Being hooked up….

As divers we have a passion for being under water, so the term “being hooked on” can be looked at in a positive way. Despite this, and being under water often, “being hooked on” has a very negative meaning to us.
In the recent months we see an increasing amount of marine life suffering from fishing hooks and lines. Recently, diving a wonderful volcanic reef close to the shore we discovered a giant stingray. We expected it to take off as soon as we came closer, but it did not. It was hardly moving and was clearly exhausted. We discovered it was hooked on a line which was entangled in the reef. Apparently (or that is what we concluded) it was caught on a fishing hook but the line snapped. Dragging the line along, it got entangled. The poor animal tried desperately getting loose and finally gave up by lack of energy and probably close to starvation. As we were unable to remove the hook, we cut the line as close to the hook as possible and let it swim off. We hope it survives and regains its full energy despite the hook still being in. Of course we cleaned up the fishing line before continuing in our dive.

Being hooked on...
Late last week we had another close encounter. Diving on our Artificial Reef, a 24m dive, we discovered a beautiful sea turtle lying quietly on the seabed. Swimming over we noticed the turtle was not moving. Getting closer we spotted a thick fishing line with some very heavy weights on (about 1.5 kg). The line ran immediately towards the turtle. Following the line we discovered a giant fishing hook going straight to the neck of the turtle. It could not have been death for a long time as the body decomposition did not yet start. Apparently it got caught by the hook and the line snapped taking all the weight down. Due to the weight the poor animal was unable to surface for air and suffocated. A tragic end for a very nice and protected sea creature…
We can tell about many more of these events but I guess you all get the point. We understand everybody wants to make a living but seen the cruelty we are confronted with on a regular basis we are wondering if there are not more environmental friendly ways to do game fishing. If nothing changes, more species will be endangered for disappearing and at the end everyone will loose.
So next time you are being hooked on, think twice and think about the collateral damage it might cause.

10 Things That Change When You Start Scuba Diving

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After the completion of your diving training and subsequently preparing for your first dive, there is a sense of nervousness and excitement. But within minutes of jumping into the ‘deep blue’, that anxiety seems to cease and you are overwhelmed with a sense of tranquility and peace. The idea that you are experiencing a whole new world within our own – a place of undiscovered adventures.

All those who have not attempted to scuba dive cannot even begin to fathom the sheer beauty. But when entering this new world, we are put out of our comfort zone and have to adapt to the new surroundings. As such, scuba divers tend to pick up a few new habits and behaviors. Below we have listed 10 things that change when you start scuba diving and we believe that if you have been diving before, more than a few of them will apply to you!

1. You Use Scuba Diving Hand Signals in Everyday Situations

Due to the fact that verbal communication is nearly impossible when scuba diving, the use of hand signals are imperative for divers’ communication. Especially when starting off and you are paired with a dive buddy, you will often develop hand signals for common communication. So what happens after the dive and you and your buddy head back to the real world? The dynamic completely changes when you are out together. The great thing is, when you are put in a situation where you need get a message across from a distance or in a noisy place, you can communicate via these very hand signals. From being at a concert and wanting to see if your buddy wants some food or a drink to camping in the outback and trying to find wood for a fire these hand signals give a great new avenue for getting a message to each other.

The more experience you acquire with diving, the larger your repertoire of hand signals becomes. In fact, it is not uncommon for divers to use the “hold” sign in their daily life, only to have your dive buddy respond back by giving the same signal. When you can communicate with someone on that level, it leaves them with a smile on their face.

2. You Obsess About the Condition of Your Ears

One of the most important skills you acquire whilst scuba diving is having the ability to equalize your ears. You would be able to tell if a mate is preparing for a dive as he most probably will be pinching his nose and breathing out to check if his ears are working in between each bite whilst out for lunch.

With ear woes being the most common reason for someone to pull out of a dive, is it any wonder why people who regularly go scuba diving are obsessed with the condition of their ears? Anything that could affect them from the external world they will usually be wary of. This can stem from air conditioning being on too high, going out for dinner with a friend that has a cat they are allergic too or even cancelling going to the footy because the mate you are going with has a cold.

3. Dive Gear Begins to Accumulate in the Spare Bedroom

If you have made the ‘dive’ already into becoming a scuba diving fanatic then over time your gear will begin to multiply. Even though you know exactly what equipment you have at home, sometimes the idea of having a different variation or model of the same piece is too good to refuse. When first starting diving it’s all about getting your first kit to call your own, but much like car enthusiasts and fashionistas, modding your scuba set for different types of dives is a part of the fun.

There is a day for most scuba divers in which they go into the room with their scuba stash and realize as they can no longer easily find the item they are looking for!

4. You Become a Conservationist

When you start diving regularly and return to the world below you begin to feel a deep connection to it. Most people who take up scuba diving, even if they have only been exposed to it for a short duration, will begin to respect and want to preserve the environment around them. The longer you dive, the more you learn about the underwater world – it is hard to deny that many of the underwater ecosystems and coral reefs are in real danger.

It is much easier to ignore a problem when you are not physically exposed to it. This means that for many non-divers, they haven’t actually seen a damaged reef or noticed changes to the ecosystem. it is hard to fully comprehend the magnitude and severity of the situation. As such, divers will usually pick up trash on the beach if they walk past it or remove fishing lines and other debris from the reef. Most importantly, scuba divers usually become more vocal about their environmental thoughts to all their friends. Even though it is a real shame that the there is a decline in underwater ecosystems, having divers educate others in a positive and constructive way is a huge plus and wonderful consequence of taking up diving,

5. Your Vacation and Weekend Plans Change

If you do become a serious diver you will notice that quite a lot of your holiday time is dedicated towards the pursuit of diving, so much so that your trips tend to revolve around where your next diving destination will be. I mean, why would you go to Las Vegas for a week when you could go to Hawaii and live in a beach front hut for a fraction of the price? Although there are perils that can come with a diving holiday such as seasickness and food poisoning, these issues are far outweighed by the remote locations and surreal dive destinations that a scuba diving enthusiast searches for.

In fact, for people that fall in love with scuba diving a lot of free time goes to planning and dreaming about these outings. Whilst cars around you are stuck in traffic, you will probably be reminiscing on a previous dive or curiously thinking about where to go for your next dive. Getting drunk on a Friday night and going clubbing becomes a lot less appealing when the prospect of waking up for a sunrise dive is around the corner. This may sound crazy to those that are not scuba diving fanatics, but trust me, it’s true!

6. You Comfortably Discuss Bodily Functions with Strangers

When you are with your scuba diving buddies it is not uncommon to have some funny but somewhat disturbing (for an outsider) conversations about diving issues. Discussing how you go to the bathroom while on a dive or situations where you needed to get rid of pee from your wetsuit underwater may not be your normal coffee conversation but it makes for a great chat as well as a somewhat educational experience.

On the topic of education, divers will very commonly educate themselves by themselves, on the go, and the team they go out diving with overall. Often divers will discuss most physical conditions from ear health to indigestion on a boat prior to a dive, sometimes with divers they have just met.

7. You Become Part of a Diverse Club of (Usually) Like-Minded Individuals

The passion of scuba diving brings people together from completely different backgrounds. As a diver you meet people from all walks of life ranging from different ethnic groups to people employed in a wide variety of career; divers will be exposed to people that they might otherwise have never associated with. It is actually not that uncommon for a retired lawyer to discuss life and share stories with a barista and actually find out they have more of a connection than they would have initially thought. Sometimes these odd pairings can actually lead to fruitful lifelong friendships, on the basis of their strong connection to this singular hobby!

8. Your Retirement Plans Change

If scuba diving does become a lifelong passion, then inevitably your retirement plans will change. That house with the white picket fence and tire swing hanging from the tree sounded like a fantastic retirement plan until you picked up that scuba diving gear. Now, you will be looking to retire with a completely different set of expectations. Being near one of your favorite dive sites or accumulating enough financial resources to allow you to visit dive sites regularly will go into your retirement planning process.

If you absolutely love diving then it would not being surprising to sometimes be thinking of escaping to a tropical island and call it home ‘once and for all’ when you have finished your working career. In fact, you may decide to become a dive instructor yourself and live in paradise for the rest of your days!

9. You Become Annoyed by the Misrepresentations of Diving in the Media

Once you start scuba diving you will definitely see a discrepancy between how the media represents the diving industry and what it is like to actually do underwater scuba diving. Especially in the entertainment industry, you may watch a TV show and at its end, be thinking to yourself: A real trained scuba diver would never do that! Or, sharks don’t actually attack people under water like that!

And if you are watching that movie with a non-diving buddy, you will definitely want to be setting the facts straight! “Why wasn’t his dive buddy with him, it was his first dive?” Your mate will probably turn and around be like “who cares, it’s only a movie”, but to yourself you will be thinking, I care, yes, I care.

10. You Become an Ambassador for the Sport

When you start scuba diving regularly it will become one of the milestone experiences of your life. It becomes ingrained as a part of your identity – as though you yourself become one of the denizens in the underwater world. You will want to tell your friends and the people you meet all about your dives and how they are missing out on one of the greatest experiences on the planet!
Stories of adventures and close calls, unbelievable creatures that you encounter and weirdly beautiful locations and reefs you have seen. You will truly become an ambassador for the sport!

 

Blog article written with the help of our diving buddies. Credits to Yada Anekitmongkol and Aquability (Melborn/Australia)

Gran Canaria – a great diving destination

Gran Canaria is located in the centre of the Canarian archipelago. The round island – so called because of its circular shape – is 47 km across and covers an area of 1,560 sq km. Its highest peak, Pozo de Las Nieves (1,949m above sea level), is situated right in the centre of the island.
Gran Canaria belongs to an area of the Atlantic Ocean, known as Macaronesia. The nearest point on the African coast is approximately 210 km (131 miles) away, while Cádiz, the closest port on the European continent, lies about 1250 km (781 miles) north of Gran Canaria.
Gran Canaria, which is the third largest island of the Canaries, boasts 236 km of coast with sandy beaches, predominantly concentrated in the southeast. This is where you’ll find the famous beaches of Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas with its amazing sand dunes. Cliffs dominate the south western and western coasts, whereas the coastline of the north and northeast offers more diverse pleasures, including a wide variety of beaches and coves. The mountainous center of the island features a few high peaks and many gorges radiating out towards the sea.
Due to the geological formation of the interior of the island, the landscapes of the interior are very different from those of the coast, originating many and varied ecosystems on the island. Being of volcanic origin, the island’s orography has a conical shape that is split in two by the ravines of Tirajana and Agaete, representing the main line of division that separates the enormous contrasts of the North and the South.

North and South – two different faces
Gran Canaria is lying in a north to a south ocean current. Also the dominant winds go from north to south. The north of the island has a very rough coastline and is frequently subject to waves and wind. Thanks to the main wind direction, the north has a more moderate climate than the south and has nice green hill tops. Most of the economic activities are to be found in the north.
In the south, due to the absence of the dominant northern winds, waves and rain, is very dry with only a few hours of rain per year. Most of the touristic centers are concentrated to the nice and sunny beaches. Between the beaches you will find nice cliffs that makes the coastline very attractive. Thanks to the protection of the high mountains in the centre of the island the temperatures in the south are substantially higher than in the north (up to 10° difference).
Diving in the south is great all year round. Thanks to its nice climate it is very rare diving is not possible due to weather conditions.
So next time you consider diving holiday, have a look at the South of Gran Canaria. It is definitely worth looking at.

Why do you want to work in the diving industry?

Most people are convinced that becoming a dive instructor and work in the industry is only about the adventure in your life, working in exotic destinations and earning lots of money. Well, the truth is a bit different.

Not sure we were the only ones being convinced this was not the only thing, we have been talked to a lot of dive instructors and divemasters, both experienced and just certified ones. Indeed we came up with a bit of a different story. It’s true that the adventurous life and the exotic locations play a role when going for a career in the diving industry, but it just does not stop there. Most guys and girls we talked to all agreed that sharing and transferring your passion for diving is much more important than the adventure.

The smile on the student’s faces, the great feedback at certification, the compliments from divers and the great stories told at the end of the holidays, that’s what makes our days.

Just to give you a small story illustrating the feeling….

In the center we organise try-dives in the pool on a daily basis. The aim is to let non-divers experience the feeling of freedom under the water, breathing, finning and the sense of being weightless. In order to make this often first time experience something special, we organise some show around it involving friends and family.

A few weeks ago, we were quite busy with a large group of youngsters wanting to give it a try. Whilst the dive instructors were in the water, we had a chat with a somewhat older man who seemed nervous but interested in trying. The 70-year old was a swimmer but never in his life tried snorkelling or scuba diving. Seen his age he was quite nervous about trying. In the first go we explained exactly what was going to happen and assured him that we take all necessary measures to make it a fun but safe experience. Finally he decided to hit the water and guess…. He came out with the biggest smile on his face ever seen. At the end of his holidays he came to see us, thank us again and asked for the possibilities of going for the PADI Scuba Diver certification. Finally he left from the island giving us all a big hug and Anita even got some kisses!

This small anecdote exactly illustrates why we want to make diving our way of life!

How to turn a DSD into a unique dive experience?

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How many certified divers took their first scuba diving steps through a PADI Discover Scuba Diver? Anybody wonders why this first experience changed their lives?

Most divers I talked to explained their DSD was a great experience. Thanks to the dive centre and dive instructor, passing their passion for diving, a new diver was born. The correct environment, information sharing, atmosphere and good preparation turned the Discover Scuba Diver in a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of them.

Both my wife and I started in the same way years ago. Thanks to the great time we became so passionate about diving that we completely changed our lifestyle. From the discovery, we went through recreational diving to become so passionate about diving, to decide to swap our traditional jobs for a life in the diving industry. Even after we took this big step, we still remember our DSD years ago.

How to turn each Discover Scuba Diver (DSD) into an “I-love-scuba-diving” experience:

  • Organise each DSD as if it was a first date: Understand the DSD candidate does not know what to expect!
  • Be prepared: Follow a fixed DSD circuit and routine, but leave room for a personal touch.
  • Adapt to your customer: Accept people are unique, give them room to absorb scuba diving at their own pace.
  • Be passionate: share your passion for scuba diving with your guests before, during and after the dive.
  • Take your time: Remember the experience does not stop getting out of a wetsuit.
  • Help them remember: a picture says more than a thousand words, help them organise some pictures or a video as a permanent souvenir.

I fully agree there are a thousand more points to be added, but these six definitely help making a DSD something unique!