PADI Approved Youth Training Centre

Last year, PADI brought out the PADI Approved Youth Training Centre recognition for PADI Dive Centres in the UK. Whilst all PADI Professionals will have received training on how to teach children and young adults during their Instructor Development course, reaching out to engage with this market in the UK may require you to incorporate various measures to help safeguard the welfare of children in your care.

There is huge potential for your diving business when you reach out and engage with schools and youth groups. If you are able to establish an ongoing relationship with a school, you can gain a potential guaranteed annual income by repeating training for the next year group. There are opportunities for running an ongoing dive club just in their school pool, or for running UK and overseas dive trips where the children may complete core training as well as specialities.

Benefits of working with school groups:

• New students intake every year
• Opportunity for improved course margins with some schools having their own swimming pools
• Opportunities to branch out and offer courses for family members
• Opportunities for school staff professional development
• Opportunities to offer EFR courses for the school
• Potential opportunities for overseas scuba trips
• Benefit to the school by enhancing students education and cross-curricular links

The PADI Approved Youth Training Centre scheme is one which is designed to provide you with the knowledge surrounding safeguarding measures which may be requested by various schools and youth groups which you are planning on working with. Gaining this recognition from PADI gives you access to additional resources which you can use to help promote and build your school and youth group diving business.

The PADI Approved Youth Training Centre recognition is a free application for all PADI Dive Centres which are 100% PADI, who can confirm that they have the relevant policies and checks in place to safeguard children according to Child Protection rules in the UK.

PADI Approved Youth Training Centre information pack version 2.2 contains all the key information relevant for training children in the UK. For more information on this contact your PADI Regional Training Consultant – Emily Petley-Jones (emily.petley-jones@padi.com) or PADI Regional Manager – Matt Clements (Matt.Clements@padi.com) or  Emma Hewitt (emma.hewitt@padi.com)

 

Dive site topography in Lhaviyani Atoll – Part 1

The underwater topography of the Maldives is dramatic, varied and perfect for exploring. Scuba divers visiting the Lhaviyani Atoll in particular have a huge variety of reef formations awaiting them on the dive sites – the first glimpses of which can even be spotted from the seaplane window. In this, the first of a three part series, the underwater islands of giris and thilas are explored.

What is a giri?

Giris are shallow underwater islands with a top reefs lying at around 5 meters and appearing as blueish-green spots when viewed from the seaplane window. Typically found inside the atoll, they are perfect for beginner divers and macro lovers.

One of Hurawalhi’s favourite giris is Maa Giri. It means Flower Island and it is usually described as ‘fish soup’. On the front of the giri are thousands of lunar fusiliers catching food in the gentle currents that flow around the dive site. Once the divers descend a little deeper they can explore small overhangs and crevices where nurse sharks are sleeping or moray eels are getting cleaned. All around the giri are schools of yellow snappers, humpback snappers, and sweetlips. Occasionally, at the right time of the year, there is a glittering swarm of glass fish that divers can swim into the middle of – this is an enchanting experience that will be remembered for a very long time. Along the walls there are macro creatures like the mantis shrimp, whip coral shrimp and nudibranchs.

Picture by Ray van Eeden

On Tinga Giri, close to Hurawalhi, there is currently a large red frogfish that can often be seen fishing with the lure, which comes out from the top of its head.

What is a thila?

A thila is a deeper underwater island usually starting around 12-14 meters. Two of the Hurawalhi team’s favourite and most fascinating thilas are Anemone Thila and Fushivaru Thila.

Picture by Ray van Eeden

Anemone Thila gets its name from the incredible amount of anemones that have made themselves at home there. It is a very small thila and can be dived all they way round its circumference 2-3 times in one dive. This site is great for underwater photography and experimenting with macro photography. The most spectacular part of the dive is towards the end when divers arrive at the shallowest part of the thila and see the clownfish swimming above all the anemones along with bright blue and pink damselfish. For a good part of the year this site is also completely covered in ‘baitfish’ – so many that visibility can be reduced to 1-2 m with the fish parting to make way for the passing divers.

Picture by Ray van Eeden

Fushivaru Thila is a manta cleaning station and from November to January divers can witness the spectacular sight of the majestic mantas as they cruise in and hover over the station as small cleaner wrasse come and cleanse them of parasites. When the mantas are elsewhere, Fushivaru Thila is just as beautiful with huge schools of snappers and hunting grey reef sharks, nurse sharks sleeping under coral blocks, and large stingrays on the sand.

Picture by Ray van Eeden

There are many underwater island dive sites in Lhaviyani Atoll waiting to be explored. In Part 2 of the Dive Site Topography series all will be revealed about the differences between East and West sides of the Atoll.

 

PADI’s guest blogger Paige Bennett introduces herself:

I am an American Scuba diving instructor who has been living in the Maldives for the past 2 ½ years. I have been travelling and working for the past 6 years and have been to Koh Tao Thailand, Playa del Carmen Mexico, Marsa Alam Egypt and have now settled in the Lhaviyani Atoll working with Prodivers Diving center. I love the abundance of textures and patterns in the ocean and am very interested in underwater macro photography. I also have been involved with several conservation/restoration projects such as ReefCI in Belize, Eco Koh Tao in Thailand, and the coral transplantation project for the 5.8 undersea Restaurant on Hurawalhi Island Resort.

 

Paddle against Plastic

On Global Recycling Day, Sunday 18th March 2018, a team of our best watermen and women from Gili Lankanfushi completed a 14km Stand Up Paddle to raise awareness about the overuse of single-use plastic. During the endurance event, the team collected all floating litter they encountered along the three-hour paddle. The majority of the haul was plastic, so our message is clear: If we can SUP 14km around our island; you can give up using single-use plastic in 2018.

At Gili Lankanfushi, we encounter a large amount of ocean plastic arriving with the tide every day. Some arrives with the current from distant countries, but a lot appears from neighboring islands and the capital Male. Despite Gili’s No Plastic Policy and the plastic recycling program we have in place with Parley, we still face a tidal wave of plastic over the year. Our team wanted to tackle this problem head on.

The event began at day break as we hit the water at 7:15am stocked up with high energy food, water and cameras. The conditions were extremely favourable with low wind, little swell and high cloud cover. The first quarter of our paddle took us against the current, so it was slow going but this allowed us to collect as much floating plastic as possible. We found the majority of marine litter in the corners of Himmafushi Harbour so we set about collecting as much as we could carry. Those working at the harbor watched us approach and a few men jumped into action and helped us collect plastic from the water. They gave us a few extra bags when we ran low. These positive reactions made our hard work feel extremely valuable.

As we turned the corner behind Himmafushi Island, we had the wind and current with us, so we completed almost six kilometres in just over an hour. Being out on the open ocean and looking down to see the fish and coral beneath our feet was a real highlight. The final paddle back to Gili was the hardest, but we were met with the smiling faces of the rest of our team.


The entire experience was a great example of perseverance and team work. It was a great success and we were able to recycle a lot of litter, yet the overwhelming feeling was that we need to do even more next time. In just three hours we collected 200 items which included 90 plastic bottles, 20 bottle tops and 5 plastic bags and this was just the plastic we happened to paddle close to; a lot has been waterlogged or broken down and is found just below the surface or on the ocean floor.
The seven-man paddling crew was made up of Beau, Tropicsurf Manager and SUP surf champion; Naseef, Ocean Paradise Dive Instructor and marine mammal magnet; Emma, Assistant Marine Biologist and official team photographer; Tula, Head of Security and pretty much the toughest guy I know; Ibrahim, Ocean Paradise Boat Captain and life saver; Clare, Marine Biologist and event organiser and Jinah, Hotelier journalist and newly inspired sustainability supporter.

Despite the obvious challenges of reducing ocean plastic, we have seen such positive reactions to our war on plastic at Gili Lankanfushi. After visiting in November 2017, the inspirational Merle Campbell kindly shared:

“For many years now, I have daily walked the beach and never picked up any litter. Since visiting Gili Lankanfushi Maldives and listening about the importance of keeping plastics out of the waterways, I now walk the beach solely for the purpose of collecting rubbish to contribute to saving our sea life.”
We hope our Paddle against Plastic will inspire others to reduce their plastic dependence by taking small steps to reduce plastic use at home or at work. If we all participate, there will be a huge reduction in the amount of plastic that enters our oceans. Well done to Gili’s Paddle Against Plastic Team and Happy Global Recycling Day to Everyone.


A special thank you to everyone who assisted us in the Paddle Against Plastic! Thanks to Ocean Paradise for the boat, equipment and crew, the culinary department for the amazing food, the Sales and Marketing department for sharing our work and getting up early to see us off, the gardening team for recycling our plastic, Shifzan for the awesome photos, and the Gili Lankanfushi Management team for their amazing support!

 

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

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is an annual worldwide movement to encourage individuals, communities, and businesses to conserve our resources. Celebrating it is a symbol of our commitment to our planet.

At Gili we celebrated Earth Hour on March 24th with the rest of the world, we hosted a Coral Conservation themed day with multiple events leading into each other. For each event, all guests and hosts were invited to attend and take part.

Our first event was a coral workshop hosted for Marine Biologists and enthusiasts. In attendance were three participants from our local island Himmafushi who have a keen interest in protecting their reef and inspiring locals. Additionally, Marine Biologists from Four Seasons Resort, Bandos Resort, Atoll Marine Centre and Hurawalhi Resort attended. Jinah, a journalist from Hotelier Maldives covered our event celebrations.

Our coral lines project launched in 2014 and currently has 190+ lines, each containing around 50 coral fragments. The aim of the project is to rehabilitate our degraded house reef through direct transplantation of mature corals and through indirect coral spawning from the nursery. The project was the first low-tech and high efficiency coral recovery project that involves rope in the Maldives.
Due to the optimal location and care that goes into the project we had 68% survival after the El Nino event and the crown of thorn starfish outbreak. Due to the success of our project, many Marine Biologists are interested in learning more as they want to launch their own projects or further their current projects in other locations. This is why we invited them to join us in celebration of Earth Hour.

 

We felt that hosting a coral conservation themed day would create a platform for a discussion on possible project improvements and new project ideas. Overtime the coral line nursery will contain heat tolerant coral species, fragmenting these species and planting lines could lead to natural spawning of more heat tolerant species which will increase survival rate in future warming events. This will lead to the creation of more healthy reefs decreasing the pressure of predation, providing a healthier habitat, refuge and nurseries for marine organisms like turtles, juvenile fish and other fish species as well as conserving a key ecological ecosystem.
On the day the visiting Marine Biologists arrived at 14:00pm and a land based presentation was carried out, topics included an in depth overview of the project, project creation, management, challenges and future plans. This was followed by a practical demonstration of making a coral line, monitoring the lines and general maintenance including cleaning and removal of invasive species. To view the coral line made by the Marine Biologists click here. To conclude there was a group discussion on possible project improvements and a question and answer session.

 

Following the success of the coral workshop together with guests, Marine Biologists and hosts we designed and created a coral shape in the sand on Library Beach. In celebration of the official Earth Hour which is between 20:30 – 21:30 we turned off none essential lights and filled the coral shape with sustainably sourced candles – coconuts and used cooking oil. During the official event our coral shape was beautifully illuminated by flickering candle lights and guests, Marine Biologists and hosts were able to enjoy this display whilst attending our Earth Hour cocktail evening.

 

To conclude our Earth Hour celebrations we hosted the documentary Chasing Coral in our Jungle cinema and Host Village. Chasing coral is a fantastic documentary about a group of divers, photographers and scientists who set out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. They found that coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate and documented their discoveries and explained them in a way that is accessible to everyone.
Overall the event was a huge success with all participants learning something new and being inspired to help conserve our resources. We hope that you will join us in celebrating Earth Hour next year!

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.

New Course Director in UAE – Kholousi Khayal

<< I took my first breath underwater at the age of 14, since then, I have been pursuing my dream of becoming a Scuba instructor and Course Director.

Having extensive experience teaching as a PADI Scuba Instructor at the highest level of standards the industry can provide, I have been recognized by PADI and awarded the elite instructor award 2 years in a row.

I have been working as a dive professional now for more than 4 years and have tremendous experience in the dive industry, I have logged 1,500 dives, and I am an Instructor in 21 PADI specialty courses, 6 Project AWARE specialties, and a Freediving Instructor.

I’m also an active 100% Project AWARE partner, helping clean the ocean with every dive as I consider the ocean one of the greatest callings to serve, seeing as we are at the least to say “are one with the ocean”.

I am also a certified A.S.S.E.T (Association of Scuba Service Engineers and Technicians), meaning I have in my arsenal the capability of servicing all types of scuba diving equipment. Moreover, I have further developed my skill set, as a certified compressor technician for all types of compressors.

My ambition is to transfer all the knowledge and experience I have to my future candidates, create more ocean advocates, and to further extend our diving community one member at a time>>.

Congratulations to Kholousi for successfully completing his CDTC !

New Course Director in UAE – Hassan Khayal

<< As one of the newest and youngest Course Directors in the UAE I’m looking forward to growing the professional field in the country. As a PADI Course Director, I have had extensive experience teaching scuba diving at the highest levels of standards the industry has to offer.

I have received the PADI Elite Instructor award three years in a row and aim to continue teaching to the same high standard as a Course Director. I believe education is a never ending journey, and I’m always looking for the next learning opportunity and I believe everybody should do so.

I’m also very passionate about the preservation of the aquatic world, being a 100% AWARE Partner and being an adoptive parent to not one, but two dive sites in Fujairah where I enjoys diving and teaching.

All different types of diving are my favourite because I genuinely believe every type of diving has something unique to offer. As an award winning underwater photographer, taking pictures and videos and working on them are my personal passion in diving. I believe diving is about relaxation and invite everyone and anyone to try it out regardless of why they think they cannot.

I would describe myself as a very active and enthusiastic instructor, as I cannot help but spread around my excitement at being around, above, under, or anywhere near the water. I’m looking very forward to spreading this same passion and excitement to my future instructor candidates >>.

Congratulations to Hassan for successfully completing his CDTC !

Abu Dhabi to host 2019 World Ocean Summit

PADI® and Project AWARE® join together to congratulate the Government of Abu Dhabi for hosting the World Ocean Summit 2019. The announcement that the United Arab Emirates’ capital is to host global talks in March 2019 to support international efforts to protect the ocean was made at the close of the 2018 summit in Mexico where Project AWARE represented the global dive community and joined a number of organizations to discuss solution-focused initiatives.

While the United Arab Emirates may be known more for its shopping than its water sports, there is plenty to do and see underwater. It is a great place for all levels of diver. It is even the perfect place to earn your first scuba diving certification as most of the dive sites are relatively shallow and without heavy currents. Abu Dhabi, in particular, has a close relationship with the ocean, through its history as a centre for pearl diving, its resilient coral reefs and its mangroves sea grass meadows.

Bringing the World Ocean Summit to Abu Dhabi presents a unique opportunity to shine light on what the region has to offer as a scuba diving destination and involve the local community in conservation actions, with fins on and off, in the run-up to the summit.

The World Ocean Summit 2019 will be held March, 5-7. A key priority for the World Ocean Summit 2019 will be to foster greater cooperation and collaboration between different groups, and to serve as a bridge between the development of economic policies and protecting the marine environment. PADI and Project AWARE look forward to continuing to involve the dive community in local conservation actions in the Middle East, share our underwater perspective of global ocean issues, and support the success of the 2019 World Ocean Summit. But for now, we share Project AWARE’s message and ocean leaders’ call for action from the Ocean Summit 2018:

Green Sea Turtles hatchlings on Kuredu

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

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

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

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

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

Common crabs encountered in the Maldives: Part 2

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

Swift-Footed rock crab Laura Pola

Swift-Footed Rock Crab

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

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

Swift-Footed Rock Crab. Picture by Laura Pola

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

Fiddler Crab. Picture by Carly Brooke

Fiddler crabs

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

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

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

PADI’s guest blogger Emma Bell introduces herself:

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

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

Congratulations to our 2018 Frequent Trainers

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

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

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

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

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