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How to Make Underwater Bubble Rings

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Swimwear Recycled from the Sea

Fourth Element introduces OceanPositive 2017 swimwear collection, made from recycled ghost fishing nets.

by Press Release Aug 17, 2017

The Wakatobi Resort Conservation Model

Wakatobi Resort in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is dedicated to preserving the marine environment with the buy-in and participation of locals.

by Guest Author Aug 17, 2017

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

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Swimwear Recycled from the Sea

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Wear something that is good for the ocean. Fourth Element has introduced subtle imagery and exciting new designs with the eagerly awaited OceanPositive 2017 Swimwear collection, made using recycled “ghost” fishing nets.

Ghost fishing nets have been lost or abandoned at sea, and continue to catch wildlife, ensnaring and killing them, or end up snagged on reef, scouring their surfaces, leaving them dead and barren.  More than 600,000 tonnes of these nets are lost every year.  Teams of divers all over the world, along with fishermen reclaim these nets, often working in extremely dangerous conditions, and the nets are then recycled along with other post-consumer nylon waste into ECONYL® before being knitted into Lycra® fabric for the OceanPositive swimwear line.

The 2017 collection features new designs to fit a greater variety of body shapes and a unique printed fabric design that is reminiscent of the net from which the fabric is made.  The addition of “yoga pant” style leggings for women and a coordinated range of long-sleeved rash guards, extends the range into broader categories than simply swimwear, and are at home as much above as below the water.

The launch coincides with much greater awareness of the issues of plastic pollution in the ocean, and marine conservation issues in general.  Fourth Element’s Managing Director, Paul Strike was invited to present the company’s vision for commercializing plastic pollution at June’s Ocean Conference at the United Nations in New York.

“It is possible to imagine a world where there was no way to make any new plastics.  If this were to happen, human ingenuity would find a way to recycle all this waste we produce and as a result reduce our impact on the planet.  We don’t want to wait for that time, we want to be a part of this solution now,” said Paul. “The OceanPositive range is a statement of intent, to do something meaningful to benefit the environment that we love and feel compelled to protect.”

Available from selected dive shops and online at www.fourthelement.com

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.

The Wakatobi Resort Conservation Model

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When seeking a dive destination somewhere in the Coral Triangle, I soon realized that the resorts all look fabulous on their websites, but I expected that. I don’t believe the “pristine waters and reefs” hype so commonly splashed around in promotional materials. I doubt most people do. There are now few, if any, coral reefs in the world that are pristine and unaffected by human activity. Coral Triangle reefs, like any other marine environments rimmed by large populations, have been fished, exploited, and polluted for centuries.

Then, this passage of text caught my attention on the Wakatobi website:

“Prior to the (conservation) program, the locals were largely dependent on working with foreign, illegal fishing boats to make a living. In the area around Wakatobi, this kind of fishing still occurs, limited however by our patrols, by boats from other areas of Indonesia or other countries. These boats are owned and crewed by people who don’t consider the pressure they are putting on the marine life. The owners don’t pay local taxes, the crew doesn’t care where they throw anchor or deplete marine resources. In the end, locals get very little gain from this kind of activity.

But there is no way that anyone with a sustainability agenda could have marched in and simply told the locals to not walk on the reefs and stop supporting the foreign fishermen, as these activities provided part of their living. Instead, what was needed was an alternative source of income whereby people could choose whether they wished to preserve or destroy. We believed, and still do, that the best and most sustainable alternative is to create employment and education opportunities through responsible, conservation-linked tourism.”

An honest assessment

This frank summary of the problem of illegal and destructive fishing, and Wakatobi Resort’s stated commitment to invest time and money in pursuit of a sustainable solution, seemed like a good reason to seriously consider Wakatobi as a dive destination. 

Then my own selfishness kicked in. Wakatobi Resort offered a charter flight from Bali’s international airport to the resort’s private airstrip — right into the heart of the Coral Triangle, with no gauntlet of multiple domestic flights. The idea of simply handing off all the logistical issues of traveling with lots of underwater photography equipment to someone else and just enjoying the ride was irresistible.

Seeing for ourselves

So, we went to Wakatobi Resort to see for ourselves. And now we’ve been there, so far, five times, with a couple of those visits extended into 3-week stays. We return because the resort has done what its founder first committed to achieving some 20 years ago. Given its remoteness, the challenges of building and maintaining substantial infrastructure under foreign laws and culture, the difficulties of introducing and sustaining change in the face of generations of entrenched practices, it could not have been an easy task — and very probably, still is not.

But it is paying off. Wakatobi Resort’s efforts are creating economic value that is sustaining the reefs. Education and conservation programs are creating new employment and career choices for local people. Around 18 area villages benefit directly from revenues generated by the resort through the provision of direct lease payments, electricity and educational support. Local fishermen have a reliable customer willing to pay premium prices for high-quality, sustainably-harvested fish. No-take areas are generally recognized and respected by those local fishermen, who understand these area’s roles in replenishing the reefs.

The rewards of sustainability

Sustainably managed reefs are a joy to dive. For me, they offer insight into the abundance and diversity that once existed. Secrets emerge from them dive by dive as the terrain becomes more familiar and the lives of the marine life cycle through time and tide. Clearly, many other divers feel the same way. That’s why Wakatobi Resort is attracting so many of them.

When they come, they bring with them the revenues that fuel Wakatobi’s economic engine. When they leave, they can take away more than their memories and photographs. We live in a world where the lottery of birth means that some people must scavenge reef-tops at low tide for food, while others are able to earn the means to dive the reefs on vacation, with camera systems worth more than a local house.

Diving around Wakatobi Resort brings with it the satisfaction that our income has yielded not only pleasure and relaxation for us, but also helped support their conservation program. Individually, it might only be a drop in the ocean, but each guest here is part of that program. Drop by drop, it is making a difference.

Wade Hughes is a Member of the Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He has dived in some 30 countries and territories around the world. He and his wife Robyn have visited Wakatobi Resort five times with a sixth visit scheduled in early 2017. They make their photographs freely available to individuals and organizations involved in education, research, and not-for profit promotion of sustainable conservation. Send requests to wadeandrobynhughes@gmail.com or follow them on Twitter @WadeSHughes. Check Wakatobi’s website for more details on booking.

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!

Journalist Missing When Danish Submarine Sinks

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It has all the makings of a Clive Cussler thriller. There’s a visionary inventor, a sunken sub, a missing reporter — and lots of unanswered questions. But this isn’t a mystery novel. A Danish submarine, one of the world’s few privately owned vessels, sank south of Copenhagen, possibly with Swedish journalist Kim Wall onboard.

The ordeal started on the evening of August 10th at around 7:30 p.m. Danish inventor Peter Madsen sailed from Copenhagen in a self-constructed submarine, the UC3 Nautilus. Onboard was also Kim Wall, a Swedish reporter. Late in the night between Thursday the 10th and Friday the 11th, the Wall’s boyfriend contacted Danish police, as neither she nor the submarine returned as planned.

What happened to the Danish sub and the reporter?

The authorities launched a large-scale search on Friday morning, fearing that the submarine might be in trouble or have sunk. Around 10 a.m., they sighted the submarine in a bay south of Copenhagen. Authorities established radio contact with Madsen determined that the submarine was on its way back.

And this is when things took a turn for the mysterious. At 11 a.m., the police issued another statement, saying that the submarine had sunk suddenly on its way back to harbor, but that they had saved Madsen and brought him ashore. There was no news of Wall, who was presumably onboard.

A later statement claimed that Madsen told police that he brought Wall ashore in a remote area of Copenhagen harbor at around 10.30 p.m. the night before, and then left alone in the sub. According to him, that was the last he saw of her, and he didn’t suspect anything until almost 12 hours later when authorities hailed him on the radio.

Later in the day, though, the police issued a new statement stating that they were charging Madsen with manslaughter, but that they had not yet found Wall. Authorities have since determined that Madsen deliberately scuttled the sub himself in around 20 feet of water. Authorities have raised the sub and searched it. Wall is still missing, however, and Madsen is in custody.

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.

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