Thursday, October 30, 2008

The November 2008 Prep IDC course has started

The November 2008 Prep IDC course has started

The IDC's are coming thick and fast now, each month there's a new one! The November 2008 edition kicked off today with Patrick from Sweden and Chris from the USA.
Patrick just completed his PADI Divemaster course and after the current IDC he will have completed his courses. Chris completed his Divemaster course recently in Utila, Honduras and is here to participate in this IDC.

Here are Patrick on the left and Chris on the right during their Introduction part of this IDC.

As you may know by now, we completed the red tape of this course and continued with the Introduction presentation by me, which again was followed by the 5 Theory exams. here they can both be seen sweating it out. After lunch we practised a skill circuit in confined water.

More to follow as this course progresses.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Box Jellyfish found in Phuket waters

They’re here! Box Jellyfish found in Phuket waters

After my recent article about the Thai government becoming more involved for research into box jelly fish in Thai waters, a new development occurred in Phuket. The Phuket Gazette reported on Monday, 27th october the article below in which is described how almost 40 box jellyfish got trapped around Phuket waters.
My first encounter with them was back in 2003! The blog post describing that encounter, is by far the most read post on my blog, it also reviews a story that happened to a very young boy, aged 4, who was stung by a box jelly fish in Thai waters in Koh Mak, south of Koh Chang in December 2007.

All in all an interesting development and there seems to be a growing awareness about the fact that box jellyfish actually are present in Thai waters, how unpleasant this may be. Recently I purchased a full body half millimeter suit which I use during my beach dives on Chaweng reef!

Here's the Phuket gazette article;

PANWA: The Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) has issued an official warning following the collection of almost 40 box jellyfish in a trap in shallow waters off Ao Nambor, on Phuket’s east coast.

Some 38 of the jellyfish, which favor shallow brackish water, were recovered from a fish trap in a mangrove area on July 30. Eighteen more were found in the same area over a two-day collection period starting on October 20.

The search for the deadly jellyfish followed the reported death of a Swedish tourist off Koh Lanta, where another person was reported stung on April 3 this year.

A two-hour search using a seine off Koh Lanta on August 22 recovered 13 specimens, six of the multi-tentacled Chirodropidae family and seven of the smaller, single-tentacled Carybdeidae family.

The PMBC began their search for the jellyfish in Phuket in early July, working jointly with members of the the Disease Control Department’s Epidemiology Office.

The researchers have also questioned staff at four hospitals along the Andaman Coast to learn the incidence and type of jellyfish stings that heave been reported there.

Somchai Bussarawit, Chief of Reference Collection at the PMBC’s Phuket Aquarium, is working with the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Australia to identify the collected specimens.

Of seven specimens collected at Ao Nambor that have already been sent to the institute, one has been confirmed as a Chirosoides buitendijkl, one of the seven members of the Chirodropidae family, he said.

The PMBC is preparing to send six more specimens which are thought possibly to be of the Carybdeidae family, he said.

The PMBC researcher, who expressed surprise at the discovery of these box jellies in local waters, said searches will now be conducted monthly.

Noting that he is not an expert in jellyfish, he said it was still unsure what threat the collected species found at Ao Nambor posed to people.

Although there have been no reports of box jellyfish stings in Phuket waters, the PMBC has issued a warning advising the public on what measures to take if they are stung.

Although not all box jellyfish are dangerous to humans, stings from the most venomous varieties can cause death within four minutes if the venom reaches the heart and causes cardiac arrest.

Any person who has suffered a possible box jellyfish sting should get out of the water as soon as possible, have his or her pulse rate monitored, and undergo cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of heart failure.

The site of a sting should immediately be treated with vinegar to stop further injection of the toxin, the PMBC advises.

Do not rub or scratch the site of the sting or apply fresh water or alcohol to it, the PMBC advises.

Mr Somchai reiterated that there have been no box jellyfish sitings on west coast beaches, where the seawater is generally too saline an environment for box jellies.

However, he advises seaside resorts in all parts of the island to keep bottles of vinegar as a standard part of their first aid kits as it is effective in healing stings from other kinds of less venomous jellyfish.

The first PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider course

Just finished teaching my first PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider course

Dwaine Bloom, who's participating in a Divemaster course, was my student. His Divemaster package includes the Nitrox diver course and this PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider course.

The course was conducted at the local recompression chamber, upstairs in the classroom! It was an interesting course and I'm looking forward to have the opportunity to teach more courses.
After the course was completed, Dwain had a complimentary 'tour' of the actual chamber and an explanation on how it works and operates.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

200 IDC candidates

During the last IDC in October this month, I reached a milestone with my 200th IDC Candidate!

Either Maurice, Xavier or Tom has the honours!

It's been almost 6 years ago now that I became a PADI Course Director, in March 2003 in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. Straight out of Kota Kinabalu, I started my first IDC in April 2003 and have been going ever since. Very soon I can celebrate my 50th IDC!

During these 5 years, it has been a very international affair, I have had IDC candidates coming from a total of 26 different countries; Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Columbia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UK (Incl. Scotland, Wales and Jersey), and the USA.

Out of these 200 IDC candidates there were a total of 95 that ended up working on Koh Samui after their IDC, 14 that owned a shop on Koh Samui at some time and 19 have or still work(ed) outside of Koh Samui but still in Thailand, mainly in Phuket, Kao Lak, Koh Lipe and Koh Lanta. A total of 42 ended up working outside of Thailand, like various places in Europe (a.o. the Netherlands, Belgium and Serbia), the UK, the USA, the Caribbean; Belize, Bonaire, Bermuda, the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Curacao, Cayman Island, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Costa Rica. Lucky guys!

During these five years I also certified 19 IDCS Instructors, coming from Austria, Belgium, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, the UK and the USA.

More than 800 Instructor Specialties have been taught up till to date, 177 EFR Instructors, 78 Care For Children Instructors and 46 DAN Oxygen Providers Instructors.

Since two consecutive years I've received the prestigious Platinum Course Director rating, the highest rating a PADI Course Director can receive and a rating which is received by less than 10% of all PADI Course Directors worldwide.

I'm still going strong and am still enjoying it!

Hope to see YOU soon here on Koh Samui in one of my Go Pro packages or during the IDC!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Busy at Chaweng Beach; Instructor Specialties and DMT Training

Busy at Chaweng Beach; Instructor Specialties and DMT Training

And busy it was indeed, with Xavier I conducted a few Instructor Specialties, Underwater Navigation, Underwater Naturalist, Night and Search & Recovery. If the weather holds on, on Monday we'll be conducting the Deep dives at Sail Rock.

Claire and Ton, two former IDC candidates were conducting Night and Nitrox dives and three DMT's and a candidate for the next IDC were conducting various DMT related dives, like mapping.

Xavier at the end of some very nice beach dives at Chaweng Reef, the visibility was outstanding and lots of fish was to be spotted.

A rare sight in the Gulf of Thailand; a lion fish.

During the night dive we spotted this sleeping Bluebarred Parrotfish.

This lovely Seahorse was spotted by us during the Search & Recovery dives. Chaweng Reef and Beach has plenty to offer!

The DMT's, Staff and IDC candidates crawling over the beach, from left to right; Mike and Steven (DMT's), Steve and Xavier (OWSI's) and Chris who will be participating in my upcoming November IDC.
All in all two lovely days of diving and I hope we can keep enjoying it as long as possible, with the rainy season looming around the corner.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thai government about to wake up regarding Box Jelly fish

Thai government about to wake up regarding Box Jelly fish

Which is a good thing! After my recent post regarding helping DAN with their Jellyfish investigation and my original report regarding a young boy who survived a jelly fish encounter in Koh Mak December last year and a girl that succumbed from an encounter in Koh Lanta, it seems now that efforts have paid off and the Thai government is taking action. Interestingly enough, the story about the young boy is the most visited post on my blog.

Here's an article from the Bangkok Post, posted today by Apinya Wipatayotin;

"The discovery of a box jellyfish _ one of the most poisonous in the world _ in Thai waters has prompted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to set up a team to study its origin and behaviour to prevent attacks. Somchai Bussarawit, the chief of the museum and aquarium at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, said there has never been any reports of this type of box jellyfish being found in Thai waters before.

''We are not sure whether it is a primitive species living here or a foreign species. We have no information. That is why we have to set up a team to investigate it,'' he said. Experts in Australia and Japan would be asked to assist the study.

There are two families of jellyfish normally found in Thai waters _ the Chirodropidae and the Carybdeidae, which is the more poisonous of the two.

So far two deaths have been attributed to the jellyfish. The first case happened in 2002 at Koh Phangan in Surat Thani province and the latest in April at Koh Lanta in Krabi province.

The decision to study the box jellyfish came after the son of an Australian journalist was stung while swimming at Koh Mak in Trat province early this year.

The injured Australian returned to Thailand and alerted the Public Health and Tourism and Sports ministries about box jellyfish found in Thailand. He realised there were no measures or knowledge about first-aid for people stung by box jellyfish.

''I hope the study will generate prevention and caution with the public. I don't want to disturb the tourism sector, but people should know the facts and know how to make themselves safe,'' Mr Somchai said.

''At least first-aid treatment must be widely publicised to tourists and local people. Also, there should be warning signs to increase people's levels of awareness,'' he said.

Vinegar is the best solution to reduce the pain from a jellyfish sting before the victim is sent to hospital, he said. Water should not be used as it only increases the pain.

Resorts and hotels should have vinegar in their emergency kits, he suggested."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 2008 PADI IE completed with flying colours

October 2008 PADI IE completed with flying colours

Xavier, Tom and Maurice did it, they're the newest PADI Instructors on the block! Congratulations.

After three nail biting days for them, see Xavier above during the Orientation and exams part of the PADI IE, today they can relax at last! All the hard work we all put in has paid off!

Besides the Exam part, there was a Knowledge Development part and pictured here above, the Open Water part, their whole IE group during their briefing.

After the Open Water, relaxed faces in Mango Bay, on our way back to Mae Haad on Koh Tao.

Today the last segment, a confined Water presentation and a skill circuit were on the program and they passed all segment with flying colours!

The official group photo, from left to right, Rob the PADI Examiner, Xavier, myself, Maurice and Tom.

Well done guys!


Monday, October 13, 2008

New EFR Instructors on Koh Samui

New EFR Instructors on Koh Samui

Maurice, Xavier and Tom completed their EFRI course, just the after they completed their IDC.
We're waiting to join the PADI IE on Koh Tao, starting tomorrow the 14th October, so we scheduled this EFRI course before we go over to Koh Tao.

Here's Tom in action by getting Maurice in the recovery position whilst Xavier is looking on.

Tom seemed to be the most photo genetic person during this course since here he's in action with the AED, giving directions.

As usual, the course was scheduled at the local SSS Recompression chamber but unfortunately we could not complete the tour of the chamber since they were treating a patient.

Tomorrow we're all off to Koh Tao for the PADI IE.


Friday, October 10, 2008

The October IDC 2008 has been completed

The October IDC 2008 has been completed

Although today was rather interesting and we had two attempts at the Open Water dive!

Last night the weather changed on Koh Samui and now for approximately 6 months the wind will blow in towards Chaweng Beach. Today was a bad day with some serious surf as we found out when we arrived at Chaweng for our Open Water dive. During the AI course we had a lovely and enjoyably dive on Chaweng Beach but today it turned into surfers paradise and we tried to enter the surf but gave up.
So, off we went to where we just came from, World Resort! It turned out that ocean was flat like a mirror here, in contrast to yesterday, when there was a mild chop, but the visibility we had to take our selves! Half a meter was a lot!

Besides Open Water adventures during this OWSI course we also saw more Knowledge Development presentations by the candidates. Come and see me afterwards, Tom?

Xavier gave an excellent Project Aware presentation, starting out with a trash basket!

There were more Confined Water presentations, Xavier during the no mask breathing skill!

If that wasn't enough, they also rescued each other a few more times.

Tomorrow we close the IDC and on Sunday we will complete the EFR Instructor course. Monday will be a well deserved day off and on Tuesday 14th october we'll move over to Koh Tao for the PADI IE.

In the meantime, stay tuned, more updates will be available.


Monday, October 6, 2008

The AI part of the October IDC is completed

The AI part of the October IDC is completed

Tom, Xavier and Maurice are Assistant Instructors right now but they're not done yet and tomorrow, after our well deserved day off they will continue with the OWSI part of the IDC.

Besides lots of classroom time, we also did plenty of pool work the last week and here's Tom with a demonstration of a giant stride, a way to enter the water.

Xavier and Maurice during the buddy breathing skill, during which skill two divers share one regulator and share air.

Maurice during his Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent or CESA skill.

Plenty of Rescue practice has been conducted, for Rescue exercise # 7 from the Rescue diver course, here's Xavier being rescued by Tom.

As usual, we have plentiful and lovely lunches at World Resort.

Stay tuned for next weeks update on the OWSI course.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PADI Specialty of the month October 2008; Underwater Naturalist

PADI Specialty of the month October 2008; Underwater Naturalist
Are you fascinated with aquatic life? Always wondering what that fish is and why it always dances under a coral head whenever you get close? If you’re engrossed with life under the surface, the Underwater Naturalist Specialty course is especially for you.
Tube Anemone at Sail Rock, vertebrate or invertebrate?
During your PADI Underwater Naturalist Specialty course, you'll learn underwater naturalist dive planning, organization, procedures, techniques and potential problems. You'll also get an overview of the major aquatic life groupings, interactions and factual information that dispels negative myths. You'll put this information into practice during your two open water dives.
The role of aquatic plants, food chains and predator prey relationships are explained and you need to point out 2 underwater plants, 4 underwater invertebrates and 5 underwater vertebrates.
You also learn about responsible interactions with aquatic life.

Can you spot the Pipefish?

It's a fun course which can be conducted in as little as just one day and includes at least 2 Open Water dives.