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Whale Sharks and Wrecks

THAILAND | Monday, 7 May 2012 | Views [1058]

Photo stolen from videographer Chris.

Photo stolen from videographer Chris.

In just over a month I will be heading home, after a much longer trip than originally anticipated. This time I will be coming home. Although I'm still enjoying my time on the island, it is not a place I can see staying much longer. If you are not diving, there is very little on the island to do to fill you time. Days off often involve sitting in a cafe of the at the dive school facebook creeping, or watching the fox crime channel (one of the only english channels we have).

Last week I spent three days working on my Deep, Nitrox and Wreck Specialities. Big Blue offers the three bundled at a reduced rate for DMTs, so one of the specialities ended up being free. Day one we did some theory, did a deep dive to 30m and learned to follow reels blinded underwater in a theoretical silted situation that can occur in wrecks. Day 2 we did two nitrox dives on our Wreck, the HTMS Sattuka (thai name), a World War II American war ship. Day 3 was the big day. Diving in 40m and Wreck penetration! Both dives were supposed to occur in the morning, our first being to 40m. Often at depths greater than 24m people experience some level of nitrogen narcosis, a "high" like feeling that disappears as you ascend to a shallower depth. Going to 40m we all expected to feel narced to some degree. No one in our group showed obivious signs of being narced and we were all able to solve math problems at depth, although maybe a bit slower then at the surface. Dive 2 was supposed to be our wreck penetration, but the capitan of our boat had recieved word that a Whale Shark had been spotted at one of the other dive sites, so off we went. As a result our wreck penetration was pushed to the afternoon and we spent the second dive snorkeling. It turns out snorkeling was to our advantage though. Soon after we started swimming to the dive site, we spotted the whale shark. We spent over 30 minutes snorkeling with the whale shark, and as the shark spent most of the time swimming in the first 5m we had a better view than the divers.

That afternoon we headed to the to the wreck to do our wreck penetration. Our instructor set up the reels inside the wreck and in we went. AMAZING! and kind of terrifying at the same time. The stair wells are a tight squeeze and the hallways narrow, but we did it. We later headed to the Captains Cabin. While looking out to window of the cabin, I saw spots swim past. It was the same whale shark from the mornings dive! I make the signal for shark, but by the time my buddy and instructor look out, it's gone. They thought I was crazy. THe visibility was poor and just thought I was seeing something. WE exited the cabin and started to swim towards the buoy line at the bow. No sooner are we out, that the whale shark starts to swim to swim towards me. I was not seeing things! It was amazing. Whale sharks are rarely seen on the wreck, and have never been seen while in the wreck! We were the only divers at the site and it was nice to be able to swim alone with it.

It was a very eventful week, because the weekend following was the Save Koh Tao Festival. The Festival is a two day event to raise eco awareness and funds to ensure the reefs and local environment will be maintained for future divers. As one of the bigger dive schools on the island, Big Blue performs a dance each year. This year was the evolution of dance (it's a comedy number you can check out the original on youtube). Practicing 3 to 4 to times a week for a month paid off. We were amazing and the energy onstage was intense. We looked amazing in our recycled water bottle head bands and rocked out. The only minor glitch in our performance... the stage started to fall apart!

I'll be leaving Koh Tao now at the end of the month, heading to Bangkok and then make my way home. The course is going well and I'm hoping to have everything done in the next two weeks. After that, I can just relax and dive. Can't wait!

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