Respecting Thai Culture while on Holiday

It takes five minutes to check the local customs and manners before you travel, and it makes a huge difference to how you are perceived. We are huge proponents of being responsible under water- and that can extend to your behaviour on land too!

Here are three things to bear in mind while enjoying your stay in Thailand-

Nudity is not allowed and it is rude to walk around in a bikini (or shirtless, if you're male); the exception of course, is on the beach. While it is very hot, cover up with a loose vest and shorts to avoid offending the locals when walking in town.

It is also disrespectful to touch things or point with your feet, and they are considered the dirtiest part of the body. Don't rest your feet on chairs, don't face your bare soles to people, and don't move other people's belongings with your feet.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the King is universally adored and revered in this country. To speak out against him is actually illegal, and will at the very least upset any Thais around you. Similarly, any images or statues of Buddha are sacred, and need to be treated as such.

 

Coolest aquatic life.

 
I all ways get ask what the coolest things i have seen under water.
Well here is one.
 
Peacock mantis shrimp. these beautiful crustaceans are ferocious undersea predators that hunt with clubbed forelimbs, walloping their quarry with one of the strongest pound-for-pound punches on the planet.
               
The mantis shrimp can punch with the speed of a .22 caliber bullet strong enough to break the shells of its prey, as well as aquarium glass.
 
When a mantis shrimp hits its target, the velocity causes water to vaporize, then implode with a sharp bang, extremely high heat, and a flash of light   all of which is felt by the prey animal as an additional blow. 
   
When the striking limb of a mantis shrimp is not in use, it lies folded under the animal’s body, compressing a saddle-shaped spring that drives the animals stupendous strikes.
 
Some species of mantis shrimp wield spear like limbs that can impale their targets, instead of club-like limbs for bashing them. 
 
Their super-strong punches aren’t the only notable thing about the mantis shrimp. The animal’s eyes can see a huge variety of light wavelengths, including those in the ultraviolet spectrum.
 
 


Cuttlefish facts

Cuttlefish are actually not fish but molluscs belonging to the order Sepiida and class Cephalopoda, which also includes squid, octopodes, and nautiluses.

Males have four pairs of legs, whilst females have three pairs. They also have two tentacles, with suckers, for catching prey.

Cuttlefish have three hearts and blue/green blood.

Cuttlefish spawn only once in a lifetime.

They have “W” shaped pupils, can’t see colour but can see forwards and backwards, with no blind spot.

Cuttlefish normally grow from 15-25cm, however the largest species (Sepia Apama) can reach 50cm.

Cuttlefish, like Octopus, release ink as a defence mechanism. This ink was formerly used as a dye, hence the name Sepia.

They live for approximately 1-2 years and inhabit mostly shallow tropical/temperate ocean waters.

The Cuttlefish ‘bone‘ is what controls their buoyancy.


Food

Generally Cuttlefish eat fish, shrimp, crabs, worms, molluscs but will also eat other Cuttlefish. They in turn are preyed upon by fish, seabirds, sharks, seals, dolphins and of course, Cuttlefish.

Intelligence

Cuttlefish have one of the largest brain to body size ratios and are thought of as amongst the most intelligent invertebrates. Cuttlefish cannot see colour but have highly sophisticated eyes, which are thought to give them sight even whilst in the womb. They are thought to learn their preferred prey in this way before they are even hatched.
Despite the fact Cuttlefish are colourblind, they are able to change their colour at will to match their surroundings.

Mating

Cuttlefish ratios mean there are usually 4-5 males for every female, which is a recipe for war. Males will either fight but more commonly trick each other, for the right to mate.
The most successful tactic is cross dressing! Males disguise themselves as females, by changing their colour, concealing their extra arms and even pretending to be holding an egg sack. The master of disguise can then sneak past the guarding male and mate with the female.
The successful male grabs the female with his tentacles, turns her face to face, then inserts a specialised tentacle into an opening near her mouth. He deposits sperm sacs there, fertilising the female, who he will guard until she lays their eggs only hours later. Check out this video of the dramatic event.
The female lays a batch of about 200 eggs and covers them with ink. After two to four months, they hatch out into perfectly formed little Cuttlefish with a yolk sac, to feed them until they make their first kill.

Threats

Cuttlefish populations are not well known, however, commercial fishermen in South Australia catch up to 71 tonnes during the mating season, both for human consumption and use as bait.
Because of their short life span and spawning only once in a lifetime, the threats of over-fishing are obvious. Currently there are no management restrictions in place to limit the numbers that can be taken but there is pressure to add the giant cuttlefish to the endangered species list.

Cheers,
Paul. Padi Instructor.
Scuba Junction.


"Why is the sea salty"

Yesterday a student completing a swim test mentioned to me 'the sea is so salty here' - a silly statement you may think, however it got me thinking - yes, we all know the sea is salty, but exactly why is the sea salty and why can it be more salty in some places than others? Well, here is the definitive answer as explained by the BBC. That's a lot of Salt!

Most of our planet’s surface is covered in water – salt water. The oceans that support so much of Earth’s life are around 3.5% sodium chloride – 50 million billion tonnes of salt.
But where does it come from? While some of it comes from volcanic vents or rocks on the seabed, most of it is actually from the land around us. Every time it rains, tiny amounts of mineral salts are washed into rivers, which eventually flow into the sea.
The salt in rivers is less than 1/200th the amount usually found in seawater. It becomes more concentrated in the ocean, as the Sun’s heat causes water from the surface to evaporate, leaving the salt behind. Extra salt added every year from rivers is balanced by salt which returns to the sea floor.
But salinity isn’t the same everywhere. Towards the poles, water is not as salty because it’s diluted by melting ice, while the extra heat in the tropics makes water there saltier – and denser. And that can affect how nutrients flow around the oceans.

 

A SELECTION OF KOH TAO’S BEST DIVE SITES

 
 
Southwest Pinnacles
Location: About 7 km Southwest of Koh Tao
Depth: Average 17 m / Maximum 28 m
Level of Diving: Beginner to Experienced Divers
A row of pinnacles offering wall dives and fantastic schooling marine life, such as snapper, trevally, and barracuda. The shallower points are carpeted with gardens of sea anemones and the deeper gullies are filled with healthy gorgonians and whip corals.
 
Chumphon Pinnacles
Location: About 5 km northwest of Nang Yuan
Depth: Average 20 m / Maximum 36 m
Level of Diving: Experienced Divers
This deep pinnacle is typically reserved for advanced divers, but can be accessed on your final open water training dives in good conditions. Majestic views, breathtaking rock formations and large marine life, with the increased chance of whale shark sighting.
 
Shark Island 
Location: 1 km off the southern tip of Koh Tao
Depth: Average 15 m / Maximum 28 m
Level of Diving: Beginner to Experienced Divers
Shark Island is named not for its carnivorous marine life but for the island’s resemblance to a shark fin from certain angles. The occasional currents bring in nutrient rich waters encouraging an abundance of marine life. Groupers, turtles and schools of raccoon butterfly fish inhabit the shallower depths, and nudibranch nurseries line the eastern coast.
 
Maarten. Padi Instructor.
Scuba Junction.