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Advanced Diving, Koh Tao

THAILAND | Thursday, 18 May 2017 | Views [371]

After discussing the diving options with my instructor later that evening, I decided to go through with the “Advanced Adventurer” course. It gives you another 5 dives and includes a night time dive, which is what sold it for me. My instructor signed me up and later in the evening was the “Dive School Olympics”. This was an event that had been held years ago but had not happened in a while. I was lucky enough to be at the resort on the day that the first leg of the year was going to be held here at Big Blue Dive Resort. There were 3 other dive schools that sent employees over to have competitions on the beach. People with the most points at the end of the competition won. There was sand wrestling, 3 legged race, dance contest, something with a scuba tank (I could not see what they were doing, too many people in the way), and a few other events while I wasn’t paying attention. There may have been some streaking on the beach done by the competitors as that gave their team additional points to the total score. All in all, it was a hilarious night.

The next morning I got up to start the advanced course. It consisted of about an hour of lessons, we learned how to use the underwater computer and underwater compass. My instructor’s name was Ant. He goes by “Big Ant”, because there are actually 2 instructors at the resort with the same name of Ant. My old instructor, Andreas, said that Ant is the best instructor at the dive school, which he was. He was a great teacher and showed us some really cool tips and tricks. My group consisted of Zayn and Chris. Chris is actually from Milford, Michigan and currently lives in Colorado. We went out in the afternoon for 2 dives and did some more buoyancy work and navigation skills. Having a dive computer on your wrist makes life so much easier, not having to fully depend on your dive instructor to know how deep in the water you are or how quickly you are ascending. We saw some huge grouper fish and also some blue spotted rays.

The night dive we did later in the evening was simply incredible. It looks very different underwater with the lack of light. We are given a torch (flashlight) and that is how we check things out under the water. We saw 4 or 5 chevron barracuda and also a huge hermit crab scurrying across the ocean floor. We sat on the sandy bottom and turned off our lights, then we waved our hands around and messed with the bio luminescent plankton. When you waive your hand around, the plankton get scared and poop out little neon green specks. Pretty cool. We made it through the night dive without any issues and on the way back to the boat it was so serene. Bobbing in the waves, pitch black, so peaceful.

Woke up early at 6 am for 2 morning dives this morning. Yes that is 5 dives within 24 hours for the advanced course. We did a deep dive first thing. We went down to 29 meters (95 feet). Down at that level, the amount of nitrogen you breath in with your air gives you nitrogen narcosis. Basically it makes you drunk underwater. Our group sat at the 29 meter mark and we took in a few deep breaths. We then played a number game to see the effect the narcosis had on our thinking. Ant held up a number of fingers 1-10 and we were supposed to hold up the number that added with his would give you 11. He gave me a number, I messed up and gave up on the game because my brain was jumbled. Once we moved up a few meters, the effect dissipates immediately and i felt fine the rest of the dive. Toward the end of the dive when we came up to about 5 meters, you normally stop and hover for 5 minutes as a “safety stop”. That just makes sure your body is properly adjusted to the pressure before you surface. We went up for our safety stop and then comes in the beast. WHALE SHARK. This beast is about 4 meters long and has parasite fish all around it. It is attracted to bubbles and humming sounds, so it circles around the divers. I came within 2 feet of the whale shark as it swam past me. It was surreal. Something spooked the shark and it swam off. As we climbed up on the boat, the whale shark came back. I ran to grab my GoPro camera to get some footage but by the time I jumped in with my mask, the shark was gone. I can only take my GoPro down to about 10 meters so I cannot take it on a deep dive, only surface diving and snorkeling. I was bummed that I didn't get any footage.

We get to the next dive location, AND WE SEE A BIGGER WHALE SHARK. We gear up quickly and get in the water. This time I take my GoPro with me and swim around the surface. I filmed it for a few minutes, hopefully the footage shows up nicely. This shark was 6 meters long, so impressive. I threw the camera back on the boat and we continued with our dive. We did a fish identification dive with our 2nd dive of the day. When we came back up at the end of the dive a 2nd whaleshark showed up. This one was the smallest of the 3 and was only about 3 meters long. This one swam directly over my head, about 6 inches away. I was at a loss for words. One of the coolest things I have ever seen/done. Once the shark left, we made it back to the boat. Ant, the instructor, told me that this morning was one of the top 2 morning dive sessions he has ever done. He has made 3,000 dives in his life...if that tells you anything. We had time to jump off the top of the dive boat. Good clean fun. We had a great boat ride back to shore and finished up the paperwork for me to become certified with my advanced adventurer.

The rest of the afternoon i am going to take some time to finally explore the island of Koh Tao. I may be diving tomorrow before I head north to Chiang Mai.

Whale Sharks...


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