Master Divers Marine Conservation Packages

 

As divers, we enjoy the thrill of experiencing a different environment, interacting with its inhabitants, and simply enjoying the beauty of the underwater world. Unfortunately, this environment that we care for so dearly is in danger of being damaged beyond repair. I think Sir David Attenborough said it best when he stated: “being in touch with the natural world is crucial”. This connection is vital; without a connection to the natural world, what motivation do people have to help try and save it? Here at Master Divers, we pride ourselves on our passion for conservation, with our eco instructors specializing in information related to the ocean, its inhabitants, and the threats that the ocean faces. Come and see how that knowledge is passed on through one of our marine conservation package courses!

“What humans do over the next 50 years will determine the fate of all life on the planet”- Sir David Attenborough.

It is a common belief that this revolution to help save the planet and its oceans starts through education. Learning about the aquatic environment, how it relates to humans, and what we as individuals can do to help is vital. At Master Divers, all instructors try to nurture an interest in the natural world and try to share this passion with our guests. In taking a course here, you will be able to learn more about the marine environment and how we, as divers, can work to protect it. We care deeply about our environment and work hard to do what we can, not only to mitigate our impact but help preserve and nurture what we have.  So we developed our Marine Conservation Packages for the dual purpose of helping our oceans, and also to help you, our divers, become more environmentally aware and active.

Marine Conservation Packages are available on both PADI Open Water, and PADI Advanced Open Water courses, and a conservation dive is included as standard in all of our professional level courses, as we believe ALL dive professionals need to have a base understanding of environmental issues so they can better educate their students.  What this means is that in addition to receiving the regular high-level instruction and materials, you will also receive the following:

 -Re-usable Master Divers Shopping Bag

-Reusable Water Bottle

-Project AWARE Dive against debris bag

-Conservation evening

-Conservation dive

Items from the green packages: re-usable shopping bag, Project AWARE dive against debris bag, and re-usable water bottle
Items from the green packages: re-usable shopping bag, Project AWARE dive against debris bag, and re-usable water bottle

 If you are not taking a course with us and still want to get involved, fear not, you can join us on a conservation dive and presentation for just 1500THB!

For the conservation evening and presentation, you get a meal supplied by the amazing Coconut Monkey beach cafe, which specializes in delicious and healthy meals. Your eco instructor will give a presentation on an ocean-related theme that is connected to the conservation dive you will be doing. Topics of these presentations are basically anything ocean related, but marine debris (plastics), pollution, and coral bleaching are personal favorites of mine. In my opinion, raising awareness of the risks that our coral reefs face is the first step to resolving these issues,  and are incredibly important subjects for all divers to learn about.

Coral Watch Divers Adi & Agnes from December 2017
Coral Watch Divers Adi & Agnes 

 

If this has peaked your interest, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email and book yourself a slot for a conservation dive, or add it to your existing dive course booking.

 

 

A Year in Pictures – 2017

2017 has been a busy year for us here Master Divers, but we wanted to pick out a few highlights. So rather than bore you with a bunch of wordiness, let’s review them in pictures….

It was a rough start to the year, with storms and flooding in January

January Storms 2017

However, it never takes long for Koh Tao to bounce back, and very quickly our blue skies returned 🙂

Beach-blue-skies-framed

Along with our amazing sun sets!

Koh-Tao-Sunset-framed

It has been an epic year for Whale Shark sightings. With over 90 different whale sharks identified in the gulf of Thailand this year, more of our divers than ever before were treated to diving with these beautifies. Fingers crossed 2018 is just as full of big fishy goodness!

whaleshark-sail-rock

 

Because of this, we’ve run many more trips to Sail Rock than in previous years, and plan to continue to do so in 2018.

SAIL-ROCK-framed

We continued to grow and develop our conservation efforts. Our marine conservation packages are proving very popular, and once again we were heavily involved in the organisation of Earth Day.

Earth-Day-2017-framed

We have started selling paper, bamboo and plastic straws in a bid to rid the island of single use plastic straws.

Say-No-Straw-framed

It’s been a particularly great year for growth in pro level courses here at Master Divers. Our Divemaster courses are also in high demand, so much so that we have completely restructured our training programme to ensure we continue to provide the most thorough and comprehensive pro level training available.

DMC-theory-session-framed

The IDC classroom has also been in frequent use, with many more new PADI Instructors joining our ranks following training form our PADI Course Director Gaz Lyden. Many of our IDC candidates have continued to specialty training courses and completed their MSDT, and right now we are working on a new instructor internship programme that we’ll roll out in the new year.

Gaz-IDC-framed

We closed the year with a contest to win for an Aqualung i200 dive computer, and there will be more competitions and giveaways coming soon.

Aqualung-cpu-framed

There are some pretty big things on the horizon for us here in the coming year, so watch this space, and we hope to see you all on Koh Tao in 2018! In the meantime we’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year 🙂

 

 

Come Eco Dive in Koh Tao, Thailand

Environmentally friendly diving with Master

Divers

Here at Master Divers we are passionate about our environment, both underwater and above it! It’s safe to say that all scuba divers feel the same way as we all want to preserve our coral and marine life so that we can continue diving and seeing exciting new sites. At Master Divers we have several ways that we continue to care for the environment.

 

Beach and Dive site clean ups

We regularly hold beach and dive site clean ups to remove any debris. It’s not uncommon for us to have the occasional storm on Koh Tao and with that we can see rubbish being brought in by the waves. This is often in the form of plastic bottles, straws, lighters and glass, and on dive sites we can find netting caught on coral. We gather together like-minded divers to collect unwanted trash and record our findings with Project Aware.

112kgs of rubbish and recyclable's collected by Master Divers in Koh Tao, Thailand

Monitoring coral health

A healthy reef means diverse and plentiful marine life, so monitoring and recording our coral health is incredibly important. Coral Watch allows us to record coral health by noting colour, an easy task for any diver that has a slate and a torch! On Koh Tao we have the benefit of being able to go to dive sites that have a range of soft, branching, boulder and plate coral that means we can take a range of data and submit to Coral Watch for review.

White-eyed Moray Eel at Koh Tao dive site, Twins

Eco events

At Master divers we like to get involved in a variety of eco events, from our yearly Earth Day celebrations to regular eco presentations and quiz nights. It’s important that we continue to educate ourselves and the wider dive community on environmental issues and what we can do to help. We have recently had presentations on deforestation, turtles and got involved with Shark Guardian’s ‘Shark week’ putting on events for kids and adults for a week dedicated to learning about preserving some of our favourite marine life.

Gigi-with-whale-shark-Koh-Tao

If you love diving, love marine life, and have a passion for preserving our environment, come and join master divers for awesome diving with a focus on our environment.

CoralWatch at Master Divers

CoralWatch is a non-profit organization founded by coral biologists from the University of Queensland. Their lives revolve around working to protect corals, which lead them to create a platform where the general public can join students, scientists, and divers to enter data on coral bleaching from sites all around the world; and so CoralWatch was born back in 2002. Since then, in association with Project Aware, CoralWatch has become a worldwide tool that scientists can draw data from, with more than 1,000 CoralWatch participating operations actively collecting coral health data. This ability for the scientists to have a pool of free data to use in their studies is very useful and appreciated by all. It also gives the public an effective avenue for them to pursue a passion and help try and save the aquatic world you love so dearly!

 

Coral-Watch Framed

 

What is coral bleaching?

That leads us to the question: What are corals and how do they become bleached? Well, corals are living organisms that live in a colony as polyps. Related to Cnidarians (Jellyfish), they are sessile (non-moving) organisms that are attached to the same substrate their entire lives, and actually add to this substrate by excreting limestone deposits as they grow. Within their tissues lives an algae called Zooxanthellae, to which the coral forms a mutualistic, symbiotic relationship. What this means is that the coral polyp provides protection for the algae, which in turn uses photosynthesis to produce oxygen and glucose (sugar) for the coral polyp to use. Nutrients are efficiently cycled between the two symbionts (algae + coral), which benefit each individual greatly as tropical waters are relatively nutrient poor in comparison to more temperate, cooler waters.

Now the act of coral bleaching occurs when the coral becomes stressed due to sustained warmer-than-usual sea temperatures. Once stressed, the coral pushes the algae from its tissues, which causes the bleached white appearance (a before and after picture is shown below). However, this isn’t an immediate death sentence for the coral! The algae can be brought back into the coral’s tissues, but only if the water temperature drops back to a level where the coral isn’t stressed. It’s a common misconception that the white corals are dead, but if the word is able to be spread that there is still a chance for the corals to recover, then all hope isn’t lost!

 

Coral Watch dives at Master Divers

On a breezy Halloween morning, a group of Dive Master candidates and green package guests joined Hayley and I on two CoralWatch dives at Twin Pinnacles and White Rock. Both sites are known for the brilliant coral diversity and often excellent conditions, and boy did they not disappoint! With visibility pushing 30 meters at Twins and 25 meters at White Rock, locating the various species of coral to sample was a breeze. After all was said and done, 4 separate surveys were conducted (2 at each site) by our eco-warriors, providing important data for the CoralWatch team to use in their future studies. An excellent day all round for the team, who had smiles on their faces from start to finish!

 

Coral Bleaching: Before and After
Coral Bleaching: Before and After

 

How can you get involved?

If this kind of eco-related activity interests you, contact master divers at conseration@master-divers.com and inquire about when the next eco dive is scheduled! We try to schedule them once a month, but will add more upon request! As a team, we all feel it is our responsibility to help try and protect the environment that we call “our office”.  For more information on CoralWatch, visit their website at www.coralwatch.org

The team: Ian, Kevin, Andy, Agnes, Ben, Andy, Gaspar, and Andy
The team: Ian, Kevin, Andy, Agnes, Ben, Andy, Gaspar, and Andy

Is your factor 50 a factor in coral bleaching?

We’re protecting our skin, but what about our reefs?

Globally we are all now well-educated on the harmful impact of the sun’s rays on our skin, but does everyone know that many sunscreens are harmful to our reefs?

It’s estimated that 6,000 to 14,000 tons of sunscreen gets into our oceans every year and that tiny amounts of the ‘wrong kind’ can cause damage to coral and young fish. There are 2 different kinds of sunscreens; physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens deflect the sun’s rays and generally contain Zinc oxide, whereas chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays and contain a variety of ingredients that can include Oxybenzone. It’s this chemical that is harming our marine life.

Sunscreen is important for skin health

It has been proven that Oxybenzone disrupts reproduction and growth, and can leave young coral deformed. It can also exacerbate coral bleaching where the coral rejects the organisms that give them their colour. It also has a harmful impact on fish larvae and embryos, which is unsurprising as current research shows that there is a higher concentration of sunscreen chemicals within fish, than in the water they live in.

The stark contrast of healthy and bleached coral

So what can we do?

It’s all about choices and reading the label. There are a lot of great companies that have organic sunscreen products, but really all you need to do is avoid Oxybenzone. Another good tip is to make sure you get a lotion that needs to be rubbed in as spray sunscreens tend to get into sand and be washed straight into the sea. The other option is to cover up and stay in the shade, that can be tough for us instructors (we have all had the burn from teaching an open water or rescue course!) but we can combat that by wearing rash guards and head protection so that there is less exposed that needs to have sunscreen applied.

We need to stay safe from the sun’s harmful rays, let’s do that while considering the health of our coral and marine life.

How Eco is your clean house – Update

The great cleaning experiment continues!

This month has been a very productive one, and productive in a way that makes me feel very wholesome. I got set to work on researching and making my own cleaning products and was really happy with the results. Not only do I now have a clean house, but I also feel extra good for doing it with products that aren’t going to leach into our water systems and harm aquatic life. I made an all purpose cleaner with lime, vinegar and baking soda, and also a duster with vinegar that had been soaked with lemons for 2 weeks.

 

The good

Making cleaning products is ridiculously cheap. I large bottle of white vinegar was about 300THB, that was the most expensive thing, baking soda was about 40thb and also the container I used for soaking lemons in vinegar was only 40THB. I even bought some limes (there weren’t lemons) for 16THB, less than 50p!! Also it really worked! Our gas hob has never been so clean! So it works, it’s cheap and it is better for the environment… what’s not to like?!

Before the clean. Please don't judge!After the clean

The bad

Getting some of the products here was tough. You can get castile soap delivered to the island but the costs, although not huge, were considerably higher than the other ingredients. Also, to get them delivered you need a Thai bank account, something I don’t have at the moment. For those reasons, I decided to cope without it for now. The shopping list for my next visa run is getting longer and longer! There was a point when my house smelled like a salad. The first cleaner I made with just a little lime juice was quite vinegar-y, but it really worked so I can forgive it and experiment further with using essential oils to add a nicer scent. The lemons soaked in white vinegar did smell a little bit like one of the bars I used to run on a Monday morning, but again, not unpleasant.

 

All in all I’m really happy with the results and it wasn’t difficult to do these 2 very basic cleaners. I’m going to carry on trying out different cleaners and maybe even making my own cosmetics… Watch this space!!

Master Divers Retail

Are you a brand junkie? Or maybe you are one of those people who likes to collect practical/wearable souvenirs from your holidays and dive trips? If so you are in the right place, as we have a whole range of Master Divers branded items to suit all budgets, activities and climates! Dry bags to keep your valuables safe, cooler jackets to keep your water chilled, USB devices to store all of your important info, logbooks, reusable cloth shopping bags, baseball caps, mask straps, rash vests, board shorts, a whole array of different t-shirts and even some jumpers and hoodies for back in colder climates!

Check out some of our stock items below, modelled by the fabulous Hayley, Kiri and Kevin! Be sure to get your Master Divers memorabilia while you are here!

 

Assorted MD Retail Modelled by Kiri & Hayley
Assorted MD Retail Modelled by Kiri & Hayley
Kevin Also Makes a Fine Model!
Kevin Also Makes a Fine Model!
Trident Vest & Master Divers Deluxe Logbook
Trident Vest & Master Divers Deluxe Logbook
Hoody and Eco Reusable Bag
Hoody and Eco Reusable Bag
Looking Good Hayley!
Looking Good Hayley!

 

Already left? No problem, just let us know what you want, in what colour and size and we can get a shipment quote for you! 🙂

Spotlight (literally!) on UV Night Diving

 

As some of you may already know, Master Divers is one of the limited number of dive centres in the world that offer UV Night Dives. These offer a truly awesome experience where you will really see the coral reef in a completely different light (again, quite literally!) as it fluoresces and glows!

UV Corals

How does it work we hear you ask? Well, its actually pretty straightforward, and you’ll be pleased to hear that you can wear your regular mask, so no need to worry about ill fitting equipment. We use special dichroic torches which have a blue beam. Unlike normal white light torches which are wide angle, the dichroic torches are very narrow angle beam, creating a spotlight effect on the area of reef you are looking at. Of course, if you dived with just this blue light alone, nothing would glow, and you’d just end up finishing the dive with a massive headache! So to balance this out, we use yellow visors that attach easily onto your regular mask. This filters out the blue wavelength light and allows you to see corals and even some marine life fluoresce!

Among our favourite things to spot under UV light are Scorpion Fish, Moray Eels and mushroom corals – which you can often observe feeding, a spectacular sight!

Moray Eels Under UV Light

Scorpion Fish under UV Light

Want to try it?! The visibility on a UV dive is more limited than a regular night dives, so we do need to be sure of your comfort and buoyancy underwater in general is up to the job. In order to take part in a UV night dive you need to have dived recently through the day, be comfortable with your equipment and buoyancy control and have already taken at least one regular night dive. Spaces are limited for this, so if you are interested please do let us know in advance and be sure to tell us a little about your night dive experiences so far.

UV flouro dives cost 2000thb per person and are inclusive of everything you need including equipment hire, boat fees and guide. Read more about our UV Night Dives.

Photo credit for the scorpion fish and moray eel pic goes to Elisabeth at Oceans below, and Daniel Halmi. You can see more of their awesome underwater images on their intagream pages oceans_below and _diver_dan

Why PADI?

Why should you choose PADI over other scuba diving certifications that are available?

As you may already know, there are many scuba diving organisations in the world, each with their own education and certification systems. But how does PADI stand out from the rest? And why should you choose a PADI dive centre like us for your training?

For starters, PADI is the world’s leading scuba diver training organization. It stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors, which basically says it all! The PADI system of diver education is based on progressive training that introduces skills, safety-related information and local environmental knowledge to student divers in stages, providing maximum practice and realistic practical application in the process.

In the video below Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO, shares his passion for diving and talks about the important role of divers as underwater ambassadors and custodians of our ocean planet.

Some Statistics

No matter where you choose to dive, your PADI certification card will be recognized and accepted. In the Worldwide Corporate Statistics 2017, which covers 2011 – 2016, we learn that;

  • Since 1967, PADI has issued over 25,000,000 diver certifications globally
  • PADI has averaged over 900,000 diver certifications each year globally for the last 20 years
  • PADI issues diver certifications in over 200 countries and territories around the world
  • PADI has professional members in over 190 countries and territories around the world
  • PADI Retailers and Resorts operate in over 150 countries and territories around the world

Padi_Logo_Transparent

The PADI Community

It really is a community in which you can interact, and not just in the water! Literally, you can travel all over the world and find PADI endorsements in every location! Have you discovered ScubaEarth yet? This is where you can share photo’s, experiences and find buddies. With PADI members in more than 175 countries and territories there is no shortage of fellow scuba addicts to connect with! There’s also a great PADI Blog which provides you with up to date information on all aspects of diving. Plus all your social media needs are covered with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their YouTube channel, PADITV, meaning you’re never far from any information you may require! Plus PADI themselves have international service offices in nine countries, so whatever continental region you are in, you can count on their support. Current statistics quote PADI as having a 55% of the dive training market worldwide. This means that more divers like you choose PADI over all of the other agencies combined!

They Rock Environmental Responsibility

PADI encourages all PADI Divers to take action and support Project AWARE. PADI courses embrace environmental awareness and actively teach the importance of protecting our underwater world. Without an array of beautiful dive sites and stunning destinations to visit, Scuba diving wouldn’t even exist, so PADI dive centers are encouraged to help towards a clean, healthy ocean planet.

Here at Master Divers this is something we stand behind 100% as we care deeply about our environment. We organise regular beach and ocean clean ups which consist of staff and customers. We even have our very own ‘Eco-Warrior”, Hayley, who make sure we actively stay on top and are keeping up with conservation news and issues.

Hayley Scuba Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand112kgs of rubbish and recyclable's collected by Master Divers in Koh Tao, Thailand

 Quality of Training

PADI has developed what instructors and dive centres alike believe to be the most instructionally solid system. All courses are based on a framework that accounts for all learning styles. So whether you prefer self study or a classroom environment, or whether you are a ‘watcher’ or a ‘doer’, your needs will be catered for. Plus study materials are available in a variety of media – online programs, tablet-based apps, manuals, workbooks  etc. So even before you meet your instructor you can already be learning in a way that works for you.

PADI Instructors themselves are trained and held to diving’s highest standards backed up by a solid, proactive quality management system. They work to strict educational standards which are monitored for worldwide consistency and quality. Just as scuba divers must earn PADI certifications, PADI Instructors must complete an Instructor Development Course that sets the industry standard for scuba instructor training. Each new PADI Instructor demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the PADI System and the ability to conduct PADI programs by meeting specific criteria. Before earning the PADI Instructor rating, all candidates are evaluated by a select group of PADI-employed Instructor Examiners. This ensures that the evaluation process is objective, fair and consistent worldwide. This is another way that PADI training stands above others in the dive industry. With other agencies, evaluations are often completed and signed off by the agency’s own regional managers, which brings up doubts over the objectivity of their assessments.

Do you need any further convincing? Master Divers is a 5 Star PADI IDC centre, meaning that we excel in using the PADI system of diver education to introduce people to scuba diving, and then provide the continuing education, support and mentoring that allows individuals to progress. Even if you have no intention of going as far as pro level (yet!), our 5 start status means we maintain a very high calibre of instructors to teach you your courses.

 

So what are you waiting for?

Book your ticket to Koh Tao, get that PADI certification and scuba dive with us!

The environmental cleaning project

How clean is your Eco House, and how Eco is

your clean house?

While I’ve been recovering from a broken arm I have been getting several Eco presentations and quizzes ready for when I’m back in the water. There are a few reoccurring themes to my presentations. One is that globally are using too much plastic; I think we all know that. Another is that our corals are suffering; something all divers want to stop. The reasons this is happening and ways to stop are too numerous for one blog, so tried to think of what I could do.

 

I had an epiphany! I’m going to trial making and using my own eco cleaning products. Life gave me lemons, so I’m going to make cleaning products from them- lemonade seems way too complicated. This means no single use plastic from bottles of surface cleaner, and also eradicating chemicals getting into our water system. I wish I could say that not cleaning my house for a while was building up to this, but sadly it’s been a mixture of having only one fully functional arm and being lazy. I should also state that the epiphany was probably brought on by noticing the dust build up under my bed. My mother would be ashamed.

When life gives you lemons

Eco cleaning product list

I set about this morning creating my shopping list (which is surprisingly small) so that I can make an all-purpose cleaner, a heavy duty scrub and a dust cleaner.

 

  • Mason Jar
  • Lemons
  • Lemon oil
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Borax

 

Part of this experiment is going to be whether or not I can get all of these things on Koh Tao, and I specifically chose recipes that have the more simple ingredients. FYI Lazada does not stock liquid Castille soap, but thank goodness for google so that I knew what it actually was! I’m dubious about being able to get borax, a natural laundry booster (sodium tetraborate for the pedants), but there is only one way to find out.

The laboratory is open

Next month I not only hope to have a clean house, but also to tell you the best and worst of my experiment. Time to get scrubbing!