Crown of Thorns Eradication

As the corals of the Maldives are already vulnerable our understanding and removal efforts of the crown of thorns starfish is paramount to the health of our reef.

Everyday Gili Lankanfushi has sightings of the voracious crown-of-thorns starfish (COT) Acanthaster planci. Native to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region and the largest species of starfish (Asteroidea), they are generally seen at depths of up to 30 metres. However, they have also been known to travel between Atolls at great depths of around 200m. There are four species of COT, but it is A. planci which is responsible for coral mortality in the Northern Indian Ocean and the coral triangle. COTS are corallivores and during optimal conditions can grow to over half a meter in diameter and have more than 30 arms.

Crown of Thorns

Generally COTS can be considered a keystone species because they can maintain healthy coral reef diversity by primarily feeding on fast growing corals, such as staghorn and plate (Acropora sp.) and enable the slower massive corals to establish and develop. When coral coverage is low, often resulting from COT outbreaks, COTS will eat PoritesMontipora, sponges, algae and encrusting organisms. One COT can consume all the coral in a 6 to 10m square radius annually, so the impact on an already vulnerable reef is catastrophic. The feeding behaviour is dependent on population density, water motion and species composition. COTS are covered in venomous spines coated with saponin which causes irritation and pain at a puncture wound. The spines are long, sharp and lowered to avoid drag.

Fossil evidence suggests that COTS developed millions of years ago. However, COT outbreaks have only occurred in the last 60 to 70 years and with increasing frequency and intensity. The first recorded outbreak occurred in the 1950s in the Ryukyu Islands off Japan. Combined with anthropogenic threats and other stresses outbreaks are greatly detrimental to coral reef survival and the fish associated with the reef.

Crown of Thorns destruction: 1 – healthy coral, 2 – freshly killed coral, 3 – recently killed portion colonised by algae and bacteria, 4 – long dead coral

COT outbreaks in the Maldives are relatively recent; the first recorded outbreak was in the 1970’s, the second in the 1990’s. Currently we are experiencing an outbreak which started in 2013. It began in North Male Atoll and has spread through to Ari Atoll, Baa Atoll, Lhaviyani Atoll, South Male Atoll and large densities have recently been documented in Shaviyani Atoll.

Outbreaks result for a variety of reasons. Firstly, when there is an excess of nutrients entering the water as a consequence of runoff from sewage, fertiliser and other island practices. The resulting eutrophication leads to increased plankton for the COT larvae and decreased juvenile mortality. Secondly, loss of COT predators; napoleon wrasse, lined worm, harlequin shrimp, starry puffer fish, titan and yellow margin triggerfish and triton’s trumpet (red and spangled emperor and parrotfish have been known to feed off young COTS before they have spines).

COT being predated upon by Triton’s Trumpet.

Loss of predators occurs due to overfishing for the souvenir trade, bycatch and habitat destruction. This leads to a drop in already low predation pressure and results in a COT population surge. Finally, COTS have excellent adaptations as they are resilient organisms with an selected life history (high growth rate, typically exploit less crowded ecological niches and produce many off spring). COT females can produce 65 million eggs annually between October to February. The eggs are released into the water column and are fertilized by clouds of sperm from nearby males. After fertilisation larvae are in their planktonic form and remain that way for weeks. After settling on the sea floor and developing into their adult form they develop their spines and start feeding off coral. This process can take around a year. COTS are most vulnerable before their spines are developed. Additionally, they can survive between 6 to 9 months without food, and body parts lost due to stress or predation can regenerate within 6 months.

Short and long term methods are being established around the world to minimise the effects of current outbreaks and to help prevent future outbreaks. The marine biology team at Gili Lankanfushi is focused on the removal of COTS. Our primary aim is removing these creatures from the overwater villas and jetty’s. Guests and hosts report sightings of COTS, and our team of marine biologists will remove them by injecting them with vinegar. This method is labour intensive and is carried out as regularly as possible by both the Marine Biology team and the Dive Centre.

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.

 

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.

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

Prodivers Manta Mania

Do you fancy a dance with these graceful giants? It is the time of the year again were diving and snorkelling in the Lhaviyani Atoll is special in itself, yet when manta rays start to regularly appear at the cleaning station, our happiness borders on mania!

Manta Ray @ Lhaviyani Atoll

Picture by Ray van Eeden, Prodivers Maldives

The place to be is one of the top 5 Prodivers sites situated in the Lhaviyani Atoll. Several Mantas frequently visit the dive site to have their bodies cleaned, and the plankton-rich areas at nearby reefs provided what appeared a tasty soup that dozens of Manta Rays satiated their hunger with.

On this magnificent spot, Manta Rays can spend hours as they hover above the reef and enjoy a beauty and well-being treatment after their bowls of plankton soup. This fantastic location offers unforgettable underwater experiences to divers and snorkelers alike.

For the best viewing pleasure, you’ll have to hop on one of our diving and snorkelling manta search boats. Join us for these breath taking moments!

  
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Silver Sands Celebrate!

aquafanatics-anantara-dhigu-resort-veli-resort-naladhu-maldives

Aquafanatics @ Anantara Dhigu Resort, Anantara Veli Resort, Naladhu Maldives

In 2016 Silver Sands is celebrating ten years since it opened its first dive, water sports and excursions operations in the Maldives.

In ten years, they have opened ten Operations and ten PADI Dive Centers J WOW that’s an incredible achievement.

Their first Maldives operation, called Down Under and Wave, opened at W Maldives in 2006 and they have gone from strength to strength since then.

Down-Under-Wave-at-W-Maldives

Down Under & Wave @ W Maldives

In 2007 their second operation Aquafanatics, started in the Anantara Dhigu Resort, Anantara Veli Resort and Naladhu Maldives complex of hotels. In the next five years they opened Immersion and Glide at Velassaru, FLOAT at Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi, Dive Centre at Shangri-La’s Villingili and Spa Maldives, Deep & Breeze at Robinson Club, Elements at Anantara Kihavah Villas and FLOAT at Per Aquum Niyama… PHEW they have been busy!

The next few years were spent consolidating these operations and their reputation for quality and customer service. In 2015 they opened Meradhoo at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Resort & Spa and, to celebrate their tenth anniversary and 10 years of luxury services in the Maldives they opened their 10th Operation, Vommuli Dive & WS Centre at the ST. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort in Dhaalu Atoll in September 2016!

vommuli-at-the-st-regis-vommuli-resort-maldives

Vommuli Dive & WS Centre @ the ST. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

 

 

 

But they’re still not stopping! In February 2017 they will open their 11th Operation in the Maldives at Kandima Maldives.

Recently, Aquafanatics was the first PADI Freedive Center registered in the Maldives followed in July 2016 by Elements also registering as a PADI Freedive Centre.  Showing that Silver Sands are constantly moving forward and embracing everything that the aquatic environment has to offer.

FLOAT @ Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi

FLOAT @ Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi

Silver Sands Operations currently employs over 250 employees including 65 PADI Professionals from many different parts of the world and owns over 70 vessels including several Yachts. Their reputation is built upon the core principles the company espouses:

“To be renowned as the Maldivian water sports and dive adventure company of choice amongst both local and international clients”.

Immersion Glide @ Velassaru Maldives

Immersion & Glide @ Velassaru Maldives

“To offer our clientele the best dive and water sports experience through activities designed uniquely for each client, delivered by a core of highly qualified staff using state of the art equipment”

What amazing goals to have and they highlight exactly the qualities that make PADI proud to have them as PADI Dive Centres!

Congratulations to Silver Sands and all their staff, we’re already looking forward to celebrating your twentieth anniversary!

Meradhoo @ Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Meradhoo @ Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Resort & Spa

 

So you think diving the Maldives is out of your budget? Think again!

This month’s blog was written by PADI guest blogger Adele Verdier-Ali

There aren’t many holiday destinations that are as synonymous with luxury as the Maldives. Mention the country and you immediately evoke images of glamourous resorts on private islands catering to the world’s rich and famous. Heavenly exotic? Check. Prohibitively expensive? Double check.

South Ari Atoll Dhangethi

South Ari Atoll Dhangethi, photo by A. Verdier-Ali

For most, the Maldives is either a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon destination or simply relegated to the bottom of an unrealistic bucket list. And although many divers drool over the diversity of the coral reefs and marine wildlife in the country’s waters, many assume that the destination is just simply out of their price range, especially those not looking to join a liveaboard.

Baa Dharavandhoo 2

Baa Atoll, Dharavandhoo, photo by A. Verdier-Ali

One country, two worlds

And until 2011, that assumption would have been a fair one. Because until then, Maldivian law dictated that there be a strict divide between islands that welcomed tourists, and islands where locals lived. This set up was in large part due to the 100% Muslim country being under a mix of common and sharia law. Whereas in local islands, alcohol and pork are banned and modest clothing traditions are followed, none of these laws apply in resort islands. So until five years ago, tourists would fly into the country, be greeted at the airport and then whisked off to their private resort island. They would remain there for the entirety of their stay (bar excursions) and local Maldivians continued to live on their inhabited islands. And never the twain did meet.

North Ari Atoll Thoddoo

North Ari Atoll, Thoddoo, photo by A. Verdier-Ali

A change in the law

But no longer. In 2011, the law officially changed to allow for tourist establishments in local islands, and while the same laws still apply, the increasing number of tourist arrivals to these islands each month show that visitors are happy to go without a bevvy or bacon butty for a week or two. For the past five years, these local island guesthouses have been cropping up throughout the country at an extraordinary rate. And although they’ll never be comparable to the backpacker prices of other parts of South East Asia, the rates are extremely competitive relative to the resort market, with some charging as little as 40$ per room per night. Naturally, the quality you’ll find varies from place to place but although these local islands establishments are referred to collectively as ‘guesthouses’ in the Maldivian tourism industry, some would be better described as boutique hotels, with spacious rooms, in-house restaurants serving top-notch food, and a handful even have their own pools.

DSC_5849

Photo by Mohamed Seeneen

 

So why is this relevant for divers?

Well, thanks to the influx of tourists, most of these islands are now home to a PADI dive centre, and in some cases (such as guesthouse-capital Maafushi Island) there are several. Many of the guys running these centres have had years of experience in the resort industry, meaning that the service is of a high standard. Dive rates tend to be cheaper than in the resorts too, so if you’re on a tight budget it’s a great option. Most centres dive with traditional Maldivian dhoni boats so the level of comfort is similar – and of course the dive sites are the same regardless of how much you’ve paid to get there!

Vaavu Atoll 1

Vaavu Atoll, photo by A. Verdier-Ali

 

Why not just join a liveaboard?

True. Before the advent of the guesthouse industry, divers looking to spend the majority of their budget on diving had to join a liveaboard cruise. Which is fantastic if you and your spouse are both divers. But a non-diver on a diving liveaboard? They’d soon understand the meaning of cabin fever. This is why a local island stay is a fantastic choice for budget-conscious divers looking to travel with a non-diver. Whilst in some resorts snorkelers and divers normally join separate excursion boats, in local islands both tend to go out together because operations are smaller. This means that you’re not away from your loved one for very long – you can enjoy the cruise there together, looking out for dolphins, enjoying the sun (bliss!) – but when you reach the dive site, you can descend for your dive whilst your non-diver companion can stay at the surface to snorkel. And if they don’t fancy the boat, they can always stay on the island and enjoy the beach with most local islands having now reserved portions of their beaches for guests, so that they can sunbathe in bikinis.

 

Vaavu Atoll 2

Vaavu Atoll, photo by A. Verdier-Ali

The local island experience

Staying in a local island has a lot advantages. It’s much cheaper and there are some great accommodation choices. A much larger portion of your budget can go on diving, which is always a plus. But travellers should not expect the same experience as being on a resort. On a local island, guests are expected to live amongst the islanders and respect cultural norms, covering from shoulders to knees when away from the beach. As mentioned there’s no booze – but then if you’re diving you should be restricting that anyway. Food is more limited but still delicious – think lots of fresh fish, barbecues and coconut water. So if you’re looking to experience the real Maldives, away from the glitz of the resorts, to discover the warmth of local hospitality and a way of life that has changed little for centuries, a local island is a great place to start.

 

Baa Dharavandhoo 1

Baa Dharavandhoo, photo by A. Verdier-Ali

About the author: Adele Verdier-Ali is a freelance travel writer and content marketer who has been living in the Maldives for over six years. She’s a certified PADI rescue diver and when she’s not underwater, she writes about Maldivian culture and tourism. You can read more of her thoughts over on www.littlebirdjournal.com

DSC_1394

Photo by Mohamed Seeneen

Harry Thornton became a PADI Scuba Diver

This story is so amazing that I had to write about it. On the 5th of August 2015 something really special happened in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Harry Thornton and Marco CuciniHarry Thornton became a PADI Scuba Diver. Well – this event is nothing out of the ordinary, what is in fact extraordinary, he is born in 1931 and received his Scuba Diver Certification with the age of 83!

Marco Cucini, the PADI Instructor from Viking Divers in Larnaca, Cyprus, had the honour to teach Harry and to show him the beauty of diving.

 
How often do you hear, when you try to sell Scuba Diving around a pool area “Ooh – Scuba Diving? No thank you, I´m too old for this”. Harry Thornton is proofing the opposite. You are never too old to discover the beauty of the underwater world.

Harry Thornton and Marco Cucini.jpg aHarry truly enjoyed himself and wished he started diving 40 years earlier.

Now, Harry Thornton is able to dive together with his son Steve and Grandson Joe who are diving with Viking Divers in Cyprus for many years. On the 19th of October 2015 – Harry will turn 84 years old!

I´m truly inspired by Harry and I wish him all the best, good health and many years of diving!

PADI Diving Society’s 2015 Photo Contest

PDS Photo Contest Banner

We’re looking for a great photo to be featured as the 2015 PADI Diving Society membership card. The winner will get a certificate, a shout-out on the PADI Facebook Page and their image shared with more than 175,000 PADI Diving Society members worldwide (and over 1 million Facebook Fans).

How  you can get involved:

Send us your best photos to take part, and more importantly, get your customers involved by sharing the contest details on your website, social channels and newsletters. Use this mobile-friendly URL – https://a.pgtb.me/jzHMTg

Top Tip: Why not run a special PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course to inspire divers to improve their camera skills and potentially snap the winning shot!

How to Enter:

Visit the PADI Facebook Page contest tab – the contest opens for entries on the 26th August 2014 (00:00 UTC).

Choosing a Winner:

PADI Staff will narrow down all entries to a handful of finalists after the first stage has finished on 14th September.

PADI Facebook Fans will then be able to vote for the final winner between 17-26th September. The final winner will be announced on/around 6th October 2014.

PDS Photo Contest BannerImportant Info:

A low-res image is fine to enter the contest, but the original must be min 300 dpi and in the proportion of 9.56 by 6.4 centimetres/3.75 by 2.5 inches. The winner must provide the original image digitally and sign a photo release.

  • Submissions can be marine life, divers or any aspect of scuba diving lifestyle
  • Ensure the image meets Project AWARE guidelines (no touching or feeding marine life, no image of a creature outside its natural environment)
  • Please do not add watermarks, copyright text or logos to the image
  • For additional details, please read the official rules on the contest page

You don’t have to be a PADI Diving Society member to enter the contest, but if you’re interested in learning more about PADI Diving Society Visit padidivingsociety.com and join today.

To get an idea of what a winning image looks like, check out last year’s PADI Diving Society membership card:

PDS_MemberCard14_lowres