Archive for ‘Koh Tao’

Turtles of Koh Tao

By , 21 November, 2014, No Comment

Koh tao means turtle island, and it is the dreams of many divers to see one of these beautiful animals in the flesh. There are two types of turtle common to koh tao: The Green turtle and Hawksbill turtle. The Green and Hawksbill turtles look very similar to each other however they have some differences in appearance.  The Hawksbill can be distinguished from the Green Turtle by its sharp, curving beak with prominent cutting edge, and the saw-like appearance of its shell margins.

The Green Turtle is the most typical sea turtle, possessing a teardrop-shaped carapace and a pair of large, paddle-like flippers. Despite the turtle’s common name, it is lightly-coloured all around while its carapace’s hues range from olive-brown to black in Eastern Pacific green turtles. The turtle is actually named for the greenish coloration of its fat and flesh.

The Hawksbill has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Pacific subspecies and the Green turtle can be found throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Unlike other members of the turtle family, the Green turtle is mostly herbivorous. The adults are commonly found in shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of seagrass.  Sponges are the principal diet of hawksbills once they enter shallow coastal waters and begin feeding on the bottom. Some of the sponges eaten by Hawksbills are known to be highly toxic and lethal when eaten by other organisms.  Hawksbills are also known to feed on other invertebrates, such as comb jellies and jellyfish. This is why you must be careful with things like plastic bags as if they end up in the sea a turtle could eat it thinking it is a jellyfish. The largest Green turtle ever recorded weighed 395 kilograms whilst the Hawksbills are generally smaller with the largest recorded tipping the scales at 127 kilograms. You can see both types of turtles at many dive sites through out koh Tao, including sleeping turtles on night dives. If you do see one, make sure to keep a respectful distance and let them go about their day.

 

Sophie

Tortle

 

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Why so slow and deep?

By , 21 November, 2014, No Comment

Breathe in…. Breathe Out…Breathe in… Breathe Out…Breathe in….and breathe out…

This is something you have been doing unconsciously since the day you were born, without ever giving it much thought, other than the time you went to ‘find yourself’ at the yoga retreat.

Suddenly though you turn up to Koh Tao to do your PADI Open Water, an instructor will help kit you up, and minutes later your breathing is very conspicuous. You may hear someone say the feeling should pass, but breath control underwater is the difference between a novice diver and an experienced diver.

If you are correctly weighted and neutrally buoyant in the water, how is it some people can make diving look so effortless, whereas when you begin it can be quite exhausting moving your body position to swim over things. The secret is something you have been doing all your life – breathing. Being able to work out how much air you need to inhale and exhale at any given point will turn you into a more competent diver.

So what tips can I give? Well the first is that your lungs are probably bigger than you think, and so at any given moment you are storing more air than you realize. As a little test breathe all the way out right now. Now without breathing in breathe out again. And again. See how much air is still in your lungs? Use this when you next go diving so you can sink quicker if you need to (please be careful of your ears while doing this!)

The next tip I can give you is in situations that require much greater buoyancy control (going through swim through, wreck diving) is you can breathe in stages. Try to get the feeling of filling your lungs up to a quarter, now a half, then two thirds, and now fill them up. By doing this you are controlling the rate at which you will ascend over something like a pinnacle. Now breathe out in stages. The trick here is to always allow a very small amount of air to be constantly being inhaled and exhaled to keep the airway open (remembering the first rule of diving) whilst not necessarily breathing all the air out at once. This way you are controlling your descent, just like you do on a fin pivot, and will start to look like a pro, achieving the second rule of diving, always look cool.

As a final little thing to practice which you can do on dive sites less than 18 metres, is as you descend to the bottom, try and control it so you stop vertical position just above the ground. To other divers around it will look as though you have landed on a glass table, and you’ll be looking like the next dynamo!

Koh Tao has loads of great places to practice buoyancy control, which in this bloggers opinion is mostly just breath control. If you would like further instruction after your Open Water, then sign up for your PADI Advanced Open Water course and your instructor will play loads of buoyancy games with you on the Peak Performance Bouyancy dive.

So there you are, a few tips for breath control. If that all sounds a bit much, just take a slow, deep breath.

 

Chris N.

diver

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Finding Nemo

By , 21 November, 2014, No Comment

When learning to dive your instructor will always tell you to be aware of what is going on around you and of buoyancy control, that it stops you from getting injured and damaging aquatic life. Though instructors have done hundreds of dives, it is still something that people need to be aware of every time they dive.

I was unfortunate enough to not be fully conscious of where I was swimming when out with a group of students, there was a current and I ended up practically sitting in a bed of anemone. The result was horrific pain and welts on my body, luckily we have a well stocked first aid box and a large supply of vinegar on board which helped ease the pain, that along with the other instructors knowledge of how to treat different types of burns and stings it all ended well.

Each tentacle of an anemone contain special stinging cells called nematocysts that sting on contact. Anemone are home to clownfish, which most people know from the movie ‘Finding Nemo'; these fish have a special mucus layer on them which prevents them from being stung in the same way as we would when we touch them. this mucus layer allows the clownfish to hide amongst the tentacles and avoid other fish preying on them. when a clownfish has settled into its home anemone it rarely travels more than a few feet from it.


Like a lot of the animal species, the female is the largest fish; if the female dies the male becomes the female, a type of sex reversal. then the largest of the remaining anemone fish becomes the male and this is so the adult doesn’t have to leave the anemone looking for a mate.

 

Fiona

Nemo

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THINK BUOYANCY

By , 2 November, 2014, No Comment

It is well known across the world that coral reefs can be greatly affected by human activities, with a reported estimate 30% of global coral reefs already damaged to some extent. In Koh Tao, our reefs are important for the economy of our local community focused centrally on diving and tourism. Without our diverse range of reefs and dive sites, Koh Tao couldn’t be the worldwide diving hub that it is today!

Whether visiting Koh Tao for one day, or one year, the easiest, and potentially the most beneficial thing we can do is simply to control our buoyancy! And it’s not only kicking and touching that can break coral, stirring up nearby sediment can cover the corals, ultimately leading to coral death, which in turn can make it increasingly difficult for corals to recolonize an area. For these reasons, demonstrating buoyancy control is imperative at every level of PADI certification, so it makes sense to be deliberately practicing these skills on every dive. The Peak Performance Buoyancy Adventure Dive, alone or as part of the PADI Advanced Open Water introduces you to perfecting your buoyancy skills by providing you with a range of buoyancy skills, efficient kicking techniques, and games you can practice at any time, whether under instruction, or fun diving. Keeping your skills fresh and going onto the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Speciality will further enhance your buoyancy skills, increase your comfort in the water, and reducing your all so important air consumption, enabling you to get more from your diving experiences.

So next time you’re out diving with Davy Jones’ Locker, whether under instruction or fun diving with a Divemaster, make sure you practice your buoyancy and kicking techniques, or even better, ask for some hints and tips. Remember, they’re always happy to help, because ultimately, the entire Koh Tao coral reef ecosystem will benefit from every diver mastering these skills early with regular practice so our reefs are preserved for future generations!

Mike S

scuba-diver-large

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Nudibranchs

By , 14 October, 2014, No Comment

Koh Tao has many different types of fish and marine life, one of which is the nudibranch.

Nudibranchs (pronounced Noo-di-BRANKs) are gastropod mollusks. That’s a fancy way of saying ‘sea slug.’ Unlike other slugs, nudibranchs possess fantastic coloration and colour patterns. The coloration of each species comes from the prey they eat: the more colourful the prey, the more colourful the nudibranch. There are more than 3,000 species of nudibranch worldwide and more species are being discovered all the time. They crawl slowly across the ocean floor using a single foot, just like a garden snail. Some types of nudibranchs live only a month, while other species live as long as a year. Some species are only about one-quarter inch long at full maturity, others can swell to as long as 12 inches. Nudibranchs have many strange protrusions, including a pair of horn-like tentacles or “rhinophores” worn near the front of their bodies. These horns are primarily chemical sensing organs that help the nudibranch find its prey. Nudibranchs have soft bodies and most lack an external protective shell. This exposure is what inspired their neo-latin/greek name “nudibranch” which means “nude or naked gills.”Without a shell, nudibranchs had to evolve another way to ward off predators. They accomplished this in multiple ways: the development of toxic (aka bad tasting) glands in their skin, and bright colours meant to tell predators that taking a bite is a terrible decision. But that’s not all. Aeolid nudibranchs steal nematocysts (stingers) from the animals it eats (corals, sea anemonesand jelly fish).

 

by Sophie

Doc1

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