Michael and I spent the better part of our week on Koh Tao around Sairee Beach, a haven for divers and lizards alike. Following a combined total of 19 dives, three certifications, and more Baht (Thai money) than we’d care to divulge, Michael and I have been deemed “advanced divers”. This is pretty amusing to me, largely because I consider myself a novice diver who forked over the cash for the five additional dives. But this doesn’t fit as nicely on our certification cards, so “advanced diver” it is.
Since I spent several years begging for scuba lessons as a kid I was pleasantly surprised that I took to it like, well, like a fish to water. (Sorry.) Michael worried that I might want to move in under the sea, my air consumption was so excellent. Now, before you become too proud of me, it’s well known that divers who are in the best shape have the worst air consumption. Michael is an incredibly fit person who runs like the wind but uses mass quantities of air on every dive. They say the more diving you do, though, the better your air consumption gets. My great air consumption is baffling, and I can only assume it’s due to my time playing the French Horn and years of yoga. *Shrug* Sometimes dorky habits have a way of paying off!
The first few dives were no walk in the park. As scary as it is, being 15 or more meters underwater, you develop a respect for the equipment and the processes that work to keep you safe underwater. As a diver, you must test and re-test your air supply before jumping in, perform a buddy check on your partner’s gear, and never come off the boat without one hand on your mask and regulator and the other on your weight belt. These are the important rules. I learned some not-so-important ones, too: don’t call them “flippers” (they’re fins) and it’s a mask, not goggles. When I made these mistakes my instructor told me everytime I called them incorrectly I had to buy him one beer. Damned if I’ll fork over any more cash than I have to, these were not mistakes I would care to repeat.
Of our dives, my favorites were the deep water and underwater naturalist training. The deep dive took us under 29 meters (around 95 feet) of water to explore a world that is as much foreign as it is awe-inspiring. For our underwater naturalist, we identified various fish and coral, my favorite being the shrimp and goby. This is an example of symbiosis, as the shrimp is blind and therefore in danger of, well, nearly everything. The shrimp digs a little hole in the ocean floor and hires out the goby to warn him if predators are approaching. When the goby swims into the hole, the shrimp knows to stay put until the threat of danger has passed. In return, the goby gets a safe ocean home and a nice place to lay eggs.
Following several days of diving, we looked forward to some uninterrupted beach time. We came here for a vacation, right? So why have I been spending all my time studying and taking tests? When our night dive was finished, we packed our bags and made the trek to Tanote Bay.