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Big Blue's Artificial Reef

Coral nurseries are of increasing importance because Reefs around the globe are threatened by human activities. Like many parts of the world, the economy on Koh Tao is reliant upon our natural reef areas and the visitors they bring.

Koh Tao currently has a number of coral nurseries using different techniques for research and restoration purposes. It is hoped that coral colonies from these nurseries can help add to the reefs around Koh Tao and provide a means of restoring damaged areas faster than would naturally occur, as well as providing additional dive sites. A number of organisations including Save Koh Tao and dive operators on Koh Tao have begun constructing small coral nurseries to test the feasibility and success of different methods.

Big Blue Conservation aims to contribute by building a smaller artificial reef close to our Big Blue Diving Resort, which we can maintain and grow.  Encouraging coral growth in an area affected by constant human activity, helping the natural marine life in the area by creating a new habitat.

In the future, we would like to see artificial reefs near each dive site, and a few in places that currently are not being dived to provide alternative dive sites.

With nurseries in place in close proximity to dive sites, should a boat anchor or SCUBA divers break the corals, those fragments can be quickly brought to a secure growing area until they become large enough to transplant back onto the dive site. The nurseries themselves also serve as habitats for fish and a variety of other marine organisms, helping to maintain the reef abundance and biodiversity around Koh Tao.

If you want to find out more about conservation practises on Koh Tao or getting involved and doing your Eco Internship with us then This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or check out our Conservation Course options.

Koh Tao Turtles

The hawksbill sea turtle is a Critically Endangered sea turtle so an encounter with one of these amazing creatures although relatively common here on Koh Tao should very much be appreciated. The World Conservation Union, primarily as a result of Human fishing practices, classifies  the Hawksbill Sea Turtle as critically endangered because the Hawksbill shells were the primary source of tortoiseshell material used for decorative purposes. Thankfully this practise has been pretty much neutralised now partly due to The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species outlawing the capture and trade of hawksbill sea turtles and products derived from them. So fingers crossed we'll have a resurgence of these beautiful docile & gentle turtles again so. And like I said they are a fairly common encounter here so hope you get to dive with one when you get here too.

The hawksbill's appearance is similar to that of other marine turtles. In general, it has a flattened body shape, a protective shell or carapace, and flipper-like limbs, adapted for swimming in the open ocean. It is easily distinguished from other sea turtles by its sharp, curving beak with, and the saw-like appearance of its shell edge. Hawksbill shells slightly change colors, depending on water temperature. While this turtle lives part of its life in the open ocean, it spends more time in shallow lagoons and coral reefs. 

If you want to learn mre about Sea turtles and how they play such an important role within the oceans ecosystem, you can join us on our Sea Turtle Ecology course. This program teaches you the skills and concepts required to recognize and identify common species of sea turtles, describing their history and their role in the marine ecosystems, and threats to their survival. You will learn about their anatomy and their behaviour which can help us greatly when it comes to conserving & preserving them. We'll look at the different Sea Turtle species, their nests, eggs and hatchlings, swimming and migration, characteristics of Sea Turtles, the threats they face and how to help conserve them.

You will earn the SSI Sea Turtle Ecology Specialty certification after completing this program.

If you want to know more about this & other Eco programmes we offer then This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The 1 Week Eco Internship

Have you ever thought of getting involved in saving the planet. Well we might have something that could be right up your alley! The 1 week Eco Internship with Big Blue Conservation.

Now before starting the conservation dives, you must receive training through our Conservation Skills Development Program (CSDP). You don’t need to have a background in marine biology in order to partake in this fun, interactive and informative course that will give you all the skills and confidence that you need when undertaking the survey dives afterwards. The only prerequisite is an advanced diver certification.

During the CSDP, you will partake in various different lectures which are given in a classroom and followed by a SCUBA dive or a snorkel practical session. Generally, there are two lectures a day (Monday – Friday) lasting between 30 mins – 1 hr. The lectures in general cover four scientific components which reflect on the dive surveying techniques that Big Blue Conservation typically use. The four topics include Fish, Invertebrates, Substrate and Marine Ecology which are incorporated in both the lectures and dives that follow.
Taking the above topics into account the following table gives a very general idea regarding the overall structure of the lectures during the skills development programme:
BSAC Marine Conservation Speciality Diving Course is the first of BSAC's ecological minded courses and the highlight of the expedition for many. As divers, we are in the prime position to help our reefs remain the paradise they are today. To help educate and alert divers of the problems affecting the reefs, Big Blue Conservation has helped construct a new speciality supported by BSAC on Marine conservation. As an observational sport, knowing a little more about what you see underwater and improving your buoyancy skills and air consumption will help influence low-impact diving.

The BSAC Marine Conservation Speciality Diving Course includes a mixture of lectures and dives, on 4 primary topics:
1. Ocean environment - in order to truly understand our aquatic environment, we must first know about the oceans composition and processes as a whole. All our oceans are connected, and one minor change in one ocean can affect the entire ecosystem. After this, you will dive to observe reef zonation and practice identifying coral reef community structure.
2. Coral Reefs - including marine identification dives and night dive. This is the most rewarding section of the course. You will learn a lot more about underwater organism identification, including coral anatomy and biology. After this section, you will complete a fish identification dive, following the ecology and biology of a fish of your choice. Your dives will forever be much more rewarding!
3. State of the reefs - Our oceans are in a rapid state of decline, and as divers we are in the perfect position to do something about it. But first we need to fully understand what is happening.
4. Conservation - including two ecological monitoring, reef restoration and practical conservation dives. Here you will learn what you can do to contribute to conservation and preservation of our aquatic world.
Classroom Session: Diving Session
• Ecological principles
• Buoyancy optimization
• Ocean Environment
• Taxonomy
• Hard coral biology and life forms
• Hard coral species
• Intro to coral reef ecology & biology
• Inverts and sponges
• Marine plant and algae
• Fish validation
• State of the reefs
• Coral bleaching and Ocean acidification
• Conservation action
• Survey techniques • Buoyancy dives (2x)
• Topographic variation and ecology
• In-water identification
• Trail tests
• Practice surveys
• Night dive
• Coral nursery maintenance
• Recreational dives (weekends only)

You will be assessed regularly throughout the CSDP to examine their ability to identify species underwater and carry out safe conservation practices. Furthermore, a validation exercise is carried out at the end of each science component to assess the accuracy of the data collected during dives. You will be validated in all of the in-water exams before they can begin to conduct survey dives. Pass rates vary between 75-95% so be prepared to learn but whilst still having fun of course!
After the final 2 lectures, you will be trained in underwater surveying and reef rehabilitation and restoration techniques, completing and submitting a reef survey as well as contributing to one of our artificial reefs maintenance.
And this is the completion of your Conservation Skill Development Programme! Once you have completed and passed their CSDP, they now have the necessary skills in order to successfully partake in the survey dives, which essentially is when the real conservation work begins. Therefore, we always encourage participants to try and remain with us until after the CSDP in order to put their new found skills to some good use and to give something back to the reefs!

The Mantis Shrimp

These little critters are amazing in every conceivable way, and very hard to find here on Koh Tao but they do exist & at Aow leuk is the divesite where you are most likely to encounter one. They are incredible creatures so today we're going to educate you as to why these guys are quite so incredible!
- They can grow up to 11cm long.
- They're very brightly coloured. Their shells can be blue, green, red and orange. The forearms are often covered with spots.
- Their eyes are located on long stalks that move independently. They have exceptional eyesight that is used both for the detection of prey and predators.
- Their eyes are also the most complex in the animal kingdom. They can see ultraviolet and polarized light. They have trinocular vision which means that they can see objects using one of the three different parts of eye.
- All mantis shrimps can be divided on spearers and smashes, based on the morphology of appendages and tactic they use to kill the prey.
- Spearers have spiny appendages that are used to stab soft-bodied prey such as different types of worms and fish.
- Smashers have club-like appendages that easily smash shell of snails, oysters, crustaceans and molluscs.
- They attack their prey extremely quickly- 50 times faster than the blink of an eye. With a velocity of 10 meters per second, their punch has the power of a .22 calibre bullet.
- Smashers are famous for their incredibly strong punches that can break the glass of an aquarium!
- Most species of mantis shrimps are solitary and territorial creatures. They fiercely defend their home against intruders.
- They are able to recognize their neighbours by smell, and also by their shape.
- Some species of mantis shrimp are monogamous and spend up to 20 years together. During mating, they often fluoresce.
- Females can lay eggs in the burrows or keep them in their forelimbs until they hatch. Some species exhibit parental care. The female lays two sets of eggs, one for her and the other for the father to take care of the eggs until they hatch.
- Larvae of mantis shrimps swim as a part of zooplankton up to 3 months. They show aggressive behaviour even during the larval stage.
- Mantis shrimp can survive more than 20 years in the wild.

UV night diving

The latest craze right now sweeping Koh Tao is UV night dives. Fluorescence is a phenomenon that occurs when we shine blue, near UV lights on the corals. Some of the corals have a certain protein that absorbs the blue light and re-emit the light in a different wavelength (colour). This causes the corals to glow in the most amazing colours like green, yellow, orange and some even pink or red. Corals that normally appear dull brown in the daytime or under white light can take on vivid rainbow hues.

Using special blue UV light torches and funky yellow visors that go over your normal mask you’ll see a magical array of psychedelic colours. With glowing coral, sponges, fish, shrimps, crabs and other sea life, you won’t be disappointed. By the way, this is not the bioluminescence that you see on some night dives, it is only visible using the blue light torches and mask filters. Divers still use normal torches so they can compare the differences. The phenomenon of coral fluorescence is still full of mystery and the reasons why certain coral fluoresce are to this date unknown, could it be that the corals are protecting themselves from sunburn and coral bleaching? Does the fluorescence help the corals with photosynthesis in dark places? Do the anemones lure food into their stinging tentacles by attracting them with the fluorescence? What is the reason that a shrimps’ pinchers shine a fluorescent yellow? How come a scorpion fish that does its utmost to blend in with its surroundings emits a bright pink colour under a UV light? Some scientist and researchers speculate that the fish could be communicating through fluorescence. It is truly fascinating and just goes to show that we still have absolutely no idea about the complexities of this ecosystem we play in every day.

Big Blue Conservation the eco arm of Big Blue Diving Koh Tao offers UV night dives now and are available on request with our Divemasters. You do need to be an advanced diver to do UV night dives. You will be in for a treat and be blown away!!

Salps- the secret weapon against climate change

This time of year we tend to get some small jelly fish looking things wash up on the beach which then as the tide starts to go out they are left behind and the sun cooks leaving the beach stinking.
They are not jellyfish at all but are called Salps, and are unbelievably interesting and important.
Salps are part of a group called tunicates, members of this group have a kind of primitive backbone, which jellies lack and no stinging cells. The animals can also "give birth" to long chains of clones, and recent research finds that they may actually be a weapon against global warming.
Part of their life cycle involves asexual budding, where one salp creates a chain of hermaphroditic clones that stay connected, (imagine that, what shall I be today? male? Female? Na lets be both!!!) The chains in some species can get up to 15 meters long. Sometimes, the salp chain comes out in shapes; one species creates a wheel of salps, while another species organizes its chains into a double helix.
Eventually, the salp chains break apart. All the individuals that are released turn into females containing one egg. Males from a previous generation of salps will fertilize the females, producing an embryo. The "mother" then develops testes and goes on to fertilize the eggs of other nearby salps, all while the embryo continues to grow inside of it. That embryo eventually pops out and grows up to create another chain of clones.

Salps' cloning tendencies also let them take advantage of algae blooms. The animals gorge themselves on the algae and pump out chains of salp babies. All that eating also produces large fecal pellets that sink rapidly, as much as a thousand meters a day.

This is a salp's secret weapon against climate change. The algae that they eat uses carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to grow and we produce a lot of it! The salps then eat the algae and all that carbon. When the animals produce their pellets, that carbon sinks to the bottom of the ocean where it's essentially removed from the carbon cycle.

Essentially, salps repackage carbon into big pieces that sink very quickly into the ocean, it's natures unique way of trying to balance out how much CO2 is in the atmosphere.

So as stinky as they are and they feel like squishy crushed grapes when you walk on them after they have been washed up, these little critters are vital to our planet and seeing the swarms of them just goes to show how much we have polluted our planet.

The little Yellow Boxfish

Everybody has their own favourite fish to see and one of the most popular on Koh Tao is the Little Yellow Boxfish. The yellow boxfish AKA Ostracion cubicus, can be found in reefs throughout the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean as well as the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has been known to reach a maximum length of 45 centimetres (18 in). As the name suggests, it is box-shaped, with tiny little dorsal fins and puckering pink lips. When they are juveniles, it is bright yellow in colour with blue spots. As it becomes older, the brightness fades and on very old specimens the colouration becomes blue as the spots get larger. The fish's diet consists of marine algae, worms, crustaceans and small fish.

Interestingly as a defensive mechanism when stressed or injured it releases an extremely poisonous protein from its skin that proves lethal to any fish in the surrounding waters. In 2006, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its Bionic concept car, which was inspired by the shape of the yellow boxfish. It was assumed that due to the extreme agility with which boxfish can manoeuvre, that their shape was aerodynamic and self stabilizing. However, if you have ever seen one try and swim you may think this is a rather stupid idea and funnily enough when an analysis by scientists was performed they actually found that the boxfishes agility is instead due to the combination of an aerodynamically unstable body and the manner in which the fish use their fins for movement. 

Parrotfish territory.

Researchers in Australia have been busy mapping the movements of parrotfish in order to find more about the size of their territory, and determine how far they wander throughout their lives. It turns out that they expand their range rapidly as juveniles, but this stops when they mature into adults. Researchers focused on three species of parrotfish, and tracked 75 individual fish during the study. Generally, the diet of a species influences how rapidly its home range has to increase with its body size so that it can find enough food to meet metabolic demands. Yet with parrotfish the researchers found no evidence of a change in diet affecting the way their home range relates to their body size. So effectively, diet doesn't seem to be the driving force in them exploring new territory. The reason for the early wandering seems to stem from the need to find as much food as possible so that they grow quickly, which in turn reduces the amount of predators able to eat them- similar to reptiles.
The reason their territory stops expanding as adults is thought to be because they engage in complex social relations, and it makes sense to keep a potential mate as close as possible, something that would be much harder to achieve with a huge territory. Researchers conclude that "The fact that a fish's social environment can have such a dramatic affect on their home range size opens up endless possibilities for new research." Fascinating stuff, but clearly still a lot more research needs to be undertaken.

Seahorses on Koh Tao

Seahorses otherwise known as Hippocampus, Latin for horse sea monster, are small bony segmented fish that have a distinctive head and neck shaped like that of a horse. They can be more commonly found in shallow waters, clinging to sea grasses or other marine plants. Described as the slowest fish they struggle to avoid predation and affects by human activity, leading to reductions in world populations. So in collaboration with the Citizen science project iSeahorse, you can help monitor local seahorse populations.


Anyone can join whether you’re a diver, a scientist, a seahorse enthusiast, or just on a beach holiday, you can upload your photos and observations to https://www.iseahorse.org/. You can help identify seahorse species. You can advocate for their protection in your ocean neighborhood.


We found this little chappy washed up on the beach outside Big Blue a wee while ago. We bagged him up & put him back out on our own artificial reef in Sairee in an area we shall now call in honor of our horse sea monster or Tyrano-Seahorse Rex- Jurassic Park!

The best Divesite on Koh Tao is...

Located halfway between Koh Tao & Koh Phangan lies the legendary dive site of Sail Rock. Geographically isolated from the other 760 islands that make up the Angthong Marine Park, Sail Rock rises some 15 meters above the surface & drops down to 40 meters below creating the best wall dive in the Gulf of Thailand, and consequently the number 1 divesite in the Gulf of Thailand. The wall is covered in soft sponges along with many oysters and clams clinging to the craggy surface. The site is best known for it's naturally formed rock 'chimney' home to hundreds of little white eyed moray eels, where you can enter an opening at 18 meters and ascend inside the rock with your buddy and exit at 10 meters. A few meters away from the wall, schools of batfish and jacks huddle together in the slight current. Most divers come here in the hope of seeing whale sharks, or bull sharks which are frequently sighted in season, whilst the rest of the year divers swim surrounded by schools of pelagic fish patrolling the depths. Yesterday we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the fastest fish in the sea elusive Blue Marlin. You never know what you're going to bump into at Sail Rock which is the reason Sail Rock is not only Koh Tao's most interesting Divesite but also Koh Tao's most exciting! Come join us on our next Full Day Trip to the awesome Sail Rock. The best divesite in the Gulf of Thailand.


Sail Rock does take us a little longer to get to than most sites on Koh Tao so we make it a full day trip to Sail Rock. Departing Koh Tao about 7am we head out with a breakfast buffet comprising of a fried eggs bacon & sausages before we do our first dive at Sail Rock. Another bite to eat in the form of fruit & cookies & see if you can’t grab 20 minutes shut eye. Depending on how good the conditions are at Sail Rock we usually stay for a second dive there too. Then it’s a buffet lunch, with a selection of the world’s best Thai currys before heading back to one of Koh Tao’s sites like Southwest Pinnacle, Shark island or Samran pinnacle for our final dive of the day. And as soon as you come up from that dive we’ll have chocolate brownies for you at the ready.
Eat sleep dive repeat.
We know how to show you a good time!

22nd April

Earth day 2019

Another great community event, bringing together hundreds of people for the sake of the planet we all call home.

Ever since the invention of plastic, and the increase population of humans that use such materials the planet has suffered greatly. Pollution in the form of gases and solid items has been dramatically increasing over the past 10 years. Polluting the land, rivers, seas, and affecting every organism living and relying on this planet, including ourselves.

Now knowing what the planet goes through on a daily basis, it seems only fair that at least once a year we celebrate the Earth and dedicate efforts to help and clean that which gives us so much.

So on the 22nd April each year we do just that, but here on Koh Tao we use it as a way to bring everyone together for a great cause. So in the blistering heat the participation of people from of over 20 different companies, and government offices on the island came together to collect and sort through over 220 kg of trash from the land and sea across and around Koh Tao.

What a great success and a huge thank you to everyone that took part on the day. But we shouldn’t wait for one day to come together for the planet. We should do our part every day, whether that be cleaning as we go, or just reduce our impact altogether.

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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 

Aqua Lung 

SSI Diamond Instructor Training Resort