Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Instructor Specialties

Last week some Instructor Specialty training was completed.

Independently from each other, Ton, who completed his IDC and IE last year in May (my first blog entry!) and Stuart who completed his IDC and IE last year in October with me, each came to me for Instructor Specialty training.

Over a few days we completed amongst others Underwater Navigation, Boat, Deep, Aware Fish ID and the Multilevel Instructor Specialties.

We had some very nice dives and I saw a few 'firsts' for myself, 2 Jenkins Whiprays on Chaweng Beach and at Twins (Koh Tao) a Yellowmargin Triggerfish. During this dive I also saw an octopus during the safety stop, although they're quite common, I don't see them a lot. Very unfortunate and therefor very nice to see this one for a few moments, drastically changing colours all the time.

Here's Stuart, happy that he sorted his deep dive timed task.

At Red Rock/Shark Point at Koh Tao, we spotted this lovely bluespotted stingray.

Also at Red Rock we found this beautiful soft coral

At White Rock, also at Koh Tao, this white eyed moray eel was was lazing around.

A reef impression around Koh Tao with small reef fish and Christmas Tree worms or Spirobranchus giganteus.

We had a couple of good days diving and during last week, there were also several sightings of whale sharks around Koh Tao, but we missed each day that we were out on the boats.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

New artificial reef in Phuket

The ‘Coral Reef Squadron’ arrives

In Phuket a new artificial reef, made up by defunct airplanes from the Vietnam and Korea wars, is about to be opened up. There seems to some controversy amongst Phuket's dive operators about the location of the artificial reef, see this discussion on ScubaBoard.

For me, sitting on Koh Samui, I wish Samui or Koh Tao would get some artificial reef like in Pattaya with the HTMS Khram and the HTMS Koot and now in Phuket.

Please read the following article as it appeared in the Phuket Gazette today;

JUST PASSING THROUGH: One of the 15 flatbed trucks transporting the ‘Coral Reef Squadron’ passes through the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint on Sunday.
MAI KHAO: Amidst great fanfare, a convoy of 15 flatbed trucks loaded with the remains of 10 decommissioned military aircraft arrived at the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint at 2 pm on Sunday after a three-day overland journey that began in Lopburi.
The convoy departed from Koke Krathiem Air Force Base in Lopburi with the partly disassembled aircraft on Friday.
The arrival of the four Douglas C-47 Dakota Skytrain military transport aircraft and six Sikorsky S-58T helicopters marks the penultimate leg of their final journey before they are sunk in the waters off Bang Tao.
On May 5, the aircraft skeletons are to be dropped into the sea about a kilometer off Bang Tao Beach to create an artificial reef in the hope that it will attract marine life and become a popular new dive site.
The aging aircraft, which have been dubbed the “Coral Reef Squadron”, are US-built and served in the Vietnam and Korean Wars, during which Thailand was used as a strategic base for operations during its Cold War fight against communism.
There to meet the convoy Tah Chat Chai checkpoint were Phuket Vice-Governor Worapoj Ratthasima, Tourism Authority of Thailand South Region 4 Office Director Suwalai Pinpradub, and representatives of the various groups and agencies that are working together on the project: The Royal Thai Air Force, the Phuket provincial government, the Thalang District Office, the For Sea Foundation, the Thai Dive Association (TDA), the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, and the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization, which provided 4 million baht for the project.
Once safely past the checkpoint, the convoy continued on to the Phuket Deep Sea Port at Ao Makham, where the aircraft will be cleaned, reassembled and otherwise prepared for their new role, which has been described as providing “apartments for fish”.
At a depth of about 15 to 20 meters, the aircraft will be arranged in a concentric pattern with two helicopters in the middle. These will be surrounded by an alternating circle of airplane and helicopter fuselages.
The wings of the aircraft were clipped at about mid-length and the rotors removed from the helicopters. All dangerous and/or toxic components of the mostly-aluminum remains were removed at the air base before being transported.
The entire arrangement, to cover about 2,500 square meters, will sit near an abandoned offshore tin-mining sledge.
TDA member Jens Hofacker of Aqua Divers in Nai Thon Beach told the Gazette that the sinking operation will be conducted with the help of both the Royal Thai Navy and National Parks Department.
The plan is to fix the aircraft to the seabed using huge concrete blocks. Upon completion, the entire site will be surrounded with a circular barrier of concrete blocks to prevent any migration of the structures across the sea floor, he said.
The TAT says that upon completion the project it is expected to attract about 200 divers daily and generate 140 million baht in income per year.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Puffer-fish ball manufacturers will face harsh actions

Puffer-fish ball manufacturers will face harsh actions

As you may know, in Japan there's a fish which they name fugu which in the rest of the English spoken world is known as puffer fish. As you may know, the fugu has a deadly poison and if not prepared correctly, the consumption of the fish can be deadly. It seems to be part of the attraction in Japan.

In Thailand puffer fish is not on the menu, however, some cheapskate soup producer has ground 'cheap' puffer fish products into his soup and this has caused 140 Thais in the Northern province of Nan to suffer poisonous reactions.

Puffer fish can be seen on many or almost all dive sites in Thailand, both at the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, if you're interested in diving, come and see me for a some diving in the Gulf and spot puffer fish in real live.

Suspected puffer fish poisons 140 in Thailand: report

20 hours ago

BANGKOK (AFP) — More than 140 people have been rushed to hospital in northern Thailand after snacking on fish balls thought to be made from the highly poisonous puffer fish, local media reported Sunday.

Villagers in Nan province were given a soup containing the fish balls at a funeral, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported, and soon began vomiting, complaining of numbness in the tongue and shortness of breath.

After being rushed to hospital, doctors deduced that the funeral-goers had symptoms in line with puffer fish poisoning, which can be deadly, the English-language daily said. They are being kept in hospital under observation.

The fish balls were bought at a local market, the paper said, adding that meat from the toxic fish is sometimes used illegally because it is cheap.

Puffer fish is valued as a delicacy known as fugu in Japan, where chefs are specially trained to prepare it so it does not endanger diners.

The fish contains a poison known as tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin which paralyses a person's muscles and for which there is no antidote.

Bangkok Post 21/04/08

Puffer-fish ball manufacturers will face harsh actions

The Public Health Ministry vows to take harsh actions against manufacturers of puffer-fish balls.

"We will shut down any factory found churning out puffer fish balls," Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsap said Sunday.

He said the owner of such factory would also face up to two years in jail and/or a maximum fine of Bt20,000.

Up to 90 people in Nan province were hospitalised Friday after they ate food served at a funeral. They had difficulty breathing, and numbness in their limbs - symptoms associated to puffer-fish poison.

Of these patients, 32 remains at two hospitals in Nan. Up to five are in intensive-care units.

The Nation 21/04/08

Saturday, April 19, 2008

EFR Instructor course April 08

EFR Instructor Course April 08

Was one on one teaching for Ulrike.

This morning at 9 am we met at the classroom of the local recompression chamber and we started the EFRI course.
After a theoretical morning, we went on with some hands on teaching after lunch and got Little Anne and Baby Anne to work.

Ulrike trying to figure out how an AED or automated external defibrillator works. Little Anne is undergoing her efforts.

After Ulrike showed some smashing performance during the course, it was time for a picture. Here we are in front of the actual 'pot' in the chamber.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PADI IE April 2008 is completed

The April 2008 IE has been completed.

My two students, Ulrike and Melita where successful during this PADI IE.

Here's a picture taken after the closing ceremony, from left to right; Ulrike, Rob who was PADI's examiner during this IE, Melita and myself.
Ulrike will do some courses later this month, so stay posted!

Friday, April 11, 2008

April 2008 IDC finished

April 2008 IDC finished

It's all official; during fantastic weather conditions on Koh Samui Melita and Ulrike have completed all Performance Requirements for the IDC and are off to Koh Tao in a few days to start their PADI IE program, which should see them being certified as PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors.

If you've been following the blog, especially the updates on this April 08 IDC, you'll miss Joe's name, that's right, since after the AI part of the IDC, he decided to wait until the next IDC before he continues with the OWSI part, since he felt that he wasn't prepared well enough. Good luck to him!

Marcus passed his IDCS course during this IDC, congrats Marcus!

In the meantime, keep your eyes posted for IE updates.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

PADI Specailty of the Month April 2008; The PADI Digital Underwater Photography course

PADI Specailty of the Month April 2008; The PADI Digital Underwater Photography course

Is a very exciting and very popular Specialty, the Digital Underwater Photography Specialty.

Digital has taken the underwater photography world by storm. Get in on the action with the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty course. You can quickly and easily capture the underwater world with your camera and on your computer.

During the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty course, you learn to use the PADI SEA (Shoot, Examine and Adjust) method, which takes full advantage of digital technology. The result is good underwater photos faster than you may imagine. You not only learn how to take good photos, but how to share them with your friends via email or printing, optimizing your work with your computer, storage and more.

-You must be a PADI Open Water Diver or Junior Open Water (or have a qualifying certification from another training organization) However, you can take the course as a snorkeler and receive a nondiving certification. Not a diver yet? Start today with PADI eLearning.

-Choosing and using modern digital cameras and underwater housings

-Using the PADI SEA method for getting great shots quickly

-Editing and sharing your pictures

-The three primary principles for getting good photos underwater

-The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer certifications credits toward the Master Scuba Diver rating.

-This is one of PADI’s most adaptable specialty courses, and can even be started during the last dive of your PADI Open Water Diver course

If you participate this month in the Digital Underwater Photography Specialty you'll receive a 10% discount on the course fee.

The AI part of the April 08 IDC has been completed

The AI part of the April 08 IDC has been completed

Yesterday was the last day of the AI course and today we're all enjoying a day off, after having spent 6 days in a row with classroom presentations, confined water and open water presentations.

Here's Ulrike during one of her classroom presentations as part of her AI course. Each candidate has to do two of these presentations during the AI course and than another two during the OWSI course. During the PADI IE or Instructor Examination, the candidates get to present one more.

As part of the confined water training, we also have the candidates practice rescue scenario # 7 from the PADI Rescue diver course; "Unconscious diver at the surface", a skill that's part of the IE curriculum. Here's Joe in full swing during one of his turns. Marcus and Paul the IDCS Instructors are looking on in the background.

Melita in action during of her Rescue scenario.

As usual we also have very enjoyable lunches during our breaks from classes at World Resort where the classroom facilities are located. From left to right; Marcus who's completing his IDCS course, Melita one of the IDC candidate, Paul who is already IDCS Instructor, myself, Joe and Ulrike, who are also candidates.

Keep your eyes posted for more updates on this IDC.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Swedish girl dies from jellyfish sting on Koh Lanta

Swedish girl dies from jellyfish sting on Koh Lanta

Having just posted a blog entry last month about the presence of box jelly fish in Thailand, this week a Swedish 10 year old girl died from jellyfish stings on Koh Lanta, although there's no reports of box jelly fish in this tragic event, it just shows how dangerous these animals can be.

My condolences for the family of the child.

Here's the full story as reported in the The Local, Sweden's news in English paper, as reported on 3rd April 2008;

A Swedish girl died on Thursday morning in a swimming accident on the tourist island of Koh Lanta in Thailand.

The girl went into anaphylactic shock--a severe allergic reaction--after being stung by a jellyfish,” said a nurse to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The 10-year-old girl was swimming in the waters off of Klong Dao Beach when she was stung by the jellyfish.

She suffered a quick, hypersensitive reaction and was taken to hospital where doctors worked for an hour and a half but couldn’t save the girl’s life.

Koh Lanta is a popular tourist destination for many Swedes.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 08 IDC on it's way!

April 08 is IDC on it's way!

Melita, Joe and Ulrike kicked off their IDC with the IDC Prep course which was completed today.

They did the usual Prep stuff, exams, in full swing in this picture, with Joe looking like he just found the right answer to a question! Besides the 5 theory exams, they also completed two days of practicing a skill circuit of 20 skills in Confined Water.
As already mentioned in my last post, Marcus is completing his IDCS course during this IDC and Paul will once more Staff this IDC.
Keep your eyes posted for more updates on this IDC.