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

PADI Pro Member Benefit #1: Free eCards

PADI_eCard_phonesAs a renewed PADI Professional, you’ll have access to all of your recreational-level and professional-level eCards – for free!

To access your eCards, simply download the latest version of the PADI App, log in with your SSO username and password. Click on ‘eCards’ from the main menu and you’ll see a list of your certifications.

With access to your eCards in one handy place on your smartphone or mobile device, you’ll be ready to demonstrate your credentials whenever and wherever you need to.

You can also log in to ScubaEarth and click on “My Certifications” from the left hand menu to see a list of your current ratings along with badges, share options and a link to replace each card.

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Remember: renew your 2016 PADI Professional Membership before 31st December 2015 and you’ll be able take advantage of our special renewal offers. Find out more here.

Ready to renew? Click here to renew your membership online, or contact Customer Services by email (customerservices.emea@padi.com) or telephone (+44 (0)117 3007234).

Where is my logbook?

“Where is my logbook?”

Is this the first question you ask yourself when you are preparing to go diving? As a PADI Pro, perhaps it’s the first question your customers ask themselves after the meet and greet? Despite putting them in a ‘safe place’, our logbooks and certification cards have a tendency to disappear – especially after a long break from diving over the winter or between holidays.

To help avoid frantic searches, here’s 5 tips to help you – and your customers – keep hold of this essential diving accessory:

#1 – Logbook Binders

PADI training logbooks have three punch-holes for a reason: so that they can be stored safely in the PADI logbook binder. Get your students into the good habit of using the binder for storing their logbook and a pen so they are ready to log their dives at any time. Plus, in the front and back are spaces to store certification cards and the RDP.

2 – Logbook Pages and Card Holders

More experienced divers (including PADI Pros) who want to log their recreational dives can also add the red logbook or refill pages to the logbook binder (which also comes with three punch holes for this purpose). If you need more storage for certification cards you can get vinyl card holders, keeping everything tidy and safe in one place.

#3 – PADI eCards

Another possibility is to get an eCard. With an electronic certification card (eCard) on their mobile device, students can easily have their certification verified by any PADI Instructor or PADI Dive Center they are planning to dive with.

PADI eCards are stored in the PADI App so your students won’t need to worry about losing or forgetting their plastic certification card, and will be prepared for any impromptu diving opportunities whilst travelling.

PADI Open Water Diver students get an eCard for free for 30 days, after which time they can easily purchase one should they wish to. Renewed PADI Pros get pro-level eCards included as part of their membership benefits.

#4 – Digital Logbooks

Don’t forget, there’s also the option to log dives digitally via the PADI App and ScubaEarth. Just download the PADI App and show your student how easy it is to log their PADI Open Water Diver training dives, and recreational dives – straight from their mobile device.

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#5 – Keep Diving!

But the best tip is… don’t have a break! Keep diving! Don’t give your logbook the chance to disappear into the depths of your cupboards. Give your divers the opportunity to join you for fun dives, continued education or diving holidays. Keep them involved with socials and local events. You could even run a “logbook of the year” competition! No more lost logbooks for you and your divers!

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Order PADI sales products and training materials 24/7, 365 days a year by using the PADI e-Shop via the PADI Pros’ Site, or contact your local Sales Consultant at sales.emea@padi.com or +44 (0) 117 3007234 during business hours.

ScubaEarth Reaches 200,000 Users Worldwide!

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We’re pleased to announce that ScubaEarth has now reached 200,000+ users, with this number continuing to grow at a rapid pace.

We love seeing the passion for diving shared around the world. Whether that be through the 165,000+ dives that have been logged, the 58,000+ photos or dive videos that have been shared, or the 84,000+ pieces of gear that have been added to the gear locker, it’s great to see PADI Divers and PADI Professionals all over the world getting involved.

If your business is not taking advantage of this active community yet, make sure you head over to www.scubaearth.com and create a free account today. Here’s some reasons why:

  • IMG_193With the free ScubaEarth mobile app and integration into the PADI App, ScubaEarth is available at the fingertips of your customers 24/7
  • Divers can log their recreational dives, including photos and videos of their memories. When they read back through their favourite dives, they’ll be inspired to want to come back and visit you in the future.
  • Students can also log their training dives (currently PADI Open Water Diver only, other courses being added in the near future). The dives can be digitally verified by their PADI Instructor, providing a quick, fun and eco-friendly way to fulfil this training requirement.
  • By adding dive sites to the ScubaEarth directory, you can put your local diving on the map and inspire divers who are planning their next trip.
  • By connecting with your customers on ScubaEarth using the Wall and Announcements, they’ll be able to follow you latest news on courses, trips, promotions and general fun stuff that will keep them wanting to come and dive with you in the future.
  • Showcase equipment brands available at your store in the Gear Locker, helping customers to identify what services you can assist them with.
  • certsDivers and PADI Pros can view lists of their PADI certifications, including the certification date, fun badges, links to share the certification with their friends on social media and links to order a replacement for any of their individual cards.
  • A directory of underwater marine life is a great way to help students learn more about what they’ve found on their last dive, or find new ones that they’d like to try to find next time.
  • Weekly Featured Destinations help spotlight different travel locations around the world, helping to inspire divers to visit both your local dive sites and book onto trips abroad.

The following Infographic highlights some key statistics from the ScubaEarth community and logged dives. Want to help shape the future of ScubaEarth? Go online (and encourage your customers to do the same) and log your dives today!

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PADI App Feature: Logging Dives Part 1: Recreational Dives

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The PADI App features built-in support for logging recreational dives on ScubaEarth – and it’s really easy to do!

Many divers – students and experienced divers – often don’t realise (or just forget) that they can log their recreational dives in addition to their training dives. Others may choose to log their dives on paper when they return home.

When divers complete recreational dives with you, encourage them to log their dives using the PADI App straight away. Being able to enter their logs right after their dive means their memories will be fresh in mind and you’ll be available to help them fill out details such as dive site names or buddies, ensuring details are as accurate as can be for future reference.

Keeping up to date recreational logs is also important for new divers who might be keen to build up their portfolio of logged dives before undertaking further training or more experienced trips which have minimum requirements.

Plus, by keeping a log of their favourite dives that’s right at their fingertips, they’ll easily be able to read back over previous experiences. And, when they do, they’ll want to come back and do it all over again with you!

How to log recreational dives in the PADI App:

  1. From the PADI App homepage, choose Log
  2. Select “+” to create a new dive log
  3. Enter the name of your dive site, and search
  4. Choose the correct dive site from the list
  5. Enter the details of your dive for your log
  6. Click “Next” and that’s it – your log has been entered
  7. Click “Log” to revisit your previously logged dives

It’s also possible for student divers to log their PADI Open Water Diver training dives using the PADI App and for instructors to verify those dives digitally. Watch this space for Part 2 of this series which will provide information on logging training dives.

The completely revamped PADI App is now available for Apple iOS and Android-based devices. Visit the App Store or Google Play Store to download it today!

PADI: Not just a diving certification…

In earning their scuba certifications with you, PADI divers have only just scratched the surface of the diving lifestyle. PADI enables millions of divers who share a common passion to come together – it’s all part of the PADI way of life.

PADI connects divers with each other in the world’s largest and most engaged communities – whether it’s the PADI Facebook page with more than a million fans or through ScubaEarth, Twitter, Google+, PADI Diving Society or the Project AWARE Foundation.PADI University Program Channel Islands Shoot March 24-29, 2007

Make sure your business is present and active in these same communities, where new divers are buzzing about the underwater realm every day. By sharing your latest news, and updates to top up customers’ newly discovered interests, they’ll keep coming back to you for trips, equipment sales/rental/servicing and continuing education courses that enable them to further explore and log more diving adventures with you.

Want to know more about how social media and online marketing can help you capture existing and new business? Book onto a 2015 PADI Business Academy today!

Revamped PADI App Launching Soon

The world has gone mobile and, led by the developing world, the mobile internet is now the new normal.

By 2017, an estimated 69% of the worldwide population will own mobile phones, 34% of which will be smartphones. – eMarketer, December 2013

So, when people want dive information, it makes sense that they use an app supplying everything they need, whenever they need it – the revamped PADI App.

An estimated 89 percent of time spent on connected mobile devices is spent using mobile apps. – Nielsen Media Research

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The first version of the PADI App provided access to the Dive Shop Locator, scuba diving news and PADI eCards™. The next iteration of the PADI App offers these features plus much more, including:

  • PADI Dive Shop and Resort Locator integration with ScubaEarth® dive sites.
  • Top dive destinations and information about what divers can see there.
  • Feeds from PADI social media and dive news.
  • Information about PADI courses, including ability to purchase Touch products and PADI eLearning programs.
  • Dive tools (such as digital dive tables), quick references (such as hand signals) as well as a variety of dive planning checklists and reminders.
  • The ability to log recreational and training dives within ScubaEarth from the PADI App.
  • Access to PADI eCards.
  • A direct link to the PADI Pros’ Site.
  • Access to PADI Gear collections.

Adaptive learning means that as users interact with the PADI App, it delivers a more personalized experience. It will, for example, present suggested course choices based on current certification level. This helps divers stay better connected to scuba diving and the services you provide.

The new edition of the PADI App will be available soon. Check the PADI Pros’ Site for more information and be sure to either download or update the revamped PADI App on your mobile device.

PADI at Cornwall ScubaFest 2014

PADI attended Cornwall ScubaFest earlier this month, enjoying a highly successful presence on all three days of the bank holiday weekend.

Photo Credit: Aerial Cornwall (www.facebook.com/aerialcornwall // www.aerialcornwall.com)

 

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The new yurt village at Pentewan Sands provided a fantastic community atmosphere and attracted plenty of visitors, from registered event attendees to passers-by. PADI staff members Simon Chance (PADI Retailer and Resort Associations Manager), Matt Clements (PADI Regional Manager) and Danielle Schofield (PADI Marketing Coordinator) enjoyed the opportunity to welcome new and existing divers as well as catch up with fellow industry members.

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Aquasport International provided PADI technical dive experiences throughout Saturday and Sunday, with rebreathers, sidemount and twin set configurations all on-hand for testing in the swimming pool. Both days were packed with divers keen to try something new, and who finished their session smiling and very keen to continue with PADI TecRec training!

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PADI Diving Society recently re-launched with a global alignment and was another focal point at the PADI stand. The Society, which provides scuba-related benefits to over 180,000 members, received a terrific amount of interest each day, including new membership signups and raffle entries, with each visitor able to take away a complimentary copy of Sport Diver magazine, the official publication of the PADI Diving Society.

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The weekend social calendar was also fun-packed, with raffles, bands and fancy dress competitions – but Sunday afternoon drew in big crowds and even bigger laughs, with ScubaFest exhibitors and visitors invited to test their skills on a just-for-fun rodeo tournament. And, yes – Simon, Matt and Danielle all braved the bucking bronco… but sadly didn’t claim the top title (maybe next year!).

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PADI is already geared up to attend Anglesey ScubaFest (August 16-17th), and will be offering a range of activities from Discover Scuba Diving experiences through to technical tasters, as well as rescue workshops and more! Watch this space!

Top ScubaEarth users

Escape. Explore. Experience.  The ScubaEarth mantra is really taking hold with PADI divers and professionals around the globe, with more and more ScubaEarth Power Users emerging throughout 2013, ready and willing to share their passion and love of diving with us. Thank you to everyone who we interviewed, as well as the countless PADI Dive Shops and Pros who have logged dives, uploaded media, maintained gear lockers and added new dive sites over the course of the year.  Highlighted below are some of the key ScubaEarth users that made milestones on ScubaEarth in 2013. Continue reading