Shark Life – Help Us Save It!

The shark population at Chumphon Pinnacle has dwindled over the years and is now practically non-existent.  Sadly this is the same thing that is happening the world over.  Sharks are caught for their fins and killed ‘accidentally’ by other fishing practices too but when you see the effect in your own back garden it really brings it home.  Just 6 years ago, sharks were plentiful at Chumphon, seen in large numbers on every dive.  Its been three years since I have seen one now!

We feel quite strongly about this – as  you can imagine – and want to play our part in getting the message out there so that people do understand the barbaric practice of shark-finning.  So to coincide with Project Awares Shout Out for Shark Month and the Koh Tao Environmental Film Festival (26th April’12)  we made a video about it.  Its hoped that this will help spread the word and educate so that more people will get involved and help protect the sharks.

If you know us – you’ll know that we don’t make the ‘usual’ when it comes to dive or underwater movies….for this one we give the Master Divers treatment to Blurs – Park Life – yes – you guessed it….Shark Life !

 

Please help us spread this message.  Share it with your friends and click the Face Book Like button below too.

If you want to do more and get involved, click here, and see what you can do and sign the petition to help protect the oceans sharks before its too late.

Learn how to take great photos underwater.

We all dive for many different reasons.  Some people just to enjoy the peace and quiet and wallow in the colour of the reef.  Others are fascinated by the different creatures and their activities.  Some love the history and exploration of shipwrecks and some like to capture all of these things with their cameras.  Underwater photography is not just a diving challenge but also a creative challenge and one that can become very addictive, very quickly.

I bought my first underwater camera when I came to Koh Tao to do my Dive Master and Instructor Course around seven years ago and very quickly became an addict.  I progressed onto another Olympus and then moved up to the camera I have today which is a Nikon D200 in a Subal Housing.  My smaller toy is a Panasonic Lumix which also takes great video too.  In fact we filmed our last pop video re-make using it.

The most crucial skill for any would-be photographer underwater is buoyancy.  You must be able to hold still.  If you cant hold still and hover neutrally buoyant then you cant expect to get focused images.   Further you run the risk of damaging the reef or yourself.  Remember there is no photograph that’s worth taking that will cause harm.  Luckily help is at hand – you can take some extra training in buoyancy control.  This will not only improve your images but also your control and air consumption too.
The biggest mistake most divers make when taking out a camera for the first time, is not getting close enough to their subject – again this goes hand with buoyancy skills.  BUT YOU NEED TO GET CLOSE – SAFELY!  Fill the frame with your subject and do not use the zoom function.  We ban the use of zoom on our photo courses.  Get close and you get not only a better, more interesting image but you reduce the water in between the subject and the lens and also ensure that your flash is close enough to light up the subject.Getting to know your camera and how it functions is essential too – read the manual – yes I know – I know – but do it!  Play with it and the different settings on land first ….  and then find a sandy un-sensitive area underwater and sit facing your buddy and take some images!  Try out the different settings and see what they do ……If this is not possible look for a centre that offers a private guide service (we do) or find somewhere with specially tailored photo courses that are designed to suit your goals, camera and experience….

And finally – remember its supposed to be fun !  Dive and look for subjects, keep yourself safe and enjoy!  Remember most experienced photographers only ever come back with a few ‘keepers’ and the front cover of your dive mag – probably took many dives to capture!  If you want to know more, get intouch !


 

 

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Macro Diving on Koh Tao

I’m just looking through the passed years Daily Diving Reports to do a little round up of the best and I came across three posts that really do deserve a second look and a post in their own right. Why ?

Well there are lots of locations around the world that are renowned for their macro critters but Koh Tao is not one of them !  I am not about to claim that Koh Tao is littered with the tiny and wonderful – but they are there – and always a pleasure to find.

If you were here or live here then you are likely to remember the freak storm that we had towards the end of March.  We were left in the unusual position of having no one to take diving – so not to be put off – we took ourselves diving.  Wilco, who is the king of Macro, happily got out his camera and went a-hunting and came back with some fab shots over the few days.

You can see a bristle worm above and a cool looking file fish below – both of these came from a dive at Pottery Pinnacles which is a site some would have you believe is not worth visiting. We certainly challenge that opinion and not just with these two (maybe lucky finds).  On that same dive numerous puffer fish, sea hares, pipefish and other cool critters were seen.  Its even cooler at night!  But if you are still not convinced then check out the slide show from the 18th where many more nudis, seahores and anemone eggs were captured both there and at  Twins too.

Flabellina are always a pleasure to see and this one was spotted at Twins too on the 17th after a visit to Chumpon Pinnacle. 

It just goes to show that there are some real macro treats here – IF – you know where to look and have a good guide.

 

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Red Rock and Twins on the 4th October’11

Phill skipped (literally) around the dive centre when he realized he was off to photograph at Red Rock today.  The reason ?  The Pink Tailed Trigger Fish !  These seeming sweet natured small triggers are only found on the stretch of coast line which runs north from the pinnacle.  Most often we dive the coast lined to the south as a drift to Japanese Gardens but today we were to moor up and explore the coast line the other way.  Singing a tune he bounced out of the dive centre….  These fish are quite shy but he did manage to return with this short clip.

He also returned with some great fotos of our divers and there were too many to choose from so you can see a selection here.  They had great fun exploring both the coast line and Twins – which was the next site.  Below you can see Bianca and Daniel enjoying their first dives with the Discover Scuba Diver Experience and Joyce and Ben who were fun diving after completing their Advanced Open Water Course.

For more photographs from today and to see what the divers saw – check out the slideshow below.

 

 

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Junkyard, Mango Bay and White Rock on the 3rd Oct’11

This morning Phill hopped off to Junkyard Reef for a single dive with Karen before joining the afternoon boat trip to Mango Bay and White Rock.  Karen loved the great photo opportunities there and they were both surprised by group of juvenile cat fish swarming around the sand.  Phill took a short video with Karens camera which is shown below.

This afternoon the boat made its way to Mango Bay for the first dive and as usual many many photos were taken of the large school of scad which live there.  Usually we try to pick out just one or two photographs but I made them into a slideshow for you to see.

Our dive master candidates were out to make their map and saw a blue spotted stingray.

And the divers were treated, once again, to a turtle too.

Saurabh was out enjoying the wildlife too on his first ever dives, completing the Discover Scuba Dive.

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Diving the HTMS Sattakut, Koh Tao, Thailand.

The HTMS Sattakut is a relatively new arrival to Koh Tao diving.  She first appeared in June 2011 and was sunk a few days later.  Bad weather hampered her sinking causing her to go down in the wrong place and on her side too.  This may not seem too much of a problem but the visibility was appalling and given that one of the aims was to provide a great training wreck – it was far from ideal.
Some time and effort was spent moving her and righting her and eventually she gave up the battle and now sits firmly upright.   Once you see her upright then you realise the effort was certainly worth it.  Even when a thermocline cloaks her hull, the swim from bow gun to stern gun is usually clear along the deck and easy enough to follow.  For divers making their first ever wreck dive, probably on their Advanced Course, then its a great introduction.  The penetration has been planned so that its clear with many rooms barred to avoid disorientation – again its perfect for teaching penetration on the Wreck Course too.
On my last visit I made a short video of both the inside about outside (which renders Phills quick sketch from when she was on her side now obsolete – sorry Phill!)
….Enjoy ….

If wreck diving interests you then check out my recent post about the history of shipwreck diving here on Koh Tao.

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Japanese Gardens and Twins on the 7th Sept’11

It is always a pleasure to have our customers, and to teach and train them!  And it was a pleasure to have Matt, Paul and Duncan on board as we set off for Japanese Gardens and Twins.  Matt was completing his Advanced Open Water Course whilst Paul and Duncan were about to finish their Open Water certification with Wilco.

We were certainly favouring these sites of late, as they are the best when the weather gets a little changeable.   These choices did not disappoint either, and with “Good Water” from P’Dong we set off to begin Dive 3 of the guys Open Water Course.

The bay and coastline are always excellent choices for macro spotting and photography, and with the clear and easy conditions of today there was to plenty to look at off the wall as well.   Wilco found a good sized Bearded Scorpion fish, check out the video, and a rather “plump” looking Polka dot Nudibranch, close to some of their trademark egg spiral which was cool to watch.

Personally I love that stretch of coast because it is often quiet, and clear, great light and corals, and a bunch of cool stuff and I think the guys found it pretty pleasant too.

One of the homes of cool stuff, Twins, was our next stop and I jumped aboard Antontio and Amandine’s course to catch them finishing their Scuba Diver qualification.   We felt it was the best choice as they were tight on time on the Island, but were really keen to come and dive.   Twins was pretty much crystal clear and was looking great, and as always there were loads of cool things to enjoy.  We found a Devil Scorpion Fish, White Eyed Moray Eels, Blue Spotted Stingrays, Triggerfish it is always a good dive there.  The guys did great, everyone did great and we had 2 great dives.  Back to the shop to watch our new video, and the slideshow of course.

 

 

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Aow Leuk on the 2nd Sept’11

Lots of different things happening on the boat today…we had Hayley refreshing her skills with a Scuba Review, Amy, Rik, Kylie and Ben taking their Open Water Course and Lisa and Tracey were out for photography with Phill guiding them and giving tips and pointers along the way…..so today’s photographs come courtesy of our divers for a change ! Aow Leuk was the destination for the afternoon, which was perfect for everyone!

Here’s Phill hard at work and Tracey taking a shot ……

The guys spotted a lion fish and Lisa quickly switched over to video to bring you this quick clip…..

More of Lisas photos can be seen on the slideshow below….

Tracey captured another great shot of Phill hard at work too……


For more of Traceys shots – look at the slide show….

 

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Red Rock and Japanese Gardens on the 1st Sept’11

The swim from Red Rock to Japanese Gardens this afternoon was blessed with some very cool creatures…Phill snapped this turtle..

Then quickly switched over to video for this quick clip….

Polka Dot Nudis were next on the list ….

And even a sea snake…

and a barracuda of the large variety, quite unusual to see one this close in the daytime…..

More snaps from today can be seen in the gallery below….

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White Rock and Junkyard on the 30th Aug’11

Sorry for the short delay in this post, we’ve been so excited about sharing our new video that the reports fell by the wayside for a few days…..if you haven’t seen it yet then – click through!  Last time we re-filmed Queens Bohemian Rhapsody and this time we took on Robbie Williams.

But less of that and back to the diving – White Rock and Junkyard where this mornings dives and Phill was out with the camera, following Annette on her final dives for her Open Water Course.  There’s some great shots from White Rock in the gallery below but keep scrolling for some video from Junkyard.

Bat fish are just great fun to watch and while we do usually see them at Chumphon Pinnacle its lovely to see them in such great numbers here too.  Mostly they’re sheltering under some of the structures at Junkyard and occasionally we see juveniles too.  Today they were waiting for Phill at the bottom of the line.

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