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Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

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

Songkran Festival Koh Tao 2011

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Songkran festival is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day from 13 to 15 April. Songkran has traditionally been celebrated as the New Year for many centuries, and is believed to have been adapted from an Indian festival. It is now observed nationwide, even in the far south. However, the most famous Songkran celebrations are still in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where it continues for six days and even longer. It has also become a party for foreigners and an additional reason for many to visit Thailand for immersion in another culture. Here on Koh Tao there’s no exception as the streets and beaches erupt in an all-day water fight. The festival only lasts one day here on the island but what a day! (Usually taking 2 more days just to recover)

Here at Bans we had one of the best parties on the island as we were visited by many other dive resorts during the day. The biggest group of visitors came from up the beach from Big Blue Diving Resort. A great day had by all. So next year if you don’t mind getting a little wet come for a visit!

Of all the feasts and festivals in Thailand, which are many, the Songkran Festival is the most striking, for it is widely observed not only in this country but also in Burma, Cambodia and the Lao State. Songkran is a Sanskrit word in Thai form which means the entry of the sun into any sign of the Zodiac.

The Songkran is in fact the celebration of the beginning of spring when the sun crosses the equator is now on the 21st of March which is due to the precession of the equinox. The Songkran Festival is in a certain sense like April fool’s Day just wetter.

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


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.

DMT’s Back-to-School

March 14, 2011 1 comment

During our last Divemaster Meeting at Ban’s we had a request from a local school on the main land to come over and introduce ourselves to the kids!  They wanted us to come over and show the children what it is we do and what we learn as a scuba diver.  The request was given to us just before the start of our meeting.  By the meetings’ end we had a handful of volunteer Divemasters-in-Training and off they went that evening on the night boat to Chumphon a small city 4-5 hours away by night boat.  Once they arrived they were greeted by the schools’ staff and given an area to set up.  By the end of the day Ban’s Divemasters were the number one story at the school, getting over 12 classes in in just one afternoon.  The children were able to ask all the questions they wished and with the help of some awesome interpreters some of the kids even had the opportunity to try on some of our gear.  The day was such a success we were immediately invited to come back and do it all again.  Just wanted to give a shout out to all that helped in the planning, transportation and overall involvement in this event.  We put it together in less than a few hours and it went off better than if we were to plan it for days!  Thanks again!!

Here are a few pics of what took place….

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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