The Adaptable Prevail – A Message from PADI’s CEO

Put “adaptive” and “PADI” together and it conjures images of people overcoming disabilities and challenges, and rightly so. Diving is one of those rare, rich experiences that can help heal the body, heart and soul, whether someone’s dealing with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), paraplegia, cerebral palsy, amputation – the list goes on, as you know. With its performance-based design focused on what people can do instead of what they can’t, the PADI® System’s adaptive approach has opened diving and the underwater world to thousands.

Thousands? I should say millions. The PADI System’s adaptability isn’t new, and it benefits 25 million of us and counting – that’s every single PADI Diver. It has made PADI the world’s dominating force in diving because we all have challenges, needs, interests, preferences and desires. Only a system that adapts to the infinite individuality of learning and teaching can address all of these distinct variables.

What makes the PADI System stand apart is its ability to fit a standardized diving instructional system to so many people individually, in so many ways. It is international, cross-cultural, multilingual and transgenerational, so that beyond accommodating varied learning needs and preferences it builds a bridge that makes us one amid our differences. Take five PADI Divers from China, Italy, Mexico, Russia and Vietnam and put them on a boat for a day. They share a language even if they don’t, because they “speak” diving and the ocean, thanks to the PADI System you and your fellow PADI Professionals apply every day.

The PADI System succeeds because it stands on a solid, unshakeable but adaptable philosophical and instructional foundation that retains our core values while evolving as emerging technologies and social trends change how we meet individual needs, one student at a time. As the PADI family stands up for ocean health and marine animal protection, and champions the power of diving in community, and health and wellness, we need to recognize that, hand in hand with tenacity, this is where our strength lies. Overcoming challenges requires adapting what we do, whether it’s to help one person with an individual need or one planet with a social need.

The Chinese philosopher Lao-tsu said, “An army that cannot yield will be defeated. A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind. The hard and stiff will be broken; the soft and supple will prevail.” The PADI family has emerged as a force for good because we don’t try to live in someone’s idealized version of what the world should be. Rather, we are supple. We adapt and change to meet what the real world blows our way. Together, we always have, and I expect, always will.

Good luck, good teaching and good diving,

(Drew Richardson Ed.D.
PADI President and CEO)

My PADI Club™

The Portal to a World of Underwater Exploration and Discovery.

Written by Mohammad Dahdul, PADI Marketing Consultant

Sharing your passion for diving, the ocean and ocean conservation is what you do as a dive professional. You’re likely looking for innovative ways to make diving accessible and increase engagement for those who want to continue their dive journeys. My PADI Club™ was created to help you keep your ­customers diving for a lifetime.

Based on the extensive research ­provided by McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s leading research and business consulting firms, My PADI Club is designed to overcome the barriers people experience when learning to dive and help prevent divers from drifting away from diving. It provides what they need to stay active in the sport.

The barriers identified include dive planning being too difficult, trouble finding people to dive with, and reliable ratings of dive sites and dive businesses being unavailable. When it launches, My PADI Club will offer divers an online community for finding information about dive centers and sites globally, a dive buddy finder, custom dive notifications and trusted ratings. The platform’s tools work to not only make diving more accessible to the average ocean explorer, but to also increase repeat customers and drive business growth for PADI® Members in numerous ways.

Advertise Your Business

Advertising is imperative to grow your business and My PADI Club actually makes it easy. Publicizing what you offer and promoting your events is funda­mental to customer acquisition, and in building and maintaining customer loyalty. Think of My PADI Club as another marketing tool to drive customers to your store and participate in your events. The more you advertise and network, the larger, more loyal customer base you’ll build.

There are various ways to use My PADI Club as an additional advertising tool. Upload promotion or event flyers to the activity feed, change your dive center display ad with monthly specials or tent sales, and directly interact with customers through “likes” and “comments.” By uploading a display ad and linking it to your website or event page, you’ll be able to drive more traffic to your events. Reference the photo specs in the Settings section of My PADI Club to make sure your photo is the correct dimension and size.

Although advertising’s main ­objective is typically to foster business growth, you can also use it to share your passion for conservation with your network. Use the platform as a way to highlight the conservation projects that you and your team are working on. Invite your My PADI Club connections to your Dive Against Debris® events and enlist them to help have a ­positive impact on ocean health.

The wide reach of advertising through My PADI Club gives you the opportunity to grow your business, build a community of like-minded individuals, and work toward PADI’s Pillars of Change.

Build Stronger Customer Relationships

People and Community is one of PADI’s Pillars of Change and is the heart of teaching the world to dive. Building a community of divers in your area is a crucial way to keep customers returning to your business.

In Entrepreneur’s 5 Ways to Build Killer Relationships with Customers, connecting and communicating are two of the most important actions to forging healthy customer relationships. Both interpersonal and online interactions have a direct effect on whether or not a customer returns a second time. The consistency of these interactions also plays a large role in keeping your business, and diving in general, at the top of a customer’s mind. In the technologically advanced world in which we live, maintaining constant contact with another person is as easy as tapping a button on your smartphone. My PADI Club can offer this consistent, and instant, interaction.

Use the convenience of My PADI Club to your advantage by connecting and interacting with your customers in several ways. Update your instructional team on your dive center profile so student divers can easily follow their dive mentors. Make sure you and your instructors follow your students’ profiles as well. Once you’re following them, comment and like their logged dives, photos and videos encouraging them to continue their dive adventures. Post interesting content that will prompt your customers to interact with you. Maintaining these relationships could lead to referrals to friends and family.

Another way to prompt students to dive with you is by contributing to Go Dive Alerts™. As a PADI Pro, you are the local expert of the sites you frequently dive. Report conditions in My PADI Club for dive sites each day to alert divers of conditions that might pique their interest – for example, perfect water temperature and great visibility. My PADI Club users can customize notification triggers – Go Dive Alerts – for their favorite dive sites. As you report conditions, divers who chose to receive alerts for specific parameters at their favorite dive sites will be alerted to go dive. Prompting divers to dive reinforces their passion for scuba and gets them back into your dive center more often.

Having the ability to follow new and existing divers, other PADI Members, as well as share your passion and knowledge of diving within your community will make your voice and influence as strong, and global, as ever.

Grow Your Business

Using My PADI Club to advertise and build stronger customer relationships ultimately leads to business growth. By enabling your customers to become My PADI Club Premium members (coming later in 2018), you help them access exclusive savings on PADI continuing education courses and gear from some of the top dive brands. Leveraging these premium features is the best way to sell a Premium membership to both new and experienced divers.

What’s in it for you? Earn commissions for every new Premium membership sold. Commissions are paid on first-time Premium members only and the diver must remain a Premium member for at least 60 days. You will be paid in credit each month and also have the option to cash out credit via a check.

Encouraging your customers to join My PADI Club and upgrade to a Premium membership not only benefits them, but you as well. When customers seek out your dive services and products time and time again, you earn more revenue from each return visit. By bringing all your divers into the largest online dive community, you grow a robust dive tribe and expand your influence.

Set Up Your Profile

Now that you know there are many ways to leverage My PADI Club, it’s time to learn how to create and update your profile. Use these steps:

  • Step 1: Visit my.padi.com and log in using your PADI Pros’ Site or ScubaEarth username and password.
  • Step 2: Click on Profile to update your profile image, avatar, and general info. Connect with divers and share your photos.
  • Step 3: For Dive Centers and Resorts: Although some aspects of your profile can be updated directly on the My PADI Club dive center profile, information such as parking, transportation, services and courses must all be updated within the PADI Pros’ Site Premium listing section. To update these additional store details, go to PADI Pros’ Site (padi.com/mypadi). Log in using your Dive Center/Resort account, select the Account tab and then select Premium listing. Update your Premium Listing to improve your My PADI Club profile. This information will automatically populate into your My PADI Club ­profile within 24 hours.

Be sure to make your profile stand out. Add photos, videos and content that’s intriguing to your customers to make your profile distinctive. Remember, ­interaction and content are key in attaining the ­maximum benefits of My PADI Club.

Using the tools discussed throughout this article will help you leverage the My PADI Club platform. As mentioned, the best ways to fully benefit from My PADI Club is to be an exceedingly active member through consistent updates, constant interaction and communication with other users, and posting interesting content. Use your voice and influence as a dive mentor in My PADI Club to spread your passion for diving and encourage others to continue their exploration of the ocean, and to protect it while doing so.

 

 

How you as a Divemaster can encourage more women into the world of diving

 

 

July 21, 2018 marks the fourth annual PADI Women’s Dive Day. With hundreds of events hosted by PADI Dive Centres and Resorts around the world, divers will join together to celebrate female divers, aiming to encourage more women to take up the sport. 

 As a PADI Divemaster you can help encourage more women to take the plunge and sign up for a scuba diving course. Here are 5 top tips how to inspire and empower others to enjoy diving as much as you do!

  •  Promote PADI eLearning

PADI eLearning provides a flexible learning option that enables women and men alike to easily fit dive theory around work and family commitments. Learning to dive has never been more convenient!

  • Promote ReActivate

As a PADI Divemaster you can conduct the ReActivate™ program for certified divers. With that in mind get in touch with women who have dropped out of diving and invite them back to ReActivate.

  • Promote scuba diving lessons for kids

Having more female divers generally increases the number of families diving, which helps create a stronger and more active dive community. As a PADI Divemaster you can further attract mothers and families into diving by promoting kids scuba programs, such as PADI Bubblemaker, PADI SealTeam and PADI Junior Open Water Diver. Learning to dive will help the soon to be female divers relax from the stresses of daily life and keep the kids active at the same time!

  • Organise non-diving events

Non-diving events (for example, beach clean ups, hosting fundraising events for Project AWARE) can help divers and non-divers alike connect with the dive community. As a PADI Divemaster you can encourage your customers to invite female friends who are curious about diving, so they can network with scuba enthusiasts and get a flavour of what extraordinary experiences lie ahead of them on their scuba journey.

  • Stock women’s dive gear

Encourage your dive centre to stock up on female and children’s dive equipment. When walking into a dive centre for possibly the first time, people need to be able to identify themselves in imagery, so including bright and vibrant photos of women diving in your marketing materials should help inspire more female divers.

 

Don’t forget to register your event on the PADI Women’s Dive Day event locator so divers can easily find information and make plans to take part. It’s easy! All PADI Members (dive shops and individual pros) can simply enter the details here and your event will show when a diver looks for Women’s Dive Day events near them.

PADI Divemasters, we are reaching out to you to help us spread the word! By implementing one of our top tips you can help to encourage more women into the world of diving!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

Common crabs encountered in the Maldives: Part 1

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

The Maldives is rich in life and biodiversity, but the majority of this diversity is marine based. Due to the great distance of the Maldives from large land masses there are relatively few land based species. Crabs, are one of the most common. These shy little critters are abundant, entertaining to observe and vital to the island’s survival.

Hermit Crab. Picture by Laura Pola
Hermit Crab. Picture by Laura Pola

Land Hermit Crabs

Land hermit crabs are completely adapted to life on land, living under leaf litter or in other sheltered areas. A common error made by people is completely submerging these crabs in water, mistaking them for marine animals. Unfortunately hermit crabs can only survive for a few minutes when completely submerged. They are not true crabs because they do not have their own shell. Instead they use shells from dead gastropods in order to protect their soft abdomens. They are a long lived species – sometimes reaching the age of 40 years and older – so they go through a lot of shells!

Hermit crabs start their lives moving through a variety of larval stages whilst floating in the ocean. The larvae spend the first 40 – 60 days of their life alongside plankton until they change into a hermit crab/lobster shape. In this final larval stage they find a small shell and over the period of a month will spend more time on land until they finally molt and leave the ocean for good. By feeding on vegetation, insects, detritus, other smaller hermit crabs and microbes in the sand the crab grows in size. To accommodate this growth their hard exoskeleton must be shed periodically during the year and this process will carry on through-out the hermit crab’s life. As they grow in size the hermit crab molts less frequently and the molt process takes longer, during which time the crab will stay completely submerged in the sand.

When sexually mature the male will knock on the female’s shell to signal mating. Both genders will then extend out of their shells and the male will fertilise the female. After fertilisation the female will carry her eggs around on her abdomen where they are protected from predation. The bigger the female the larger the quantity of eggs. After one month the eggs are fully developed and the colour of the egg will have changed from brick red to grey. To hatch the eggs the female will enter the water at low tide. Upon contact with water the eggs burst open and the larvae are released.

Ghost Crab. Picture by Hans Hillewaert
Ghost Crab. Picture by Hans Hillewaert

Ghost Crab

Another common crab species is the ghost crab which is aptly named due to its nocturnal activity and sandy colouration, making the crab perfectly camouflaged into the beach backdrop. These crabs are found on sandy beaches and live in burrows. The narrower and shorter the burrow the smaller the crab. Their burrows serve a number of purposes: protection from predation, storage of their food, protection from drying out and other extreme weather conditions as well as a place to mate (although not all ghost crabs mate in burrows).

Young crabs and female crabs create burrows with sand scattered everywhere, with young crabs preferring to create burrows nearer to the water, whilst male crabs have burrows with a neat mound of sand outside – the larger the crab the larger the mound. Males produce mating sounds, squeaking noises, in a variety of ways; by rubbing their right claw on their leg, by rubbing their legs together, or by using their gill chambers, which they keep moist with saltwater.

After mating the females store thousands of eggs inside an abdominal flap. She will then venture into the sea when the eggs are ready to hatch. Since ghost crabs cannot swim the female will float upside down in the water allowing the eggs in her abdomen to breathe. Upon contact with saltwater the larvae are released and after two months return to land.

Swift-Footed Rock Crab. Picture by Laura Pola

The exoskeleton of a ghost crab is water tight, which prevents the crab from drying out in the arid and salty conditions on the beach. All ghost crabs have eye stalks with the males additionally having horns. These eyestalks enable the crab to see in any direction and can be stored in groves on their shells. The ghost crab’s eye sight is so good that they are able to catch insects’ mid-flight. They also have a well-developed sense of smell. They are very agile, capable of moving at 10mph, which makes them the fastest of all crustaceans.

Due to the erratic nature of their food supply ghost crabs are very protective of their food and will use their claws in combat displays. Male ghost crabs have one claw that is slightly larger than the other and combat is normally non-contact and ritualistic. Ghost crabs spend the majority of their day looking for food and particularly like to eat fish, seaweed, microbes in the sand, jellyfish, other crabs, snails, turtle hatchings and really anything they can get their claws on.

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.

The 13 Different Types of Divemasters

A PADI Divemaster wears many hats: gear-wrangler, underwater guide, photographer, and sometimes even counselor. Over time, each divemaster develops a personal style, specializing in their own interests be it fish identification, or perhaps local history. Below are a few types of divemasters you may encounter:

The Comedian

The Comedian – The comedian divemaster delivers a dive briefing full of one-liners with the timing of a standup comic. The jokes aren’t always funny, but what they lack in quality, they make up for in quantity.

The Navigator – Even when visibility is so bad you can’t see your own fins, The Navigator somehow manages to bring the group back within a few meters of the exit point. At dive sites with a near-featureless bottom, The Navigator always finds the rocky outcropping full of life in a literal sea of nothingness.

The Prankster – If you’ve ever found yourself mobbed by fish only to discover someone put a cheese sandwich in your BC pocket – you’ve met the prankster DM. Other signature moves include Kool-Aid powder in the dive bootie and talc powder handprints in inappropriate places.

The scout

The Scout – The Scout was a shark in previous life. This divemaster can spot the faintest flicker of a big animal in the blue, and ably steers your dive group away from herds of others.

The Documentarian – The Documentarian divemaster has one eye on the group and the other behind the camera. This type of divemaster ensures every guest has a photo or video to post on social media after the dive, and challenges the Fish Whisperer as the most popular type of DM.

The Fish Whisperer – When The Fish Whisperer divemaster is around, all the bucket list animals come out to say hello. This type of DM can coax an eel out of its hole, speak fluent whale, and get their teeth cleaned by shrimp.

The Storyteller

The Storyteller – A Storyteller DM knows the backstory of every shipwreck, and the origins of every dive site name. Their stories are so entertaining, you won’t want to know whether they’re true or not.

The Most Fascinating  Divemaster in the Ocean –  The Most Fascinating DM has “been there, dove that.” This DM learned to dive before boats were invented, and Conservation International insisted they start a digital logbook to preserve the world’s forests. This DM was there when Bikini Atoll was a one-piece and once met a Cousteau.

The Cat Herder – You’re always in good hands when diving with The Cat Herder. These DMs have developed an eerie prescience: able to predict when a diver is going to or chase a fish into the depths, or linger too long photographing a coral head. The Cat Herder is always ready to wake a diver from their trance and bring them safely back to the group.

The Medic

The Medic – Whether you have an earache, a scrape or a stingy spot, The Medic divemaster is always prepared with a kind word and something to soothe the pain.

The Critter Nerd – A Critter Nerd knows the difference between a nudibranch and a flat worm and can identify their favorite marine gastropod mollusk – in Latin. They’re typically good friends with The Fish Whisperer who helps unite the nerd with the nembrotha lineolata.

The Mechanic – The Q of kit, the MacGyver of maritime activities, The Mechanic once made a rebreather from an old microwave and some surgical tubing. Whenever The Mechanic is around, no one misses a dive due to a gear problem.

The Concierge – More valuable above water than below, The Concierge knows the best place to fuel up before a morning dive, or unwind after a long day at the beach.

 

If you’re a PADI Divemaster looking to develop your personal style or discover your savant skill, enroll in a continuing education course such as:

PADI Fish Identification or Underwater Naturalist
Digital Underwater Photographer
Equipment Specialist (or a manufacturer’s equipment repair course)
DAN First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries