Leopard Shark sightings at Koh Haa

On our dive trips, we expect to see sharks at Koh Bida, but in recent years, we haven’t seen many at Koh Haa.  This season, we have been lucky to have a number of sightings of leopard sharks at Koh Haa.

As some of you may know, we are working with the Spot the Leopard Shark project, which is a monitoring program being run by Dr Christine Dudgeon from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Leopard Shark

Recently, we had an amazing encounter with an adult male who was around 2 metres in length.  One of our divers, Sonja Loehner, was lucky to have her camera with her and took some great photos of him.  We submitted these photos to the project, and they were very quickly able to tell us that this leopard shark is the most photographed shark of the project.  Named Ben, he has been seen 13 times!

It is important to discover the sex of the shark.  If you look between the pectoral fin and the tail, and see a clasper, you can identify the shark as a male.  The absence of a clasper would indicate a female shark.

We will continue to submit photos and hope that we will find a new shark to add to the database.


Scuba Diving and Flying – When can you fly?



How quickly can you fly after scuba diving?  We are asked this question frequently by divers and it is an important one.

Studies were carried out in the 1990’s using volunteer divers attending medical trials at the the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology (Hyperbaric Center) at Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina. A set of guidelines were issued and these now provide the accepted rules for diving and flying. They are:

Single dives – A minimum pre-flight surface interval of 12 hours

Repetitive dives or multiple days diving – A minimum pre-flight surface interval of 18 hours

For Dives requiring decompression stops – A minimum preflight surface interval of greater than 18 hours is suggested

  * source www.padi.com

Further research is currently being carried out at the same facility, and it is possible that further guidelines will be issued at some point in the future. Until that time, it is always sensible to err on the side of caution.


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What about diving after flying? You’ve just got off the plane and are desperate to start your diving adventure. Is there a minimum time you should wait after your flight?

There are no set limits for diving after flying, but they may be factors that can cause problems. Dehydration, crossing time zones, tiredness and stress can all result from long haul air travel and may be a factor in DCS. If you are tired before you start diving, you may find you are not at your most alert. It may be wise to give yourself a break after flying to rest, eat properly and rehydrate before diving.

The moral, as always, is dive sensibly and to enjoy yourself. After all, that’s what diving is all about!


Divemaster Trainee Blog

Our latest blog is a guest blog from our last Divemaster trainee, Sarah Wood. Here, she tells about her experiences becoming a PADI professional.


My Dive master training started with a lovely warm welcome from Rich and Ali at Krabi airport. From there we drove and ferried our way to what would be my home for the next three months on Koh Lanta. The first night was spent at the restaurant May’s Kitchen, meeting the people who would become my work colleagues, mentors and friends during my stay and all of them were lovely!

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During my first few days of training I started to learn the theory behind  scuba diving and also learning to navigate my way around the local dive sites with Rich who was to guide me through my DM training. Nicole and Steve were also doing their course at the same time and it was lovely to have people in the same situation who I could ask questions of and who knew exactly what I was going through.

I started to shadow Rich when he was working with customers on Open water and Advanced courses and also some very funny DSD’s. I had five practical tests to complete which saw me navigate myself out to sea on the snorkel test and also realize you should never wear a 5mm wetsuit when performing a tired diver tow as it gets very hot! As well as working with Rich I also shadowed Cynthia, our French Canadian instructor, George, an English instructor and Gary who owns the business with Rich. It was great to see how other instructors taught courses and to pick up some new ideas.

Over the course of seven weeks I learned how to inflate an surface marker buoy without going to the surface with it, how not to panic when you sometimes feel a bit lost underwater, how fast to fin when guiding customers underwater and a whole host of other practical skills. My training also included how to deal with customers and how to sell a dive trip.

Eventually it all had to come to an end and I finally finished the course in the middle of March. The final part was my snorkel test which I did on the beach at Koala bar with a DMT from another dive centre, Blue Planet Divers. Our mini beach Olympics was good fun and I had a  great night.

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My training at Hidden Depths was fantastic from start to finish. Everyone who works at the company is lovely and I have made some great friends during my training. The other staff are always willing to help and to answer questions when things don’t make sense or you just don’t know the answer. Koh Lanta is a perfect island to live on with all of the locals being very friendly and the other dive shop staff always ready to join in a night out. I would recommend to anyone wanting to do their PADI Divemaster training to get in touch with the staff at Hidden Depths Diving and find out when they can start!


Beach Clean up 28th April 2012

As the low season is upon us now in Koh Lanta, we have all been looking for something to do. The great thing about it here is that so many people are willing to give up their time and help do a beach clean up. We have been extending our green policy to doing regular clean ups here.

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The problem with this clean up however was finding somewhere to do it. The beach underneath our pier was dirty enough, but unfortunately, the tide was high at the time we had arranged to do the clean. Messages were sent out around the island to find the dirtiest beach on the island! The good news was that most of the feedback was positive and there was not a massive amount of rubbish around.

We established that the best beach would be Klong Nin, where we carried out a beach clean up on the 29th August last year.

Messages were sent out via Facebook, texting and word of mouth, and a motley crew turned up ready and willing to collect as much rubbish as possible. Compared to last year, the beach was in quite good condition. We found that we were able to clean a far larger area of the beach as there was not a massive amount of trash. We still managed to collect a huge amount of glass, plastic and other rubbish.

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The really great part of the day was that we were able to recruit holiday makers who were relaxing on the beach. They were eager to get involved and happy that they were able to do something positive for the environment while on holiday.

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Perhaps the strangest item found was this sun visor, that Gary really took a shine to.

After working really hard we all had a well deserved beer and a chat about our future plans to keep Lanta clean. All in all, it was a really successful day. We collected 245 Kilos of rubbish and took it either for recycling or to the tip on the island. The main thing is that we were able to remove this rubbish from the ocean and prevent it from recirculation.

We have been working with Ocean Divers here on the island to co-ordinate and arrange beach clean ups. We plan on holding a clean up once a fortnight through the low season.

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Laura’s Open Water Course – Day 1

Today, we began a PADI  Open Water course with Laura, and thought it would be good to record her progress.

Laura is from Germany and is spending 3 weeks in Thailand with her friends travelling. Her father is a diver, and his passion has been passed on to Laura, who has wanted to become a qualified diver for some time.

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She collected her Open Water manual yesterday, and spent the afternoon and evening studying it. She arrived at the dive centre this morning for a 9am start and sat on our pier watching the DVD’s.After she had worked her way through them, she had a break and then Gary showed  her the kit she will be using during her dives. He taught her how to put the equipment together and take it apart, which she found very interesting.

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As the sea was amazingly clear today, we carried out her confined water dives off the beach next to our dive centre. She did really well and was relaxed and comfortable in the water.

Tomorrow, Open Water dives 1&2….


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Hidden Depths Diving
123 Moo 1, Ban Saladan, Koh Lanta,
Thailand 81150
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