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An interview with Jacada diver, Jobi

Written by
Jobi Chan & Emma Schofield

At Jacada, we love to explore the world as regularly and as differently as we can. One way to learn more about the planet is by going underwater. We sat down with one of Jacada's resident divers, Jobi, to talk about the best diving spots in the world and learn more about her adventures under the sea.

How long have you been diving and where did you train?

I did my first introductory dive in Gaum Island around 1998 or 1999, then I completed my PADI open water course on Bangaram Island, India in 2003. I picked up diving again and finished my PADI advanced open water course at Langkawi Island, Malaysia, followed by a rescue course, nitrox course and diving master course in Phuket, Thailand and I got my PADI Instructor license in the Maldives in 2012. 

Where are some of the best places in the world to dive?

I would say Galapagos of Ecuador, Komodo of Indonesia, and the Maldives are some of the best places in the world to dive.

The Komodo islands photographed from above, taken by Jobi

Why is Indonesia amazing for diving?

It’s the largest archipelago on the planet, with 18,000 islands, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to spot fish and coral off its shores. It is also great for different divers and divers of all levels. There are shallow waters to explore around the Gili islands, 1200 species of marine life around Raja Ampat and steep walls near Bali that take you down to 30 metres or more that are perfect for spotting deep sea creatures. Plus there are still diving spots that are waiting to be explored.

Which areas in Indonesia are the best for diving?

Great variety is the key. I wouldn’t say a particular area is the best because it depends what you want to see. You can go for a shallow muck dive at Lembeh Strait, which is calm sea without currents, to see little creature such as sea horse and the nudibranch. Or you go to Raja Ampat for the wobbegong shark and walking shark. Or if you enjoy cold water and the deep sea, go to Bali and wait for the Bumphead Parrotfish to appear at depths of around 30 meters. The variety of places to dive in Indonesia can fit every type of diver.

Bumphead Parrotfish spotted by Jobi

What kind of things do you like to spot along the reefs when diving?

At the very beginning, like every diver, I liked to spot the big marine animals such as turtles, manta rays, sharks, whale sharks, napoleon wrasses and humpback parrot fish. But after several years of diving, I started to search for the smaller things. My favorites are ghost pipefish, pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, flatworms, frog fish, leaf fish, goby, juvenile oriental sweetlip and juvenile batfish. I particularly like to spot different kinds of fish in juvenile stage because the color and pattern on the body is not the same as when they are fully grown.

How can people spot these smaller creatures when diving?

Practice makes perfect! Train yourself with an eagle eye. Firstly you will need to be still in the water with neutral buoyancy, then just simply take your time with slowly breathing, start to look at each particular coral and search for small creatures. If you go diving in a certain dive site many times, you will start to remember and locate some of the little creatures. For example, you can find the goby on a particular whip, a turtle in the cave as it sleeps or a sting ray and garden eels in a sandy pit.

Can you tell me about one of your most memorable or favourite diving experiences?

It’s so hard to pick my most memorable diving experience! I would say I am very lucky person and have had lots of great moments with marine life and the ocean. These are just two (of many) experiences that stand out for me:

1. I went for a 7-day diving trip in Komodo last year and we dived at a site called Manta Alley, South of Komodo. It turned out that we dived close to more than 30+ manta rays which fly, flip and dance through the water… an unforgettable experience. On top of that, when we went from cleaning station to the channel, we saw a mola mola (sunfish) down at 30 meters which enjoyed being cleaned 🙂 

Photo by Jack Cheung

2. Apart from island hopping and staying in the hotels on Santa Cruz Island of Galapagos, I also enjoyed 8 days of diving around Darwin and Wolf Island. There, I saw hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. The most memorable and unique experience in the Galapagos was diving with marine iguanas near Isabella Island. It was a shallow dive and the underwater landscape was incredibly beautiful, full of green algae and seaweed. I watched the marine iguanas swim into the water quickly to eat the seaweed before swimming back to the surface and sunbathing on the shore. With colorful fish all around, that was the most beautiful underwater scene I’ve ever seen. 

Coral reefs are dying around the world - what do you suggest we can do to be responsible travellers and divers?

Try not to use any plastic (for example drinking straws, plastic bags, take-away boxes and utensils and plastic bottles) and make sure the plastic won’t go into the ocean. For divers, do not touch any coral or marine life and be aware of their buoyancy while diving and taking underwater photos. And remember to use coral reef friendly sunscreen. 

Would you like to try freediving? If so, where would you like to go?

Yes I would love to try free diving and learn it too. I’d love to go to Baja California in Mexico. I heard the marine life there is awesome. Being a diver for more than 15 years, it would be great to enjoy the ocean and see the marine life without a tank and regulator in my mouth. I want to see how my body could move freely and my mind could relax and focus on the interaction with marine life. 

Have any of your clients gone diving on a trip? What sort of experiences can you organise for them? Or can you recommend any unique Jacada experiences for clients?

Yes. The Galapagos is always on the top list for every diver and I was glad that my dream to go came true two years ago. I’ve been able to plan diving trips for our Jacada Travellers to experience diving in Galapagos in different ways, from day trip diving to 8 days diving live aboard. All of them had amazing time in the water with the marine.

What I recommend: If our Jacada travellers are experienced divers, they should go on an 8-day diving trip in the Galapagos. Diving with marine iguanas, galapagos penguins, sea lions is the perfect once-in-a-life-time experience. 

scuba-dive-galapagos-islands

Do you have any top tips for people keen to try scuba diving?

I would recommend that you practice swimming as much as possible to get comfortable with it. Yoga is also really useful to help focus and regulate your breathing, a key aspect of scuba diving. Also learn about the oceans you want to dive in and the marine life that live there. Once you know what you’re looking for, it makes it much more exciting when you do spot corals and animals!

Jobi diving in the Maldives

How does the marine life react when they see you? Are the fish or sharks scared of you?

I would turn this question around. How should we react underwater when we encounter marine life?

As a diver or human being who goes into the water, we are always a visitor in the ocean. We should bear in mind always that this is the home of the marine life and the reef. As a visitor, we should respect the marine life by not touching, riding or forcing any type of unnatural interaction on them. Being a diver for over 15 years, the ocean taught me to be calm and stay relaxed in the water. If you’re able to do this, some of the marine life, such as turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, crown fish, remora, surgeonfish, batfish, and sea lions may be curious enough to come close to you.

Jobi and the cuttlefish in Matarua, taken by Stephen Au