▲ Big Blue owner: Ralf Deutsch, owner of Big Blue 33 dive shop in Seogwipo, is an expert on diving off the waters of Jeju. Photo courtesy Big Blue 33 Dive Shop
▲ Ralf Deutsch shows scuba divers how to gear up for a journey under the sea off of Jeju.
Frog fish, Bat fish, zebra striped angelfish, fan coral and kelp forest. All of these can be seen under the waters of Jeju Island.
“Jeju, especially Seogwipo Ocean, has very diverse species such as colorful tropical fish”, Ralf Deutsch, owner of the dive shop Big Blue 33, said.
Deutsch has been in Jeju for 14 years, and remembers first coming to Jeju on vacation. He remembers it as the island with the beautiful ocean.
“I was a boy who really loved the ocean in Germany. I personally liked the ocean in Jeju during my first visit as well. So as soon as I came back to Jeju many years later, I started to learn scuba diving, which was very exciting,” Deutsch said.
Deutsch worked as a German professor at Jeju National University for several years. After his contract was finished, he decided to stay in Jeju and opened a scuba diving shop in Seogwipo, named Big Blue 33. “Jeju lies on the 33rd parallel, and that’s why I named my shop that,” Deutsch said.
Scuba diving attracts people from all over the world to Jeju. And the number of foreigners who live in or visit Jeju has increased since he came here.
As the only scuba diving shop not only in Jeju, but also in Korea, that is operated by a foreigner who speaks German and English, his shop has been popular among foreigners visiting Jeju.
“Most of the customers of my shop are foreign people from other countries. There are some scuba diving shops operated by foreigners on the main land, but they are not fully equipped ones. They just rent scuba diving gear from somebody else,” Deutsch said.
The islets surrounding Jeju provide great diving opportunities, he said. He especially recommends Seob-sum and Mun-sum for beginners.
“The first place everybody should go is Mun-sum, which is called a little Mun-sum as well. Of course the water is very clean and a beautiful blue color. Most of all, you can see almost all of the species living around Jeju Ocean there,” he said.
He believes Jeju is one of the best places to enjoy scuba diving year-round. For the convenience of visitors, he has a Web site at www.bigblue33.co.kr. He doesn’t just emphasize the techniques of scuba diving. Feeling the “friendly” water and enjoying scuba diving is what he really wants people to experience.
He has one note of caution for those considering taking up the sport.
“If people want to learn scuba diving, they should learn how to swim first. They should be able to swim about 200 meters by themselves,” he said. “But the most important thing is to know whether you are ready to feel comfortable in the water or not. If you enjoy scuba diving itself that’d be good. And did you know that astronauts have training programs to learn scuba diving? Floating in the water is quite similar to floating in space,” he said.
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