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September 2011

 
Friday 30th September 2011-
a
In just 25 years, our consumption rate of plastic bags has grown from almost zero to our use of over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually … almost 1 million per minute.
- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.
- Four out of five grocery bags in the US are now plastic.
- Plastic bags cause hundreds of thousands of birds, sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year because these creatures mistake plastic trash for food.
- Countries like China, Ireland, Australia, Bangladesh have banned or have placed restrictions on single use plastic bags.
- Taiwan banned plastic bag and plastic utensils as a way to reduce 60,000 metric tons of waste per year they deal with each year
- According to the BBC, only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled.
- Target, the second-largest retailer in the U.S. purchases 1.8 billion bags a year. They just announced a new program to give consumers a nickel back for each reusable bag they bring into their stores when they shop.
- Target (Australia) completely banned single use plastic bags in their stores in 2008.
- The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.
- Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime.
- Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.. Each of us creates 1,500 lbs of trash every year that has to be disposed of that could be recycled with a little effort.
- Now you know … time to pitch in and do your part!
Remember every piece of plastic ever produced and not recycled still exists!

Well its another full on weekend of World Cup Rugby especially for the English & Scottish & we're doing what we can to juggle those interested students whose countries are playing so that they can be on land & watch the matches. It also means there won't be any blog for a few days either so I'd better predict whats coming up over the next couple of days or so. It will be hot, bright & sunny with a chance of showers. Sea temperatures will be around 30 degrees. Visibility will be as much as 30 meters tomorrow & Sunday at Chumphon & Southwest Pinnacles & down to around 20 meters at most of the dive sites around Nang Yuan Island & the wreck & there will be baracudas, Sting rays, turtles & a Whale Shark for your viewing pleasure. So if you are Scottish we'll see you next weekend then (chortle chortle guffaw guffaw!)

BSAC’s stand at this year’s DIVE 2011 will be plastic bag free as part of its pledge to minimise its impact on the environment. BSAC, who has just announced a new partnership with Marine Environment charity Plastic Oceans, is currently driving forward its own ‘green pledge’ to reduce its reliance on plastic across the organisation. Visitors to the BSAC stand, in particular the BSAC Shop, are now being encouraged to bring their own reusable bags or rucksacks and show their support for the initiative. Thank you.


Thursday 29th September 2011-b

Well thankfully there are organisations out there that really give a damn about our environment & especially for us divers who actually really care about the marine creatures we interact with every day. So thank you Gary Hawkes Director of SSI Thailand for organising & designing the new Whaleshark poster & instructions on how to behave if you are lucky enough to find yourselves face to face with one of these amazing creatures. And SSI have provided the poster for free. How nice is that. We weren't even asked to Put Another Dollar In! Thats why we like SSI. Cos they're profeSSIonal!

Well its not every day you'll be sitting at your desk when one of the main dealers of Aqualung Scuba Diving equipment comes strolling in & tells you that they re going to give us a totally new full set of Diving equipment just for being us! Aqua Lung introduced the world to Scuba diving more than 60 years ago and is the worldwide leader in SCUBA diving equipment. Under brands such as Apeks, Aqua Lung or SeaQuest, they manufacture quality and high performance regulators, buoyancy compensators (BC's), masks, fins, snorkels, wetsuits and many more products to make your diving adventure safe and memorable. Dive with Big Blue & we'll give you a 10% discount off any Dive equipment purchase. Do your Divemaster or Instructor Courses with us & we'll give you a 15% discount! Thank you Aquamaster & All 4 Diving for your extremely generous gift. Next year how about 2 tickets to Hawaii placed into the BCD pocket!

Wow it looks like  I owe 2236 members of our Big Blue Group on Facebook an apology for not having replied to all of your questions & queries that you've sent through. I had no idea that the Group page was still operational! Apologies to all & if you really want me to grovel in apology then write me an email & I'll send you a free t-shirt! Thanks for all the love guys. Glad you all had such a great time with diving & staying with us. Hope that you'll all be back again soon!

Tuesday 27th September 2011-c

Have you been diving with Big Blue and were lucky enough to see one of the plethora of whalesharks recently?? Please post your best photo on here so we can submit it to the online database to track these beautiful behemoths! The best photo is taken of the spot pattern between the pectoral fin and the gills, just like this one! Using NASA star pattern technology we can then record the spot pattern which is unique to each shark, like a fingerprint! Then we can monitor individuals year after year and learn more about these amazing animals. Thanks!

" I completed the SSI open water course a few days ago with Big Blue. I done a bit of research before booking with them and their reviews were good. It proved an excellent choice, their facilities, skills, and location on the beach and town are great. the price is the same for most places on the island, so with the free accommodation that came with taking the course it worked out very good value. Heather was our instructor and was great fun, but also very skilled and knowledgeable in her job. Diving is a religion to the guys at big Blue. Also Billy the cameraman is a legend." Trip Advisor 5* reveiwed September 2011.

The weather is still unpredictable, but we are hoping to deploy the Buoyancy World site this Wednesday. We will prepare and be ready, but if the boat captain says no then we may have to postpone to the following week. Stay optimistic, visualize calm seas, and pray for the best. If all goes well the schedule will be as follows:
8:00 am Clean-up site and set-up for ceremony
9:00 am Monk Ceremony
10:00 am Tie up structures and prepare for transportation
11:30 am Load onto trucks and transport to pier
1:30 pm Depart from Mae Haad
2:00 pm Arrive at Twins, attach mooring points
2:30 pm Begin lowering western most structures (deep)
5:30 pm Depart Twins
6:00 pm Return to Mae Haad
Stay tuned for further updates

Monday 25th September 2011-d

Well, how dedicated are we - over 50 people braved the storm on Saturday to participate in this years International Clean Up day at Big Blue! Staff, trainee Divemasters and lots of other volunteers helped collect rubbish from North Sairee beach - both on land and under the sea. Every year, debris in the water harms millions of fish and aquatic life, but we at Big Blue love our reefs to much to see them become a rubbish dump! So we set out to clean that rubbish up, polish the coral and scrub the fish until they were sparkling clean! We collected over 50 kgs of rubbish, so a fantastic job guys well done!! Don't worry if you missed this event, we do it on the last Saturday of every month! And guess what... the dive is FREE!! So come join in! Even if you can't make the next clean up, you can always do you own little bit on every dive - just ask us for a mesh bag and collect away!

“Top notch fun and relaxation.” Firstly, I've been meaning to write this review for months, but never got round to it. For that I apologise to BB for not giving them 5 stars sooner. I had 3 weeks off work in April this year and had a fantastic holiday to Tibet planned after many months of preparation. Sadly the Chinese government decided not to issue visa's for groups in April and so I quickly rebooked tickets to Bangkok. With only 24 hours until departure the only prep I had time for was picking up a "rough planet" guide to take along. Well arriving in Bangkok during Songkran was a shock (7 am, jet lagged, suddenly covered with water and pink clay; you get the picture) Anyway I hung around the capital for a few days soaking up the atmosphere (and chang) before catching the night train down to Chumphon for the ferry to Tao. I looked online first and my guide book also recommended Big Blue so I booked the OW course online as well as accommodation. Booking online means you don't get the benefit of free dorm accommodation but I did get a nice beach hut with fan not 5 mins from the dive centre. Anyway I get ahead of myself, arriving at Tao is a bit of a breath taking experience, despite being knackered after an all night train ride (There are easier, yet more costly, ways to Tao as well as cheaper slower ways too...), you can't help but be impressed by this rocky green jewel in azure waters. Getting off the ferry is a little daunting to be honest, big crowd of people, usual collection of people knowing a good place to take you made finding the BB sign a challenge, but once found a short bumpy ride to Sairee Beach is enough to wake you up! Arrival at Big Blue is processed nice and quickly and then I was taken to my room. I didn't pay much but what I got was fine. Standard wooden beach hut. cold shower (all you need!) fan cooled with a small deck and hammock 30 secs from the beach. You have all morning off to catch up some rest and get your bearings before meeting up with your instructors. There's a little studying involved (nothing that will confuse anyone), but getting into the water is pretty quick. At Big Blue you are lucky enough to be in the ocean from day 1 with Koh Tao providing plenty of spots to undertake all types of diving. My instructor was Dan who teamed up with Kelli. Both were friendly and excellent and I don't think anyone had anything but an amazing time. Many of us stayed on to do the SSI Advanced Adventurer and in my case I stayed on to do an an extra eco dive and a fundive as well. You just don't want to leave. Diving wise; although I have little to compare to we saw some amazing things whilst at BB including Hawksbill turtles and on our trip out to Sail Rock a Whale Shark (if BB are running this trip whilst you do your advanced you can get on it for a bargain fee, a whole days diving with food all day and a great crowd). In addition the night dive was, far from being scary, quite magical with Barracuda sweeping past you to hunt whatever your torch has just caught as well as the beautiful bioluminescence. I can't praise BB enough, their staff were great; both the expat instructors and the local staff and crew. The bar and food also very good with a nice spot on a quiet part of sairee beach. GO NOW!" Trip Advisor-5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2011 Skimanic, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Attention island residents, this morning there was a massive fish die-off that occurred in Ao Tien Og and Chalok Ban Kao. As of know we are unsure of the causes, but are working with the Marine Fisheries dept., local government, and DMCR to collect information and try to find out what caused this. If you have any (credible) information or have seen any suspicious events or activities over the last 24 hours, please let us know. We have compiled an initial report, which you can download from the website. http://www.marineconservationkohtao.com/images/stories/pdf/fishdie-off_2011.pdf If you see any other dead animals around the island today please send me an email with any descriptions, counts, pictures, etc. Thank you. Also, hundreds of large fish were collected in the early mornings by locals and residents. Until we know the cause of this event we strongly recommend that you do not purchase or consume any of the fish being sold on the island today and tomorrow. Please share this information with others on the island.

 Monday 25th September 2011-e

Well, how dedicated are we - over 50 people braved the storm on Saturday to participate in this years International Clean Up day at Big Blue! Staff, trainee Divemasters and lots of other volunteers helped collect rubbish from North Sairee beach - both on land and under the sea. Every year, debris in the water harms millions of fish and aquatic life, but we at Big Blue love our reefs to much to see them become a rubbish dump! So we set out to clean that rubbish up, polish the coral and scrub the fish until they were sparkling clean! We collected over 50 kgs of rubbish, so a fantastic job guys well done!! Don't worry if you missed this event, we do it on the last Saturday of every month! And guess what... the dive is FREE!! So come join in! Even if you can't make the next clean up, you can always do you own little bit on every dive - just ask us for a mesh bag and collect away!

“Top notch fun and relaxation.” Firstly, I've been meaning to write this review for months, but never got round to it. For that I apologise to BB for not giving them 5 stars sooner. I had 3 weeks off work in April this year and had a fantastic holiday to Tibet planned after many months of preparation. Sadly the Chinese government decided not to issue visa's for groups in April and so I quickly rebooked tickets to Bangkok. With only 24 hours until departure the only prep I had time for was picking up a "rough planet" guide to take along. Well arriving in Bangkok during Songkran was a shock (7 am, jet lagged, suddenly covered with water and pink clay; you get the picture) Anyway I hung around the capital for a few days soaking up the atmosphere (and chang) before catching the night train down to Chumphon for the ferry to Tao. I looked online first and my guide book also recommended Big Blue so I booked the OW course online as well as accommodation. Booking online means you don't get the benefit of free dorm accommodation but I did get a nice beach hut with fan not 5 mins from the dive centre. Anyway I get ahead of myself, arriving at Tao is a bit of a breath taking experience, despite being knackered after an all night train ride (There are easier, yet more costly, ways to Tao as well as cheaper slower ways too...), you can't help but be impressed by this rocky green jewel in azure waters. Getting off the ferry is a little daunting to be honest, big crowd of people, usual collection of people knowing a good place to take you made finding the BB sign a challenge, but once found a short bumpy ride to Sairee Beach is enough to wake you up! Arrival at Big Blue is processed nice and quickly and then I was taken to my room. I didn't pay much but what I got was fine. Standard wooden beach hut. cold shower (all you need!) fan cooled with a small deck and hammock 30 secs from the beach. You have all morning off to catch up some rest and get your bearings before meeting up with your instructors. There's a little studying involved (nothing that will confuse anyone), but getting into the water is pretty quick. At Big Blue you are lucky enough to be in the ocean from day 1 with Koh Tao providing plenty of spots to undertake all types of diving. My instructor was Dan who teamed up with Kelli. Both were friendly and excellent and I don't think anyone had anything but an amazing time. Many of us stayed on to do the SSI Advanced Adventurer and in my case I stayed on to do an an extra eco dive and a fundive as well. You just don't want to leave. Diving wise; although I have little to compare to we saw some amazing things whilst at BB including Hawksbill turtles and on our trip out to Sail Rock a Whale Shark (if BB are running this trip whilst you do your advanced you can get on it for a bargain fee, a whole days diving with food all day and a great crowd). In addition the night dive was, far from being scary, quite magical with Barracuda sweeping past you to hunt whatever your torch has just caught as well as the beautiful bioluminescence. I can't praise BB enough, their staff were great; both the expat instructors and the local staff and crew. The bar and food also very good with a nice spot on a quiet part of sairee beach. GO NOW!" Trip Advisor-5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2011 Skimanic, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Attention island residents, this morning there was a massive fish die-off that occurred in Ao Tien Og and Chalok Ban Kao. As of know we are unsure of the causes, but are working with the Marine Fisheries dept., local government, and DMCR to collect information and try to find out what caused this. If you have any (credible) information or have seen any suspicious events or activities over the last 24 hours, please let us know. We have compiled an initial report, which you can download from the website. http://www.marineconservationkohtao.com/images/stories/pdf/fishdie-off_2011.pdf If you see any other dead animals around the island today please send me an email with any descriptions, counts, pictures, etc. Thank you. Also, hundreds of large fish were collected in the early mornings by locals and residents. Until we know the cause of this event we strongly recommend that you do not purchase or consume any of the fish being sold on the island today and tomorrow. Please share this information with others on the island.

Saturday 24th September 2011-f

Bringing in a couple new staff to replace the masses who've left us over recent weeks. First off we are bringing in the Islands leading Dive Medic Steve Reid who has been advising divers on Koh Tao for over 5 years on what they should & shouldn't do when it comes to their health & diving. He's been on Koh Tao over 10 years is an extremely experienced PADI & SSI Instructor as well as one of the top Dive Medic Technicians in Thailand so we are extremely lucky to have him working here at Big Blue as a full time Instructor & one of our Divemaster mentors. Then we're also bringing in Mr Paul 'Tosh' Tanner who will also be joining Steve in training our PADI Divemasters & SSI Dive Cons. Tosh has also been working in diving over 10 years & comes from a Resort Management background in the Caymans aswell as previous Dive Shop Management here in Koh Tao. Tosh is both an SSI & PADI Instructor & will be assisting SSImon with his SSI Instructor Training Courses when we set up our SSI Center of Excellence at the beginning of next year! Welcome to Big Blue boys. Now go put your knickers on & make us a cup of tea!

Last day on Koh Tao for Helen today who is leaving us for pastures new & will be starting her new job in the Cayman islands in a little over a month. So what does a full time dive instructor do the day before she leaves the island? Go diving of course! & who can blame her. Lucky sod gets to dive with a Whale shark for her last 2 dives on Koh Tao! Cheers Hells! All the best mate & hope you enjoyed the Whale shark I especially laid on for you!

Well its a big day of Rugby today! We Got England playing Romania, 'Come on Romania!' & then its the Mighty All Blacks taking on the beret boys from France! Sonia will be there with hr bowler hat & briefcase cheering on the Pommies! PADI Course Director Guillaume Froigrois will be sitting on a bicycle with a bunch of baguettes poking out his basket supporting the Froggies. & Jim will be there with chin tattoo, & hula skirt cheering on the mighty kiwis! Go Blacks!

Friday 23rd September 2011-g

“Amazing diving, awsome instructor, satisfactory accommodation” - With no diving background, we arrived at Big Blue after being given a 'flyer' on the ferry from Surat Thani. We signed-up for the open water course and were assigned a 'bungalow' without AC as I had a cold (AC not good for colds). The bungalow was very basic but clean and perfectly adequate. The windows had fly screens and all we saw inside was the occasional mosquito. Our biggest problem with accommodation was the persistent lack of running water throughout the site as they were installing new pipes / tanks. This would be OK with some warning, but there was none and we would wake up and not be able to brush our teeth or come back from diving and not be able to shower for a couple of hours. The only other complaint would be that with such thin walls, there was a lot of noise from nearby bars into the early hours, but if you're one of the people in those bars, this won't bother you (we resorted to earplugs)! They have brick built dorms and rooms which would be better in this respect. Those were the negatives but they were definitely outweighed by the positives... Our instructor for the Open Water (SSI) course was Medwin and he was brilliant. Informative and most importantly enthusiastic about what he was teaching. He was patient with our (very basic) questions and very good at demonstrating activities underwater. The dive sites were amazing. So much to look at and diving is such a great experience... we're hooked! I highly recommend specifying Med as your instructor; you will have a great time. We had such a good time that three of us from the OW course stayed on with Med to do our Advanced Course too. None of us had planned this beforehand but we'd had such a good time in the first course. The area around Big Blue is buzzing with activity with plenty of shops and restaurants, but the beach is never far away if you want to lay back and relax. If the staff at Big Blue were any more relaxed, they would be unconcious! We could have spent much longer in Koh Tao and I'm pretty sure its not the last time we visit that great little island. Thank you Big Blue" Trip Advisor Review- Tim_katy from the UK.
 


Richard Branson made an appeal against the consumption of shark fins to a group of 30 of China's richest and most influential business people in Shanghai. Every year, the fins of up to 73 million sharks are harvested and sold, most of which end up on the menus of luxury restaurants in China and Hong Kong. The event, which saw the Virgin founder joined by retired Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, was sponsored by conservation group WildAid, who unveiled a television campaign to highlight the project. "The world is getting wealthier. In China in particular people are getting more affluent. And they can now afford to buy shark fin soup. So it is a major problem. And therefore, there is a major battle to try to reverse that trend," said Branson. Despite moves to ban the trade and consumption of shark fins around the globe - the state of California recently passed a law banning the possession, sale or trade of them - 95 per cent are consumed in China where a kilo of the delicacy trades for around two-thousand yuan, or £200, at Shanghai's seafood markets.

Thursday 22nd September 2011-h

It is mostly legal, but harvesting a shark's fins is a gruesome business. Fishermen often cut off the fins while still at sea and throw the sharks back into the water, where they bleed to death. The fins are then dried and sold to Chinese restaurants, where they are made into shark fin soup. China is at the centre of this trade, but a new campaign hopes to persuade its citizens to stop buying the soup. It is being run by the international animal rights organisation WildAid, which has enlisted the support of China's most famous sportsman, Yao Ming. "When the buying stops, the killing can too," says Yao. WildAid is not the only organisation in China trying to persuade people to stop eating shark fin soup. The Jane Goodall Institute has had an exhibition of gory photographs at Beijing Zoo, next to the tropical bird house. It showed sharks swimming majestically through the water alongside graphic pictures of fishermen cutting off their fins. The aim was to remind people of the cost paid by sharks for a bowl of soup, which can sell for $100 (£64) each. "There is this myth in China that sharks will regenerate their fins, but that's not true. They actually die a very slow, painful and cruel death." WildAid says 73 million sharks are killed each year which, if it continues, could lead to the extinction of several species. That might be so, but persuading Chinese people to forgo them will not be easy.

WANT bigger breasts but shy away from the idea of surgery? Thailand claims to have the answer. Already famous for its medical tourism services - including cheap breast implants - Thailand is promoting a “body slapping” technique that it claims can boost breast size. It has even licensed one beauty shop in Bangkok to perform the non-surgical treatment, which involves kneading, massaging and hitting of the breasts, as well as buttock-slapping to firm the rear. The traditional therapy has been practised by shop owner Khemmikka Na Songkhla for more than two decades. She claims the slapping shifts fat from one area to another, while kneading works excess fat towards the breasts. She has approval from the Thai Government to carry out the technique after a study by the Thai Health Ministry reportedly found vigorous massage left volunteers’ breasts noticeably bigger. The Ministry went so far as to sponsor a program that urged women to learn how to slap their own breasts. Clients can expect to gain about 5cm after the painful treatment. However some are turned away as their breasts are too small. The clinic charges $380 for six 10-minute slapping sessions.

Fiddling from Island to Ireland at Rugby World Cup in NZ: KOH TAO - KUALA LUMPUR - SINGAPORE - SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX - KUALA LUMPUR - KOH SAMUI - KOH TAO - BANGKOK... All in one week! Island to Ireland is taking to the BIG streets BIG TIME!! Time is running out for Greek and he's nowhere near the target! Some positive energy is needed to get this thing off the ground... Good Luck Greek, you crazy Irishman! Only another 143000 Bt to go!

Wednesday 21st September 2011-i

"Dear Ros, Thank you soo much for this week. We had so much fun & learned a lot from you. It was an excellent diving course! You made it unforgettable, exciting & really fun! We didn't have the opportunity to drink Red Bull Vodka Buckets together, so we have to trust you getting them yourself & think about us! We wish you all the best. Team Magic, Henrik, Maria & JP."

"Dear Jim, The PADI eCard™, an electronic version of the traditional certification card, will be available soon. It displays information that instructors or divers need to verify certification and will be hosted, managed and displayed through the existing free PADI App. In the upcoming weeks, PADI Asia Pacific will send eCards to all Course Directors. PADI eCards will be available to all PADI Instructors (upon 2012 PADI membership renewal) shortly thereafter. Diver-level eCards will continue to reflect the same information that appears on traditional certification cards*, but many users will be able to instantly connect with you by opening your website or calling you directly from the eCard**. So wherever your customers go, they can quickly and easily give you a call, send you an email or visit your website -- all from their PADI eCard. For further information regarding the PADI eCard, contact PADI Asia Pacific. Best Regards from, PADI Asia Pacific

The next land and underwater clean-up is just around the corner, on September 24th. The weather is looking a bit rough for Sairee, so it may be best to move the clean-up to the East side of the island. There will be a short meeting at Vibe in Mae Haad on the 22nd, 7pm. This month’s clean-up is also being done in support of Project Aware’s Marine Debris Month of Action, so be sure to come & bring as many people as you can to show your support. Hope to see you there!

Sunday 18th September 2011-
j
Whaleshark Whisperer strikes again! Whaleshark seen at Southwest Pinnacle in both the morning & the afternoon. Of course we managed to organise on a whim to gather all interested parties & take them out to dive with the Whaleshark in the afternoon so I believe yesterdays Big Blue customer satisfaction ratio was actually pretty high! About the same as the All Black score against the Japanese! :

“Brilliant dive school” - I visited Koh Tao with my girlfriend with the intention of learning to dive - we wanted to do our Open Water qualification and this seemed a good place to do so. We spent a morning looking around some other dive schools, notably a much larger one along with a few we found recommended in the Lonely Planet or otherwise. Big Blue seemed the best choice for us, with a small, friendly feel and very approachable staff. The course (SSI) cost 9000 THB and was worth every bit. Our instructor, Ros, was brilliant and was especially helpful whenever somebody found something difficult. At no point did we feel the course was progressing either too quickly or too slowly. The dive boat was also of good quality and all the equipment seemed to work well, with the minor exception of a leaky mask or two! We stayed in an (included) wooden bungalow, right near the restaurant. It was clean and, albeit basic, perfectly adequate. Twice we were without water for a few hours but this seemed to be beyond BBs control. Reception staff were always very happy to help or answer any questions we had. On a side-note, you may want to bring a padlock if you intend to stay here as there are lockers available for use, but you require your own lock. Alternatively a small padlock can be bought for about 50 THB from the 7 eleven, about a minutes walk. The restaurant/bar on-site seemed lively and was always quite busy. The food seemed very good, though we only ate breakfast there. If you find it difficult to sleep you may want to consider staying a little further out than the bungalows however, as it can be a little noisy. All in all, thoroughly recommended. Plus, all divers who get there qualification there get 10% discount for life.Trip Advisor Luke M, Bangkok Thailand- Reviewed 14th Sept 2011

Congratulations to the 42 people who participated in this years Swim for Sharks! Divers from Koh Tao challenged themselves to a 3km swim around Koh Nang Yuan and shaved their head to support anti-shark fishing campaigns on Koh Tao. We raised over 25,000 baht and over 600 signatures to support no fishing zones on Koh Tao. Fantastic job guys!

Friday 16th September 2011-k

The biggest fish in the sea is as long as a school bus, weighs as much as 50,000 pounds, and has a mouth that looks, head-on, wide enough to suck down a small car. Despite this distinctive profile, scientists know very little about the whale shark. They breathe through gills, like fish. They are cold-blooded, like fish. The "whale" part of the name refers to size and how the animals eat. They are one of only three known shark species that filter feed, as baleen whales do, swimming slowly through plankton-rich water, maws agape. Water goes in carrying edibles of all sizes, and water sans food flows out. The giant fish is hard to study in part because it is hard to find and track. By tagging individual specimens, scientists have learned that whale sharks can log thousands of miles in years-long trips. But they sometimes disappear for weeks, diving more than a mile down and resting in the chilly deep for a spell. No one has ever found mating or birthing grounds. Whale sharks are ordinarily loners. But not in one corner of Indonesia. The photograph here, shot some eight miles off the province of Papua, reveal a group of sharks that call on fishermen each day, zipping by one another, looking for handouts near the surface, and nosing the nets—a rare instance when the generally docile fish act, well, like the rest of the sharks.

"Rugby and Fiddling... So Fiddling from Island to Ireland @ the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.... Whats it all about??? Well I want to go to PLAY FOR IRELAND @ THE WORLD CUP... BUT NOT ON THE PITCH, ON THE FIDDLE!!! Basically, I'm AN IRISHMAN FROM CO. WEXFORD named Greek, who is trying to raise enough money to get myself to New Zealand to play a few tunes for the BOYS IN GREEN on my fiddle.The story is that I’ve been living in Koh Tao in Thailand for the last couple of years. On my way here I bought a fiddle in Bangkok and since then I have been TEACHING MYSELF how to scratch out a few tunes. Now I want to join my two great passions RUGBY AND FIDDLING (neither of which are really accessible on this tiny island) and PLAY AT THE WORLD CUP FINALS. Unfortunately, I cant make it alone (mainly because Thai Baht doesnt have great value internationally) and NEED YOUR SUPPORT. I will be playing fiddle at all the matches shown here (even though there is not much interest in rugby in Thailand), teaching rugby to anyone who listens and then uploading what happens as I go along! THE DEADLINE TO GET TO NZ IS THE 6TH OF OCTOBER. I will post more details on how you can help or donate later but for now PLEASE PASS THIS ON AND HELP IT GET VIRAL!!! Thank you so much for your help! Greek' http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fiddling-from-Island-to-Ireland-at-Rugby-World-Cup-in-NZ/113792725393034 ... Please check out this link and share the page on your facebook page. Loads of video will be up on youtube later.. links to come!

Dolphin watchers in west Wales have spotted unusual behaviour as a female repeatedly tossed a newborn calf into the air. They say it is the first time such 'violent' behaviour has been seen by a mother in Cardigan Bay although males dolphins have been known to kill their young. It might have been a case of a severe telling off due to the two to three day old calf wandering too far away. "She was nosing it away in a particular direction, then suddenly she threw the infant right up into the air, and then did this about three times. Normally when you see something like an animal thrown into the air it's an aggressive action by a male dolphin. In this instance it was the mother doing it (the attacking), and she was doing it very rigorously. It was moving away, several times, from the mother, and perhaps it was straying too far and she wanted to keep a close eye on it." This may have been because there were humans nearby or other adult dolphins. "It was possible a got a strong scolding because of that, and the animal was unharmed at the end," he added.

Thursday 15th September 2011-l

In support of Dive Tribe’s National Shark Release event on September 3rd, two dedicated teams from Big Blue Conservation travelled to Chumphon and Koh Samui to find out if live sharks were being sold, or kept in tanks in restaurants and other tourist related venues. We planned to buy these sharks and release them back in to Koh Tao waters. However both teams found no live sharks – only dead ones. In Chumphon, shark fin soup is sold at two restaurants, with prices varying from 400 – 2,300 baht. In Chumphon fish market, we found 4 dead black tip and 2 dead grey reefs sharks. Samui markets sold many sharks, most selling for less than 90 baht a kilo (less than £2). No shark we found weighed more than 2 kilos. In Samui, most restaurants sold Shark Steak, and when asked who eats them, they told us that westerners were the most frequent buyers. All sharks we found were purchased from fishermen on the west coast, so were not taken from Koh Tao reefs.

In the grand scheme of things, the number of sharks sold was very small, however we found two very disappointing things – firstly, the sharks were being taken from “marine protected” waters in the Andaman coast and were commonly juvenile sharks, therefore had not had a chance to mate yet. And secondly, the people buying Shark Steaks in restaurant were the supposedly more educated western tourists wanting an ‘exotic’ dish. There is much controversy surrounding shark fin soup and many westerners wont touch it, but it appears we are less against eating shark steak.
So what can we do about it?

• Well, spread the word – whether its shark fin soup or shark steak – a shark still has to die for it. Dont eat at restaurants selling shark products – and tell them why you’re leaving.
• Before you leave, why not scribble over the item on the menu so no one else can order it.
• Support local anti-shark fishing action.
• Sign the petition to ban shark fishing on Koh Tao – this way our waters can be a sanctuary for sharks to breed and reach sexual maturity.

 

Wednesday 14th September 2011-
m
Another day, another boat load of Full Moon Party people invading Koh Tao. Rooms are filling up nicely but even though its 'rush hour' it all feels quite mellow here & not very busy at all. In fact its gone so quiet that we have actually decided to send Big Blue boat off for its yearly Medical examination over on the mainland. So its open wide, say aaaah, point your head to the right & cough, for Big Blue Boat this week. Then a quick trim, short back & sides, a little off the top & then a nice little touch up. A rub down here, a lick of paint there & Big Blue Boat will be back with us again on the Rock before you can say "That Big Black Blokes Big Blue Boats Back!"

So despite the great weather & the awesome diving we are finding ourselves to be at a little bit of a loss for things to do at the moment. Luckily for most of us the Rugby World Cup is helping to while away the hours. However not everyone appears to be that interested in the shannanigans of a bunch of hairy hardened muscle men. Take Instructor Curtis for example. While most of us are cheering our boys as they prance up & down the field chasing an egg shaped ball, Curtis has been holed up inside with his brand new 32 inch flat screen surround sound hi def tv & new satellite dish watching the season 24 hour special of the Bachalorette! Who said American Dive Instructors were rugged big hard broad military types. Our American Boy from Boston likes scuba diving, the colour pink, shopping & crap TV!

Another Full Day Trip to Sail Rock today. We are actually planning 1 dive at Sail Rock, 1 dive at Samran Pinnacle & the 3rd dive of the day at Southwest Pinnacle. Should be a corker of a day & statistically, bearing in mind the position of the earth to the sun, the Full Moon, the tidal rise & the clarity of the water in regard to the earths axis & the regularity with which we see these things we should be up for a Whaleshark today. Watch this space!

Monday 12th September 2011-n

"Hello, I hope this mail will reach Laura Osborne boss. About 2 or 3 weeks ago I did a OW with Laura Osborne and I wanted to say that she was absolutely great. I could not have wished for a better instructor. She was patient and made me feel very comfortable and secure. She was relaxed but professional and a lot of fun. Thanks a lot to Laura! Take care, Friederike"

"To everyone in Big blue i just wanted to write you guys and say that during the one week i was diving with you guys was a blast, i felt that everyone was friendly, and professional and wanted everyone to have a good time. the instructors i was diving with the most were Stiven, Greg, Regi, and Tyron (who i know is not yet part of big blue) and i would like to take this chance and say that you guys should take him to be part of big blue (my humble opinion) Keep up the good work; keep bringing joy to those who dive. Best wishes Lior Asher (aka the guys who bled every time he dove).

“Amazing place!”5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2011. I stayed here and got my scuba diving license and it was an amazing experience! MY dive instructor Iain Goodfellow was a great guy and helped with anything and everything. I highly recommend this dive school." Trip Advisor- briang 108

Tuesday 6th September 2011-
o
"HI Big Blue people and Wibeke, Just wanted to say thanks a mil for a great 5 days visit to BigBlue. The diving was great - had Tosh (Paul Tanner) as instructor for both OpenWater and Advanced and i'd recommend him to anyone for his professional manner and relaxed manenr and ability to make us all comfortable with these new skills. thanks too for the upgrade to a single room (instead of dorm), that was an extra sweet bonus. You are running a very smooth, chilled out and yet professional place with the dive school, accommodation and bar/restaurant. its location is also great as it is self-contained and little removed from the busy-ness of the main restaurant-shops-stalls area. it is great and i had a great time. i left a message with one of your dive instructors called Stephen/Steve also to thank Wibeke for her help and assistance in planning and booking the diving and the accommodation etc. she was great so thanks Wibeke! thanks for a great visit, Regards and thanks, Siobhan Ni Riain, Ireland."

“Big Blue Diving is the BEST!” . I tried 3 diving resorts on Ko Tao, and Big Blue Diving was the BEST, by far!!! I booked a full day trip with Big Blue to Sail Rock. Everything was seemless and the dive masters were excellent! The trip was very well planned (easy process to book and get your equipment; not much time waiting around in the morning... unlike other schools) We were taken to brilliant dive sites - 2 dives at Sail Rock and a 3rd dive closer to Ko Tao. The instructors were excellent - I learnt a huge amount about fish and marine life from not only my dive master, but the other dive masters on the boat (these guys are smart and they're passionate about marine life... this is not just a job for them). The food was brilliant - a hot breakfast to start, fruit, biscuits, coffee and an absolutely delicious lunch. I loved diving with Big Blue and was sad that I only discovered them at the end of my stay on Ko Tao. They are a cut above the other dive schools I used - they're professional, they're passionate about marine life and the staff are really friendly and great to be around. The cost for the full day trip including 3 dives, equipment hire and meals was THB3,500. I was really glad to spend this money with Big Blue!!- Visited August 2011

Koh Tao Big Blue Restaurant : "dinner on the beach with the sunset" Aug 13, 2011 - CharlyT, Brussels, Belgium- Big Blue Restaurant is one of the many restaurants located on the most famous beach of Koh Tao. There's nothing particularly spectacular, but it's always nice to eat with the sunset on the beach. The Thai food of course must be your choice, do not eat hamburgers, pizza or other stuff, until you try it and try to Thailand all specialties. Sometimes the restaurant serves the fire show with music, very beautiful!

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