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.

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.

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

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

PADI Women’s Dive Day in Egypt

On Behalf of PADI EMEA, I would like to THANK all PADI Dive Resorts and PADI Professionals in Egypt who participated in the 2017 PADI Women’s Dive Day.

Aim of the event is to convert a “male-dominated” diving industry into a more modern and up-to-date one, where women should make up half of all certifications!

Here some examples on how PADI Diving Resorts in Egypt helped in achieving the goal:

Blue Ocean                                                                                                                      Organized a ladies only day diving followed by an evening party with live music and fire show.

Circle Divers                                                                                                            Organized two ladies only dives from the shore with a special lunch break in a picturesque location followed by an evening BBQ at the diving center.Dive Point Red Sea                                          Divers United (Elite Diving)                     Organized a ladies full day diving                       Organized a “Safari dress up day!”              from the boat (with an intruder).                          The theme was 60’s flower power!            

Euro-Divers                                                                                                                   Organized two ladies only dives from the shore enriched by a welcome drink before the dives, special lunch break and cake party afterwards.

H2O Divers                                                                                                                        Organized a ladies only clean up dive followed by BBQ at night.

Idive Diving Centers                                                                                                    Organized a ladies only DSD Day.

Panorama Divers                                                                                                               Organized a ladies only full day diving garnished by delicious food on the boat and live entertainment. Here above, participants performing “Women Dive Day” underwater choreography!

Pharaoh Dive Club                                                                                                            Organized a ladies only reef/beach clean up as well as invited local Egyptian ladies to try snorkeling and/or diving.

Wonderful Dive                                                                                                      Organized (in cooperation with the hotel) several activities including: shore diving, DSDs, snorkeling trip and raffle.

This was a great day for everyone to help strengthen and grow the female dive community, attract new women to the sports of scuba diving and freediving, and motivate existing female divers to get back in the water and continue their dive training!

“Person of the Year”

“Person of the Year” of the Republic of Maldives

Maldives First PADI Course Director Mr.Hussain Rasheed Sendi was named “Person of the Year”  at Maldives Travel Awards People’s Edition by Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tourators (MATATO).

Sendi who is also the Managing Director of Dive Oceanus has been among the active dive industry professionals who have worked hard in training the youth as dive masters and instructors. His contribution to keep the marine industry safe is remarkable while his experience and knowledge to keep the diving industry going ahead by awareness programmes on species and environment have benefited the tourism industry and the nation.

The first event of Maldives Travel Awards People’s Edition has been held on 13th July at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi in North Male’ Atoll.

Ten Individuals were honored with the title of “Person of the Year” at the special function. MATATO started the Nation’s first travel industry recognition brand in 2012 and succesfully deleivered Maldives Travel Award events in the country and a special edition in Dubai.

In 2017 MATATO has introduced 3 editions of Maldives Travel Awards, recognizing Guesthouses, People’s Edition and the Gala.

 

 

Kuredu Express – One dive site, endless experiences

A favourite dive site of many guests, Kuredu Express is full of surprises – the varied topography coupled with the ever-changing current conditions mean it’s never the same dive twice. This well-known site is dived by Prodivers Kuredu 3-4 times a week, and during the last 10 years we’ve dived it a whopping 2337 times!

What makes Kuredu Express so alluring?

Currents

The ‘Express’ part of the site’s name comes from the currents that flow here – sometimes fast and furious, sometimes mild and mellow but often quickly changing. The outreef current and channel currents each play their part in how the site is dived, adding to the variety of diving on offer here. Due to the rapid changes in currents, divers can encounter a vast variety of marine life which makes diving on Kuredu Express a special and unique experience. With the right conditions this site can be accessible to most qualified divers.

Topography

It’s a dramatic site with three distinct areas – the sandy channel, the corner with large terraces and the huge overhangs or bays at the start of the outreef.

Sharks!

Famous as having one of the largest shark populations in the Lhaviyani Atoll, with the right conditions the shark action here can be mind blowing, but there’s more to the life on Kuredu Express than just sharks… there’s an enormous quantity of schooling fish, eagle rays, sting rays, napoleon, tuna and, on rare occasions, even hammerhead sharks. Turtles, moray eels, and even leaf fish have been found here too. If it’s the sharks that interest you, learn about them prior to a dive with them during our Maldivian Shark and Ray Diver course, a PADI Distinctive Specialty.

Great photographic opportunities

With a small current divers can take their time exploring the overhangs and getting great shots with blue water background and, when the current is pumping, simply hang on and enjoy the show unfold at the corner as the pelagic photobomb your every shot!

Location

Just 5 minutes from Kuredu jetty – it doesn’t get much more convenient than this.

On 12th April 2017, Laurie Miller, 40 time repeater guest on Kuredu, dived Kuredu Express for the 150th time. He is a passionate diver and his knowledge of marine life is impressive. We asked Laurie to share his views about our beloved Kuredu Express:

What is it about Kuredu Express that fascinates you?

“It’s like doing 3 dives in one. First you have the deep channel with nice overhangs where strong currents present the opportunity to see some of the bigger fish, then you have the outreef where we usually see the big Napoleons and lastly the bays where the fish life is booming.”

What are your most memorable moments on Kuredu Express?

“When the sharks are swimming between the divers. First time I’ve ever seen a Blacktip reef shark was on Express. One of the few places where you will find the Palette Surgeonfish, a.k.a. Blue Tang, a.k.a. Dory. I’ve seen the peacock flounder there as well.”

How would you sum up Kuredu Express?

“It’s a different experience with new challenges every time you do it because of the different currents.”

We left Laurie to enjoy the rest of his 40th stay on Kuredu, in fact he’s still here, enjoying diving free of charge as a special perk for visiting 40 times. Check out our generous Repeater Discount Program and you could follow in Laurie’s footsteps

Women’s Health in Diving

Written by DAN staff

DFD_WomenDiversWith PADI® Women’s Dive Day coming up on 15 July, this is an excellent time to review a few issues unique to female scuba divers. The issues that pertain to women’s health and safety in the water aren’t broadly publicized. Refresh yourself on some of the most common gender-specific questions student divers may ask and do your part to better educate the dive community.

Oral Contraceptives

While there has been no evidence found that the use of oral contraceptives increases a diver’s risk of DCS, it may slightly elevate the risk of clotting conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Research indicates that use of an oral contraceptive pill (OCP) can increase the risk of events like a pulmonary embolism, heart attack or stroke. That risk is further increased by a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. While these events may be somewhat manageable on dry land, they can cause serious issues in the water. OCP use is generally accepted as safe for divers, but it’s recommend that student divers exercise regularly and not smoke to reduce their risk of clotting conditions that could cause injuries during a dive.

Diving After Pregnancy

Recommendations for returning to diving after childbirth vary based on the type of delivery. After a typical delivery without complications, a woman can generally resume diving in about 21 days. This allows time for the cervix to close and limits the risk of infection. Uncomplicated Cesarean sections generally require eight to 12 weeks of recovery before diving to limit infection risk. If a woman is put on bed rest due to complications of the pregnancy, it is prudent to refrain from diving for more than 12 weeks because of the loss of strength and aerobic capacity. Following a miscarriage, a woman can return to diving as soon as a physician releases her for full and unrestricted activity.

Couple on an adventure

Osteoporosis

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women receive a bone density test if they have broken a bone after age 50, are menopausal or postmenopausal with risk factors, or are older than age 65. The recommendations include a significant portion of both divers and potential divers, and the condition should not be overlooked. Osteoporosis is not a contraindication for diving, but women who have the condition or severe bone loss should consider donning equipment in the water and adapting their diving to reduce the risk of fractures and falls. Good precautions for divers who may have compromised bone health include avoiding wearing heavy dive gear out of the water, carrying cylinders on land, or undertaking hazardous shore entries.

Breast Implants

Once sufficient time has passed after a breast augmentation or reconstructive surgery, a diver may resume diving without increased risk. Divers with implants may experience minor buoyancy and trim changes following their surgery, and should avoid constrictive chest straps that may increase the likelihood of implant rupture, but otherwise have no reason to be concerned. Breast implants do not pose a problem to diving from the standpoint of gas absorption and do not represent a contraindication to diving.

For more information on women’s health and diving visit DAN.org/Health

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PADI Elite Instructor Interview: Stefano Busca, PADI Course Director

Stefano Busca, PADI Course Director, achieved the status of PADI Elite Instructor 2016 – an award which recognises the efforts and accomplishments of PADI’s top performing instructors around the world.

We spoke to Stefano to find out what being a PADI Elite Instructor means to him, as well as learning about his achievements and future aspirations as a PADI Professional.


What inspired you to become a PADI Pro?                                                                     I have always loved outdoor sports and my dream has always been to work in the sports industry. When I became a scuba diver and started meeting positive people, I immediately knew that this was going to be my chance to fulfil my dream.

How do you think you’ve changed personally and professionally as you’ve moved up the ranks to become an Elite Instructor?                                                            Today, many people are attracted by scuba diving in order to escape the daily routine and the usual problems and commitments in their lives. I think that a successful instructor should be in the position to offer as many scuba diving activities as possible (recreational, specialties and Tec) in order to meet the customers’ needs and desires. Personally, I did exactly this!

Which PADI courses do you enjoy teaching the most and why?                                 Now, I can teach almost all the specialties with open circuit. I like diving and teaching in all environments; my favourites, however, are deep and wreck, especially on a recreational technical setup. The TecRec programs offer both the instructor and the client a chance to dive in an environment accessible to few, a sort of scuba diving elite group, where the technical preparation and personal fitness are vital.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your diving career?            Becoming a PADI Course Director! Having the possibility to pass on my passion, while training not only students but also instructors, is definitely the biggest reward.

What does diving give you that nothing else does?                                                Diving gives me the possibility to escape from my daily life, to enter an environment where interacting with the underwater life is so intense that everything else disappears. An escape from reality!

Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now in your diving career?                                                                                       The commitment to get where I am now has been considerable. The PADI educational system, however, is very efficient and systematic at every level. You just need to believe in what you are doing and focus. You will succeed!

Do you believe you change others’ lives through diving?                                     Absolutely! People discover an extraordinary and exciting activity. Lately, more and more students get into scuba diving with an eye to becoming professionals; many become instructors to work full time in scuba diving. To date, I have trained instructors that are working in the most beautiful locations in the world: Red Sea, Maldives, Micronesia, etc.

Describe in a few sentences how you would convince a non-diver to learn to dive?                                                                                                                                  There is a very effective video, on the internet, showing the difference between the life of an employee and that of a scuba diving instructor. The morning wake up and the daily routine in the city, for the employee, the beach and the sea for the instructor. In a few minutes you have the best representation of what is the scuba diving lifestyle.

As a PADI Elite Instructor how does it feel being recognised as one of PADI’s top performing Instructors in 2016?                                                                                     Being an Elite Instructor is definitely a great recognition for the work done and an incentive to improve. In 2016, I issued over 200 certifications: this is hard to beat. But the important thing is to always do your best, without focusing too much on one objective; if you do your job the best you can, you will always achieve some new, important objectives.

What does “My PADI” mean to you?                                                                             For me, My PADI is a lifestyle, a chance to make dreams come true! One of my favourite quotes is: if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life!

What would you say to other PADI Instructors hoping to become Elite Instructors?   I would tell them to always work to the best of their abilities, following the standards and procedures unique to the best scuba diving training agency in the world… PADI!