At Coral Grand Divers, we have this one most experienced Thai dive instructor with us, Mr. Gat. He has more than 8,000 dives by this life he is living. From the Andaman sea to the Gulf of Thailand within these past 17 years. Let’s dive in his thoughts of the living.
Q: How did you get your 1st dive?
A: Well, I grew up in the diving business family in Phuket. We have a liveaboard boat, but I was always in the office, not on the boat. One day at my early 20s, I got so bored that I grabbed the equipment and went with them on the boat for the first time of my life doing scuba diving. I did not know how to do it but it did not keep me away from the amazing world under the water. I was more excited than scared down there seeing other living things under the water. I was blown away by the fish and the coral.
Q: So, after that the Open Water?
Q: When was all this happen and how many dives did you have by that time?
A: It was in 2002. I became the dive instructor later in 2004. I went diving every day by getting on the boat with them as a dishwasher, not as the owner's nephew. I collected about 200 Dives already.
Q: When did you move here?
A: I moved to Koh Tao to work with Coral Grand Divers in 2005. It’s the only place I have been working with on this island. I have been diving for 17 years now.
Q: Please tell us about your favorite spots to dive around Koh Tao.
A: 1. “Chumphon Pinnacle” - There are so many things to see there! I have been diving at Chumphon Pinnacle for almost 1,000 dives already but I can keep going back there to discover things I haven’t seen yet around the area. I don't even know if I could go through all of it. There are so many angles of rocks, so many holes to swim through, so many living beings to see. It amazed me every time.
2. My second favorite place to dive is “Sail Rock” or “Hin Bai” in Thai. There are so many kinds of fish there, many types of living beings and corals under the water. It is so pleasant looking at them.
3. The other one is “Hin Wong Pinnacle”. It is a strange geography underwater full of exotic looking coral reefs and strange fish that lives by the sandy bottom of the ocean. This dive point is uniquely amazing. You cannot finish exploring around all in one dive as well because there are so many sides to see. I could never get bored with scuba diving in Koh Tao.
Q: What motivates you to go out and dive other than it’s a part of your job?
A: One part of it is the students. I want to teach them so many things I know so they can become good scuba divers. Second, the gadgets! The world changes so fast that there are so many new diving technologies to use. Even though I have so many thousands dives already but it is so exciting going out to dive with the new gadgets. And of course, photography. Back in the day, I was just teaching the whole time, did not get the chance to use a camera. There came the days I have to take photos of people, aquatic animals, locations and others. Can you believe that after I see the underwater world behind the lens, everything has changed? It is a big turning point in my life.
Q: How did the underwater photography change your life?
A: Whatever you want to capture down there, you have to know more about them. You have to research their nature, habits, gestures, location, depth, weather conditions and geography to capture the perfect moment. I have learned so much more of the nature from photography.
Q: What is your favorite thing to see under the water?
A: You have to see this animal. They are called “Seamoth”. They are ancient aquatic animals with a thumb-size, the head part looks like a sparrow head, the body part is bumpy like the crocodile, and the tail is similar to the seahorse. They are considered a kind of fish but they have legs. They do not swim but they can walk with the wings. The rarest thing to see I would say. They are hard to notice as well.
Q: Mr. Gat, what was the most exciting dive in Koh Tao of your thousands of dives?
A: It happened last year in 2018, at Chumphon Pinnacle. It was the time that everyone was heading back to the boat. Two divers were swimming at the surface, I was down in the water behind him and then a 6-meter-long whale shark with a hole in his head, I remembered it very well, appeared behind those two on the surfaces. At the same time, there is the other whale shark down there at 10 meters depth water level, with me. He was a 10-meter-long beautiful whale shark. It was pretty amazing seeing 2 whale sharks in 1 dive.
Do you know what is so sad about this? The hole in that whale shark head. It happened because a human touched him and bacteria has infected which cause the hole in his head. So, don’t touch anything under the water.
Q: How Koh Tao has changed in almost 15 years you have been living here?
A: Well, Koh Tao has changed a lot, especially the environment in the sea, like everywhere else in the world I suppose. It is caused by many conditions. The environment has changed, but the culture has not changed much. Koh Tao is still fun and relaxing as always.
Q: How do you feel about diving nowadays?
A: Same. From the first day that I started to dive until today, I always feel the same. Diving just gets me every time, going down under the water. Everything is still beautiful, the fish, coral, and other things. They are always amazing to me. I will keep diving as long as there still are coral reefs, fish and as long as the ocean has salty water.
Mr. Gat laughed and smiled comfortably. While he was walking me to the parking lot of Coral Grand Divers, he told me that diving has turned many people into more calm and relaxing kind of people. He stopped to say hi to a Japanese instructor who just got back from diving, “No Seamoth nor Seahorse for today” the Japanese instructor said. Mr. Gat smiled again and wished him a good day.