Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kamalaya staff trained as Emergency First Responders

The Dive Academy recently completed Emergency First Responder training for 4 staff from Kamalaya Resort. To become certified Clive, Andre, Christian and Joanne (pictured left with Marlies) took part in a number of skill practises including when and how to conduct CPR and Rescue breathing, how to deal with choking patients, Shock and Serious Bleeding Management, Spinal Injury Management, Injury and Illness Assessment, Bandaging and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Christian practising bandaging and Joanne assessing

Christian giving an injury assessment and Andre doing CPR

We were very happy to give the training to the staff and we would like to congratulate the Resort in making the effort to ensure that in the unlikely event one of their guests has a problem they have a number of staff on hand to give immediate first aid, which could mean the difference between the guest making a complete recovery or something far worse happening.

We will also be happy to provide training to any other resorts that ask!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Diving Instructor by day, Thai Boxer by night.....

Congratuations to The Dive Academy's crazy Dutch Instructor, Marlies, who had her first Muay Thai fight at Chaweng Stadium friday night and we are very proud to say that she severely kicked arse. The fight was stopped in the 2nd round to stop her experienced Thai opponent from getting too badly hurt.

In front of a large group of followers, mainly from the Jungle Gym where she trains, Marlies was too strong (and too tall!!) and had too much power for her opponent, who has had 20 previous fights but last night hardly got a chance to land a punch or kick

Marlies has been training with the guys at the Jungle Gym for the past couple of months and obviously the training has paid off.
Congratulations also needs to go to one of the trainers from the Jungle Gym, Steve, who was also fighting friday night and put in a fantastic performance against a very good fighter from Bangkok. Unfortunately after 5 very tough rounds, the decision want in favour of his Thai opponent and left Steve in need of 6 stitches in a cut above his eye.

Regardless who wins these fights respect should be given to all the fighters for having the courage to even get in the ring and be prepared to take the punishment that quite a few of the fighters took that night.

Well done to Marlies and we are proud she is on our team and not against us - she's very scarey with a pair of boxing gloves on!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our crazy new Dutch Instructor!!

The Dive Academy would like to welcome a new Instructor to the team. Having completed the Instructor Development Course with us last month and the following PADI IE, Marlies managed to complete one Open Water Course before the bad weather set in and now can't wait for monsoon to finish so she can get on with her new job.

Marlies with a box on her head during the usually sensible IDC and getting ready for a Muay Thai fight!!

Marlies has already made many friends on the island, and many of them agree that she is a little bit crazy, but seeing as she does Muay Thai training 3 times a week and is currently in training for her first fight at Chaweng Stadium, we are all a bit scared to tell her to her face!!

We look forward to having Marlies as part of the team for however long she stays on Samui, and with her great attitude, enthusiasm, personality and a bit of guidance from us, we are certain she will become an excellent Instructor that will give our customers the high level of training and maximum amount of fun they have come to expect from The Dive Academy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chaweng Underwater Clean-Up

The day before they begin their IDC with The Dive Academy, the candidates joined Course Director Camille and me for an underwater clean-up from Chaweng Beach.

As expected there were many plastic drinks bottles, plastic floats from boats, sunglasses, diving masks, shoes and many other things, mainly made of plastic. All together we pulled out 6 bags of rubbish, as well as some bigger items that wouldn't fit in the bags. There is so much rubbish there that we could probably spend all day bringing bags out and still not clear it all.

As well as clearing the rubbish we still managed to see some fantastic marine life, including 2 amazing colourful nudibranch's that I haven't seen before, jelly fish and lots of starfish. The biggest surprise of the day was when a small brown Octopus jumped out of one of the rubbish bags onto the floor, obviously hiding in one of the bottles or other rubbish we removed!! We quickly put it in a plastic cup and returned it safe back into the sea.

Thanks Marlies, Tobias and Joep and good luck with the IDC.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sharks - Friend not Enemy

Due to negative media coverage over a number of years and sensationalised Hollywood movies such as Jaws, sharks have wrongly been given a reputation as man-eating monsters. The average number of shark attacks worldwide is only around 50 per year, with around 5 being fatal. More people are injured and killed every year by elephants, bees and farm animals – but when did you last read a newspaper article about somebody dying from a bee sting?

There are over 400 different shark species in our oceans and only a few (the bull shark, great white, and tiger shark) can be potentially dangerous. The likelihood of being attacked by a shark is less than being hit by lightening.

Sharks are at the top of the food chain in the oceans. They play a very important role in maintaining the balance in the oceans by preying on sick and weak animals. By eating the weak or diseased animals they help keep the fish population healthy. They also help keep the population sizes of other fish species in check, helping maintain the balance of the underwater ecosystem that has survived successfully for millions of years.

As one of the oldest species on Earth, Sharks have survived in the oceans for over 400 million years. But today, like many other animals in our world, sharks are in danger with over 100 million sharks being killed around the world each year. During the past 15 years, some shark species populations have been depleted by up to 80%. Unlike many other fish, sharks grow slowly and have very few offspring, which makes them particularly vulnerable to extinction.

The main threat to Sharks comes from Overfishing, Shark Finning and as a result of accidental By-Catch.

Sharks are fished in large numbers so their body parts can be used in a number of ways. There is a massive demand for sharks teeth for use as souvenirs, cartilage and liver oil for use in Chinese medicine, and for sharks fins for use in restaurants.
Overfishing of sharks also causes problems on the reefs. When shark numbers are decreased, the fish that they feed on, such as grouper, increase in number, which mean the fish that they feed on, like parrotfishes, are reduced in number. The removal of reef grazers, such as parrotfishes, then causes reefs and coral to suffer as there are not enough grazers to remove the algae that helps keep the reefs healthy.

Every year tens of millions of sharks die because of Shark finning. Shark Finning is the practice of catching sharks then cutting off the shark's fins and throwing the remainder of the shark back into the sea, while it is its still alive. The abandoned sharks either starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown because they cannot move and cannot extract oxygen from the water that they need to survive.
Shark fins are collected to feed the growing demand for shark fin soup, which is a delicacy particularly in Hong Kong and China. Millions of Sharks are brutally slaughtered just so people can enjoy their fins mixed in a soup.

Bycatch is when animals such as Sharks are caught by accident in fishing gear that is intended to catch other species. Bycatch is usually thrown back dead or injured. Turtles, whales, dolphins and sharks are all victims of bycatch.

Every little bit of help and support Sharks get is a step towards solving the problem. The first step towards achieving change is through educating yourself and others about sharks, their conservation status and the importance of their survival in the ocean.

Consumers can also help by avoiding eating or using shark products, such as shark cartilage pills, shark meat, shark liver oil, and shark fin soup. Try and encourage other people to do the same, and if you see a restaurant serving shark fins on their menu leave the restaurant and tell them why, and maybe our children’s children will benefit from the advantages of still having a healthy population of sharks in our oceans.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things that go bump in the Night......

My Dad looking a bit scared in the dark and the beautiful anenome.
Starfish running across the sand Mama crab and baby
My Dad recently completed his Night Dive Specialty by completing 3 dives off Chaweng Beach, over 2 nights. For the first dive we were joined by our friend Vanessa and we all had a slow, relaxed 68 minute dive across the sand. Along the way we saw Stingrays, Starfish, Crabs, many tiny Shrimps, and a few strange looking fish that I have no idea about.
On the second night we were joined by one of our Instructors, Tasha. We decided that rather than go to the reef and have a look around, we would again swim out over the sand and see what we could find. This time we were armed with cameras so we could try to photograph the fantastic things we came across. Unfortunately we didn't see any of the Rays we saw the previous night but we did see many other interesting things: a few beautiful anenomes that I haven't seen anywhere else in the area; again we saw Starfish running across the sand before burying itself to hide; we saw many small fish laying still in the sand, including a baby Flounder that was about 4 inches long; and the highlight was a beautiful crab that was carrying it's baby around trying to escape the attentions of the big bad divers. It scuttled across the sand before settling, giving a massive shimmer of it's body and burying itself in the sand with only it's eyes on show - fascinating to watch.
Congratulations to my Dad for not only completing the Night Dive Specialty, but also for completing the DPV Specialty Course earlier in the day at Koh Tao. That makes 3 Specialty Courses he has completed this trip, having taken the Digital Underwater Photography Course a week or so ago.
Just goes to show, your'e never too old to learn something new!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Another successful IDC at The Dive Academy

Mark & Marc celebrate with CD Camille
The Dive Acdademy would like to congratulate Mark and Marc for successfully completing the PADI IE recently conducted on Koh Tao and would like to welcome them to the Instructor Club.
Marc will contine to enjoy learning by completing his Specialty Instructor training with Camille over the next few days, before returning to Holland.
Good luck to you both in whatever you decide to do as new Instructors and well done Camille for another 2 successful candidates.
The next IDC at The Dive Academy will be held in September, and for details about this and other upcoming IDC's contact us at [email protected].

Your'e never too old to dive......

Instructor Tom & Gerry (honestly!!)

The Dive Academy recently had the plelasure of introducing Gerry Weeden to the underwater world for the first time. Nothing too amazing about taking somebody diving for the first time, except the fact that Gerry will be celebrating his 80th Birthday this year, proving that if you are fit enough you are never too old to Discover What Lies Beneath.........
Congratulations Gerry and thank you for the pleasure of taking you under.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Some like it hot.... some don't

As a tourist destination Koh Samui relies on having great weather for the tourists to enjoy. For the first half of this year nobody has been disappointed as the weather has been unusually good, with temperatures reaching as high as 48 degrees, which is high enough for even the most hardcore sun worshippers.

A downside of the fantastic weather we have enjoyed is the effect the high temperatures have had on the marine life in the seas around Koh Samui and the surrounding islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangnan. The constantly high air temperatures have caused the sea temperature to rise to 32 degrees for most of the year, compared to the normal temperature of 28-30 degrees. The increase in the temperature for such a long period of time has caused many of the corals on some of the main Scuba Diving Sites in the region to suffer from Coral Bleaching, causing the usually healthy, brown corals to turn pure white or even pale blue – sometimes making the corals even more attractive than they usually look.

What many people don’t know is that Corals are actually animals, related to anemones and jellyfish. Corals consist of a limestone structure filled with thousands of small animals called polyps. Each polyp has a skeleton cup, tentacles with stinging cells, a mouth and a stomach. The tiny tentacles snatch at passing plankton for food, but for their main course, reef-building corals have devised a much more ingenious method to get fed.

Algae called zooxanthellae live within each coral. In return for a safe sunny home, the zooxanthellae eat the nitrogen waste that the coral produces (nitrogen is very good for algal growth) and, like all plants, algae turn sunlight into sugars by the process of photosynthesis. The sugars produced by the zooxanthellae make up 98 per cent of the coral's food. So, without having to do any work at all, the coral is kept clean and well fed, and the zooxanthellae with their brilliant reds, oranges and browns give corals their colour.

Rising water temperatures blocks the process that converts carbon dioxide into sugar. This results in a build-up of products that poison the zooxanthellae. To save itself, the coral spits out the zooxanthellae and some of its own tissue, leaving the coral a bleached white. The bleached coral can recover, but only if cooler water temperatures return and the algae are able to grow again. Without the zooxanthellae, the coral slowly starves to death.

The recent bad weather and dropping of temperatures has led to the water temperature dropping to 29-30 degrees and have started to have an immediate impact on the coral, with many already starting to go back to their original brown colour. Lets hope for more hot weather, but not too hot.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

His & Hers Advanced & Rescue Courses....

Two Dive Academy regulars, Colin and Claire recently took the next steps in their diving adventure by taking the PADI Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver Courses respectively.

Colin started the Advanced Course by playing James Bond on the underwater scooters followed by fun with a camera on the Underwater Photography dive. The day was made a bit more adventurous by the ride to the second dive site on a rib followed by a backwards roll entry - all part of the fun!! His second day of diving began with a Deep Dive down to 28.5m at Green Rock, where on the way back to the shallows we came across a banded sea snake as well as a really cool, laid back turtle grazing on the coral as well as confronting the swimthroughs Green Rock is well known for. A quick Navigation Dive went without any problems before the final dive of the course, AWARE Fish ID.

Colin goes Deep and the Turtle chilling out

Claire rescues her favourite Instructor and
Colin & Claire give each other premature congratulations

After completing a day in the classroom where she finished the EFR Course, Claire's strength and stamina were put to the test with a hard day of learning the skills needed for the Rescue Course. The skills included dragging her overweight (she says 16 stone so I'm happy with that!)Instructor out of the water and up the beach on her back, lifting the same Instructor off the bottom of the sea and carrying him slowly and safely to the surface, dealing with a crazy panicking diver on the surface and many other things she needed to know to become a good Rescue Diver. She took to the tasks really well and only threw a couple of small hissy fits, so not a bad day! The second day of the course Claire had to put everything she had learned into practise during some "unexpected" incidents during the dives, including searching for a diver that had gone missing and dragging him back to the boat, removing his equipment and giving him rescue breathes to help save his life. Despite being told to deliver the rescue breathes to the chin, Claire was determined to get it right and, much to the victims pleasure, planted a couple of smackers on his lips - what a perfectionist!! And the most important job of the day was when the same overweight Instructor spat out his regulator, threw off his mask and bolted for the surface from 15metres down. Claire managed to grab my leg, slow me down and push the regulator back into my mouth, which basically is what she needed to do to save my life - thanks. Next time though please put my mask back on over my eyes, not over one ear and one eye.

Great jobs you two, look forward to continuing the fun.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Dive Academy goes IDC

The Dive Academy have recently been accepted as a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre. In conjunction with Award Winning Platinum PADI Course Director Camille Lemmens, we will begin offering Instructor Development Courses and PADI Specialty Instructor Courses on Samui.

Achieving the 5 Star IDC status means that The Dive Academy can now help to keep the dwindling IDC market alive on the island, which hopefully will help to ensure there are enough Samui-produced Instructors around to satisfy the demands of the many dive schools on the island.
If you are thinking of a fantastic new career and lifestyle change, or you know somebody that is, contact The Dive Academy to find out about our Go Pro packages.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Congratulations Mel!!

After completing the Assistant Instructor Course earlier in the month Mel has now taken the big step and become a PADI Instructor by completing the IDC and passing the IE held in Koh Tao which finished yesterday.

Both Mel and Graham (from Planet Scuba) had no problem with the dive theory and PADI Standards exams on tuesday afternoon, and, despite the added stress of having to prepare the classroom and open water presentations in the dark due to power cuts on Koh Tao, they both managed to get good scores and pass the presentations and the skill demonstration.

Without too much stress or difficulty (??) both managed to successfully get through the open water presentations to complete the IE and become PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors.

Mel will be working full time for The Dive Academy and is looking forward to teaching her first Divemaster Course beginning next week.

Once again congratulations to both Mel and Graham and good luck for the future.

Friday, April 2, 2010

One step closer....

The Dive Academy's new Divemaster, Mel, along with Adam from i-Dive, took another step up the PADI ladder by completing the Assistant Instructor Course.

During the four day course they sat through (and managed to stay awake) a number of presentations, including how to teach Confined and Open Water Dives, how to give Knowledge Development Presentations and a few more covering the Standards and Responsibilities of being an AI and an Instructor. They also both very successfully completed the Standards and Procedures Exam.

As part of the course, both Mel and Adam had to give classroom presentations of their own as well as getting a chance to see what it's like to be an Instructor by conducting a Confined Water presentation, where they took on the role of the Instructor and organised and controlled the session and spotted and corrected the problems our terrible students had (thanks for your help with this Tash!!) Mel and Adam also completed the Open Water Skills Circuit and both gave very good demonstrations and got good scores.

To finish off the course we went to Chaweng Reef where Mel and Adam had to give an Open Water Presentation, where they again had the opportunity to be the Instructor to conduct two skills, again with the same dodgy students!! In very bad visibility both of them performed fantastically and both achieved very good scores. They also both successfully completed the Rescue Skill Assessment, again with both giving a great demonstration.

Congratulations to both of them and good luck to Mel when she begins the IDC next week, and good luck to Adam whenever he can afford to do it to!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Great marine life at Koh Ma

Due to less than great visibility at Sail Rock today, we made the decision to give Koh Ma a try, as the viz yesterday was 20m and we hoped it would be the same today. Unfortunately the viz wasn't as good as yesterday, but we still managed to see some fantastic stuff. The viz didn't make taking photos very easy, but some of them came out ok!!

Hiding in the branches of a bush like soft coral at around 18m was a group of five Lion Fish. All five of the Lion Fish were fairly small and they were more than likely hiding out for protection until they are bigger. Considering there are only around 3 or 4 Lion Fish on all the other dive sites we regularly visit, a group of 5 together is pretty amazing here!! The group of four Razor Fish were among many that we saw out in the sand, also around 18m, and again there are only two other sites out here that I have seen Razor Fish before.

Hanging out below the boat at about 4m was this fantastic school of Batfish, different to the ones we usually get to see around Koh Tao and Sail Rock. And although nothing new for us to see, this Blue Spotted Sting Ray was happily sitting in the open on a rock.
Despite viz of around 5m we had a great dive and it was brilliant to see stuff that we don't usually see.