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.
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.
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.
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.
The PADI Travel™ Affiliate Program – a benefit for all PADI Dive Centers – is now available.
Divers want to swim with beautiful fish, see colorful reefs and explore unique underwater environments. Travel is a proven way to keep them engaged, active and, ultimately, have them continue their education and invest in dive equipment.
In January, PADI Travel™ launched with the goals of growing the dive industry and keeping divers more engaged and active. Today marks the launch of the new PADI Travel Affiliate Program as a powerful new service for you to grow your business.
The Travel Affiliate Program enables you to earn generous commissions by referring divers to PADI Travel. It increases your in-store sales by driving more divers to your store and helps you become even more successful with group trips.
What’s that…? A bird? A dolphin? No it’s a ray! A mobula ray can be seen leaping over one metre out of the water and making an impressive splash for reasons only known to itself.
Even with its large size the mobula ray is an elusive animal with the largest brain to body ratio of any fish. It has a complicated classification record and life history, making it not only a mystery to divers and snorkelers, but also researchers. It is from the family called Mobulidae, which also includes oceanic and reef manta rays. They can be found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters. Different species prefer different oceans; for example the giant mobula ray can be found relatively commonly in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic, whereas the short-fin pygmy mobula ray can be found in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. Large aggregations can be encountered in Hawaii, Republic of Maldives and Mexico, but recently due to population decline these aggregations are getting smaller and less frequent.
Mobula rays are often referred to as devil rays, due to their horned appearance which results from their cephalic fins (fins on either side of their mouth) being rolled up. Despite their name devil rays are considered harmless and shy. Originally there were thought to be 12 distinct mobula ray species, but due to advances in molecular biology and genetic studies it has been concluded that there are only nine species and that manta rays are included in the mobula ray family. Currently two separate species of manta rays are recognised, but there could be a third: the black morph manta ray (Manta birostris sensu). This species is currently undergoing DNA examination by Dr. Andrea Marshall of the Marine Megafauna Foundation.
From fossil records it has been concluded that mobula rays first appeared 25 million years ago with other species evolving over time. For example, the manta ray species appeared in fossil records five million years ago. Mobula rays originally evolved from stingrays, which is why some still possess the stinging spine at the base of their tail. Unlike their predecessor who have spiracles to aid their breathing mobula rays must constantly stay mobile to oxygenate their blood.
Mobula rays are the only species of vertebrate that have three working limbs (pectoral, pelvic and cephalic fins). The smallest species of mobula ray is around one metre in wingspan whereas the largest, the oceanic manta ray has an impressive eight metre wingspan. Mobula rays are known to perform amazing aerial displays, including high jumps, twists and belly flops. There is debate over the reasons behind this; theories include communication, courtship displays, escaping predation threats and removing parasites.
Mobula rays are ovoviviparous. This means that females produce eggs which are hatched internally so that they give birth to live young. Normally a single pup is delivered, but occasionally two can be born. Mobula rays have long gestation periods; for example the giant devil ray has a pregnancy period of two years. All species of pups are born relatively large; for example manta ray pups are around one metre in wingspan at birth. This is because there is no maternal bond between mother and pup, and so after birth the pup is left to fend for itself, usually its only defense against predation is its size. Some species, however do have the additional defense of a stinger.
It is estimated that mobula rays live between 40 – 50 years, with females reaching sexual maturity between eight to ten years and males at six years. There is a period of two – five years between each birth and females can have offspring for around 30 years. The mating seasons for these rays depends on the species and location. In Japan oceanic manta rays have been seen to mate in summer, whereas in the Maldives higher sexual encounters are seen in October, November, March and April. Mating occurs in warm water and generally around cleaning stations. Males will venture to cleaning stations in search of a receptive female. These females illustrate their reproductive readiness by releasing mating hormones into the water.
Courtship displays are long (sometimes lasting weeks) and very expressive. Up to 30 males surround the receptive female and compete to mate. They form mating trains whereby they follow the female, who performs elaborate acrobatics that the males must follow. The most impressive male will be selected and have mating rights. The male will then bite the left pectoral fin of the female to hold her in place. They will then go belly to belly and the male will insert one of his claspers into the female for fertilisation. This process takes place in a couple of seconds after which the male disappears. Mating brings together large numbers of rays as does feeding.
Mobula rays can be found individually, although they generally form large schools when food is in high concentration. They are considered planktivores, although they can feed on small fish and zooplankton. They consume food by using their cephalic fins to funnel the plankton into their wide mouth. Different feeding methods are used depending on food availability; for example benthic feeding can be seen in low food concentrations, whereas surface feeding using barrel rolls and feeding trains can be seen when concentrations of plankton are higher. Cyclone feeding is the rarest type of feeding and can only be seen when the plankton concentration is 80% or higher. Hanifaru bay in Baa Atoll (Maldives) is a world renowned manta feeding site and one of the few places on Earth where cyclone feeding can be seen. In manta season (June – November) sightings of 200 manta rays and a couple of whalesharks are common.
It has also been found that devil rays can dive to depths of two kilometers for over an hour to find plankton, making them some of the deepest diving animals in the world. As the temperature at this depth is low the rays must come up and bask in the sun to rewarm and oxygenate their blood. Some rays have a dark band between their eyes which helps warm their brains faster. The oceanic manta ray also has a counter-current heat exchange system which allows them more control over their body temperature than other fish, making them effectively warm-blooded and enabling their deep dives.
Mobula ray populations are declining because they are vulnerable to overfishing, boat traffic, habitat decline, pollution, by-catch and entanglement. They also have limited reproductive capacity, limited habitat range and are slow growing. The biggest threat to mobula rays are targeted fisheries. They are hunted for their gill rakers which are used in ‘medicine’. There is NO evidence to suggest that gill rakers help with any ailments, in fact it is suggested that gill raker ‘medicines’ may actually pose a significant health risk to those taking it, especially pregnant mothers. In a study mobula ray gill raker samples were chemically analysed and arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead were detected in all samples. Arsenic levels where found to be 20 times higher than permissible levels and cadmium triple permissible levels. A study found a 163% increase in profitability in gill raker markets in China over a three year period, highlighting that this trade is getting worse. A mobula ray population reduction of 50% has been observed in some areas.
In the Maldives all mobula ray species are protected. More countries are also now protecting their mobula rays due to the tourism potential. For example, in 2011 in the Maldives mobula rays were worth eight million dollars to the dive tourism industry – rays are certainly worth significantly more alive than dead.
Over the last two months we have had many sightings of the short-fin pygmy devil ray on snorkels, dives, from the jetties and the villas. Although we cannot be sure why we have had a sudden increase in mobula ray sightings we have hypothesised that it could be due to upwelling currents bringing in plankton which the mobula rays are then feeding on. Either way we are very lucky and we hope to share the experience with you!
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.
Please find below the dates for the next round of Training Bulletin live Webinars:
As always, we will be discussing the latest standards changes, providing background information on the updates and insight into how these can be integrated into your training. We will also be reviewing new products and providing business and marketing advice.
The updated PADI Dive Shop Locator is packed with new features that will make your business stand out.
Getting people to learn scuba diving (and continue on after they’re certified) is a team effort, and PADI® is always looking for ways to make Members’ businesses stand out and shine. The Dive Shop Locator (DSL) was created more than a decade ago so new divers could find dive training they could trust.
With the newly redesigned and repackaged PADI.com, it was time for the DSL to get a refresh. As the new PADI DSL Beta is unveiled, PADI Members will see a host of exciting features – all with the goal of making sure their business keeps growing. Here’s a quick FAQ of what you can expect from the new PADI Dive Shop Locator.
What are the key features to the new DSL?
Check out the value and sheer number of these new features of the PADI DSL Beta.
Better User Experience – The user journey matches what users expect from a location-based search experience from sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Maps. This includes cleaner page layouts and information hierarchy, intuitive task flows and visual consistency.
Enhanced Map View – Adjustments to the way search looks at geography has improved the look and feel of the visual indicator dive shop flags to clearly indicate the type of dive center shown on the map (e.g. a PADI 5 Star).
Improved Filtering – New filters use more descriptive terminology and intuitive filter groupings.
Faster Loading Speed/Performance – The new PADI DSL is a quicker experience regardless of whether your area has high or low bandwidth.
More Detailed Dive Shop Pages – Each dive shop has a unique URL and page. This will allow the pages to be “deeplinked,” which helps marketing teams and members share the URL via email and on websites, and allows pages to be indexed by search engines like Google.
Better Mobile Experience – The new DSL is a fully mobile friendly and responsive experience.
Improved Search – Users will have the ability to search by almost any (reasonable) dive-related phrase to locate a dive shop or location.
More Clearly Delineated Ads – Sponsored ads are displayed within the search results list and map, making them more visible to end-users.
Filter by Freediving Centers– Individual dive shop pages and filter menu includes the ability to filter by freediving centers.
Visibility for PADI 5 Star – Search results show all shops but, list 5 Star Dive Centers and Resorts more prominently.
What is a “Beta” and how will this work?
The Dive Shop Locator is an important tool that divers find and connect with dive centers and resorts. To fully understand how any new design affects this process, the PADI team will make both the current and new design available to users and allow them to switch between each experience and leave feedback. For the next two to three months, the team will monitor interact with each, adjusting each design as needed and sharing the learnings.
How long will the DSL Beta run?
The DSL Beta will initially run for eight to 12 weeks, but will be flexible so that enough data can be collected to make the DSL the best it can be.
On a day to day basis, there’s also little doubt that the efficient use of certified assistants during confined and open water training and experience programs can make diver training and supervision easier and more enjoyable for both participants and instructors. This is especially true for experience programs or entry-level courses when divers can’t be left unattended.
There are many fairly obvious reasons for using certified assistants, such as logistical assistance, improved responsiveness to emergencies, having “extra” sets of eyes and ears for improved in-water control, the ability to increase the number of student divers being supervised, and so on. For the most effective use of them, consider the following, from PADI’s Guide to Teaching:
Have enough assistants available and thoroughly brief them about their roles during the dive, including information on site facilities, so they can answer student diver questions. Make sure they know where to find and how to use emergency equipment – first-aid kit, oxygen unit, AED unit, telephone/radio, etc. They should also know where extra equipment is located.
Discuss how much assistance and guidance to give student divers before, during and after the dive. Go over the expected order of activities and where they should position themselves in the water.
To increase practice time, have certified assistants monitor additional student diver practice.
Don’t forget during the PADI Open Water Diver course, where an instructor’s direct supervision is required, exceptions are made for instructor indirect supervision in the following situations:
Certified assistants supervising student divers during surface swims to and from the entry-exit point and during navigational exercises, as well as when remaining with the class when the instructor conducts a skill such as an ascent or descent with a student or student team.
Certified assistants guiding student divers (at a ratio of 2:1) on Dives 2-4 when exploring the dive site.
Assistant Instructors evaluating dive flexible skills at the surface in open water and conducting air pressure checks underwater.
Besides providing an additional measure to increase control and the safety of divers in your care, and helping to prepare future PADI Instructors, using certified assistants during PADI training programs can increase your students’ enjoyment of the training/supervisory experience and make your own professional life easier.
It’s important to remember however that PADI Standards define a certified assistant as a “Teaching Status PADI Instructor, PADI Assistant Instructor or Active Status PADI Divemaster”. The use of any other divers as assistants would not qualify as “certified assistant” use under PADI Standards. Don’t forget to check your assistant’s credentials!
Easy steps every dive centre can take to attract customers from China
With Chinese tourism making up more than 30% of all visitors to the Maldives, every dive centre benefits from ensuring that these potential customers know about the PADI courses being offered.Did you know that PADI has a dedicated Chinese marketing tool kit especially for you? You can access it free of charge by logging into the PADI Pro Site, and then clicking this link:
There are a huge number of resources available to you.
Each link in the tool box has two options. The option on the left is ‘simplified’ Chinese. The option on the right is ‘traditional’ Chinese.Tourists from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are most likely to speak Traditional Chinese, whilst those from China, Malaysia and Singapore are most likely to speak Simplified Chinese. Depending upon the tourists in your area you may choose to use one or both versions.The more you tools use, the better the results will be. However, if you are short of time, here are a few key steps to take:
Exterior signage is a key step to show visitors that you are able to cater to their needs. The marketing tool kit includes a PADI Open Water Diver course poster and banner that you can download – this represents a great starting point.
If you work with a hotel or guest house, you can use the specific images to create brochures or hand-outs for guests
There are dedicated promotional videos available for you to use on TV screens in your centre, or at welcome events for arriving guests.
If you need help employing Chinese instructors, you can advertise jobs on the Chinese PADI Pro Site – simply log into the PADI Pro Site and click the link below:
For å kunne gi PADI dykkere en elegant kundeopplevelse fra det øyeblikket de kjøper produktet til siste slutt er PADI i gang med en digital opprustning. PADI har alltid vært verdensledende på dykkerutdanning og har alltid vært svært dedikert til å ha de beste undervisningsmaterialer tilgjengelig på markedet, distribuert gjennom det globale nettverket av PADI dykkesentre og profesjonelle. PADI Medlemmer har alltid kunne tilby verdens mest ettertraktede dykkersertifikater og har alltid hjulpet mennesker til å utforske verden under vann på en trygg og sikker måte. Hva er nytt? Det er blitt betydelig lettere å starte eventyret som dykker.. PADI ruller i disse dager ut noen store oppdateringer i eLearning læringsmiljøet.
I dag sender PADI medlemmer en kode fra «online processing center» til elevene sine for å gi eleven tilgang til eLearning produkter. Eleven/brukeren får en epost med en link som gir tilgang til produktet og muligheten til å kommunisere via email på et språk av elevens valg. Alt dette blir som før.
Nå når eleven klikker på linken i eposten blir de sendt direkte til en frèsh og nylig oppdatert side der de kan opprette brukerkontoer og få tilgang til sine produkter (hvis eleven allerede har en konto, logger eleven enkelt inn via den og får tilgang til nye materialer.) Hastigheten og effektiviteten av innlogging har også blitt betydelig forbedret.
Det nye og forbedrede læringsmiljøet er strømlinjeformet og lett å navigere. Man finner en menyknapp på toppen av siden som enkelt lar eleven navigere rundt på siden. Herfra kan man også lett få tilgang til PADI.com (ved å klikke på PADI.com valget under toppmenyen). Det er lett å skifte språk i det nye brukergrensesnittet og skulle man trenge det finner man lett frem til hjelp funksjonen, her kan man finne telefon nummer for å ringe support hos PADI kontoret eller sende epost. Gjennom «forgot password» funksjonen kan tapt brukerinformasjon raskt gjenopprettes og eleven mottar en email for gjenoppretting av brukerkonto.
Informasjons ikoner på siden gir klar og tydelig informasjon og forenkler navigasjon rundt på siden. I dette smidige og enkle brukergrensesnittet er det vanskelig å bli forvirret.
Etter eleven har logget inn har får han/hun muligheten til å endre eller bekrefte sin adresse. Så fort dette er gjort endrer logoen i øvre venstre hjørne seg fra PADI til PADI eLearning®, dette bekrefter at eleven er innlogget i eLearning læringsmiljøet hvor alle deres kurs er å finne (en my courses undertekst bekrefter dette).
Enkle rene paneler gjør det lett å identifisere hvert kurs. Brukere kan klikke på panelbildet eller boksen «View course» for å enkelt få tilgang til alt materiell tilknyttet elevens sertifiseringspakke. Alt innhold er tydelig listet og sømløst tilgjengelig med brukervennlige linker. En av de store forbedringene på denne plattformen nå er at man har kun ett sett med innloggingsinformasjon for å komme inn på eLearning siden.
I eLearning materialene kan elevene se alle komponentene i sertifiseringspakken deres. Nettbrett utgave, lavoppløst manual, eRDPML og eTraining Dive Log komplett med link til ScubaEarth hvor loggboken er forankret (dette istedenfor å måtte gå en omvei rundt å logge seg på ScubaEarth). Naturligvis vil komponentinnholdet variere med hvilket kurs eleven er registrert for.
Summa summarum er det nye brukergrensesnittet mye renere, mer organisert og brukervennlig. Meny knappen følger elevene uansett hvor de navigerer på sidene og er alltid lett tilgjengelig. Alt ble nettopp mye lettere for elever som bruker eLearning. I tiden fremover har vi mye mer i vente, forvent at det rulles ut flere funksjoner snart.
Nettbrett og mobil
• iOS nettbrett og telefon med operativsystem 9 (begrenset støtte) 10 og 11. Gjellende versjon og to foregående versjoner
• Android nettbrett og telefon med operativsystem Nougat og Oreo. Gjeldende versjon og to foregående versjoner
• Mac OSX 10.10 eller nyere med de to siste nettleserversjoner av Safari, Chrome, eller Firefox
• Windows 7 eller 8.x med de to siste nettleserversjonene av Chrome, Firefox, eller Internet Explorer 11 og senere
• Desktop Web Viewer støttes ikke på nettbrett og telefoner