The Best Thing About Diving is a Buddy

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The Best Thing About Diving is a Buddy

Sometimes, in an uncertain world, it’s the small things that can make a real difference. Something like reaching out and making a new friend, or simply saying “thanks” to an old one. And there’s nothing quite like a shared passion for diving as the basis of a friendship. Scuba diving is a great leveler; rich or poor, young or old it’s all the same on the dive boat or underwater. Cultural differences fade as buddies team up to plan dives and divers come together to share the subsequent sea stories.

There’s always something to share because there’s a lot to love about diving: finning over fantastical coral reefs, drifting over the edges of dramatic drop offs, wondering what lies below on ancient wrecks. But perhaps the best thing of all is sharing the adventure with a buddy.

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Friendship Day

In 1935, the United States Congress dedicated the first Sunday in August (7 August 2016) as International Friendship Day. The idea grew, and many other countries picked up on it to celebrate the importance of friends, making this truly an international friendship day. It’s a day when people spend time together and celebrate their friendship.

It’s a natural for divers. This year, think about celebrating the day by introducing a friend to diving and creating a buddy for life. Getting someone to sign up for a Discover Scuba Diving experience is a great way to do this. Better yet, think about becoming a divemaster or an instructor; there’ll be no end to your new buddies and friends.

Or consider reaching out and making new friends on ScubaEarth or other social media channels and going diving together. There’s nothing quite like having a local contact to make the most of a dive trip. While you’re at it, don’t forget that the aquatic world needs friends too: the more friends you make, the more friends the oceans make. Even if your new friends don’t become divers (perish the thought) your commitment to Project AWARE and the aquatic world is infectious and important. Whatever you do, don’t miss this opportunity to focus on friends new and old.

Looking for more dive buddies to join you on your future adventures? Read the article 4 Easy Ways to Find a Dive Buddy.

8 Surprising Facts About Dolphins

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In honor of these friendly marine animals, here are some of our favorite facts about dolphins. By the end of this article you will appreciate these amazing creatures even more!

Dolphins have no sense of smell
Dolphins are well-known for their extraordinary hearing, but did you know: they have no sense of smell? Dolphins have olfactory tracts, but lack olfactory nerves.
In case you’re wondering, “if dolphins can’t smell, do they have a sense of taste?” Yes, but they can only taste salt.

Dolphins call each other names
Dolphins may be the second-most intelligent mammal after humans, judging by brain-to-body size. Dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror, and have unique names.

Dolphins don’t drink water
Dolphins, like other sea mammals, don’t drink the seawater they swim in. Instead, dolphins hydrate using water from their food. The blood and fluid of a sea creature is roughly one-third as salty as ocean water.

The US, and Russia once employed combat dolphins
The US Navy’s Marine Mammal Program began in 1960 and was declassified in 1992. The Navy studied how dolphins use sonar to detect objects underwater, and trained them to deliver equipment to divers underwater and retrieve lost objects. The U.S.S.R. conducted a similar program. According to Frontline, dolphins trained by the Soviet Navy were later used for therapy with autistic and emotionally disturbed children. Learn more about the Mammal Marine Program.

A dolphin can swim up to 29 miles / 46 kilometers per hour
The average cruising speed for a bottlenose dolphin is 3-7 miles / 5-11 kilometers per hour – roughly as fast as a human can walk or run. When necessary, they can swim up to 20 miles / 32 kilometers per hour. Orcas have been clocked swimming 29 miles / 46 kilometers per hour.

dolphinsDolphins don’t use their teeth to chew

A dolphin can have between eight and 250 teeth – used for trapping their prey, which they then swallow whole. A bottlenose dolphin has between 80 – 100 teeth, and an irresistible smile.

Killer whales are the largest dolphin
Orcas, also known as a blackfish and killer whales, are the largest member of the oceanic dolphin family. The largest orca ever recorded was 32 feet / 9.75 meters long. Read PADI Ambassadiver Birgitta Mueck’s experience diving with orcas.

Dolphins are born tail first

Unlike other mammals, dolphins are born feet, or rather tail first. The mother typically moves to shallow water and is escorted by one or two other dolphins, usually female.  Immediately following the birth, the mother helps her calf to the surface for its first breath.

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Phuket diving seasons

Diving Seasons in Phuket!

We hear many times the season for diving in Phuket is only from November to April. That’s unfortunately far from the truth. The season for Liveaboard cruises to the Similan and Surin Marine National Parks is from November to April simply because the whole Marine national Park is closed from May to October. The prevailing wind direction is such that we usually have dangerously high waves out at this offshore locations and diving there would at best be limited to a few dives sites that are sheltered.

 However, there are many times during the 6 month period the national park is closed where diving would be possible and good but since the park is closed dive boats are not allowed to visit.

 How is this affecting the dives offered in Phuket you may ask? Generally speaking we are also affected any time the weather turns and we have strong wind or high waves but we are also sheltered by the Islands of Phuket, the Raja Islands and the Phi Phi Islands when we go out to dive. The Dive sites around Phuket are much closer and we can always find shelter on the leeside of an Island. We may be subjected to rough seas on the way to the dive sites but it is the job of the Tourleader and the captain to select the best and sheltered dive site possible at the time of the trip. With weather forecasts and some changes to our schedule to avoid the most exposed dive sites diving is possible all year round in Phuket. You actually enjoy trips with less people on the boat and the sun not beating down on you so relentlessly as has been the case the last few month. Some of the better dives sites like the east cost of the Raja Islands with its hard coral reefs and swarms of Yellow Fin Barracudas are in fact only diveable in this time of the year and are not available during the winter season.

So if you find your way to Phuket in the time of May to October the diving will be good and we look forward to providing you with the best diving services available.

 See you hopefully soon in Phuket

Your Dive Asia Team

My Favorite gritter

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Recently i stumbled over a article about the Peacock Mantis Shrimp and all i can say is WOW this must be one of the strangest gritters on this world. Though mantis shrimp are relatively common, a lot about them isn’t. The colorful crustaceans have remarkable vision, unusually resilient armor, and the fastest punch on earth. When they strike, they swing out their dactyl clubs, armlike appendages normally held close to their bodies, at 80 kilometers per hour, accelerating faster than a .22-caliber bullet. Mantis shrimp use this mechanism to smash their often hard-shelled prey, and can do so as many as 50,000 times between molts without destroying their clubs.
One great place describing this great little animal is found at this link but here are a few facts:

Its lineage can be traced back five hundred million years.

It is multicolored with shades of bright green, orange, red and blue on its shell and forearms covered in spots.

There are 400 species of mantis shrimp worldwide.

A peacock mantis shrimp can punch with a speed equal to a .22 caliber bullet.

It is able to see ten times more color than human beings, including ultraviolet light.

The peacock mantis shrimp can kill prey larger than itself by using its deadly appendages. It typically feeds on gastropods, crabs and mollusks.

Mantis shrimp typically grow to lengths of two to seven inches.

This species is found in the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

This species is not threatened.

Some large fish make a meal of the mantis shrimp.

Have a great day diving, you deserve it…

HappyDivers

Your experience diving in Phuket can be very different depending on whom you go diving with. While prices are slightly different the quality of the experience can differ to a very great degree.

We have always offered dives with a duration of 1 hour and our guides work very hard to help you all to reach the maximum dive time. This can be by offering you a bigger tank or by helping with your buoyancy control or just simply slowing down under water and diving a more shallow dive profile. We do realize that most of our divers are holiday divers and are not diving all the time so we guide all divers in small groups of 5 guests per guide or less. We also offer a scuba review on our boat for those that have not been in the water for a while to get them comfortable under water again. We do not allow our guides to take cameras and sell guests the pictures after the dive. Some of the guests may not agree but we find it important the guide is concentrating on the guest and showing them what’s there to see rather than ignoring the guests and taking pictures to sell afterwards.

Recently one of our old guests came to our office to book some diving days with us. He admitted to being out with another company the day before and choose to come back to us even at the slightly higher price we have. The description of his day with the other company was: “It took nearly 2 hours from the time I was picked up (late) to the point where the boat went out. The boat was overcrowded with more than 70 people on board. The dive guide was taking pictures the whole time and did not show us anything. The allowed dive time was 45 minutes and the guide took us deep and against the current so we were out of air after 35 minutes already. Asked why the guide did not show anything the answer was you can buy the pictures for 1500 Baht. Surface interval between the dives was less than one hour so we had to rush trough lunch for the second dive. Getting dressed for the dive was a real challenge since the dive deck was very crowded. We did 3 dives and where back in the harbor at 5 PM. Dinner was not included and not necessary.”

Altogether the price was only a little cheaper but the value for money the guest got in this instance was a lot less.

Have a look at what’s really offered and decide for yourself, but in our opinion spending a little less but having a bad day because of it means you just wasted the money. The general rule in business that you get what you pay for is trough in diving as well. You cannot expect the same level of service, safety and comfort for a much lower price. That’s simply not realistic. The only way to have a much lower price is by putting a greater number of customers on the boat, using less expensive or even unqualified guides, safe on Safety equipment (yes, there are still boats out there without oxygen) and on maintenance.

You are on vacation and you want to enjoy your dive day. We know it is not cheap to dive in Phuket due to the distances and the logistic involved but still, spend a little more and have a great day rather than wasting you money on a sub standard operator. There are several good boats and operators out there all it takes is looking around a little to finds them. The first question you need to ask is:” do you own your own boat?” Most dive shops in Phuket do not own a boat and will book you on a “cattle boat” with a very low price (for them and not necessary for you) to maximize their profit acting only as a booking agent and not being responsible for the trip you take at all.

As a rule, book with the boat owner and operator directly and stay away from the lower end of the pricing spectrum. Spend a few minutes talking with them and finding out how guiding in board is regulated. Are guides allowed to take a camera or not? How long is the allowed dive time, how long are the surface intervals? What all is included in the price or rather what will I be charged extra on board if at all? There are many questions you can ask and some that you will probably not get a good and honest answer for but asking about Oxygen on board should be not be necessary but as we recently discovered is a must again.

Go diving and have a great day doing so. After all you are on vacation and deserve to have a good day.

Erika and Leo’s experience

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Dear Dive Asia Team,

I would like to thank you and your staff for making my daughter’s, Erika and my diving in Thailand a truly wonderful experience.

Erika is 12 and after doing a lot of internet research I chose Dive Asia as the facility for her initial instruction. All the positive reviews just scratch the surface in complementing the Dive Asia operation. The positive experience started with the detailed program you offered for both of us via email, it was explicit and flexible enough to adjust to our travel parameters. It allowed her to learn independently while I had the opportunity to dive with my daughter.

When we arrived in Karon Beach we stopped into the office where we were greeted by a friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff. They treated my daughter with respect and in a way that gave her added confidence for the upcoming experience. When they realized I had not dove in more than 4 years they insisted in a refresher course for me. I truly appreciated that aspect as my re-qualification was done alongside Erika which demonstrated to her the importance of keeping one’s skills current. I enjoyed the refresher and just to let you all know Erika could “ride” the cylinder and re-don her BCD faster than Dad.

You matched my daughter and I with Vicky, she worked wonders with her gentle ways and patience, while at the same time displaying an extensive knowledge in diving skills and how to transmit that knowledge to both a 12 year old and 59 year old. Vicky is to be commended for both her water skills and teaching ability.

The last 2 dives were with Simon, he gave Erika the space she needed to boost her self confidence in the water and yet was close and surveyed her movements and technique like a hawk.

The boat crew and all dive masters worked as an efficient team, I have been on a lot of dive boats and have never seen the efficiency and teamwork that was demonstrated by all aboard Dive Asia II.

We have already recommended Dive Asia to other potential customers here in Dhaka and rest assured you will see Erika and me again in the near future. Your team have awakened the underwater world to a 12 year old and rekindled the passion for diving in her father.

Thanking all of you at Dive Asia

Leo and Erika 🙂

Erica2

Recent Trips to Hin Daeng/H.Muang & Similans/Surin on Mermaid II

From Takako Uno & Stephen Wong and Courtesy of Mermaids Liveaboards

Our recent trip to Hin Daeng & Hin Muang took place on Jan 21st to 24th 2011. We did 8 dives with Mermaid’s itinerary. The visibility was nice, over 18m at the Red Rock & 12m at Purple Rock; while at the Koh Ha Chimney and Twin Cathedral, we had over fantastic 30m. Despite we didn’t run into Manta or Whale Shark, the marine life was really good.

Divemaster Andrea found a pair of Harlequin Shrimps and guests found Tiger-tailed Seahorse at the Chimney. Takako found Peacock Mantis Shrimp running around, and DM Ray found its cousin, the Giant Mantis, staring out from its lair. Schooling fish, like the Bengal Snappers, Blue-striped Snappers, Hatchet (or Bullseye) and heaps of Glassfish were posing for cameras. Soft coral and hard corals were healthy and blooming in the current. The light-purplish-colored soft coral fields at the exit of Chimney simply blew our minds. We have NOT encountered such tall soft coral (some over 1.3m tall) and large soft coral fields in Asia. The Sea Whips nestled amongst the colorful soft corals and the giant submarine arches really made Stephen’s trip, while the friendly fish and dozen species of Nudibranchs gave Takako chances to get good shots.

Staying on Mermaid II, we continued with the Similans/Surin Special from Jan 24th to 30th. Visibility at most Similans’ sites hit over 30m. Despite seeing some dying hard corals due to the recent coral bleaching on some reefs here, we encountered schooling Goatfish, Snappers, Surgeonfish, Horse-eyed Jacks, Blue-spotted Jacks, Blue-spotted Stingrays, gazillions of Glassfish (Stephen’s favorite) and lots of wonderful smaller creatures. Anita’s Reef was incredible for macro.

Divemaster Andrea found a pair of Harlequin Shrimps and guests found Tiger-tailed Seahorse at the Chimney. Takako found Peacock Mantis Shrimp running around, and DM Ray found its cousin, the Giant Mantis, staring out from its lair. Schooling fish, like the Bengal Snappers, Blue-striped Snappers, Hatchet (or Bullseye) and heaps of Glassfish were posing for cameras. Soft coral and hard corals were healthy and blooming in the current. The light-purplish-colored soft coral fields at the exit of Chimney simply blew our minds. We have NOT encountered such tall soft coral (some over 1.3m tall) and large soft coral fields in Asia. The Sea Whips nestled amongst the colorful soft corals and the giant submarine arches really made Stephen’s trip, while the friendly fish and dozen species of Nudibranchs gave Takako chances to get good shots.

Staying on Mermaid II, we continued with the Similans/Surin Special from Jan 24th to 30th. Visibility at most Similans’ sites hit over 30m. Despite seeing some dying hard corals due to the recent coral bleaching on some reefs here, we encountered schooling Goatfish, Snappers, Surgeonfish, Horse-eyed Jacks, Blue-spotted Jacks, Blue-spotted Stingrays, gazillions of Glassfish (Stephen’s favorite) and lots of wonderful smaller creatures. Anita’s Reef was incredible for macro.

www.TakakoUno.com & www.StephenWong.com

Seahorse 01tc Tiger-tailed 6756 Takako UNO

Coral 06t Soft, Sea Fan & Glassfish 3552 Stephen WONG

Crab 01t Porcelain 6256 Takako UNO

Shrimp 01tc Harlequin 5543 Takako UNO

Turtle 13t Green & Mermaid II 3516 Stephen WONG

Dive training with Dive Asia

Dive Asia offers the complete range of PADI diving courses for beginners and previously certified divers – from PADI Open Water Diver to PADI Divemaster and PADI Instructors. Dive Asia’s three PADI Course Directors and additional Master and Staff Instructors guarantee the quality of your training in our fully equipped education facility at Kata Beach. With air-conditioned classrooms and up-to-date teaching aids ,Dive Asia provides you with a comfortable and relaxed course environment – just what’s needed for stress-free and fun learning experience.

 

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Dive site closures on Thailand’s Andaman cost

Right now you can read all sorts of news about various dive site closures on Thailand’s West cost.
We would like to clarify the situation and let you know the truce to the best of our knowledge and experience.

KSA_7There was coral bleaching that hit Malaysia and Thailand in May/June 2010. Shallow water hard corals down to about 15 meters on fringing reefs have been affected (fringing reefs are reefs around islands) but the bleaching has not much affected Soft Corals and has not significantly affected  the granite boulder sites we dive at so often.

The Thai Government has decided to close some reefs and we agree with their efforts to help protecting the reefs.

They have closed 17 dive sites all along Thailand’s west coast but only 2 sites in the Similans have been closed and non of our day trip dive sites.

For more details visit the special TAT – Tourism Authority of Thailand – Website.

Divers coming back from our day trips are coming back with big smiles and great reviews, having had an excellent trip and of course, great diving. Visit our Archive with our daily dive conditions where we have been recording all kinds of sightings on a daily basis in the past.

“Green” diving practices as well as information on how to protect the fragile coral reefs provided by our experienced Dive Guides and Instructors are naturally part of any of our dive briefings.

To ensure the future of one of the most wonderful diving areas in the world we support the closure of this sites. The closures are at dive sites we would not visit for this very reason and this is not affecting the conduct of our Day Trips

or Liveaboard cruises conducted by our Partners.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries and we respectfully request you to not believe everything you read in the press. Some even announced wrongly that all of the Similan and Surin National Parks and in fact the whole Andaman sea area where closed.

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All pictures with courtesy of Nathaporn Chotmaneepithak and Khao Lak Scuba Adventure

Discover Technical Diving

Available Now!! Discover Tech!! – Every Thursday, on board our MV Dive Asia we offer you now Discover Technical Diving. Choose one, two or three dives to dive technical configuration and discuss what is involved in technical diving with one of Pro-Tech’s technical instructors. Early reservation is recommended to avoid disappointment. Contact Dive Asia or Pro-Tech for more information.

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