Sunday, November 29, 2009

Specialties momentarily completed

Specialties momentarily completed

Today I completed a few more specialties with Nigel, on Chaweng Beach and it was a fantastic day for diving and for teaching specialties, with a around 5 meters viz but plenty of things to see. Ah, yes, 5 meters isn't that great I hear you saying but believe you me, for Chaweng it is!
A couple of days ago we tried at the same spot and we couldn't literally see a hand in front of us and subsequently cancelled the dive but today it was great! We taught, learned and enjoyed!

Today we completed the Search & Recovery specialty and the Underwater Naturalist Specialty and for the latter we couldn't have picked a better day! For the first time ever on Chaweng's reef I saw a Grey Bamboo shark, the one in the picture above!
During the first dive, just getting out to some deeper water, we already saw this pair of stingray eyes sticking out over the sand and two puffer fish that stood out, besides plenty of other small fish and critters.

Besides a lot of garbage, including some big items like part of a plastic chair, a 4 meter long plastic pipe and 3 plastic baskets and lots of empty (mainly) beer cans and bottles, we also saw and encountered some interesting marine life. This cleaner shrimp is just one of the other nice animals we saw.

Earlier this week, Nigel and me went on the boat for a day to complete the Digital Underwater Photography and Underwater Navigation specialty around Koh Tao's dive sites. Here's a nice view of coral around Sairee beach on Koh Tao.

During a dive on Sairee beach we also saw this very interesting flat worm dancing away. It was a difficult one to get on the camera and this is the best shot I got, it moves so fast that it's almost impossible to get it in front of the camera in focus.

Nigel's digital compass, which is an up and coming trend but I still prefer my hand held 'simple' underwater compass anytime.
We had already completed the Nitrox and Emergency oxygen provider courses and after the coming IDC, we will complete the Gasblender, Equipment and Deep dive specialties with the candidates for the December IDC.
Right now Nigel will be busy with his MSDT internship as part of his Go Pro CDC package, after the beach dives he immediately jumped into the pool to sit in on an Open Water diver course.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Warning; Lotion on sale in Thailand does not prevent jelly stings!

Warning; Lotion on sale in Thailand does not prevent jelly stings!

With various posts on this blog dealing with box jelly fish or hazardous marine life in general, I thought that this message by Andrew Jones, father of a chironex-type jellyfish sting survivor was useful on my blog as a warning;

In response to concerns about Safe Sea, a lotion that claims to prevent jellyfish stings, the developers of this product have issued a statement in Thai and English.

This statement in any language DOES NOT address the concerns of jellyfish experts in Thailand and Australia currently working together to reduce box jellyfish stings and improve safety in Thailand.

It is important to note that there are numerous species of box jellyfish that are all different in some way and testing one with this product DOES NOT guarantee that all species will respond the same way.

In Thailand as in Australia, the lethal box jellyfish that is directly responsible for numerous deaths is a chironex-type box jellyfish. Safe Sea has NOT been tested on chironex-type box jellyfish.

Repeat, Safe Sea has NOT been tested on Thailand’s deadly chironex-type box jellyfish.

The marketing of this product in Thailand by a company called Oceanline uses a recent chironex-type box jellyfish tragedy to sell bottles of its lotion:

Oceanline promotional direct marketing - “There are however also some very dangerous jellyfish out there. In Thailand many accidents with jellyfish have been reported which led to beach resorts in Thailand being instructed to carry vinegar as a first-aid treatment (you might remember the sad story of the Swedish girl who was killed by a box jellyfish in November last year).Protect your customers, yourself and your family from painful jellyfish stings!”

Oceanline also uses images of victims of chironex-type box jellyfish.

This is misleading and potentially very dangerous.

The developer of this product, Nidaria, claims that chironex is a close relative of the box jellyfish this company tested (did the testing show 100% proof anyway? No.) though in scientific terms this means absolutely nothing. There is NO scientific evidence to say that Safe Sea protects against Thailand’s deadly chironex-type box jellyfish. None!

As was pointed out recently by jellyfish expert in envenomation prevention Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin; a Physalia (Portuguese Man o War jellyfish) in Thailand and Physalia in Australia respond differently to the application of vinegar (one is neutralized, one is activated), a clown fish covered by the goo from one anemone will be an easy victim for another anemone, and as is stated in Nidaria’s testing results Safe Sea works better for the Chiropsalmus quadrumanus than for the Chrysaora quinquecirrha.

Can you assume that Safe Sea will prevent the sting of a lethal chironex-type box jellyfish and will ‘testing’ be inadvertently conducted by families holidaying in Thailand?

Nidaria’s response to the experts’ concerns claims and cites many things but NEVER DEMONSTRATES any form of protection against the potentially deadly sting of the proven killer in Thai waters, the chironex-type box jellyfish.

Ask yourself why in the wake of the official lethal box jellyfish warnings issued in Thailand that Safe Sea suddenly appeared on the market and why is it that Safe Sea’s developers have not tested their product on lethal box jellyfish.

Safe swimming, diving, snorkelling and best regards,

Andrew Jones
Father of chironex-type box jellyfish sting survivor

This message is also underwritten by;

John Lippmann OAM
Executive Director

Dr Peter Fenner AM
Australian Marine Stinger Expert and author

Dr Ken Winkel
Australian Venom Research Unit

Saturday, November 21, 2009

PADI Risk Seminar 2009

PADI Risk Seminar 2009

It was more than two years ago when Richard Evans , PADI Manager at the Quality Assurance department for PADI AP, stopped on Koh Samui for a PADI Seminar or rather more specific a Risk Seminar.

Today's event took place at World Resort in-between Bophud and Maenam and a good 20 PADI members showed up to witness a brand new presentation by Richard.

It's always good to visit a Seminar presented by Richard since he's an experienced and entertaining presenter and he has a vast amount of knowledge of incidents and/ore accidents, which he has been following professionally now for more than 17 years.

The Seminar included newly shot footage about an Open Water class and an dive with certified divers, led by an instructor and discusses problems that happen during both events. If you have the opportunity to attend a PADI Risk Seminar, make sure to drop by and get the additional experience to avoid similar situations happening to you!
Thanks to Richard for stopping by and hope to see you again soon (in two years time) with a new presentation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November Specialties are kicking off; Oxygen Provider and Instructor courses

November Specialties are kicking off; Oxygen Provider and Instructor courses

Due to Imad leaving tomorrow, today was not the usual day off to cure hang overs, collected during last nights IDC and IE party but we had an afternoon scheduled for the PADI Oxygen Provider course and Instructor course with Imad and Nigel. Back to the hard reality of Specialty Training!

Nigel trying to work out the mechanics of an oxygen tank valve, at last he found something equalling rocket science.

After the course we took the obligatory group picture and had an introduction to the actual chamber and the way it is operated, which pleased Imad very much and was a second run for Nigel within 10 days!

More training to come as long as the Samui weather holds out!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

The November 2009 PADI IE is in the bag

The November 2009 PADI IE is in the bag

After three days of controlling and managing nerves, at last the PADI IE for November 2009 is in the bag and we're ready to leave Koh Tao and have a bit of a party in Koh Samui or rather Chaweng tonight. Koh Tao has to wait another month again until I'm back with the next group in December.

The group picture on Koh Tao's beach, from left to right, still standing; Gregory, Nigel, myself, Imad, Richard the PADI examiner and James.

See you next month for more and new IDC adventures.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Nigel's EFR Instructor, November 2009

Nigel's EFR Instructor, November 2009

It's that time of the month again, PADI IE fever is running high, tomorrow we're taking the ferry and are off to Koh Tao but nowadays the EFR Instructor course has to be completed before the IE starts.

For that reason we found ourselves, Nigel and me, upstairs at the local recompression chamber in the beautifully renovated class rooms, to complete the EFR Instructor course, before we hit the ferry tomorrow on our way to Koh Tao.

After completion of the course, before the complimentary orientation tour of the chamber, the group picture.

Keep tuned for more updates from Koh Tao.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Imad's Gas Blender course

Imad's Gas Blender course

Whilst he was in Samui, Imad took the opportunity, besides taking his IDCS course earlier this month, he took full advantage of the time that he was going to spend on Samui and decided to take another course whilst here to further his own PADI Career even a bit more. The course he decided on is the DSAT Gas Blender and Gas Blender Instructor courses.

This picture shows him sweating it out on the exam, one of the tougher PADI exams with an 80% passing grade.

Well done Imad and hope to see you next again, staffing some of my IDC's!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Dive Medical Technician; Training and assessment

Dive Medical Technician, Training and assessment

Today was an interesting break in my day to day live as a PADI Course Director because I was asked to assist in a DMT or Dive Medical Technician training course and assess the participants.

The local recompression chamber located in Bang Rak and part of SSS networks organised for the first time a DMT or Dive Medical Technician course, a course where the focus is on diving and gas physics review, medical review and treatment of diving related injuries along with hyperbaric chamber operations. It is an 80-hour or ten day course of intensive study to prepare students for the position of Diver Medical Technician. It is also an excellent introduction to hyperbaric medicine and chamber operation. After 3 years you will need to complete a Diver Medic Refresher course which consists of 5 days with 35 to 40 contact hours.

For off shore diving (think oil plat forms) this is a position to be filled on each plat form but this course was catering to be used in recreational diving.

Today was the the final day and all 8 students were to be assessed on their advanced medical / first aid skills, which included resuscitation and choking amongst others.

6 of the students, their trainer and me, the assessor for the day in front of the local 'pot', from left to right in the back row; Bom, Gui, Ricardo and Tim (the trainer). In the front row from left to right; me, Denes, Patrick and Paul.

Well done guys, it was interesting day and I'm looking forward to the next course, scheduled to be held in April. For more information, contact the local Bang Rak SSS chamber at 077 427 427.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The November 2009 IDC has been completed

The November 2009 IDC has been completed

After Imad started his IDCS course almost 2 weeks ago and we finished the November prep course, it's now about time for this current IDC to be completed. Tomorrow is a day off and this Saturday we will officially finish the IDC.
Nigel will go on and participate in the EFR Instructor course on Monday before we go on to Koh Tao on Tuesday for the PADI IE.

During this IDC we worked a lot in confined water, this is a picture of today's last confined water presentation at World Resort, from left to right, James, who's already an IDCS instructor and is staffing this IDC, Imad who's almost an IDCS instructor now and Gregory and Nigel, soon to be brand new PADI Instructors after the up and coming PADI IE?

There was plenty of time spent in the classroom, listening to IDC Curriculum presentations by me and some were also presented by James. There was also some work to be done by them though and they had to practice their Knowledge Development presentations. Nigel is demonstrating a BCD during one of his presentations.

Two days at Chaweng Beach at Centara Grand Beach resort were part of this IDC and here they are ready to hit the beach water, Imad, Nigel, Gregory and James.

If you're a regular reader, this picture must look familiar by now, the usual praise about the food in World Resort's restaurant during the actual IDC lunch breaks.
Thanks for a great IDC guys and good luck in Koh Tao for the PADI IE!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

PADI Specialty of the month for November 2009; Underwater Navigation

PADI Specialty of the month for November 2009; Underwater Navigation

Underwater Navigation is one of the more popular dive specialties that I teach here on Koh Samui. It's popular amongst both divers and also Instructors who just passed their IDC's.

One of the main assets to have is an underwater compass. These come in various designs and from various brands. Interestingly enough they also come for various zones, like this Suunto SK 7 pictured above.

The horizontal and vertical components of earth’s magnetic field vary considerably in different
locations. For this reason (Suunto) compasses are balanced for (5) different zones. If the compass is used in an adjacent balancing zone the compass needle will tilt only slightly. However, the farther the compass is used from it’s intended zone, the more the needle will tilt. In extreme
situations the needle might stick. For this reason it is very important to know in which country
the compass will be used.

Underwater navigation can be challenging, but in the Underwater Navigator Specialty course, you master the challenge.You learn the tools of the trade, including navigation via natural clues and by compass. You learn to estimate distance underwater, follow navigation patterns and know where you are while following an arbitrary, irregular course using the Nav-Finder.

Part of the course also includes practicing patterns whilst land based, like Olivier and Craig are doing in the picture above, after they completed the October 2009 IDC.

As part of the specialty, you will also need to swim a pattern underwater and navigate from one point to another, a course that is set out with help of markers, as in this picture. Because of the variety of activities in this specialty course and the importance of being able to navigate well underwater and understanding your compass, this specialty is so popular amongst the various specialties on offer.

Hope to see you soon on our PADI Underwater Navigation Specialty of the Month 2009 and enjoy your 10% discount off the course price.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

The prep course for the November IDC has been completed

The IDC Prep course for November has been completed

Loyal followers of the this blog know pretty much what is involved on an IDC prep course but here we go one more time, lots of red tape needs to get out of the way for starters, get those liability releases signed!

Than there are 5 theory exams that are covered over two days in an IDC prep, Physics, Physiology, RDP, General skills & Environment and last but not least; Equipment. Here are the guys in action, Nigel in the front row, Gregory who completed the IDC last month but decided to wait with the PADI IE for another month and will be refreshing some skills and presentations during this IDC, Imad who's completing his IDCS course and James who did complete his IDCS course last month and is back to staff this IDC.

James staffing away and contemplating what score he's going to give.

Nigel and Imad during the buddy breathing swim of the skill circuit. Said skill circuit, consisting of 20 skills is also parts of the Prep course.

And last but not least, rescue exercise # 7, practice again and again and again.
See you later for more AI course updates.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Imad's IDCS course is underway

Imad's IDCS course is underway

Picked Imad up from the airport on Samui at 11am and brought him to his hotel to check in and immediately we went off to start his IDCS course. Pretty much straight from the airport into the classroom. Imad completed his IDC earlier this year in February.

Imad during his evaluation training during which he has to watch video's of training scenarios and needs to evaluate within a certain range of the score that PADI has set.

Towards the end of the day I almost had to tie Imad down to his chair, fatigue was setting in and he managed just to finish in time to get some well deserved food and catch up on sleep after he left Dubai last night. More tomorrow when the IDC kicks off.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

DUP Specialty @ Sail Rock

DUP Specialty @ Sail Rock

As already mentioned in yesterday's post, today we would complete the Instructor Specialty training with a DUP dive. We started the day however with a Multilevel dive and there was some great visibility and it was a great reminder why Sail Rock is my favorite dive site in the Gulf of Thailand.

The pictures turned out so well that I had to post them, so here are some of today's selection.

During the Multilevel dive, it was almost as we were diving in fish soup in clear water and when you looked up, there was layer upon layer of different school of fish all the way up to the surface.

This picture is taken at around 28 meters depth and I hope it shows a little bit what I experienced.

During the second dive of the day, the actual DUP dive, Bruno spotted this jellyfish off the wall and I swam over and got some great pictures. As usual, there was small fish swimming around and inside the jelly, feeding off it. The interesting part however is that a bigger fish is trapped inside the jellyfish and is being consumed by said jelly. If you look closely you can see the tail of the fish sticking out a bit to the left in the middle of the picture, with the big shiny thing under the jelly's skin being the body of the trapped fish.

It was underwater animal galore today and we saw plenty of white eyed murray eels, this being one of them. Some of the divers on today's trip also spotted a giant murray eel. It turned out that we were deeper than the giant's murray location on the rock, hence we missed it.

There were also various sightings of small scale scorpion fishes, like this one, a real beauty, sitting on an outcropping rock, showing off it's pectoral fins.

Here's a family member of the previous small scale scorpion fish and I just like the way the lighting comes out in this picture and gives it a little bit more of a 'threatening' look. As if a scorpion fish needs it to start with.

It was absolute nudi branch galore today though! Identifying nudi branches is almost an art in itself.

Here's another unusual nudi branch to me, but today the rock seemed to be plastered with them! According to my research this is a Phyllidia ocellata (Phyllidiidae), a mouth full indeed!
Besides these two specialties, Gregory also did his Fish ID dive, instead of the DUP dive.
All in all a good days diving and now it's back to reality with an IDC and IDCS course coming up in just a few more days. Stay tuned for more info and updates.