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.

Dealing with Decompression Sickness – Reducing Risk and Preparing for Response

Written by DAN Staff

Explaining decompression sickness (DCS) to student divers is a balance between emphasizing how serious DCS can be while focusing on how conservative diving practices help keep the incident rate low. Similarly, as a dive professional, you need to balance your preparedness to deal with a DCS incident with your focus on reducing risk for your student divers and yourself before, during and after each dive.

Reducing Risk

Low Resolution Preview -- not authorized for any other useMost training dives are likely to be conservative and well planned, especially for entry-level courses, thus the steps to reduce DCS are role-modeled and practiced by student divers in the water. However, post-dive DCS catalysts may be less frequently addressed. Dehydration, strenuous exercise and thermal stress can all increase DCS risk. It’s important to consider how much physical exertion may be required by student divers to move gear after a dive or hike out of a dive site. Because student divers are not as knowledgeable as experienced divers, share dive-related efficiencies, such as using a hand trolley or dive bag with wheels to carry gear. Inexperienced divers also need to be reminded to hydrate and apply sunscreen or find shade. Learning something new is exciting, but it can also be stressful for student divers. Part of dive safety is taking the time to instill good habits to reduce risks.

Prepare For The Worst

DAN_O2 Kit - BahamasYou know that even if you do everything right, you can’t completely eliminate DCS risk. This means that even on the most ordinary training dive in great conditions, you must be prepared for the worst. Having an emergency plan that includes contact information for emergency services and the location of the nearest medical facility is key. Also, preparing your response to an injury by having the proper equipment and emergency oxygen is critical. The more remote the dive site, the more oxygen you’ll need along with a reliable way to transport an injured diver to medical care. DAN can help you locate the nearest chamber and provide medical consultation as needed.

For more information on DCS and risk management, visit DAN.org/Health

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PADI Continuing Education – Specialty Courses

Since you started diving, I´m sure you heard your Instructor saying, at least once a day, that it is important to continue your education. I´m sure you did – otherwise you would not have become a PADI Professional… But what is Continuing Education and why is it so important for yourself and the diving Industry in general? If you are familiar with the PADI system, you should know and understand that the continuing Education is the backbone of the PADI System.

 

 

Are you already a Specialty Instructor?

The Power of Continuing Education (CON-ED)

The power of the PADI system of diver education is its diversity in courses

  • From entry level all the way up to professional
  • All are standardized
  • Aim is to improve specific skills
  • Specialization improves the market value
  • Enough choices for everybody

It adds variety in teaching… Which means that you are not only stuck with the core course like the PADI Open Water Course, the PADI Advanced Open Water course or the PADI Rescue course. It connects in the same time to the interest of the student and improves the skills and therefore the safety of the divers.

Specialty courses can create different tracks to follow; For example it can add-on sales of diving equipment, or it will open a road to the PADI Master Scuba Diver certification.

It is essential that an Instructor in these days can offer various Specialty courses.

How many Specialty Certifications do you have?

What if I tell you that Specialties are the reason to become very successful in the diving industry? The more specialties you can teach and the more languages you can bring into a new position for a Dive Center – the more valuable you will become in the whole industry.

I can only highly recommend that you follow the Specialty Instructor Training! It will certainly build up your confidence and it will give you new insights. The more specialties you offer, the bigger your income can grow!

 

It shows to the Dive Center owner and to PADI that you understand the PADI philosophy – and together with the new Elite Instructor program – it will also be recognized by PADI.

How can you apply to become a PADI Specialty Instructor?

There are two ways to obtain the Specialty ratings:

  • The first is completing a PADI Specialty Instructor course with a PADI Course Director. This reduced the number of dives you must have – 10 versus 20 – showing experience in the specialty area.
  • If you already have the experience (min. 20 logged dives), you can apply directly to your PADI Regional Headquarters. You will find on the PADI Prosite the Specialty Instructor Application.

To summarize – If you offer a variety of courses – this will have a direct impact in your Dive Center.

Why?

Specialty certifications have a direct impact on equipment sales, because the courses are creating a demand for new equipment and it also triggers the lust for more adventure. At the end of the day you will have more satisfied customers and happier staff.

To push the PADI Continuing Education courses is the foundation for success! Because your Customers are always aiming for new experiences and challenges.

Check out the newest challenges for 2017

PADI Elite Instructor

2017 – MSD My PADI Challenge

 

 

Can the “Best” Divemasters come from the “Worst” Divers?

By John Kinsella

Perhaps an instructor’s most important role is training fellow dive professionals; running a PADI® Divemaster course, as the book succinctly says, demands nothing less than your best effort. Ditto for the DM candidates.

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Speaking of effort, a recent candidate got me thinking about what it takes to make a really great PADI Divemaster. This person had to work hard at every step of the journey to PADI professional. Throughout the progression, from Open Water, to Advanced Open Water and Rescue, nothing came easy, but equally, nothing was allowed to get in the way. Often, skills had to be practiced time and time again to develop mastery; sometimes even to the consternation of fellow candidates who flew through the required skills and exercises. This was real world affirmation of the benefits of performance-based training.

It wasn’t easy for the DM training staff either; they had to put in extra effort too. From counseling sessions to restore confidence when if flagged to the extra time needed to make sure skills were performed comfortably and confidently, the trainers went the extra mile. What was notable in this context was how willing and selfless they were in response to the tremendous efforts the candidate made.

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The end result was that, with considerable time and effort, and constant good humor, this candidate prevailed and I have yet to meet someone who was more delighted with success. But the best was yet to come. I think, more than anything, it is the inherent understanding of the challenges people sometimes face and overcome while learning new dive skills, and the consequent empathy, that helped this new divemaster really blossom and become an invaluable and committed dive shop team member and one of the most popular divemasters with customers.

For those involved with professional development, and that should include all PADI Members, the basic message is clear. Sometimes it takes a bit of extra effort to help a DM (or other) candidate succeed. But work hard with people who try hard and the rewards can be worth it.