New Shop

 

After a quiet Low Season we are up and running again, starting with rebuilding our new shop directly on the beach. Now we also have rooms available for those divers who want to stay close and for an affordable price or come for education including accommodation. Our staff will arrive soon with fresh power and energy to meeting the divers needs….CameraZOOM-20130918100244206 009 bits and pieces Digital Camera 005 the demolition team

Beautiful day out at Ko Phi Phi

It is 7.30 in the morning, the sun is shining already and once again we are about to set out to one of Thailand’s dream destinations, the Phi Phi Islands. Or Ko Phi Phi, Ko meaning island in the Thai language.

As usual we all meet at the dive center, equipment is handed out and everybody is already thrilled and eager to get started. After a short ride on the minivan we board our comfortable speedboat Choktip, which is moored at Bang Rong pier on the north western coast of Phuket. Bang Rong makes a perfect launching pad for Phi Phi trips and with the Choktip the islands are reached in a bit over an hour. As we head out of the lagoon towards the open sea we rapidly gather speed until we have reached our approximate travel pace. As we are skidding out through the Malacca Strait we are setting up our dive equipment and chatting excitedly about the first dive site.

Ko Bida Nok will be our first stop on this day, one of the best dive sites around Phi Phi. There are different ways to dive this place, due to the conditions we decided to make drift dive along the western wall, starting south. The whole wall is beautifully covered in colorful soft corals. That alone would make for a stunning dive site, but in addition we see Yellow Fin Tunas, a Barracuda, a sea snake and lots of other reef fish.

After this first great dive we come back to the boat to relax in the sun and enjoy some pineapple and mangosteen. Mangosteen is a sweet and tangy, juicy, and somewhat fibrous fruit, typical for Southeast Asia. Soon the captain takes the Choktip to the next dive site, Losama Bay. Or more exactly, the dive site is a round rock in the entrance to the bay. This rock can be easily surrounded in one dive. Most spectacular is the outside wall of the rock which we reach after passing through a narrow canyon with lots of colorful soft corals. During the dive we find lots of different nudibranches on the wall and can observe huge schools of smaller reef fish while placidly floating past various kinds of corals around the rock, back to our starting point. And what a surprise, as we turn around the corner we even see the leopard shark which can be found here sometimes, resting in the sand. That is an amazing sight at the end of a very worthwhile dive.

Since we are already there we decide to set out our lunch at the small beach at Losama bay. There is still a second boat there, but after a short while they are gone and we have this lovely and secluded spot for us alone. We have plenty of time to enjoy the delicious Thai food and the serene bay. However, as always, time is over far too soon and we have to get back on the boat to go to the third dive site. We are concluding this day with famous Malong. Malong is famous for its numerous turtles, they can be found feeding on the shallow plateau. And we are not disappointed, we see 3 different turtles, one of them is very huge and impressive to look at. At the end of the dive we reach the big boulders at the northern end of the plateau where we spent some time diving through the natural swim throughs. Finally we come up to the safety stop and it is time to say goodbye to hundreds of small reef fish which surround us while we wait to ascent to the surface.

Much too soon it is time to start the journey back to Bang Rong and finally Nai Yang. But we can adore the beautiful scenery of Phi Phi one more time while the boat is making its way home.

Ko Phi Phi, some general information

The Phi Phi Islands are located in Thailand, between the large island of Phuket and the western Andaman Sea coast of the mainland. The islands are administratively part of Krabi province. Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants, although the beaches of the second largest island, Ko Phi Phi Lee (or “Ko Phi Phi Leh”), are visited by many people as well. The rest of the islands in the group, including Bida Nok, Bida Noi, and Bamboo Island (Ko Mai Phai), are not much more than large limestone rocks jutting out of the sea.

Phi Phi Don was initially populated by Muslim fishermen during the late 1940s, and later became a coconut plantation. The Thai population of Phi Phi Don remains more than 80% Muslim. The actual population however, if counting laborers, especially from the north-east, from the mainland is much more Buddhist these days.

The islands came to worldwide prominence when Ko Phi Phi Leh was used as a location for the 2000 British-American film The Beach. This attracted criticism, with claims that the film company had damaged the island’s environment, since the producers bulldozed beach areas and planted palm trees to make it look like the book an accusation the film’s makers contest. The film’s release was attributed to an increase in tourism to the islands. Phi Phi Leh also houses the ‘Viking Cave’, from which there is a thriving bird’s nest soup industry.

Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island’s infrastructure was destroyed. As of 2010 most, but not all, of this has been restored.

Cleanup 6 Dec 2012

Great weather we had for our Cleanup trip to Phi Phi islands. Since the recent Go-Eco Phuket’s cleanup project, our house reefs and Ko Waeo dive sites are clean and healthy; though Phi Phi see more than a hundred tour/dive boats per day, thus our decision to conduct our pre-high season cleanup at Phi Phi Ley. Go Eco Phuket: http://www.phuketgazette.net/phuket_news/2012/Go-Eco-Phuket-dives-for-biggest-reef-cleanup-in-world-18007.html

 

We made 2 dives at the Bida islands and a dive at Ma Long, though we found little garbage, which is encouraging. In between the dives, we had a nice picnic lunch at quiet Loh Samat beach. After lunch we cleanup the Beach area and instead found way more rubbish than we found in the sea.

All in all it was a nice diving day and fruitful cleanup trip :)

Upcoming Reef Cleanup

Coming Thursday we will be doing a pre-high season Reef Cleanup on our regular divesites. Guests and customers are encouraged to join our staff team for this endeavour. Clean up guidelines by Green Fins:

Underwater cleanups are a great way to help protect and conserve the marine environment for this and future generations to enjoy. There are some special considerations when cleaning up under water, especially in fragile coral reef environments such as those here in Thailand.
• As you are working closely to the reef it is important you have good buoyancy control.
• Ensure equipment is streamlined and gauges tucked in.
• Assess the situation and surrounding environment before beginning removal, work as a buddy team.
• Beware of dangerous organisms
Additional Equipment
In addition to normal dive gear, divers will need:
■ Mesh sacks.
■ Gloves for protection from rubbish and sharp objects.
■ Shears or scissors for cutting fishing line and tin cans.

DIVE PROTOCOL
Please follow these simple guidelines to avoid damage to fragile coral reefs.
■ Work slowly and carefully.
■ Dive in a head-down position to avoid making contact with the bottom.
■ Adjust buoyancy throughout the dive as the garbage gets heavier.
■ Make sure equipment is secured and the mesh sack is held so that nothing can trail or snag on corals.
■ One diver should collect garbage with gloves on while another holds the mesh sack.
■ Place glass, needles and hooks inside other garbage for safety.
■ Never try to remove anything that cannot be easily lifted such as tires or car batteries.

WHAT TO REMOVE—AND WHAT TO LEAVE
It is important to remove waste or fishing gear that is causing a detrimental effect on the coral reefs and marine organisms.
However, Do not remove articles that have already been incorporated into the reef and are helping to support life.

CLEANUP TARGETS
■ Plastics, especially plastic bags.
■ Cloth items or rice sacks.
■ Fishing line, netting, and broken lobster pots or fish traps.
■ Batteries, bottles without marine growth, and tin cans.
■ Cigarette butts and bottle caps.
Check it before you bag it
■ Make sure nothing is living in or on each item before removal.
■ Do not remove bottles that are covered in growth.
■ Cut open tin cans to make sure there is nothing inside.
■ Hold cups or cans close to sandy parts of the sea bed and shake out sand or silt.
What to leave
■ Anything which is “stuck” or encrusted with growth.
■ Anything, no matter how ugly, which has become overgrown with marine life.
■ Anything that may be dangerous.
■ Heavy items—never use your buoyancy control device to lift heavy objects.
■ Metal drums and containers which might contain hazardous materials.
Removing Fishing Line
■ Never try to pull fishing line free. Cut and remove it in sections to avoid damaging organisms growing around it.
■ Use scissors or shears rather than a knife.
■ Wind the line around an object or hand to control it.

We will adhere to these guidelines and makes for clean divesites, healthy reefs!

Scribbled filefish

For much of the world, the underwater realm was a great mystery until the advent of SCUBA diving. Finally, the oceans were no longer a place of unknown danger or a source of mythological wonders. The early Hawaiians didn’t wait for Jacques Cousteau to introduce them to the life undersea, they had a deep and intimate connection with the waters surrounding these islands since the moment they landed on their shores. The Hawaiian people were dependent on the ocean and the life it sustained not only for subsistence, but for transportation, tools, and an essential element of their culture. They relied on the ocean for their physical and spiritual health, and were careful not to abuse or waste any part of it.

Filefish are just one example of a marine animal that was used for more than just food. Dried filefish were burned for oil, and the fish’s rough skin, where its common name comes from, could be used as an abrasive. Filefish had an important role in the Hawaiian culture as well. Periodically, great numbers of filefish would appear and sometimes would wash ashore. The early Hawaiians believed this phenomenon prophesied the death of a member of the royalty. Oddly enough, millions washed ashore on the southern beaches of Oahu during World War 2, for reasons still unknown.

The scrawled filefish, one of seven filefish found in Thai waters, has brown and blue spots and markings all over its olive-colored body. The scrawled filefish is also called the scribbled, broom-tail, or longtail filefish, the latter two referring to the tail that is almost 1/3 of the length of its body and looks like a broom. The variety of common names used to refer to this one fish may be due to the fact that this species is found all over the world in warm, tropical waters.

In Hawaiian file fish were called ‘o’ili, which means “make a sudden appearance”. At this point, it is still unclear whether this refers to the fact that, at certain times, file fish were very rare along the reef and sometimes they would appear in great numbers, or from the long dorsal spine that pops straight up over the fish’s eyes, on the top of its head. The scrawled file fish is known as loulu in the Hawaiian language, referring to an endemic fan palm that has a similar color. File fish are closely related to trigger fish, and have similar dorsal spines, although there are conflicting reports over whether the file fish’s spine can be locked in place, as the trigger fish’s can. The spine of the file fish is longer than that of the trigger fish, and their bodies are narrower.

Scrawled file fish are among some of the larger reef fish, growing up to 3 feet long, and are rather slow swimmers. Luckily, they can use their amazing camouflage to escape predation by rapidly darkening their skin to blend in with various backgrounds. They are very alert to danger, and often are found hiding in the reef. File fish are primarily vegetarians, but eat a wide variety of food. They are some of the few fish that can safely ingest stinging corals, sea jellies and anemones, and can be seen searching for food by hovering head-down over the sand. Unlike many reef fish, scrawled file fish can also be seen schooling in the open ocean, away from the safety of the reef. They swim in an interesting fashion, by undulating their soft dorsal (top) and anal (bottom) fins, and can move both backwards and forwards with ease.

The early Hawaiians had an intimate knowledge of the land and sea, and not only knew how to use what they had available to them, but knew how to preserve it with an extensive kapu (taboo) system. Hawaiians were excellent conversationalists, taking care to replenish forests after taking plants, not fishing during times of spawning, and taking other precautions to ensure a sustainable future on their islands. Although Hawaiian residents can now purchase food and other products from the rest of the world, wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to?

Beautiful squirrels that we find right at our office.

For the past 2 yrs i see a family of about 6-7 of these little fellas in the trees at our office, watching them fly from tree to tree captures the attention of the guests too.

We have all either heard of or seen Sciurus caroliniensis – but you will likely know this little animal better as a grey squirrel, or a gray squirrel.  It simply depends on whether or not you like British spelling!  However you spell it, the facts and fundamentals of the animal remain the same.  The average length of the grey squirrel runs at approximately eighteen inches – and half of that is the tail, which typically runs about nine inches.  An adult grey squirrel will generally weigh between one and one and a half pounds.  As the name implies, these squirrels look grey, although up close you can see that their fur is actually rather salt and pepper, which of course mixes to look grey.  A lot of them have wiry tan hairs dotted throughout their fur and their bellies are white.   

By and large, the grey squirrel has a rather academic bent, as you can frequently see them on college campuses!  Their actual habitat, though, is very varied.  They live in urban areas and in woodland areas.  They have a penchant for oak trees, beech trees, and other trees which produce nuts.  Naturally, nuts are a large part of their diet, along with berries and seeds.  Grey squirrels sometimes dine on bird eggs as well, not to mention birds themselves when they are nestling, and on insects,   In the spring time especially, they are sometimes fond of various kinds of vegetation.  It is safe to say that grey squirrels enjoy a very well balanced diet. 

Unlike a lot of other squirrels, the grey squirrel does not hibernate during the winter months.  They are also very active in the day time and enjoy scurrying about and foraging for food.  On that note, they tend to be very shy little creatures.  However, when they are fed, their inherent feelings of bashfulness tend to disappear. 

There are a lot of wild mammals in the world.  Of all of them, squirrels are probably the most plentiful.  In Canada, the United States, England, Ireland, and who knows how many other places, squirrels are as much a part of the population as people.  We are especially familiar with them because, as mentioned above, they are very active during the day.  They differ from a lot of other squirrels in many ways, aside of the fact that they do not hibernate. 

For instance, most other squirrels are almost solely vegetarians.  However, as mentioned, grey squirrels do eat birds and their eggs on occasions, and they certainly enjoy insects.  They are also larger than most squirrels, since many of their brethren tend to be about fifteen inches in length with seven and a half inch tails. 

Grey squirrels do not typically take advantage of being larger, however.  In spite of the fact that they have been known to steal eggs, they are inherently friendly and curious little creatures.  Their shyness extends to other members of the animal kingdom, unless they are feeling threatened in some way.

 

 

Sea horse

Photo: yellow seahorse anchored to coral

Seahorses are truly unique, and not just because of their unusual equine shape. Unlike most other fish, they are monogamous and mate for life. Rarer still, they are among the only animal species on Earth in which the male bears the unborn young.

Found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world, these upright-swimming relatives of the pipefish can range in size from 0.6 inches (1.5 centimeters) to 14 inches (35 centimeters) long.

Male seahorses are equipped with a brood pouch on their ventral, or front-facing, side. When mating, the female deposits her eggs into his pouch, and the male fertilizes them internally. He carries the eggs in his pouch until they hatch, then releases fully formed, miniature seahorses into the water.

Because of their body shape, seahorses are rather inept swimmers and can easily die of exhaustion when caught in storm-roiled seas. They propel themselves by using a small fin on their back that flutters up to 35 times per second. Even smaller pectoral fins located near the back of the head are used for steering.

They anchor themselves with their prehensile tails to sea grasses and corals, using their elongated snouts to suck in plankton and small crustaceans that drift by. Voracious eaters, they graze continually and can consume 3,000 or more brine shrimp per day.

Population data for most of the world’s 35 seahorse species is sparse. However, worldwide coastal habitat depletion, pollution, and rampant harvesting, mainly for use in Asian traditional medicine, have made several species vulnerable to extinction.

Hawksbill turtle

Photo: Hawksbill sea turtle

Hawksbill turtles are found throughout the tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They avoid deep waters, preferring coastlines where sponges are abundant and sandy nesting sites are within reach.

Not particularly large compared with other sea turtles, hawksbills grow up to about 45 inches (114 centimeters) in shell length and 150 pounds (68 kilograms) in weight. While young, their carapace, or upper shell, is heart-shaped, and as they mature it elongates. Their strikingly colored carapace is serrated and has overlapping scutes, or thick bony plates. Their tapered heads end in a sharp point resembling a bird’s beak, hence their name. A further distinctive feature is a pair of claws adorning each flipper. Male hawksbills have longer claws, thicker tails, and somewhat brighter coloring than females.

They are normally found near reefs rich in the sponges they like to feed on. Hawksbills are omnivorous and will also eat mollusks, marine algae, crustaceans, sea urchins, fish, and jellyfish. Their hard shells protect them from many predators, but they still fall prey to large fish, sharks, crocodiles, octopuses, and humans.

Like other sea turtles, hawksbills make incredible migrations in order to move from feeding sites to nesting grounds, normally on tropical beaches. Mating occurs every two to three years and normally takes place in shallow waters close to the shore. The nesting procedure begins when the turtles leave the sea to choose an area to lay their eggs. A pit is dug in the sand, filled with eggs, and then covered. At this stage the turtles retreat to the sea, leaving the eggs, which will hatch in about 60 days. The most dangerous time of their lives comes when hatchlings make the journey from their nests to the sea. Crabs and flocks of gulls voraciously prey on the young turtles during this short scamper.

Like many sea turtles, hawksbills are a critically endangered species due mostly to human impact. Hawksbill eggs are still eaten around the world despite the turtle’s international protected status, and they are often killed for their flesh and their stunning shells. These graceful sea turtles are also threatened by accidental capture in fishing nets.