PADI Pioneers: Generating Ocean Warriors in the Maldives

In a quiet corner of a luxury resort in the Maldives you’ll find an PADI Five Star IDC centre quite unlike any other.

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Teaching Maldivians to scuba dive might seem to some like selling coals to Newcastle. Wherever you stand in the Maldives, you’re always barely a stone’s throw from the ocean, and many Maldivians can swim before they can walk. Diving is in the country’s DNA.

It could come as a surprise to some then, that until the mid-2000s, there were only a handful of places offering PADI Instructor Development Courses in the country, with many aspiring instructors actually having to travel to Thailand to complete their certifications.

Founding an Institution

Luckily, this didn’t go unnoticed by Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed, the Maldives’ first and only PADI Course Director and in 2006, he decided to do something about it. Working at the time as the operations manager of Holiday Island Resort & Spa, part of the Villa conglomerate, Sendi approached the company chairman – the Hon. Qasim Ibrahim – and shared his concerns about the lack of educational opportunities for local dive and water sport professionals.

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The conversation would not only change his own life, but would ultimately change the face of diving education in the Maldives. Convinced by the lack of Maldivian educational facilities for divers, Mr Ibrahim asked Sendi to oversee the development of an institution that would change all that. Like Sendi, he wanted to provide a space for Maldivians to become qualified leaders in the diving field. And with that, The Villa Institute of Water Sports and Hospitality was born the same year.

A Place in the Sun

Purpose-built in a quiet corner of Sun Island Resort & Spa (another Villa Hotel), the institute quickly became a hub for young dive and water sports enthusiasts hoping to make a career in the industry. With spacious student and teacher accommodation and modern classrooms overlooking a lagoon that welcomes whale sharks and manta rays to its outer reef, the establishment is enough to make any Course Director drool.

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But what makes the institute really special is what it aims to achieve. Its objective? To equip a new generation of certified PADI Dive Masters and Instructors with the skills needed to become not only leaders in the field of recreational diving tourism but also trailblazers in ecological advocacy.

Expansion and Diversification

Lofty goals to say the least, but within a few short years it has managed to do just that. After a restructuring to become the founding faculty of Villa College, (now the Maldives’ leading private education provider offering courses in everything from marketing to law) and an expansion to include facilities in the capital, the reigns were handed over to Dr. Sham’aa ‘Anna’ Hameed. Under her leadership and the close involvement of Sendi, the institute is well on track to realise its vision.

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Not only does the faculty run multiple PADI Instructor Development Courses throughout the year, it now offers Certificate Three, foundation and even degree courses in marine studies that offer PADI electives as course credit.

Ocean Warriors

These courses provide students with the tools to become innovators in the field of marine studies. As a result, graduating students go on to enter the Maldivian workforce in a number of roles: as dive and water sports instructors of course, but also as researchers, marine biologists, wildlife rangers, even government environmental officials and legislators.

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What started as an initiative of affirmative action to provide quality education and training for locals has now developed into an educational model that is forward thinking on an international level. As such, they are arming a legion of self-titled ‘Ocean Warriors’ with the skills to be the next generation of environmental guardians and leaders in the Maldivian diving industry.

 

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

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ScubaFest Cornwall

ScubaFest 2017

 

It’s time to dust off your suit and get your regulators serviced…

You are invited to Cornwall ScubaFest 2017 from

Saturday 29th April – Monday 1st May

The annual Cornwall ScubaFest event is back. For three days over the Spring Bank Holiday – Saturday 29th April to Monday 1st May 2017 – scuba divers take over the Pentewan Sands Holiday Park. The event, organised and hosted by SITA (SCUBA Industries Trade Association), celebrates what great British diving is all about. A full schedule of events can be found at the ScubaFest website.

PADI EVENTS

PADI and Project AWARE will support the event, delivering a range of seminars and courses.

Saturday 29th April

PATA PADI Advanced Training Academy

PADI Advanced Training Academy

With both dry and in-water components, this programme, for PADI Pros, increases individual expertise and allows participants to network, build new friendships and learn from each other. Programme attendance also provides credit for Master Instructor and CDTC applications. (See a testimonial from previous attendees)

PADI Member Forum

2017 PADI Member Forum is an exciting, informative journey through the new, cutting-edge, educational tools in the PADI digital library. The seminar will feature a risk management presentation along with an interactive Q&A session about PADI Standards.

Sunday 30th April

Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer course

The EFR Instructor Trainer course includes online learning followed by a live knowledge development and practical element. This training enables successful applicants to offer EFR Instructor courses, making it particularly beneficial to those working at Instructor Development Centres or those involved in the IDC process.EFR

In order to apply for a space you must meeting the following criteria:

  • Be an EFR Primary / Secondary Care Instructor
  • Be an EFR Care For Children Instructor
  • Have registered at least 25 EFR students

OR

  • Have conducted at least 5 separate EFR courses

RNLI Sea Survival Instructor Specialty course

This course, released in October 2016, was developed by the RNLI, with help from PADI, in response to an RNLI survey identifying the need for divers to keep themselves safer in the sea.RNLI

The course has been created and tested within the UK, however, is completely transferrable to other diving areas or countries.  With some of the more harsh conditions we face in the UK, Ireland and parts of Europe, this course will be of great benefit to anyone teaching or diving in this part of the world.

It would be great to see you at ScubaFest. If you are interested in any of the PADI events please download and complete the registration form.

 

 

Big Business for Prodivers Maldives

Divers who signed up to join the Noon Atoll full-day trip with Kuredu Prodivers hoped to see some ‘big-stuff action’ with the locally renowned shark spot, Orimas Thila, high on their agenda. They got rather more than they bargained for…Blue Whale

On their way back, whilst on their dhoni, crossing the channel between the Noon and Lhaviyani Atolls, something big was spotted in the water – or rather something massive!

Blue Whale

In fact, they witnessed the largest creature ever to have lived on Earth – a Blue Whale! Great excitement ensued and estimates of size range from ‘huge’, 12 metres and 18 metres. Blue whales can grow to over 33 metres in length and have a heart weighing as much as a car. Their huge mouth can fit 100 people inside but, fear not, we are not on their menu; Blue Whales are filter feeders and eat krill – shrimp-like invertebrates.

Blue Whales have been around on Earth for about 54 million years and were once prolific, but in the first half of the 20th century they were almost hunted to extinction. There are now an estimated total of 10.000 – 25,000 individuals left on the planet and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List rates them as ‘endangered’. While whaling is no longer a threat, increased shipping leading to more collisions, oil spills and climate change all threaten the existence of the majestic Blue Whales. Blue Whale

 The ocean is full of surprises and, as well as the usual exciting encounters of sharks and manta rays, as you can see, every now and then something a little more unusual and unexpected turns up.

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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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It’s Not Too Late for Sharks and Rays at CITES CoP17

CITES appeal

Threatened by unregulated international trade, nine species of devil rays, three species of thresher sharks and the silky shark are proposed for listings under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Project AWARE and partner NGOs are on the ground at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to CITES in Johannesburg, South Africa from September 24th to October 5th to help these species receive the protections they deserve.

Drew Richardson, President and CEO, PADI

Drew Richardson, President and CEO, PADI

“Sadly, the possibility that one day there could essentially be no sharks or rays left in the ocean is plausible if things do not change. PADI is proud to support Project AWARE’s shark and ray conservation efforts at CITES and beyond with a $20,000 match*. Please show your support for this important cause.” Drew Richardson, President and CEO, PADI

Support shark and ray conservation with Project AWARE by making a Single Donation or better yet, elevate your commitment by making a Monthly Gift and your donation will be matched* dollar-for-dollar by PADI.

It’s also not too late to rally support from your dive students for the shark and ray proposals up for review at CITES CoP17! Download the #Divers4SharksNRays Toolkit and add your photos to Project AWARE’s #Divers4SharksNRays wall of support by sharing them on social media!

* PADI Match Giving offer valid until 7th October 2016 up to a maximum of US$20,000

Silent Auction Launches on World Tourism Day

Bidding for the annual Project AWARE silent auction is NOW OPEN! 

Project AWARE Silent Auction Prizes 2016

Launching on World Tourism Day, September 27 and running until October 22, Project AWARE is using this international celebration of tourism to raise funds for its critical ocean conservation work and remind the dive community of the importance of ecotourism and responsible travel practices.

Funds raised through the auction will go a long way toward engaging scuba divers in environmental programs and activities such as Project AWARE’s citizen science program, Dive Against Debris™, to support a return to a clean and healthy ocean. The winning bidders will be announced at the 2016 Sport Diver Awards Ceremony by adventurers, explorers and keen Project AWARE supporters Monty Halls and Andy Torbet.

Want to attend the 2016 Sport Diver Awards Ceremony? Grab your ticket today and visit http://www.jumblebee.co.uk/ProjectAWAREAuction2016  to see all the amazing prizes, scuba goodies, holidays & much more to win.

Wherever you are in the world, happy bidding and remember to make a difference for ocean protection every time you dive, travel and more!

ReMember: Support Ocean Protection with your PADI Member Renewal

ReMember Ocean Protection with your PADI Member Renewal 2017The diving community, especially PADI® Professional Members play a critical role in leading ocean protection.

There are so many significant problems facing mankind, but as divers this is truly our cause. If scuba divers do not take an active role in preserving the aquatic realm, who will? – John Cronin, PADI Co-Founder

Your renewed commitment to ocean protection with your PADI Member Renewal continues to give the ocean a voice, help secure important policy advancements to keep shark and ray populations healthy and protect marine life from the onslaught of marine debris.

Project AWARE®, PADI’s environmental partner, is dedicated to providing PADI Pros like you with the tools and resources to take action, advancing the health of the ocean for future generations. Your donation supports hands-on citizen science, education and local marine conservation actions tailored for the dive community across the globe.

Go to the PADI Pros’ Site to update your credit or debit card details and add your donation* to support Project AWARE’s critical conservation work today!

* Gifts of €15/£15/20CHF or more received during PADI Member Renewals will receive a new limited edition Project AWARE silky shark mask strap pad as a special thank you for your renewed support.

 

Project AWARE: #Divers4SharksNRays

Project AWARE® is committed to engaging the dive community in science-based, respectful and well-informed policy actions. Join us in delivering our message to CITES* Member Parties: Vote YES for sharks and rays.

#Divers4SharksNRays - Sierra Madre

How can you get involved in #Divers4SharksNRays?

  • Download our #Divers4SharksNRays sign
  • Take a photo underwater, on the boat, or in your dive shop with the sign and your dive buddy or group of divers
  • Share your photo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Use our campaign hashtag #Divers4SharksNRays and the following social media post:

#Divers4SharksNRays in {insert location} urge @CITES countries to vote YES for sharks and rays #CoP17 @projectaware + photo

or

We’re supporting @projectaware’s #Divers4SharksNRays @CITES #CoP17 Campaign from {insert location} + photo

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

100% Project AWARE Partner

598DT_100_AWARE_Banner_125x125_0115_0Project AWARE Foundation is a growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean planet – one dive at a time. You can help by becoming a 100% Project AWARE Partner

Over the past two decades of underwater conservation we’ve learned that divers are true leaders in ocean protection. We’re ocean heroes numbering in the millions across the globe. We believe together our actions will make a huge impact and will help to rescue the ocean.

With new programs and more online resources than ever before, Project AWARE supports an unprecedented global movement of divers acting in their own communities to protect the ocean and implement lasting change.

Project AWARE is focusing in on two major ocean issues –Sharks in Peril and Marine Debris, or trash in our ocean. Truly, there are many conservation issues converging on our ocean planet at once, but we’re concentrating on these serious problems where scuba divers are uniquely positioned to directly and positively affect real, long-term change in these two areas.

Go diving with a 100% Project AWARE Partner today!FB Header DC 598DT_100_AWARE_Banner2_851x315_0115

These ocean stewards support a clean, healthy ocean by making a donation on behalf of each student to Project AWARE. You’ll receive the Project AWARE version of your PADI certification card and be part of a movement of divers protecting our ocean planet.

Before you dive in, find your nearest 100% Partner.

100% AWARE partners make a big difference by contributing vital funds to protect the ocean planet. Ongoing contributions support:

  • Marine Debris Prevention: we’re collecting data and removing devastating debris worldwide while tackling policy efforts to address long-term solutions.
  • Shark Protection:securing protection for the world’s most vulnerable shark species. Together, we’re strengthening shark finning bans and closing policy loopholes in countries that matter most.

Make a big difference and become a 100% Project AWARE Partner!

Project AWARE is  proud to announce that we have a new Ocean Steward in the Canary Islands:

Together, we’re re-thinking what’s possible and sharing a positive vision for our ocean future. Get ready for the work ahead by joining the movement of thousands of divers to protect our ocean planet

Fundraise for Ocean Protection with a Finathon

preview-full-671DT_Finathon_Banners_LinkedinThis World Oceans Day, June 8, rise to the challenge of fundraising for ocean protection with a Finathon® – the ultimate way divers can support ocean protection – fins on and off.

Project AWARE®’s first global Finathon® launched in 2012 as a swimming challenge to raise funds and awareness to protect vulnerable shark and ray species. Since then, Finathon® events have spanned the globe with supporters not only putting their fins on to swim to end shark finning, but also taking part in many other exciting “fins off” challenges such as cycling across Europe, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, or even shaving for sharks or donating their birthday.

Check out all the new and updated Finathon tools and resources! Download your Finathon Action Kit today and start your fundraising challenge – fins on or off – for ocean protection!

My PADI – MyOcean – My Hope