My girlfriend and i came to this little slice of paradise to do our advanced open water back in 2012 as koh tao came highly recommended by a friend. As we walked along the beautiful beach of chalok bay we went into a few different dive shops but we couldn't go past the friendly atmosphere of sunshine divers. By the time we had finished our advanced open water course we felt we were treated like family everyone here at sunshine. We knew that we just had to come back the next year and do our rescue and stay a bit longer. When we arrived at sunshine the next year we were greeted by all the staff and welcomed back into the sunshine family with open arms. I am currently doing my divemaster at sunshine divers it has been such a journey already i have made friends for life along the way and have had the best guidance thanks to the experienced instructors. I am looking forward to doing my idc because i am confident the staff here will make me into the best dive professional i can be!
The trigger fish on Koh Tao come in two breeds, the slightly more passive yellow margin and the ‘angrier’ titan.
But why are they angry? Like most species, they are protecting their territory. Acting in a similar way to the damsel fish, they chase away what they perceive to be a threat to their zone, which is a cone shape above it, along with the odd bite if they are really angry. During mating season, they get angrier than normal. Moody sods! Some of them, however, are simply attacking because they are morons!
lf anyone/thing becomes an annoyance, it will flick up it’s hidden trigger fin locked down in its spine. That’s your first warning. If you get a second warning, it may tilt on its side to get a better look at the problem. Most times, it will swim away but, if not, it will swim at speed to try and chase the threat away. As a diver, it will actually bite your fins if they are a bright colour as that is what they think the threat is, another fish-like looking thing. It’s the one piece of equipment where choosing a colour is actually important!
They mainly feed on coral, using their powerful jaws and teeth to break it apart, they stir up the sand which draws in smaller fish looking to feast on whatever it unearths. Often, they can be seen swimming off with a huge piece of coral in their mouths. The theives of the ocean!
But let’s not be afraid of them. The clue is in the name, it’s a FISH! A fish that looks awesome and can kick arse.
Last week Instructor Chris, DMT’s Chloe and Abby along with AOW Diver Sam went back to the classroom to learn an Alternative Form of diving, PADI Recreational Sidemount.
So what is Sidemount Diving? Sidemount diving as the name suggests is where the scuba cylinders are mounted along the side of the divers body between the underneath of the shoulders and along the hips. The benefits of this for not only technical divers but also recreational is that it increases the flexibility, accessibility, streamlining, safety and comfort.
For all of us, coming from a recreational background the first session brought along one of the biggest challenges – equipment configuration. Moving from using one tank to two brings with it equipment considerations beyond just where the tanks are to be mounted. By the end of the first day of theory and confined pool sessions all of us had a perfect sidemount set up and were ready to hit the ocean the following day.
During the 3 training dives in the ocean we practised the skills which had been conducted in the confined Pool session. These included, Gas Management (switching between the two tanks), out of air and free flow. We were all tested on these skills throughout the three dives and were all more the comfortable by the end of the course
It’s all in the name; the cleaner wrasse has one job and one job only, to clean. All species of fish need to be cleaned, or, to be more precise, for someone to remove its dead skin cells and parasites that attach themselves to the fish as they sleep at night, hidden amongst the rocks and coral.
This is where the cleaner wrasse comes in. Its job is to remove all this grime by eating it off. Basically, it works for food and gains diplomatic immunity from all species, even the predators.
Fish of all sizes will arrive at a cleaning station which is actually advertied by the wrasse doing an inviting dance. Once the fish has chosen its station, the team of wrasse get to work. Usually led by a male with a team of female workers, he manages his employees, even admonishing them if they get a bit greedy and bite their customers followed by apologising to his client by giving them a fin massage. Fish can watch the cleaners in action and, if they don’t like the look of it, they move on to another station just down the coral.
However, if you are a diver they are very annoying if you have some open wounds or scabs as they will see that as something that need a good cleaning and, before you know it, MUNCH! They have gobbled up your scab.
Sunshine DMT’s Chloe and Abby organised a clean up dive at Hin Wong Bay today where them and ten other participants helped to collect between 30 and 40kg’s of rubbish, which included; 109 plastic bottles, 83 plastic bags, 36 plastic lids, 19 flip flops and other general waste. We will be going back there in the next couple of weeks to conduct further clean up dives as there is still more trash to be collected.
The sweetlips is a fast grower. In its juvenile stages, it is about 2.5cm in length but then will quickly grow to about 60cm. Along with this vast change in size, it also changes its entire colour scheme. It starts as a reddish/brown base with black-ringed white spots which then change to brown spots, which increase in number depending on age, over a white base
However, its most distinguishing feature is its swimming style while still a juvenile. Best described as a drunk partygoer wearing clothes that are much too big, it ‘flaps’ about using its dorsal fins with an undulated body. This style is meant to mimic flatworms which are noxious and unpalatable to predators. Another unique talent of some members of this species is its ability to ‘grunt’ by grinding its teeth, the sound is them amplified by its swimbladder.
Arguably the cutest fish in the ocean in its juvenile form, other fish watch and wish they could party as hard!
Massive congratulations to the new Open Water Divers Shobhit and Mary!!
Great dives at some great Dive Sites where we saw Great Barracuda, a Banded Sea Snake and Titan Triggerfish to name a few.
The best part about this course though was the amazing transformation I witnessed in both of the guys from day one in the swimming pool confined session all the way to the final dive down to 18m. This is where they became Certified Open Water Divers!! Hope to see you guys again soon to continue your underwater journey.
The yellow boxfish is quite a hard one to spot despite its unique shape and bright colour. This is because of their size being about the same as a pea at its smallest. Certain types can, however, grow as big as a football.
Like most other brightly coloured animals, its colour scheme is meant to warn off other animals as this little critter is highly poisonous and can release toxic proteins from its skin if threatened. This protein is so poisonous that it has the potential to kill all animals around it and wipe out an entire aquarium should it find itself unlucky enough to be in one. So don’t buy them!
Its habitat is always amongst rocks and coral and its diet mainly consists of algae, worms and small fish. They also enjoy shrimp and crab too!
Odd fact; Mercedes-Benz designed a concept car based on the boxfish due to its aerodynamic design and skeletal strength.
These teeny-tiny little critters are, in a nutshell, the foundation of the food chain for the ocean world. Without them, there would not be much to see in the ocean even though you can’t see them yourself.
They are more than just food though, they also are huge carbon dioxide absorbers accounting for about a third of all produced by us dirty humans. Pretty impressive. They live in the upper layers of the ocean where they produce organic compounds via photosynthesis. They actually account for half of all photosynthesis done on the planet. Even more impressive!
Their name comes from the Greek words meaning python (plant) and planktos (drifter/wanderer). Depending on which particular strand of phytoplankton is present, it changes the colour of the water. Here in Koh tao we get a green tint. If there is enough of them, you can even see them from space! Super impresive!!
Go Team GB!!! What an amazing week I had instructing these guys, Brothers Ronan and Mike along with DMT Chloe’s friend Sam.
Congratulations to all three of you on completion of your Padi Open Water and Advanced Open Water Courses! The week was enjoyable and full of laughs.
Koh Tao offers a fantastic range of dive sites to suit all abilities and courses. From shallow sandy dive sites for beginners (Padi Open Water Divers) all the way to deep Pinnacle sites for those with a little more experience.
Cant wait to have you back at sunshine to continue your underwater journey…here’s some of the highlights of the week.