• +66 (0) 77 456 050
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
August

August (25)

Saturday, 18 August 2018 02:05

Where to go in Chiang Mai

Written by

 

For many backpackers a trip to Thailand isn’t complete without a visit to the fabulous north, where Chiang Mai, Pai and Chiang Rai offer the traveller a chance to see a hint of the old Thailand, where the pace of life is still relatively slow and mountains, temples and jungle replace the sun-drenched beaches of the south. Here we will be looking at the most popular of the three, the old capital of the Lanna Kingdom and favourite of the backpacker, beautiful Chiang Mai.

 

One of the most popular destinations in Thailand, the spirit of Chiang Mai is evident almost immediately when you step out on to the street for the first time and take in all the city has to offer. The life here is very relaxed, and the natural beauty of the place is matched only by the wonderful openness of the locals. A week can easily turn into a month here, and there’s not many who leave Chiang Mai never to return - once the true beauty of the place captivates you, your next trip is usually never too far away.

 

Here we will take a look at my 5 favourite, slightly more unusual things to do and see whilst exploring the city and its surrounding areas:

 

Huay Tung Tao Lake’s Floating Restaurants

A 15-minute ride out from the city, this lovely lake flanked by bamboo huts to relax in overlooks the mountains of Doi Pui, and for some reason is a lot more popular with locals than us farang, which I think really adds to its charm.  Try to give yourself at least half a day here, and don’t have too big a breakfast before going – you’ll probably yourself eating delicious local treats the whole time you’re there!

All you need to do is select a little hut, take a seat and staff from the nearest restaurant will be right over to take your order – papaya salads, grilled fish and other northern delicacies are the main items to choose from, as well as beer, whisky, fruits, ice cream and the ubiquitous fried insects that seem to be everywhere nowadays. Those wanting to swim are welcome to take a dip, and it’s also possible to cruise the lake on some wondrous plastic swan ‘pedalos’. For those wanting to stay on dry land there’s also a nice little cycle path round the lake, with bicycles readily available for hire.

 

107 Don Kaeo, Canal Road. 50 baht entry for non-Thais, 20 baht for locals.

 

Open daily, from sunrise to sunset.

 

 

‘Bua Thong’ Waterfalls

 

Widely known as the ‘Sticky Waterfalls’, no trip to Chiang Mai is complete without a visit to these beautiful multi-tiered falls.  Just an hour and a half drive from the city centre, the limestone rocks in these waterfalls are covered in a scaly mineral residue which gives a nice grip meaning it’s possible to actually walk up them, through the cascading water - it’s because of this that they have been nicknamed ‘Sticky’. Surrounded by beautiful forests full of butterflies and small flowers, the falls are a great way to cool off after walking through the foliage, but be aware that it can be a pretty challenging walk up them – you’ll certainly feel it the next day!

 

Best visited on a weekday, with the falls getting pretty busy on the weekends

 

 

Moo 8, Mae Ho Phra, Mae Taeng, 50150

Open daily, sunrise to sunset

 

 

Bo Sang Umbrella Village

Just outside of Chiang Mai, lies the small craft village of Bor Sang (which can sometimes be spelled a little differently), which is famous for its beautiful, handmade paper umbrellas. Used primarily to protect the wealthy, fashionable Thais from the sun in the past, they are now more often used for decoration purposes such is their beauty. Meticulously hand-painted on bamboo and mulberry bark, these exquisite umbrellas seem to be the only thing the whole village does and to wander round the streets watching the different stages of creation is really quite fascinating, and can produce some incredible photography opportunities especially in January during the Umbrella Festival.

 

Bo Sang, San Kamphaeng, 50130

Best visited in the mornings, which gives the best light for your photographs

 

 

Get a Massage from a Convict

If you have never had Thai massage, it’s something everyone should experience at least once. A combination of pushing pressure points with yoga-style stretches, it often feels like the masseur is trying to squeeze farts out of your body for an hour but leaves you feeling very invigorated – perfect for recovering from your exploring of this mountainous region.

An usual way to experience this (or less vigorous massages for those not wanting the abuse of a Thai massage) is at the Chiang Mai Women Correctional Institution Vocational Training Center, where the treatments are offered by current inmates as part of their rehabilitation. The guards are on duty, but the experience is relaxing and the convicts very talented indeed, oft described as the best massage to be had in Thailand.

Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District 50200

Open daily from 09.00 – 16.30

 

Catmosphere Cat Café

It’s a café. There are many cats to play with. There is a space theme. The owners are a bit quirky, seem to hate kids (yay!) and insist on you calling the 20 odd cats only by their names OR ELSE.

Why the hell wouldn’t you go?

 

233/5 Huaykaew Rd, Tambon Su Thep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai 50300

Open daily from 10.00 – 20.00

No dogs allowed

 

 

 

After a bit of a whaleshark dry spell of only 3 in the last 2 weeks (all at Sail Rock) our lucky fundivers and Advanced students today managed to cross something else off their bucket lists, with a beautiful young specimen stopping by our best local site of Chumphon Pinnacle.

Initial reports have declared it to be either 3 metres long, or 4m, or possibly 5m, and of course there are a couple of people out there who have decided there were two – it’s not uncommon for people too see one, turn 360 degrees, see the same one again but decide it was another!

 

To celebrate their return we should have a look at my 3 favourite facts of the mighty whaleshark:

 

  • Despite its name, the whaleshark is not a whale and is in fact the world’s largest fish, reaching lengths of 12 metres. Weighing them isn’t so easy, but researchers from the Okinawa Aquarium that imprisons them have managed to weigh one of their larger individuals, which was over 7000 kg!

 

 

  • Experts believe they reach maturity around age 30, but their life expectancy is still a mystery to us. Some ichthyologists say they die in the sixties, while others believe they can live till around 100 to 150 years old, which is approximately as old as the clothes our favourite instructor Neil Draycott

 

 

  • No two whalesharks on the planet share the same markings! Just behind the gills of a whaleshark is a unique pattern of white spots, which can be used to identify the fish. Interestingly, the method to identify them has been adapted from The Groth Algorithm, which is a pattern-recognition formula used by NASA to map the countless star fields observed by the world’s super telescopes like the Hubble. Jason Holmberg and NASA astrophysicist Zaven Arzoumanian, the guys behind this technique, simply adapted the algorithm to read white spots on the whaleshark, rather than white stars against the black night sky!

 

Sign up for your chance to dive with one of these incredible beasts here , or if you’re not already a diver take a peek right at this

Friday, 10 August 2018 08:55

The Monsoons of Thailand

Written by

I’d go as far to say that everyone is obsessed with the weather when backpacking Thailand. Everyone seems to want the same thing – sun, blue skies, hot and tropical, just like in the brochures and websites we’ve all been religiously studying since we first booked the trip.

A trawl through the many online forums dedicated to SE Asia and Thailand in particular will, again and again, have the same questions and more often than not the same incorrect and badly researched replies –

How’s the weather in Thailand in August?”

Monsoon!”

 

In fact, this is absolutely not the case for the whole country!

 

Thailand has 3 distinct seasons compared to the 4 most of us are used to: hot, cool and wet. The hottest and driest months of the year are usually April and May, while the monsoon rains (and rough seas) that hit the country every year actually depend on what side of the country you’re on. We’ll look at it in more detail here:

 

The Gulf Islands of Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan       

Ah, the lovely Gulf Islands. Three tiny little specks on the world map that we at Big Blue call home, these beautiful islands have been popular with visitors all year round for over 20 years now, and it looks like that will continue for many years to come.   

The monsoon season on these islands differs greatly from the rest of the country, with it coming much later in the year – the rains tend to come in early November, reach their peak towards the end of the month and generally subsiding around Christmas. It’s still hot (it’s very rarely cold here) and if you’re into frogs it’s a marvelous time to visit Koh Tao, but if it’s the promise of days and days of blue skies that brings you here then it may not be the best time to visit us. It doesn’t rain every day, but pack a raincoat if you are heading over then. Diving is still possible, with 5 or 6 of our dive sites sheltered by the island from the big waves that accompany the storms that pepper us during these monsoon months

 

 

The Andaman side, South-West Thailand

On this side of the country (Phuket/Koh Phi Phi/Krabi etc) the monsoon sweeps a continual stream of moist air from the Indian Ocean sometimes as early as April/May, but starting in earnest in June and continuing usually until October. This brings with it the excellent tropical storms that show you the real power of nature, with big waves and heavy rain being the norm. September tends to be the wettest of these months, and you’ll find a lot of island resorts will actually close down completely during the monsoon season here. Boat trips will also be susceptible to cancellations due to bad weather, and any that do still go out may get a little…bumpy!

 

Chiang Mai and the North

Increasing in popularity over the years, Chiang Mai, Pai and Chiang Rai in the north of the country are always busy with travelers no matter what time of year you visit, but for those wanting that tropical shit again it’s a good idea to avoid the monsoon periods, which tend to be a little longer than in the rest of the country. The monsoon usually starts in May, reaches its peak in July/August and can continue all the way up to November. The trekking, rafting and hiking that’s so popular in the north is obviously affected a lot, but for those looking for the waterfalls at their fullest there’s no better time to visit – bring a good sturdy pair of walking boots if that’s the case, it gets very muddy. Also please try to stay out of those bloody caves too, okay?

 

The Eastern Islands – Koh Chang, Koh Kood, Koh Mak

Some of my favourite islands to visit in Thailand, the monsoon unfortunately hits this trio of islands pretty hard. Starting around May, it reaches its crescendo of downpours in July/August/September and winds up around the beginning of November. The seas get very rough during this time making swimming and any other ocean-based activities dangerous at times, with tourist drownings not an uncommon occurrence unfortunately.

 

Of course with the monsoon rains come some really good bargains to be had with accommodation options, with my last trip to Koh Chang costing me just 200 baht per night for a simple bamboo bungalow during August and September, after a fair bit of haggling.

 

 It did nearly blow away, but that’s beside the point…

 

Ultimately, the weather in Thailand can be pretty unpredictable. There have been years when the Koh Tao monsoon lasted a couple of weeks, other times when it’s still been in full swing all the way into January. I’ve had beach holidays on the islands of Koh Lanta and Koh Phayam on the Andaman side of the country smack bang in the peak of their monsoon and had nothing but blue skies, and have been nearly washed away by rains in Bangkok’s supposedly driest months.

The secret is to pack a rain-jacket, enjoy the rain when it comes – it may last a few hours, or just a few minutes. To watch the storms approach is something really awesome, with electrical storms on the horizon a sight that really blows you away if you’re lucky enough to witness them…and when it all starts getting a bit too much for you get yourself underwater where it never rains!

 

 

Sunday, 05 August 2018 11:55

Where to Stay on Koh Tao?

Written by

When choosing to visit our little island here in Southern Thailand, one of the first things you’ll need to decide on is where you want to stay when you get here. In this blog I’m going to look at the three most popular beaches on the island, Sairee, Mae Haad and Chalok Baan Kao.

Sairee Beach

For visitors looking to experience the best sunsets Koh Tao has to offer, this lovely 1.8 km long beach on the west side of the island is the place to be. With the largest range of shops, bars, cafes restaurants and dive centres on Koh Tao this is the busiest beach, and it’s also home to the most social hostels on the island, and some very luxurious beachfront resorts making Sairee Beach the Number 1 choice for families, couples, singles & for all those adventurous travellers out there backpacking Thailand.

Most of the beach is idyllic coconut palm-lined, with the occasional Causarina (also known as the Australian Pine) providing much needed shade, without the terrifying prospect of coconuts dropping onto your skull. Another tree to keep your eyes peeled for on Sairee is the Barringtonia asiatica, (or ‘Fish Poison Tree’) with its beautiful flowers that often scatter the beach early in the mornings.

 

The snorkelling here isn’t too bad with angelfish, bannerfish, parrotfish, a few giant barracuda and the occasional turtle to be found in the shallow coral gardens just a few minutes off the beach.

Sairee Beach is also a great place to depart for Nang Yuan island from especially if you fancy a quick 20 minute paddle out in a kayak, or one of those new SUP boards.

For those wanting to let down their hair and enjoy some of the best parties Koh Tao has to offer then Sairee is definitely the place to stay. Popular places include BND Beach Club, Choppers, Fizz, Lotus Bar, Fishbowl, Maya Beach Club, Diza Bar, AC Pool Party and many more!

 

Places to Eat

A huge selection of restaurants and cafes means it’s easy to find something to keep even the pickiest of eaters happy, and it’s also home to arguably the best restaurants on the whole island too.

Well worth checking out are Duck 995, Tik, Seasons, Su Chilli, The Gallery and the ‘711 Food Court’ for Thai food, while those looking for Western/Fusion should try Baia Burger Concept, Barracuda Restaurant, La Pizzeria, Blue Water Café and Portobello’s.

Vegetarians and vegans should take a look at Vegetabowl, Lanta Restaurant, Shalimar (Indian) and Breeze for the most delicious meat-free options in the area.

 

Mae Haad

The port town where everyone first arrives on Koh Tao, Mae Haad has a lovely charm about it with the narrow streets revealing hints of what the island used to be like before tourism really hit. It’s got a good selection of clothing and souvenir shops and there are also a few stores specializing in scuba equipment for those looking to start a new diving career on the island

The narrow beach is okay for swimming and snorkelling, but the boat traffic in and out can get annoying and also contributes to the litter problem that a lot of the beach suffers from.

Home to a few excellent places to eat but not as lively as Sairee, it tends to attract a slightly older crowd and those just too damn lazy to go any further after getting off the ferry. It’s also a pretty good place for sunsets, which are often the backdrop to hundreds of swooping Asian palm swifts (Cypsiurus balasiensis) out for their evening meal – one hell of a sight for bird-lovers out there, though quite noisy too!

Party lovers may find Mae Haad a little too quiet for their liking, but with Sairee Beach just a twenty minute stroll (or a one hour drunken stumble) away it’s not completely cut-off from the action

 

Places to Eat

The town has a handful of excellent eateries for all tastes, in particular Whitening with its Thai/Western fusion and international dishes, Kakureya for delicious Japanese cuisine, Neptune  and Dolce Vita for authentic Italian delights and Pranee Kitchen or Yang’s Restaurant for good yet cheap Thai food.

Vegetarians and Vegans would be fools to miss La Carotte Qui Rit, and Coconut Monkey is also very popular with those with a penchant for veggies over beasties.

 

Chalok Baan Khao

The third largest beach on Koh Tao and the quietest one of the three I’ve talked about here, Chalok is for some reason home to the majority of our French and Spanish-speaking visitors to Koh Tao. The shallow bay is perfect for those not-too-hot at swimming, and it’s often quite popular with families because of this fact.  Unfortunately the snorkeling here is not so great due to these shallow depths.

As Chalok faces south-west it’s not the best place on the island for those classic sunset photos Thailand is famous for, but being near a handful of incredible view-points more than makes up for this fact – the ‘John Suwan’ viewpoint in particular is well worth the half-hour hike to get there!

The lack of people here is the real draw of Chalok Baan Khao to its visitors – even in high season you get a real feeling of being away from it all, but with 711 just a few minutes away there’s still plenty of home-comforts available for those less-willing to cut all ties to the real world! Nightlife options are a lot more limited as to be expected apart from a handful of nicely chilled bars, in particular Bar Next Door (BND), Pirate Bar and the aptly named High Bar with its incredible views of the bay.

Places to Eat

With far more Thai food options here than any other type of cuisine, Chalok is a nice place to sample just what real Thai cooking is all about. Yin Yang on the main street is always very busy, seafood BBQ is always very popular on the beachfront, but anyone staying here absolutely must pay a visit to The Cape Restaurant, in Viewpoint Resort on the west side of the beach. Not for those on a small budget, the quality of food that’s being produced there is worth splurging on, especially the Black Angus and the Tuna steaks!  Also one of the newer additions to the culinary delights on offer in Chalok and another worth gtting excited over is Suda, a Korean restaurant just a five minute stroll from the beach. With absolutely delicious treats simply all over the menu it’s a nice way to sample Korean food without having to take that long flight to Pyongyang.

  

One of the most breathtaking creatures on the planet to dive with, the manta ray is real bucket-list item for divers all around the world. Once commonly seen here on Koh Tao, there hadn’t been a confirmed sighting of a manta for at least 15 years…until last week when we encountered one at Chumphon Pinnacle.

With the diving community absolutely ecstatic over the magnificent manta that paid us a visit, there’s never been a better time to look more closely at these creatures, and investigate what may have brought it here.

 So what do we know about the manta ray?

There are 2 species of manta rays: the reef manta (Manta alfredi) and the giant manta ray (Manta birostris). Both are classified as “vulnerable” in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, unfortunately. They have the largest brains of all fish apparently, which doesn’t explain why it’s been so long since they came to Koh Tao the ignorant shits.

Fish you say? That’s right, just like Nemo and Dory manta rays are in fact fish, just funny-looking ones. They are actually related to sharks, but are considered gentle creatures which do not represent a significant threat to humans, plus they lack the venomous tail spikes that many of their relatives have.

The largest species is the giant manta ray, whose central disc can measure up to 9 meters wide! Despite their massive size mantas eat only tiny little plankton, which they filter through their gills with something called ‘gill rakers’ – widely sought-after in Chinese medicine due to the ridiculous belief that it can heal anything from colds to cancer. Yeah right China, keep your filthy mitts off them!

 So what brought them to us again?

Manta rays are distributed in tropical, subtropical and temperate oceans worldwide. They’re not fans of cold water at all, and with water temperatures on Koh Tao averaging around 30 degrees all year round the conditions are perfect for them to come and say hello!

As plankton eaters, it’s actually quite surprising that we haven’t been seeing them a lot more than one every million years or whatever it is – after all the ocean around Koh Tao is often full of plankton, which is the main reason why we have so many whalesharks visiting our waters all year round.

Could the recent anoxia event (complete lack of oxygen) we’ve been seeing at depth have something to do with it? It’s certainly possible, but I believe the most likely conclusion is that we’ve had an extra-long influx of planktonic matter this year, likely coming from the depths of the South China Sea – when the food comes, the hungry follow. This would also explain the numbers of whalesharks we’ve been seeing, and also the amount of salps and comb jellies we’ve been finding on every dive site and shoreline.

I’d love to be able to say these magnificent mantas are back for good, but only time will tell. Watch this space, and if you’re not already a certified diver then hurry and do something about it soon!

Sunday, 30 August 2015 07:08

Swim For Sharks 2015

Written by

 

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.

 

Saturday, 15 August 2015 07:03

Evolution At Its Stinkiest

Written by

 

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.

 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 02:42

Changes at Big Blue Conservation

Written by

 

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!

 

Friday, 15 August 2014 03:29

Pride of the Fleet returns

Written by

 

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.

 

Sunday, 03 August 2014 06:44

2014 Swim for Sharks

Written by

 

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.

 

Page 1 of 2