When we think about monsoon season most of us can only think of rain, rain and rain. Quite likely that is the exact thing you are trying to escape from during your holiday. But, having a rainy day does not mean you can’t get that relaxed, chilled holiday feeling. Here on Koh Tao, Monsoon season can actually be really nice. Our lovely island is known for its relaxed vibe, but sometimes during high season it can actually feel a bit busy and crowded. Not during monsoon! 
Here’s two ideas to beat those rainy days!
Diving
I know, I know, the idea of being on a boat in the rain and wind does not sound appealing. But you know what? You are going to get wet anyway! Going for a dive first thing in the morning on a rainy day will beat the crowds on the boat and under water. Yes, it is a little struggle to get out of bed early on your holiday, but as soon as you have your head under water you’ll forget all about that. Does spending all morning weightless in a whole different world exploring all these colourful, new creatures not a whole lot more appealing than getting incredibly bored in your room trying to watch another movie? On both occasions you are escaping the rain, but you decide which one sounds better.
Plus, it is the best feeling to get back to your room after the dives, have a wonderful warm shower and get yourself a nice lunch in one of the many fantastic restaurants around the island, reading your book or just watch the island while you sip your coffee/tea away. 
Still on holiday, still relaxed, but also a little proud of yourself for achieving something that day!
 
Or, if you are not a morning person, you can turn the whole thing around. Sleep in a little, wake up and find a lovely restaurant by the ocean to sip that coffee/tea to wake up slowly. Then, when you feel a lot more energized you get on the boat, do those great dives and have a nice, warm shower after. Before you know it you’ll find yourself sipping your drink watching the sunset as a reward. Fotor 151236462877040
 
No diving?
Now, there might be days that the boat gets cancelled or maybe you just don’t like diving. No worries, you can still beat that rain! How about.. a walk?
I can hear you think, hell no! Not in this weather! But Koh Tao actually has a lot of beautiful view points and walks to do, even if it is raining. Just put on that rain jacket and some shoes and start your walk through town. Especially early in the morning it’s nice to walk down the streets while the locals are getting ready for their day. You can get some local snacks at this time of the day as well. Then continue your walk up to one of the many hills and/or viewpoints, but don’t forget to bring some water as it can be hard to find that further away from the main area. As soon as you get to the top there is this stunning view of dark grey sky with a bright turquoise wild ocean surrounding all the green jungle of this Turtle Island. As a bonus, you will find that hiking in the rain is a lot less hot then trying to do that when the sun is out, which can make it a lot more enjoyable for some of us.
Again, no morning person? Just go late in the afternoon to catch the sunset!
When you get back from your walk you can have that nice, warm shower and park yourself in a restaurant to relax for the rest of the day while you eat your food, feeling rewarded.
 
Not into diving or walking? Follow a Thai cooking class, learn how to do Muay Thai boxing, go swing on the trapeze, visit the animal rescue center, learn to use a paddle board, have a snorkel at the beach or ask us for the many other things to do on the island. Beat that rain! Before you know the sun is shining again.
Enjoy your holidays! By Ster
 
New season.
 
It does seem a little odd to some that our season re starts on the 1st of December each year but there is good reason for this.
Scuba Junction Diving always closes for the month of November every year due to it being the monsoon season and usually has the poorest of diving conditions, this gives the staff a chance of a holiday after working continuasly for the past 11 months.
It also gives us time to repair, service and purchase new equipment that is needed for the smooth running of the dive centre. All our tanks are visually inspected as required by law each year, the ones that are also due are hydrostaticly tested to keep up to the highest standard within the dive industry. Every regulator and BCD system is serviced and cleaned all other equipment is cleaned and replaced if necsassary.
The biggest challenge is to have our dive vessel the Manta Ray and the long tail boat driven over to the mainland, where they are both stripped of all paint, the engines are taken apart, serviced and put back together. Then they have to be brought back to Koh Tao. This sometimes can lead to a delay of them getting back as November is the middle of the monsoon season in the Gulf of Thailand and the seas can have up to 5mtr swells which is a little too much for our vessels. Lukily this year they made it back before we re opened on the 1st of December. longtail and boat
November's monsoon is the perfect time for us to get everything in place for our new and returning customers of the new season, the staff are refreshed and eager to go diving, the equipment is ready for the customers to use and our dive vessels run smoothly and look like new again.
 
We hope you can come and dive with us this new season, maybe even enjoy Christmas and New Year here!
looking forward to diving with you soon, the Scuba J team.
 

 

The more I dive the sites around Koh Tao, the more familiar the creatures that call them home become. At first a seemingly alien world with equally alien faces, soon became a familiar environment that I felt a part of. When you visit these sites regularly, patterns in the life under the surface are easily evident. Whether it is the places certain fish prefer to call home or their social habits interacting with one another.

Knowing the places that certain fish like to live makes the job of a Divemaster much easier. The more locations and types of homes I know the more I can share them with the people I take diving. Apart from making the search for certain species easier; being able to visit the same fish time and time again you see how they change and grow. Such as seeing the growth of their families, growth in their size and sometimes changes in colour. However, you also see these places once called home become vacant. Either to other inhabitants or to none at all due to natural or human destruction. A part of the life you realize can not always be avoided.

Socially, these creatures are as equally interesting. You notice how some have very symbiotic relationships that are extremely beneficial to both organisms. One that stands out most predominantly is the relationship between that of the Goby and Pistol Shrimp. These two creatures work together with great success. The Pistol Shrimp is always hard at work pushing sand and debris out from their hole on the ocean floor. While the Goby patiently watches for any potential predators and quickly warns the Shrimp if anything comes too close to their home. Both then retreat back into the safety of their hole they call home until it is safe again for the work to resume. This is only one example of many relationships that exist in life amongst the reefs. gobi and shrimp

I am very thankful of having had the pleasure of becoming so accustomed to the life in the waters surrounding Koh Tao. I feel equally at home under the water as I do on land. Every turn, whether it be down a street or around the next rock I seem to always be greeted with familiar faces.

 
1. Arrive for your dive in a fit state
 
It's Thailand. The beers are cheap, the bars are fun and you're on holiday. We totally get it. We want you to enjoy yourself. But more importantly to us, we want you to enjoy your diving experience. Heavy alcohol use will of course leave you dehydrated, which can cause a myriad of problems for divers. A hangover will increase your feelings of seasickness and there's some evidence to suggest it will increase your nitrogen intake whilst at depth. That's before we've even begun the talk about impaired judgement. If you feel like having a night out why not plan for an extra day at the end of your dive trip. That way you can sleep in and nurse your hangover in the comfort of your hotel room! Aviv Alon Ryan ow
 
2.Listen to your DiveMaster or Instructor
 
These guys know their stuff and can help you out with tips on things like buoyancy and proper weighting. They also have a working experience of the dive sites which allows them to navigate you to the best spots increasing your chances of spotting awesome marine life. A trained eye will have an easier time finding those small, quirky and camouflaged creatures such as nudibranches, saw fish, scorpionfish and pipefish. Listen to their advice and follow their lead – they're there to make sure you enjoy your dive!
 
3.Relax, take your it easy
 
Diving should be a relaxed and enjoyable experience, right? One way to increase or extend your dive times is by decreasing your exertion underwater. Slow, controlled fin strokes, a good trim position and a relaxed swim during the dive will ultimately give you a better experience and afford you more time to spot some interesting sea creatures. Remember to plan your dives accordingly and don't try and fit too much into one dive. Slow and steady!
 
4.Practice your buoyancy
 
It's the cornerstone of being a good diver and something we never really stop working on. It starts with being properly weighted and continues with a number of ways to practice underwater. Breathing technique is important so practice your long, deep breaths in and out and note the changes in your buoyancy. Your 3 minute saftey stop at 5 metres is an excellent oppurtunity to practice your hover. Keep an eye on your depth and try to mantain it as close to 5 metres for the entire 3 minutes. You'll notice the improvement in no time at all!
 
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5. Continue your education
 
The great thing about diving is that there's so many different aspects to explore. If you're open water certified, why not consider an advanced course to extend your maximum depth to 30 metres? Enjoy shipwrecks? Try the wreck specialty. Infact, there's a course for any kind of diving you can think of. Continuing your education will improve your knowledge and test your skills making you a better diver and increasing your dive experience. Ask your dive shop for more info on the next course that's right for you!
 
 
 

 

Nuidbranches and Flat Worms

So last week we looked at Trigger Fish in our big 5 count down..this week we are celebrating the mighty Nuidbranches and Flat Worms!

Completely different animals, about as close relatives as humans and sea urchins (or even farther apart!) and both equally amazing so I had to include both! The more I have read up on these gems the more determined I have become to seek them out whilst diving!

So what is a Nudibranch you may be wondering? Well in fact they are actually sea slugs that are members of the class Gastropoda in the Phylum Mollusca, which also includes snails, slugs, limpets and sea hairs. All nudibranchs are sea slugs, but not all sea slugs are nudibranchs. They can be as small as 0.5cm and can grow up to about 60cm. They are beautifully coloured little creatures. They are shell-less and boneless.

Over 3,000 species of nudibranchs exist, and most live in shallow, tropical waters. They can be anywhere from a quarter of an inch to 12 inches long and can weigh up to 3.3 pounds. These sea slugs spend their time sliding on their bellies around their habitat in search of snacks. The animals have a set of curved teeth, which they use to eat coral, sponges, and fish eggs off the ocean floor. Nudibranchs use tentacles on their heads to poke around for grub. The nudibranch’s meals don’t just satisfy its hunger—the food also gives the animal its colouring. When the sea slug eats, it absorbs and displays its prey’s pigment—the substance that gives the prey its colour. Some nudibranchs also absorb toxins from certain prey and secrete the poison from their own skin. This allows them to fend off predators such as fish.

So the Nudibranch is stunning, resourceful, and it recycles? This slug sounds far from sluggish! flatworm

FUN FACT! It has been known that some humans eat these creatures, although when the experience is likened to "chewing an eraser" it's not high on the list of delicacies I would like to try!

We already learnt about the nudibranches, which a lot of people think are relatives to the flatworms, but they are actually a completely different species with very different roots. What they do have in common though is that they come in a very broad variety of families and can be as colourful as the nudies too. Flatworms are soft bodied invertebrates and over half of them live as parasites. Some of them are very dangerous for humans such as the tapeworms, or more specifically, schistosomes. Another part of the flatworm family live on land but the ones we want to focus on are those lighting up our underwater world with their weird looks and vibrant colours

Most flatworms only have one opening (mouth) to feed which is then also used to dump processed food. This means that most of them can unlike me not eat continuously but have to feed and then wait until all the food is processed through their network of guts extending through their body. However some exceptions - usually found in the bigger worms - do exist and they do have one or more anuses to get rid of the processed foods. Most of the time flatworms crawl on the bottom (preferably sand) by using their muscles in combination with their body fluids to apply more pressure to their body. Some of them can use the same system to even swim freely in the water which is one of the most amazing sightings.

Now how do the flatworms reproduce? Again there are some very diverse strategies. The bigger species which are the ones we observe underwater mate by penis fencing. They are born as males but also have female reproductive cells. The two males duel each other trying to impregnate each other while the loser will adapt the female role and develop the eggs. This means it will have a higher demand on nutrients and lower chances of survival in the ocean.
In most species, when the eggs hatch "miniature males" emerge and go on their quest for reproduction.

You can easily tell which is which by observing three simple characteristics:
1- Flatworms are "flat", thin, while nudibranchs show some more thickness
2- Nudibranchs have their main sensory organs, the rhinophores (the two "antennae" on the head)
3- Flatworms move a lot faster than nudibranchs.

Another important aspect of flatworms is they have no circulatory nor respiratory systems... so there are no gills! Pretty cool stuff! You can see them everywhere around Koh Tao but keep your eyes peeled for flat worms swimming, it is truly a memorizing experience.