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Safe Our Fins Event – Join us to save the sharks!

Shark Fin Race

Grab a buddy and join us for a three-legged fin tournament, to help raise awareness about shark finning. We’ll meet on 17th July, 5.30pm at White Rock Resort, Klong Nin Beach.

The event is organised by Scubafish, Narima Diving, Blue Planet Divers and Fish4Divers.com. Posters and shark-fin shaped leaflets in Thai and English will be distributed around the island the publicize the event and Ko Lanta’s dive centres come together to form teams and enthuse their divers to take part. We’d like to invite all divers, locals and holiday-makers from all over Ko Lanta to grab a buddy and join us for a three-legged fin tournament.

White Rock Resort & Mr. Bean are supplying free beer and curry for the participants. And we guarantee lots of fun!

Shark finning refers to the removal and retention of shark fins and the discard at sea of the carcass. The shark is very often still alive when it is tossed back into the water. Unable to swim, the shark slowly sinks toward the bottom where it suffers predation from other fish, starves to death, dies from blood loss or suffocates and drowns, since most sharks need to keep moving to force water through their gills for oxygen. Sharks can take hours or even days to die after being finned.

Fishermen are mainly interested in the fins because shark meat is of low economical value and this conserves room in the hold. Up to 99 per cent of the shark is thrown away, a process as wasteful as slaughtering an elephant for its tusks.

Shark Fin Race

Shark fins are used as the principal ingredient of shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy which is often served at wedding celebrations so that the hosts can impress their guests with their affluence. Shark fin itself is tasteless, it just provides a gelatinous texture for the soup which is flavoured with chicken or other stock. It has also been shown to contain high levels of mercury which is detrimental to our health. Many people, especially the consumers, are unaware of the suffering that finning causes.

Sharks’ life history makes them vulnerable to exploitation. Sharks take between 7 to over 20 years to reach maturity, and produce few young over long lifetimes meaning that it takes populations a long time to recover once depleted. Fishermen report that sharks are getting smaller because they are not being given time to mature.

Sharks are “apex” predators, eco logical stablisers, when they are removed from the ocean the entire eco-system suffers.

Please say “No” to Shark Fin soup and join our three-legged fin tournament to show your support for sharks!

Breathless in Ko Lanta!

Breath Holding Competition

Residents lounging by the deluxe pool at the luxurious Rawi Warin Resort and Spa on Koh Lanta last month were treated to the bizarre sight of a select group of enthusiasts, from a variety of countries, who managed to hold their breath underwater for up to six and a half minutes at a time.

After elaborate warm-up and relaxation rituals, the competitors lay face down at the edge of the swimming pool and focused on holding their breaths as long as possible under the watchful eyes of internationally approved judges Richard Wonka (Germany) and Sarah Whitcher (England).

Andaman Freediving Challenge Breathholding CompetitionIt was the second day of the Andaman Freediving Challenge, Thailand’s only annual competition for Freedivers, and followed a day out on the Blue Planet Divers’ boat in which competitors managed to reach depths of between 20 and an astounding 53 metres in the open sea.

What was most striking about this year’s competition was how friendly the competition was throughout the three days and how keen the divers were to help each other out with advice and tips to enable rivals to extend their time underwater.

Freedivers learn how to hold their breath for long periods without the aid of scuba equipment and the annual Koh Lanta competition, organised by Blue Planet Divers, is the only one in Asia to take place outside of Japan.

Eight male and four female divers took part this year, many of them competing for the first time, in six distinct events over three days.

At 52, Italian Andrea Richichi may have been older than the other competitors, but his breath-taking times in all disciplines – including an incredible 53 metre dive from the boat – saw him collect all of the major prizes.

Andrea grew up spear fishing and snorkelling on the island of Sardinia. Amazingly, he has never undertaken any formal courses in Freediving, despite his breath-taking times, including a six minute and 33 second breath-hold in the pool.

“I have never been a scuba diver, but I have always loved being under water. When I grew up, scuba diving wasn’t an option. I have never done any courses, but you really do learn a lot at competitions and you get to meet very good people.”

“I was in Thailand for work this month, but I decided to come to Koh Lanta for this competition. People make friends very quickly at these competitions and I get asked a lot of questions because I have been Freediving for six years and I have taken part in over 25 competitions. This competition has a wonderful atmosphere and it’s in a country that I love!”

He said that world championship Freedivers might not help each other out to the extent that the competitors do on Koh Lanta, but the whole ethos of the Andaman Freediving Challenge is to encourage beginners and intermediates to challenge others (and themselves) in an extremely friendly environment.

Ossien Pekkala, from Finland, was thrilled to reach 30 metres on a single breath. He only took up Freediving four months ago, because he wanted to stay longer under water while snorkelling.

“The longer I can stay underwater, the more fun I can have!”

The women’s competition was won by Jacinta Colvin, from Melbourne, who was inspired to come to Koh Lanta after hearing about last year’s competition from friends in Australia. She was delighted to reach depths of over 30 metres in her first ever competition and managed to hold her breath for just under four minutes in the pool.

“I had never been to Koh Lanta before, I decided to come on a two week holiday, especially for the Andaman Freediving Challenge. It’s been really, really good and really friendly and I feel I have learned so much over the three days. It’s great to get to hang out with other Freedivers and I feel so much more confident now.”

Freediving Competition

One of the competition’s three Thai competitors, Petchrung Sukpong (or Aey), only undertook a Freediving course with Blue Planet Divers two weeks before the competition. She was encouraged to come back and take part by coach Richard Wonka, who told her it would be a great way to make new friends and improve her technique.

Aey works in Marine Conservation in Phuket, and was delighted she had made the short journey back to Koh Lanta for the competition. She was thrilled to reach a depth of 20 metres on a single breath, a personal best, and found that the experience was akin to meditation under water.

“I think Freediving is more relaxing than scuba diving because it is so peaceful and you don’t make any noise underwater, This competition is perfect for the beginner, because it’s so friendly, and I think I’ve learned a lot about Freediving over the three days. I’d never even thought about going into a competition before and now I’m thinking of going on and doing the Advanced Freediving course.”

Aey said that she would definitely be back next year to challenge her new friend, Jacinta, for the Andaman Freediving Challenge title!

Blue Planet Divers on Koh Lanta run regular Freediving courses throughout the diving season. Check out their website, www.blueplanetdivers.net, or telephone +66 (0)75 668 165 for details.

Laanta Lanta Festival

Its this time of year again to get together and celebrate the Laanta Lanta Festival. This year the event is taking place on March 7 – 9 2010 located at Koh Lantayai Old Town community Moo.2 sub district Koh Lantayai district Koh Lanta Krabi.
the main activities of the festival is local folk entertainment, trade fair and arts and culture shows.
This festival is a great way to see how Lanta is developing every year. All tourists are welcome to see some light entertainment, enjoy the odd buy of some local produce and to learn some of Lantas history Through the eyes of the artists. There is lots of authentic food and drink to enjoy and also a sea gypsy ritual of casting bad spirits into the sea at a traditional boat floating ceremony. The festival is free of charge throughout the day and a small fee on the evening to help cover concert costs.

International Clean Up Day 2009

beach-clean-upDid you know that over 6 million tons of debris enter the oceans and sea each year causing harm to the underwater environment and wildlife? Over 80% of all marine debris is plastic – it’s estimated that 1 million plastic bags are used every single minute around the world. In Thailand alone, plastic bags make up 15% of all waste with a staggering 18,000 tons of used plastic bags being disposed of every day.

International Coastal Clean Up day (ICC) fell on the 19th September this year. The ICC started back in 1986 with 1800 volunteers; today it is the largest volunteer network worldwide. In 2008, 390,881 volunteers in 102 countries collected 3,090 tons of debris from shorelines around the planet. It is now supported by Project AWARE, the Thai Department for Marine Coastal Resources, Greenfins and a multitude of local and international organisations.

Pulling a Fishing Net out of the sandHere in Kantiang Bay, Ko Lanta, Scubafish, together with Baan Laanta Resort, Phra Nang Lanta Resort, Pimalai Resort, Same Same But Different Restaurant, Drunken Sailor’s Cafe, Why Not Bar, Win Jeang Surf Clothing Shop, The Narima Bungalow Resort and Eyes Lanta Resort, managed to recuit over 200 volunteers to muck-in and get dirty to help keep Kantiang Bay beautiful and plastic free.
With plastic accounting for over 80% of all marine debris, our focus this year aimed to specifically highlight the need to reduce plastic bags use. With Event Sponsors funding re-useable, non-plastic baggies for every volunteer to take home, we hope to provide a practical alternative – ‘Do Something Drastic – Say No to Plastic’.

With this in mind, a series of environmental and educational events were organised.
• Day 1: Klong Hin School: Environmental Activities and Educational Talks with 100 students from the school.
• Day 2: Ba Kantiang Bay: Beach Clean-Up and Village Clean-Up with over 200 local residents volunteering to help.
Out of respect for the local Muslim community, these events were postponed a week until the end of Ramadan and therefore took place on 24th & 26th September 2009. This year’s activities were a resounding success and three times more people than last year turned out to join in the community spirit.

Day 1 [24/09/09]: Ban Klong Hin School: Environmental Activities and Educational Presentations.
Scubafish and Narima Diving staff were very excited about spending a day back at school! Children ranging from 4-11 years were divided into 4 teams for the days activities: Pla Tao (Turtle), Pla Shallam (Shark), Pla Mook Jak (Octopus) and Pla Hoi Kong (Nautilus).
Four environmental and educational stations were set up in Ban Klong Hin School for each group to visit, with the aim of demonstrating human impact on the environment and providing the kids with responsible rubbish disposal strategies to help reduce their impact.

Station 1 ‘Trash Timeline’: A rope time-line was set up to represent the amount of time it takes for rubbish to breakdown. Markers were placed from 2 – 1000+ years and each group had to walk along the rope and place common items of rubbish, found around the Kantiang area, at the point on the timeline they thought it would be broken down. Greenfins posters were then distributed and the group then rearranged the articles into the appropriate time bracket, and identified which of the items could be recycled, here on Ko Lanta.

Station 2: ‘Living Reef’: A video presentation in Thai that included excerpts from the Project AWARE Living Reef video, the IOSEA (Indian Ocean South East Asia) Turtle Memorandum video and local underwater footage from some of the dive sites in the Lanta National Marine Park, aimed to demonstrate global coral reef environmental issues, Sea Turtle Conservation specific to our local species and responsible fishing techniques that can be adopted to help sea turtles and other marine creatures – all practises that can be easily adopted by local communities to reduce the impact of humans on our marine environment.

Station 3: ‘Plastic Perils’: We adapted a Greenfins presentation about Plastic Bags to be more accessible and fun for the children, and to be more Thailand specific, encouraging the kids to think about practical ways they could reduce their own impact on the tragic trash problem.

Station 4: ‘Sea Scenes’: Each child drew their favourite underwater creatures and reefscapes. Their amazing creations were later mounted on a seascape board and placed on display for the beach clean up.

To fuel the day’s events, Pimalai and Phra Nang Lanta Resorts generously provided a yummy lunch and ice cream for all 100 students. In the afternoon, The Octopossible Band from Why Not Bar entertained one and all, performing an adaptation of a popular song (Yar Ting Kaya) used as a TV campaign in Thailand around 10 yrs ago, concerning river pollution in Bangkok. The lyrics were altered to relate to Ko Lanta, mention the sea, the fishermen and appeal more to children by mentioning arriving home from school! All the students soon joined in… “Ar ar ar – yar ting kaya, Tar wi sed hen na, Ting ka ya hai pen tee pen tang” (“No No No – Don’t throw your rubbish on the ground, Magic eyes can see what you do, Throw the rubbish in the right place, please.”)
Even a small change in thinking by the next generation, can make a huge, long term difference and disseminating this information to the kids is of vital importance and is, as we say, ‘Sanuk Maak’ (very fun!).

Day 2 [26/09/09]: Kantiang Beach & Village Clean-Up.
In partnership with Project AWARE, Pimalai Resort & Spa and Same Same But Different Restaurant, Scubafish recruited 206 volunteers to collect debris and rubbish from the beach and Kantiang Village. All equipment (gloves, bags, water, ice coffee, rubbish trucks) was provided along with a video briefing on safety and collection guidelines. Three separate groups of volunteers were assigned different areas to clear, including the river, the beach and the main village street. The debris was collected and information was catalogued and recorded, (e.g. drink cans, smoking-related activities, clothing, plastics etc.) to help identify the general sources of marine and coastal debris. All trash was then weighed on the Scubafish, home-made, balance scale, which became somewhat of a live show creating much intrigue, amusement and participation by the children. The scales were constructed from articles from around the dive shop, and compared the weight of each bin bag of collected debris to standard lead dive weights. The work was hard, hot and dirty but astoundingly 3,528 kgs of rubbish was collected in under an hour and a half!

Results showed that, around the Kantiang Bay area, shoreline & recreational activities accounted for almost 400 cigarette butts, 720 plastic bags, 382 glass bottles, 314 beverage cans, more than 700 straws and stirrers, almost 1,000 caps and lids, more than 300 food wrappers & containers, and unpleasantly, over a hundred diapers! Rubbish left through ocean & waterway activities included almost 50 fishing nets, over 1,000 different pieces of rope, and more than 20 light bulbs/tubes.

Scubafish and Narima Diving are proud members of Greenfins Thailand, who are joint Thailand coordinators of this event, along with the DMCR (Department of Marine and Coastal Resources). It will be their responsibility to collate all the ICC data from clean-ups like these around the country for both the Ocean Conservancy and Thai government departments.

Scubafish and Narima Diving would like to say a huge thank you to the following organisations for their generous contributions and time in sponsoring this event:

Pimalai Resort & Spa, Same Same But Different, Baan Laanta Resort, Phra Nang Lanta Resort, The Narima Bungalow Resort, Eyes Lanta Lifestyle Resort, Drunken Sailor’s Cafe, Why Not Bar, and Win Jeang Surf Clothing Shop.

We would also like to thank the following organisations for their support of this event: Ko Lanta Yai District Office, Klong Hin School, Kantiang Bay View Resort, Aqua Bar, Lanta Marine Park View Resort, Shroom Bar, 9 Art Gallery, Simply Life and Drunken Tailors.

SCUBAFISH is a small, eco-friendly, PADI 5 Star, Gold Palm, IDC Centre located on Kantiang Beach in the South of Ko Lanta, Thailand. Offering expert guidance and instruction with an emphasis on relaxed and personal service both above & below the water, we are ideally located to offer some of the shortest journey times to Lanta’s top diving destinations.

Enter the 2009 Freediving Competition

Freediving with Monofin

Blue Planet Divers would like to invite Freedivers of all levels (even beginners) to enter the Andaman AIDA Freediving Challenge 2009. The competition is being held on Ko Lanta from 10 Feb-12 Feb 2009.

Freediving Event and Competition Program:

Guillaume Nery8 February:

  • 10:00 – Presentation by Guillaume Nery (World Record Holder in Constant Weight), an Introduction to Freediving presentation and his world record.
  • 11:00 – Monofin Demonstration & Free Trial.

9 February:

  • Freediving Trip to Ko Haa with Guillaume Nery. Constant weight training and Free immersion – Cost = 1,500 THB

Pool Training Session10 February: Opening ceremony of the AIDA Freediving Challenge

  • 08:00 – Meeting at Blue Planet Divers office in Saladan
    – Registration and payment for entry fee
    – Transfer to Rawi Warin Resort & Spa
  • 09:00 – Opening Ceremony at Rawi Warin’s pool
    – Preparation and explanation of AIDA competition rules
    – Practise sessions in the pool
  • 12:00 – End of the day

Freediving Sea Competition11 February:

  • 07:30 – Meeting at Blue Planet Divers shop
  • 08:00 – Departure to Koh Haa (breakfast served)
  • 10:30 – Deep Sea Competition – Dive site Koh Haa Yai: Constant Weight and Free Immersion
  • 14:00 – Break with Evaluation – Interviews
  • 15:00 – Deep Sea Competition: Constant weight and Free immersion
  • 17:00 – Back to Ko Lanta

Freediving practise in the pool12 February:

  • 08:00 – Meeting at Blue Planet Divers shop
  • 09:00 – Pool Competition – Static and Dynamic
  • 12:00 – Evaluation – Winner announcement – Prizes sponsored by Mares and Rawi Warin Resort & Spa
  • 13:30 – Lunch by the pool – Closing ceremony

Competition Prizes:

Rawi Warin RoomPrizes sponsored by Mares and Rawi Warin Resort & Spa.

Overall Winner – First Prize:

The overall winner will receive 4 night’s accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Rawi Warin Resort & Spa for 2 persons. Breakfast for 2 people is included.

Mares Nemo SportDeep Sea Competition:

  • First Prize – Mares Nemo Computer
  • Second Prize – Mares Razor Pro Fins
  • Third Prize – Free Dive Bag

Pool Competition:

  • First Prize – Mares Mission Watch
  • Second Prize – Mares Razor Pro Fins
  • Third Prize – Free Dive Bag

Participation Fee:

  • 3,500 THB – includes; Hotel Transfers; Open Disciplines; Insurance, Blue Planet Apnea T-shirt, Breakfast, Lunch, Fruit and Soft Drinks

Freediver with Featherstar

Participation Conditions:

  • Each athlete must have a medical certificate prior registration. The certificate can be done by your personal physician or by a specialist in diving.
  • Fees must be paid before the 10th of February 2010 (4,500 THB).
  • If an athlete comes without Freediving equipment, we can provide them with bi-fins, mask, nose clip, belt and wetsuit. The rental cost is 400 baht per day.

To participate it is mandatory to follow the AIDA rules and a safe practice. Please check the AIDA website http://www.aida-international.org/ and click on “Downloads”, then “Documents”, then click for AIDA Competitions and Record Regulations. You can also try this link:

AIDA Judges:

JudgesRichard Wonka – Germany
(Judge level E, AIDA Instructor)

Sarah Whitcher – U.K.
(Judge level E, AIDA Instructor)

Contact Information:

If you have any queries, feel free to contact Blue Planet Divers
Email: blueplanetdivers [at] gmail.com
Tel: +66 (0)75 684165 / +66 (0)813 701 303
Web: www.blueplanetdivers.net

More information can also be found at: http://www.andamanaidafreedivingchallenge.blogspot.com/

Andaman AIDA Freediving Challenge 2009

Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009

The Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009 will be held over 3 days from the 10th – 12th February 2009. The event includes a preparation day, a Pool Competition at Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and a Sea Competition at Ko Haa on the Blue Planet Diver’s Boat.

FreediverCompetitors can win:

Open sea competition prizes:

  • 1st: Mares Nemo sport
  • 2nd: Mares Pure Instinct Razor pro
  • 3rd: Mares Cruise Free Dive

Pool competition prizes:

  • 1st: Mares Mission watch
  • 2nd: Mares Pure Instinct Razor pro
  • 3rd: Mares Cruise Free Dive

1st Prize - 4 nights at Rawi WarinOverall winner:

Guillaume Nery, the World Champion in Constant Weight, will also be our guest host for the event.

Schedule of Events:

  • 10th February: Registration, Pool training, AIDA rules, Seminar
  • 11th February: Open sea competition at Ko Haa (max. depth 60m)
  • 12th February: Pool competition & Closing ceremony, Prizes, Party!

The disciplines will be: CWT, CNF, DYN, DNF, FIM, STA.

Freediver with Featherstar

This will be the second Freediving Competition hosted by Blue Planet Divers in Ko Lanta. Due to the success of last year’s competition, they have secured sponsorship from MARES, Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The competition is also fully recognised by AIDA, the Worldwide Federation for breath-hold diving, and competitors can use points won at the Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009 towards their World Rankings.

This event is open to all and we welcome new freedivers to this competition.

Freediver with Lionfish

Contact Information:

If you have any queries, feel free to contact Blue Planet Divers
Email: blueplanetdivers [at] gmail.com
Tel: +66 (0)75 684165 / +66 (0)813 701 303
Web: www.blueplanetdivers.net

More information can also be found at: http://www.andamanaidafreedivingchallenge.blogspot.com/