Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The October 2008 IDC is about to start

Today we started with the Prep IDC course.

3 candidates are in for this run of the October IDC version of 2008. Maurice from the Netherlands, Tom from the UK and Xavier from India. That's a nice international mix!

During the Prep course the candidates complete the 5 Theory exams, so they and me know at what level they are at and where some polishing and/or refreshing needs to be done.

We also practice a skill circuit of 20 skills over the 2 days that the Prep course lasts and it's the exact same skill circuit that's part of the PADI Divemaster course.

On the picture from left to right, Maurice, Tom and Xavier.
Keep your eyes posted here to see more updates from this IDC.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Once more Specialty Instructor Training!

This time around Bill and me wrapped up his final training segments.
Bill, who completed the July 2008 IDC and PADI IE had in the meantime been back to the States, started his MSDT internship and travelled around a bit, so it was about time we completed his unfinished Specialty Instructor training.
Over a couple of busy days last week, we completed the DSAT Gas Blender Instructor and Equipment Instructor courses. This picture shows Bill ironing out his hairdo.

During a the Navigation Instructor Specialty on Chaweng Beach we encountered this lovely File fish.

During the Deep dive and Naturalist dive Specialty dives around Koh Tao we saw this 2nd stage Juvenile Sweetlip. It was very difficult to get this fella in the picture since he moved frantically around.

Today and tomorrow we complete training with the DAN Provider and Instructor courses.

Here's Bill interacting with Little Annie and has her on Oxygen via a demand valve.

Bill and me after today's course in front of the local 'pot'.

Bill is now moving on to Koh Tao to complete his MSDT internship. Have fun!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Certificate of Recognition for Excellence

Today saw a nice surprise in the mail;

A Certificate of Recognition for Excellence from PADI, written by Steve, who completed his IDC and PADI IE fairly recently, in July.

Thanks for your encouraging words and support Steve!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Project AWARE Underwater Beach Clean Up, 2008

Today was Project AWARE Underwater Beach Clean Up, 2008

And we choose Chaweng Beach to clean up. Under a beautiful sun, we gathered at 10 am in the morning for this years event of Project Aware's Clean up day the biggest worldwide underwater clean up event of its kind, organised by Project Aware.

Ready for action and to take on Chaweng Beach, from left to right Oliver (Divemaster), Jason (Divemaster), Dao (Open Water), Camille (Course Director), Michael (Samui International Diving School shop manager), Ella and Patrick (both Divemaster trainees).

Michael producing a cloud of dust whilst putting some debris in a bag.

Unfortunately the beach is littered with debris and that's what we tackled today.

About International Cleanup Day;

Project AWARE Foundation spearheads global underwater cleanups during International Cleanup Day and year round. This annual volunteer event addresses the devastating impact of marine debris on the aquatic environment.

Project AWARE empowers dive centers and individuals to clean the world’s oceans, lakes, rivers and shorelines. Volunteers take part in practical cleanup solutions and collect data which is vital for change.

International Cleanup Day is held annually on the 3rd Saturday in September but cleanup and data collection activities are supported by Project AWARE, partners and volunteers on an ongoing basis.

In 2007 a total of 358,617 recorded volunteers helped Project AWARE clean 34,560 miles of shoreline and remove seven million pounds of rubbish.

This is the kind of stuff one can find a couple of hundred meters off the beach!

Anybody in need of a second hand car tyre? Plenty of those around Chaweng Beach!

After the dive, still dripping wet and with 3 masks that I found wrapped around my BCD.

Dao after the dive. She and Jason found three bags worthwhile of trash and a couple of buckets along Chaweng Reef.

After the dive, after having collected around 12 bags full of trash, including 3 buckets and a basket, 3 masks, 2 snorkels, dozens of empty glass bottles, plastic bottles, cans, pieces of plastic and fabric in total weighing roughly 75 KG's!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tech and Advanced Wreck diving

Now for something slightly different; Tech and Advanced Wreck diving

Recently I was given a few books and some were about diving. One book that really caught my attention was Shadow Divers, written by Robert Kurson.

The book describes how two New Jersey divers discovered an unidentified U-boat from World War II. They realise that it has to be a German U-boat but it takes them 6 years to discover the identity of the wreck. Small detail is that the wreck had come to rest at 230 feet or about 80 meters depth. Not a depth that your average recreational diver visits too often, actually never. Three divers lost their lives over the six years of exploring this U boat wreck.

To go this deep, it takes a special kind of person, to go there on a regular base, it also takes a very determined person. Especially considering that back in the days when all of this was happening, in the early ninetees, Trimix as widely used nowadays, was either not available or in it's infancy states, to be used and experimented with during their last seasons diving the U-who, as they dubbed the boat.

It is well impressive how the "Drums of the Jungle" are described, everybody who has experienced Nitrogen Narcosis knows what I'm talking about and for those who haven't, I never saw a better description of this phenomena.

After six years they finally could reveal the identity of the U-who and it turned out to be the U-869. I can highly recommend visiting Richie's website dedicated to the U-869.

The two divers are John Chatterton and Richie Kohler. Richie generously allowed me to use pictures from his website. Thanks for that!

The story is amazing and an absolute must read for divers at any level of training but especially if you're in to wreck or tech diving or generally interested in WW II artifacts and stories.

Dan Bartone, one of the participants of this trip, holding the telegraph of the Akela, a wreck recently discovered in the Gulf of Thailand.

Just to show how small this world can be, Jamie MacLeod who was my PADI Course Director a couple of years back, is diving the Gulf of Thailand with his boat the MV Trident since a few years and they made a similar discovery right here in the Gulf of Thailand. Jamie and Stewart of the MV Trident discovered a US World War II submarine, the USS Lagarto. It didn't take too long for John and Richie to hook up with Jamie and Stewart.

Richie came to Thailand during April 2008 for a wreck expedition with the MV Trident and they discovered 3 new wrecks during this trip!

Richie and his wife Carrie during a safety stop during their April 2008 Gulf of Thailand trip

Note the closed circuit rebreathers that both of them are using, a feat that almost every current wreck and tech diver uses, due to the amount of time that can be spend at significant depths underwater and the decreased decompression stops required during ascents. The costs of Helium are also minimal compared to what open circuit divers use.

Jamie and Stewart's MV Trident

Jamie offers plenty of Technical courses in case you're interested and you get the bug!

The Andrea Doria

Besides having discovered the U-869 and diving in the Gulf, Richie Kohler and John Chatterton have also dived extensively on the SS Andrea Doria, another famous wreck off the New Jersey coast and a wreck that claimed up to 15 divers lives up to date. They have a rich diving history and it's well worth to check out their respective websites for more details.

On that note, a very informative website about wreck diving in Thailand is Steve Burton's Thaiwreckdiver site.

This picture is used with kind permission of Chris Clark, ACE Marine Images

Here a rather a-typical tech/deep wreck dive, Richie Kohler together with a Whale Shark during one of his safety stops. Usually this kind of tech/wreck diving is done in places with limited visibility, at great depth, exceeding recreational diving limits and it requires adequate training, so make sure you get the appropriate training before you venture out on any wreck dive adventures!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Can You Help With DAN's Jellyfish Investigation?

Can You Help With DAN's Jellyfish Investigation?

Last week during a Specialty Instructor training dive on Chaweng beach, we encountered the Jelly fish pictured below.
As explained by John Lippmann in the announcement below this picture of a Lion mane jelly fish everybody in the Asia Pacific region who encounters jelly fish and has pictures of them, please forward those pictures with the location where the jelly fish were encountered to John Lippmann at DAN.

After I send in my pictures, I got a reply back that it was a fairly harmless Lion Jelly fish, but than a few hours later I received this message from John to ignore the first mail since he "got word back from someone else that this species has been involved with some fatalities in the Philippines and can apparently pack a fair punch!"

Upon my further questioning when those accidents occurred John mentioned that "Yes, I think it is a species of lions mane. I'm not sure when the fatalities were but I suspect not too recently as I hadn't heard of them.
You've got worse jellyfish than this one in Thailand though. This isn't as bad as some of the species of box jellyfish there.

Keep snapping and sending me pics."

Since John is out of office at the moment, I'm waiting for more news. It just shows how useful it can be to put them jelly fish on the map. Maybe it's a good reminder to read my blog article again about the Box jelly fish warning in Thailand and the death of a 10 year old Swedish girl earlier this year in Koh Lanta by Box jelly fish or about my update about vinegar use when you get stung in the water.

Here's DAN's announcement;
As mentioned in Alert Diver, there has been an increase in reported serious jellyfish stings in Thailand, and possibly elsewhere in Asia. Since the last issue of Deeper with DAN, we have received several great photos of jellyfish, some being very dangerous species found in Thailand and the Philippines. It is important to track where these creatures are. To this end, DAN AP encourages any underwater photographers in Asia, especially Thailand, to photograph any jellyfish they see on a dive and email a copy of the photo to us. This will help to increase our understanding and to better catalogue the potentially dangerous species present in parts of our region and so help to establish appropriate prevention and management strategies. The photos can be emailed directly to johnl@danasiapacific.org.
Many thanks for your help with this important project.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some more Specialty Instructor training wrapped up

Some more Specialty Instructor training wrapped up

Over the last couple of days, I completed some more Instructor level Specialty training with Massi and Steve from the August IDC.

The Specialties taught were amongst others; Underwater Navigation-, Night- (currently PADI's Specialty of the month), Deep- and Underwater Naturalist Specialty Instructor.

Scorpion fish at Chaweng Beach

Loads of fun was had and we during some excellent dives at Chaweng Beach and Sail Rock I had the opportunity to take some great pix again.

Nemo's Dad, Marlin, or clown fish, somewhere on a single sea anemone in the middle of nowhere on Chaweng Beach!

You tell me what this is, it has the blue coloured rings of a blue ringed octopus and the head tentacles and size of a nudibranch. Never seen one of these before, neither did Becci, one of the Instructors on Samui currently who also saw this species and can't figure out what it is.

Thanks to Richard, it looks like we found the culprit or also known as Bursatella leachii de Blainville, 1817

Order: ANASPIDEA Family: Aplysiidae

During the night dive we spotted this crab hiding in a barrel sponge.

Last but not least, during one of the deep dives at Sail Rock, I saw for the first time ever in the Gulf a Giant moray eel. It was well hidden in a crevice but once I spotted it, we looked in awe at it for a while, it was at least a meter and a half long and it's body had the size of a strong upper leg!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

PADI Specialty of the month September 2008; Night Diver

PADI Specialty of the month September 2008; Night Diver

The Night Diver Specialty rating is a very popular rating, due to the variety it offers, you can see the same dive site that you saw during the day time, but now with different animals and in a different perspective because you do a night dive on the same site!

The adventure, thrill and excitement of this specialty can be yours when you complete this Specialty course. You learn about night dive planning, equipment and navigation. You practice these on three night dives, plus introduce yourself to the whole new cast of critters that comes out after the sun goes down.

Cone shell during a night dive
On Samui I conduct the Night dives on Chaweng Reef which has an amazing range of nocturnal night life and many things and animals I see during a Night dive I don't get to see at the dive sites we visit with our boats.
Come and sign up for a Night dive this month and enjoy a different experience.