Manta Trust Expeditions in the Maldives

Experienced researcher from the Manta Trust have accompanied a series liveaboard dive vacation in the Maldives in 2018

These trips, were part of the PADI Travel Eco Project to explore this conglomeration of atolls, islands and reefs aboard a diving liveaboard. And special because there was one researcher from Manta Trust on the liveaboard. Manta Trust is a leading non-profit organization with the goal of researching and protecting manta rays. These experts were teaching all about manta rays and answer all the divers questions.

Experience Overview

These expeditions have been scheduled to coincide with the most productive monsoon winds and lunar currents. These two factors strongly influence the movements and feeding habits of manta rays. The aim of these trips was to use the knowledge of Manta Trust experts to find feeding aggregations and allow the guests to experience the wonder of immersing amongst a feeding frenzy of manta rays.

Just north of the Baa Atoll, the trip ventured into Raa Atoll, one of most unexplored atolls. However, this group of islands is regularly visited by mantas and hosts some stunning dive sites. Vertical walls covered in soft corals, gardens of anemones and mantas gliding above the divers heads are only a few of the marvels of the region.

Ari Atoll is famous for being regularly visited by whale sharks. Venturing into this atoll, the divers were seeking out these gentle giants and had the chance to visit some of the richest and most spectacular dive sites in the Maldives. Ari Atoll also hosts the second largest manta population in the country, and divers had many opportunities to find manta aggregations and night feeding events at some specific sites.

Finally they visited Lhaviyani Atoll, another spectacular northern atoll. Here sharks, schools of eagle rays, tunas and other large pelagic fish are the main characters in the dives. They also encountered more manta rays and went diving on one of the most beautiful shipwrecks in the country.

Protect What You Love

During these diving holidays, divers had the opportunity to experience and participate in cutting-edge conservation research to protect one of the ocean’s most majestic animals.

Divers personally contributed to the research by collecting photographic identification images of the mantas they encountered throughout their vacation. All new manta rays have been added to the database, and divers were invited to name these new mantas.
Every manta sighting contains crucial information for developing effective management and conservation strategies to protect these increasingly vulnerable animals

The Manta Trust

A UK registered charity, the Trust’s mission is to advance the worldwide conservation of manta rays and their habitat through robust science and research, by raising awareness, and by providing education, influence and action.
The Manta Trust was formed in 2011 to co-ordinate global research and conservation efforts for these amazing animals, their close relatives and their habitat.
Data Collection: The Manta Trust has a number of research projects worldwide, such as incorporating population data, researching manta movements, and completing genetic analyses – to name a few. These projects serve to further the understanding of the general ecology of manta and mobula rays.

Hussain “Sendi” Rasheed

With great pleasure we want to inform you that PADI Course Director Hussain “Sendi” Rasheed has been inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF) for his career service to the sport of recreational scuba diving

Hussain Rasheed (known as Sendi Rasheed) was the first PADI Course Director in the Republic of Maldives and a key figure in developing diving tourism there.

During his career, which is on-going, he has certified over 1,600 divers. He is active in developing regulations for the Maldives Islands and also works to assist marine environmental projects. His work came to international media attention when he created and organized an underwater Cabinet Meeting, chaired by the President of the Republic of Maldives, to bring world attention the threat of global warming.
He is the former Dean of the Faculty of Marine Studies at Villa College (2006 – 2008), overseeing four departments: Marine Science, Watersports, Scuba Diving and Marine Medicine.

He is affiliated as an Executive Director of all Villa Dive Centres under his company, Dive Oceanus, operating five PADI Dive Centres across four different atolls in the Maldives, and supervising 40 diving professionals. He is a founding member of the Divers Association Maldives (DAM).

Regarded as “the Godfather of the Maldivian diving industry” Hussain Rasheed, better known as Sendi, was born in Male’, the capital of the Republic of Maldives. He started diving in 1981 and became a PADI Divemaster in 1986, an Instructor in 1993, and Course Director in 2000. He currently focuses on teaching PADI Professionals and has been a mentor to literally thousands of new divers. Sendi has given numerous presentations at local schools, sharing his love and knowledge of diving and the marine environment, thus ensuring that the next generation of Maldivian’s understands their importance to the Maldivian economy, and also to the nation’s culture. Using regional television he has been able to further expand his programs delivering them to a much wider national audience.

In recognition of his many efforts on behalf of diving and the marine environment, Sendi has received both the Maldives Tourism Award, and the Presidential Award. Each of these are major career acknowledgements, and together they recognize his contributions and ongoing dedication over many years.

Sendi is a keen underwater photographer and dedicated diving professional. When asked about what he likes most about his work instructing divers he noted that, “It is the satisfaction that they will become environmental ambassadors. So, for the Professionals… they will become the ambassador trainers. I enjoy every moment, on all levels, and have so many good memories.”

Sendi has been actively involved in the lobbying of all marine protected species and dive sites in the Maldives since he started scuba diving. As a witness to the decline in the area’s shark population he has been active in opposing shark finning and the sale of shark souvenirs such as jaws and teeth, and was an effective supporter of the 2010 national legislation that provided protection to sharks.

Sendi’s 37 – year career shows his deep love of the ocean that he actively works to protect, and his educational abilities that produce a continuing stream of diving professionals that become Maldivian Ocean Ambassadors.

Since his first breaths underwater, Sendi has seen the Maldives diving industry grow from a few explorers to a multiple million – dollar industry that directly benefits thousands of local Maldivian many of who directly or indirectly owe their role in the industry to him. Sendi thanks his father for inspiring him to venture out into the blue, and to succeed in his chosen field. “He taught me that the ocean was not something to fear, but that it had much to offer.” His wife of 30 years and their two children, he credits with the rest of his impressive journey.

The immensity of the contribution that Sendi has made towards diving in the Maldives is indisputable.

Maldivian Force for Good

During the resent BOOT show in Düsseldorf, Euro-Divers Worldwide together with PADI had the privilege to raffle a piece of art painted underwater by a Maldivian artist named Ihfal Ahmed.

The proceeds were generously donated to the Project AWARE foundation.

About the artist

Hussain Ihfal Ahmed, is a compelling artist who has experienced different mediums and techniques. His understanding of art led him to break free from art practices that are holding artist from reaching a favourable outcome. These artworks are a challenge to break boundaries and creating new techniques and insights.

He has more than 15 years of experience in the field. He creates his paintings to make people aware of climate change and sea level rise that are threatening the very existence of his home country Maldives.

The artist, who was born and raised in Maldives hopes to convey the urgency of threats to his nation through art!

The lucky winner …..

PADI Supporting the Maldives Dive Community

2018 has been a successful and busy year in the Maldives. As Regional Manager I have been out and about supporting Dive Centers and Instructors with a host of activities and events.

So, what has been happening? Member forums, specialty workshops, business development workshops and AWARE Week, are just a few of the many events across the Maldives. I would like to thank you for your continued commitment and support at these forums, training days and events.

It has been particularly inspiring to see how many PADI Professionals have taken part in the DPV workshops around the Maldives. PADI has teamed up with BluEmotion, the official SUEX DPV distributor in the Maldives.

As a result of this partnership, we have been conducting several unique ‘Business of DPV’ training events in the Maldives. Diver Propulsion Vehicles have proved crucial business tools for dive centres in the Maldives, however the techniques involved in maximising their effectiveness are often misunderstood. The aim of the two day workshop was to not only show how these DPV work and how to include them in the dive centres daily operation, but also to give staff the tools to successfully sell PADI DPV courses in order to increase certifications and revenue.

The workshop have been conducted complimentary and were conducted by PADI Regional Manager Matt Wenger, together with experts from BluEmotion who specialise in the use of DPVs in the Maldives. These workshops were aimed at PADI dive centre staff and included for example:

• How to effectively teach this course
• Marketing techniques for increasing certifications
• How to integrate the use of DPVs into your business model
• Pricing strategies
• How to set up and run a DPV wing of your dive business
• Specific details on the Suex DPV and their use
• The opportunity to register as a PADI DPV Centre of Excellence
• PADI specialty DPV training

Should you be interested having one of these DPV workshops conducted at your dive centres, please contact matt.wenger@padi.com

Marketing & Event Support

There is a range of support available as well as assets ready for your use. Be sure to use the PADI Dropbox account for access to the latest marketing materials. As well as this, the PADI YouTube Channel and the image library on Flikr is a great source of visual content available for use. There is also a host of support available if you are looking to step outside your center and run an event or take part in a show.
Please email Matt Wenger for any further information and support.matt.wenger@padi.com

The God Father of the Hyperbaric Medicine Dr. Adel Taher

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Adel Taher on many occasions either during one of his seminars or during social events for divers.

I still haven’t met any diving professional or even a diver in Egypt who doesn’t know Dr. Adel and the amazing work.

Dr. Adel is the proud owner and manager of the Hyperbaric Medical Center in Sharm El Sheik. This centre recently celebrated 25 years, open 24 hours a day for 25 years serving divers.

The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame has announced the names of four new members who will be inducted into the hall of fame this year. One of the four Inductees this year is Dr. Adel; he will join fellow dive industry pioneers who have helped cultivate and revolutionize the sport of scuba diving.

Dr Adel is considered one of the world’s top experts in hyperbaric medicine, Dr. Adel Mohamed Taher is best known for establishing the most sophisticated diving medical facility in the Red Sea, which continues to provide a foundation of safety for the expanding dive tourism industry in the region and beyond.

As a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor since 1982, Dr. Taher has played a vital role in promoting diver safety in the Red Sea region by managing diving emergencies, participating in medical research projects and conferences, and acting as an adviser for governmental and non-governmental agencies.

 

On behalf of all divers and dive professionals in Egypt, I would like to thank you Dr. Adel

The Undersea Journal First Quarter 2019 – Now Available

Each quarter The Undersea Journal is filled with stories and articles that help you stay informed and inspired as a PADI Professional.

The First Quarter 2019 edition includes articles on; tips for turning students into engaged divers, how to make PADI’s marketing resources work for you, DEMA show updates, dive shops making a difference, how travel helps a commitment to dive, and many other articles.

There are several digital reading options for you to access this publication:

If you’ve opted for the printed version, it will continue to be delivered to your mailing address.

If you have any questions please contact customerservices.emea@padi.com

2019: Creating Real Resolutions

It’s almost a tradition. Each year in January, we resolve to “eat better,” “spend less time on YouTube,” “rotate the tires on time,” or whatever. But by February, we’ve forgotten it. Why? Because most resolutions are really wishes or things we’re told we “ought” to do, instead of commitments from our hearts. So, our daily grind easily pushes them into the back seat.

This year, let’s break from tradition and apply our passion for diving and the underwater world to find some real resolutions. You’ve probably noticed that when people commit to realimportantresolutions that they genuinely care about, they get things done. They prove American philosopher William James right when he said, “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

Because we think differently and have different talents, perhaps exactly what you’re most passionate about differs from me – and that’s fine because there are many needs that call on us as a force for positive change. But ultimately, every struggle we passionately commit to either involves nature, other people, ourselves or often, a combination of these.

Nature

In previous blogs I’ve talked about how divers are already making a difference in the face of the numerous threats to our seas. Globe-wide problems can seem overwhelming, but these divers show that we can and do make a difference if we know their secret – they don’t think broad and wide. They think small and deep. They pick small, focused things that don’t overwhelm, like reducing plastic waste one straw at a time or campaigning to make a local reef a Hope Spot or marine protected area and passionately focus on them. Joining cleanups, volunteering as citizen scientists, coral farming . . . the list is long, definitely not always easy, but doable. So, while no one of us can save the oceans, together we will, working in millions of important ways at the same time. Need some ideas about where you fit in? Start here.

Other People

You know diving transforms lives, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this. It’s a powerful tool for positive social change. It inspires people creatively, helps overcome social barriers and importantly, creates active ocean advocates. As I talked about in my last blog, diving is a substantial healing force.

Diving is also a rare activity in which a seasoned pro can pair with a first-time novice and both have a genuinely great dive together (try that playing tennis). Diving brings families and friends together, bridges cultures (underwater, we all speak the same language) and teaches teamwork and self-discipline.

“You cannot change anyone,” American author Roy T. Bennett reminds us, “but you can be the reason someone changes.” Resolve to be that reason. Set a goal to tell someone every week (or day!) about why you love diving, and when they like what they hear, how to get started. Diving helps us be better people, and not sharing it is, in my opinion, a bit selfish.

Ourselves

Don’t dismiss continuing your diver education as a “real” resolution just because you’ll enjoy doing it. Look at it this way: If you’re committed to showing people underwater beauty – or damage – would learning underwater imaging help? If you’re removing debris in cooler water, can you do more if you learn to dive a dry suit? To document invasive and original species populations, would learning fish identification help? Adaptive support diving for sharing diving with people who have challenges? To be in the ultimate position to share diving, look at Divemaster, Assistant Instructor and PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. And, think beyond diving – CPR and first aid can make a huge difference for someone wherever you are, and learning a new language allows you to be an underwater ambassador to more people and cultures. No matter how much we’ve accomplished or know, there’s always something more to do and learn. Master Spanish painter Pablo Picasso said, “I’m always doing that which I can’t do, so that I may learn how to do it.” Great advice.

As we replace flimsy traditional resolutions with genuine commitments to be a force for good, I’ll leave you with a favorite quote. Rob Siltanen, advertising executive behind some of Apple’s most successful campaigns, said this:

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world
are the ones who do.

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

PADI Santi Dry Suit Diver Distinctive Specialty launch exclusive for PADI Course Directors

Are you interested to get a new PADI Distinctive Specialty rating? Are you a PADI Course Director? If your answer is yes to both of those questions, we have great news for you!

Together with the leading drysuit manufactures we developed a new Distinctive Specialty – Santi Dry Suit Diver. It covers all the recent development in Santi dry suits, under suits and accessories and uses advanced teaching approach. It is exclusive for a PADI Course Directors. After successful completion of the program, you will get a rating of Distinctive Instructor Trainer for this new speciality.

Want to apply? Register HERE

The launch is designed as a 2-day program and will take place in Santi Headquarters in Gdynia, Poland. You will participate in standards and product presentations and workshops, demonstration of the manufacturing process and pool session to get familiar with course structure and specific skills.

  • Place: Santi HQ Gdynia, Poland
  • Time: 5th-6th March 2019 (arrival on 4th March, departure late evening at 6th)
  • Costs: we have a special offer for the launch event – contact us to get more details

Do you have more questions? Contact PADI Regional Manager – Michal Kosut michal.kosut@padi.com or +48 602 789 508

Want to apply? Register HERE


Something We All Need

In 2008, something happened to Leo Morales that most of us can’t even imagine – his leg was amputated to stop aggressive cancer. But what would be lifelong setback for some didn’t deter him. Already a passionate diver, Morales not only went back to diving, he became an instructor and a tec diver. Then he set two records (depth and distance) for divers with disabilities. Then he . . . well, he grew into an impressive and accomplished person by any standard: a PADI AmbassaDiver, Tedx presenter, author and inspiring mentor for hundreds – maybe thousands of people. Amazingly, Morales says that if he could change the past and keep his leg, that he would not. “Scuba diving gave me my life back,” he says. He actually took his life backusing scuba, leveraging it to do more and now gives back more than many would expect. Amazing.

It’s a moving story, but only one example that diving, beyond its force for healing the oceans, heals people – and there are more stories than you can count. Paraplegic at age 12 from transerve myelitis, after the discovering freedom and therapy scuba gave her, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Cody Unser now uses scuba to help people living with paralysis, and participates in related research, through her First Step Foundation. Losing his legs in a combat zone, PADI Divemaster Chris Middleton, U.K. similarly found the healing power of scuba when he started diving with Deptherapy, and now works with Deptherapy to get more people involved.

And it’s not just physical healing. After serving in Iraq combat and discharged in 2014, US Marine Juan Gonzales had diagnosed Post Tramautic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It impeded having healthy connections with people – particularly his family – but discovered diving through WAVES (Wounded American Veterans Experience Scuba), which uses diving’s healing power to help veterans with physical or psychological wounds. Gonzales says the peace he experiences diving has been a major help in his battle with PTSD.

PADI Course Director Thomas Koch can’t hear, but with scuba, his “disability” turns into an advantage. Why? When his daughter Claire got her Junior Open Water Scuba Diver certification with PADI Course Director Cristina Zenato, they talked as fluently and as much as they always do – underwater, using American Sign Language.

There are hundreds of stories – miracles really – about how, through diving, people have helped, healed and comforted. There are literally hundreds of dive professionals and divers who serve divers with disabilities, and you bring honor and meaning to the dive community as a Force for Good.

But, the truth is, scuba’s healing power goes beyond this because everyone needs healing at times. The dynamics of life can often hurt. There are times when it feels like the weight of the world got dumped on your back. Maybe you can’t sleep and you’re not much fun to be around. Maybe the people you care about most don’t get to see your best, and yet they worry about you. And you see it in their eyes.

Then you go diving . . . and something wonderful happens. The worry world stays at the surface as you descend into the underwater world. Your mind clears. What’s really important can finally break through. Your buddy signals, “okay?” And for the first time in a long time, you really mean it when you reply, “okay!” Maybe it takes a couple of “doses” (dives), but you become you again. It reflects in the faces of those you care about.

My point is this. We share diving because it’s a wonderful experience that we’re passionate about, but we should also share it because it’s a restoring, healing experience. Some of us need it more than others, but that’s something we all need.

Wishing you the happiest New Year,

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

Engagement and Productivity

Over the last decade and a half, “employee/work engagement” and “productivity” have risen as hot, linked buzzwords in the business community. Though definitions and measures of “higher productivity,” “better performance,” “lower turnover,” “better quality” and similar concepts differ, studies consistently find higher engagement correlated with them. Studies also find it correlated with a positive customer experiences. In other words, “engaged” workers do more, better.

What Does “Engagement” Mean?

Schaufeli (2013) acknowledges that “work engagement” and “employee engagement” are used interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings. Simplified, “work engagement” may be defined as being mentally and emotionally connected to work goals and performance in a manner that motivates the person to further both, beyond expected minimums. “Employee engagement” is work engagement, plus an emotional commitment to the organization for or within which the person works that motivates furthering the organization’s reputation and interests beyond expected minimums. It’s important to note that “engagement” is not “satisfaction,” “happiness,” or “workaholism,” which can be high without engagement.

Rising Importance

Measuring individual worker productivity is increasingly difficult as “knowledge-based” services make up more of the economy. In many countries, as many as half of all workers create and use intellectual property rather than physical property, making conventional productivity measuring methods obsolete and unreliable. Impraise, a management software company, notes that “knowledge-based employees simply can’t be measured by the output of their productivity.”

Engagement behaviors, however, can be observed and measured, and their effects can be seen on the bottom line. For this reason, more and more businesses concern themselves with encouraging and measuring engagement behaviors and overall results.

The Takeaways

Much of the dive industry falls in the knowledge/service domain, making engagement central to increasing and sustaining productivity. Creating engagement is complex, with entire courses on how to do so, but experts seem to agree on a few common themes:

  1. Communicate regularly and personally. Frequent one-on-one communication with the dive operation manager/owner should increase engagement. Focus on purpose and how each person’s purpose fits in with it. They also need to know and see specifically how their efforts make a difference.
  2. Quality is often more important than quantity. This especially includes instruction. Beyond the more important safety issues, well-trained divers are more likely to invest in gear, travel and more training, and more likely to refer friends. So, training fewer divers well in a given time is likely more productive from a business perspective than training more divers poorly in the same interval.
  3. Dive businesses thrive on customer experience. Diving is all about customer experience, especially in training and travel. Engagement and customer experience tend to go hand in hand. Engaged employees and instructional staff have a passion for what they do and with whom they work that contributes to this.
  4. Trust. Knowledge-economy workers need relative autonomy and responsibility for managing their own productivity. This doesn’t mean ignoring what dive center staff does, but providing guidance and goals that allows them to get their work done without micromanagement.
  5. Results over effort. Recognize when people work hard and for long hours, but for most tasks focus on doing the right things well over simply staying busy. Reward innovation that saves money/time, expands services or improves customer experiences.

Adapted from the 4th Quarter 2018 edition of The Undersea Journal®, written by Karl Shreeves.