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Posts Tagged ‘Ko Tao’

Thai Wreck Dive Koh Tao

May 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Save Koh Tao with help from the Thai Navy is working to find the best location for the sinking this decommissioned Navy vessel.  The vessel is currently in Bangkok where is is being prepared for it’s sinking.  This process includes the removal of all pollutants and toxic substances to prevent any contamination of the Koh Tao’s reefs.  Special attention is also be put towards removing entrapment and entanglement hazzards.  The wreck is forecasted to be sunk the 18th of June.

This is going to provide Koh Tao with an alternative dive site to not only take some of the traffic off the main dive sites but also open up new training possibilities.  The PADI Wreck specialty will now be much easier to teach logistically.  Other courses like Advanced Wreck will also be put into place for technical divers wishing to broaden their knowledge, skills and techniques used in complex wreck navigation as well as restriction and guideline use.  Our experienced staff of Technical Instructors, Instructor Trainers, Trimix Instructors, Technical Instructors and Cave Instructors will we working hard to ensure adequate training is received before complex navigation is taken up.  Tech Diving Thailand

It is important that the diving community understand and is accepting to the fact that single tank recreational divers are not adequately equipped to be diving past the light zone in equipment without any redundancy.  Wreck diving can be an extremely satisfying activity so long as safety and training are made a priority.

Through overhead environment training Cave Diving instructors and the NSS/CDS have been building a database of accidents involving death or serious injury in overhead environments.  A simple recall phrase can be used to help remember the 5 rules of accident analysis to assist in preventing accidents in overhead.

Nearly Every Preventable Death in overhead can be contributed to not following these simple rules.

  • Thank = Training – diving outside of training limitations or with no training
  • Goodness = Guideline – Guideline leading to open water, proper complex navigational techniques utilized
  • All = Air: Gas management – Rule of 1/3 or 1/4
  • Divers = Depth – Maintaining appropriate depth limits
  • Lived = Lights: Appropriate and properly maintained equipment (twinset with isolation manifold, redundant life support systems)

Thanks to all of those involved in this project, the benefits of alternate dive sites on Koh Tao have already been seen.  The increasing level of training and experience available is also one of the benefits that every diving professional, technical diver and recreational diver can enjoy safely.

Craig Werger

Ban’s Technical Diving

Koh Tao

Thailand

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Set Sail On A New Adventure with Naga and scuba sail

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Ang Thong Marine Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park is a protected nature reserve consisting of over 40 islands. Visiting the unspoiled islands and beaches is like stepping back in time as they remain undeveloped and unihabited apart from a small population of sea gypsies.

The islands range in size from mere rocks to tiny paradise islands with pure white beaches and coconut trees. The movie ‘the Beach‘ starring Leonardo Di Caprio was inspired by and partially filmed at this location. Touring the Marine Park gives you the feeling of being an explorer discovering the far ends of the world. The water is clean, calm and inviting, creating the perfect conditions to explore the park’s hidden treasures.

The Naga will take you first to the north of the Marine Park, to Koh Wao. Koh Wao consists of three islands with a shallow, sheltered bay in between, making it well suited for snorkeling. The underwater life is not as abundant as the shores of Koh Tao, but it is refreshing to jump into the water and swim around the beautiful bay. You will spend one hour snorkeling on this site, where you will get a good glimpse of the Park’s marine life.

After that you will land on the beach at Talay Nai and begin an easy but impressive climb through dense rainforest and narrow ravines. This takes you to a spectacular viewpoint which looks out over the surrounding islands. Here you will have some time to enjoy the breathtaking view and take some pictures. A short stroll downhill will take you to the famous Emerald Lake, also known as the Blue Lagoon from the movie ‘the Beach’.

From here, all Ang Thong Marine Park tours go to the Park’s Visitor Center for picnic lunch and kayaking. The visitor center is frequented by many tour operators, making it very crowded. We choose instead to travel a little further on to eat lunch and kayak at Koh Paluay’s sea gypsy village.

On Koh Paluay you will enjoy a sumptuous Thai lunch in the fisherman’s village. After that, the speedboat will take you to the south of the island for an hour and a half of leisurely kayaking along the staggering cliff face interrupted only by the occasional spotless beach.

TRIP DETAILS

Day 1:
6:30 am Departure Sairee Beach
7:30 am Dive 1 Southwest Pinnacle
8:30 am Breakfast
10:30 am Dive 2 Koy Yippon
12:00 am Lunch
14:00 pm Dive 3 Koy Wao
15:00 pm Ang Thong Marine park
20:00 pm Dinner
22:00 pm Overnight Ang Thong Marine park
Day 2:
5:00 am Departure to Sail Rock
7:30 am Dive 4 Sail Rock
8:30 am Breakfast
10:30 am Dive 5 Sail Rock
12:00 am Lunch
14:00 pm Dive 6 Samran Pinnacles
17:00 pm Arrival Sairee Beach

Price: 10.500 thb


Underwater Festival Koh Tao Floods

April 2, 2011 Leave a comment

WOW… What a week here on our little island!! As we got ready for one of the most anticipated events of the year the Koh Tao Underwater Festival..and boy did the water ever come!  Eventhough within the first few hours the event grounds were saturated and the fields became muddy mess, it didn’t really stop anything at all.  As the first night went on everything still happened, the shows were fantastic (Ban’s show included) and everyone after a while seemed to ignore the rain.

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Waking the next morning, from our hill-top bungalow overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, we were noticing that the rain had not stopped all night it started to become a concern and as I tried to make my way to work that morning I was met with a river that only the day before was the road I walked home on.  From then on it rained and rained and RAINED some more.  With no stop in sight we decided to get down to the village and pickup a few supplies. Which was lucky too because unknown to us there was some serious weather still to come.  Keeping in touch with our friends on the island via cell phone we started to hear of power outages and water being cut off to a few places at first and then more and more as the day passed.  Some people’s businesses were destroyed, some people lost the contents of their homes but all in all everyone seemed to be helping each other and if you needed a hand there was a hand near by. We even had the Thai Navy assisting us to rescue what we thought would be a few stranded tourists trying to make their flights in Bangkok, this quickly went from getting a few off the island to finding an aircraft carrier parked off the island with helicopters flying in and out from the island trying to get the 1,000 people who needed off the island back to the main land.

At the end of it all we counted ourselves as some of the lucky ones high enough on the mountain to stay dry, not to mention having our power on almost around the clock.  We have received a lot of calls from friends and family back home wondering if we were all still ok or if we got washed away!  My answer was always you’re talking to me on Facebook… how bad could it be ?!  Anyway there was a lot of questions right up to the end on how we were making out.

It’s all over now and the Gulf is getting back to its’ pristine diving it was before this all started.   Took a look around ‘You-Tube’ and noticed a lot of footage on the action over the last few days so I posted the links here. 

Enviromental Asia Pacific and Koh Tao

March 19, 2011 1 comment

We seem to be answering a lot of questions in our Emails about dive site closures, not here on Koh Tao, but on the other coast and near the Burmese border.  The closures are due to the severe Bleaching Event which occurred in April and May of last year.  Our region was hit hard, with up to 78% bleacing of corals but has recovered very very well. (Corals pictured below have greatly recovered since these photos were taken)

This Bleaching Event has caused a few closures and of course with the help of the “trusty” media it seems that all of Thailand is closed for diving.  Well here’s my distorted view (cause I’m right here on my little island). Divers can be a threat to the reef, but only if they are learning, have poor abilities, like buoyancy control, or do not use eco-friendly diving pratices.  We can’t discount the amount of damage that is done by boat traffic and improper disposal of waste on marine vehicles which in any case can be linked directly to the diving community.  However, what role do these things play in bleaching the reefs??? At what stage does a diver contribute to the overall warming of the oceans???  So divers are not a real cause of the bleaching and true enough if we keep the divers away from the reefs most affected as they recover, it will help them recover faster… (Maybe, ours are doing quite well and look great!)   But why not point the finger to the real problem.

As we were told not to dive on certain sites (18 sites on the Andaman Coast of Thailand have been closed, (a very small percentage of reef area in MPA) and within weeks of these closures the Thai government holds meetings in Bangkok to allow Salamander Energies to begin a new oil drilling operation just 55km from Koh Tao’s reefs. If you happened to see the news last year about the environmental impacts of drilling in the gulf of Mexico you might want to think about the Gulf of Thailand next.   It is favourable to note that in these meetings held in Bangkok, Koh Tao’s Environmental Group “Save Koh Tao” was favourably mentioned and acknowledged for their activities.

Koh Tao is on the Western gulf side

 

So what is Ban’s Diving Resort doing?  And what is the rest of Koh Tao doing?  This year we are getting involved in projects headed up by the ‘Save Koh Tao’ Group such as monitoring our waters, implementing restoration techniques, conducting visitor surveys, continuing with turtle and whale shark databases, conducting water quality tests around the island, conducting underwater, reef and beach clean ups,  creating artificial reefs like biorock, monitoring, maintaining and installing mooring buoys, creating, monitoring and expanding giant clam nusery programs as well as coral nurseries, tree and grass planting for control erosion issues on the island.. and on and on.

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So to recap, seasoned divers in coastal areas of the world are probably the most informed people in reef management and reef conservation.  Not many divers would be diving if there was nothing to see.  Take a look and ask questions of the real reasons and concerns affecting our reefs these days and how you can help.  And in closing, keep your eyes peeled for PADI’s changes to their Project AWARE Program coming very very soon! (teaser 😉 I know).  AND IF YOU’RE ANYWHERE AROUND KOH TAO MARC H 25th-26th DON’T MISS OUR SAVE KOH TAO UNDER WATER FESTIVAL!  Will cover happenings in future blog.

other articles to check out….

http://www.projectaware.org/content/index.php?pid=79

http://projectaware.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/bans-eco-create-coral-nurseries/

PADI FORUM 2011 KOH TAO style

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

PADI rocked Koh Tao few weeks ago during their IDC Staff Instructor update and Member Forum.  Tony and Colin were on the Rock that day updating Instructors and fielding questions, mainly on the new changes to the Divemaster Program that will be manditory as of July this year.  It’s an exciting time for us here at Ban’s with one of the worlds largest Divemaster Programs with over 50 participants and already 15-20 certs for 2011.

The day started with an update lead by Colin Melrose from PADI’s Head Office for Asia Pacific.  The update looked at the the Divemaster course as well as a lot of PADI’s new Online programs including Online DM and theory classes.  This new online programming is a fantastic way for travelers to save their precious holiday time for the beach in a classroom and get alot of their theory accomplished before they even arrive.

Later that evening Tony, the Regional Manager for Asia-Pacific, opened the floor to all the members in the first members’ forum for 2011 here on Koh Tao.  Our attendance was great with a lot of Ban’s DMT’s showing.  This event may not have been as formal as forums from other places in the world but was done in true “Koh Tao Style”.  Tony had lots to give and many questions were asked.  One new event that PADI was looking at is creating a PADI PRO NIGHT! but that’s info for another day.

There Be Corals Here!

January 25, 2011 3 comments

In the face of the rising need for more environmentally friendly practices on Koh Tao Ban’s Diving Resort, formed ‘Ban’s Eco’, to keep both the island and its’ surrounding marine habit both beautiful and healthy for the future.

Koh Tao is, located in the Gulf of Thailand, is a small but busy island of only 21 square kilometers and receives 300,000-400,000 tourists annually (predominantly visiting for a scuba diving holiday or to begin their carrier as a dive professional).   Due to Koh Tao’s rising popularity not only as a tourist destination but as a location for travelers seeking to obtain their dive certification, there continues to be a great strain put on the islands’ land and marine-based natural resources.

Among Ban’s Eco’s ongoing activities and projects, we run weekly Beach Clean-Ups of Sairee Beach   (which is home to Ban’s Diving and is under heavy stress due to tourism and development), monthly Underwater Clean-Ups of the Sairees’ Coral Reef, installing mooring buoys (to prevent boats from dropping anchor on corals) and educate and spread awareness of eco-friendly diving practices amongst our divers.

Our newest endeavor towards lessening the environmental strain put on our island was to construct a Coral Nursery.  This project was undertaken with the help of Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai and Save Koh Tao, our islands Environmental Conservation Group.  This method of reef restoration has and continues to show success in projects in Egypt, the Philippines and other regions of Thailand (J.C. Delbeek   2001, Yeemin et al 2006).

Coral Reefs are complex and diverse eco-systems which provide food for marine life, storm and flood protection and livelihoods for coastal communities, such as ours, which relies almost solely on the diving industry.  They play a necessary role in maintaining the health of our worlds’ oceans which in turn maintains our health and longevity.

Our Coral Nursery was born through Ban’s Eco’s involvement in the ‘Adopt-a-Reef’ Program, run by Save Koh Tao.  This program enlists its’ members to maintain and be responsible for a specific Koh Tao reef which they themselves choose.   There are a total of seven coral nurseries surrounding the island as a result of this program, which are managed by six of Koh Tao’s 42 Dive Schools.  For more information on the ‘Adopt-a-Reef’ Program please see http://www.marineconservationkohtao.com.

Mid-water Coral Nurseries, like the one we have built, are designed to remove stresses, like moving sediment and predators, from the surrounding environment.  The end goal of these structures is to allow damaged corals the opportunity to flourish, having been relieved from these stresses, so they may be transplanted to a natural reef/permanent artificial reef in the future.  Furthermore, Coral Nurseries create a new habitat for other marine life to flourish and find a home.

In order to construct a functional Coral Nursery, we collected more than a hundred coral fragments (living pieces of coral, between 3-15 cms, which have broken off of their original larger coral colony) from the sandy areas of our natural reef just off Sairee Beach.  Once we had collected our fragments we brought them back to shore and stored them in a bucket of fresh sea water, which was kept in the shade, while we prepared to attach them to the tables.   After trimming the dead portions of our fragments away, we attached them to our nursery tables (which we had built prior to fragment collection), using small PVC tubing and natural fiber ropes.

There are three Coral Nursery types (all of which have been incorporated into Ban’s Eco Nursery); these are Rope Tables, Flat Tables, and Sloped Tables.  These different table designs provide varying environments for an array of coral species to grow.  We used poured cement weights to anchor our initial metal structure, which was bolted together, and then constructed trays for our Flat and Sloped Tables out of PVC piping and thick plastic mesh, which the fragments in their tubes were later attached to.  The trays, once the fragments had been secured, were carefully transported down to the steel structure and affixed with plastic ties.  Ideally the fragments would be secured to the tray underwater, but it can be done from a boat if necessary.  Our Nursery lies between 10-11 meters depth in a sandy patch away from mooring boats and snorkeler/diver traffic.

Given time, the fragments have already started to grow around the tubing and rope and most species which we collected have flourished and maintained a healthy color and growth rate.  We collected three different types of coral, Branching, Foliose(or leafy plate) and Massive, and so far our branching fragments are responding best to the new environment, with healthy white tips, indicating growth and a deep orange color.   We look forward to having the opportunity to transplant some of them out into the natural Sairee reef and collect new fragments to fill their places in the nursery, thus creating a never-ending cycle of marine conservation and restoration.

The Divemaster program at Bans has a goal to offer a full environmental internship program by the start of the start of the second half of 2011.  Although in it grass roots stages right now, Bans welcomes and encourage the enthusiasm of our Divemasters in Training to help create a program that will be at for front of environmental programs offered by Padi Resorts and CDC centers worldwide.

The future of Coral Nurseries of Koh Tao will play a major role in keeping the islands’ waters beautiful and healthy, and will help us spread awareness amongst the islands’ inhabitants and visitors on the need for such projects

If you would like more information on the Restoration Projects underway on Koh Tao, Thailand please see www.marineconservationkohtao.com or www.landconservationkohtao.com.     If you would like to find out more about how the Coral Nursery is doing at Ban’s please email us at thebanseco@gmail.com.   If interested in our Divemaster Program please see www.divemastersintraining.com

By:  Jessica and Dave Dinan

Photos By: Dave Dinan

Ever Wonder Where Adventure Is?

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

BAN’S DIVING RESORT Koh Tao or (Turtle Island) THAILAND.  That’s where Adventure is.  I remember coming to Koh Tao for the first time in 2006.  My wife (girl friend at the time) were traveling around the world on a year-long break from Canadian living.  The only way we even discovered Ban’s was by walking down the beach, back pack in hand, and bumped into a guy by the name of Nando (ok didn’t bump into him he hit me right in the head with a volley ball lol).  The rest is history.  But if you can say that you’ve been diving for 24 odd years, all over the planet, traveled 4 times as far on land and choose to hang your hat here for a while… it’s gotta be a pretty special place… right?!

BAN’S has been open since 1993 and has been growing and expanding ever since.  The island as a whole is almost unrecognisable from the time we first arrived here so you could just imagine the changes from the early ninties.

Currently, BAN’S Diving Resort is one of the largest certifying Resorts in the world.  Certifying over 15,000 Open Water and above students a year.  BAN’S is not just a PADI Five-Star Instructor Development Center anymore, it is now also a registered CDC CENTER (Career Development Center) and recognized as a world leader in the diving industry. We are a part of PADI’s Asia-Pacific Region (including Australia) with over 1200 dive centers.  In recent history we have been awarded PADI’s:

Member Award for OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE DIVING INDUSTRY 2010 Member Award for OUTSTANDING DIVE CENTRE/RESORT BUSINESS AWARD 2009-2010 Thailand’s Best Dive Center / Resort 2009

Asia Pacific's Outstanding Contribution to the diving industry 2010

Asia Pacific’s Outstanding Business Award 2010

 

BANS resort is now just over 140 rooms and is growing quickly!  We have a room for every budget and every style.  From fan rooms starting at just a few dollars a night to a full hill-top bungalow to meet the needs of todays travelers.

Our classrooms are structured for both large and small groups outfitted with everything you need to be comfortable while learning.  The resort has a full Dive Shop, carrying all the major Diving brands, able to help you in all your equipment needs, no matter what level of diving you are at.  We have a fleet of six boats, two swimming pools, a 24 hour convenience store, spa and hairdressing room, laundry, Internet, kayak rentals, snorkeling, yoga, island tours and of course DIVING!

Here at Bans Diving Resort our staff has the unique ability to make you feel like a part of a Dive Family from the minute you unpack.  Our job is not just to make you feel comfortable and confidant in your diving ability but in your choice to stay with us!

Looking forward to seeing you soon!