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Big Blue Freediving - Koh Tao - Thailand

Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan

Full MoonSome time ago, a group of tourists found that the most beautiful moon was in Koh Phangan. They arranged a party along the crescent-shaped beach of Haad Rin to celebrate the Full Moon night. From then on, people from all over the world come to join the celebration. And now there are 7,000-10,000 people at the party each month. The party begins at dusk, when the round yellow moon makes its appearance over the white sand beach. As the evening progresses the beach explodes into a dancing frenzy of trance, techno, drum and bass, commercial dance and reggae. Jugglers and fire-eaters entertain the crowds as the night goes on and with the brilliant impromptu fireworks display, the party atmosphere is complete. There are no barriers here, no inhibitions, just people enjoying themselves with one unified intention, to rejoice in the magic that is the paradise of the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party! 'Put your hands in the air'

The Wonderful New World of Underwater Koh Tao

fish2It’s been a while since I gave you an update on the marine life we’ve been enjoying around Koh Tao recently, for no reason other than we’re trying to keep it secret so we’re not swamped with divers looking to see some incredible stuff – and believe me, we’ve been seeing some truly amazing things so far this year!
After the spectacularly whaleshark year of 2017 when so many of these big spotty monsters were seen that people were actually asking to not dive with them (as they’d ‘seen them too many times already’!) 2018 seems to following nicely in the footsteps of its older sibling and is even trying to take it one step further by showing us things we previously wouldn’t dream of encountering underwater

Guitarfish
These weird-looking things are part of the ray family, and I suppose from their name are supposed to look like guitars, if guitars looked like a spiky evil shark-thing. Guitarfish are bottom feeders, and like to bury themselves in mud or sand and eat crabs, and clams and worms in typical ray fashion.
There were reported sightings of guitarfish close to Shark Island a year or so ago, but as there were no photos the identification was never confirmed and they were forgotten about until last week, when a pair were spotted chilling on the sand at South-West Pinnacle!
fish3Eagle Rays
Now this is something that’s been recorded before around Koh Tao, but very rarely indeed until a month or so ago when they were seen at Chumphon Pinnacle, White Rock, Japanese Gardens and even just off Sairee Beach on a number of occasions – in fact we saw more in 2 weeks than we’d seen in the previous 5 years, which was just great thanks!
These large species live in the open ocean rather than on the sea bottom like most rays, and feed on hard-shelled, bottom-living clams, snails and hermit crabs. Known to live as long as 25 years, they are what we could call ‘frequent flyers’ as they’re often seen breaching the surface with giant leaps!
AdvancedFalse Killer and Pilot Whales
Around May/June each year we’re visited by a few false killer and pilot whales who like to follow the boats, leap about a bit and then disappear as soon as we try to enter the water for a better look – they’re very shy of humans, we thought, and to be honest who can blame then?
This year was very different! For almost the whole month of May we had groups of both visiting us at different spots around Koh Tao, with pods of false killer whales being seen just a little south of Shark Island pretty much every day. These were a lot happier to be around us, and on a few occasions we were able to swim with them too.
Both part of the dolphin family, they are found all around the world. The most common around Koh Tao are the short-finned pilot whales which are often confused with our other visitors, the unfortunately-named false-killer whales. Not considered a killer whale or even closely related to the killer whale, they’re named because of the shape of their skulls. Daft!
fish4Lionfish
Rarely seen on the dive sites of Koh Tao, the lionfish is one of the most strikingly beautiful fish we have in our waters here in the Gulf of Thailand. Preferring to hide out in the deep sand away from our underwater pinnacles and reefs, to get to see one usually meant that you were lost or out looking for them purposely in the middle of nothing…but this year tells a different tale!
First there was one sitting on the HTMS Sattakut wreck, then a little later another appeared right in the middle of South West Pinnacle (thanks for the photo Lewis Kirkpatrick). Just as we were celebrating our good fortune with these two we had a sudden outbreak of them on the shallowest points of Chumphon Pinnacle, with at least TEN different fish hanging out there now, with their old hiding places abandoned to our delight.
A very photogenic fish, they’re also carrying a LOT of poisonous spines that they use to defend themselves, however they tend to be non-aggressive and usually shy away from divers (I'm trying to forget the time I was chased by a gang of them in the Similan Islands).

What’s the Story?
So what’s changed to bring all of this marine life to us? It’s something that’s being debated everyday here, but unfortunately it seems like the most logical theory for it may end up being a problem that could affect all of us diving here on Koh Tao. In the deepest parts of the oceans surrounding the island we have had what’s being nicknamed ‘the dead zone’, a layer of black gunk which could very likely be mats of cyanobacteria where nothing is living due to the low levels of oxygen in it (in some cases they’re totally free of oxygen), leaving hundreds of bottom-dwellers dead or dying – in particular crabs and shrimp. As this anoxia is a death trap for our marine life, a lot of divers here believe that the creatures that would usually be well away from our divesites - the lionfish are a perfect example – are now seeking refuge on shallower parts which still have plenty of oxygen for them to thrive – like the shallow top of Chumphon Pinnacle.
Of course this theory is precisely that; just a theory, and it could be down to a number of other factors that affect the creatures down there (the large amounts of planktonic matter in the water right now is one factor that could be affecting the marine life) so keep your fingers crossed that it’s not something that’s going to lead to a mass die-off, and all these amazing creatures are here to stay for a very long time!

Blowing bubble rings

bubble ringsHave you ever tried blowing a bubble ring? They're very easy to do, can look very cool & mesmerising and have been known to attract marine life to them.  The correct term for a bubble ring is actually a toroidal vortex if you really want to be a smart arse. Dolphins can do a mean toroidal vortex!!! And have been known to play with them, by jumping through them from the surface aswell as taking bites out of the air bubble & then with that making their own air bubbles. A dolphin equivalent of a blow back I guess!  How are your toroidal vortices coming along?

Is Freediving Hazardous?

10junLRG

It is without fail that when we speak about the sport of Freediving people ask us ‘is Freediving hazardous?’. 

Like any sport Freediving has risks, however, many of the risks can be eliminated, or avoided, by the application of correct training and knowledge.

The United States Apnea Association (USAA) states that ‘without proper training, education, and especially supervision, one small miscalculation in staying down just a little too long, or moving too much at depth could prove tragic – even fatal. Knowledgeable, competent and qualified freediving buddies must ALWAYS be used. Proper training and education is mandatory to successfully understand proper breathing techniques, proper equalizing, proper underwater motions, and proper buddy techniques – including freediver rescue. Without this specialized training the potential for ear injuries, lung injuries, and unconsciousness due to blackout is high. See Freediving Safety for more information.

At Big Blue Freediving we pride ourselves on small groups and safety. We teach a maximum of four (4) students per course and provide individual feedback to each student. Our experienced head instructor Rakel loves introducing people to Freediving and every customers leaves feeling more connected to themselves and the sea!

For more information on training courses and packages please surf our website.

Source: www.usfreediving.org

FREEDIVING COURSES AT SAIL ROCK!!

LEVEL 1 & 2 COURSES at Sail Rock, you will love the experience to learn your course but including one day, full day trip to the best dive site in Koh Tao.

We offer up to three Full Day Trips every week to one of the Gulf Of Thailands most exciting Dive sites- Sail Rock. A Full Day Trip leaves at 6.30am when a Full English Breakfast Buffet will be served as we head out to our destination. Nice loooong surface intervals to enjoy the sunshine the scenery & the entertainment is the norm on a Full Day Trip. After our second Dive a Thai buffet lunch is served & after our third & final dive of the day the trip home is accompanied by Chocolate Cake for everyone! The highlight of the day. Back to Koh Tao by about 5pm. This is always a very popular trip and can fill up quite quickly. These trips can also be dependent on the conditions.

Sail Rock is widely regarded as the best Dive site in the Gulf of Thailand. A large isolated pinnacle big enough to also be classed as a small island it rises 15 meters above the surface & descends to some 40 meters depth. The highlight of Sail Rock is the Chimney a large 3 meter verticalk swim thru that drops from 5 meters below the surface all the way down to 18 meters. Explore the nooks and crannies and you’ll also find Moray Eels, Stingrays, Crabs and Shrimps. Sail Rock acts as a pit stop for a lot of travelling pelagics so its not uncommon to see passing Whalesharks, big schools of Barracuda & Trevally

 

sail rock

 

 

FreedivingWhaleshark

What the children are saying about our ocean

octopus1) This is a picture of an octopus. It has eight testicles. (Kelly age 6)

2) Oysters' balls are called pearls. (James age 6)

3) If you are surrounded by sea you are an Island . If you don't have sea all round you, you are incontinent. ( Wayne age 7)

4) Sharks are ugly and mean, and have big teeth, just like Emily Richardson. She's not my friend no more. (Kylie age 6)

5) A dolphin breaths through an arsehole on the top of its head. (Billy age 8)

6) My dad goes out in his boat, and comes back with crabs. (Emily Burniston age 5)

7) When ships had sails, they used to use the trade winds to cross the ocean. Sometimes, when the wind didn't blow, the sailors would whistle to make the wind come. My brother said they would be better off eating beans. (William age 7)

8) I like mermaids. They are beautiful, and I like their shiny tails. How do mermaids get pregnant? (Helen age 6)

9) I'm not going to write about the sea. My baby brother is always screaming and being sick, my Dad keeps shouting at my Mum, and my big sister has just got pregnant, so I can't think what to write. (Amy age 6)

10) Some fish are dangerous. Jellyfish can sting Electric eels can give you a shock. They have to live in caves under the sea where I think they have to plug themselves into chargers. (Christopher age 7)

11) When you go swimming in the sea, it is very cold, and it makes my willy small. (Kevin age 6)

12) Divers have to be safe when they go under the water. Two divers can't go down alone, so they have to go down on each other.
(Becky age 8)

13) On holiday my Mum went water skiing. She fell off when she was going very fast. She says she won't do it again because water shot up her fanny (Julie age 7).

Why all the Buzz about Freediving?

FreedivingWhalesharkYou may be sitting at your desk or stuck in a traffic jam scrolling through the web for holiday options and be asking yourself what is all this buzz about free diving?

Well, lets see shall we ...

1. About 71% of the Earth's surface is covered in water, and the oceans hold about 96.5 of all Earth's water, not to mention lakes and rivers.

2. A study published by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 91% of the species in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

3. Once underwater, you’ll get to meet a dazzling array of fish and marine mammals. Encountering the bigger fish is certainly my favourite part of freediving, but you will not believe your eyes when you will discover the amazing biodiversity present in our oceans. Seeing marine creatures at such very close range, following them around and watching them eat and play while you gently swim past, is a unique experience that cannot be replicated in any aquarium.

4. By exploring the seas, you can actually protect wildlife! By choosing to see sharks, sea turtles, barracudas, and other sea creatures in their natural environment you are actively discouraging keeping wildlife in captivity.

5. The underwater world is very peaceful and quiet. You cannot hear a sound. It is such a great place where you can relax and forget about the ‘real world’ and leave your worries behind on the shore. I love the fact that you can empty your mind and just let yourself be amazed.

6. Free diving is like any other hobby: it is as close to home as you will ever get to being an alien on another planet & experience encounters with some of the most majestic creatures in their world and some completely surreal topographical beauty like blue holes, towering walls, & sheer drops, that surpass natures beauty above the surface.

So what are you waiting for?

We start Level 1 courses every day and it only takes 2 days for you to get you full certification which will then allow you to dive safely down to 20 meters and upto 3minutes, conditions allowing of course.

My name is JP & I would like to intriduce you to this whole new world. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

25 Days of Giveaways

giveBig Blue Diving is offerring an extraordinary generous offer this Christmas season, one in which I reckon if you are planning on being in the area in December you might seriously want to consider!

We are giving every person who stays and dives with us during the period from the 1st December till Christmas day a 1000Bt Christmas hamper full of all sorts of little trinkets of value and in all different types of colors.

So if you are thinking of coming to Koh Tao this coming month then hope you will consider a spot of freediving with us too.

Hope to see you shortly.

Ban on plastic bags on Koh Tao

Ban the bagDid you know one million plastic bags are used every minute of the day and almost three millions tonnes of plastic are used to bottle water globally each year? Would it surprise you that 80% of all marine debris is plastic? In some areas of the ocean, plastic outweighs plankton 6:1, and on Koh Tao, 3 turtles that we know of were killed last year from ingesting plastic bags. So we reckon a massive thanks is in order to the people of Koh Tao who have come together to say no to plastic. You will find it very difficult to a get a plastic bag here now. Even the 7/11's don't give out plastic bags anymore. Nor will you find it easy to get a plastic straw now. Most places are now offering straw free drinks or if you must insist on a straw you can get stainless steel straws, Plastic from plants straws or bamboo straws! PLUS, you will find a lot of restaurants on Koh Tao now won't serve water from plastic bottles anymore. Most of your drinking water on Koh Tao now is served in recyclable glass bottle! So its great to see Koh Tao. Lets see if we can't get more places in Thailand to follow our lead, and see what more we can do to rid the world of plastic!

Rakel is off to the Philippines!

RakelAfter 5 very loyal and faithful years with us steering the Big Blue Freediving department forward it is with great sadness that  we say goodbye and thank you Rakel for all your hard work & great customer sevice & loyalty. You shall be sorely missed. But the fact that you are heading off to somewhere else new & exciting in the Philipines to take your freediving career to the next level, living in tropical hotspots with world class diving, limits the level of my disparity somewhat!

Have an awesome time, best of luck with everything and remember us! Hope you will pop back & say hi soon.

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