Big Blue Diving - Koh Tao - Thailand - November

November (65)

Saturday, 17 November 2018 13:25

Why is the Gulf of Thailand so renowned for diving?

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Just to make Slards even more regretful of leaving us, it's a great time to ask exactly why it is that Koh Tao is such a great place to go scuba diving. The amazing diving that we get here is partly because of our proximity to the equator, which enables warm sea temperatures, but also because of the nature of the Gulf of Thailand itself. Bordered by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, it extends roughly from the Bay of Bangkok to an imaginary line running from the bottom tip of Vietnam to the Malaysian city of Kota Bharu, covering a total area of 320,000 square kilometers.
The Gulf is pretty shallow, with a mean depth of 45 meters- perfect for recreational scuba diving. The maximum depth is 80 meters- perfect for technical diving! Because of the shallow depth, water exchange is relatively slow. The Gulf formed as the last ice age receded, which raised sea levels. This allowed coral reefs to form, building upwards as the sea level gradually rose. Because of the shallow depths of the Gulf and warm temperatures of the ocean, coral reefs exist in abundance, especially in the waters around Koh Tao, but also to a lesser degree Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Coral reefs harbour 90% of all marine life in the oceans, so diving in koh Tao will not disappoint. The bays around the Island are perfect for learning to dive- shallow and sandy but still with loads of marine life. For qualified fun divers the diving is even better; dives sites like Chumphon pinnacle are bursting with coral, which bring in all kinds of different species of schooling fish such as scad and fusiliers. Where there are shoals of fish, you'll also find predators, queenfish, trevally, barracuda.. amazing, but then add whalesharks into the mix and you'll never tire of diving here.

Patience. Some folks get it right away, others don't. You must be able to teach them all.
Organization. You must be able to organize your class in a logical manner.
Experience. You need to have watched lots of divers with a critical eye. You need to know how things should be done as well as how they often are done poorly.
Confidence. You need to know you can handle things when they head south. You also need your students to believe in you.
Desire. You have to want to teach.
Open mind. Be willing to learn from everyone. You can learn from an idiot who is a terrible diver. You may be learning rescue techniques, but you'll still be learning.
Ability to say no. No, you didn't quite nail that skill, here's what you did wrong and here's how to fix it. No, you didn't buy a card, you bought instruction.
Willingness to go the extra mile. Be interested in your students. They may need extra help, give it to them.
Knowledge. You can't teach it if you never learned it.
Ability to teach. Most instructors don't understand how to teach.
"inadequacies in instruction that generally fall back on the instructor rather than the certifying agency."
If your agency leaves out skills and/or knowledge you can't teach it because you never learned it. Some go the extra mile and learn additional material and skills which they then teach to their students - most do not. The agency is a factor. An exceptional person can overcome a background based in an agency with low standards, but these folks are indeed rare. Most instructors are a product of their agency. Some agencies produce them with a cookie cutter.

Saturday, 17 November 2018 13:11

Sidemount Diving with Big Blue Tech

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Ever heard of Sidemount diving? In years to come this will be what you learn your Open Water Course on.
 Sidemount diving has been around for decades in the cave diving world, but was always seen as a very specialised and exclusive way of diving. This has all changed in the last few years as equipment manufacturers started to introduce much more practical methods for attaching diving cylinders to the diver. The result is that sidemount diving has really taken off, and is becoming more and more popular, for both technical diving applications and also shallow recreational fun diving.
When you first dive in sidemount you quickly realise why. It's a really comfortable way to dive. Where the BC is situated makes you want to be flat, and as the cylinders are tucked out of the way to your sides, you have a real feeling of freedom. Sidemount is an incredibly versatile way of diving and can be done using one cylinder or two. Cylinders can be easily attached when already in the water, so it's ideal for people with back problems, and perfectly suited to shore diving or boat diving. Having a redundant gas source makes your diving a little safer too as you are less reliant on your buddy in the event of an equipment failure. This redundancy makes it the perfect platform for decompression diving, not to mention the feeling of comfort on long decompression stops. Moreover, as it is easy to unclip the tanks and bring them forward, you can have a lot of fun getting through tighter spaces when penetrating wrecks, caves or swim-throughs.
TDI’s technical sidemount course is a must for anyone wanting to either do more with their rereational fun diving, or advance on to become a fuly qualified technical diver. You will learn diving techniques that are directly applicable to any type of diving, such as:
    Equipment considerations
    Dive planning
    Gas management
    DSMB deployment methods
    Propulsion techniques
    Trim and Buoyancy
    Different water entries/exits
The Sidemount Diver course is strictly non-decompression with a maximum depth limit of 40m/130ft (or within the limit of the student’s current certification, whichever is shallower). Prerequisites to enroll on the TDI technical sidemount Diver course are: Age 18 (or 15 with parental consent), SDI Open Water Diver or equivalent.
Course Fees 12,000 Thai Baht. This course can also be combined with TDI sidemount diver at a cost of 20,000 Thai Baht.

Saturday, 17 November 2018 13:01

Got any questions on your course?

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If you're thinking about learning to dive or you want to know a bit more about what to expect in your certification course here are a few of our most commonly asked questions common questions here.
What is the Open Water course?
The Open Water course is the basic scuba diving certification course taught by all certification agencies. There are small differences in course content between agencies, but they all cover the same basic skills and knowledge you will need to know as an independent diver.
Who can enroll?
Children as young as 10 years old (12 years old in some countries) can enroll in the Junior Open Water course and those 15 years and older can enroll in the Open Water course. Junior Open Water certified divers are automatically upgraded to Open Water divers on their 15th birthday with no need for recertification. You'll also need to be in good health with no major health problems.
What does the course qualify you to do?
When you're certified as an Open Water diver you'll be able to dive to 60 feet / 18 meters (40 feet / 12 meters for 10-12 year olds) whenever you're accompanied by a fellow of the same or higher certification level (the other diver must be 18 or older for Junior Open Water divers).
You don't have to be accompanied by a Divemaster or Instructor, but you can be if you'd prefer. You're also eligible to do the Advanced Open Water course and many specialties.
How long does the course take?
The course is usually taught over 3 to 5 days in dive vacation destinations, but can also be taught over weeks or even months if taken as a part-time course. The course content is the same but the daily workload is much greater, although still quite manageable, on the shorter course.
What do I have to do to complete the course?
Knowledge Development
You will be given a text book and videos to watch and will either study independently in your own time, with the assistance of your instructor, or online with guided e-learning. You will learn the basics of diving techniques, how diving affects your body, diving safety, equipment selection and maintenance, dive planning, and preview the skills you'll learn in the water. There will be a test at the end but if you've studied your material you should have no problems passing.
Confined Water Training
Your confined water training will be conducted in a swimming pool. Beginning in water shallow enough to stand up in you'll learn all the basic skills you'll need to confidently and safely enjoy scuba diving. As you gain confidence you'll gradually move into deeper water and learn some more advanced skills and safety drills.
Open Water Training
This is what it's all about - open water diving. Over four or more dives you'll practice all the skills you've already mastered in confined water out in open water, which means the open ocean or another large body of water that is used for diving. You'll practice the skills with your instructor until you're completely confident and can perform them with ease in a real diving situation. Of course you'll also get to check out everything the underwater world has to offer and hopefully develop a life-long love for diving.
Do I have to renew my certification?
The Open Water certification is forever and never needs to be renewed. However, it is recommended that if you haven't dived for a while (usually a year or more) or feel the need to brush up your skills to do a Scuba Review. This review is a short refresher course with a professional that can be integrated into your first regular dive.

Friday, 16 November 2018 15:40

The TDI Advanced Wreck Diver Course

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One of the most challenging courses you will do, TDI's Advanced Wreck diver takes you into the dark zone and teaches you the skills and techniques for coping with any eventuality. Conducted over 5 days with 8 dives we go beyond the required standards to ensure this course is as challenging as it should be. You will need to have a recreational wreck cert and also be able to conduct staged decompression dives to join. This is the next step for any diver that has successfully completed the SDI Wreck Diver Course and where you learn the proper techniques for locating and planning an advanced penetration dive. The advanced wreck course is commonly taught with other popular TDI courses such as Advanced Nitrox, Decompression Procedures, Extended Range, Closed Circuit Rebreather, and Trimix. To find out more then please get in touch This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Friday, 16 November 2018 14:33

Making Koh Tao Plastic Free

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Not sure if you are aware of just quite how seriously Koh Tao has taken things with regards to sorting out waste & rubbish on the island. To start with all the 7/11's on the island and by my own reckoning pretty much every shop Ive walked into in the last month or so will not give you a plastic bag anymore. That's a pretty good start bearing in mind quite how many plastic bags are now not being issued. Secondly most restaurants bars & businesses, including ours, are using either stainless steel straws or 'plastic from plants' straws. Thirdly, most restaurants including ours will now only serve water from glass bottles thereby reducing the gazillions of plastic bottles brought to Koh Tao every day. Fourthly- there are now heaps of cigarette Butt bottles all over Koh Tao so that people dispose of their butts in the butt bottles and not on the streets, beaches or in the water. Fifthly- the local government have banned anchoring here for boats so they have to tie up to morring lines instead of dropping anchor & causing coral damage. Sixthly- no more feeding the fishes! Tourist operators are now banned from throwing food overboard and will incurr heavy fines if caught. Seventhly- the islands of Koh Tao have all been recognised as a a no fishing zone, so to fish around Koh Tao you have to be a few kilometers off shore which means all Koh Tao's dive sites are now unfishable! And finally all the rubbish at the Koh Tao rubbish site has been packed up and is about to be removed from the island! The best news of all. So now Koh Tao & people coming to Koh Tao, lets please try & keep this going and lets make next years target to make Koh Tao plastic free! Now wouldn't that be something!

Friday, 16 November 2018 14:17

Collecting Drupella Snails

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Took a group out for a day of coral conservation and education and got everyone on the case collecting Drupella snails. Why you ask? Because they're bastards! They're covered in small spikes & bumps & they eat live coral tissue by stripping the tissue from the coral skeleton and leaving white feeding scars that can quickly become covered by algae. Feeding scars can have detrimental effects on coral growth. Drupella prefer to feed on fast-growing species with complex, branching growth forms such as Acropora and Pocillopora,which we get a lot of here on Koh Tao. They form clusters on dead branches of live coral colonies, deep in crevices, under corals, or on dead corals. These clusters range from a few snails to over several thousand & can cause significant mortality on coral reefs. So thanks to everyone who helped us today to collect these coral munchers!

Friday, 16 November 2018 13:57

Training Instructors for the big wide world

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Congratulations to 3 new SSI Scuba Instructors. Well Done Lloyd, Sebastian & Julie for all completing your Instructor Training Course with Mr SSI himself, Mr.Simon Garrity, and for steaming through your Instructor Exams with flying colors. Another 100% pass rate for SSImon & for Big Blue Pro, the largest SSI Instructor Training Facility in the world! So now its up to Lloyd, Julie & Seb to show us all what goes where and why as they literally take a map of the world & choose where they want to live & dive (work).  Heaps of jobs worldwide for SSI diving Instructors, especially in Indo, the US, and Europe as more & more Dive centers are turning their backs on PADI. And here in Thailand too. Peak season here next month & beginning of the high season on the west coast of Thailand too, so an excellent time to buy a ticket, quit your job & never return!

Friday, 16 November 2018 12:20

Liveaboard holiday to the Similans

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So its all go in the Similans! Actually its not all go at all. Thanks to the restrictions on visitors to the Similan Islands this year as imposed by the ruling Military leadership, the national park is by all accounts feeling pretty desolate. Hopefully it will have a positive effect on the Marine life in the area, and so far its been relatively positive with an encounter with a pod of spinner dolphins and some great interaction with alot of the local marine life. Just waiting for the mantas. But yeah. it feels positive in the Similans right now with the Thai governement really making a concerted effort to protect its beautiful islands & beaches. Long may it last!

Meanwhile don't forget we do operate a Liveaboard ourselves in the Similans form our Dive center at Big Blue Diving Khao Lak and the best boat in the Similans MV Halleluja, and dont forget as a previous customer at Big Blue Koh Tao we would be happy to offer you a 10% discount off the price of your trip! If interested then drop us a line to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. & we'll have you in your boardies & bikinis in no time!

Friday, 16 November 2018 11:49

The Thunder from Down Under!

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It's about the time of year when we do tend to get a mass exodus of staff as people head home for Christmas and set themselves up in some exotic destination or other in a new job ready for the new year. So its a sad time as we say goodbye to the man who arrived here looking like he had just stepped off a refugee boat the Thunder from Down Under, the Aussie in the cozzie! Skippy the Hippy! None other than Stephen Larder or more affectionately called Slards Arrived here at Big Blue looking very ‘Kylie’ with his long blonde flowing locks, blue eyes, bronzed tan & a sailor cap. Stephen has proved to be a mighty powerhouse for us and worked as a full time Divemaster & a PADI & SSI Instructor and recently came into his own as the man who has been running our Instagram account. So many thanks Slards for all your all your time & energy. Good luck going back to the real world mate. I give it 3 weeks!

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