Thursday, October 28, 2010

The October/November 2010 IDC on Koh Lanta is under way

The October/November 2010 IDC on Koh Lanta is under way

Today we completed the prep course, that is, Simon, Heidi and Dom. After the IDCS course started two days ago, now we're already in full swing for the actual IDC.

As usual during the prep course, the three candidates, pictured above from left to right, Simon, Heidi and Dom, completed with very high scores their 5 theory exams.

Dom during his Rescue exercise # 7 practice

That always takes a lot of pressure off of everybody and the afternoons were spend practicing the PADI skill circuit, where once more some excellent performances were delivered.

Heidi practicing her Rescue exercise # 7

After each days skill circuit and various workshops covering 'control' and rescue skills, there was the obligatory practice of Rescue diver course exercise # 7.

Simon on rescue exercise # 7

The first day we had a lot of rain and grey clouds on Koh Lanta but today was all sunshine and a warmer pool!
Tomorrow we continue with the daily scheduled IDC classroom presentations, and more pool work. Richard who's staffing this IDC will also get involved during the presentations and grading/critiquing the candidates as part of his training to come a new PADI Course Director on the block whilst Phil can now relax a bit, after having completed his IDCS pre-assessment and experience an IDC from a staff perspective.

Stay tuned for more up and coming updates.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

IDCS Course kicked off on Koh Lanta

IDCS Course kicked off on Koh Lanta

My first IDC that I will teach on Koh Lanta, in conjunction with Scubafish is about to start tomorrow but today I started with the IDCS course. Phil is taking this course and Richard, who completed his IDCS course back in November 2004 is staffing this IDC and the up and coming one in Kao Lak starting 17th November as well.

Today the theory exams, 4 curriculum presentations by me and evaluation training was on the menu. The picture above shows Phil watching the screen during one of my presentations.

This shows Phil on the left and Richard during evaluation training.
Over the next two days, Phil will complete his pre-assessment training for the IDCS course and than it's just a matter of sitting in during all parts of the IDC to follow and amongst others practice more on evaluation skills.

Richard has staffed a few IDC's already and will present some presentations and work closely with the candidates during all work in the water.

Stay tuned for more updates.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fun diving at Sail Rock

Fun diving at Sail Rock

Yesterday I went out with two divers to Sail Rock, in my opinion the best dive site in the Gulf of Thailand.
The first dive we experienced a very strong current but during the second dive the current was almost gone and we had a very pleasant dive.

Have a loom at some of the picture I took;

Hermite crab near the chimney

A potato grouper, Sail Rock has plenty of them and some are pretty big, well over a meter!

A great scenic shot at the entry/exit of the chimney at 12 meters.

This bat fish has is in the fish car wash, two cleaner wrasses are having a go at the bat fish.

These are the engines that bring us out to Sail Rock and back to Koh Samui again!

It's always good to dive at Sail Rock, slowly but surely I'm closing in at 500 logged dives at this site.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

My new website is up and running

My new website is up and running

Here's a heads up to all my readers to check out my newly designed website, the URL "idcthailand dot net" remained the same but the design is brand new!

The site is also available in Dutch and German although the translation is a work in progress!

Hope you enjoy the new design and I'm looking forward to hear your feedback.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Worst Coral Death Strikes at Southeast Asia

Worst Coral Death Strikes at Southeast Asia

Here's an excellent article that I found in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Worst Coral Death Strikes at Southeast Asia." ScienceDaily 21 October 2010.

It gives a good explanation and insight in the current coral bleaching that I blogged already about in May and July;

International marine scientists say that a huge coral death which has struck Southeast Asian and Indian Ocean reefs over recent months has highlighted the urgency of controlling global carbon emissions.

Many reefs are dead or dying across the Indian Ocean and into the Coral Triangle following a bleaching event that extends from the Seychelles in the west to Sulawesi and the Philippines in the east and include reefs in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and many sites in western and eastern Indonesia.

"It is certainly the worst coral die-off we have seen since 1998. It may prove to be the worst such event known to science," says Dr Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook Universities. "So far around 80 percent of Acropora colonies and 50 per cent of colonies from other species have died since the outbreak began in May this year."

Coral bleaching around Koh Tao

This means coral cover in the region could drop from an average of 50% to around 10%, and the spatial scale of the event could mean it will take years to recover, striking at local fishing and regional tourism industries, he says.

The bleaching event has also hit the richest marine biodiversity zone on the planet, the 'Amazon Rainforest' of the seas, known as the Coral Triangle (CT), which is bounded by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

"Although the Coral Triangle is the richest region for corals on Earth, it relies on other regions around its fringes to supply the coral spawn and fish larvae that help keep it so rich," Dr Baird explains. "So there are both direct and indirect effects on CT reefs which will affect their ability to recover from future disturbance."

"Also the reefs of the region support tens of millions of people who make their living from the sea and so plays a vital role in both the regional economy and political stability. For example, in Aceh, northern Sumatra, where the bleaching is most severe, a high proportion of the people rely on fishing and tourism for their livelihoods. While it may take up to two years for some fish species to be affected by the loss of coral habitat, fisheries yields will decline and this combined with a drop in the number of SCUBA divers visiting could have major long-term effects on the local economy."

Coral Bleaching around Koh Tao

The cause of the bleaching event was a large pool of super-hot water which swept into the eastern Indian Ocean region several months ago, shocking the corals and causing them to shed the symbiotic algae that nourish them, thereby losing color and "bleaching." If the corals do not regain their algae they starve to death.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Hotspots website, sea surface temperatures in the region peaked in late May, 2010, and by July the accumulated heat stress was greater than in 1998. Local dive operators recorded water temperatures of 34 C, over 4 degrees higher that than long term average for the area.

The event was first detected on reefs in Aceh by marine ecologists from Wildlife Conservation Society, CoECRS and Syiah Kuala University. They already rate it as one of the worst coral diebacks ever recorded.

"My colleagues and I have high confidence these successive ocean warming episodes, which exceed the normal tolerance range of warm-water corals, are driven by human-induced global warming. They underline that the planet is already taking heavy hits from climate change -- and will continue to do so unless we can reduce carbon emissions very quickly.

No White Christmas here but a Christmas Tree on bleached coral at Chumpon Pinnacle in the Gulf of Thailand

"They also show this is not just about warmer temperatures: it is also threatening the livelihoods of tens of millions of people and potentially the stability of our region."

Dr Baird said it was not yet clear whether Australia would suffer a similar coral bleaching event this year: this would emerge only with the arrival of warmer waters from the north in January/February 2011. The previous worst events to strike the Great Barrier Reef were in 1998 and 2002 when over 40% of the reefs along the length of the GBR were affected.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vintage Scuba equipment revisited

Vintage Scuba equipment revisited

It's been a while since I last posted something about vintage scuba, back in march this year.

There are still a few pictures that I have floating around on my hard disk on vintage scuba equipment that I think are worthwhile checking out;

A weight belt from the Mid 1950's Mer-Man weights and weight belt. These were sold by Amerman Divers Supply out of Portland, Oregon. The belt buckle is a special aircraft corrosion-resistant safety buckle - a slap of either hand and the belt drops.

A Voit tank and Voit Viking fins, with 40 cubic foot Voit tank and blue oval mask. Scuba gear manufactured by Voit was used extensively in the TV series Sea Hunt, circa late 1950's to the early 1960's. This picture is gratefully used with credit to vintagescubasupply.

Voit bc Horsecollar BC's gained popularity in the mid-1960's, for more precise buoyancy control. The unusual Voit BC was made in a military green color, almost identical to the shade used by the US Navy.
Fenzy1 is probably the most famous horsecollar BC and the most sought after by collectors. The Fenzy featured a built-in air bottle that inflated the vest by simply turning on the valve. This late model unit is probably from the 1980's.
Have a look at this pdf file about the history of bcd's, it's fun and the Fenzy 1 features as well in it.

Detachable fins, not a completely new idea, these pictures come from somewhere in the 6'tees.

Hope you enjoyed this pictures and information.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

PADI IE for October 2010 on Koh Samui is done and over with!

PADI IE for October 2010 on Koh Samui is done and over with!

The October 2010 PADI IE has been very successfully completed by all 6 candidates. Joep, who completed his IDC on Koh Phangan last month, Tobias, Marlies, Kenta, Yusuke and Nori all passed with flying colors. Ami completed her IDCS course successfully and Darren, Aiko and Nobu staffed, so it was a busy IDC!

PADI examiner Rob gives a general briefing over the days activities for the last segment, the Open Water dive at Chaweng Beach. Everybody is listening carefully and a light sensation of nervousness and anxiousness is in the air.

Tobias and Nori on the way to the sea. Let the games begin!

The relief has settled, all passed and here's the official group picture, from left to right; Darren (IDCS), Paul (MI and owner The Dive Academy), Nori (OWSI), my self, Joep (OWSI) Tobias (OWSI), Marlies (OWSI), Yusuke (OWSI), Nobu (MI), Kenta (OWSI) and Aiko (IDCS). Unfortunately Ami is missing, she had to work today!

The next IDC starts 27th October on Koh Lanta with Scubafish, with an IDCS course kicking off 26th October, let me know if you're interested to participate. See you there!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

EFRI course October 2010

EFRI course October 2010

In the bag! Earlier today we completed the EFRI course with Tobias and Marlies at the local hyperbaric chamber in Bang Rak.

During the morning we went through the presentations and they completed an exam. After the lunch break we continued with skill and scenario practice. The day was completed with a visit to the actual chamber and a short introduction to the local re compression chamber.

In the picture above from left to right, Tobias, my self and Marlies. Tomorrow the PADI IE starts and I've got a hunch feeling that they will breeze through it!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

PADI IDC for October 2010 on Koh Samui has been completed!

PADI IDC for October 2010 on Koh Samui has been completed!

Today we finished the last bits of the October 2010 IDC. The OWSI part brought us more presentations, by me and by the IDC candidates, more confined water and more open water!

Tobias during one of his classroom or knowledge development presentations.

Marlies with her non diving related training aids. Air fresheners! A subtle way of trying to tell us guys something?

Team japan in action, IDCS and candidates alike, ready to hit Chaweng Beach!

It was a fun IDC and I'm looking forward to complete the EFR Instructor course and than to bring on the PADI IE where this bunch is going to shine, including Joep, who completed his IDC last month on Koh Phangan.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PADI Specialty of the Month October 2010; Night Diving

PADI Specialty of the Month October 2010; Night Diving

As the sun sets, you don your dive gear, slip on your mask and bite down on your regulator. A deep breath and you step off the boat – into the underwater night. Although you’ve seen this reef many times before, this time you drop into a whole new world and watch it come to life under the glow of your dive light.
Go night diving and see the underwater world in a whole new light – a dive light.

Cowrie shell at Sail Rock during a night dive

Night diving is a very popular specialty and with 3 cool night dives you'll get some knowledge under your belt during this Night Dive Specialty.

Hermit crab at Sail Rock during a night dive

Most of my night dives have been conducted at Chaweng Beach, which is a great place for seeing some amazing stuff, how about; the most amount of crabs you may see during a dive including a decorator crab, a shell-less crab that just sticks stuff on itself in order to camouflage itself, this one even had cigarette butts on it's body, or how about a crab dining on a just about, barely a life scorpion fish, the crab was dining on it's gills, or how about puffer and boxer fish, blue spotted sting rays and plenty of more stuff.

At the end of a night dive at Chaweng Beach

I've done plenty of night dives in other locations, including Sail Rock, Similans, Pattaya, Phi Phi, Dahab in the Red Sea and the Netherlands just to name a few and they all have been interesting and/or exciting.

Take up the challenge that is night diving and after your first experience you most likely keep craving for more!

This month of October 2010 has a 10% discount if you book the night Dive Specialty!


Friday, October 1, 2010

The Assistant Instructor Course of the September/October IDC on Samui is completed

The Assistant Instructor Course of the September/October IDC on Samui is completed

Today we went to Chaweng Beach for an Open Water training dive as part of the IDC and that was the end of the first IDC week and the Assistant Instructor course and the beginning of a day off!

Plenty of presentations by me were part of this week (with plenty more to come next week!) and lots of other presentations by the candidates were on the agenda as well. The picture above shows Marlies with either a new design of traditional Dutch costumes or was it a comparison with homeless people after all?

Tobias took a bit more of a classic approach and is promoting a compass "if you're interested, come and see me afterwards'! Sounds familiar by now ;-)

There was also some confined water on the bill and here is part of team Japan getting ready for the action, Amy who's completing her IDCS course, Yusuke, Kenta and Nori.

Listening to Open Water briefings is hard work, as Darren is living proof of.

Just before we hop into the Open Water, Kenta, Yusuke, Nori, Marlies, Tobias, Aiko, Amy and Darren.

Next week more updates on the OWSI program, so stay tuned.