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The Nemo Circle at Twins

I would be exagerating if I were to say that a debate is currently raging about a circle of stones on one of Koh Tao's dive sites. But the question has been asked as to why it is there. To summarise, dive site Twins, to the West of the Island of Nang yuan is a fantastic place to see all manner of marine life. Just off the main pinnacle to the South is what we call the "nemo circle". There used to be a big patch of anenome on the seabed at this location, and some divers decided to make a circle out of rocks to protect them, and therefore the anenome fish that live in them. The trouble is, if you go there now, there is only one small patch of anenome, with two anenome fish residing in it. So the question is, have the stones had the opposite effect than they originally intended?
Informal diver etiquette states that instructors and divemasters leading customers should not go inside the circle, yet at any point on any other dive site, they are able to get up close to anenome on the rocks. So why is this particular place different? Customers should have been told repeatedly not to touch marine life, and the divemaster or instructor should gauge how good their buoyancy and control in the water is, before showing them any marine life up close.
The nemo circle has some new residents- shrimp, which will not be visible unless you manage to get in close. Let us know what you think should be done about it, before it ends up in the Daily Mail.

Beach & Underwater clean up.

It never ceases to amaze us here at Big Blue that, whenever we organise a beach and underwater clean up, we get a fantastic response for volunteers in the form of our customers. Last month was no exception. 39 people decided to get involved in last months clean up in the morning to keep Sairee beach devoid of rubbish. Then in the afternoon the same people turned up to go for a clean up dive at Sairee reef. Rubbish can come in many forms; many of the dive boats moor up on Sairee reef, and people accidentally drop tea bags, mouthpieces from regulators, masks, weights and weightbelts, and god knows what else. When the weather is bad the fishing boats take shelter from the worst of it by mooring up at Sairee reef, and they discard all manner of items, which sadly includes plenty of beer bottles. They are a tough one, as although you may be doing a good deed by picking it up to dispose of it properly, you may also inadvertently make a tiny family of anenome fish homeless if it's been laying on the sea bed long enough to become an artificial reef. So sometimes it may actually be better to leave it as it is. Other items you might find on an underwater clean up include wire frames that are used to make the giantlanterns that people set off from the beach. What they don't realise is that turtles get stuck in them, rendering them unable to swim to the surface to get air.
If someone drops something in the Gulf of Thailand, it can end up on Sairee beach. Even if someone dropped a crisp packet on the mainland in Suratthani, we may end up having to pick it up off the beach. It's a never ending job, which is why we organise these clean ups so regularly, but it is effective, and the beach is looking lovely again!
So once again, thanks to everyone that made the effort. The day ended in the bar with a well deserved beer. If you want to get involved in our next clean up, send us an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or pop in to the office.

Our Monsoon Sites & their Residents.

We're coming into monsoon season about now so our choice of divesites gets restricted due to the wind & waves but you will be pleased to know that there are still plenty of great underwater encounters to be had during monsoon season. Our house reef of Sairee is home to many Saddleback Clownfish, and the dive is like an underwater dot to dot to find the anemones they call home. The 'Nemos' here are much bigger than the ones we regularly see at Twins or Green Rock. Along with a wide variety of nudibranch and colourful reef fish is has everything a shallow site needs. A staff favourite during monsoon is White Rock, this large spread out site is home to many blue spotted stingrays as well as a Jenkins Ray cleaning station just off the main site. We have seen Whalesharks and turtles there, huge Barracudas feeding at night and stalking their prey during the day. These sites are perfect for Open Water courses. Then we head slightly further away to Twins, sheltered by the island of Nang Yuan this dive site offers all sorts of great stuff with schools of travelly, snapper and barracudas of all sizes. There are three seperated rock outcrops here at Twins but the 2 shallower ones are pretty much mirror images of themselves hence the nickname Twins, and the deeper cluster of rocks is where we go to do our Deep dives of the Advanced Course. As well as the big fish out here keep an eye out for octopus, and file fish and rumour has it that a few years ago there was a frogfish here but to be honest there are no photos & if there's no visual prrof... then it didn't happen!

Plastic Bags banned at 7/11 Nationwide

Anyone who’s spent time in Thailand will be familiar or perhaps even have an intimate relationship with everyone’s favourite convenience store, the all-conquering 7/11. Having supplies of the ubiquitous cheese and ham toasties 24 hours a day, every single day of the year is certainly not to be sniffed at by most Thailand backpackers, who seem to be fueled almost entirely on a concoction of Pringles, cheese toasties and buckets of cheap booze– thankfully Thailand isn’t a country famous for its cuisine or they may all be missing out on something…
But, last year, in an extraordinary move that surprised the whole of Koh Tao, and after decades of asking politely, demanding, begging, pleading and groveling, that the powers that be at 7/11 finally took our advice and stopped giving out plastic bags. They used to have a habit of giving out a plastic bag with absolutely everything. Packet of cigarettes? Plastic bag. Can of Coca-Cola? Plastic bag and straw. A couple of bottles of Singha to drink immediately? Triple-bloody-bagged, with a handful of straws lurking in them. Multiply this by the 10,000 or so 7/11 stores just in Thailand, and you can see where the root of the problem lay.
So Koh Tao was the first place in Thailand to stop the distribution of 7/11 pastic bags and now
Of7/11 have agreed to do the same at all their stores nationwide!
This is a huge win for our environmental movement on Koh Tao so well done to all involved especially us at Big Blue Conservation who were a huge driving force behind the initial push on Koh Tao.
And well done to 7/11, but we all as consumers must learn to refuse the bags and straws we’re offered. We all no doubt know by now that plastics are a huge worldwide problem and the oceans especially are in particular trouble of succumbing to the invasion of plastics dumped in it by us ungrateful humans, but by cutting out our supplier it’ll certainly help a huge amount.
Right. Now it’s time to see if we can’t get the big supermarkets like Tesco, Big C & Tops to do the same nationwide. First stop Phuket!

Divemasters in Training Eco Day

Rachel our very own conservation queen is organising an Eco Day for guests and DMTs over the next week. This will involve a dive on our coral nursery where you will learn how to clean, maintain and replant coral which will attract new marine life. With reefs around the world being threatened, many scientists feel that much of the world’s reefs could be lost in the next 100 years. The destruction of reefs are due to humans primarily with trawling, dynamite fishing and chemical waste as well as divers and snorkelers who damage the reef and who thing it’s perfectly ok to stand on and break at their convenience. The only thing snorkelers and divers shown touch in the water is each other and they should only leave behind their own bubbles nothing else. A number of organisations including Save Koh Tao and other dive operators on Koh Tao have begun constructing small coral nurseries to test the feasibility and success of different methods. So far 3 different types of structures have been test-built and all have been successful. Come in and ask to speak to Rachel if you want to come and join us or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Parrotfish are Important!

This morning I went to the market to check out the seafood for sale. I enjoyed my usual chit chat with the vendors when on my way out of the fish section I passed a stall that was selling PARROT FISH!!!😡😡😡
I literally stopped and said "that's not good and that's not right" while taking pictures .i feel sorry for the parrot fishies! Yes fish can eat but for us divers this is a big No No!!! There are important reasons why we should not eat them and we should educate the fishermen to stop catching these beautiful fish! Please do spare them ... the ocean needs them to regenerate. Read under to be educated. They lots of fish can catch in the sea. They can sell and cook the other fish.

Here is why: Parrotfish eat algae and dead coral*. They spend up to 90% of their day nibbling. In other words, they clean the reef. This is important because most of the reefs across the tropics are being smothered by algae because there are not enough parrotfish and other herbivores out there grazing.

After all that eating, get this: They poop fine white sand – lots of it! Each parrotfish produces up to 320 kilograms (700 pounds) of sand each year.

Their numbers are so depleted, and algae levels are so high, that they cannot be fished sustainably right now anywhere in the Caribbean. These flamboyant, algae-eating, sand-pooping fish need to be left in the water. And when they are left to chomp away, they do a brilliant job. A massive new report concludes that reefs where parrotfish were abundant in the 1980s are the reefs that are healthy now.

there is a reason for their existence so please let's not eat them ... To our Govt. Please educate our fishermen and our tourists... Say no to catching parrot fish! Let's not buy parrot fish so they wont be caught and sold anymore.

Manta Ray seen at Koh Tao.

One of the most breathtaking creatures on the planet to dive with, the manta ray is real bucket-list item for divers all around the world. Once commonly seen here on Koh Tao, there hadn’t been a confirmed sighting of a manta for a very long time but over the last 10 years or so they do seem to be getting witnessed a lot more especially over the last couple of years or so. And yesterday we were very lucky to encounter one at Southwest Pinnacle.

With the diving community absolutely ecstatic over the magnificent manta that paid us a visit, there’s never been a better time to look more closely at these creatures, and investigate what may have brought it here.

So what do we know about the manta ray?

There are 2 species of manta rays: the reef manta (Manta alfredi) and the giant manta ray (Manta birostris). Both are classified as “vulnerable” in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, unfortunately. They have the largest brains of all fish apparently, which doesn’t explain why it’s been so long since they came to Koh Tao the ignorant shits.

Fish you say? That’s right, just like Nemo and Dory manta rays are in fact fish, just funny-looking ones. They are actually related to sharks, but are considered gentle creatures which do not represent a significant threat to humans, plus they lack the venomous tail spikes that many of their relatives have.

The largest species is the giant manta ray, whose central disc can measure up to 9 meters wide! Despite their massive size mantas eat only tiny little plankton, which they filter through their gills with something called ‘gill rakers’ – widely sought-after in Chinese medicine due to the ridiculous belief that it can heal anything from colds to cancer. Yeah right China, keep your filthy mitts off them!

So what brought them to us again?

Manta rays are distributed in tropical, subtropical and temperate oceans worldwide. They’re not fans of cold water at all, and with water temperatures on Koh Tao averaging around 30 degrees all year round the conditions are perfect for them to come and say hello!

As plankton eaters, it’s actually quite surprising that we haven’t been seeing them a lot more than one every million years or whatever it is – after all the ocean around Koh Tao is often full of plankton, which is the main reason why we have so many whalesharks visiting our waters all year round.

Could the recent anoxia event (complete lack of oxygen) we’ve been seeing at depth have something to do with it? It’s certainly possible, but I believe the most likely conclusion is that we’ve had an extra-long influx of planktonic matter this year, likely coming from the depths of the South China Sea – when the food comes, the hungry follow. This would also explain the numbers of whalesharks we’ve been seeing, and also the amount of salps and comb jellies we’ve been finding on every dive site and shoreline.

I’d love to be able to say these magnificent mantas are back for good, but only time will tell. Watch this space, and if you’re not already a certified diver then hurry and do something about it soon! Contact Big Blue Diving to see how you can get certified.

Raising 3000USD for Sharks

The decline of apex predators worldwide is a great concern, and the rapid loss of shark species is worrying. Sharks play a huge part in their respective ecosystems, feeding on diseased or injured marine life,  they control the population of other organisms within that habitat. A loss of the an apex predator like a shark could result in a disruption of the ecological balance, and end up with the complete loss of an ecosystem.

By losing sharks other marine life will try to take the mantle of apex predator, however that could result in an in-balance as they devour smaller organisms, that control plankton populations. This could then result in the over consumption of phytoplankton and other primary producers, resulting in the collapse of that food web.

The oceans are one of the main sources of the worlds protein, fish stocks being important to so many, and the phytoplankton and other plant based organisms producing the majority of the worlds oxygen.  Without the oceans life on Earth would struggle greatly, and ultimately most species would cease to exist.

So why swim for sharks?  Well unfortunately most shark species are on the decline, due to over fishing for other marine life, or the horrific practises from the shark fin industry. Where sharks are caught, had their fins removed and then thrown back in to the water to die slowly from drowning. 

Roughly 73 million sharks are killed by finning each year, resulting in many shark species now threatened or endangered under the IUCN Red list.

So every year we run a charity event known as swim 4 sharks where we do everything shark themed. We organise a charity swimming event (Swim for Sharks), we have quizzes, presentations, raffles, head shaving, and even some fun games for the kids. All to raise money for shark conservation and create more awareness for the blight of sharks worldwide.

This year was no exception, partnering up with our local charity Shark Guardian and also other neighbouring dive schools and businesses. We had once again a huge success raising just over 3,000 USD from the events we organised.

We say a huge thank you to everyone involved in the event for making it safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone involved.

So if your interested in learning more about sharks or even participating in next years event, how about like us on Facebook and Instagram to see our latest projects or course.

Big Blue Diving Koh Tao

At Big Blue Diving Koh Tao we are focused on conserving the astonishing abundance of life Koh Tao's reefs have to offer, as well as contributing to global research studying the impact of climate change on this beautiful environment. There is hope for the oceans but we must act now.  The hope lies in the dedication of people like us at Big Blue to make a difference and give something back to the world we know and love. Are you one of us? We want you to be.

Big Blue is a unique dive school in that we contribute to worldwide coral reef research. We have had the privileged to assist internationally renowned marine scientists and assist Masters Students conducting field research with us, such as diver-related damage, the impact of discarded nets on our reefs, and the recovery of corals from mass bleaching events. We are the first dive school on Koh Tao to have a team dedicated to this scientific research, which is essential to formulating the policies and guidelines required to protect our reefs for future generations to enjoy.
We strongly believe that communication and sharing of information is the key to the worldwide conservation of our reefs. If you would like know more about how to make your resort more ecologically-friendly, or more about how to implement marine conservation projects such as a coral nursery construction and reef health monitoring projects, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
     
Finally, although the island remoteness is one of Koh Tao’s many charms, it does hinder some of our conservation efforts. We aim to be as eco-friendly as possible, but our best of intentions cannot always overcome the reality of some situations. To achieve the best results, we work closely with local communities and are regularly adapting our policies to shifts in local rules, laws and culture, in order try to have a positive effect on our local ecosystem. We are always open to suggestions, so if you have any suggestions to improving our policy, please feel free to contact us – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Save the world. Think Globally. Act Locally.

The Titan Triggerfish

If your diving Koh Tao especially at White Rock Green Rock or Hin Wong Pinnacle you may want to keep an eye out for this feisty little beast. The Titan triggerfish, has a fearsome reputation as it packs a mean bite and is more often the reason behind divers and snorkelers sporting teeth marks in their fins, skin, missing ears and the cause of many bruises. While only known to be aggressive and territorial during the reproduction season and when guarding it’s nest, the titan trigger fish often increases a divers anxiety levels around it and mostly, it is well deserved. Almost anyone who has done a fair amount of scuba diving on Koh Tao will have had a run in or two with this species of triggerfish at some point or another.

But fear not. As with all marine life encounters with Triggers are easy to avoid. You see it’s when they are nesting that the Titan trigger get very territorial and will rigorously protect these nests and it does seem that the Triggerfish is more aggressive at some divesites like Green Rock or White rock especially than they are at Chumphon Pinnacle or Japanese Gardens. A prominent sign of trouble to come is when the fish rolls onto its side and with their independently rotating beady eyes, gives you the old evil eye just before they charge at you. Most often you will see its black trigger fin raise in warning of the attack, before it charges and it has the teeth to back it up!

One useful thing to remember is that a triggerfish sees it’s territory (a.k.a the ‘Danger Zone’ you want to avoid being in), starting in a small area around its nest and rising to the surface in the shape of a cone. At Green Rock they're nest is in the sand adjacent to or within coral. When a titan triggerfish attacks, it will charge at you continuously until you swim out of its territory.

Your best plan of action if you see one is to stay behind your Dive guide who will spray air from their octopus & swim away horizontally as the zone they’re protecting is an upward cone. Most divers make the mistake of swimming upwards to escape the wrath of the crazy fish that’s trying to chew their fins off, but to the triggerfish it appears that you are getting further from leaving their turf, and it will re-double it’s efforts to persuade you. Keep your eyes on the fish at all times as hard as it may be, as they are fast. They have also been observed to go for bright colors so if they come close try and get your dive fins or a hard object like an underwater camera or a dive slate or other Scuba gear between you and the titan, needless to say it’s better to have a hole in your fins rather than your body! It’s important to remember that Titan triggerfish are only defending what they believe are intruders in their territory, and as we are invading their world it’s not right to attack them back with dive knives or harm them in other ways. This will only make them even more weary of divers and attack them more as they are known to exhibit a level of intelligence that is unusual among fishes, and have the ability to learn from previous experiences.

Beach clean up

Marine debris is a massive problem for the oceans, killing, trapping or injuring endless amounts of marine life, from Whale sharks to plankton which all get affected by the waste we so carelessly discard.
Here at Big Blue Diving our eco arm Big Blue Conservation, we regularly take part in community clean ups on land and underwater, as well as having a weekly beach clean of Sairee every Tuesday at 5:45 pm and our own monthly underwater clean up that we welcome any certified divers to volunteer and dive for FREE!
With the help of enthusiastic volunteers we have collected tons of trash from both the beaches and local the dive sites around the island. Each time we take a look at the trash collected and enter data in to either 'Clean Swell' for land clean ups, or 'Dive against Debris' for underwater clean ups.
This enables us to take note of the areas most affected globally and of the waste items that are so commonly found, and introduce measures which should be taken to reduce their overall production.
Look out for our scheduled underwater cleans by visiting our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram
https://www.facebook.com/bigblueconservation/
https://www.instagram.com/big_blue_conservation/
Remember every little helps, and if you can’t join us then don’t worry you can help by picking up any trash when you do see it.

Think globally, act locally!

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Big Blue Diving
15/3 Moo 1 
Koh Tao 
Suratthani 
84360 
Thailand

Phone: +66 (0) 77 456 050
Fax: +66 (0) 77 456 772 

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SSI Diamond Instructor Training Resort