Karen & Tom will be joining us in Lembeh for their 5th trip 4-11 November. Although they are keen muck-divers, they are dead keen to do some exploration diving as well. We are therefore opening an invitation to anyone else who also wants to join us!
We will be running normal diving during this time, but as Karen & Tom want to do as much exploration as possible, we will also be be running exploration trips almost every day!
We have been seeing loads of Blue Ring Octopus recently in Lembeh so we thought we would tell you a bit about them!
There are possibly 10 different species of blue-ringed octopus but only 4 have been formally names and all are inhabitants of asian-pacific waters:
They are one of the jewels of the ocean, with vivid blue rings visible over the body when hunting, courting or alarmed. The are only 12 to 20 cm (5 to 8 inches) long but are considered as one of the world’s most venomous marine animals. When the octopus is agitated, the brown patches darken dramatically, and iridescent blue rings or clumps of rings appear and pulsate within the maculae. Typically 50-60 blue rings cover the dorsal and lateral surfaces of the mantle. They hunt small crabs, hermit crabs, and shrimp, and may bite attackers, including humans, if provoked.
The blue-ringed octopus spends much of its life hiding in crevices. Like all octopuses, it can change its shape easily, which helps it to squeeze into crevices much smaller than itself. This helps safeguard the octopus from predators and it may even pile up rocks outside the entrance to its lair. In common with other octopuses, the blue-ringed octopus swims by expelling water from its hyponome (funnel) in a form of jet propulsion. If the blue-ringed octopus loses an arm, it can regenerate it within six weeks.
Blue-ringed octopus females lay only one clutch of about 50-100 eggs in their lifetime. The eggs are laid then incubated underneath the female’s arms for approximately six months, and during this process she will not eat.
After the eggs hatch, the female dies, and the young larval octopuses will then feed off of copepods, larval crabs and larval starfish until they are ready to move deeper into the ocean then reaching maturity and will be able to mate by the next year.
Once the larval octopuses grow to be one to two years old they produce eggs and continue the cycle. Like most octopuses, they have a lifespan of approximately 1-2 years
Despite this small size and relatively docile nature, its venom is powerful enough to kill humans. The venom is a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin, it is also found in pufferfish and is 10,000 times more toxic than cyanide. The toxin is injected using the octopus’ beak and causes motor paralysis and respiratory arrest within minutes, leading to cardiac arrest due to a lack of oxygen.
It carries enough venom to kill 26 adult humans within minutes. Their bites are tiny and often painless, with many victims not realizing they have been envenomated until respiratory depression and paralysis start to set in.
Respiratory arrest can occur within minutes as the toxin blocks nerve transmission. Other symptoms include vomiting, muscle weakness and paralysis of respiratory muscles. Victims are fully awake until lack of oxygen, from the inability to breathe, leads to unconsciousness.
Tetrodotoxin causes severe and often total body paralysis; the victim remains conscious and alert, but this effect is temporary and will fade over a period of hours as the tetrodotoxin is metabolized and excreted by the body.
There is currently no anti-venom available, and victims are frequently saved if artificial respiration is started and maintained before marked cyanosis and hypotension develop. First aid treatment is therefore pressure on the wound and artificial respiration once the paralysis has disabled the victim’s respiratory muscles. Victims who live through the first 24 hours generally go on to make a complete recovery.
It is essential that rescue breathing be continued without pause until the paralysis subsides and the victim regains the ability to breathe on their own. This is a daunting physical prospect for a single individual, but use of a bag valve mask respirator reduces fatigue to sustainable levels until help can arrive.
Definitive hospital treatment involves placing the patient on a medical ventilator until the toxin is neutralized by the body.
It is essential that efforts continue even if the victim appears not to be responding. Tetrodotoxin poisoning can result in the victim being fully aware of their surroundings but unable to breathe. Because of the paralysis that occurs they have no way of signaling for help or any way of indicating distress. Respiratory support, together with reassurance, until medical assistance arrives ensures that the victim will generally recover well.
It may come as a surprise to divers but blue-ringed octopuses are common in very shallow water. As a result, children are probably most at risk as they are attracted to the vivid blue rings displayed by the octopus when threatened: the octopus is small and so is often picked up by inquisitive children. For divers, as always, great care should be taken when touching the reef as, when not threatened, the octopus’ camouflage can be very effective. They are not aggressive and their first form of defence is to flee.
We are starting a new series of regular blogs from our DM Interns. The first is from Lewis, he is taking our 6-week Eco-Dm Internship in Bunaken & Lembeh.
Well, where to begin??
Arrived on Lembeh to be welcomed by the friendly dogs that roam the resort, keeping guard and always looking for food.
Followed by one of the many good meals that they have here…really enjoyed the dinners, especially KFC night haha!
Had my first few days of fun diving with Matt to show me around and get acquainted with the totally different type of diving that Lembeh is known for, muck diving. It took me a while to get used to the difference but it is really fun, swimming around looking for the weird and wonderful critters that roam the Lembeh strait! On my first 2 dives, I saw most of the things that people come here to see, Ambon scorpion fish, Lembeh sea dragon, pygmy sea horse, ornate ghost pipefish, robust ghost pipefish and many many others!
Then it was time for the course to begin! With some search and recovery, organising dive cleans and surveying the coral on the house reef.
The most enjoyable thing that I have done with my time in Lembeh is building the artificial reef on the house reef! It came with a few problems and challenges but nothing that me and a pumpkin couldn’t work out and move past. A little mapping of the area then planning where the structures were to go, or building new structures. Moved things about and had fun playing with the massive liftbags that we got brought over from Bunaken to get the job done!
One word of advice for anyone who needs a visa extension though, is to take on of the two fish staff with you to help with translation and to stop you getting very angry at the immigration staff!! Was not the most enjoyable trip to manado that I had but pizza hut worked wonders
In November 2010 PADI announced the new PADI Divemaster course, however the new materials were not available in Indonesia until July 2011. Since then, Two Fish Divers have taught the new course to about 10 students in Bunaken & Lembeh, and we think that the new DM course is a great improvement.
What Has Changed
In summary, PADI have toughened the prerequisites, increased in-water training by 50%, and completely overhauled the dive theory part of the Divemaster Theory.
Slightly Tougher Prerequisites
Candidates must now have 40 logged dives to start the DM course (used to be 20). They will therefore get more out of their course by being more experienced divers before the course begins.
Additionally, the Deep Diver and Search & Recovery Diver specialty courses are highly recommended. Candidates with these specialty ratings can drop these two Practical Application Skills (see below), however we prefer to cover these anyway to make sure that candidates have up-to-date training.
Increased In-water Training
One of the biggest changes come in the water where PADI has increased the amount of in-water training by 50% including:
These workshops and assessments give the candidates the training and experience they need in order to carry out their functions after certification.
Overhaul of Dive Theory
Overall, the Divemaster Theory emphasizes the supervisory and leadership aspects of being a Divemaster. It has not changed much under the new DM course except that there is now a greater focus on awareness of the environment.
However, the dive theory part of the Divemaster Theory (physics, physiology, etc) has undergone an overhaul.
Under the old DM course, the most intense part of the course was the dive theory as candidates did the same dive theory as an instructor. Under the new DM course, the dive theory is now an “intermediate step” between whats required for the Rescue Diver and that required for an instructor. The dive theory is now a review of the theory from the prerequisite courses (OW, AOW and Rescue), and this is what it should be!
What about the exams? Now there are 2 exams, and they are written in less-technical language to “better assess comprehension of all the knowledge development topics”.
Divemaster Course Online
This was introduced at the same time as the new DM course. It is a great alternative to using the PADI Divemaster manual and DVD. It means that you can do all your DM Theory before you get to us in Bunaken or Lembeh, and more time can be spent on the skill development and practical applications.
Note that the DM exam is not included in the online program as its designed to be administered by us when you are here.
Revised PADI Divemaster Materials
The biggest change has been with the PADI Divemaster Manual itself, which increased from 200 to 300 pages. PADI says it “includes new course information and functions as an additional study tool for the DM exam. Each chapter now includes a case study based on real scenarios that illustrate sound judgement and other leadership skills.”
The Divemaster DVD also gets an upgrade, with new footage, plus video of the 20 scuba skills to “demonstration quality”.
Other revised material include the Divemaster slates that were revised to match the course content.
We think that the new format of the PADI Divemaster Course is alot more fun since candidates spend alot more time on the dive boats. If you are interested, there are a number of options to choose from, have a look at the the PADI Divemaster options with Two Fish Divers for more information.
Hope to see you in Bunaken or Lembeh!