Diving with Hazardous Marine Life

Written by DAN staff

Diving, swimming and even just going to the beach offers the opportunity to observe marine animals in their natural environment. Unfortunately, inappropriate or unintentional interactions with some marine life can lead to serious injuries. The good news is that most injuries are largely preventable with some forethought, knowledge and awareness. However, accidents do happen and each year a number of divers sustain marine life injuries. Below are best practices for dealing with some of the most common marine life injuries:


Sea urchins are echinoderms, a phylum of marine animals shared with starfish, sand dollars and sea cucumbers. They are omnivorous, eating algae and decomposing animal matter, and have tubular feet that allow movement. Many urchins are covered in sharp, hollow spines that can easily puncture the skin and break off, and may penetrate a diver’s boots and wetsuit.


Injuries caused by sea urchins are generally puncture wounds associated with redness and swelling. Pain and severity of the injury ranges from mild to severe, depending on the location of the injury and the compromised tissue, and life-threatening complications do occur but are extremely rare.

Divers can prevent sea urchin injuries by avoiding contact with good buoyancy control and being cautious of areas where sea urchins may exist, such as the rocky entry points while shore diving.

Treatment for sea urchin wounds is symptomatic and dependent on the type and location of injury. Application of heat to the area for 30 to 90 minutes may help. Sea urchin spines are very fragile, so any attempt to remove superficial spines should be done with caution. Wash the area first without forceful scrubbing to avoid causing additional damage if there are still spines embedded in the skin. Apply antibiotic ointment and seek medical evaluation to address any embedded spines or infection risk.


Stingrays are frequently considered dangerous, largely without cause. Stingrays are shy and peaceful fish that do not present a threat to divers unless stepped on or deliberately threatened. Stingrays can vary in size from less than 30 centimetres/one foot to greater than two metres/six feet in breadth, and reside in nearly every ocean.

From DAN_stingrays_iStock_000019476594_WEB

The majority of injuries occur in shallow waters where divers or swimmers accidently step on or come in contact with stingrays. Injuries from stingrays are rarely fatal but can be painful. They result from contact with a serrated barb at the end of a stingray’s tail, which has two venomous glands at its base. The barb can easily cut through wetsuit material and cause lacerations or puncture wounds. Deep lacerations can reach large arteries. If a barb breaks off in a wound, it may require surgical care. Wounds are prone to infections.

Injury treatment varies based on the type and location of the injury. Clean the wound thoroughly, control bleeding and immediately seek medical attention. Due to the nature of the stingray venom and the risk of serious infections, seek professional help for stingray wounds.

For more information on first aid and safe diving practices, visit DAN.org/Health


Expand into Instructor Training

Helping new EFR instructor candidates to gain instructor level knowledge and skill and then pass that on through positive coaching to their own students is the role of the EFR Instructor Trainer. As an EFRIT your own skills will also be polished as you role model instructor level teaching. You’ll also consider opportunities outside your normal market as you guide instructors considering work in a wide range of environments.

If you would like to be an EFR Instructor Trainer you will need to:

  • Be an EFR Primary / Secondary Care Instructor
  • Be an EFR Care For Children Instructor
  • Have registered at least 25 EFR students


  • Have conducted at least 5 separate EFR courses

And successfully complete an EFR Instructor Trainer Course. For dates and locations of these courses please click here.

Responders In Action

Emergency First Response would like to congratulate Samra Abd El Wahab (PADI OWSI and EFR Instructor # 372290) for providing much needed assistance when called upon.

Samra was on the way home from a Halloween party in the early morning of the 01.11.2017. She entered a subway station in Munich and at the platform she saw a group of young women (about 20 years old) screaming, and one girl was lying on the floor. Samra approached them and saw that the girl on the floor had white foam around her mouth and was already quite blueish in her face. She directed her friends to call the ambulance and to notify the police station in the subway about the situation. At the same time she checked the airways and found that the girl was not breathing. She started CPR and Rescue breathing for about 2-3 minutes until the girl started breathing again. The girl regained consciousness, and Samra stayed with her, keeping her calm until the ambulance arrived.

Well done, Samra!



Emergency First Response Manuals Go Digital

The first EFR digital student manuals are planned for release during 2018.

With more and more people using their tablets, phones and computers the option for online and offline digital study materials is increasingly popular and in demand.

The manuals will be accessed through the Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) platform which offers a great online and offline experience. It also offers the ability to search for key words so that a learner can quickly find information to review or jump back to a specific topic or course content. Updates are almost seemless and each time the user logs in the most current content is available.

With such an exciting prospect we can hardly wait! Watch out for further information and announcements later in the year.

Green Sea Turtles hatchlings on Kuredu

Guests at Kuredu Resort recently had a very cute surprise in the sand: a green sea turtle nest hatched! Late in the evening, while walking back to their villa, the guests spotted the tiny turtles making their way quickly across the beach into the ocean. A few hatchlings wandered astray and were collected by resort staff, soon to be released under the supervision of resident Sea Turtle Biologist, Stephanie, along with volunteers from the Prodivers Team.

According to previous reports, it takes green turtle nests 49 to 62 days to hatch here in the Maldives, but the baby turtles on Kuredu were a little slower – it took them 64 days to make their way out of the nest.

To evaluate the hatching success of the nest, Stephanie and a volunteer digging team from Prodivers went to exhume the nest 48 hours after the hatching event. After quite some digging, they successfully discovered the nest and out of 105 eggs laid, only three had failed to develop – that’s 102 more baby green turtles in the ocean! Such a successful nest is great news for the sea turtle population and we hope to see some of the hatchlings back on Kuredu to nest in about 10 to 15 years’ time.

Snorkelling or scuba diving at Kuredu Island Resort Maldives gives a very good chance of seeing turtles – the island is blessed with a large community of green sea turtles that can be seen at Caves, either on a Prodivers snorkelling excursion or dive trip. Turtles can also be spotted grazing in the lagoon.

Want to learn more about turtles? Visit Stephanie at Kuredu’s Marine Center and join her snorkelling on the reef for a turtle tour while she collects valuable data for the Olive Ridley Project.

Adaptive Techniques

Written by John Kinsella

It’s five thirty on a Costa Rican morning and Georgia King is talking to me about the PADI® Adaptive Techniques Specialty. It’s quiet, she says, before the rest of the family wakes. I can almost hear the tropical dawn chorus. Georgia is a PADI Platinum Course Director in Costa Rica and her time is precious, but she’s absolutely committed to helping people with disabilities benefit from diving and happy to share her wisdom. Georgia was an advisor during course development and has extensive experience and expertise. In fact, before we finish, Georgia has made another significant time and energy commitment: She’s decided to run an adaptive techniques workshop for PADI Women’s Dive Day.


Georgia’s commitment is such that since the program launched she has run two Adaptive Techniques Specialty courses right after two IDCs. It was a natural fit. “I think it’s fantastic to be able to incorporate the training with the IDC,” she says quietly. “It makes sense to integrate it naturally with the various course elements. New instructors coming out of the IDC are super excited because we’ve been talking about it. It inspires them to take that next step.”

I ask what she’d say to PADI Pros with no prior experience, who may never have thought of taking or teaching the Adaptive Techniques Specialty.

“Get involved,” she advises, pointing out that one of the major benefits, even if you are not immediately going out and teaching people with disabilities, is that it will open your mind to various teaching techniques and ways to approach all PADI programs. This can completely change the way you teach. “It really does open your eyes to a whole world of possibilities,” Georgia says. “Even in something as simple as demonstrating a skill in the skill circuit, you really just think differently. You are not set in one way of doing something. A lot of people think, ‘You have to do it this way.’ You know? You don’t.”

Georgia feels that a lot of people may be apprehensive about getting involved and offers this encouragement: “It’s kind of like the EFR® program when people worry about helping others. They don’t think they’ll be able to manage it. But everybody who has done the Adaptive Techniques Specialty is absolutely blown away and amazed by it. There’s more to it than people realize. Sure, it’s helping someone in a wheelchair, but that’s just a tiny part of it. The program talks about the attitudes, and how you treat people.”


And the confidence that insight brings opens up the most significant benefit of the Adaptive Techniques Specialty: It’s so rewarding for everyone. “Just giving people the opportunity, that’s one of the biggest things,” Georgia believes. “In any teaching there’s opportunity for reward, but sometimes I find more so with this. I shed tears after my first Discover Scuba® Diving experience with a guy who was born without legs. It completely amazed him how he felt underwater. He came up and just cried. I was so overwhelmed. It’s an amazing thing.”

Common crabs encountered in the Maldives: Part 2

Crabs are an underappreciated species. Whilst living in a harsh and arid environment they dedicate their lives to keeping the beach pristine.

Swift-Footed rock crab Laura Pola

Swift-Footed Rock Crab

The swift-footed rock crab can easily go unnoticed due to its elusive behaviour. It inhabits rocky shores at mid to high tide level and so can be found around beach rocks, boat ramps, rock walls and jetties. These crabs are fast moving and are generally only seen at night, unless disturbed. Then you may observe them jumping from rock to rock trying to find a new refuge.

Their colouration can be mesmerising with a multitude of blue, green, purple, orange, white and black. The crabs encountered on Gili are more blue, green and purple with white stripes. The shell (carapace) can be up to eight centimeters wide and is flattened, compared to other crabs which have shells that are more rounded.

Swift-Footed Rock Crab. Picture by Laura Pola

The crab feeds on algae, detritus, small vertebrates, barnacles, limpets and snails. They use their claws to break into the shells of other animals and to tear off pieces of their prey to be transferred into their mouth. This species is predated upon by a variety of animals including birds, octopus and fish, so it isn’t safe for them in the ocean or out of it!

Fiddler Crab. Picture by Carly Brooke

Fiddler crabs

Fiddler crabs are a small and short lived species of crab (up to two years) and are closely related to ghost crabs. They are found in mangroves, brackish water, mud flats, lagoons and swamps. The colouration of the crabs change in correlation with circadian rhythm – during the day they are dark and at night they are light.

Fiddler crabs are well known for their sexual dimorphism – the male’s major claw is much larger than the females. If the large claw has been lost the male will develop a new large claw on the opposite side, which will appear after molting. The female’s claws are the same size. The crabs use their claws in communication, courtship and combat. The male claw is used in waving displays which signals to the female that they are ready to mate. A more vigorous waving display indicates a healthier male and a larger claw indicates a wider burrow which will provide better temperatures for egg incubation. Females chose their partners based on claw size and the quality of waving. Once a female has been attracted she will reside in the male’s burrow whilst the eggs are being laid. The female will carry her eggs on the underside of her body for a two week gestation period. After this period the female will venture out of the burrow and release the larvae into a receding tide.

During feeding the crabs move their smaller claw from the ground to their mouth. This movement looks like the crab is playing the smaller claw like a fiddle – hence the name, fiddler crab. The smaller claw is used to pick up the sediment which is then sifted through in the crab’s mouth. Algae, microbes and fungus are the preferred diet of the crab. After the nutrients are extracted the sediment is placed back onto the ground in a ball. The feeding habits may play a vital role in preserving the ecosystem as they aerate the soil. The fiddler crab can be seen when visiting local islands, especially in the mangrove area at low tide

PADI’s guest blogger Emma Bell introduces herself:

I am a marine biologist and scuba diver from England. I have had the privilege of working in Greece, Seychelles and Maldives. I have worked in an aquaculture research centre where I focused on hormonal manipulation of a pelagic fish species. In addition, I have experience with coral restoration projects including frames and ropes; habitat restoration – crown of thorns, drupella and invasive plant species removal; educational activities and social media updates including blogs. I have also monitored population dynamics of bird, turtle, shark and cetacean species to aid in their conservation. I started my career working in the Maldives and I have done a round trip via Greece, England and Seychelles, I hope to increase my skills set and knowledge further whilst I am at Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives.

PADI Elite Instructor Award 2018

Elite Instructor Award 2018


The Elite Instructor Award started over with a clean slate as of 1 January 2018. As a PADI Instructor actively training and certifying divers, you can distinguish yourself by earning the PADI Elite Instructor Award, giving you the opportunity to tout your “Elite Instructor” status to student divers, potential customers, prospective employers and fellow PADI Professionals!

Program Summary

PADI Instructors who issue 50, 100, 150, 200 or 300 qualifying certifications in a
calendar year and who have no verified Quality Management violations within 12 months of the date of the award, will be recognized with the Elite Instructor Award.

  • Qualifying certifications: (Certifications issued by you which will included in your

    • Qualifying student diver certifications include Scuba Diver, Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, Master Scuba Diver and all student diver specialties including distinctive specialties. Junior diver
      certifications will be weighted on a one-to-one basis as well as Basic
      Freediver, Freediver, Advanced Freediver and Master Freediver.
    • Qualifying PADI Professional ratings include Divemaster, Assistant Instructor, Open Water Scuba Instructor, Master Scuba Diver Trainer, IDC Staff Instructor, Emergency First Response Instructor and all Instructor Specialty and Distinctive Instructor Specialty ratings. Freediver Instructor, Advanced Freediver Instructor, Master Freediver Instructor and Freediver Instructor Trainer will also be included and weighted on a one-to-one basis.
    • Emergency First Response Participant programs, ReActivate, Discover Scuba Diving experiences, Bubblemaker, Seal Team, Master Seal Team and Skin Diver will be weighed on a five-to-one basis. For example, five Discover Scuba Diving experiences well be weighted the same as one Open Water Diver certification.
    • Referrals will be counted on a two-to-one basis. If you have referred students to another instructor or business but didn’t get the paperwork back from the other party, please submit your completed documents to the certifications department and they will make every effort to see that you get credit for your referrals.

Elite Instructor Award Program, continued.

  • PADI Instructors achieving “Elite” status will receive a recognition decal to display on their PADI Instructor certification cards along with an e-badge to include on emails, websites, blogs and social media pages. Every recipient will also get a certificate recognizing them for the number of qualifying certifications they issued during that year: 50, 100, 150, 200 or 300.
  • PADI Pros in PADI Americas, PADI Canada, PADI Asia Pacific and PADI EMEA with a rating of Open Water Scuba Instructor or above will automatically be included in the program and their productivity will be tallied by PADI.
  • Certifications issued 1 January through 31 December qualify for the award program each year. All certifications must be processed by 15 January to count for the award.
  • The Elite Instructor Award qualifying certifications winners are tallied on an annual basis. Awards will be tallied and the winners will be notified during the first quarter of following year.
  • Instructors associated with a PADI Dive Center or Resort may authorize the business to display the instructor’s Elite Instructor Award on the business’s digital site pages.

For More Information

Will you be a PADI Elite Instructor? Visit the “My Account” tab and then “Awards” tab at
the PADI Pros’ Site to see how many certifications you garnered.

For more information about the Elite Instructor Award program, please visit the Member Toolbox at the PADI Pros Site to read a list of frequently asked questions, or email customerservices.emea@padi.com or call +44 117 300 7234. 



PADI“Congratulations to the PADI Pros who achieved Elite status during 2017. This is an outstanding achievement and a testament to your hard work and commitment to PADI. As an Elite Instructor, you are able to promote your success by showing your Elite Instructor e-badge on your Social Media pages. This is also an excellent opportunity for PADI Dive Stores to take advantage of the increased marketing potential that Elite Instructors bring to them.” – Mark Spiers, Vice President Training, Sales and Field Services, PADI EMEA.



PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa Applauds its 2018 Frequent Trainers

Congratulations to our 2018 Frequent Trainers

PADI Course Directors, the highest level of PADI Professional, are much sought after individuals within the diving industry.

Becoming a PADI Course Director is one of the toughest challenges an experienced PADI Professional will face throughout their career.  Many rigorous prerequisites must be met before the aspiring PADI Pro may submit an application to be selected for the Course Director Training Course (CDTC).  While many PADI Pros aspire to becoming instructor trainers, only the very best are selected.  The CDTC itself is intense, teaching prospective Course Directors everything from how to conduct an Instructor Development Course to how to market and grow their business.  Each candidate is subject to continuous evaluation in the classroom and in water, and it is not until the final evaluation on the final day that the individual knows whether they have made the grade.

This elite group of PADI professionals is responsible for creating the highest caliber of instructors around the world: PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors.  Course Directors also train PADI Instructors in their continuing professional development to become PADI Specialty Instructors, IDC Staff Instructors, and EFR Instructors.  The responsibility on Course Directors to keep standards high cannot be underestimated and PADI is proud to have the best instructor trainers in the diving industry.

To that end, each year PADI applauds and rewards its most productive Course Directors in the form of the Frequent Trainer Program (FTP).  Dependent on PADI Professional training productivity during the preceding year, PADI awards Course Directors who meet minimum FTP requirements with either Silver, Gold or Platinum status for the current year.

Join us in congratulating the 2018 Frequent Trainers, and find out more about the CDTC here.

Common crabs encountered in the Maldives: Part 1

Crabs are an underappreciated species. Whilst living in a harsh and arid environment they dedicate their lives to keeping the beach pristine.

The Maldives is rich in life and biodiversity, but the majority of this diversity is marine based. Due to the great distance of the Maldives from large land masses there are relatively few land based species. Crabs, are one of the most common. These shy little critters are abundant, entertaining to observe and vital to the island’s survival.

Hermit Crab. Picture by Laura Pola

Hermit Crab. Picture by Laura Pola

Land Hermit Crabs

Land hermit crabs are completely adapted to life on land, living under leaf litter or in other sheltered areas. A common error made by people is completely submerging these crabs in water, mistaking them for marine animals. Unfortunately hermit crabs can only survive for a few minutes when completely submerged. They are not true crabs because they do not have their own shell. Instead they use shells from dead gastropods in order to protect their soft abdomens. They are a long lived species – sometimes reaching the age of 40 years and older – so they go through a lot of shells!

Hermit crabs start their lives moving through a variety of larval stages whilst floating in the ocean. The larvae spend the first 40 – 60 days of their life alongside plankton until they change into a hermit crab/lobster shape. In this final larval stage they find a small shell and over the period of a month will spend more time on land until they finally molt and leave the ocean for good. By feeding on vegetation, insects, detritus, other smaller hermit crabs and microbes in the sand the crab grows in size. To accommodate this growth their hard exoskeleton must be shed periodically during the year and this process will carry on through-out the hermit crab’s life. As they grow in size the hermit crab molts less frequently and the molt process takes longer, during which time the crab will stay completely submerged in the sand.

When sexually mature the male will knock on the female’s shell to signal mating. Both genders will then extend out of their shells and the male will fertilise the female. After fertilisation the female will carry her eggs around on her abdomen where they are protected from predation. The bigger the female the larger the quantity of eggs. After one month the eggs are fully developed and the colour of the egg will have changed from brick red to grey. To hatch the eggs the female will enter the water at low tide. Upon contact with water the eggs burst open and the larvae are released.

Ghost Crab. Picture by Hans Hillewaert

Ghost Crab. Picture by Hans Hillewaert

Ghost Crab

Another common crab species is the ghost crab which is aptly named due to its nocturnal activity and sandy colouration, making the crab perfectly camouflaged into the beach backdrop. These crabs are found on sandy beaches and live in burrows. The narrower and shorter the burrow the smaller the crab. Their burrows serve a number of purposes: protection from predation, storage of their food, protection from drying out and other extreme weather conditions as well as a place to mate (although not all ghost crabs mate in burrows).

Young crabs and female crabs create burrows with sand scattered everywhere, with young crabs preferring to create burrows nearer to the water, whilst male crabs have burrows with a neat mound of sand outside – the larger the crab the larger the mound. Males produce mating sounds, squeaking noises, in a variety of ways; by rubbing their right claw on their leg, by rubbing their legs together, or by using their gill chambers, which they keep moist with saltwater.

After mating the females store thousands of eggs inside an abdominal flap. She will then venture into the sea when the eggs are ready to hatch. Since ghost crabs cannot swim the female will float upside down in the water allowing the eggs in her abdomen to breathe. Upon contact with saltwater the larvae are released and after two months return to land.

Swift-Footed Rock Crab. Picture by Laura Pola

The exoskeleton of a ghost crab is water tight, which prevents the crab from drying out in the arid and salty conditions on the beach. All ghost crabs have eye stalks with the males additionally having horns. These eyestalks enable the crab to see in any direction and can be stored in groves on their shells. The ghost crab’s eye sight is so good that they are able to catch insects’ mid-flight. They also have a well-developed sense of smell. They are very agile, capable of moving at 10mph, which makes them the fastest of all crustaceans.

Due to the erratic nature of their food supply ghost crabs are very protective of their food and will use their claws in combat displays. Male ghost crabs have one claw that is slightly larger than the other and combat is normally non-contact and ritualistic. Ghost crabs spend the majority of their day looking for food and particularly like to eat fish, seaweed, microbes in the sand, jellyfish, other crabs, snails, turtle hatchings and really anything they can get their claws on.

PADI’s guest blogger Emma Bell introduces herself:

I am a marine biologist and scuba diver from England. I have had the privilege of working in Greece, Seychelles and Maldives. I have worked in an aquaculture research centre where I focused on hormonal manipulation of a pelagic fish species. In addition, I have experience with coral restoration projects including frames and ropes; habitat restoration – crown of thorns, drupella and invasive plant species removal; educational activities and social media updates including blogs. I have also monitored population dynamics of bird, turtle, shark and cetacean species to aid in their conservation. I started my career working in the Maldives and I have done a round trip via Greece, England and Seychelles, I hope to increase my skills set and knowledge further whilst I am at Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives.