September

September (38)

Thursday, 18 September 2014 16:10

Chumphon Marine Park 3-day trip!

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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.

 

 

Saturday, 13 September 2014 04:23

Rest in Peace Cesare Benelli

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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.

 

 

Friday, 05 September 2014 07:02

Great time to visit Big Blue

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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.

 

Monday, 30 September 2013 11:14

September 30th 2013

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Fundiving- the reason you learned to dive!
Big Blue is well established as being a fantastic place to learn how to dive, or take your diving further with courses for anything you might be interested in, be it technical diving, conservation, freediving or recreational diving. But we are also really good at fun diving! Here's the thing, too many dive resorts around the world, and especially koh Tao neglect fun diving in favour of more lucrative dive courses. For example, most dive schools on Koh Tao only have one boat, so they have fun divers on the same boat as students doing try dives and/or open water courses. This means that the dive sites are dictated by the schedule of that particular course and may need to be very shallow with lots of sand. So the fun divers are not as free to explore the best dive sites that Koh Tao has to offer. Not at Big Blue! We have four boats, and one of them is dedicated to fun divers only, called Porponawa (difficult to translate from Thai!), we like to call it the Millenium Falcon as it's probably the fastest boat in the known universe! Getting to Chumphon pinnacle in 25 minutes (normally takes 50!) and Sail rock in an hour (normally takes two and a half!). the speed of porponawa also gives us access to Chumphon Marine Park, making us the only dive resort on Koh Tao to go there. We like variety at Big Blue so we go wherever the divemasters decide they want to go. If a fun diver wants to request a specific dive site, even better! Speaking of divemasters, we have four of them working full-time, Steven, Darren, Carly, and Phil, all unique in their own way, but all ridiculously enthusiastic about diving and marine life, and they see it as a personal challenge to show you the coolest things they can find on each and every dive. They also know every dive site like the back of their hand; they really should stop looking at their hands though! We're also going to take advantage of quiet season to get the boys at Big Blue Tech to get out looking for new dive sites. We know they're there, and we know where to look, we just have to find them, then we can take you to even more amazing dive sites- exclusive to Big Blue! 

big blue boats

“Awesome Instructors!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 29 September 2013- Just had an awesome diving experience with Big Blue Diving. A big thank-you to our instructor, ANT 1 or "Big Ant" who definitely made our diving. Hubby and I found Big Blue through the recommendation of a family member. We originally planned just Open Water SSI but went on to do Advanced Adventurer SSI as we had such a blast. Ant is really knowledgeable about Marine life and passionate about Coral conservation. He made the course really fun whilst providing safe diving practices throughout. He answered our multitude of questions and gave heaps of advice about dive gear and even sites in our homeland (NZ)!. Kate the Australian DMT also accompanied our Advanced course and was a huge help under and out of the water. She is extremely knowledgeable and took great time explaining what we would be seeing and tasks to complete. Both Ant and Kate were really professional and a big laugh on the Island post diving! The water is 30 degrees, visibility is awesome and sea life plentiful! Would recommend the Advanced Course also as the deep dive, night dive and wreck dive were a real highlight.

A-Z of Koh Tao for backpackers
A- Apnea- Big Blue Freediving of course!
B- Big Blue Diving of course!
C- Chang- A delightful Thai beer that redefines the word hangover.
D- Diza bar- Don't ask, just don't ever go there... ever ever ever ever.
E- Elephants- No, that's Koh Chang.
F- er, Big Blue Freediving again?
G- Greasy spoon- Hangover food cafe.
H- Hin Gnam bay- Nice little dive site on the East coast.
I- Instructors; they're everywhere, beware of excessive dive talk and do not feed after midnight.
J- Jitson- small village inland for accommodation longer than a month- nicknamed DMT village.
K- Koh Nang Yuang- Two little Islands next to Koh Tao, great for kayaking to, but not from.
L- Lomprayah- High speed ferry to bring you to Koh Tao.
M- Massage spas- You can't come all this way and not have one!
N- NDL- Twinned with refresher courses if you are a qualified diver but have no idea what it means!
O- Opticians- In Sairee with a big sign in the window that says very precisely- 51.354% off!
P- Porponawa- The fastest boat in the universe.. didn't you read the first news story?
Q- Quinine- Ingredient in tonic water that mosquitos hate. that's the best I could do.
R- Rentals- Motorbikes- don't do it!
S- Seatran- One of the ferry companies that brings you to Koh Tao.
T- Tosh- stray Instructor that went missing- If found proceed with caution, extremely ginger.
U- Unimpeded views- Some great high up viewpoints on koh Tao for your facebook cover page.
V- Venice- I think you may have got on the wrong plane.
W- Waverunner- Big blue's longest boat!
X- Xtreme snorkeling?
Y- Yellow brick road- The road behind Big Blue that goes all the way to Mae Hadd, and back if you're feeling crrrazy.
Z- Zanzibar- Cafe in Sairee, good soup, weird bagels.

 

Come up with your own and post them to Big Blue facebook 

 

Sunday, 29 September 2013 06:03

September 29th 2013

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Successful Beach clean up
A big thank you to everyone that participated in the beach and underwater clean up yesterday, it was, er, messy! Organised by Lizzie May at Big Blue Conservation, volunteer holiday makers, Koh Tao locals, divemaster trainees, and whichever instructors and divemasters were not working, walked along Sairee beach in the morning with marigolds and bin bags to pick up anything and everything that shouldn't be there- luckily Neil is not in the country at the moment. In the afternoon an underwater clean up was arranged, this time at Hin Wong pinnacle. Bin bags were swapped for mesh nets, and spring cleaning commenced. It always helps that for those that participated in the clean up the diving was FREE! Thanks again to everyone that volunteered, it was great to see so many people giving up their time for everyone's benefit- especially the fish! We organise monthly clean ups, so If you want to get involved, contact Big Blue Conservation, or just pop in to the Big Blue shop.

beach clean up

“Great diving with an amazing instructor!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 26 September 2013- Picking a dive shop in Koh Tao can be challenging since there are so many but after reading many reviews my friends and I decided to give Big Blue a try. So glad we did, as this was the highlight of our trip! Planned to do the SSI Open Water course and received Nat (Natalie) as our instructor. I had never dived before but her enthusiasm and love for the sport made me want to do it everyday! She is an extremely good teacher and made me feel 100% comfortable in the water at all times. We ended up having such a good time that we decided to extend our trip and complete the Advanced Adventurer course as well which I highly recommend! We got to keep Nat throughout the entire experience which is the main reason I decided to continue on. Overall I have nothing but good things to say about my entire experience at Big Blue! Koh Tao is such a great place to learn how to dive. If you go make sure to request Nat because she is amazing! She made our trip so memorable. Thanks Nat!

Killer Whale Impersonators
Amazing news from yesterday, divers from Ace Marine Images (who currently do all Big Blue's videography work) were followed by a pod of false killer whales and pilot whales yesterday! Apparently they followed the boat all the way from Liam Thien bay to Lighthouse bay on the East side of Koh Tao, and then swam underneath a group of snorkelers! The apparent highlight of such a fantastic experience was the noises heard when they used their echolocation to communicate; that distinctive clicking noise. False killer whales are protected by the CITES treaty (Convention on the International Trade on Endangeared Species) under appendix II, which includes species that "Are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with the survival of the species in the wild". Bit of a mouthfull! but good to know they are afforded some kind of protection. Lets hope these beautiful animals stick around; compared with other species, very little is known about their behaviour and mating habits in the wild, just like Big Blue instructor Luke!

False killer whale

Thursday, 26 September 2013 03:49

September 26th 2013

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Conservation Internships

How do you fancy spending a month on a tropical Island learning how to dive, getting to know the animals that reside in the ocean, and understanding the threats that they face? What if we gave you practical skills to help reduce the impacts on these ecosystems, such as coral reef biology, underwater survey training, coral nursery construction and artificial reef maintenance? How about we throw in a few diving qualifications on top? Surely you're sold now!? Whether you're on a career break, about to have a gap year, at University, or you just want to do some volunteer work abroad and improve your CV, a Conservation Internship is an opportunity not to be missed. The main objective of Big Blue Conservation is to help ensure that the island remains undisturbed by the effects of increased tourism, and also to preserve the marine life in Koh Tao for ourselves and future generations to enjoy. But in order to achieve this, we depend on dedicated and trained teams of volunteers to help construct, maintain, monitor and develop the various projects that we undertake. So if you fancy going from never having dived before to knowing how to identify sharks and grow corals, or are already involved in conservation and want to gain valuable experience and improve your CV, contact Lizzie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and show your approval by "liking" Big Blue Conservation on facebook! 

Big blue conservation

“Probably the best place to dive with on Koh Tao”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 25 September 2013- I completed my open water course here in August 2013 and was impressed from start to finish. We pre-booked our course online and were glad we did as the school is very popular, so may not always have onsite accommodation when it is busy. Our room was the AC dorm, which was a bargain and well maintained and clean. The welcome was friendly and organised. Our instructor was Ant who kept us all laughing throughout the course, but also made sure we were competent and confident with our equipment. He knew where to spot to cool stuff as well as being great at explaining the skills we needed to complete to pass the course. His enthusiasm was infectious and two of our group stayed on for the advanced course, I would have done the same had I not already had a flight booked. However I had caught the bug and did stop for a couple of fun dives whilst on KP. All in all a great place to learn in an idyllic location. PS the food and drinks at the beach front restaurant is also good!

Turtle plastic waste

Peanut the turtle

Meet peanut, a turtle that should probably be a lot more famous than she is. I don't think I need to explain how she got her name, but it's quite sobering to see how she got her shape. When she was small she got stuck in a plastic multipack drinks holder- I have no idea what the proper name is but we all know what they are! She was unable to free herself and if she were any other animal than a turtle she would have died, as the plastic would have cut into her as she grew, causing a fatal infection. However, because she has a shell that protects her body, most of it was able to grow, though some of her organs don't function properly. Sadly because the shell is rigid, when the plastic was removed the shell didn't just rebound back into the correct shape, so she has to live with it. Here in the waters around koh Tao, Koh Panghan and Koh Samui, we have a big problem with plastic waste finding its way into the ocean. The Hawksbill and Green turtles that inhabit the Gulf of Thailand get the plastic stuck in their throats or stomachs, and are unable to digest them, so they starve to death. Big Blue Conservation works with local Thai community groups to educate them about waste disposal, and we educate all our divers about keeping the beaches and seas clear of rubbish, and buying goods responsibly such as saying no to carrier bags and straws when buying drinks and other items. We also organise regular beach and underwater clean ups. We don't want a cashew or pistachio famous for being found in Koh Tao! If you want to get involved with conservation in Koh Tao, contact Lizzie at Big Blue Conservation on the email at the top of the page.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 06:02

September 25th 2013

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Just another day at the office

Ho hum, another day, another whaleshark! Big Blue instructors Rich and Nick were minding their own business this morning at Chumphon pinnacle to do dive 3 of their open water courses, when a 4m long whaleshark appeared and jolly graciously decided to keep them company! These two lucky and happy dive instructors see whalesharks quite a lot, but imagine their students, having only ever done two open water dives, and on dive 3 they see one of those bad boys! An amazing experience they won't forget in a hurry. These curious animals tend to hang around divers rather than just pass through, so if you do see one, it may be a full 30 minutes of pinching yourself! Rich had only one thing to say to his students after such an incredible encounter; "Chumphon was a good choice". Judging by their picture though neither of them seem to be too concerned about thumbelina flailing around in the background! Rich's too busy explaining to Nick that, "This whaleshark is small... the one's out there are far away".

A Whaleshark Chumphon

“Excellent diving school”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 23 September 2013- I went to Koh tai in 21st august 2013 for open water diving certificate. People I met there were awesome, helpful and friendly. Shool is well organized and proper managed by a great bunch of professional diver. I was lucky to have Petra as my instructor. She demonstated everything in high professinal manner. Our team of 6 students enjoyed so much of her teaching style and great personality of her . I believe I made great choose to learn diving in big blue. There are many diving schools around koh tao. I strong recommend Big Blue to everyone who want to learn diving. you won regret for this wise pick.

The Cove on steroids

Most people who have a passion for the ocean have heard of the Cove in Taiji, and the horrible slaughter of porpoises that goes on there every year. But have you heard of Iwate in Japan? No? it's not surprising, as many campaigners have never heard of it either. But Iwate, being only 500 miles North of the Cove, in Iwate Prefecture, is an annual slaughter of the Dall’s porpoise, in numbers that dwarf anything found at the cove. The Tsunami of 2011 destroyed much of the Dall hunting fleet, but somehow last year hunting began again in much reduced numbers. But the really depressing news is that between November 2012 and April 2013 it continues, but with the fleet of hunting ships being almost back to their pre-Tsunami numbers, killing 1,200 porpoises (pre-Tsunami deaths exceeded 9,00 per year, compared to the Cove's 1,200). A number of groups are involved in trying to stop this annual slaughter; Save Japan Dolphins, Sea Shepherd, the Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, and the International Whaling Commission and the Animal Welfare Institute. If you want to see what you can do to help, or just want to show your support to ending these barabaric activities, contact Lizzie at Big blue Conservation.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 07:49

September 24th 2013

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Open All Hours
Sadly not a reference to the 1970s/80s sitcom starring Steveo & Simo, I mean Albert & Granville! But the fact that Koh Tao seems to be very slowly winding down from busy season. It's hard to tell, and you never really know how busy it's going to be, but reliable indicators include instructors and divemasters spending even longer than normal in the bar! It's also approaching the time of year when we send all our boats off to the mainland for their annual service, so they are ship-shape and Bristol fashion for December and next year. We also get all our equipment serviced, and give everything a bit of a spruce up. We are open all year round though, and can offer all sorts of dive related wonders, such as try dives, open water, advanced and rescue courses, amazing fun diving, speciality courses such as deep, wreck and nitrox, free diving courses, videography courses, tech diving courses, dive professional training- PADI, SSI and BSAC divemaster, or SSI and BSAC instructor. We even have marine conservation courses, and eco internships available. That pretty much covers every aspect of diving except SNUBA, and who'd want to do that anyway!?

Big blue diving

“Diving certification (Open Water and Advanced SSI)”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 22 September 2013- I was in Koh Tao in July 2013 and got certified with Big Blue - literally one of the best decisions I could've made. I had done a discovery dive on Koh Phi Phi a week before and asked some instructors where on Koh Tao I should go for certification; Big Blue was mentioned multiple times. Thus, when I arrived on Koh Tao I immediately tracked down Big Blue and inquired about an Open Water course -- the staff was able to help me find accommodation right away and I started my course that night. My instructor was Dave (or "Squeezy" as the staff call him!) and I couldn't have asked for a better guy to train me. I was paired with 3 guys seeking just a SCUBA certification and one other also pursuing Open Water. As a result, it was just Dave, myself, and one other guy for the rest of the course. As a matter of fact, I had such a good time doing my Open Water course that I actually decided to skip my scheduled flight from Koh Samui to Bangkok in order to do my Advanced Open Water course with Dave; like I said, I couldn't have asked for a better instructor. Not only is Big Blue great for diving, there is also a great social atmosphere at the restaurant and bar once night rolls around. I HIGHLY recommend Big Blue for diving (and ask for Squeezy Dave if possible!).

Destruction of Coral Reefs Accelerating
The world's coral reefs are in rapid decline, which is extremely depressing, but pretty well documented. Yet a forthcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will state that the decline of the coral reefs is also accelerating. Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who is in charge of the ocean part of the report said, "Our oceans are in an unprecedented state of decline due to pollution, over-fishing and climate change. The state of the reefs is very poor and it is continuing to deteriorate. This is an eco-system that has been around for tens of millions of years and we are wiping it out within a hundred. It's quite incredible." In addition to working on the IPCC report, Professor Hoegh-Guldberg is leading by far the most comprehensive assessment of the state of the world's coral reefs, the Catlin Seaview Survey (CSS). It's initial findings demonstrate that the reefs are getting "increasingly hammered" from all sides, he said. Coral reefs in the Gulf of Thailand are not yet covered by the study, but Big Blue Conservation and Save Koh Tao monitor their health regularly, and are trying out different methods to make provide artificial reefs for coral to grow on. For more information on what is being done to protect the reefs on Koh Tao, and what you can do to help, contact Lizzie at Big Blue Conservation (see contacts above)

Monday, 23 September 2013 02:33

September 23rd 2013

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Big Blue Professional Training

Are you sick to death of the daily grind, probably sat in a souless office with artificial lighting, artificial air and surrounded by people you are forced to get along with that, in any other universe you'd go out of your way to avoid? Ever thought about just jacking it all in, getting on a plane and doing something completely different? If you answered yes to both of those questions then you are in good company, loads of people who live on Koh Tao were in the same boat! So Why not do something about it and become a dive professional? Here at Big Blue we can train you all the way from open water diver, up to Divemaster and instructor. As a PADI or SSI divemaster you can then get paid to take qualified divers around some of the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand, and as an SSI instructor you can teach people how to dive, which can be really rewarding. Our Dive Master Training programme (DMT) can be completed in as little as three weeks, to 3 months, and We have 6 very experienced and friendly mentors that will help you through every aspect of your training. You'll also meet loads of like-minded people from all over the world going through the same experiences as you. Need any more persuading? Ok then, have a look at the weekly highlights video on our Big Blue Diving youtube channel, and then realise- that's your new office!

Divemaster training

“Relaxed and friendly but also very professional dive company - we loved Skui and Rich!!!”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 21 September 2013- We arrived in Koh Tao already confident that we wanted to dive with Big Blue. Their previous ratings on Trip Advisor speak for themselves - but we had such a fantastic experience with them that I feel compelled to write another review! I already had my PADI Open water diving qualification - but having not used it for 5 years I was a little rusty and in dire need of a refresher course, and my boyfriend had never dived before but was really keen to learn. When we rocked up at Big Blue he was delighted to learn that he could start his open water course that evening, my refresher course was scheduled for the following afternoon. Unfortunately, their bungalow accommodation was already full so we had to look for an alternative so I couldn't comment at all on the quality of the rooms available though friends on our dive courses mentioned that the dorms were basic but sociable. After my refresher course with the jovial Dave and a couple of lovely guys, they mentioned that they were going on to do the Advanced Open Water course over the following 2 days. Comprising of 5 dives that could include 'Deep Dive', 'Navigation', 'Advanced Buoyancy', 'Night Dive', 'Underwater Photography', 'Fish Identification' and 'Wreck Diving' the price of the course was fairly similar to doing a few fun dives and since I feel I like to be challenged and learn new skills I opted to join them! Rich, my instructor, was fantastic. He had a cool, reassuring manner that really put me at ease whenever I was a little anxious. He was so positive and excited at the end of each of our dives, I got the impression that he quite enjoyed working with our little 3 man group - perhaps because none of us were prone to do anything daft! I can't rate Rich highly enough for all his encouragement! Nathan had a great experience with Skui too, she was supremely knowledgable but also really relaxed and added a fun element to the nitty-gritty of training! I laughed out loud when I found out about her system of 'beer fines' to chastise the group for saying 'flippers' and 'goggles' and making the thumbs-up sign underwater when they really meant okay! Both guys were fantastic, they hung-out with us students in the evenings and helped us fill out our diving logbooks, even joining us for a few 'cheeky beers' when the course was complete! We both gained SSI Qualifications with Big Blue - which is their preferred teaching method - but they also offer PADI courses which are a little more expensive owing to the need for you to purchase the PADI text books. The dive sites themselves we lovely, some really interesting chorals and great big shoals of fish, there are also turtles and whale sharks to be seen regularly in the area too - not by me mind you, and for that I fully blame Rich! ;P The restaurant and bar attached to Big Blue was great too. Brilliant for getting a hearty lunch before going off out on the boats - or for providing some much needed stodge when you returned! Try the pizzas if you fancy something Western, they're ace, or the BBQ grilled fish, delicious - though it does feel a little cruel chowing down on a Barracuda when you've been swimming around with them all day?! I would certainly suggest Big Blue diving to anyone visiting Koh Tao. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced veteran this dive company has something to excite everyone and enhance your learning (they also offer advanced tech diving, nitrox and skin diving if you're that way inclined!) They are reliable, all of the staff are supremely friendly and for me the huge selling point was having the security of instructors who spoke exceptional English - I would've felt seriously 'out of my depth' pardon the pun and frightened if I didn't fully understand the teaching aspect. I hope one day I'll go back to Big Blue, if not, I certainly hope you do!!!

Abbott Abolishes Climate Commission

Not satisfied with allowing the Great Barrier Reef to be dredged to provide a shipping "superhighway", Australia's incoming prime minister has now abolished the Climate Commission, a body set up in 2011 to provide information on the impacts of climate change to the Australian public. This will make it more difficult for people to get independent information on climate change that is not slanted by vested interests. It's also quite timely for this to happen, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is due to release it's latest report on the impacts of climate change, which will outline how increasing emissions of CO2 from man-made activities are continuing to warm the planet at an alarming rate. Oceans are warming, and CO2 is also making them more acidic as it dissolves into seawater. This is already having an effect on marine life ecosystems. The waters around Koh Tao contain some of the world's most amazing coral habitats, and as ocean temperatures increase they will be at risk of bleaching, which kills them. Big Blue Conservation is working closly with the Thai Government and the local community to monitor the coral reefs, but ultimately this is a global problem that will be difficult to deal with as long as politicians continue to do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions. 

Saturday, 21 September 2013 05:42

September 21st 2013

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Recreational Rebreather
The tech shack is all excited this morning as they are due to receive their latest toy, a Poseidon MKVI rebreather. This probably means nothing to you or me but to James it's like Christmas has arrived early without having to leave any mince pies out! Rebreathers differ from normal scuba diving in that, instead of breathing air from a tank that gets steadily depleted, the rebreather has a chemical scrubber that removes the carbon dioxide from your exhaled breath. The rebreather also injects the oxygen that you used in the previous breath.... still with me? The advantages are that it enables you to stay down much longer than on a conventional dive, and there are no bubbles, so marine animals are less freaked out by your presence, making photography and videography much more interesting. The reason that James is all excited (apart from the fact that he's a geek), is that this is the first rebreather that is aimed at recreational divers, as opposed to technical divers. So simple to use in fact, that James will be able to teach you how to use it! Keep an eye on our website and Big Blue Tech's facebook page to find out more about the Poseidon rebreather course.

Poseiden rebreather

“Great Service And Dive Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 17 September 2013- From the booking to our AOW course to our final day, we enjoyed a very pleasant stay at the Big Blue Diving Resort. I booked one of the packages for AOW + 10 fun dives and the staff was very helpful about sending me instructions for pickup and how to book transport to Koh Tao from Bangkok. I later got a middle ear injury while diving and the staff were also kind enough to allow my boyfriend use of some of my fun dives because I wasn't able to complete them. The courses themselves were as fine as could be. We had some pleasant instructors and divemasters, service was professional but friendly and the equipment also seemed to be well maintained.
The restaurant on the resort is also a highlight. It's priced mid-range but the portions are larger than other restaurants in the area. My favorite was the red curry with prawn and pineapple. One booking recommendation though is actually to not book too much at first. I had already paid for 10 fun dives but didn't get to do 5 of them and lost a bit of money on that. Plus we had to stay longer than the 7 nights free accommodation to finish the diving package so that ended up costing more too. I'd recommend booking courses and fun dives as you go along because the savings of booking everything together actually isn't that great and you'll end paying more if something like an unexpected injury happens.


Seahorses!
They are one of the cutest things in the ocean, and luckily for us they live all over the Gulf of Thailand. Seahorses are pretty rare, so they are very high on the list of any divemaster's animals to look out for during a dive. Sadly they are now endangered because of habitat destruction and overfishing. They are also sought after to be used in Chinese medicine, with an estimated 20 million being caught and sold for this purpose every year. So the Save Koh Tao marine branch has organised a presentation on the local seahorse population, so as to educate divers and locals on how to protect them. The presentation will be given by Dr. Tse-Lynn Loh tomorrow (22nd September) at 18:30, at the Government health office (2nd floor) in Mae haad (where the pier is). Big Blue Conservation will be there, and so should you!

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