Posts By john

WATCH: Russian man who lost arms and legs defies all odds to get diver’s licence

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How to Convert Your Friends Into Divers So You Always Have a Buddy

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Finding a dive buddy would be so much easier if your friends would just get certified, right? So, what’s the trick? Patience is a good start, but here are a few steps to get your squad diving with you so you can explore all of the amazing locations around the world.

Start with snorkeling. For a lot of first-timers, getting used to a mask and being underwater can be major hurdles. Ideally, take them somewhere like California’s Channel Islands or Florida’s Crystal River where there will be big animals — sea lions and manatees, respectively — to focus on. Bring defog and make sure your friend has a rash-guard or wetsuit if needed. You want them to be as comfortable as possible to stack the odds that they enjoy their first time.

After the snorkel outing, continue diving as normal, but do notice how many questions they ask when you come back from a day on the water. When the number of questions increases and each gets more specific, odds are their curiosity is piqued. Now you’ll want to immerse them in dive culture.

convert friends to divers

When your next dive day ends close to home, mention you might be late because you’re grabbing dinner or a drink with your dive buddies. Do mention the name of the spot, as casually as possible. Try this: “If I’m a bit late, it’s because we’ll be at Sharkey’s on Main Street after the dive. I know everyone would love to meet you if you have time to drop by.” When he or she does show up, keep your friend involved in the dive conversation by pointing out things you think they would like.

Now comes the hard part. If everything is going well so far, and they’re still interested, see if your local dive shop offers a Discover Scuba Course, or a try scuba night where they can don all the gear for the first time. It’ll be hard for you to watch them gain their balance and find their comfort. But try and hold back, refraining from too much advice giving. They’re going to get comfortable, and it will be in their own timing.

convert friends to divers

If he or she is still talking about joining you on your next dive trip, consider making a gift of the e-learning course for the next major holiday or their next birthday. You can pay for this separately from the Open Water checkout dives, and they’re given one year to complete this part of the course. They won’t feel rushed and can learn at their own pace.

Once they finish the book section, they’re ready to start their PADI® Open Water Diver course.

Now here’s the real question: Are you ready for a buddy who’s likely not great on air consumption straight out of the gate? Can you be patient? Because it might take a year or so before they match you in the water. But keep your eye on the prize: At the end of all this, you may gain what you always wanted: a forever dive buddy.

Need a little more help? Check out these 4 Easy Ways to Find a Dive Buddy.

Can a hidden underwater city bring tourists back to Turkey?

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Off the coast of the Turkish city of Antalya lies the small uninhabited island of Kekova. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place, with water a jewelled shade of blue. It’s also fragrant, as “Kekova” derives from the Turkish word for thyme.

But the island is perhaps best known for its curious attraction: the remains of a sunken ancient city visible below the waves. These are the ruins of a trading post, Simena, destroyed by earthquakes in the second century.

Divers could be permitted to explore the site if a new proposal gets the green light

Credit:
TAHSIN CEYLAN

While it is possible boat or kayak around the area, and dive nearby, under-water exploration has been banned since 1986 as part of a series of measures to protect the lost city’s heritage, something the Turkish government takes seriously. It declared the region a Specially Protected Area in 1990, and in 2000 submitted Kekova to Unesco for consideration as a World Heritage Site. It currently sits on the organisation’s Tentative List.

Now, Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism is poised to overturn the ban after an application from Münir Karaloğlu, the mayor of Antalya, who told local press: “Our efforts to diversify tourism alternatives have begun to bring results and interest in diving tourism has increased. If permission is received from the ministries, diving tourism will be available with the help of guides and archaeologists in Kekova.”

Though the ruins are limited – it is not quite a fully submerged city, and much of the site has been removed over the years – the parts that remain include several houses, public buildings and a harbour. Especially evocative is a stone staircase leading out of the water, while the site as a visible reminder of the ancient Lycian civilisation is intriguing. Unesco describes Simena as “rarely seen”, adding that Kekova is a “remarkable example of cultural continuity”.

The move could bring a wave of tourists to the island

The move could bring a wave of tourists to the island

Credit:
TAHSIN CEYLAN

If the diving restrictions are lifted, the spot would be ideal for novice divers; much of the sunken city is still high enough that it can be seen from the surface, and thus the diving is shallow. But Levent Işık of the Kekova Diving Centre says a lift on diving restrictions could transform the island.

The sunken city is a five-minute boat from the village of Üçağız

The sunken city is a five-minute boat from the village of Üçağız

Credit:
TAHSIN CEYLAN

“The potential for tourists to dive this site is of great interest to all who wish to find out more about our heritage,” he said. “The governor of Antalya and the governor of Demre are Scuba divers and protectors of the underwater world.”

“Once this ban has been lifted it will have a tremendous impact as many underwater archaeologists and universities will want to come and see more of the secrets that the 4000 year old civilisation had.”

The sunken city is a five-minute boat from the village of Üçağız, where the dive trips originate, which in turn can be reach from Kaş, a bus away from Antalya.  

There’s been no word yet on the status of the application for controlled diving, which was only filed two weeks ago.

Top Dive Sites in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

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Have you ever been interested in scuba diving in Jamaica?

Ocho Rios, or Ochi, is located on the beautiful North East side of the island, in the parish of St. Ann, and is situated near the Jamaican Blue Mountains – and is a thriving tourist area with a beautiful underwater landscape.

Scuba diving in Ocho Rios allows divers discover the secrets and wonders of the Caribbean Sea – an experience you won’t forget. From challenging drift dives to underwater wrecks to explore, there are some great dive sites around Ocho Rios.

Here are some of the dive sites you shouldn’t miss:

Catherine Shipwreck

This shipwreck is one of the most popular dive sites in Ocho Rios. It is an old minesweeper, which was sunk in 50 feet / 15 meters. of water sometime in the 1980s along a cavernous reef system. The ship is approximately 120 feet / 37 meters in length. From the surface to the upper most part of the ship, it is 20 feet / 6 meters.

  • Things to see: barrel sponges, sea fans, sting rays, sergeant majors, flaming scallops, nurse sharks, caverns, lobsters, eels, sea snakes, hamlets, and snapper.

Jamaica Wall

A spectacular site for Advanced divers, this dive showcases a French-like reef at 60 ft.

  • Things to See: Atlantic spade fish, chubs, turtles, sharks, barrel sponges, sea fans, gorgonians.

Dickie’s Reef

Another dive for advanced level divers. This reef is relatively flat, however it tapers off very gently down to 60 feet / 18 meters. This site is also great for night dives.

  • Things to see: barracuda, lionfish, sting rays, crabs, lobsters, parrotfish, butterfly fish, chromis, damsels, barrel sponges, sea fans.

Devil’s Reef

Located just 3 minutes from the Sandals Ochi Beach Resort.

  • Things to see: turtles, Atlantic spades, eels, jacks, nurse sharks, barrel sponges, sea fans and gorgonians.

If you are excited to dive these sites, pack your bags and join the Sandals Dive & Jive event from 30 August to 4 September, 2017 at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Jamaica.

As they say about Jamaica… Once you go, then you know!

PangeaSeed Foundation Sea Walls Project Visits Churchill, Canada

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PADI AmbassaDiver team, PangeaSeed Foundation, recently completed Sea Walls Churchill, the newest installment of their Sea Walls program that aims to combine art and conservation. This time, the foundation partnered with seventeen artists and Kal Barteski, the founder of the Polar Bear Fund.

Sea Walls Churchill was a 10-day public art project, lasting from June 16-26. The artists arrived in Churchill, Manitoba – a small northern town in Canada known for its polar bears – and got to spend time exploring the landscape and wildlife before creating their murals. The artists went on expeditions to see polar bears, beluga whales, and take in the natural beauty of the area.

Each artist brought their own unique style to the project. Some murals pair perfectly with wildlife shots taken on the trip, like these sleeping polar bears:

Photo by Alex de Vries-Magnifico

Kal Barteski‘s finished mural.

The artist writes, “The location of this bear, on the polar bear holding facility, highlights the intensity and necessity of wildlife management along polar bear migration paths where polar bears, the largest predators in the world, continue to adapt to the shameful realities of our consumer-driven culture.”

Tre Packard, the founder of PangeaSeed, had a more colorful take on these animals:

Tre Packard’s mural

Others were influenced by the culture and history of the area.

And the finished piece

The next artist titled his mural ‘We Swim in the Same Waters.’ He writes that his piece “…is about ancestral legacy, what was passed on to us and what we will leave for our children’s children.” 

Mural by Charlie Johnston

Part of what makes this project so timely is that Churchill recently lost its railway due to massive storms and flooding, including two record-setting blizzards likely brought on by climate change. That railway was the one lifeline to the town, and without it, access to employment, food, and medicine will all be at risk. Case Maclaim chose to focus on these realities of “man-made tragedy,” especially in a climate so affected by global warming and ice melt. In this piece, dock workers balance along the washed out rails like it’s a tightrope, trying to maintain their balance.

Case Maclaim‘s “The Rope”

Another painting focused on human’s effects on both the environment and each other is Pat Perry’s art on the Miss Piggy plane wreck. The artist says that he sees parallels between Churchill now and Michigan in the 70s and 80s, as both places are facing a future where their one industry and lifeline have been cut off. He also sees our repeating history of environmental disregard and destruction, from increasing oil production, oil spills, pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and going through with the Dakota Access Pipeline. “One way or another, in the end, we will all be facing this together, and in my heart I know it would be wrong to look away from the crash course we are on.”

Pat Perry‘s art, titled: EMERGENCY TRANSMISSION: Churchill, MB 58°45’37”N 94°5’11”W -civilian distress call to immediately avert course.

Sea Walls has created nearly 300 murals across 12 countries to help raise awareness and prompt people to take action to protect our earth. We are grateful to these artists for donating their time to promote the protection of marine species, and to Tre Packard and Akira Biondo for both making PangeaSeed possible and for partnering with us. You can learn more about PangeaSeed via their website. You can also check out Project Aware for more information on how we as divers can help the oceans and marine species.

Artists:

Arlin

Askew One

Case Maclaim

Charles Johnston

Cracked Ink

Dulk

Fred Thomas

Georgia Hill

Jason Botkin

Kai Kaulukukui

Kal Barteski

Kelsey Eliasson

Li Hill

Mandy VanLeeuwen

Pat Lazo

Pat Perry

Storm Angeconeb

Takashi Iwasaki

Meet Coral Communicator Nicole Helgason

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Written by guest blogger, Nicole Helgason

Hello! My name is Nicole Helgason and I am excited to start writing as a coral communicator for PADI. Since this is my very first article, I thought I would take a second to introduce myself before we dive into everything coral reef.

I first learned to scuba dive in 2006. At the time I was living in the Dominican Republic and quickly feel in love with the tropical coral reef. Perhaps by luck, or by some higher power, one of my very first dives was next to a coral restoration nursery. I knew then that I had no other choice but devote my life to the ocean and protecting coral reefs.

coral restoration

By the next year I passed my IDC exam and became a PADI dive instructor! Since then I have been fortunate to travel the world teaching scuba diving, managing dive centers, and promoting coral awareness. Starting as a PADI instructor ten years ago, I am truly honored at this moment in my career to have the opportunity to share my work with the online PADI community.

Corals are the foundation of the marine environment providing critical habitat for fish, protecting coastlines from erosion, and feeding hundreds of millions of people worldwide. But often I have found that corals, in particular, the diversity of coral species, do not get the recognition they deserve amongst scuba divers.

This observation comes from a decade of working in the dive industry. What I’ve seen is that scuba divers, dive professionals, and tour operators promote big fish and tiny critters. You will see dive trips promoting whale sharks, manta rays, and turtles, or colorful nudibranch, obscure octopus, and fancy dancing shrimp. But what about corals?

Corals often get lumped together under one generic term, coral reef. But this single term is far too general to describe a vibrant diverse community with hundreds of individual species. Once you start recognizing what separates each species and learn how to identify a few, your perception of the underwater landscape will expand exponentially.

Sharing this vision and ability to experience the reef with new eyes is what keeps me going.

Nicole in Bazaruto, Mozambique.

Nicole in Bazaruto, Mozambique.

Last year I started my own blog dedicated to sharing my underwater experience while bringing attention to scuba diving and coral reefs. This is how I came up with the name for my website ReefDivers, as a way to build a community around divers who deeply appreciate corals.

One of the projects I am most proud of is my recently published Caribbean Coral Identification guide. At the beginning of this year (2017) I set out to photograph and identify all the species of Caribbean coral. With 62 documented species, I felt this was an achievable goal. I recently published this guide on my website and I currently have documented over 40 species. Still a ways to go, but you will find the most common Caribbean coral species on this guide.

I want to make referencing corals online and searching for them underwater an enjoyable experience, and would like to focus on showing divers through my photographs how to spot rare, unusual, and unique coral specimens amongst the crowd. Corals are arguably the most important animal in the ocean, and they deserve our attention.

In future articles for PADI, I will be diving into coral from around the world, including how to identify new species, threats to coral reefs, and what we can do to conserve corals for the future.

Learn how you can use your scuba diving skills to help save coral reefs globally here.

At A Small Florida College, ‘Scubi Jew’ Aims To Save The Seas

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Scubi Jew at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida isn’t your typical Jewish a cappella group or service club. Instead, it explores coral reefs and leads underwater cleanup sessions. Members don’t have to be Jewish to go on a dive — just scuba-certified, of course.

Scubi Jew adheres to the tenet of tikkun hayam, or repairing the seas. The Jewish marine environmentalist group was created because Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, Eckerd’s Hillel adviser, said not enough attention is paid to the oceans.

“I couldn’t help but notice that nobody does anything focusing on the marine biology environment,” Rosenthal said. “While we teach students to scuba dive, the real focus is … tikkun hayam, to repair the seas.”

Of the 130 Jewish students at Eckerd’s campus, 49 are certified scuba divers, Rosenthal told the Forward in an email. The school is comprised of about 1,800 undergraduates, and marine biology ranks as one of its most popular majors, according to U.S. News.

Rising junior Josh Keller is the president of the club. He told the Forward that having grown up by the water, he loves the club because it allows him to help his community. He called the ocean one of the most “spiritual places.”

Keller, a marine science major, said he was interested in Scubi Jew because it ties in with his studies and his values.

“Coming to Eckerd, one of the things I was most interested in was Scubi Jew because I get to tie in my Jewish culture with marine science and helping the environment,” Keller said. “When I’m not studying about fish in class, I’m going down and removing trash and seeing fish and studying the underwater world.”

Scubi Jew also offers scuba diving certification courses to bring beginners up to speed — they can even embark on Underwater Birthright, a special trip that features scuba diving to see marine habitats and clean up the Mediterranean Sea.

“The Jewish tradition teaches about the water and spirituality, and there’s a lot of kabbala in it,” Rosenthal said.

Rising sophomore Ariele Dashow has been diving for four years and joined Scubi Jew because she was friends with Rosenthal. She said she enjoyed having a rabbi lead the club and she’s made many friends through the club.

“It’s a great way to give back to the earth and to give back to yourself,” Dashow said. “It’s a mitzvah to give back to Mother Earth. … It allows me to do something I love while also giving back to a planet I love.”

Age is No Barrier: 74 Year Old George Aitken Gets His PADI in Fiji

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Some people use age as an excuse to slow down – but not George Aitken! The 74 year old recently got his PADI while on a family holiday in Fiji. We asked him a few questions about his experience and whether he plans to continue diving in the future.

What inspired you to complete your PADI Open Water Diver course?

In 2015 my wife Sue and I had our first holiday to Castaway Island and even though I’d been factory and office bound throughout my working life, I tried snorkelling on that trip. It was while I was snorkelling that I decided I would try scuba diving, so, under the guidance of PADI Divemaster Eric, I completed the PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience.

We always intended to return to Castaway Island for another holiday, and after my DSD experience (and thanks to the support of the Divemasters) I wanted to do more dives, but I never had any intention of taking the PADI Open Water Diver course. That changed when my eldest grandson Zac and his family came on holiday with us. One thing led to another and Zac and I decided to get PADI certified together.

PADI Open Water Diver George Aitken
Have you always had a taste for adventure?

My job always meant I put most of my time into work, but after work, Sue and I devoted a lot of our time to seeing the world – Europe, Canada, USA and New Zealand – the kind of trips that required constant travel.

One skill from my work life that benefited me during my PADI training was being able to trust in experts – in this case, PADI Pros.

Tell us about something you learnt during your PADI course.

It was clear to me from the start that being 74 years old would mean some aspects of the course would be difficult. It was important for me to put full confidence in my Instructors and to trust their opinions and advice.

At the end of the course I was able to achieve things I didn’t think would be possible and will be able to achieve others in the future.

I know that that with support I can become a better diver and enjoy the sport more. I know there will be some limits with my age, but will continue to get increasing enjoyment from diving.

Were there any highlights during your course?

The biggest highlight was my success! It was a great feeling not only to pass the course, but to do so alongside my grandson Zac. Another highlight was the huge variety of coral and fish that I got to see, as well as small sharks, turtles, eagle rays, sting rays and lots more.

PADI Open Water Diver George Aitken

“I’ve worked with people of different ages – from 8 to 50 years of age – but never a 74 year old. It was a proud moment for me and the Castaway Dive team. The whole team contributed towards making George’s certification successful.” – PADI Instructor Iliano Vakalelevesi
Will you continue to keep diving? Do you have any diving trips planned?

I’m sure that all going well I will continue to dive. I hope to improve my skills back home in Melbourne by continuing to dive with PADI Instructors and again during our next holiday to Castaway Island.

What’s your advice for anyone thinking about becoming a PADI Diver?

To all those people who have wanted to scuba dive and have been close as they watched people train – give it a go! It’s definitely worth the effort and even though it may have its challenges, it certainly has great rewards. Age doesn’t need to be a barrier and there’s so much to see and also so much fun to be had. The experience of weightlessness and swimming amongst the fish and coral is truly fantastic.

Want to become a PADI Open Water Diver like George? Find your local PADI Dive Shop and sign up today.

Myths and Misconceptions About Peeing in Your Wetsuit

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You did what in your wetsuit?!

There’s a well-worn saying among divers: there are those who pee in their wetsuit, and there are those who lie about it. We’re not 100% sure if that’s true, but there are plenty of myths and misconceptions we can clear up about making the bladder gladder underwater.

Drinking Less Fluid Prevents Having to Pee
It’s never a good idea to dive dehydrated. Not only does dehydration increase your chance of decompression sickness, the body is naturally inclined to create urine when submerged in water.

There’s a physiological effect called immersion diuresis. When you drop into water that’s colder than the ambient air temperature, vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) occurs. Extra blood is sent to the central organs, which your body interprets this as a fluid overload. The body signals the kidneys to produce urine and your brain tells you it’s time to drain the main vein.

In layman’s terms: warm air + cold water = need to pee.

Here’s one more reason to ensure you drink enough water. When the body is dehydrated, urine has a stronger odor and color. So do yourself (and everyone else on the boat) a favor and stay hydrated!

Just Hold It
Fighting the urge to urinate can lead to a urinary tract or bladder infection, especially for women. This extremely painful condition isn’t something you want to deal with on a dive trip – especially in a location where the antibiotics needed to alleviate the problem might not be readily available. So let it go, let it go.

Urine Damages Your Wetsuit
Under normal circumstances, urine will not break down the seals or glue on a modern wetsuit. Divers using a wetsuit with an insular lining should take extra care to wash their suit with appropriate cleaner after soiling it (we hope you’ll do this regardless). While urine won’t damage a wetsuit, a soiled, unwashed wetsuit can cause a skin condition similar to diaper rash.

Peeing Helps Keep You Warm
Pee proponents often describe how a mid-dive release can make a cold dive much warmer. Unfortunately, the effects are temporary and counter-productive.

Warm urine fools your body into thinking it’s no longer in a cold environment. So when cold, fresh water enters your suit, your body isn’t prepared. Now you’re worse off than before and your body must expend extra energy warming up that cold water.  If fresh water isn’t being introduced, either because your suit has great seals, or you haven’t “flushed,”  that means you’re soaking in your own urine. That’s gross. Here are some better ways to keep warm while diving.

Now that we’ve covered some myths and misconceptions, let’s talk about some urination etiquette.

Always Flush!
Don’t wait until you’re walking across the beach or boat deck and get a whiff of something stanky. Take a moment to properly flush your wetsuit. Below are two techniques, consider using both for maximum effectiveness.

  1. Grasp the chest of your wetsuit and pull it away from your body a few times.
    Open the wrist, feet and neck seals on your suit.
    Repeat.
  2. Rotate into a head-down position.
    Remove the regulator from your mouth and place it under the neck seal.
    Gently press the purge button to flush air and water from your neck out through your feet.

IMPORTANT: Ensure you have sufficient air supply and good buoyancy control before attempting this method. Also, always remember to exhale a small stream of bubbles whenever the regulator is out of your mouth.

How to Pee Like a Pro

Take care of business at the beginning of a dive rather than waiting until the end. This creates a greater opportunity for urine to wash out.

Avoid foods that make urine extra-odiferous such as: asparagus, brussels sprouts, garlic and salmon.

Don’t pee in a rental wetsuit. Consider the human who has to clean it.

If your wetsuit has seen a few too many bathroom breaks, visit a PADI® Dive Center or Resort to purchase wetsuit cleaner, or treat yourself to a brand-new wetsuit. Most wetsuits only last three to five years and many divers hang on to old dive gear for too long.

Further Reading
Tips for Putting on Your Wetsuit
Overview of Wetsuits and Drysuits

Want to Get Your PADI in Mongolia? Now You Can!

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For most of the 20th century, Mongolia was sealed off from the world. Now, it’s very much open and worth a trip.

Mongolia is an outdoor lover’s paradise with opportunities to hike, camp, horse trek and now with the first PADI Dive Shop, Great Sea Resort, you can get PADI certified there too.

Yes, you read correctly. Mongolia may be landlocked, in the middle of Asia, and largely desert, but Lake Khovsgol offers a wide range of diving experiences.


Photo supplied by Great Sea Resort

Lake Khovsgol (pronounced huh-vs-gull) is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, with cool temperatures and visibility which can reach up to 30m (98 feet). You can expect to find a few species of fish, like Siberian Grayling (which grow up to a metre long) and are always curious about the divers they encounter, as well as a number of shipwrecks to explore.

“Diving here is suitable for beginners as well as experienced divers. In the future, we hope to expand and offer technical diving also,” says Zeev Rozenberg, Director of Great Sea Resort.

Lake Khovsgol is still largely unexplored and the team at Great Sea Resort look forward to doing a research and exploration project to discover what other treasures lay below the surface.

Mongolia has a rich culture, wide open spaces and adventure just waiting for you at every turn.

Head over to our Dive Shop Locator to find a PADI Dive Shop in Mongolia.