Colonies of Hope

Blog written by guest blogger and marine biologist Clare Baranowski

Preserving coral reefs is a growing concern in the Maldives

At Gili Lankanfushi, we are recovering our coral reefs through the Coral lines Project. By growing small fragments of coral on hanging ropes (lines) and then transplanting them to our house reef near One Palm Island, we hope to see regeneration and aim to kick start the health of our house reef.

Our Coral Lines Project started three years ago and currently holds around 7484 coral colonies. We are consistently adding small fragments of coral to the already growing population on 153 lines.

Josie monitoring our 153 coral lines

The vulnerable nature of coral populations mean that they undergo cycles of disturbance and recovery. Our house reef was affected by warmer waters created by the El Nino event in 2016 which bleached much of the corals. Yet against all odds, most fragments in our coral lines nursery survived.  They have also been faced with a Crown of Thorns (coral predators) outbreak this year and have still remained intact.

In some cases, the corals in our lines are no longer present on shallow reefs in the area.

Now, is the perfect time to begin stage two of our coral restoration project by moving coral from our nursery to our house reef.  Transplanting coral is a delicate procedure with a lot of trial and error. We began slowly by creating a test site with a small number of coral colonies to ensure we would not lose healthy coral unnecessarily.

Josie beginning the process

We found a site with conditions not too dissimilar to the nursery. The area had to be flat and solid, with no loose material and space for growth.  It also had to be an area that is easily accessible for monitoring, but nowhere in danger of tampering or accidental damage.  We chose a depth of 8 metres in the middle of house reef drop off where we regularly snorkel. Another major concern was the Crown of Thorns Starfish, so we placed the coral in an area visited regularly by Harvey Edwards, Ocean Paradise Dive Centre manager, who has been removing these starfish from the reef for months.

Clare cutting the coral from the line

The next step was to cut the colonies from the lines in the nursery, and transport them in mesh bags in the water. We decided to use three different Acropora species to begin with as they are fast growing and like a lot of light and a moderate current. Once at the site, we cleaned the area of algae and attached the coral to ensure protection from extreme water movement. We placed them an equal distance apart to allow quick growth and attached the coral using epoxy, which is a clay like cement. We were aware from previous studies that Miliput (epoxy clay) has been seen to kill the part of the coral it is attaching, so we placed small amounts of putty at the base of the coral.

Once a week, for a total of six weeks, we will measure growth and survivorship of the coral.  We hope to replicate the test at different depths and locations to find a suitable site to start a larger restoration project. However, we will hold off on most of the major transplantation until after the monsoon season.

Attaching the colonies using epoxy

Due to the fragility of coral species, our rehabilitation plans are very flexible, and subject to a long monitoring period.  We expect to adapt our approach and long term management to ensure we keep up with the changing environment of the reef. Previous restoration plans have been hindered by external threats, so we are so excited to finally begin this project. We will be producing scientific data along the way which we hope will contribute to current coral reef rehabilitation knowledge.

Although our transplants are working well so far, we will still have many question to answer in the future such as: are the corals on the house reef still reproducing? As these corals survived the last bleaching, will they be more genetically suited to future hostile conditions? The answers to these questions are all just a work in progress and we will have to keep on watching and learning as we replant and monitor these corals over the next few years. As our house reef sustained a lot of mortality and the coral cover is low, we hope that this new project will help to rejuvenate the reef and raise awareness.

PADI’s guest blogger Clare Baranowski introduces herself:

I am a marine zoologist from the UK who has worked throughout the tropics researching mega fauna and reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. I have experience monitoring and restoring coral and surveying manta, turtle and dolphin populations. I began my career as a science communicator before moving into research and management roles, this is why I incorporate outreach and education into every project I work on and I hope to continue this at Gili Lankanfushi.

Shark Week at Camel Dive Club

This year Camel Dive Club in Sharm el Sheikh has supported Project AWARE Foundation campaign #SharkWeek2017 and celebrated Shark Week with several events dedicated to sharks’ awareness and protection.

In occasion of the Shark Week, Camel Dive thought about giving something back to the Red Sea by organizing the following:

Underwater Clean up – on all Camel Boats on Friday 28.07.17

Special Promotion for AWARE Shark Conservation Distinctive Specialty Course during Shark Week

A Sponsored Fin walk to Na’ama Jetty – where guests sponsored their guides to walk to the Jetty in a pair of Fins through a donation page set up by Project AWARE.A Sponsored Quiz at Camel Bar – Open to all dive centers and guests

…Special Guest at the QUIZ PARTY  – as representative of Project AWARE – PADI RM Teo Brambilla.

(Here below with Camel representative and organizer of the events Beth Sanders)

Thanks to Camel enthusiastic staff, passionate guests, Sharm diving community ….and a dedicated Project AWARE branded donation box, during the week week approximately 400 GBP were collected and donated to ProjectAWARE.

This is an excellent result paired with the several kilos of debris collected underwater and lots of fun that everybody had during this week.

On Behalf of Project AWARE and PADI, Thanks Camel Dive Club for your outstanding support !

In agreement with Project AWARE, it has been decided to keep active the donation page on Justgiving, so if you did not have the chance to make your donation yet – PLACE IT NOW at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cameldiveclub

3rd Quarter 2017 Edition of The Undersea Journal Now Available Via PADI Library App

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Every quarter The Undersea Journal is filled with stories and articles that help you stay informed and inspired as a PADI Professional. In addition to choosing a printed magazine there are several digital reading options for this useful publication:

1. Using the PADI Library App (Apple App Store | Play):

  • From your mobile device, open your Library in your PADI Library App, download and view.
  • On your computer, select Certification Paks from the Log In tab at the top of padi.com. From there you’ll be able to view the magazine in the Online Manuals portal.

2. Via the Zinio app on your computer or mobile device.

3. As a PDF on the PADI Pros’ Site. Log on to the Pros’ Site and click on the References tab. You can download the entire magazine or choose to download it in sections.

Each quarter, the latest edition of the publication will be added to the PADI Library.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you’ll continue to receive an email notification that your publication is available for viewing on Zinio. If you’ve opted for the printed version, it will continue to be delivered to your mailing address.

Dealing with Decompression Sickness – Reducing Risk and Preparing for Response

Written by DAN Staff

Explaining decompression sickness (DCS) to student divers is a balance between emphasizing how serious DCS can be while focusing on how conservative diving practices help keep the incident rate low. Similarly, as a dive professional, you need to balance your preparedness to deal with a DCS incident with your focus on reducing risk for your student divers and yourself before, during and after each dive.

Reducing Risk

Low Resolution Preview -- not authorized for any other useMost training dives are likely to be conservative and well planned, especially for entry-level courses, thus the steps to reduce DCS are role-modeled and practiced by student divers in the water. However, post-dive DCS catalysts may be less frequently addressed. Dehydration, strenuous exercise and thermal stress can all increase DCS risk. It’s important to consider how much physical exertion may be required by student divers to move gear after a dive or hike out of a dive site. Because student divers are not as knowledgeable as experienced divers, share dive-related efficiencies, such as using a hand trolley or dive bag with wheels to carry gear. Inexperienced divers also need to be reminded to hydrate and apply sunscreen or find shade. Learning something new is exciting, but it can also be stressful for student divers. Part of dive safety is taking the time to instill good habits to reduce risks.

Prepare For The Worst

DAN_O2 Kit - BahamasYou know that even if you do everything right, you can’t completely eliminate DCS risk. This means that even on the most ordinary training dive in great conditions, you must be prepared for the worst. Having an emergency plan that includes contact information for emergency services and the location of the nearest medical facility is key. Also, preparing your response to an injury by having the proper equipment and emergency oxygen is critical. The more remote the dive site, the more oxygen you’ll need along with a reliable way to transport an injured diver to medical care. DAN can help you locate the nearest chamber and provide medical consultation as needed.

For more information on DCS and risk management, visit DAN.org/Health

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12 Activities to Keep Divers Active and Increase Business

Written by Megan Denny

Many people become divers because they’re curious about the underwater world. But often it’s the friendships and camaraderie that keep people diving, taking trips and furthering their dive education.

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The social aspects of scuba are also key to growing and maintaining a successful dive business – divers sharing their passion for scuba with family and friends is what fuels our industry. Scuba marketing trends come and go, but there’s always been one constant: word of mouth. Divers invite friends, who make new friends and they all go diving.

Successful dive centers continually bring customers together through diving and nondiving activities. If you aren’t yet running events where divers and nondivers can mingle, choose an idea from the list below.

Family and Friends Discover Scuba® Diving Event

Host a friends and family Discover Scuba Diving (DSD®) event. Promote the event by emailing past student divers a free Discover Scuba Diving voucher, or creating a social media post for your event and inviting followers to tag or share with friends.

Here are some additional ideas to jump-start your dive center’s social calendar.

Diving Activities

  • Host a weekly or monthly fun dive followed by a picnic, BBQ or pizza party where kids and spouses are invited.
  • Challenge new divemasters to bring in two friends to do a DSD. The divemaster gains assisting experience and you may get two new divers.
  • If you have easy pool access, start a birthday party program for children or adults. Grown ups can have a private DSD experience for their friends, and kids can enjoy Bubblemaker®.
  • Start a women’s dive group with regular fun dives, DSDs, ReActivate® sessions, or a ladies’ weekend getaway.

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Nondiving Activities

  • Each month (or quarter) celebrate all divers who earned a certification.
  • Invite VIP customers to a thank-you party and give them a pair of free DSD vouchers to share with friends.
  • Schedule a PADI Pro Night.
  • Host a travel night and ensure your most gregarious travelers attend.
  • Try a Dive Against Debris® event during the weekend, or at night during a full moon.
  • Celebrate the dive center’s birthday and staff milestones.
  • Start a year-end awards tradition (most accomplished, best sunburn, coolest critter photo, etc.).
  • Throw a shark-themed or Shark Week party.

Friends with Health Benefits

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.”

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Help your customers strengthen their social bonds and find new dive buddies at shop-sponsored diving and nondiving events. When divers have friends to dive with, they dive more and that’s also good for the health of your business.

PADI Advanced Open Water Diver eLearning

PADI’s newest digital product, PADI® Advanced Open Water Diver eLearning™ combines the best of the current eLearning system with enhancements that better engage student divers. Available initially in English (other languages to follow), the new online study program will replace Advanced Open Water Diver Online.

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Here are the top-line features that make this independent study option a win for you and your entry-level divers who are ready to take the next step:

  • It’s designed for use with mobile devices (smartphone and tablets) or personal computers connected to the internet. (An offline options will be released later.)
  • All 13 Adventure Dives from the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Manual are included, along with the Introduction and Thinking Like a Diver sections.
  • The PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Video is integrated within sections and dynamically streams, which helps avoid long loading times or video pauses.
  • The user-friendly design supported by clear images, animated concepts and interactive diagrams makes learning enjoyable as well as effective.
  • All audio is closed-captioned – a great feature for hearing impaired and deaf divers.
  • The open navigation allows eLearners to move around – jump forward, jump back, replay and review topics – to fit their learning style and needs.

Similar to current eLearning products, student divers answer knowledge check questions after each subtopic to solidify understanding, and complete the section Knowledge Reviews to get credit on their eRecords. You sell the product the same way and can monitor each student diver’s progress through the PADI eLearning® system’s virtual classroom.

Student divers are required to complete the Introduction and Thinking Like a Diver sections, and are highly encouraged to complete the Deep Diving and Underwater Navigation sections for Advanced Open Water Diver certification. However, those starting with the Adventure Diver certification may choose any three Adventure Dives. Divers can choose to complete all sections if they want or just the sections you’ve advised for the Adventure Dives you’ll complete together.

Watch for more information about translations and offline eLearning options in upcoming PADI publications.

MALDIVES DIVING HOLIDAYS

Life beneath the surface in the Maldives is an underwater Disneyland, perfect for dive enthusiasts. The Maldives is renowned as one of the very best diving locations in the world. There’s not only an abundance of reef life here but also spectacular coloured coral and crystal clear water.

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Nigel Wade

WHY CHOOSE THE MALDIVES FOR YOUR DIVING HOLIDAY?

The Maldives ticks all of the boxes when it comes to diving holidays. This tropical location boasts visibility levels of up to 40 meters, making it a great destination for advanced divers. However diving in the Maldives is not just for the experienced. The shallow lagoons and channels make it the perfect location to try diving for the very first time. Plus what better destination in the world is there to gain your scuba-diving certifications?

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Renee Sorenson

The Maldives is also home to protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The presence of currents in this island nation means that open water channels are perfect for drift diving and it’s also possible to swim with gentle ocean giants like manta rays and whale sharks. Don’t forget the Maldives has year round water temperatures of 26 – 29 degrees Celsius!

THE BEST TIME OF YEAR FOR DIVING IN THE MALDIVES

Fortunately, the diving season in the Maldives is open all year round with the calmest conditions from December through to June. As the Maldives is located in the tropics, it is susceptible to both wet and dry seasons. June to November is the south-west monsoon season, bringing with it with overcast and wet conditions, especially in June and July. During these months expect slightly less visibility and different currents, although there is still plenty of marine life on offer, as well as sunny spells. Generally reef life is more varied and visibility is better on the western side of any atoll from May to November and on the eastern side from December to April. Reef sharks, hammerheads and whale sharks are found in the Maldives year round, along with manta rays and sea turtles, you just need to know where to head at the time of year you plan to dive!

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Renee Sorenson

DIVING OPTIONS

There are a number of diving options when it comes to Maldives. For example at Secret Paradise, value for money diving holidays and tours will be offered that you will remember for a lifetime. Enjoy an all-inclusive guesthouse stay and be transferred by boat to incredible nearby dive sites, the same sites that you would dive from a resort but at half the cost! Our diving holidays are an affordable alternative to a resort stay and also allow you the flexibility of island hopping or if your budget is larger, atoll hopping to benefit from the best dive locations during your time of travel.

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Renee Sorenson

Liveaboards are a popular dive holiday option, allowing you to scour the waters for the ultimate dive spot each day. These days most Liveaboards operate a year round schedule offering 7 night, 10 night and 14 night cruises not only in the central atolls but to the deep south and deep north offering opportunities to discover less dived sites and pristine coral.

SECRET PARADISE DIVING HOLIDAYS

 Secret Paradise, offers six diverse one island based diving packages, all in different atolls allowing you access to what are some of the best dive sites in the world. Our packages include Dharavandhoo, perfect if you want to encounter 100s of manta rays in Baa Atoll, Hulhumale if you need to stay close to the capital, Maafushi, South Male Atoll, Dhigurah home of the whale shark in Ari Atoll, Rasdhoo, the ideal location to spot a hammerhead and Gan in Laamu atoll.

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Boutique Beach

Our island hopping itineraries in Male Atoll and Ari Atoll allow you to discover a range of dive sites and marine life whilst at the same time experiencing Maldives local life, tradition and culture, with or without a private dive guide.

DIVE TEAMS

All partners of secret Paradise are PADI affiliated dive centers and are operated by both local and European dive professionals. A personal interest is taken in promoting scuba diving in the Maldives, through education and awareness about the underwater environment here. Their objective is to encourage underwater conservation and safe diving practices

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Nigel Wade

Dives are generally conducted from the beach within an island’s inner reef for beginners or from a local dive boat, a dhoni, for certified divers. Dive sites are chosen daily based on both the weather and current conditions as well as diver ability.

The teams will take you to the best dive spots and willingly introduce you to the characteristics of the underwater world of the Maldives. All offer boat dives, NITROX, night dives and a full range of PADI courses and will always ensure you get the best out of your dive. If you are learning to dive, you can do anything from completing a try dive or just the open water dive section of your PADI Open Water certification to completing the full PADI Open Water certification. Whatever you choose to do you can be assured of fun and safe diving with us and our partners.

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Nigel Wade

Secret Paradise Co-Founder, Ruth Franklin a diver herself with over 1500 dives in the Maldives is always happy to share her own diving experiences and is on hand for honest dive advice.

About Secret Paradise

Since 2012 Secret Paradise has been at the forefront of the Maldives local island tourism industry, promoting and supporting guesthouses, dive centres and activity operators based on locally inhabited islands throughout the Maldives archipelago. Offering group and private tours or independent travel packages, Secret Paradise holidays are designed to allow guests to engage with local people and experience the best from a paradise generally known as a luxury resort destination.

Responsible Tourism plays a very large part in what we do. We are mindful of ensuring we promote local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs and through education of both guests and locals we aim to protect the environment and limit where ever possible any negative impact to local life. We partner NGOs such as Save the Beach and marine charity organisations such as Maldives Whaleshark Research Program to provide opportunities for our guests to learn and support local conservation initiatives.

The benefit of travelling with us is that Secret Paradise guarantees you prompt and efficient personal service. We deliver high standards of service and professionalism and you can rely on Secret Paradise to provide expert local knowledge, clear communication and honest advice.

www.secretparadise.mv

Customer Service

Because we are spending time and money to bring customers through our doors, we must offer excellent customer service!

And with all of the customer touch points out there and all of the channels consumers have for obtaining goods and services we need to step-up our game!

There is a new bar

Customers now have the expectation you’ll provide nothing less than exceptional customer service..!

Expectations

“Your company is no longer being compared to just your competition. Your customers compare you to the great service they had at the restaurant they ate at last night – or any other company inside or outside of your industry that provided them with a good customer service experience.” Shep Hyken

 

Elements of Exceptional Customer Service Includes

  • A staff with a passion
  • Employees that have a smile (even on the phone)
  • A staff that have your customer’s interest at heart and understand your businesses culture

Great Customer Service is An Attitude!

 

Top 3 Customer Service tips

  1. Listening and confirming what has been said is key. People don’t care how much you know, they care about how much you care. Too often we’re not listening, we’re waiting to talk. When it is your time to talk be aware of your communication style and potential pitfalls (ummms, body language)

Remember that 55% is tone, 38% is body language, only 7% is words

 

  1. Using a positive language: it greatly affects how the customer HEARS your response

Example one –  “our ‘x’ language instructor can’t teach you and is unavailable at this time to answer your questions”

Example two – “our ‘x’ language instructor, who will be perfect to teach you this course, is available for you in two days time. Until then he/she can answer some of your question by email”

  1. Tenacity

Demonstrate to your customer you will do what it takes to deliver a product or service that meets their needs and wants.

 

Customers are people too, and knowing that putting in the extra effort will come back to you ten-fold.

 

Please contact your PADI Regional Manager if you wish to know more – or if you are interested in a Customer Service Training session.

 

 

Marketing, ideas to help with your Dive business.

We all know there is a cost involved in advertising to new and none divers, but this is should be considered a fundamental on going running cost. We here at PADI we are reaching out to both new and established divers on your behalf on multiple platforms (online, in print, events and shows, TV etc. etc.) and of course we try and bring those inspired customers through your Centre’s door. It is great to hear so many people to asking to get their PADI, no matter whether that is a DSD to DM or beyond.

I have been hearing great things about the ongoing Get your PADI in the UK promotion we have been running on Facebook and the number of clicks to the micro site (https://dive.padi.com/EMEA_UK/english/) speak for themselves. The success of “Get your PADI” campaign has led to a further 57 being developed and we are reaching out in 6 languages in 14 Countries, with multiple regions within each.

The above was just one campaign and not cheap to do, what I am looking to do is share some ideas that you can implement. So I have done a few ideas to hopefully spark some ideas for you.

Landing Pages

These are important to understand what they are, you need to be able to do them quickly and easily. The general idea is that you will point people to these pages from any form of online marketing. You could have it as a Competition, e-mailing, Facebook ad, and newsletter. There needs to be a reason why someone will either sign up or give you their details and it needs to be easy for them to do it. Think about screen size on catchy text. There is no point paying for a campaign if that data is going to get lost of someone gives up the will to complete the process of filling it in.

Events

A couple of examples. PADI recently was a completely none diving Event for above water sports, we got our foot in the door at the national watersports festival. PADI then teamed up with a local dive centre to help run DSD’s and we then both spread the message of diving to everyone attending. As this was a National event I was pointing people to their nearest dive centre for when they return home. Another recent and month long event has seen PADI teaming up with the Aqua Lung to help promote learning to dive in a Drysuit to those Centres customers who had taken up the offer. As you are hopefully aware you can easily “bolt on” the Drysuit course to both the Openwater and Advanced Openwater Diver Courses. Those PADI Centre’s who took part ran a promotion for learning to dive or taking their Drysuit Course as a “Fusion” distinctive Speciality. It was great fun and meant I was at different sites over the various weekends. I am looking to do more of the same. 

But, what about taking part in a local event to yourself? Have you thought about summer fairs, corporate events, market or a creative car boot stall? It shouldn’t have to cost lots but it should look professional. Reaching out to none divers it is important to look like they will be safe in your hands. PADI has a budget to help with none dive show events and as a 5* Centre you can apply for a marketing support pack (packs are limited to a specified budget but you should get in touch with your Regional Manager regardless).

What about running a regular Project AWARE event and adopting a dive site?  https://www.projectaware.org/

Funding

You should look at ways and means to apply for funding. Funding can unlock the means to really do something special to help those that may not normally get to take part in our beautiful sport. I have been keen to follow what Herts Dive Club has been doing since they were awarded Lottery Funding

http://www.hertsdiveclub.co.uk/i-can-dive-a-lottery-funded-initiative/.

It really does pay to give back as there is a huge about of positive messaging that comes out of doing something that makes a difference.

Corporate

Have you reached out to your big local businesses? It is worth knowing that most companies will have a staff benefits scheme. If you are not on that list then why not. Let your regional manager know if you would like some help getting your foot in the door.

Youth Market

Don’t forget there is a huge promotion that PADI is doing with regards to helping your centre with the youth market. If you are not yet on the PADI approved youth training scheme please get in touch with the office.

If you would like more help with Marketing why not sign up for the PADI Business Academy?

Kuredu, Sea Turtles Heaven

Since 4th November 2016, 74 sea turtles have been registered around Kuredu (Kuredu House Reef/Laoon, Kuredu Express, Kuredu Caves and Kuredu Coral Garden). 58 of those individuals are Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).

The reef around Kuredu houses almost one third of all registered Green sea turtles in the Maldives. Incredible! The island is an important feeding and nesting ground for Green sea turtles.

The Stars:

Audrey (GR459) is a regular in Kuredu Lagoon and often observed enjoying her sea grass meals. This Green turtle is easily identified by its missing left rear flipper. Despite being handicapped, Audrey is in good shape (and has a big appetite)!

Pia (456) is a juvenile Green sea turtle with a shell length of about 40cm. With 20 registered sightings, Pia is the most sighted individual at Kuredu Caves!

Bjoern (GR38) is one of the first identified sea turtles in the Maldives. Also, he is the only male at Kuredu Caves! His impressive size of 70cm in shell length and the long tail gives him away as a male. The length of a sea turtle’s tail tells the sex.

Every sea turtle has a unique scale pattern on the left and right side of its head. This pattern allows for individual identification and population assessments. As part of the “Hurawalhi sea turtle ID project”, every sea turtle sighting is registered. Supporting the project will be rewarded! If you submit right and left side pictures of a newly identified sea turtle, you can name it! Become a sea turtle’s namesake for a kind donation of $50 to the Olive Ridley Project. You will receive a naming certificate and updates whenever your sea turtle gets relighted.

FUN FACT: Green Sea Turtles can hold their breath for over 4 hours.

 

Prodivers is one of the leading dive and watersport operators in the Maldives with currently five 5* PADI dive centres. If you are fancy visiting them please check out their website www.prodivers.com