Friday, 19 January 2018

First dive...in a warm 'aquarium'.

One of the greatest pleasure being here in Phuket for these few months is that it gives me the chance to introduce guests to scuba diving. Jay (Jamie Pullin, Offshore Rebel's new skipper) had experienced the delights of going under boats to free their propellers of ropes picked up in the English Channel so already had a bit of experience.

Being a fit young man, it was pretty easy for him to get to grips with the gear and the basics in the swimming pool and then for us to progress to our shore diving venue.

The first thing we do is to learn to dangle. here's Jay hanging on to the rope that surrounds the Kata coral reef. Just dangling like this allows the new diver to get comfortable with his surrounds, calm the inevitably excited breathing down and see a few friedly fish before we drop to the bottom.
The sand at this beach is extremely fine and very easy to stir up. It is a perfect venue for diving students and there were many there....so we entered a veritable sandstorm. we decided to take things very gently and let the sand settle a bit and thus benefit from increased visibility.

Because we were waiting in an area of the reef that I did not normally investigate and because Jay is highly observant, being a keen tropical saltwater aquarianist, he was soon pointing to all sorts of stuff and wanting photo's.
It was very illuminating for me to have different corals explained. This is an acan coral and is, when in its best condition, vividly coloured. Jay explained to me that the coral heads have retracted leaving the skeleton exposed. Well...I never knew that! I am hoping after more dives here I will learn a lot more about the  many corals.
I must have passed this bright yellow sponge many times and never noticed it...but, as the viz improved, the striking colour shone through the fading sand mist....


Now young Jay is what anyone woukd call enthusiastic! His eyes were everywhere and his excitement was clear to see. I knew he was going to love this especially as he was able to identify so many of the corals and fish, many of which he had in his aquarium. For him to see it all in its natural setting was something very special...I know he will never forget this, his first dive.
Even though we were in very shallow water and within a couple of hundred yards from the beach, there was masses of sea life to see. Here's a colourful nudibranch for example. It's great that such a mixture of fish and little creatures are so readily available to see on a 'training' dive .....the chance are anyone who sees all this life on their first ever dive is going to be 'hooked' on diving.
It's not easy to spot scorpion fish...but Jay pointed this one out to me.
And, as I was busy trying to get an angle on the scorpion fish, we were visited by a couple of inquisitive cuttlefish.

Cuttlefish are amazing creatures and able to change colour very quickly. They can blend into the background and become very hard to spot. Very beautiful creatures.
Jay couldn't get over the density of fish life on this reef. It is like diving into a warm, well stocked aquarium. Fish everywhere...sometimes so many that it is difficult to see through them.
Jay soon got the hang of this.....and was buzzing when we surface after 50 minutes...and carried on buzzing for the rest of the day.

This is why I like to introduce people to diving here in Phuket...the overwhelming pleasure I see in people faces (through their scuba masks of course!) is a joy to behold.
The varicose sea slug....a charming little creature hiding in amongst the rocks.
And here is our overwhelming happy Jay at the end of the dive...what fun!! And we have just begun!! More diving tomorrow.

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