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Big Blue Diving

Friday, 06 July 2018 11:56

Amazing Nudibranch Facts

It takes a certain type of person to get excited by a slug, but when it comes to the slug of the oceans, the nudibranch is something that divides opinion amongst us divers. Love them or hate them, there’s something very satisfying about locating one of these wildly coloured molluscs - I’m of the belief that the people who don’t like them are the ones that can’t find them, after all they can be very small indeed! 

Want to know more about these incredible little works of art? Check out these interesting nudi-facts that you may be unaware of:

Nudibranch comes from the Latin word ‘nudus’ and the Greek word ‘brankhia,’ which means ‘naked’ and ‘gills’ respectively. This is because the little flower-like protrusion on the back of the nudibranch are the gills, exposed for all the world to see.

Some species of nudibranch can make themselves solar-powered! They eat corals which are rich with algae, absorb the chloroplasts of the algae and can then engage in photosynthesis to produce energy.

There are over 3,000 species of nudibranchs, and they can be found either very shallow to depths of around 2500m! 

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Some humans actually eat nudibranchs. Chileans and some islanders in Russia and Alaska roast or boil sea slugs and sometimes eat them raw...it has been described as “chewing an eraser".

Some nudibranchs are poisonous while others simply pretend to be poisonous, which is evident by their vibrant colors which act as a warning to would-be predators. Amongst other things they feed on stinging cells of hydrozoids and store them in their bottoms for protection.

Nudibranchs are hermaphrodites, being simultaneously both male and female (sorry for assuming their genders) and having both a penis and a vag. While mating they both perform the male role of giving the sperm, and the female role of receiver simultaneously. Sexy! NB They cannot do the sex on themselves, for you pervs out there who were wondering.

A Japanese team of researchers obviously wanted to know more about this, and discovered that one species named chromodoris reticulata after sex removed the penis, crawled away with their dongs dragging beside them, then a little later discarded them, to then pull out a new one!

Some nudibranch can make sounds loud enough for us humans to hear! In 1884 it was reported that two species in an aquarium were making a tapping noise, probably trying to ask if they could be let out of the bloody tank, I’d wager.

After a romantic lovemaking session is winding down the siphopteron genus of nudibranch then proceed to stab each other randomly, with one species in particular choosing only to stab their partner right in the head, the charming sod.

Nudibranch unfortunately have a pretty short lifespan; some live up to a year, and others just a few weeks.

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Saturday, 30 June 2018 15:05

20 Weird Jellyfish Facts

So it appears that after spending hours reading about the wonders of Jellyfish for my last blog that I've become hooked on these little wobbling warriors, and with so many different types there's a lot of pretty bizarre facts out there about our little stinging friends. Here I present you with my favourite twenty, hope you enjoy them!

 Jellyfish are NOT actually fish, as they are invertebrates

  • Jellyfish have no brain, heart or bones or central nervous system, and just roam the ocean looking to sting and absorb prey – basically they’re ocean zombies.#
  • If a jellyfish is cut in two, the pieces can regenerate and create two new organisms.
  • If a jellyfish is injured, it may clone itself giving the opportunity to produce hundreds of little baby jellyfish!

  • Despite what a famous episode of ‘Friends’ tells you, you should never pee on a jellyfish sting, as it can actually aggravates the stingers causing more pain.
  • Jellyfish have been swimming in our oceans for over 600 million years, making them older than dinosaurs.
  • There are nearly 4,000 different types of jellyfish in the world with hydrozoa jellyfish accounting for at least 3,700 of them.
  • Jellyfish are between 95 and 98 percent water.

  • Jellyfish range from the size of a thimble to approximately 3 metres in diameter with tentacles that reach 60 metres – that’s as long as two blue whales!
  • A group of jellyfish is called a bloom, a swarm, or a smack. A large bloom can contain 100,000 jellyfish.
  • Jellyfish blooms near Japan can have over 500 million jellyfish, with each jellyfish the size of a refrigerator.
  • There are types of jellyfish that are immortal and can rewind back to when they were babies (the polyp stage) when times are bad, and simply start again!
  • The box jellyfish has 24 eyes which give it a 360-degree view of its environment, much like my ex-wife when I was trying to sneakily watch porn. It is also the world's most dangerous jellyfish, and the most venomous marine creature. Certain species of box jellyfish can kill a person in just a couple of minutes.

  • The smallest jellyfish in the world is the creeping jellyfish. It has bell disks from 0.5 mm to a few mm in diameter, and reproduces asexually by splitting in half.
  • Most jellyfish live a relatively short life that ranges from a few days to less than a year. Some of the smallest ones live only for a few hours.
  • Certain non-poisonous species of jellyfish are considered a delicacy in various parts of the world, with the cannonball jellyfish being the most commonly eaten.
  • The Portuguese man-of-war looks like a jellyfish, but it is not a true jellyfish. In fact, it is not even a single animal! It is a siphonophore, which is an animal made up of a colony of organisms that work together.
  • Most jellyfish are passive carnivores, which eat and poop through the same hole in the middle of the bell!

 

  • A military robotic jellyfish has been created to go on search-and-rescue and survey missions. The silicon ‘Robojelly’ uses hydrogen and oxygen for fuel as it swims, so its only ‘exhaust’ is heat and water.
  • The uncoiling of the jellyfish’s small stingers is one of the fastest actions in nature, with stingers shooting out even faster than a bullet from a gun.
Friday, 29 June 2018 16:58

The Coolest Jellyfish in the Ocean

 

Not something that too many divers want to get up close and personal with, jellyfish have a bad reputation for being annoying, stingy little blighters whose only job in life is to float around and ruin people's holidays whenever they see fit. However, on closer inspection there's really nothing so darn weird and alien-like as these underwater creatures, and here i'd like to introduce you to what I believe are the coolest ones out there:

 

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The Immortal Jellyfish

Hands-down winner not just for the super-cool name, but due to the fact that it could possibly live forever. If that doesn’t make you the hippest jelly on the planet than I don’t know what does!

The Immortal Jellyfish is actually a group of jellyfish, with two species being of particular interest here: turritopsis nutricula (which is found in the Atlantic Ocean) and turritopsis dohrnii (which can be found in Japan). So how the hell is it immortal?

Imagine your life, lived long and full, and just as you were starting to get a bit old and decrepit you decide to simply restart, and go back to the baby version of yourself. Sounds like the type of thing that would get you the number one spot on a list of cool jellyfish right? Exactly. The Immortal Jellyfish has the ability to reverse its own aging, and can return to a polyp or juvenile state. This means theoretically it can live forever, and the only known way they can die is disease, or if they get eaten by another jealous jellyfish.

 darth vader jellyfish

Darth Vader Jellyfish

First discovered in 2010, this kiwi-fruit sized ball of wobbling evil only has four tentacles (lightsabres) and lives in the deep waters off Antarctica. Named due to the obvious similarity to Darth Vader's helmet, athykorus bouilloni lives over 1000 metres under the sea.

Hilariously (for those with a childish sense of humour) it is actually the only species in the genus Bathykorus, which comes from the Greek words for ‘deep’ and ‘helmet’. Insert your own willy-gags here readers!

 

 

 

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Black Sea Nettle

Another marvelous creature of the deep, the black sea nettle (chrysaora achlyos) can be found in the deep water of the Pacific Ocean, and has a bell that can reach a metre long making it a veritable giant amongst jellies. As well as having a huge bell its arms can be up to 6 metres feet long and its stinging tentacles almost 8 metres – not something I’d like to bump into on a night dive.

Though enormous, the species is relatively new to science and not well known – they weren’t actually an ‘official’ species until 1997, and the largest invertebrate to have been described in the 20th century! Apart from a few massive blooms of these amazing blobs of jelly in recent history (in particular in 1989, 1999 and 2010 in Baja and Southern California) there’s a lot of mystery behind the black sea nettles, and where they like to gather is still very much unknown to us as yet.

There have been a few surface blooms of black sea nettles, with the invertebrate giants appearing in large numbers in 1989, 1999 and 2010 but other than these bloom where black sea nettles hang out and what they're up to is still a bit of a mystery.

 

 

fried egg

Fried Egg Jellyfish

It’s easy to see why cotylorhiza tuberculata is better known as the fried egg jellyfish. Also called the ‘Mediterranean jellyfish’ due to where it is commonly found, the bell of the jellyfish is surrounded by a lighter ring, and seen from a certain angle they look very much like a delicious breakfast treat!

The beautiful species can reach 40cm in diameter, and survives for only about six months, from summer to winter, dying when the water cools down. Like many jellies out there, juvenile fish like to hide inside the fried egg jellyfish’s tentacles for protection and it’s not unusual to find crabs on its bell (tee-hee)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking to escape the real world and play with the fishies? As cute as stupid Nemo may be, there's a lot of stuff deep down that'd scare the pants off a penguin, so without further ado I present my top 5 scariest things that I absolutely do not want to be face to face with underwater, unless it's seconds before I bash their heads in with a shovel.

 

goblin shark

Goblin Shark

This disgusting piece of the Lord’s work has been seen off the coast of Mississippi, Australia, giving me yet another reason to not visit that drunken mess of a country where even the Koalas have got bloody Chlamydia (fact). I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want when going for a dip is this old-man’s penis with jagged teeth looking thing nibbling on my nads. Watch out Crocodile Dundee! 

Luckily for us, these mysterious creatures swim in depths of 40 metres to 1,200 metres, and the majority of these fish that have been caught were at depths of between 60m and 280 m. It is believed they eat amongst other things OTHER SHARKS, which really reinforces its No. 1 spot on this list as the scariest bastard lurking underwater. Oh, it also has translucent skin so when you look at it you’re seeing its insides, the big show-off.

 

 

anglerfish

Angler Fish

The proud owner of the ocean’s loveliest smile, these stupid-looking idiots are found mainly in the Atlantic and after spending the last hour looking at pictures of them probably in my nightmares too. These toothy predators like to spend time at depths of around 1000-3000 metres, which is the exact depth I have to dive to escape the nagging off my ex-wife.

There over 200 species of Angler fish, none of them worth giving your phone number to. They’re typically pretty small, though some can reach 1 metre in length.

 

 

 

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Black Swallower

Firstly, this name can lead you to some things on Google that my Mammy told me never to look at as God is always watching, so be careful if you’re doing your own research on this wonderfully-named freak of nature.

Secondly, let me introduce you to worst fatty underwater: this 20-30cm fish is both greedy and incredibly stupid, and lives like so many of these horrifying creatures in deep waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Because they’re such little porkers they will regularly eat things waaaaaaaaaaaay too big for their super-stretchy-bellies, which then explode and they die terribly with their guts all over the place.

That’s what you get.

 

 

 

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Deep Sea Dragonfish

 

This ferocious little shit with huge teeth and a shockingly ugly face lives in most of the deeper oceans of the world. Apart from the terrifying teeth which definitely do NOT belong in that little head, it is also famous for carrying its own little light around with it like a good boy should. Only 6 inches long (that’s massive, girls) it uses this light-producing barbel to attract and confuse prey, which it then rips to shreds presumably with its horrific large fangs to show them who’s boss.

 

 

 

 

frilled shark

Frilled Shark

 First found in Japan in the 19th century by some unlucky so and so, this snakey-looking tooth-filled shark has more recently been found off the coast of Africa to the delight of dentists everywhere.  Featuring 300 trident-shaped, backward facing teeth in 25 rows it’s definitely not a shark to punch in the mouth, and that’s not even thinking about the super-shark spines in the mouth.

Thankfully for all of us declaring never to get eaten up by prehistoric monsters, this 1 metre long sausage with teeth likes to spend time in depths of around 120 metres plus, so the only ones likely to get munched on are our technical divers , which is no great loss really...

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone working in the dive industry will have no doubt at some point in their careers had this very argument; is the divemaster (DM) or the instructor a better job? Ask a divemaster, and they’ll give you the opposite answer to if you ask an instructor, every single time. So who is right? Which is better? Let’s look at the facts right here:

 

 DMM

Divemaster

So what exactly does a DM do?’ I hear you ask. The truth is…pretty much everything needed to run the dive centre!

 

Here at Big Blue the DM on land is responsible for organizing the boats, signing up new divers onto the relevant trips, assigning instructors/students to the correct vessel whilst also deciding which dive sites they’re going to, and ensuring the correct amounts of dive equipment are on the boats ready for the students to use. This seems like a lot, right? That’s because it is! The DM is essentially running the whole dive centre, and without them the place would fall apart very quickly indeed. They also act as the intermediary between the ground staff, captains and management, and are expected to be able to quickly fix any problems that arise in a collected, composed and calm manner.

The land role of the DM, therefore, isn’t the greatest part of the job at all. Quite stressful at times, many decisions need to be made very swiftly whilst knowing in the back of your mind that just one small error could be make or break someone whole dive experience.

 

DM

The reason why the DM job is regarded as one of the best in the world is obviously not for the land based role, but the underwater part. With most of their work being done underwater, every day they are lucky enough to lead certified divers around the best sites, with their safety and enjoyment being of particular importance of course. Whilst guiding underwater their chief role is to find incredible marine life (that most divers wouldn’t be able to spot themselves) and…point at it!

Yes, that’s correct – pointing at beautiful things for a living. What a tough life they lead...

You can see now why so many divers aspire one day to become a real life Divemaster, after all it’s being paid to look for cool stuff just as we do when we’re on our holidays diving for fun, the only difference being that we have to point at it too! It also means that we’re not diving with beginner divers like the instructors, so we don’t have as many depth limits and are encouraged to use features like swim thru’s and play with currents to excite and challenge the divers we’re leading. As the best DM in Thailand (true fact, my mam told me) I know my heart would be broken having to dive our best deep sites like Sail Rock, Chumphon and South West Pinnacle but stuck at 18 metres as I’m teaching an Open Water course, or every other day diving our shallow beginner sites at such dizzying depths of around 8 or 9 metres maximum – this simply doesn’t happen to us DMs!

 

 padi dive instructor teach kids

Instructor

After reading all that about us lovely DMs there’s no way that the instructor role can be worth going for…or can it?

 

I think it all comes down to what sort of person you are, and what you’re hoping to get out of your diving. The instructors are there at the frontline of diving, taking new, nervous Open Water students and turning them from crying/bolting to surface/ripping out regulator divers and (in just days) transforming them into safe, competent and confident Gods of the ocean, gliding around the reefs without a care in the world. This obviously leaves a huge sense of reward for the instructor, and I’ve no doubt that the majority of us would love that feeling of accomplishment when we’ve completed something challenging and created these wonderful new divers – it’s a feeling that’s not always easy to come by in life and it’s right here every single day for the dive instructor.

I also think that the instructor role is a lot more simple than what the DMs must do (but I’m sure lots of instructors may argue with me on this one) as they have it all wonderfully laid out for them. The boats are organized, the equipment packed, tanks provided and dive sites chosen – all they have to do now is be a damn good instructor, and they’re a winner. The DMs however absolutely must find amazing things underwater, or they’ve failed and their divers will surface unhappy – I know just how worrying it is halfway into a dive when you’ve found nothing special!

Oh, and did I mention that the dive instructors get paid a hell of a lot more than the DMs, who make just enough to get by on?

banner padi dive instructor

 

To conclude, the best is what you believe to be the best. If you thrive under a bit of pressure and only want to dive the sexiest deep sites and not have to deal with problems associated with first time divers than DM is definitely the choice for you. If you want to come back from your dives feeling rewarded, having been directly responsible for changing someone’s life for the better, than maybe it’s time to that instructor course!

 

You can sign up for your DMT here and the Instructor training right here

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