Archive for August, 2011

News – Project Aware 2011

Posted on August 26th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on News – Project Aware 2011

Project Aware is a non-profit worldwide organization that was established in 1995 by in response to divers concerns about the potential damage of coral reefs through recreational and commercial water activities. The diving community has become aware that the man’s activities and natural disasters have led to a reduction in the natural reef systems worldwide.

We're protecting the ocean with Project Aware

Project Aware advocates, “Conserving underwater environments through education, advocacy and action”

Project Aware has several regional offices in USA (the Head Quarters), Asia Pacific, Europe, Japan and International.  These offices have been responsible for issuing grants to worthy causes. Over a 20 year period the Foundation has awarded grants ranging from $500 to $3000. The areas of funding have included:

Coral Reef Conservation

Shark Protection

Sustainable Fisheries

Ecotourism related to underwater activities

Aquatic education especially children

Direct conservation of underwater resources, for example, mooring buoys

In 2009 the Foundation expenditure for grants was a staggering $275,000 worldwide for 116 projects.

The Foundation is presently reworking the grant-giving program in order to align with Project Aware’s new mission and action plans for the future. It is hoped that details will be available from September 2011.

Education is paramount and Project Aware has many educational resources available including posters, publications, activity and learning kits, exhibits and lectures to mention a few. Education is a critical component in the protection of our oceans.  The oceans have been put under pressure due to the Earth’s expanding population and the ever-increasing use of disposable goods, which become discarded and can eventually make their way to the ocean, for example, plastic bags.  The Foundation actively encourage the education of children and have devised the AWARE Kids program, which teaches children about the underwater world and encourages activities for them to participate in, for example, beach clean-ups. There is an AWARE Kids Activity Book, which topics include coral reefs, sharks, whales, dolphins, whales, turtles and kelp forests. All the student activities correlate to National science Education standards. Education of children is important, as they are our ambassadors for our future.

Project Aware encourages regular events, for example, beach clean-ups, coral monitoring and donate as you dive campaigns. It is an organization that encourages divers worldwide to participate in activities such as underwater clean-ups, monitoring and reporting the state of the marine environment. Armed with information from divers it is possible to lobby governments for action on preservation and the conservation of the marine environment.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Clean Up


Project Aware has recently acquired a new logo and has become pro active in two main conservation areas. These campaigns are known as Sharks In Peril and Marine Debris. It is known that less than 1% of the ocean environment is protected. The shark campaign is trying to secure shark protection worldwide. Unfortunately, there are some species of sharks that are on the brink of extinction and without action the shark population will continue to be decimated. There is currently a petition, which will put pressure on Governments, particularly in countries that matter, to enforce policies to protect the shark population. There has been a victory in Europe, which has enforced a shark-finning ban.  The shark petition is in the form of a widget, this being the 21st century online version of door-to-door canvassing. The widget can be uploaded to websites and blogs, so signatures can be acquired online.

The Dive Against Debris campaign enables divers to participate in a year round citizen science project highlighting the negative impact of trash in the marine environment and how to address the issue.  Data that is submitted to Project Aware gives a true picture of the debris issues. Currently, there are 180 countries that are actively collecting and reporting online with the help of a data card the type of underwater rubbish that is found. The data can be used to highlight “hot spots”, thus promoting further action in these areas. The diving community can be pro active and use tools available from Project Aware to connect with other divers who are organizing conservation activities in the area. The Foundation is an inspiration to divers who are the key to addressing debris issues on a global scale.

Project Aware has produced a book, which gives information on issues facing the underwater ecosystems. The environments covered include: coral reefs, temperate and tropical regions, oceans, lakes, rivers, fisheries management and diving aware. It is a comprehensive book that is used as teaching tool for the Project Aware Specialty. This is a worthwhile course and gives the diver a wealth of information.

One way of contributing to Project Aware is to make a donation when you are being certified for any Scuba Diving Course. The donation is 100% and goes to worthwhile causes. In return you will receive a limited edition certification card. This organization has been inspirational to many divers and continual action will make a difference!!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  Certification Card

"Limited Edition"

Liveaboards – MV Scuba Adventure

Posted on August 25th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Liveaboards – MV Scuba Adventure

When divers think of Thailand the first place that often they mention is Similans. But there are many more dive sites accessible in the South Andaman, which also offer the same diversity and topography as the North Andaman.

Some of these dive sites also have the advantage of being open for diving all year around as they have shelter and protection from the mainland.

South Andaman Dive sites can include:

Hin Daeng (Red Rock) and Hin Muang (Purple Rock):

Both of these sites are about 70 km south of Koh Lanta and offer the best of the South diving experiences. Here the visibility can be good, but the water is plankton rich so it attracts some of the larger marine life.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Whaleshark


Hin Daeng is the deepest drop of in Thailand, with a wall descending to 70m+ on the south side of the site. It is visible from the surface in the form a three pinnacles that break the surface, these descend underwater to red soft coral covered walls and reef.

Hin Muang is a series of submerged pinnacles dropping down to 60m+, it is 200m in length and covered in purple colored soft corals.

The diversity of marine life on both sites ranges from the big palegics such as Manta and devil rays, Whale sharks and reef sharks, to small ornate ghost pipe fish, long nose hawkfish and nudibranchs.

Both sites are exposed during the monsoon season so are sometime inaccessible due to weather conditions.

Koh Haa:

This is a group of five islands about 25 km west of Koh Lanta. There are three dive sites here and it offers dramatic and colorful scenery. The reefs are hard coral which has soft corals and sea fans, the area has many swim throughs and caves.

Koh Haa Lagoon is a shallow, protected area that lies between 3 of the Islands, The central lagoon area is suitable for beginner divers and snorkellers and provides a safe, nursery-area for many juvenile fish species. You may see Porcupine Puffer Fish, Ghost Pipefish, Octopus and Hawksbill Turtles swimming amongst the corals

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Koh Haa

"The Cathedral"

Koh Haa Cathedral is a series of large and spectacular, interconnected caverns and swimthroughs. The largest cavern has three chambers and is known as ‘The Cathedral’. The first two chambers are connected by a shallow swim through at about 9 metres. It is possible to surface inside the Cathedral and see the limestone stalactites looming from the high ceilings. Light floods in through the two large entrances and offers great photographic opportunities. The shallow area in front of the beach is packed with coral and is suitable for beginner divers. Look out for the coral formations that are several metres high.

Koh Haa Chimney at Ko Haa Neung is a tall, vertical chimney, often filled with small glassfish or sweeperfish, starting at 5m and going down to around 16m. Explore the arm that branches out to the east, bringing you out into a beautiful shallow chamber with several large exits. You can find banded sea snakes, lionfish, nudibranchs, frogfish, harlequin shrimps, many other crustaceans and beautiful cowries. Look for large schools of snapper and barracuda.

Phi Phi :

Phi Phi islands have many dive sites, but the most famous and rewarding are at the south and are two rock islands called the Bida’s, Nok and Nai.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Phi Phi

"Phi Phi"

There is also a wall near to Maya beach, made famous by the movie the Beach with Leonardo De Caprio, which offers good diving.

The diving offers walls and sloping reefs, with hard and soft coral, many large sea fans and anemones. Schools of jack fish, barracuda, snappers can be seen on all sites, with sea horses, ghost pipe fish and nudibranchs. Look out for leopard sharks in the sandy areas with stingrays, and in the shallow look for hunting black tip reef sharks.

Turtles both green and hawksbills can often be found at all sites but many are seen on Maya wall.

Shark Point and Anemone reef :

Located around 26km from Chalong bay these two dive sites are less than a km away from each other. Anenome reef is one submerged pinnacle and Shark Point is two pinnacles, with one slightly above the water line.

Both sites are covered in soft corals with gorgonian sea fans, barrel sponges and anemones, and they attract a large amount of marine life.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Turtle


Leopard and bamboo sharks can be sighted here, along with tigertail sea horses, hawksbill turtles and cuttlefish. Schooling snapper, travalie and fusileers are common, with many lion fish, scorpion fish and different types of moray eels.

Koh Doc Mai :

The name means flower island in Thai and the dive site is a limestone island with vertical walls descending to 24 to 28m in depth. The East side is the most dived and has two caves along its wall, there are many crevices, big sea fans, whip coral and tree corals.

The site offers a good variety of macro life, tiger tail sea horses, ghost pipe fish, nudibranchs, many types of shrimps and frog fish. Many white eyes morays are found together and under ledges bamboo sharks are common. The dive is normally a one way drift along the wall.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Dive sites

"Andaman Sea"

If you want to enjoy the best sites that Phuket all around the Andaman Sea can offer in a 7 day liveaboard trip join MV Scuba Adventure from November to May.



Collect anything except rubbish

Make loud noises, which disturb other people and wildlife.

Hunt, destroy, or do anything that harms plants, animals and the environment

Exceed 40m of depth if trained; entry level divers must not exceed 20m of depth.

Exceed no decompression limits

Dive in restricted areas

Feed any animals

Dive with gloves, (except on wreck dives and mooring line descent or ascent dives).


Have a diving certification

Realise the significance of nature, in that we must share and learn to preserve it for ourselves and others.

Have a signaling device

Complete safety stops on every dive

Protect the environment with good buoyancy control

Take the Master Scuba Diver Challenge – Enriched Air Diver Specialty (Nitrox)

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Take the Master Scuba Diver Challenge – Enriched Air Diver Specialty (Nitrox)

Scuba Cat Diving has been offering the Nitrox Enriched Air Specialty since ‘s introduction of the course in 1996. Once considered to be dangerous, it now is widely accepted and very accessible. Diving with Nitrox Enriched Air allows us to safely extend our bottom times and after all, time underwater is what it’s all about!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Enriched Air

Since its introduction in recreational diving 1985, Nitrox Enriched air has slowly changed from being controversial to widely accepted. It is now our most popular Specialty Program and all our Daytrip boats are equipped with Oxygen Clean Compressors, which enables us to make Enriched Air available to all Nitrox certified customers.

Diving with Nitrox Enriched Air is most beneficial on dives between 18 and 30 meters. The reduced Nitrogen in the breathing gas means less Nitrogen loading and thus longer dive times.

What is Nitrox?

The air we breathe every day typically consists out of 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen and 1% other gasses. In simple terms, Nitrox Enriched Air in Scuba Diving is any breathing max with an oxygen percentage exceeding 21%. The most popular mixes are EANx 32 (with 32% oxygen) and EANx 36. For recreational diving, breathing gases enriched to 40% oxygen are acceptable and up to 60% with Semi Closed Rebreathers.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC

Most scuba equipment, including regulators, BCD’s and dive computers are compatible with Nitrox Enriched Air up to 40% when they come from the factory, however you should check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

The normal air we use in scuba diving mainly consists out of Nitrogen (approx. 79%) and Oxygen (approx 21%)*.  Dive tables and computers are based on calculation of theoretical Nitrogen loading. This loading is expressed in Foot Sea Water (fsw), which is directly related to the Partial Pressure of Nitrogen. So, as most divers already know, the nitrogen loading is based on the depth of the dive and the amount of time we spend underwater. Besides these two elements, the third factor that determines our nitrogen loading is the percentage of Nitrogen in the gas we breathe.


In Scuba Diving, Enriched Air Nitrox is any gas mix with more than 21% oxygen. Our body doesn’t use the extra oxygen in the mix, but we do benefit from the reduced Nitrogen. The reduced nitrogen will reduce the partial pressure of nitrogen when we dive and reduce the nitrogen loading, thus extending our bottom time.

Nitrox Enriched air was first introduced as a recreational breathing gas in 1985, which caused major controversy among Scuba Diving experts. It took another 11 years before it became widely accepted with ‘s support of Nitrox Enriched Air as a recreational breathing gas and its introduction of Educational Material and the Nitrox Enriched Air Speciality course in 1996.

Most dive centres have Nitrox Enriched Air available and some boats have Nitrox available onboard.

Scuba Cat’s MV Scuba Adventure, includes several free Nitrox fills on every trip to allow longer dive times. MV Scuba Fun and MV Scuba Cat both have the facility for Nitrox on board meaning that you can take your Enriched Air Diver Specialty during your diving with us no matter which boat you are on. The course is available as a Elearning course, so you can complete the theory from your own home and enjoy the diving on your vacation.

Scuba cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC

Marine Life of Phuket – Sea Horse

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Marine Life of Phuket – Sea Horse

The Seahorse is one of the “must see” critters amongst divers in Phuket.

They are found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide often in sheltered areas, for example, sea grass beds, coral reefs and mangroves.  Seahorses belong to the fish genus Hippocampus, a name derived from ancient Greek, Hippos meaning horse and Kampos meaning sea monster. The Seahorse has been named for its’ equine profile. Although the seahorse is classified as a bony fish it does not have scales, but has a thin layer of skin that is stretched over a series of bony plates.  There are fifty species of Seahorses worldwide ranging in size from 1.5cm to 35cm each having its’ own distinct number of plates.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Sea Horse


Seahorses are poor swimmers and are found often resting with their prehensile tail wound round a stationary object. They are territorial with the male staying in a 1m square of their habitat, whereas the female may travel up to 100times that area. All species of Seahorses swim in an upright position with the dorsal fin moving rapidly up to 35 times a second!!!  The pectoral fin is positioned behind the eyes and this is used to steer. There is no caudal fin. Each individual has a coronet on the head that is unique to the individual. They also have eyes that move independently.

It is believed that Seahorses mate for life, but there is no data to prove monogamy. However, it is known that a breeding pair will be together for the breeding season.  The courtship between the male and female cements the bond between them and is a very important part of the relationship and may take several days. The courtship behavior synchronizes the movements, so when the female is ready she can deposit her eggs into the male brood pouch. One of the unique things about Seahorses is that the male incubates the eggs. The Courtship dance is also known as the “pre-dawn dance” They may change colour, swim side-by-side holding tails and spiral in unison. Once the pair have bonded and the female is ready to transfer her eggs a courtship dance lasting up to 8 hours will take place. During this time the male will pump water into his brood pouch, which is on the ventral or front facing side, expanding it.  As the pair drift upwards the female inserts her ovipositor into the male’s pouch depositing her eggs.  Once the eggs are transferred the pair sink and the female swims away.  The amount of eggs laid depends on the species ranging from 5 to 1500, but the average is 100 to 200.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Sea Horse

Once the male has the eggs they are fertilized and are surrounded by a spongy tissue. The pouch acts an incubator and provides oxygen and a controlled environment where the salinity is regulated to prepare the young for life in the sea. By the end of the incubation period the male consumes a third more oxygen than before mating. The female energy expenditure while generating the eggs is twice that of the male during incubation. The gestation period is 2 to 4 weeks during which time the female will visit the male on a daily basis interacting for about 6 minutes.  When the fry are formed the male contracts the pouch releasing the young into the water column. The birth normally happens at night allowing the male to receive more eggs from his partner the following morning. Once the young are ejected into the water they are independent as there is no parental care.

It is estimated that less than 0.5% of the fry survive to adulthood. The survival rate is higher compared to other fish due to the protected gestation of the male. It is believed that the male takes the role of incubator because the female takes a long time to produce eggs. This reduces the time between clutches, thus increasing the amount of young.  When the eggs are ready they must be transferred to the male’s pouch within a few hours. If this is not possible the eggs are ejected into the water. Once the eggs are laid the female reduces in size. The eggs are equivalent to one third of her body weight!!!

The Seahorse has an unbelievable appetite and eats constantly. It is possible for an individual to eat 3000+ brine shrimp in a day. They will also consume minute fish, crustaceans and plankton.

Unfortunately, there is very little data on Seahorses, so it is impossible to assess the population and whether or not it is endangered. The use of Seahorses in traditional Asian medicine has put pressure on the population as this type of medicine will only use fish from the natural habitat and will not consider individuals from captive breeding. This combined with the deteriorating habitats and souvenir collecting does point to the extinction of some species.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Continue the Adventure

"Take that purrfect shot"

The Seahorse is a prized treasure amongst underwater photographers, as getting the perfect shot can be a challenge due to the coyness of the creature. If you would like to capture “the shot” why not consider doing a Digital Underwater Photography Specialty Course, and now be able to spend more time learning to take the photographs why not take the theory for the Speciality with E learning?

Similan Islands – What are they?

Posted on August 20th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Similan Islands – What are they?

The Similan Marine Park is located 70km west of Thailand Phang-Nga province. This group of islands is considered to be one of the top dive destinations in the world, mainly due to the clear water that surrounds the islands.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similan Islands

Similan was derived from the Malay work for nine “Sembilan” as the little archipelago is made up of nine islands. The islands do have local individual names, but are usually referred to by their respective numbers from North to South.

The Similan’s were designated as a National Park of Thailand in 1982 and cover an area of 128km2, which includes Koh Bon and the two rocky outcrops of Shark Fin Reef and Hin Pusa.

In 1998 an extra 12km2 of area was added when Koh Tachai was added to the park, which is now a total area of 140km2, of which only 15km2 is land.

Most of the islands are uninhabited with the exception of Islands 4, 8 and koh Tachai, which have national park offices located on them.

With the nine islands you get a wide variety of experiences, activities and stunning views, there are white sand beaches and massive boulder formations.

Underwater there are amazing coral gardens and diverse marine life ideal for all divers.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similan Liveaboards

The topography differs between the eastern and western sides of the islands. The east side consists of sandy bottoms with wide and colourful soft and hard coral fields that slope down to 40m in some areas. They have gentle current and make for easy diving.

The west side is characterized by large, stacked granite boulder formations which create tunnels and archways with impressive scenery. Currents here can be unpredictable which can make the diving more challenging for beginner divers. But this side is exposed to the open sea and provides good opportunities to spot big pelagic life.

Island 1               Koh Hu-Yong

The second largest island lies 8km south of island 4, it has the largest white sand beach of the Similan National Park which is located on the north side of the island. The beach is a protected area and has a Turtle hatchery, you need special permission from the forestry department to enter this island.

Island 2 and 3     Koh Pa-Yang and Koh Pa-Yan

These two islands are also protected, their topography is granite boulders with mountains and cliffs, no beaches. At resent all the first 3 islands are closed to diving in an effort to preserve the underwater environment. The most southern dive sites are the rocky outcrop of Shark Fin Reef and the submerged site of Boulder City.

Island 4               Koh Miang

The island has a marine park office, camping, small bungalows and a fresh water supply. There are 2 beaches, Haad-Yai or Princess beach on the north and Haad-Lek or Honeymoon beach to the East. There is a trail that runs between the two through the forest. Also on the island is a view point where once you reach the top has a spectacular view of the south islands of the Similans, the trek to get there is a little energetic though.

Islands 4 and 5   Koh Ha and Koh Hok

These two islands are located to the East of Island 4 and are the smallest in the group. The landscape underwater is spectacular with both fringing reef and boulder formations.

Island 7               Koh Pa-Yu

The island has a combination of granite formations and sand beaches. The East side of the island is now closed to diving, but the north and west sides offer rocky pinnacles as dive sites which are covered in soft corals. Again these sites are open to the ocean so currents can be encountered along with the bigger pelagic life.

Hin Pusa

Is located between islands 7 and 8 and is a group of boulders known as “Elephant Head Rock” as the shape resembles the head of an elephant. The site is recommended for experienced divers due to the depth and current.

Island 8               Koh Similan

Is the highest and largest of the islands and has a marine park office and camping in the North of the island at Donald Duck Bay. It is also where the famous Sail Rock is located which is a symbol of Similan. The view from the Rock shows the North part of the Similans. There is no diving on the west or East side of the island, leaving only the North area available.

Island 9               Koh Ba-Ngu

The island has no beach, but is a favorite with divers due to the scenery underwater, it has a mix of coral reef and rocky outcrops.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Koh Bon Similan Islands

Koh Bon

The island is North east of Similans, with no sand beaches it is a limestone island with an unusual “hole” which traverses the island on the west side caused by sea erosion. The most popular dive is the ridge where a cleaning station for Manta Rays can be found.

Koh Tachai

This is most Northern part of the Similan Marine Park.  The island has a beautiful white powder beach where the park office is located. With many dive sites including a plateau to the south it is a popular dive destination.

Richelieu Rock

Although not part of the Similan marine park this is often dived on the same liveaboard trips. It is actually part of the Surin Marine Park and is located between the mainland and Surin islands. It is a submerged pinnacle know for it colourful soft coral and rich diversity of life, which can include the smallest creatures such as ghost pipe fish and sea horses to the largest of whale sharks and Manta rays.