Rescue Course at Tioman with a Pufferfish & a visit from a Whale Shark during my 29th Dive

The bus is loaded and there’s a buzz in the air as we depart for our destination, Mersing Jetty for the boat trip to Tioman Island.

Fast forward to 8am, Saturday morning. Had our breakfast and hopped onto our boat (Princess) at 9am. As Princess sailed to Paya Bakau, Instructors gave their dive briefings and Divers started donning their wetsuits, geared up their BCDs & Regulators. Completed the Buddy Checks and after given the ‘Green Light’ from the Boat Crew, Rescue Divers got their Mask and Fins in place, got in the water, sank beneath the waves and the real fun begins, especially doing the Rescue Scenario/Exercise 7 [Unconscious Diver on Surface] (-_-)”


Started our Sunday at 9am, headed to Pirate Reef, descended to the corals beneath. 5 minutes down, a pufferfish appeared and joined us for our dive for a good 15 minutes. In other words, we were lucky to have a “Local Dive Guide” looking out for us, ‘protecting’ us.

Went to Bahara Rocks later in the day for a crew leisure dive. Did a negative descend and went further out with corals on our left side. Saw a couple of nudibranches and from afar, Aly spotted a rare sighting in Tioman. She hit her tank with a pointer (i think), trying to get our attention. Everyone scrambled to her position. And in that moment, everyone had a ‘Joseph Schooling’ in them, especially Jared. :))

Then from afar, a giant darked blue skin with white spots fish swam towards us. A juvenile whale shark was among us. It swam away but it circled back and stayed with us for awhile before it went to a deeper depth and swam away.


Diving with whale sharks was an experience of a lifetime. To see these gentle giants up close is like looking into the eyes of dinosaurs. They seem old and wise and calm and perceptive. But nonetheless, it was a very good experience seeing them upclose.

Overall, the Rescue Course was actually fun and it gives you more aware of not only yourself, but also others around you. I absolutely recommend it for everybody who wants to improve their diveskills and learn how to prevent and manage problems and accidents. After all these are skills that all divers can benefit from in their everyday life.


After reading about what the divemaster course is, some of you might be thinking: Damn, that sounds tough, so why should I do it? How will being a DM help me?

We asked the same questions to our existing divemasters at Gill Divers and here're some of the answers we've got!

Why did you want to be a divemaster?

Kat: "To teach/pass down and guide newbies diving techniques and safety rules that i know and learnt."

Qin En: "I love diving, but what I love even more is sharing the joy of diving with my friends. Every time I bring them to a Discover Scuba or Discover Local Diving, they will always return from the trips wanting to go on the next dive trip (and start their OWD). It's an incredible feeling to bring someone into another world altogether, and being a DM offers me the opportunity to do so smile emoticon"

Jian Ming: "I wanna become a dm so that I can be more credible when telling my friends about the joy of diving!"

Steph: "I wanted to be a DM to share my diving experiences with fellow/new divers. Also because I remember how mind blown I was when I did my first dive, I wanted to be a part of future fellow divers' first dive experiences too, and hopefully make it super memorable and kick ass as well."

Jay: "I want to guide others during the first dive experience, to reduce the fear and panic they might have."

Zuoying: "Many have asked why I decided to take up the DM course, but why not? Apart from being inspired by dive professionals I came across thus far, I see the DM course as a challenge for myself. I think every divemaster serves different role, and for me, I hope I am the DM which get to help weaker students slowly gain confidence in water.

Being someone who had irrational fear for deep blue, extremely low water confidence and couldn’t swim very well, taking up dive courses was a breakthrough for me, and truthfully it was the best decisions I’ve made for myself.

I still remember I struggled during my very first pool session, then I was being such a liability during my OW course. There were many times I told myself maybe I was never meant to be a diver, maybe I should just stop at OW. Despite being an extremely difficult student, the dive pros I have crossed path with thus far were very encouraging. And, this inspires me. Gradually, I gained more confidence through more dives and with encouragement from people around me, I become more comfortable in water.

And if I could do it, I wish to be in a position to inspire others too. The ones who have irrational fear the deep blue, the ones who find doing mask-clearing challenging, the ones who thought they will never make it – I want to be their DM, tell them my experience and cheer them on because I was in their exact positions slightly more than a year ago."

How have you grown since taking the divemaster course?

Jian Ming: "Becoming a dm has exposed me to many things that I have never done before. Best of all, it helped a lot in increasing my confidence when doing things that I am not familiar with."

Steph: "Taking the dm course has helped me become a calmer and more confident person both in my dive and personal/work life."

Jay: "Personally, my dive techniques have improved, safety management, understanding risk better and planning for contingencies - knowing what are possible cock-ups might arise and how to solve them."

Zuoying: "I have definitely grown since I signed up for the DM course, gaining valuable knowledge pertaining to diving and assuming the responsibilities of a DM. Apart from dive techniques which I have to constantly take note and improve on, I guess I learnt to be more aware of little details in my surrounding. I’ve learnt to be more empathetic."

We've got a variety of answers, but one thing's for sure: No one regretted their choice.

Start your divemaster journey today! Talk any of the crew for more details!


Among other key factors, keeping warm is one of the top secrets to keeping your dives more enjoyable.

Ever felt that no matter how much you wear, you still feel cold to the core when you’re diving? Once you stop moving, the cold seeps in through the thick pancake layers of neoprene, past your skin and into your bones.  Yeap, I know how that feels.  There are better lasting (and more hygienic) ways to keeping warm other than constantly having to pee in your wetsuit- that by the way, is a myth, and only leaves you feeling even colder afterward.

First up, there could be something wrong with your wetsuit? Maybe it is the wrong size and doesn’t trap water enough.  Maybe it is the wrong thickness.  Maybe everything was right, until you realise that the wetsuit if 10 years old, or that you forgot to zip up- it does happen.  Wetsuits and seals do wear out, and it is definitely worth it to invest in a good one and have them replaced every couple of years.  Getting cold during a dive is dangerous, it increases your risk to DCS, and hypothermia.  Most importantly, it takes the fun out of diving!  How the wetsuit works is providing a layer of insulation between your body and the water, hence reducing the rate of heat loss via direct contact.  That is only possible due to the neoprene bubbles, which wear out over time.

Another piece of equipment, that’s ugly yet incredibly useful- THE HOOD.  Your head loses 20-40% of the heat, and keeping your head warm keeps the rest of the body warm.  This is real, not just an urban legend.  Even when blood flow is restricted to the rest of the body when you’re cold, the blood flow to the brain still functions at full capacity to keep you alive.  Blood flows, heat follows- yeah, you get the point.  Just as how blood flows to your head all the time, whilst in diving, it also flows to your legs.  Your legs are the ones driving you around, propelling you forward kick after kick.  Covering your legs would help you feel much warmer than covering any other part of the body (other than your head of course).

Another advice would be to always start your dive warm. Its always better to start the dive a little too warm than a little too cool.  So, instead of squandering that body heat whilst on the dive boat, start preserving it.  A little like charging your heat battery before the dive.  If its windy where you dive, a nice little trick is to drape on a raincoat to block it all off.

If you know you get cold easy, don’t go to the deep waters for the sake of diving deep!  Obviously don’t give up on deep diving altogether, some of the best sites/wrecks in the world are past 30m.  However, a reef looks pretty much the same at 15m and 30m, in fact you probably see more when you’re shallower.  It keeps you warm, and you gain more dive time, win-win.  Don’t go deep diving just so you can tell people that you’ve been to 40m- it doesn’t impress anyone if its accompanied by your purple fingers and frozen body.

Ultimately, everyone is different.  One can dive in a rashguard and feel fine, another might freeze even with a 3mm full wetsuit.  Take some time to figure out how cold you get in different waters, and never over-estimate yourself!  Once you manage to stay warm, its one more item off your mind, and you can concentrate on the 5 million other things when diving.

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