing up & down the beach eventually paying way more than they'd planned for a bungalow they'd normally not choose to stay in but stay in anyway as there aint no choice! If you want my advice... Plan ahead, book a bed!

Ooh dear. Better go there now before they close the place! The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources is seeking the closure of two diving paradises, the Similan and Surin national parks after the coral there was found suffering from bleaching. The scope of the corals destroyed from the bleaching has been wide and unless proper measures are issued, more coral would be destroyed by the phenomenon. "The damage found on the coral for now is vast, probably the worst in history and certainly more than when The tsunami hit this area in 2004. The species affected are the Staghorn, Ring, Double Star and Mountain coral." A request to the National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation Department to close parts of Similan and Surin National Parks has been submitted to prevent any further damage to the coral. A cause of the coral bleaching is the rising temperature of the sea water, which has reached 30 Celsius since the middle of last year. Better book your Liveaboard trip now or you might not be able to go next year!

Monday 17th January 2011-
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Hi Jim, I just stayed with Big Blue for the past week and had a wonderful time. Everyone we met was friendly and inviting. While there, I had the chance to do 7 fun dives and enjoyed every minute. Your DMs and those in training are some of the best I have seen. I wanted to rave on one in particular. I had the chance to dive 3 times with Angel. He is a wonderful guide and was able to find so many things of interest under the sea. I was also very impressed with his navigation abilities and ease in the water. He made me feel comfortable and made each dive a new experience. He is very professional and caters to each divers ability. I also had the opportunity to dive with Megan, James (or Jizz), Jamie and Steven. Really enjoyed each dive and wanted to say again thank you for a wonderful week in koh Tao. Hope to come back soon!! Jordan L.

An underwater cameraman has had a whale of a time while filming off the coast of Tonga. Roger Munns was in Toku - a region of sheltered bays and inlets on the isolated Pacific Ocean island - in the hope of catching on film the mating rituals of giant humpback whales. But while he was able to observe plenty of bulls competing with each other to win a mate, the star of Roger's production turned out not to be one of the fully-grown, 45ft gentle giants. For while the heavyweight males were obviously too pre-occupied with their own love match, an inquisitive calf approached the cameraman looking for a playmate - and spent the next hour posing before the lens. Roger, from Cornwall, said: 'I've heard about calves doing this but I was not prepared for the playful nature at all. 'He seemed to scamper towards us like a giant excited pony and wanted to play tag like a little puppy. I couldn't help but laugh as the calf kept bumping into me with an extremely naughty glint in its eye, but it was clearly in the name of fun. 'Up close you suddenly realised just how big it actually was. The games continued for an hour and I have to admit it was probably one of the most enjoyable hours I have spent in the water.'

Just in case there's anyone out there reading this & wondering if there's any chance of gainful employment in the dive industry here's an email I got this morning from an old friend of mine. "Luxury boutique resort in the Northeast part of Fiji is looking for a PADI Instructor to fill a management role within our dive shop. The ideal candidate must be a Nitrox Instructor and preferably a Gas Blender with several years experience, including management. Equipment and compressor servicing experience is a plus. Current renewal and insurance is required. The Instructor will be part of a three person team in our PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, providing safe and personalized service to our guests. Our resort is located in a remote location, so we require a mature, responsible and personable individual to live on-site and maintain the excellent reputation of our already successful team. Please send your c.v. only if you meet the above requirements to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."

Sunday 9th January 2011-h

We are launching what I'm sure will be everyones favourite competition of the year. Koh Tao's best Bikini. As I'm sure you can imagine one of the hardest things about being a Dive Instructor on a tropical island is having to handle all those bikinis! Us poor chaps get nothing but eye strain having to look at the ladies in bikinis all day long. Last years winner was the Brazillian dental floss as modelled by various fun divers from Germany Italy & Spain. This year we'll be looking for originality. Something you can really wrap your hands around!

In this time of economic misery financial depression & unemployment woes how nice is it to see so many jobs in the diving industry available. & isn't it even nicer to be able to get jobs for our extremely well trained Divemasters who are on the job market not just anywhere but here in Koh Tao. Congratulations Autumn. Great mind body & soul & not a bad DM either! Well done on your new job.

"Hey Jim, Just wanted to drop you a quick line about the recent Stress & Rescue course I did at Big Blue. I'd like to extend my thanks to the team and especially Serena for the time & effort - it was well worth every cent spent. I particularly (post) enjoyed the duress I was put under. I have done different specialities & dives across the globe with different instructors and would like to point out that whilst Serena, as an instructor, was attentive, responsive, and extremely empathetic (or perhaps that was her very friendly nature), she particuarly came across as very clever in how she approached the various scenarious we performed. I have made strong friendships with various instructors and dive masters throughout my time, but I, personally, have only observed the level of the last mentioned skill once before (by a 'drill-seargeant'-esque instructor back home, that observed my open water - who had 10,000+ dives..) Felt the need to give credit where it was due. Anyhow - I am more than likely to come back to explore deep diving with Big Blue if the opportunity arises and would be glad to paired up with Serena. All the best, David." Thanks Dave. I shall be sure to let Serena know how much you enjoyed rescuing her! See you next time!

Saturday 8th January 2011-
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Happy Belated New Year to everyone who reads our Big Blue Blog ( thanks Mum & Dad). I had every intention of writing in an entry for every day of the year 2011 but that New Years resolution went straight out the window when I took New Years day off! & since then Big Blue has been busier than a Free Cheeseburger Party for American teens! Made all the busier by a noticeable absence of Instructors. Heather, Dan & Kelli all got ill. Jodie, Jenn & now Helen are all in the UK, & Emily is bronzing herself up in the tanning saloons in Bangkok! Its a tough life the world of a Scuba Instructor!

The Bullsharks are back! Fantastic news as with the extremely warm sea temperatures this year and lack of small fish, we had small hopes of seeing them this year. It's good to see the water quality improving and the larger life returning with it, but of course we want to keep it that way, so have a read below how to dive best with sharks and enjoy the experience more:
1. Sharks are a rare species to see on Koh Tao, however baiting or attracting sharks with bottles can lead to unnatural behaviour by the sharks. Some sharks are curious and will approach divers, but some can come too close, particular if they associated divers with food. 2. Stay in a vertical position - not many organisms swim in the ocean in a verticle position, and so a shark will not confuse you with food. 3. Stay calm - erratic movements may provoke defence behaviours. If your calm, sharks will be more calm and your dive will be much more enjoyable. 4. Learn about sharks and respect them. They are fascinating apex predators, some of the oldest organisms on the planet, and they deserve our respect. Enjoy your dive with sharks - you won't regret it!

How's this for a great start to 2011. 8 days in to the New Year & we've had 1 whale sighting at Southwest, 2 Full Day trips to Sail Rock, 3 newly refurbished Dive boats, 4 days diving with Whalesharks, 5 turtles, 6 new Divemasters in Training & 7 sick, or absent Instructors! If we keep this up for another 5 days I could see making this into a song!

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