My New Life as a Reef Instructor – Joe Galea

The newest addition to the Reef family, Joe joined us after a successful career in retail, and brings to the team many years of diving experience, as well as his laid back and friendly personality. We asked Joe to write a few words about his first few weeks at Reef. Here is what he had to say…

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Two weeks in and the work is flowing nicely, high season is in full swing and the days are varied and interesting. No two days are the same here at Reef with a wide variety of courses on offer and guests coming and going every day adds to the excitement of what’s in store for the following day.

One day I can be in the beach-side infinity pool giving free taster sessions to guests that have never experienced scuba before and the next day can be full of experienced divers wanting a guided tour of our more advanced dive sites.

Classes are kept very small to give guests more of a personal and quality service here so we really get to know our divers, even joining some for dinner in the evenings to share our dive stories and experiences.

Since arriving at Reef dive centre I have added a few new encounters and experiences to my list but my favourite so far has got to be the U.V. night dive which we offer, I went along on the last night dive, equipped with a special filter over my mask and a Ultraviolet torch and was amazed by vibrant glowing corals. It is definitely a dive to experience while here.

This Week at Reef – 17th July 2014

This last week here at Reef has been quite interesting… finally the high season is here and we felt it clearly because everyone on the team has been working every day, even skipping some days off. Diving trips every morning and afternoon and 3 night dives in 6 days,not a bad week!

Although the weather didn’t help us; the week started cloudy and windy and the sun only appeared on the last day. And what a day!! Finally we could go to Chumpon pinnacle again, one of our favorites dive spots. We had wonderful visibility and tonnes of fish all around us: queen fish, giant groupers, schools of fusiliers and barracudas… All of the divers enjoyed it a lot, most of them combining the experience with Deep Diving Training. Such a good way to learn!

But probably, the most interesting event was where one of our divers spotted a shark during a night dives, that was really cool!!

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Well, as you can see we never get bored here, please come and check it by yourself ;)

Fish in Focus – Longfin Batfish

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Batfish are a large disc shaped semi-pelagic fish, which can be found on many of Koh Tao’s dive sites, with the best places to spot these being Chumphon Pinnacle, South West and the  Sattukut Wreck. These are curious fish and fantastic for photography, so be sure to take a camera with you if you are venturing to these locations.

Their stripes can be varying levels of clarity, and it is rumoured that the more faded they are, the older the fish. Not much is known about their breeding habits, it is believed they spawn out in the ocean and the juveniles make their way to sheltered coastal regions. The juveniles start off with a long body and their body grows outwards to give them a rounder shape as seen in adulthood. As with any larger, semi pelagic fish, it is tricky to know exactly their habits and growth cycles, but here’s hoping that marine biologists can find out more!

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These guys not only inhabit Koh Tao’s underwater Pinnacles, but also inhabit as far East as the Red Sea, as far South as Australia and West toward Papua New Guinea. They have been spotted in Hawaii and the Caribbean, but are not natives, so seem to have been aquarium releases due to their adult size (can grow to 70cm long)

PADI’s Top Five Tips for Diving Vacations

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Exploring our blue planet is one of the best things about being a scuba diver. You’ll go places people have never heard of and see things others can only imagine. But before you can giant stride into a magical underwater wonderland, you have to pack…and sometimes pay an airline to take your gear. The solution: wear your scuba gear on the plane!

All kidding aside, here are some quick tips to make your next dive trip a little easier.

1 – Download the Scuba Diving Vacation Checklist to ensure you don’t forget something important.

2 – Visit iflybags.com to view baggage restrictions and fees for most of the major air carriers.

3 – Contact a PADI Dive Shop in the area where you’re traveling to find out about special permits and/or prohibited items. Some diving destinations do not allow spearfishing equipment. Others prohibit dive gloves.

4 – If you’re traveling out of the country, contact your bank and credit card company to alert them where you’re going. Your charges from another country may be flagged as fraudulent and declined.

5 – Don’t forget your PADI C-Card! For convenience, or as a backup, order a PADI eCard for your smartphone. eCards are available from any PADI Dive Shop or via padi.com

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BONUS TIP – Visit www.scubaearth.com to view recently logged dives at your travel destination. Check out tips from local divers and view ratings to discover the top local sites.

Green Fins Workshop

What Is Greenfins?

Green Fins was originally initiated by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) under the Regional Seas programme as part of the effort to increase public awareness and management practices that will benefit the conservation of coral reefs and reduce unsustainable tourism practices. It is overseen by the Coral Reef Unit of UNEP based in Bangkok in collaboration with Reef-World. Green Fins is a comprehensive approach that encourages dive centres and snorkel operators, local communities and governments to work together to reduce their environmental impacts. 

The Greenfins Code of Conduct

This consists of 15 guidelines, which can be found in our online conservation page:

http://reefdivecentre.com/conservation/green-fins

The Workshop

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This weekend, a number of ecologically responsible dive schools got together with the leading organisers of Greenfins and also the Thai Government’s Department for Marine and Coastal Resources to learn about their ‘Reef Watch’ programme and help introduce this to the kids from Koh Tao’s school. The ‘Reef Watch” programme is a simple and easy to use waterproof book which you can use to record observations of a dive site, such as the condition of the coral, the number and variety of the fish as well as many other factors.

After a few hours in the classroom, we headed out into Mae Haad Bay to conduct some coral monitoring using the new materials provided to us. Now we have practiced these techniques, it is a simple matter to conduct these sort of surveys on a regular basis to get a real time view of what is happening with our coral reefs.

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