Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thailand Phi Phi Islands

Scuba Diving off Phuket

            Thank goodness for Dramamine.  I downed a couple tablets before we started and I managed to survive the long ride to the Phi Islands and back.  I even got to eat some lunch, yummy, yummy, Thai food, despite the boat rocking back and forth in all its endless gut wrenching glory.  The rocking didn’t stop until Bangkok three days later.

Warning science content ahead

            The human body has two methods of detecting motion, the inner ear, and the eye.  The eye detects motion visually.  While the inner ear detects body acceleration, basically which direction you are moving in at any given time.  The inner ear will only detect motion when you are actually moving.  This redundancy in movement detection was an evolutionary hold over from our early caveman days.

            Fred- Barney I’m hungry
            Barney- here try this it still looks ok
            Fred- I don’t know Barney
            Barney- come on what’s the worst that could happen

            What Barney doesn’t know is that this particular fruit is not meant for human consumption, thankfully the human body has a built in defense mechanism.  The majority of plants out there that are not meant for human consumption cause us to hallucinate.  These hallucinations create the illusion of movement when a person is stationary or moving in the wrong direction.  The body picks up on the disconnection between inner ear (no movement) and the eyes (false movement), causing the person to vomit expelling the dangerous plant.

            Thus motion sickness is caused by the mismatch between the information being sent by the eyes and inner ear.  In my case it was the rocking of the boat side to side (inner ear detecting motion), and looking at the inside of the boat (no visual movement).  The solution is to look out at the horizon, where you can see some limited movement, but I found a better solution.  Sitting on the back deck in the ocean breeze with my eyes closed removing any visual stimulation, so no sensory mismatch, and no motion sickness.  It had the added benefit of helping me sleep for most of the ride.  I’m just glad I didn't fall in the drink.

Science content over

            The diving on the other hand was simply amazing, and I would do it again in a heartbeat as long as I don’t have to ride the boat again.  I did a total of six dives, with each dive running about 40-50min of bottom time.  I literally more than doubled my time underwater, in two days.  The diving here has nothing on pa quarries and there really is nothing like it.  The water is so clear, I kept thinking I was much closer to the surface, but would check the gauge and realize I was still 30ft down, even the 15ft stop felt like the surface.  The reef itself is amazing, simply amazing, like a living breathing Picasso or Jackson Pollock, but not Andy Warhol.  For those of us who are less artistically inclined, I offer a second description.  The true grandeur of the reef system is like the ancient sequoias of Muir Woods, or the living mural that is Lake Placid or the Blue Ridge mountains during the fall leaf change.

And now for the Scuba diving


The Reef


Don't worry Leopard Sharks are harmless

Moray eel

Walking Star

Sea Turtle

PS- The pictures will follow in a second post coming soon