Riding a Whale Shark? Outrageous and Unacceptable!

Unbelievable! Maybe you’ve seen the viral video of scuba divers in Indonesia riding a whale shark? In this day and age, someone has the nerve to do something like this? It makes me furious!

This kind of behavior is not okay for anyone, anywhere, anytime, but especially unacceptable for us divers. It’s a big deal – not just for the poor animal being mugged to exhaustion by divers amid its survival struggles (though that is a supreme part of it), but for the entire dive community. We’re supposed to be the ambassadors of the underwater world – the collective voice of care and concern that speaks up to protect our endangered seas from abuses like overfishing, plastic debris, shark finning and wide-scale pollution. Marine Animal Protection is one of PADI’s Pillars of Change, and I know the vast majority – probably more than 99.9% – of divers would never do something like this, and actively support what the dive community’s doing to protect the oceans.

But, this video paints us as hypocrites who exploit marine animals for our own entertainment – but not only that, these divers were breaking international and local laws (whale sharks have been protected by Indonesian law since 2013) that the dive community has been breaking its back to help put in place. Researchers think that whale sharks have declined 63% in the Indo-Pacific in the last 75 years, around 30% in the Atlantic, with a 50% reduction overall in the last decade. This is why IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) considers the whale shark endangered.

Whale Sharks are intelligent marine animals, seeing one suffering at the hands of joy riding scuba divers is outrageous! You should be outraged too – and I know many of you are as evidenced  by the thousands of enraged posts this video prompted and continues to prompt. I’ve noted reports that the divers (or some of them) have been arrested, and we’ll trust Indonesian law to be just. The arrests themselves show that the issue and law are taken seriously – as they should be.

Please speak up if you have not yet. The world needs to know that this isn’t us. This isn’t diving. Your voice matters – as Irish statesman Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good [people] to do nothing.” Silence is often taken as acceptance – and that cannot stand! If any nondivers you know saw the video, tell them it shows unacceptable, irresponsible behavior. Your personal contact delivering the message makes a big difference – it is a voice of authority because you’re a scuba diver, freediver or both. We can all help turn this negative incident into positive change by educating divers and nondivers about the Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism Guide jointly produced by Project AWARE, WWF and Manta Trust.

Like Dr. Seuss’ Lorax – speaking for the trees, we are divers, speaking for the seas. We are champions of our ocean planet, so let’s act like it. Please help spread the word that the diving family is a force for good in the world, and we don’t and won’t tolerate these kinds of behaviors.

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

Davy Jones Diving in Gran Canaria won the PADI AWARD

DAVY JONES DIVING in Gran Canaria won the PADI AWARD for outstanding achievement in PADI Diver Training.

“Davy Jones Diving have made an immense contribution to the training of divers in the Canary Islands since moving to their new  spacious dive centre in Arinaga in 2014”, said Sascha Engeler – Regional Manager for PADI EMEA. “Feedback from customers tells us that their students are  trained to high levels of safety and confidence and really enjoy their courses with Davy Jones Diving. It is a very professional PADI Five Star rated Dive Centre, and has a mature, experienced  team of instructors. They cover a range of  languages and have several who have gained PADI  Elite Instructor status.”

Brian Goldthorpe, Owner and Chief Instructor of Davy Jones Diving  said “I am delighted that the hard work of my instructors has been  recognised with this award.  We have one of the most amazing  dive sites in the Canary Islands (the el Cabrón  Marine Reserve) right next to us, and this has different dive areas  which are perfect for different courses.  Our combination of a strong team of instructors, great dive locations and great space and facilities  at our dive centre in Arinaga have helped us  to achieve this prestigious  award.”

In the name of PADI EMEA, we would like to thank you and the whole team of Davy Jones Diving for your hard work, your passion and your dedication. Keep up the great work!

 

Shark Week 2018 with Prodivers Maldives

 

Picture by Ray van Eedden
Picture by Ray van Eedden

Shark Week 2018 saw the teams at Prodivers dive centers celebrate these amazing creatures in the best way possible – spending time with them in their natural environment, the ocean. The teams’ love of sharks is well-known, as is the Maldives for being a world-renowned shark diving hot-spot, and their love was shared on dives and snorkel trips as well as in the classrooms, on the boats and pretty much anywhere else they could! Prodivers even shared their sharky love with the world on Facebook and Instagram too! If you missed Shark Week don’t worry – every week is a shark week with Prodivers Maldives!

Take a look at how the Prodivers teams across the Maldives celebrated Shark Week 2018:

Hurawalhi
Instructor Steve and repeater guest Markus opened shark week on Hurawalhi with an amazing dive on Kuredu Express, where grey reef sharks were hunting and cleaning. Steve and Markus, together with other guests, were lucky enough to snorkel with a whale shark, also on Kuredu Express, just before the last dive of shark week.

The Prodivers team on Hurawalhi did in total 20 dives in which we saw 7 different species of sharks: 1 whale shark, 1 white tip reef shark, 88 grey reef sharks, 3 silver tip sharks, 1 lemon shark, 5 black tip sharks and 2 nurse sharks.

Lily Beach Maldives Diving

Komandoo
Besides the fact that it’s always shark week on Komandoo with the baby blacktip reef sharks patrolling around the island all day, the divers and snorkelers on Komandoo were very lucky as they had a couple of special encounters with Guitar Sharks during shark week around the island.

All scooter divers also enjoyed uncountable sightings of nurse, grey reef, lemon and silvertip sharks while crossing the channels of the Lhaviyani.

Kuredu
There’s just one word for Shark Week on Kuredu: EPIC!

Kuredu’s Shark Week couldn’t have been better: It started off with an epic early morning sunrise dive at Kuredu Express with grey reef sharks, a mobula manta ray, a silvertip shark and even dolphins under water! The team did scooter introductions and insane channel crossings where they saw a big school of eagle rays accompanied by lots of grey reef sharks, lemon sharks, around 50(!) silvertip sharks. The participants of the PADI Maldivian Shark & Ray Distinctive Specialty Course were also very lucky: Before they jumped in for their dive at Kuredu Express, they spotted on the top reef a whale shark and had the chance to snorkel with it! As this is a very rare sighting in Lhaviyani Atoll, all guests and the whole Prodivers team were super excited and happy about this incredible encounter!

Shark Week Maldives Diving

Lily Beach
Lily Beach arranged exciting trips for divers of all experience levels to search for sharks and identify the different species of common in South Ari Atoll. The highlight of the week was definitely a mature guitar shark on Kalu Giri, followed by a whale shark whilst snorkelling at Ari Beach. The biggest surprise: a massive silver tip reef shark at Vilamendhoo Thila during the current check, during the dive grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks and a nurse shark resting on the top reef. Even the Bubblemakers spotted blacktip reef sharks during their sessions in the lagoon. Big smiles everywhere as we spotted sharks on all our dives during this special week.

Vakarufalhi
Vakarufalhi had an amazing week of sharks! As they had their boats filled with experienced and advanced divers, they were able to visit some of our more challenging dive sites. Diving into a strong current is always thrilling, and comes with rewards: among black-tips, we spotted some silvertip sharks! Silvertip sharks are a rare, oceanic species, that live nearby deep drop-offs. The place they can be often seen by divers is a shallower reef, serving them as a cleaning station- just like the dive site named 7th Heaven. Divers on the house reef also had a good time with the sleepy nurse shark and some white-tip reef sharks! The lagoon is a nursery for baby white-tip sharks, while their parents can be encountered around the reef, and for the ones who are obsessed with big fish: a whale shark has been seen also during the week. Vakarufalhi is only 30 minutes away from the marine protected area near Digurah Island, well known for whale-sharks!

Marine Science Workshop at Hurawalhi: The First of its Kind in Lhaviyani Atoll

Hurawalhi Maldives is proud to announce that the resort’s Marine Biology Center, a Manta Trust research facility, is set to host a Marine Science Workshop, the first of its kind in Lhaviyani Atoll.

The workshop, which will take place on Saturday, 14th July 2018, invites marine biologists, dive instructors, snorkel guides and tour operators in the region (Lhaviyani Atoll) to come and meet their fellow ocean advocates and to equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to provide their guests with the most up-to-date information; what’s more, the workshop will look to further instill sustainable tourism values and practices in the atoll’s community, and facilitate better research collection and collaboration in the atoll.

The workshop will be led by Manta Trust’s Project Manager and Hurawalhi’s Resident Marine Biologist, Kirsty Ballard, who will educate attendees about Manta Trust’s Maldivian Manta Ray Project‘s most recent finding. Kirsty will be joined by representatives from Atoll Marine Centre and Olive Ridley Project who will discuss their current turtle and clownfish research projects.

Event update and photo gallery

Marine Science Workshop Hurawalhi Maldives

The Workshop was a huge success! Participants from Hurawalhi, Kuredu, Komandoo, Kanuhura, Cocoon and Atoll Marine Centre had a fact-filled day. Hungry for knowledge, they were all ears during introductions from Kirsty Ballard who organised the event and Mohamed Solah, Director of Operations at Hurawalhi, and subsequent presentations: Kirsty further expanded on the Manta Trust research and findings, Dr. Stephanie Köhnk (Olive Ridley Project team member and Turtle Biologist and Educator at Kuredu) provided insights into sea turtle research, Atoll Marine Centre team shared knowledge on turtles, clownfish breeding programme and coral propagation, and CorAlive spoke about coral accretion methods.

Hurawalhi was pleased to have had the pleasure to host the Marine Science Workshop. We are certain that the resort’s Marine Biology Center will play an important role in educating marine users and providing tools to ensure tourism activities are conducted in a sustainable manner also in the future.

This was the first marine science workshop of its kind in Lhaviyani Atoll and both Hurawalhi and Manta Trust are confident in saying that it provided an excellent starting point for an even more increased and integrated research collaboration within the atoll.

Save the Dates: AWARE Week is Coming 15-23 September

From 15-23 September 2018, the PADI® family will join forces with Project AWARE® to celebrate the environment and education. The week’s focus is on teaching the three AWARE specialty courses – Project AWARE, AWARE Shark Conservation Diver and Dive Against Debris® – and inspiring divers to act on what they learn to protect the aquatic environment. Based on the successful 2017 AWARE Week project in the United Kingdom, this year’s AWARE Week has gone global.

WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE PART

Perfect Timing – As the dive season slows in northern climates and ramps up in the southern latitudes, divers are ready for reasons to get in the water. The bonus is they get to learn more about things that matter to them and are able to contribute by diving against debris or observing sharks. It also helps them step up the continuing education ladder. Participating in AWARE Week allows you to really connect with customers while boosting your September certifications.

Build Advocates – The more divers know about the state of the ocean and the threats to aquatic resources, the more likely they’ll be to make better personal environmental choices and become advocates for change. Education is the key to supporting PADI’s Ocean Health and Marine Life Protection Pillars and furthering Project AWARE’s efforts. Training Dive Against Debris divers not only expands your participant list for your monthly Dive Against Debris surveys, but it also creates more people who will say no to single-use plastics. Showing divers the continued pressure being put on the shark populations will create more people to defend sharks on both the local and global level.

Personal Improvement – If you already can offer all of the AWARE specialties, then teaching them during AWARE Week will help you build certifications toward your next professional level. If you aren’t authorized to teach Dive Against Debris or AWARE Shark Conservation Diver yet, then this is a great time for you to add to your professional qualifications. Get the training you need and/or send in your application soon so that you’re ready to teach in September. Also note that your instructor application fee is donated to Project AWARE.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO

Fill the Week – Connect courses with events to fill the week. Offering a big Dive Against Debris survey at your local dive site is obvious, but also plan to offer other activities. Invite local environmental experts to speak to your divers about sharks, rays or any other endangered or threatened species in your area. Show environmental videos that explain the extent of plastic pollution or highlight how to make better choices to protect the environment. Try to focus on what’s occurring locally because that’s where your divers can make the biggest change.

Download Tools – Go to projectaware.org to get all the tools you need to teach AWARE Specialties along with supporting promotional graphics from the AWARE Week host page.

One more important thing: The Project AWARE Specialty is being updated to guide divers through the “10 Tips for Divers to Protect the Ocean Planet,” including discussions about how to take personal action. Watch for announcements about the release of the new instructor guide as you prepare for AWARE Week.

For more information, visit the AWARE Week host page for PADI Members. 

 

Underwater Symbiotic Relationships – Part 1

Symbiotic relationships occur when two different organisms live together. We can divide these relationships in 3 types:

Mutualism: when both individuals benefit from the relationship;

Commensalism: when only one benefits from it, while the other species is not affected;

Parasitism: when not only just one specie benefits from it but also causes harm to the other one.

We, as divers, are lucky to observe many of these underwater living arrangements. Here are just two examples:

Anemone and Clownfish

Here is a classic example of mutualism. The clownfish, also known as Nemo or anemonefish, seeks shelter in the midst of the stinging tentacles of the anemone. The anemone’s poison can paralyze other fishes but the clownfish has a thick layer of mucus and is immune to it. The anemone offers protection and a safe place for the clownfish to lay its eggs. Moreover, the clownfish also gets a little bit of food, as it eats the anemone’s dead tentacles and leftovers.

But the clownfish also has a lot to offer. It helps to scare away some predators and gets rid of parasites. Scientists say that it might even help to oxygenate the anemone as it swims through it. The fish’s excrement are full of nitrogen, which contributes to the anemone’s growth.

The anemone can also host crabs and shrimps, offering protection without getting anything in return (commensalism).

Goby and Pistol shrimp

That is a very interesting mutualistic relationship. The shrimp is almost blind, making it very hard for it to spot predators in time. In the other hand, it is a very good digger and a specialist when it comes to burrows. By contrast, the goby has an excellent eye-sight but is quite defenseless when it comes to predators. So, what a better way to survive than to combine their strengths to minimize their weaknesses?

During the day, the goby stays at the entrance of the burrow, keeping an eye out for any predators. Meanwhile, the shrimp is busy digging and improving their house. The long antenna of the shrimp is always in contact with goby’s fins. If any danger comes to sight, the goby flicks his tail in a certain way and the shrimp quickly goes back inside. If the predator gets any closer, the goby also retreats to the safety of his burrow.

When night comes, the pair goes back inside their shelter. The shrimp closes the entrance with pebbles to guarantee a good night’s sleep.

Do you want to find out more about other symbiotic relationships? Read blog part two, next week.

 

Guest Blogger at Ocean Dimensions

Diving and snorkelling in the Maldives is like no other place on Earth. Located at the incredible Kihaa Maldives Resort, Ocean Dimensions offers a range of courses and activities to allow novice and seasoned pros the chance to experience the wonders of the Indian Ocean.

With over 20 years in the Maldives, the Ocean Dimensions team not only offers its experience, but also its passion to those who would like to share and enjoy the waters around Kihaa and the world famous Baa Atoll, a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve.

Kihaa is the closest resort in the Maldives to Hanifaru Bay, a unique protected area that offers the chance to swim with manta rays and whalesharks as they come to the area to feed.

Underwater Symbiotic Relationships – Part 2

There are so many interesting symbiotic relationships happening underwater that we thought we should come back with more on the subject. If you missed our first article, you can read it here. There we explained the different types of symbiosis and introduced you to two interesting pairs. This month, we decided to talk about two other symbiotic relationships. One between a giant and a tiny fish, and the other invisible to our human eyes.

Cleaner wrasses and manta rays

Being manta season, we couldn’t leave this one out. Here is another example of mutualism, where these little fishes get food while ridding the mantas of dead skin and parasites.
The cleaner wrasses usually set up “shop” in a coral block, so the mantas can visit them. They swim around it with the mouth wide open and let the cleaners do their job. It is just like a spa or even a medical center, as the wrasses also keep the manta’s wounds clean, helping them to heal much faster.
Fun fact, the female mantas seem to spend much more time in the cleaning stations than the male ones. Does it remind you of another animal species?

Zooxanthellae and coral

Zoo…what??? We know, we know, that’s a difficult one to pronounce, but let us explain. Zooxanthellae is a brown-yellowish alga and we can definitely say it plays an essential part in the existence of coral reefs. These little algae find shelter in the coral polyp and start an interesting symbiotic relationship. The algae produce nutrients through photosynthesis, benefiting the host, which in turn expel a waste in the form of ammonium, a nutrient for the algae. Keeping this chain of food supply within, the coral has access to more food, therefore growing faster.

Global warming and coral bleaching

Coral bleaching has been a hot topic for many years now, but do you actually know what it is? The phenomenon is correlated to the symbiotic relationship above.
When the ocean gets too warm, the corals get stressed and expel the zooxanthellae, exposing its white skeleton. If the temperature quickly goes back to normal, the algae might come back, and the coral will slowly recover. A prolonged exposure to high temperature, might lead the coral to starvation, causing its death.

Guest Blogger at Ocean Dimensions

Diving and snorkelling in the Maldives is like no other place on Earth. Located at the incredible Kihaa Maldives Resort, Ocean Dimensions offers a range of courses and activities to allow novice and seasoned pros the chance to experience the wonders of the Indian Ocean.

With over 20 years in the Maldives, the Ocean Dimensions team not only offers its experience, but also its passion to those who would like to share and enjoy the waters around Kihaa and the world famous Baa Atoll, a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve.

Kihaa is the closest resort in the Maldives to Hanifaru Bay, a unique protected area that offers the chance to swim with manta rays and whalesharks as they come to the area to feed.

DIVE 2018 PADI Instructor 2-for-1 ticket offer. Save The Date!

 

DIVE 2018 is coming to the NEC, Birmingham on 27th – 28th October. This is a weekend not to be missed. The show attracts a large range of exhibitors showcasing the latest diving holidays, training courses and dive gear. Not only this, but there will be presentations from inspiring speakers who are shaping the Dive Industry. As well as a TekPool, the event will feature a Try Dive Pool making it a great event to take friends and family to who are interested in becoming divers.

PADI have teamed up with DIVE 2018 to reward our PADI Members and PADI Divers with a 2-for-1 ticket offer. Please see below for ticket details.

 

PADI Instructor 2-for-1 Ticket Offer / PADI New Diver 2-for-1 Ticket Offer

Booking on the Day:

2018 renewed , and newly qualified PADI Open Water Divers/Discover Scuba Divers who qualified on or after 01/11/2017, will need to show appropriate ID to the ticket kiosk at the show. They will be given a paid-for ticket, plus a complimentary ticket on which they will need to fill in their contact information on the reverse. The complimentary ticket will then be collected on entry to the show.

 Booking in advance to save time:

PADI Instructors/Dive Masters and New Divers can buy the 2-for-1 offer in advance via an e-ticket and save time at the show.

All they need to do is go to: https://www.theticketfactory.com/dive-show/online/

(NOTE: You will be asked to select “Saturday” or “Sunday”, but tickets will work for either day).

PADI2-4-1INSTRUCTOR or PADI2-4-1NEWDIVER and click on GO.

Then select 2 Adult tickets next to the gold star option when selecting tickets. 

They will be charged ONLY £14.50 for 2 tickets plus booking fee. They will have to show ID at the entrance to the show.

Find the DIVE 2018 event on Facebook.

PADI Digital Core Courses Expand Reach

With more languages added to Open Water Diver and Freediver™ courses, and the PADI eLearning® experience becoming even more fluid, PADI® strengthens its claim as the leader in diver training.

Scuba diving is a sport/hobby/obsession that bridges borders and cultures, bringing people around the world together to enjoy the underwater environment. But people around the world have different needs and, more importantly, speak different languages.  PADI accounts for this when creating its eLearning products.

The PADI organization is making it easier for PADI Divers to access learning materials, with a digital suite of core courses that are easy to purchase, download and use. Now, these materials are offered in more languages than ever before too – further demonstrating that PADI truly is the way the world learns to dive.

Now, additional languages will be available for Open Water Diver and the popular Freediver courses (with more languages in more courses to come).

  • PADI Open Water Diver – Open Water Diver now available in seven new languages: Czech, Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Russian and Turkish.
  • PADI Freediver – Along with the existing English, the popular Freediver program is now available in 10 additional languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish, with Korean, Thai, and Russian soon to follow.

The PADI Library app will reflect these changes. If divers have automatic updates turned on in their device settings, the app will update automatically.  If not, they will need to make sure they update their app.

PADI Dive Centers and Resorts, be sure to update your eLearning preferences in your account to reflect the courses and languages you support.

Keep an eye out as more updates to the eLearning experience are coming soon.

UAE Royal Family chooses PADI Life Guard course to train its staff!

Elias T. Hajjar – Water Sports supervisor – together with Esmail Bahadour Sachi – Diving supervisor – both under Royal Marine affairs Department  – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Office – recently completed PADI Pool and PADI Beach Life guard course with PADI Course Director Mahmoud Elaskary – General Manager at Bel Remaitha Club:

The purpose of the PADI Pool lifeguard Specialty Course and PADI Beach lifeguard Specialty Course is to teach students the skills needed to help recognize prevent and respond to aquatic emergencies and to provide care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, injuries and sudden illnesses until Emergency Medical Services personnel take over.

This includes on-land and in-water rescue skills along with the essential CPR and First aid skills to ensure people employed as lifeguards at swimming pools and /or beach front can work individually and as team members and undertake their duties in a professional and customer focused manner, thus ensuring the safety of users.

Congratulations Elias and Esmail …and many thanks Mahmoud: keep up the good work!