Archive for December, 2012

Exhausting rescue course

Posted on December 29th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Exhausting rescue course

Rescue Diver Course

I was fortunate enough to have completed the Rescue Diver Course with ScubaCat Diving over the last 5 days with 3 other trainees – Noel, Josh and Kasper. Patrick and Sean were our brilliant instructors for the course.

Day 1 – Theory Lesson

We spent the whole of the Day 1 in the classroom learning about Emergency First Response (a pre-requisite for the actual Rescue Diver Course).

Sitting through hours of dry, boring videos is never an easy task – I was struggling to keep myself awake at times. However, the lively discussions that we had with regards to the subject as well as the mock scenarios we were given to remedy made the day so much more bearable. It also helped that our instructors shared many of their real-life experiences, making the knowledge fed to us a lot more relevant and memorable.

Day 2 – Pool Session


Day 2 was our first taste of the Rescue Diver Course. In the training pool, we learnt how to deal with, and pretend to be, a panicked, tired or unresponsive divers on the surface and in the water. Despite the training being serious and extremely draining, there was never a shortage of laughter throughout the day. Of course, Sean, being our instructor was the one who always had the last laugh, and an extremely sinister one in fact – in Patrick’s words “a bit of a mix between that of a Dracula and the Devil”. Midway through our training we even got to meet Sean’s hairy ‘son’ (Jasmine, I think he was called)! Towards the end of the day it started to drizzle. A sign of things to come the next day.

Day 3 – Practice Exercises @ Paradise Beach

The day began beautifully. The air was nice and warm. It was also the first time we got to see the Sun in days. We were on MV Scuba Sport in less than 30min after setting off from ScubaCat’s back office.


The objective for the day was simple; we were going to do what we did the previous day in the pool, except this time we would be subjected to the sea condition. We didn’t think much of it since the sea conditions seemed rather favorable that morning. Our instructors, of course, had very different ideas. Sean and Patrick casually mentioned that it would be a lot more beneficial to us trainees if the sea was choppier and winds were stronger. They then proceeded to summon a thunderstorm (which came within 5 minutes) with their secret mutant powers. Sean would later pretend that he had no hand in the sudden change of weather by humming to ABBA’s Mamma Mia!


As rescue diver wannabes, we were all getting more and more comfortable with the drills and routines we were supposed to do. Pretending as panicked or unresponsive divers, we were all getting more and more comfortable with having seawater go up our nostrils and into our eyes.

Day 4 – Practice Scenarios @ Rachai Yai

The 2nd day out at sea started early at 7.00am. We headed to Chalong Bay where MV Scuba Fun was already waiting for us. It was Christmas Day so there were no surprises when we found Santa Hats on board. The videographer Johnny B. was a strong advocate of them hats and spent a good 15mins trying to convince others on board to put them on as he did. The journey to Rachai Yai wasn’t the most comfortable one as the ship took a good beating from the angry sea. However, once we got into Bungalow Bay of Rachai Yai, everything was nice and calm again.


Today was the day we became extremely proficient in getting into our diving gear and jumping into the water. I think we may have gone in and out of the water no less than 15 times. Working together, we found out how much easier things could be if we established good communication during our rescues.

The highlight of the day came when we had a real search to carry out – fortunately, not for a real case of a missing diver – after it was discovered that one of the customer’s fin was knocked into the sea just as the boat was moving to another dive site. Eventually, we managed to recover it rather quickly.

Day 5 – Knowledge Review and Theory Examination


After 4 tiring days, we concluded the course with Patrick going through our knowledge reviews and then sitting for our theory examination, which all of us aced. We were now newly certified Rescue Divers! A bittersweet moment for me since although the course being absolutely exhausting, it was also extremely fun and insightful!

Marine life in the Andaman – Frog fish

Posted on December 27th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Marine life in the Andaman – Frog fish

Family name: Antennariidae
Order name: Lophiiformes
Common name: Frogfish or Anglerfish
Scientific name: Antennariidae
Frogfish are very misunderstood and very little is known about this unique underwater lie-in-wait predator. They live generally on the ocean floor around coral or rock reefs throughout tropical and subtropical waters. Most species live in shallow water although some species are deep dwelling. Recreational divers in Asia are most likely to spot certain species including giant, clown and painted frogfish.

Around the Andaman we have seen frogfish in the Similans, Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai, Koh Doc Mai, Phi Phi, Racha Yai and Noi.

Frogfish, are named because of their squat resemblance to the common amphibians, they range in size from around 5cm to the giant frogfish’s 40cm. The resemblance to frogs is that their fins are more like legs, which they use to walk slowly over the sea bed and on top of sponges and corals to lie in wait for their prey.
Colour is often not much help in identifying different frogfish since they can change this to allow themselves to camouflage and blend in with the environment they are in. Depending on the species, this change might take seconds or weeks. Some frog fish’s skin is also covered by bumps, flaps, hairs and tassles which further allow for mimicking the nearby seabed, corals, sponges or weeds. This also explains how divers can often cruise straight past, not noticing their presence.

There are not many other fish that you could mistake for a frogfish but it can be exceptionally difficult to distinguish between the sexes or species. Unless you get out your scalpel, there is no way to tell male from female. Since colouration is not a method of identification for all but the most rare species, you should be looking out for species-specific features such as what form the lure takes (maybe it is mimicking a worm or fish), the number of eye spots and the number of spines.
Frogfish move very slowly but they have the fastest strike speed of any other animal on earth. They move by gulping water with their massive mouth, then forcing the water through the gills, this allows them to move about the reef or bottom.

As the frogfish is scaleless and unprotected camouflage is an important defense against predators. Some can also inflate themselves, like pufferfish, by sucking in water in a threat display. In aquariums and in nature, frogfish have been know to when moved from their hiding spots and are clearly visible, to be attacked by clownfish, damselfish, and wrasse, and even to be killed.
It is the feeding approach of anglerfish that makes it such interesting creatures. They are perfectly camouflaged and lie in wait for any prey. The lure may be used to attract prey in a variety of different ways, depending on the species.

They can also use a chemical attractant so sometimes they just lie in wait for some unfortunate creature to venture too close. When the prey is within grasp the attack takes place. The frogfish expands its oral cavity engulfing the prey with a reflex that instantly sucks it in by creating suction pressure inside the mouth. Taking no more than around 6 milliseconds.

Frogfish have also been seen stalking their prey by sneaking towards their target along the sea bed.

They eat mostly small fish, shrimps and crabs but their prey sometimes being up to twice their own body size. As they are toothless the frogfish swallows its prey whole, allowing digestive enzymes to do the rest. The prey can often be seen twitching and writhing against the walls of the its stomach until they no longer are alive. Frogfish have also been observed to eat lionfish; the poison appears to have no effect on them.  In addition to expanding their mouths, frogfish can also expand their stomachs to swallow animals up to twice their size.

What eats anglerfish? the main answer is another frogfish, they are known for being cannibalistic. However considering that they are designed more to catch fish swimming in the water column, this is a rather rare phenomenon. Moray eels have also been witnessed eating frogfish, but again, this is an uncommon sight.


Learn more interesting facts about the local marine life to Phuket by joining us on a Naturalist or Fish ID specialty course.

First time diving for our Scuba Cat marketing intern Quang

Posted on December 26th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on First time diving for our Scuba Cat marketing intern Quang

Few months ago, I decided to leave Europe for my internship at Scuba Cat. As I had been told that I would have many opportunities to do diving here, I had become over excited because I could never image how the undersea lives looked like. However, I had felt very nervous at the same time.
My first dives DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) took places at Paradise Reef, a beautiful shallow site in the Patong Bay.


My instructor is Sean Porter, an incredibly optimistic English man. I heard that Sean was a very experienced dive instructor but I was still unable to hide my nerves.
I received a thorough briefing about mask, fins, pressure, breathing, etc before I jumped into the water. After putting on me a BCD and air tank, Sean did one more check to make sure that everything was well-setup. For this first dive ever, Sean would only take me down till 6 meters depth. Then now I was ready to explore the ocean.
Once being in the sea, I must breathe through the regulator. Although the air in the tank is similar to the normal air, I felt like it was the weirdest air I had ever breathe in my life. Being told to face down slowly into the water, I had feeling that my heart beat ten times faster to make it. Gosh! I felt water everywhere. I didn’t feel comfortable at all! As struggling few times with breathing and descending, I was now undersea.

Sean guided through reefs, show me fishes. He kept asking whether everything was ok with my ear, my mask and so on. He and I still remember how I was excited as I tried to catch the fishes with my hands. OMG! Fishes are everywhere surrounding me. My eyes opened as big as they can. I saw Sergeant Majorfish, Clark’s Anemone Fish, Longfin Bannerfish, Moorish Idol, Lined Butterflyish, Powder Blue Surgeonfish, Corals, Blue Sea Star, and that “ugly” Sea Cucumber and “scary” Black Diadema Urchin and many that I don’t know their names. I didn’t notice that 20 minutes had gone until Sean gave sign to go up. When we came back to the boat, Sean teased me that I could catch the fishes well but I should stop doing it next time.

The second dives would be the most unforgettable dive in my life. This time I didn’t have problem descending but struggling with breathing and water (again!). As water came into my mouth and my mask, I started feeling unsafe and wanted to go back but few seconds after that, I couldn’t resist anymore. I was shaking, trying to blow water out and somehow the regulator was out. In a second, I thought that I would end my life there but thank to Sean, he put the regulator in my mouth again, pressed the air button, the air flew into my lung and immediately I felt “alive” again. He inflated my BCD and I was already on the surface few seconds after that.
I went diving again a few days later, the feeling of being scared had disappeared and I felt more relaxed, and I guess it will feel like that more and more each time I do it.

It’s hard to believe that I just returned from a scary-but-interesting journey. In dedication to Sean, who made my first dive experience absolutely amazing. He has been doing a brilliant job as an hero undersea. How challenging it is to get over myself to see a wonderful world undersea but since that moment, I knew that I truly loved diving again.

I must agree with Dave Barry- a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author- as he said
“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.”

Patong beach and underwater clean up with Scuba Cat diving and Go Eco Phuket

Posted on December 20th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Patong beach and underwater clean up with Scuba Cat diving and Go Eco Phuket

On the beautiful SUNday of the 16th of December the Scuba Cat team had a great day with Go-Eco Phuket with a dive site cleanup at Paradise Reef.
“Scuba Diving for Cleaning” was in the sequence of events during the “Environmental Day”- the second day of Phuket Carnival at Patong 2012. Together with the beach cleanup by local inhabitants, rubbish-recycling was also competed by the school children, “Scuba Diving for Cleaning” involved scuba divers in Phuket.

On the morning of the event, 12 divers consisting of recently certified dive instructors from our last IDC, tour guides, fun divers from our previous trips and Quang- our marketing intern attended the kick-off on the beach.


There were also a total of 70 volunteer divers from Royal Thai Navy, Go-Eco Phuket, and other dive centers in Phuket.
There was a welcome speech and a chance to meet the other divers during photograph sessions before the start of the event at 9:30am.
The long tail boats arranged by the Thai government took us to our half day boat MV Scuba sport, which was waiting to take the group to the local house reef at Paradise beach.

Gary- our tour guide- briefly introduced the boat, the dive site and the program of the day which included the 2 underwater clean up dives.

Thank to our divers, we have collected more than 10kgs of fishing lines and fishing lures, lot of fish nets, many bottles and cans, plastic trashes, shoes, batteries and many wooden lantern frames which were probably released from Loi Krathong Festival few week ago.

We returned to the beach at 1PM where the closing ceremony for the event took place with music, dancing and magic acts. Everyone involved in the event received a Scuba Cat wristband from us, a lovely medal and an honoured certificate from the Thai government.

At the end of the day the collected rubbish was weighed and the divers collected a total of 250kgs of debris. Moreover, it was great to know that this was the first time Patong organized the beach and diving cleanup with a major involvement of government and entrepreneurs in the region. Congratulation to Thai nation for their timely awareness of the ocean protection and environmental educations for kids!!!
Scuba Cat felt honoured for participating in the event, as did our volunteers. Many of them shared that they had enjoyed the event with ScubaCat and would like to come back for future events we are arranging.

We would like to thank all volunteers for the willingness and kindness and look forward to see you at our brand-new “We Belong To The Sea” in February and April 2013.