Archive for ‘Koh Tao’

Jenkins Whip Ray

By , 22 July, 2015, No Comment

I have seen a few now over my time here on Koh Tao and every time they are always impressive. Last night however was the first time I have ever seen one at night and it was awesome. They seem far more relaxed at night. Where as during the day they seem to be either sleeping or scare easily at night it was far more focused on hunting and therefore we were able to spend far more time with it moving about the bottom. I am talking about the Jenkins whipray, a species of stingray. Not as common here as the Bluespotted Ribbon tail rail it grows to an impressive 1.5m across and has a broad, diamond shaped pectoral fin disc and a whip-like tail without fin folds. What is even more impressive about it is a row of large spear-like thorns along the midline. It is less colourful than the blue spotted being a more gray and brown colour on the top and white on its underbelly. I’ve always loved the way rays move gracefully through the water and the Jenkins is no exception. It made it one of my favourite night dives to date and an extremely good reason to go on more of them! Unfortunately the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have assessed the species as vulnerable in Southeast Asia, due to intense fishing. To lose such as magnificent creature would be a tragedy and I hope something can be done about this as I hope more can experience diving with these animals.

by Alex

 

jenkins whip ray

Jenkins Whip Ray

 

 

 

 

 

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Cave Diving

By , 19 July, 2015, No Comment

With a couple of my colleagues off on a cave diving trip at the minute, I am left here on Koh Tao (which they take great pleasure in reminding me every day they are away) to introduce and inspire other people  about the challenging, exciting and dark world of cave diving.

The term “cave diving” itself draws wide eyes. Most rural farmers in Thailand firmly believe dragons and ghosts live in those bottomless pits deep in the jungle, and jumping into one of them resembles suicide rather than stimulation to the explorer’s mind.

It’s no wonder Thailand isn’t synonymous with cave diving like Mexico and Florida seem to be. Few explorers over the last two decades have ventured into the jungle at their own expense to lay lines and teach cave diving. Unfortunately, very little information was shared and when the next generation of cave divers came along, and caves had to be rediscovered all over again. Luckily some GPS data was passed on, and cave instructors have driven days through the jungle to locate one of the hundreds of caves.

Thailand has enormous limestone formations, generating its unique topography. Limestone is the perfect breeding ground for dry caves to be formed. National projects have flooded entire valleys to supply hydro-power and preserve the rain-forests. A lot of the previously dry caves in these national parks are now flooded and dive-able. Besides stunning panoramas resembling Lord of the Rings scenery, the caves now offer the prefect training grounds for shallow cave training with plenty of the decorative stalactites the novice diver expects to see.

Most cave courses or trips will start in the more shallow caverns, before heading to one of the many deep, dark sinkholes and thermal vents located further south.

The limestone ridge, stretching throughout southern Thailand is very old and has acidic water from the rain-forest above which has carved enormous, mostly unexplored tunnels. Because of the limestone, Thailand has over 2000 caves, both wet and dry. Today less than 10% of these are known.

Thermal vents are deep springs, bringing up a variety of minerals and gases. This usually provides a turquoise, slightly milky water. And these vents are deep, very deep. One has even been explored up to 239 meters.

Other sinkholes are enormous with entrances well over 300 feet/100 meters in diameter. Divers can easily enter scootering side by side, as the visibility can be well in excess of 100 feet/30 meters.

Most of the caves being dived now are easy access and have no strong flows in or out. This means the caves are dive-able for everyone year-round, as we are not limited by weather conditions.

The variety in cave diving experiences found in Thailand is unequaled in comparison to any other part of the world.

by Matt (Feeling left out)

 

diving-big-cave (2)

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Humphead parrot fish

By , 15 July, 2015, No Comment

Recently was lucky enough to come across two humphead parrot fish on one of the eastern divesites on Koh Tao, this was my first siting of a humphead parrot fish and they where so fanistastic to see i felt compelled to do some research about them.

The green humphead parrotfish, Bolbometopon muricatum, is the largest species of parrot fish, growing to lengths of 1.3 m and weighing up to 46 kg.

My friends the humphead parrot fish are part of the wrasse family, however unlike wrasses, it has a vertical head profile, and unlike other parrot fishes, it is uniformly covered with scales except for the leading edge of the head, which is often light green to pink. Primary phase colouration is a dull gray with scattered white spots, gradually becoming uniformly dark green
Each adult fish ingests over five tons of structural reef carbonates per year! contributing significantly to the bioerosion of reefs. The fish sleeps in caves and shipwrecks at night, usually in large groups.

After some research i discovered these beautiful fish are widely threatened by fishermen, mainly from spearfishing so i was lucky to be able to see them up close, hopefully this is a sign of the diversity of the species of fish on our beautiful island increasing.

by Dani

 

A pair of Humphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum). North Horn, Osprey Reef, Coral Sea

A pair of Humphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum).

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Porcupine fish…

By , 12 July, 2015, No Comment

Recently a few of us from Davy Jones Locker went on a night dive in Hin Wong Bay, which has a large variety of fish that become more active after sun down. Towards the end of the dive, one of us noticed a porcupine fish, these fish are normally very slow and tend to hang around in one area. This particular porcupine fish was hanging around the group for a while. They are friendly fish which tend to be very docile unless they feel threatened. Porcupine fish do live in the shallow to mid shallow waters, which means you can see them on any course you take in Koh Tao, however this particular one was seen on a night dive during an advanced course when they are most active!

by James

 

james

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Why do a DSD

By , 29 June, 2015, No Comment

Being a dive instructor on the tropical island of Koh Tao, while being as close to perfection as it gets especially with the addition of air conditioning, you can find that after a while you are stuck in a bit of a bubble, adrift from the outside world. Therefore it is always a pleasant experience when family or friends come a visiting with news of what lies beyond. However there are a few expectations put upon a dive instructor as payment for the pleasure of their company. The main one being that no family member should be able to leave the island without having ventured under the sea. This put me in a slight predicament as this particular family member had in the last few years managed to scare themselves out of an indoor swimming pool for fear of sharks. My fear was not abated with the news that with her first expedition to the beach they quickly left the water after seeing their own shadow below them.

How then to tackle this problem. Well after a couple of hours in the pool spent mastering the basics they were persuaded to venture into open water. Along with three other discover scuba divers and under the supervision of two very capable Divemaster trainees, and of course myself, we embarked to Hin Won Bay. The sea was choppy and the visibility was far from ideal however my fear was almost immediately quashed when within minutes the same person who had managed to leave a 10m square pool due to fear of shark attacks was now posing happily for photos, being fascinated by Christmas tree worms and chasing after butterfly fish. This one discover scuba dive was followed by an additional dive and then another the following day. Time constraints being the only thing restricting them completing an open water course. They left the island with a smile, a new passion to explore and already planning a return trip.

The moral of this story boys and girls would seem to be that people can surprise themselves. The age old philosophy of ‘you never know unless you try’ is never more relevant when applied to diving. It is an activity so foreign from day to day living, unless you are a diving instructor on Koh Tao, that there is no way to truly know how you will react to an expedition under the sea unless you just give it a go, and who knows how much you will surprise yourself.

by Alex

 

Great experience during your holiday - lets try scuba diving with our awesome instructor Alex

Great experience during your holiday – lets try scuba diving with our awesome instructor Alex

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook