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Top 5 Pieces of Underwater Photo Gear for the Summer

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The dive season is in full swing. And when it comes to underwater imaging, SeaLife has you covered. Here are our picks for the top five pieces of underwater photo gear for the summer.

DC2000 camera

Capture your summer adventures in high-res with the SeaLife DC2000 camera. Featuring a large 20MP Sony 1-inch sensor, RAW and JPEG format, full shutter and aperture controls, this compact camera is all you’ll need underwater. On your dives or at the beach, the DC2000 has everything you need to showcase the sights, both topside and underwater. The camera is waterproof to 200 feet (60 m) with the housing and to 60 feet (18 m) without the housing.

Sea Dragon Fluoro-Dual Beam

Night dives are always a treat. But you’ll be even more amazed by what you see with the Sea Dragon Fluoro-Dual Beam. Developed by Fire Dive Gear and SeaLife, the Sea Dragon Fluoro-Dual Beam turns the reef and sea creatures into a fluorescent landscape like no other fluoro light. You never know what underwater alien you’ll find with this unique light.

DC2000 Pro Duo

Get the best out of every dive with the DC2000 Pro Duo. The versatile set includes not only a camera, but also the Sea Dragon 2300 Auto Photo/Video Light and the universal Sea Dragon Flash. The 2300 Auto light features Auto Flash Detect Mode, which automatically turns off the light momentarily when detecting the firing flash.

Micro 2.0 Pro 2500

If you’re traveling light, the Micro 2.0 Pro 2500 is the best camera set for you. Compact and lightweight, this camera set packs a punch. It’s got a permanently sealed body, featuring 64GB of internal memory, high capacity battery, and Wi-Fi. Coupled with the powerful Sea Dragon 2500, this photo/video light has 2500 lumens and a wide beam angle of 120 degrees, complementing the Micro 2.0’s field of view.

Sea Dragon Lights and Flash

Whether using a SeaLife, GoPro camera, or Olympus, lighting is key when it comes to revealing brilliant colors underwater. That’s why SeaLife made their Sea Dragon Lighting line universal and easy to use. Next time, you won’t miss that dream shot. Choose from a selection of hand-held lights to a full-featured set up that offers double the power.

Marine Species: Frogfish

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What are frogfish?

Frogfish are part of the anglerfish family, which includes several species. “Frogfish” is a common name that covers several distinct species as well, such as the common frogfish, the painted frogfish and the hairy frogfish.

Their most common shared characteristics are their stocky bodies and camouflage abilities. Some species can grow up to 10 inches (25 cm), but they are often quite small. They come in various colors and patterns and are expert at hiding on the reef while waiting for prey to swim by. They are solitary and seldom seen in pairs. Frogfish can swim just fine but are often seen “crawling” on the sea floor using their hand-like pectoral fins.

What do they eat?

Frogfish are predators that feed on small fish and crustaceans. Not only do they excel at hiding and waiting passively for prey, but they also actively lure creatures in with their rod, or illicium, which sits in the middle of their head. Atop the rod is a lure that mimics a small fish or a worm, and once the prey is close enough, the fish strikes with lightning speed. With its expandable jaw, one of these guys can easily swallow prey that’s much larger than itself.

How do they reproduce?

Both sexes look alike and there is no way to tell them apart underwater. There has been very little observation of reproduction. Scientists think that most species are free-spawning, wherein the female releases many eggs simultaneously, close to the surface and the male who has been waiting nearby fertilizes them. The eggs then float around and hatch within a few days, releasing tiny fish (about 1 mm) that will slowly grow into frogfish.

Where do they live?

David Hall / seaphotos.com

Frogfish are common in many oceans, but species vary from one area to another. Their camouflage abilities often make them quite hard to spot. To increase your chances, ask your dive guide what common species and what colors they see most often, and then dive slowly and observe the reef carefully. It might look like a sponge, but if it has a small eyeball, it might be a frogfish. Their grouchy-looking faces make them a favorite among photographers, and some species, such as the hairy frogfish or the psychedelic frogfish, are quite rare, so consider yourself lucky if you see one of these distinctive critters.

How Scuba Signals Change the way we Communicate on Land

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Written by Guest Blogger Alexandra Dimitriou

Ok scuba signal

Scuba signals keep us safe underwater. They help divers share the rare treasures they find, like a small nudibranch or a giant hammerhead, with barely more than a flick of the wrist.  Humorous hand signals are constantly evolving and keep a smile on our faces when we think of a new one.

But wait, there’s more.

Divers can’t stop signaling on land too!

Scuba diving is so vital to those of us who partake regularly that I have found that scuba signals are rarely left behind after we surface. It’s quite the opposite in fact. We can’t stop talking with our hands! From fingers which elaborate a favorite dive tale, to whole arms that flap about to get your point across, divers hands are never still.

It’s hilarious, it’s fun and it makes you feel like you’re in a secret club. Hand signals make us instantly identifiable to a fellow divers, I’ve made loads of friends this way, have you?

Non-diving diving lingo:

“Ok?”

Yep! – do the full two arm one meant for “ok” at a distance in a busy nightclub after spotting someone you have lost in the crowd for a while. It’s a quick way to keep your group together from afar while you’re strutting your stuff on the dance floor.

“Fancy a beer?”

A modified “awesome” signal moves towards your mouth repeatedly to signal that’s it’s beer o’clock. Great if the noise from a nearby compressor is making talking impossible.

“Hungry?”

Squeeze your fingers together like an excited Italian and point at your mouth a few times. Then gesture towards your favorite post dive food spot and raise your eyebrows.  Most divers will nod enthusiastically with very little encouragement – scuba builds one hell of an appetite after all!

“I’m going home”

Two hands above your head to look like a house is a quick nonverbal way to tell people that you’re going to make a move. It may seem rude to non-divers, but we love talking without talking and this will often be acknowledged by a gentle nod from your group.

“Look Look!”

Index and middle finger form a “v” pointing from your eyes towards the point of interest is a great signal both above and below the waves. On land however it’s an awesome way to point to something funny or a wicked sports car. I use this so much in my non-diving life it’s a wonder I don’t forget how to speak!

These are just a few signals that I use and have seen being used. Have you seen more? Do you use more? Tell us the how, what and why of your non-diving diver signals in the comments. I bet they’ll make us giggle!

Top Five Pieces of Dive Safety Equipment

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As you become a qualified scuba diver, you learn the basics of an essential scuba system. A cylinder, weights, an exposure suit, regulators, BCD gauge and timing device, mask and fins are the bare essentials. But what other equipment is worth adding to make your dive trip safer and, consequently, more comfortable, relaxed and stress-free? All divers should consider carrying these top five pieces of dive safety equipment.

Dive Computer

Once seen as a luxury item, the dive computer is now rightly regarded as an essential piece of scuba gear. Professional guides can’t safely do their job without a dive computer. Multiple recreational dives with traditional dive tables on a square profile become extremely compromising experiences on sloping reefs or drift dives. In fact, many dive operations insist that each diver has his own computer. Both PADI and SSI now put additional focus on dive-computer usage in their Open Water Diver training courses.

In simple terms, the dive computer tracks your personal exposure to breathing gases on recreational dives — both nitrogen and oxygen. This allows you to easily plan and execute your dives on a multi-level basis. This, in turn, allows you to maximize your bottom time. The dive computer will monitor your individual movements in the water, re-sampling your depth every few seconds. It tracks your ascent rate, warning if you’ve exceeded safety standards and prompting safety stops, or extending stops if necessary. Most recreational dive computers also provide ‘emergency decompression’ instructions for getting you back to dry land should you erroneously overstay your welcome at depth.

Learn how to use your computer’s functions. Mount it somewhere where you can read it while both inflating and deflating your BCD on descents and ascents. Don’t share it with other divers; each member of a dive team must have their own computer.

Cutting Tool

A cutting tool is a must-have piece of dive safety equipment. You can use it for cutting, prying, or communication by tapping on your cylinder. Historically, the tool would take the form of a knife. Early recreational divers carried large knives strapped to their legs. These days, however, a range of smaller, lighter, less-threatening cutting tools are available. Choose from small knives, line cutters, shears and scissors, depending on preference and environment.

Most cutting tools are made of stainless steel. Many top-end tools are made of titanium to make them corrosion-resistant and super-light for transport. It’s easy to mount them as well, since many modern BDCs have an attachment or mounting point for a cutting tool. Failing that, you can mount the sheath of many cutting tools on one of the regulator hoses.

Needing no more maintenance than a rinse in fresh water at the end of your dive, a cutting tool can save the day. You’ll be able to cut yourself free from an errant fishing line, slice through kelp, or tap on your cylinder to get your buddy’s attention if you have a problem.

Light

We often associate lights only with night dives or wreck penetration. But carrying a light — either a hand-held lamp or strobe on your shoulder — can make your dive more enjoyable and offer safety benefits even during daylight.

Modern LED lamps are small, light and powerful, offering high output and long battery life in comparison with the diving torches of even just 10 or 20 years ago. During daylight, a good dive light can bring color back to coral and illuminate cracks and crevices on the hunt for macro life. You can also use a dive light like an underwater laser-pointer to encircle smaller wildlife. This way you can show your discoveries to your buddy without blinding the animal.

Most importantly, you can use your light as a signaling device if the visibility suddenly drops. Also, depending on the construction of your lamp, you can use it as a makeshift tank-banger. At the surface, you can flash your torch at the boat in lower light to get the crew’s attention.

If you’re diving in low-visibility conditions, a shoulder or cylinder mounted strobe or beacon is often useful as well, to help buddy teams stay in contact.

SMB/DSMB and Reel

An SMB or DSMB and reel are key pieces of diving equipment, and not only when diving in strong currents. The latest Open Water Diver training from both PADI and SSI reflect this change and introduce SMB use in the introductory course.

Each member of the buddy team should have a DSMB and reel. Both of you must learn how to safely deploy one from depth. This way, each diver can safely ascend and signal the boat, even if they become separated from the group.

You can deploy your DSMB on the ascent for your safety stop to ensure that passing boat traffic knows your location. You can also deploy it mid-dive if the current changes direction unexpectedly or becomes stronger or, alternatively, if you’re drifting away from the dive site. Doing so lets you send an early signal to surface support that you may not be surfacing in the expected location. This way, the boat crew can track you from the surface.

Finally, deploying an SMB at the surface allows you to signal to your boat. Sometimes boat skippers even have unique SMB signals at busy dive sites so that you can notify the proper boat that you’re ready for pickup if there are a few around.

As with computers, each member of the buddy team should have his or her own DSMB and reel in case of separation, although some dive operators will accept this.

With a range of DSMB/SMBs and reels on the market, pick the one that works best for you in your environment. Larger, easier-to-handle reels and marker buoys are recommended in tougher conditions where there’s bigger surge and you may be wearing thick gloves. In tropical conditions a finger spool and smaller, oral-inflation DSMB may be more suitable.

Marine Rescue GPS

In remote locations, particularly those with stronger currents, modern technology has helped diver safety leap forward. In such places, Marine Rescue GPS is now commonplace, meaning your boat or another nearby can track your location to within a few feet in case of emergency.

Usually weighing less than 5 ounces (150 g) and measuring only 4 inches (10 cm) long, you can clip GPS marine rescue beacons to your jacket or stow them in your BCD pocket. If you’ve surfaced away from the dive boat or there is an emergency, you simply press a button. The distress signal will go to all AIS-equipped vessels in a 30-mile (50 km) radius, pinpointing your location information to within 3 to 4 feet (1.5 m).

Marine Rescue GPS is not cheap, often costing around the same amount as a dive computer. But in the worst-case scenario or a remote environment, it can mean the difference between life and death. In some locations, liveaboards insist that all guests carry their own GPS for the entire trip, leaving a deposit upon return.

Dive safety equipment is always evolving. But adding some key accessories to your standard diving kit can help keep you safer on your next dive trip.

Top Dive Sites in Barbados – According to a PADI Pro

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Photo: Kiera Bloom

Born and raised in Barbados, PADI® Master Scuba Diver Trainer™, Andre Miller, knows these dive sites like the back of his hand. His very first job was in a dive shop where he learned to dive, sail, and navigate a wide range of vessels. Today, Miller is a Marine Biologist and owner of Barbados Blue where he leads conservation efforts to help protect our ocean planet. Seeking expert advice, we reached out to our AmbassaDiver for a list of the top dive sites in Barbados and this is what he shared:

1.   Carlisle Bay

Carlisle Bay Barbados

Photo: Kiera Bloom

This is a scuba divers dream. The bay is a shallow dive site that has something for every diver, beginners to advanced. With over 7 shipwrecks, some as old as World War 1 and 2, this artificial reef has become a nursery for fish, turtles, seahorses and all kind of creatures.

2.   Stavronikita

Photo: Kiera Bloom

Photo: Kiera Bloom

Stavronikita is the largest shipwreck in Barbados. The Stav was towed to Barbados after burning out at sea for 4 days. It sits in 100 – 130ft of water on the west coast and has developed some of the most beautiful coral growth of all our shipwrecks.

3.   The Boot

Photo: Kiera Bloom

Photo: Kiera Bloom

This is a boot shaped, fringing reef about 40-60ft deep. It has a mixture of gorgeous soft and hard coral, and is famous for being a turtle hot spot. On a good day you can find over 10 green and hawksbill turtles during just one dive.

4.   Cement Plant Piers 

Cement Plant Piers is the most popular dive site on the northern coast. The pier has lots of coral growth and gives the effect of tall trees underwater. It is home to many different creatures, and has been known to hold lots of long snout seahorses.

5.   Consett Bay

Photo: Kiera Bloom

Photo: Kiera Bloom

This location can only be dived in the summer when the waters are calm. Few divers are given this privilege, so we are using one day of Dive Fest Barbados to provide an opportunity to dive on the wild side! The east coast of Barbados does not get much diving attention, so we will be bringing lionfish spears as well. The east coast coral formations include lots of hard corals and caverns to peak into. It has also been known for shark sightings!

Watch Andre Miller’s My PADI story here to learn more about his conservation efforts on the island and life in Barbados. Looking to plan your next dive trip? Register for the first Dive Fest Barbados on July 5th to July 9th!

5 Types of Diving You Can Do in the Philippines

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Written by PADI AmbassaDiver, Justin Carmack

My entire life right now revolves around traveling the world in search of the best dive locations. In fact, I am actively trying to experience and film all of the top 100 scuba diving locations in the world, one at a time, and as difficult as it is to get to them all, I’ve somehow become a sort of authority on where to dive, what to see, unique places and so on. My readers ask me on a daily basis things like, where do I go to see whale sharks, where do I go for ship wrecks, and so on. When it comes to the Philippines, there is a very good reason I am based here now, and that is because it is basically the go-to for not only world-class diving, but many different types as well.

Here is a list of just some of the great things you can expect in the Philippines, and what areas you would need to go to dive them.

1. Wreck diving lots of WW2 wrecks in Coron Bay

There are dozens of world class wrecks around Coron, and it is definitely worth a visit. Each of these wrecks are WW2 Japanese battle ships that were sunk by American aircraft during the war. You can also see a few of those planes that were either shot down or ran out of fuel during their attack. Each of these massive wrecks are completely covered in corals and macro critters (I’ve never seen so many nudibranchs in one spot). One of my favorite highlights was an upturned oil tanker thats so big you can swim through the massive oil tanks, with pocks of oil still stuck to the ceiling. Theres really only one way to get to Coron besides long haul private boats, and thats a really short (and cheap) flight from Manila. I did take a 12+ hour boat from El Nino once, but it was a nightmare. Be sure to check out Barracuda Lake, for a very unique dive.

2. The Macro wonders of Anilao

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I would go as far to name Anilao as the nudibranch capital of the world. Diving the various locations around Anilao, I had never seen so many different types of nudis as I did there. I also ran into loads of tiny shrimp, ornate ghost pipe fish, frogfish and much much more. This is the best location closest to Manila, and an underwater photographer’s dream. I wrote a comprehensive guide to all of the dive locations in the Philippines, and Anilao was definitely a highlight. To get to Anilao, most resort will arrange a car for you from Manila, for the 2ish hour drive.

3. Rare critter muck diving in Dauin

Anytime I feel like hunting for rare and weird species, some of which you can only see in a few countries in the world, I head over to Dauin for some of the best muck diving in the world. No where else have I ran into so many different types of frogfish, as well as wonderpus, blue ring octopus, flamboyant cuttle fish, bob tail squid and tons more stuff you’ve never seen. These are not the most pretty dives, reef wise, but if you are like me and just love finding exotic species, I don’t know of another location in the Philippines where you can see more. To get to Dauin from Manila, it is only a 45 minute flight from Manila, or a even shorter flight from Cebu City. If you are already on the island of Cebu somewhere, you can also head down to Santander, and take the 20 minute ferry to Dumaguete. From both the ferry terminal and the airport, its about an hour by trike to most Dauin dive resorts.

4. Thresher sharks in Malapascua

Malapascua is a very beautiful little island off the north end of Cebu, and an amazing dive location. The highlight though, is the crazy looking thresher sharks at a cleaning station. The dive shops all but guarantee the sharks each morning, and I saw 3 both time I went. If you’ve never seen the torpedo shaped shark with their crazy long tail, you are in for a treat. They are definitely one of the coolest looking sharks I have ever seen, and its definitely worth the trip. To get to Malapascua you have to fly to Cebu, and either take a bus or a taxi or car the 3-4 hours to the north, then a 30 – 60 minute boat to the island.

Thresher Shark

5. Whale sharks of Donsol

According to some sources, the whale shark schools around Donsol are the biggest in the world, and all but a guarantee in peak season. Actually the sites around Donsol are known for being able to see mantas and hammerheads, and other big palagics. To get to Donsol, jut drive north from Manila, and its located in Luzon.

6. A world class live aboard to the insane Tubbataha

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a world heritage site and marine and bird sanctuary, consisting of atoms and untouched reef out in the Sulu Sea. Only accessible by a long haul live aboard, Tubbataha is considered one of the greatest and most pristine dive locations on earth. There are lots of great reefs, as well as tons of big pelagic, huge schools of barracuda and much more. This is an underwater photographers dream, and for many, the pinnacle of most diver’s experiences. If you have to choose one location in Philippines, or even in the whole world, head here.

Photo: Justin Carmack

Photo: Justin Carmack

Philippines is one of my favorite countries for all around amazing diving, and I tell people all the time they need to experience it. It is my job to find the best dive locations around the world, and its so easy to sing the praises of Philippines. You can never leave disappointed.

Getto

Reef Protection Comes First at Wakatobi Dive Resort

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Wakatobi Dive Resort is a legendary destination for most divers. Today we’ll discuss the establishment of the resort’s protected reef with Lorenz Mäder, founder of Wakatobi, and find out why safeguarding this environment is so important.   

Who established the protected area and what parties were involved?

Wakatobi founder Lorenz Mäder began the Collaborative Reef
Conservation Program as a pilot project in 1997, two years
after establishing what is now one of the world’s premier
dive destinations. (Photo courtesy of Wakatobi Dive Resort)

Lorenz Mäder, the founder of Wakatobi Dive Resort, worked with local leaders and village elders to establish the Collaborative Reef Conservation Program. The program was designed to motivate the people living in the Wakatobi region to take an active role in protecting the marine ecosystem. Gaining regular payments and alternative employment in the resort, the villagers realized that it is a smarter economical use of their natural resource to let sections of the reefs be untouched for the tourist to enjoy looking at the fish. With proper management, jointly with the dive resort, everyone stands to gain more from tourism than just from fishing, especially in a location like Wakatobi.

When was the protected area established?

The Collaborative Reef Conservation Program began as a pilot project in 1997, which turned 3.7 miles (6 km) of reef into an effective no-fishing sanctuary. As the success of this project became clear, the protected zone was extended. Today it covers more than 12 miles (20 km) of reef.

Where is the protected area located and how big is it?

These privately sponsored reef sanctuaries lie within the Wakatobi Marine Reserve in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. The National Marine Park area was recently designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and is recognized as one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on Earth. Currently, the program includes 17 communities around Wakatobi Dive Resort and covers 12.5 m (20 km) of the best-protected reef structures within the National Marine Park.

Why did your team decide to establish the protected area?

We believe in a solid integration of conservation into our business model and accept that keeping the marine environment intact is the foundation of our business. The enjoyment of our guests is an integral part of a sustainable dive operation.

Because year after year Wakatobi Dive Resort is sticking to this commitment, it has earned the trust and the endorsement of a large majority of the population, of the village elders and island leaders. We don’t know a more effective and cost-efficient model for reef conservation in this environment.

Why did the community agree to establishment of the protected area? What benefits do they receive?

Over the years, substantial investment has gone into keeping the reefs shielded from destructive fishing methods. Every month, each of the 20 villages obtains a cash amount in form of a ‘reef-lease’ payment into their communal budget. This amount is meaningful enough to motivate them to keep intruders away from their revenue-generating “prime underwater real estate.” It convinces them, and all community members, to stick to the agreed-upon respective non-fishing zones. For that purpose, the amount must be a multiple of the potential fishing yield, as you can easily imagine. In addition, the village nearest to the resort obtains its electrical power supply from the resort.

What marine life will divers find in the protected area?

The Coral Triangle, as this region is called, is defined by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It’s home to more than 600 coral species, at least 3,000 varieties of fish, and an even greater number of invertebrate species. Everything from reef sharks, rays, whales and turtles, to crocodilefish, cuttlefish, stonefish, nudibranchs, shrimp, crabs, and pygmy seahorses live within the Wakatobi reef system.

What changes and improvements have you seen in the protected area since it was established?

Overall, the protected reefs are in better shape than before the sanctuaries were established. They have turned into a huge, sheltered breeding area. There are so many fish that the fisherman now catch more swimming out at the fringe of the protected area than they caught before in the entire area. Most locals understand now the benefit of reef-resource management, which includes more income for the fisheries.

What is the importance of the protected area to your dive operation?

The protected reefs include some of the world’s most pristine and beautiful marine ecosystems. These are therefore our most important business assets, which also provide the financial means to sponsor the resort’s conservation initiatives.

What challenges have you faced in establishing and maintaining it?

It took years of steady support and communication to establish solid trust and motivate the majority of the local population. By today, compliance with the rules in the sanctuaries is 95 to 99 percent, depending on how close the reef section is to the resort and patrol posts. Also it was not easy for a small, private business to maintain steady reef-lease payments throughout economical downturns. Still, the business approach proved to be by far the most successful and economical conservation approach in the area.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Going forward, we will more carefully explain to our guests what we are doing in terms of conservation without being too serious for a holiday setting. We must balance many interests. Conservation is a serious matter, and has more to do with drawn-out negotiations, attention to detail, and management than with putting hope in changing habits by preaching to and educating adults. It is neither romantic nor achieved by putting out a few catchy slogans. That is why we prefer to just do it rather than speak about it and let our guests enjoy their precious holidays without being bothered by the complexities involved in keeping the marine environment pristine.

If a guest shows an interest, we are always delighted to go deeper and explain. We find that it is often those among our guests who are themselves professional communicators, or have built their own companies, who are intrigued by this successful and effective conservation approach and take the time to understand more. Either way, anyone who comes to Wakatobi endorses conservation through his or her enjoyment, and that is the way we believe it should be.

Location:

Wakatobi Dive Resort is in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. It lies in the remote Wakatobi archipelago, formerly called TukangBesi islands, on the edge of Indonesia’s Banda Sea. It’s 665 miles (1,070 km) northeast of Bali.

Contact: office@wakatobi.com

High season/low season:

There is no unsuitable period or season for diving in Wakatobi. The climate is drier than in other parts of Indonesia, and the location is quite protected by the surrounding reefs and islands.

Weather and water temperatures:

Wakatobi is a more arid region of Indonesia and air humidity can be as low as 65 to 75 percent. For 90 percent of the year, air temperatures range between 78.8 and 86 F (26 to 30 C).

The overall water-temperature range is ideal for coral growth and there is very little to no coral bleaching in Wakatobi. The warmest water occurs in October, ranging from 82 to 86 F (28 to 30 C). The coolest water occurs in the latter half of August, with a minimum of 78 F (26 degrees C). March until May averages 82.4 F (28 C); June averages 81 F (27 C); July 26 C (78.8 F); September is between 78 and 81 F (26 to 27 C); and from November until March, the temperature averages (82.4 F to 85 F (28 to 29 C).

Underwater visibility is mostly between 20 m and 50 m, with an average of 35 m or 100 feet. No rivers nor lakes bring sediments, so rain does not affect the visibility. Follow Wakatobi on Facebook or on their blog, Wakatobi Flow.

By guest author Karen Stearns

 

My PADI Story: PADI Instructor Joydev Paik

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Guest article by Joydev Paik 

In 2005, I was studying at the Bengali-medium school on Havelock Island, and Barefoot Scuba was organising an ecology-quiz for the local students. The winners were to be presented with the opportunity to go for a free Discover Scuba dive. I won. That is where my story starts.

My family of farmers hails from a settlement of just five huts and farms in the interior part of Govindanagar village on the island. The house is connected to the nearest road by a 2 km (1.2 miles) dirt path. It can’t be accessed by any motor vehicle. I would walk this same path every day, starting at 5am, followed by a 1.5 km bicycle ride to Barefoot Scuba during my training to become a PADI Professional later in my career.

The first few years after my first dive, I had my mind set on doing more of it, but I had neither the resources nor the time  to pursue it further. After completing my schooling, I worked as a construction labourer and helped out at my family’s farms for years trying to save enough money to go diving again. At this time locals were mostly involved in the dive industry as boat staff or other in the form of other labour resources.

Growing up in a family that wasn’t financially secure led me to be socially reserved. All throughout my schooling there was a girl I like but I didn’t have the confidence to approach her.

It took me seven years to save the money I would need for all my training from PADI Open Water Diver  to Divemaster. At the age of 27, I did my Open Water Course at the same dive centre that took me for my first dive. To my surprise, the girl I liked since school worked here as a staff member in the office.

I had the luck of having an instructor that spoke my local language. This helped me substantially since I barely spoke English at the time. Not being fluent in English often restricted me from openly interacting with guests and many of the staff that didn’t speak Bengali or Hindi, the two languages I was fluent in.

During my Divemaster course I started improving my communication skills. Seeing my enthusiasm and effort I was encouraged by the senior instructors to start my Instructor Development Course. It seemed like a great idea to me since I could imagine myself bridging the gap between the local youth and diving.

I have now certified and trained 6 more local boys to become divers in Havelock along with many tourists and guests. I am also now in charge of many diving activities at Ocean Dive Centre.

I didn’t speak English fluently but now that doesn’t restrict me from communicating with divers from around the world. I have had the support of the entire staff and my wife – Yes, I asked the girl that I liked since school to marry me last year.

As you can see, becoming a PADI Instructor has completely changed my life – and it can change yours too.

Learn how to become a PADI Instructor here.

Disabled Veterans Find Relief from Pain, PTSD Through Scuba Diving

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Erin S.


“Learning to dive has been a dream come true. When I am underwater, I am weightless. I am free; free of my injuries, free of sorrows, free to dream. The men and women of Patriots for Disabled Divers immediately made me feel comfortable, accepted, as part of their family. Their continued support and friendship has been unbelievable.” – Ernie S.

Patriots for Disabled Divers (PfDD) is a charity organization for disabled veterans that offers therapeutic scuba training and experiences to people with disabilities. Founded in 2009 by Jeff Currer, a retired US Navy Captain and his wife Merial, Patriots for Disabled Divers has trained more than 600 wounded military veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, amputations and other injuries.

Therapeutic Benefits of Scuba
Underwater, the human body is nearly weightless – which reduces swelling, takes pressure off joints, and reduces back and neck pain. A 2011 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found, “veterans with spinal cord injuries who underwent a four-day scuba diving certification saw significant improvement in muscle movement, increased sensitivity to light touch and pinprick on the legs.”

In 2016, The New York Times reported on the benefits of scuba diving for veterans suffering from PTSD: “Traditional medical approaches generally rely on drugs and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. But this combination has proved so unpopular that many veterans quit before finishing or avoid it altogether.”

PfDD co-founder Jeff Currer has seen firsthand the therapeutic benefits described by researchers. Our divers tell us being underwater helps them filter everything out and just breathe. We’ve seen vets with PTSD change from emotionally shut down and compartmentalized to open and engaged. For disabled veterans, scuba reduces their anxiety, reduces headaches, and provides a feeling of freedom that was previously missing from their life,” says Currer.

Patriots for Disabled Divers

How Scuba Diving Heals
– Participants interact with others experiencing similar issues. Those suffering from PTSD often feel isolated with no one to turn to. Sadly, 20 veterans lose their battle every day according to The Department of Veterans Affairs.

– Friends and family can get involved – as gear handlers, a dive buddy, or whatever role they want to play.

Completing a scuba certification is a big confidence boost. Once you learn to breathe underwater – what else is possible?

Ron k of Patriots for Disabled Divers

Ron K.


“This program was phenomenal. It was more than just diving. The diving provided an ice-breaker…that ultimately led to discussions over the dinner table regarding our experiences down range and how we deal with the long term effects of those experiences now. This was the beginning of the healing process.” – Ron K.

In recent years, Patriots for Disabled Divers has expanded its reach by partnering with PADI dive shops in California, Georgia, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. The organization’s goal is to pay 100% of the training costs and help a spouse, partner, or relative learn to dive as well so all divers have built-in dive buddies.

Assistance for veterans and others seeking relief from physical or psychological trauma is funded solely through donations from caring individuals the diving and military community.

Patriots for Disabled Divers offers scuba training to participants with disabilities across the United States. Learn more about Patriots for Disabled Divers by visiting patriotsfordisableddivers.org. Meet some of the men and women who’ve participated in their program, or search for a PfDD affiliate dive center near you.

PADI® is committed to supporting global efforts and to being a catalyst for change through its Four Pillars of Change corporate social responsibility program.  We will continue to spotlight amazing stories of triumph over adversity, illness and hardships that testify to diving’s healing power. In diving, many people have found hope for their futures and we aim to inspire others to find similar personal transformation and healing, both mentally and physically.

Underwater divers contend with mud, chemicals and ‘nastiness all mixed together’

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