SDI Diver News

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World’s Largest Underwater Clean Up


SDI/TDI/ERDI is proud of our very own Ahmed Gabr for achieving another new Guinness World Record, the World’s Largest Underwater Clean-up which was recorded in Egypt on June 5, 2015. Ahmed organized the world’s largest underwater clean-up at the marina of the Hilton Plaza Hotel in Hurghada, Egypt. The official Guinness World Record is recorded as “The Most Participants in an Underwater Clean-up (Single Venue)” with 614 people, beating out the previous record of 300 people.

Ahmed was was originally planning to set the record with 400 participants, but many more divers came out to support him and the cause of giving back to our oceans in celebration of the World Environment Day. The event was greatly supported by the Egyptian government; the Minister of Tourism, Khaled Rami, as well as the governor of ‪‎Red Sea,‬ Mr. Ahmed Abdullah, who both participated in the event.

Ahmed Gabr is an SDI/TDI Instructor Trainer, and former Egyptian Army officer. He is also the only ERDI Instructor and certified US Combat Diver in the Middle East. He also holds two other world records for Deepest Scuba Dive (male) and Deepest Sea Dive.

For the purposes of this record, an underwater clean-up is defined as a continuous operation in which divers wearing breathing apparatus search an underwater area for man-made waste products with the aim of removing them from the natural environment.

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Coral Reefs: An In-Depth Description

coral reefs
Coral reef habitats play a major role in the ecosystems of the world’s oceans. These thriving marine environments create biodiversity and provide homes, protection and a food source for ocean animals as well as protect the coastlines and contribute to the world’s health, medical, tourism and recreation industries.

Biodiversity
Reefs are among the most diverse and valuable ecosystems in the world. They support more species of fish, plant life and aquatic animals than any other marine environment. It is estimated that nearly 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of coral and millions of other undiscovered types of nature live in and around the reef systems of the world.

Marine habitats
Perhaps the most important aspect of reefs is the protection and shelter that they provide for marine animals. The colorful coral, hidden nooks and intricate swirls of brain coral, anemones and plate coral give fish, shrimp, eels and seahorses a place to live and eat, raise their young and hide from natural predators. Likewise, reef fish and mollusks provide food for millions of people a year.

Contributions to the world
In addition to playing a major role in the environment of the ocean, reefs contribute a great deal to the world itself. Reefs protect the coastline from strong currents and waves caused by storms, hurricanes and tsunamis by slowing down the waves before they get to shore. Barrier reefs do just what the name suggests. They provide a barrier between the water and the shore. This results in protection from on-shore erosion and property damage. Reefs also protect the wetlands along the coast, as well as ports and harbors.

Corals also help control how much carbon dioxide is present in the ocean water. When coral polyps turn carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate, the sediment falls to the floor as limestone sediment. Over time, this process may raise up from the floor as dry land or be dissolved back into the water or air as carbon dioxide. Without this chain reaction, the amount of carbon dioxide in the water would rise, which would affect every living thing on Earth.

A variety of drugs have been developed from reef plants and animals for use as treatment in areas such as cancer, viruses, arthritis and other conditions. Secosteroids, used by corals to protect themselves, have been used to treat inflammatory issues such as asthma and arthritis. Bivalves are being studied to learn more about the aging process, metabolic activity and certain environmental stressors. Yondelis, or trabectedin, is a soft tissue sarcoma treatment derived from the marine organism Ecteinascidia turbinata, a sea squirt found in the shallow waters of Florida, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico.

Scuba diving
Since reefs are located in exotic and desirable destinations around the world, including the Pacific, the Florida Keys, Southeast Asia, Hawaii and the Caribbean, it is only natural that their tourism draw would be an asset to the local economy. Travelers are contributing to the economy and providing jobs to local people by participating in diving tours and fishing trips, booking hotels, dining at restaurants and visiting other businesses near the reefs.

Consideration of the delicate reef ecosystem is a top concern when scuba diving in any area of the world’s oceans. The buoyancy compensator worn by divers allows them to get close without actually touching the coral, which could potentially harm the coral polyps. Be aware of where the boat anchor is being dropped, or use reef mooring buoys if they are available.

Plunge below the surface of crystal clear water into a world filled with the brilliant colors of anemones, blue sponges, chili sponges and firecracker coral set against intricate spirals and wavy spires of bleached white tree and plate coral. This magical setting is inhabited by urchins, seahorses, crabs, yellow tang, gobies, parrotfish and clown fish as well as neighboring marine animals such as sea turtles and sharks.

Whether it is a natural, man-made or artificial reef such as a ship wreck, coral reefs provide some of the most breathtaking scenery a diver will ever experience.

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Vancouver’s First Major Artificial Reef

by Rick Wall – Director, Communications – The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia:
HMCS AnnapolisVancouver BC, 12 May 2015. The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) successfully completed its latest project on 4 April, 2015 when the former Canadian warship ANNAPOLIS was finally sunk in the Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park, creating the first major artificial reef in the Vancouver area.

Since 1989, the ARSBC has sunk more ships to create marine habitat than any other non-profit group in the world. The ANNAPOLIS Project which started in 2008 with the purchase of the former HMCS Annapolis (110 metre helicopter-carrying destroyer-escort) from the Canadian Government turned out, however, to be the most complicated and controversial project ever undertaken by the Reef Society. Financial issues, changing federal government regulations, emerging environmental concerns and legal challenges all forced the Project timelines and costs to be extended. In the end, the work to prepare ANNAPOLIS took almost seven years to complete, involving more than 1,000 volunteers from the local dive community and consuming almost 20,000 person-hours. Once all the federal permits had been issued and legal challenges put aside, a six-week window was identified to complete all the final preparations for the sinking. A dedicated team of specialists agreed to come onboard and complete this work, which included:

  • Detailed surveying of the ship to assess the stability of the ship;
  • Identifying locations for explosive charges;
  • Identifying requirements for venting arrangements;
  • Mapping diver access arrangements;
  • Preparing towing arrangements for moving the ship to the sink site;
  • Preparing anchoring arrangements at the sink site to ensure accurate positioning of the ship; and
  • Ensuring safety for all spectators.

annapolisThree days before the sink day, the ship was moved to Halkett Bay and positioned over the small shelf that had been designated as her new home and final preparations completed. With tide conditions deemed optimal, an air horn sounded and the bay echoed as fourteen charges were detonated in the ship. Two minutes later, all that could be seen was a cloud of smoke hanging over the water where ANNAPOLIS had been floating. Society President Howie Robins commented:

“This was by far the best executed sinking operation for the Reef Society. Divers are already enjoying the experience”.

Divers started visiting the ship on 6 April, after it had been inspected by the safety divers. To date it is estimated that 95% of the ship`s interior has been explored. Here are some common comments that have come back to us (courtesy of Sea Dragon Charters):

“The Annapolis sits perfectly upright on the bottom at about 105 feet. This is great as it allows for extra bottom time compared to some of the other artificial reefs in BC”

“The Annapolis has a multitude of swim-throughs – all at various deck levels. This is exciting, even if you are not wreck certified. You can safely see inside the wreck without entering”

From Deirdre Forbes McCracken, owner of Ocean Quest Dive Centre, who has made two dives to the ship:

“On our second trip back to the ship, the school shiner perch had grown to be several hundred! Tiny shrimp now hopped along the exterior decks of the ships in numbers far too great to count! On our first dive out, other teams of divers had reported seeing red rock crabs at the base of the stern, and now we find more crabs taking up residence [in the operations room]! In just a few weeks to see so many creatures already finding this new reef home was a very rewarding and emotional moment!”

ANNAPOLIS is the most comprehensively prepared naval ship in the ARSBC fleet of artificial reefs and has been designed for the enjoyment of divers of all skill levels. Equally importantly, though, is that after only one month ANNAPOLIS has already begun its transformation to a viable marine habitat.

Acknowledgements:

This project was truly a team effort, involving a large number of people, without whom it would never had been completed. In addition to the long hours put in by the volunteers from the local dive community in preparing the ship for the various environmental inspections, additional thanks must go out to those specialists who contributed both their time and unique expertise in executing a text-book perfect conclusion to a long and complicated endeavor. Those companies include:

Crosby Marine Services, Gibsons, BC
Reliant Marine Services, Gibsons, BC
Mountain Towing and Recovery, Maple Ridge, BC
Pacific Blasting and Demolition Ltd, Burnaby, BC
Damet Services Ltd, DeWinton, AB
Accurate Energetic Systems, LLC, McEwen, TN
Dyno Nobel Industrial and Mining Explosives Manufacturing
Artificial Reefs International, Key West, FL
Derek W. Davis, Inc. Naval Architect, Victoria, BC
Seaspan Marine Corp, North Vancouver, BC
Sea Dragon Charters, West Vancouver, BC

See photo and video footage here:
Article & aerial pictures
CTV Newscast – 4 Apr 15


Rick Wall – Director, Communications
The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia
c/o Vancouver Maritime Museum
1905 Ogden Avenue
Vancouver B.C. V6J 1A3
Web site: www.artificialreef.bc.ca
E-mail: rwall@artificialreef.bc.ca

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7 Reasons to Get Scuba Certified

by Dr. Thomas Powell:
SDI certified divers
Around the world, individuals, friends, couples, and families often look for new and exciting activities. These activities may involve sky-diving, hiking, camping, or even game night at the house. Certain activities may even fall into a category some colleges choose to refer to as “life-sports.” Life-sports are activities that a person can learn, develop, and perform throughout a lifetime. One such activity is scuba diving. Scuba diving is a sport that allows people to first learn about the sport, and then carry education and experience down various pathways of adventure. So the next time you or your companions are considering trying something new, take a moment and look into what it takes to become a scuba diver. You may find the one new activity that keeps you happy and smiling for many years to come. Here are seven reasons why you should consider becoming a certified scuba diver.

  1. Adventure
  2. Often, when people try something new, they hope it carries them to unique places and allows for interesting experiences. Over 70% of the Earth is covered in water, so the odds are pretty good that scuba diving may allow you go to new places. Almost any place a person travels will have some sort of water-filled environment that will allow for a little adventure. Similarly, scuba diving is a sport that allows a person to explore new places as that person continues his or her education. For instance, if a diver learns to safely dive with mixed gases, that diver may choose to venture to wreck sites at deeper depths. Or if a diver partakes in cave diving classes, he or she may be able to adventure in the watery passage ways below the ground’s surface. Essentially, scuba diving opens the doorway for adventure and excitement, and with more education, this adventure never really ends.

  3. Relax and Eliminate Stress
  4. Every day as we all walk around, we experience the effects of gravity gluing us to the ground. Scuba diving changes that daily weight on our shoulders. Under water, divers get the opportunity to experience a near weightless environment where there are no cellular phones, television shows, or office meetings. Instead, divers hear the sounds of moving water, aquatic life, and peace. Many divers view scuba diving as a release from the normal work world. Every time they submerge below the surface, the only thing in the world is the water and the current dive. For this reason, if someone is looking for a new activity or hobby, scuba diving may be the perfect release from the daily grind.

  5. Explore New Places
  6. As mentioned earlier, roughly 70% of the world is covered in water. Scuba diving is a sport that people can use to go places and see things that they have never before experienced. The underwater world is one that will open up to a new diver. New coastlines, reefs, lakes, rivers, and springs will be available to experience in a whole new way. No longer does a person need to look at the water from the surface, or swim down with snorkeling equipment for a quick glance. Now, a diver can take time to see what is down there, and develop new experiences.

  7. See Creatures Outside of an Aquarium
  8. Many people have only seen aquatic life from the side of a boat, at the end of a line, or walking through an aquarium. Scuba diving allows a person to delve into the realm of aquatic life and see interesting new creatures in their own backyard. Fish, sharks, rays, eels, and hundreds of other creatures can be seen in their natural environments. As you travel the world, new and interesting creatures may even be visible in each new place. Scuba diving takes the creatures and the visitor outside of the aquarium and allows the visitor to really see how marine creatures exist in the underwater realm.

  9. Develop New Friendships
  10. No matter where scuba diving may take you, divers are never alone. Scuba diving is a unique sport in which the participants always seem happy, excited about the most recent adventure, and willing to share stories. For this reason, at the end of a diving day, divers can often be found together at the local watering hole, restaurant, or by the water waiting on tomorrow. The scuba diving community is one in which new friends can be made and new adventures can be shared.

  11. Get Outdoors
  12. One of the greatest things about scuba diving is that the sport requires people to get outdoors and get wet. Whether you are exploring a new cave in a jungle somewhere or simply visiting the local quarry, scuba divers get outside and exercise. This sport is one that encourages participants to be fit and to get out of the house. Whole families can get outdoors and spend days enjoying local dive sites or simply discovering new places to get wet.

  13. For You
  14. Lastly, scuba diving is sport you should take on for you. Scuba diving can take you to new places, show you new things, help you make new friends, and get you outdoors. Despite these great advantages to scuba diving, you should only take on this sport if it is something that excites or intrigues you. Do it because you love the idea of sinking beneath the waves and doing something that few people can. Along the way, you will realize that a life-sport of this type will keep you excited and happy, but do not do it just because someone tells you to. Instead, look into what it takes to become a scuba diver and take the plunge because you want to be a diver.

There are many reasons a person may choose or desire to become a certified scuba diver. The best way to better understand the sport is to visit your local dive shop and talk to the staff about what it takes to become a diver, and how they can help you begin your new adventure. Just remember that scuba diving will take you on an interesting adventure should you allow the sport into your life, and it just may become something you really love to do with the people you care about.


– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

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Underwater Navigation: I Want to go Home!

by Jim Lapenta:
underwater navigation
As an SDI/TDI Instructor it has come to my attention that some divers possess less than optimal skills related to underwater navigation. The benefits of developing these skills should not be underestimated.

Underwater navigation encourages the new diver to improve their skills overall, adds to their confidence level, and increases their general comfort. We should not look at underwater navigation as simply a course. It is a way to improve every aspect of every dive experience. Being able to return to your starting point utilizes more than just a compass, line, or a few features. The diver is required to use effective communication, good dive planning, buddy skills, buoyancy control, and gas management.

A good class will place heavy emphasis on the subjects noted previously as well as basic navigation skills. Use of a compass, natural navigation, use of lines and reels, documenting a site, and awareness of hazards all should be included. It should allow plenty of time for practice and use small goals to promote success; rather than large ones that result in frustration. A good navigation course adds to every facet of a diver’s skills. It is one of the most important classes a new diver can take.

So what are the results of a good course and practice of the skill sets?

  1. Increased Safety – Resulting from proper planning, effective communication, and the use of actual buddy skills. This comes in the form of actual physical safety as well as mental and emotional well-being. If you know where you are and how to get back to the entrance or boat, your stress level is greatly reduced. Stress can lead to panic, and panic can kill.
  2. Better Air Consumption – Knowing your course and needed pace allows you to relax and not exert excess energy. Exertion increases air consumption. A slow, relaxed, course and speed may allow you to spend more time at the desired goal of the dive.
  3. Better Buoyancy and Trim – Successful underwater navigation relies on good buoyancy and trim to stay on course, do not silt up the area, stay in good buddy position, and make effective use of navigation tools.
  4. Better Buddy Skills – You have to be in close and effective contact with your buddy to navigate as a team. Sharing the tasks of monitoring course, depth, time, air, and features reduces the load on each team member.
  5. Better Communication Skills – If you can’t communicate effectively with other divers everyone on the dive suffers. Using slates, wet notes, lights, hand signals, and proper surface communication skills before the dive is vital to success on any dive. Underwater navigation requires you to use all of these and polishes the skills.
  6. It’s Very Cool and Fun! – Rarely have I met a person, diver or otherwise, who is not impressed when I talk about swimming a site and making five or six course corrections, using a compass, the features of a site, and if the vis is bad – a line and reel or spool, to find my way back to within a couple yards or even feet of where I went in. Students who complete my underwater navigation class are often in awe of their own abilities. It increases their confidence and sense of accomplishment as well as giving them a feeling of security.

Underwater Navigation is not just about getting out and back. It’s about doing so safely, confidently, and in a manner that is effectively working on all your dive skills. At the same time, it’s a lot of fun to do!

Contact your local SDI Instructor and ask about taking your skills to the next level with this highly beneficial specialty.

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Dive Computers: A Guide to Understanding the Features and Functions

by Joe Stellini:
computer diver
As an SDI Diver you most certainly have had some experience with a dive computer, but what is it trying to tell you and how do you use it to keep you safe on the dive? This article will help explain the most common features of dive computers and how to use them to improve your experience and maximize your bottom time within a safe recreational limit.

I think it is safe to say that we can skip an explanation of what depth, bottom time, temperature and air pressure are trying to tell you. These are standard features and will all remain active when you put a Personal Dive Computer (PDC) into gauge mode since this is the info you would get from an analog system.

Let’s start with one of the most important things your PDC is displaying. Most likely found on the main dive mode screen, you will find No Decompression Limit (NDL). What is No Decompression Limit? It is the amount of bottom time you have left at your current depth based on where you currently are in the dive, where you have been during the dive, and how much time you have spent there before you incur a mandatory decompression stop. It is always displayed in time units and is based primarily on tissue loading of nitrogen.

So how do we use it to enhance our dive? First you should know that every time you change your depth the NDL is recalculated to compensate for the change in pressure. We all know that diving deeper means more nitrogen loading, so that means less NDL or available bottom time before a mandatory deco stop. Using this to your advantage is easy as many PDC’s have audible and visual alarms built in which make it easier to track. Although it can be programmed for a lower number, as a safety margin set your alarm to let you know when you have at least five minutes of NDL time left and when you get there just ascend to a shallower depth. By changing your depth you will be loading less nitrogen allowing for the PDC to compensate with more NDL time. You can do this every time you reach five minutes of NDL time until you must ascend because of gas limitations or time limits set by your dive plan. Do not run your NDL clock down to zero or you will most definitely incur a mandatory decompression stop.

Tissue Loading Bar Graphs or Meters – something paid attention to far less than the actual NDL, but is also an important feature on your dive computer. Many PDC’s have some sort of meter or bar graph that gives you a representation of nitrogen in your system. The more bars, the more nitrogen. For the most part, these graphs go hand in hand with your NDL, however toward the end of the dive while you are ascending, your NDL may rise, but your nitrogen loading bar graph or meter are not quickly reduced. This is because the nitrogen absorbed by your tissues is being released slowly, and in shallower depths we usually have plenty of NDL time to spare.

But what do you use the bar graph for? For one, it is a quick way to look and see how much nitrogen you have loaded and how close to decompression you are. Toward the end of a dive you can use this graph to let you know if you’ve off-gassed a significant amount of nitrogen. So, on the deeper and longer dives you can use this information to determine if you should make a longer safety stop to off-gas. This feature can also be controlled by an alarm if your PDC is capable. Your computer can alert you when you reach a certain level on the graph if you are interested in running a more conservative profile. Unlike the NDL which adds more time just because you ascend a little, nitrogen loading continues to occur as increasing bars on the graph on the PDC. However, as long as you have NDL time to spare, your nitrogen levels and the bar graph on the PDC will keep you out of a mandatory decompression.

Let’s move on to other features like the Nitrox settings on your computer. If you have taken an SDI or TDI Nitrox Course, then you have learned how to set the FO2 to the gas in your tank. As a Nitrox Diver you should know that adding O2 removes nitrogen from your breathing gas, therefore increasing your NDL. You should have also learned that just because you have NDL time it does not mean that you have Oxygen Exposure Time left. Your FO2 setting will run in the background and calculate NDL’s accordingly, but there is another feature called CNS that will track your exposure to oxygen. PDC’s will commonly display your O2 exposure in minutes left before you have hit the maximum and risk oxygen toxicity, but many display this reading as a percentage of exposure used up. Because of limited space on a recreational dive computer, this feature can usually be found on the secondary dive mode screen during the dive.

Some dive computers will have a feature that will indicate Air Time Remaining (ATR). This requires that the PDC be air integrated so it can track gas usage. This calculation is similar to NDL, but uses the current Surface Air Consumption Rate (SAC) to calculate ATR taking into account your depth and breathable gas left in the tank. Most air integrated computers will have an end PSI setting which will subtract this value from the available gas when calculating Air Time Remaining; another added safety feature. You should be aware that computers that have this feature might replace your NDL time with ATR time if it is less, showing you the more critical of the two. Be sure to educate yourself on how your computer displays this information.

When we were first certified as divers, one of the things we practiced the most was the ascent. Even though this usually means our dive is coming to an end, controlling your buoyancy during an ascent is one of the most important safety skills you will learn. You guessed it; our dive computers will help us out with that too. In the basic scuba course we all learned that the ascent rate should not be faster than 30 feet per minute. By ascending faster than that we risk several maladies like DCS, lung overexpansion, or barotrauma. So using the ascent rate monitor makes your ascent much easier by showing you another bar graph or meter usually on the opposite side of the Nitrogen Loading Bar Graph. The faster you come up, the more your meter will indicate. Once you have reached the top or end of that meter, you are coming up too fast. Always remember that just because your computer is showing a safe ascent rate, it does not mean that a slower ascent may be necessary for various other reasons like sinus squeeze or reverse block.

Keep in mind that all dive computers have differences in features and function and this article is not a substitute for training on the use of your PDC. It is written only to give you a better understanding of what your computer is trying to tell you and how it can provide information to allow a much more controlled and safer dive. ***

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Diving as a Tourist: Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Diving Group Anywhere in the World

by Dr. Thomas Powell:
boat diving group

Diving is a sport that inspires intrigue and a need to travel. As divers, we always want to see and experience the next location on our list of places we have not been. As we travel around the world, or even in our own local regions, the people and businesses with which we dive are often the factors that make an experience either positive or negative. With this realization, many travelers work hard to find quality and trustworthy dive groups to which they can give business. Many factors can affect the quality of a dive business, but the following are just a few to help any diver begin his or her search.

Open Understanding

The first thing a traveler or shopper should look for is an open understanding of what he or she will be paying for. Does a dive package include a guide? What types of dive sites will you be visiting? What is included in the package? When these answers are vague, a diver will often venture forth on a trip expecting more than is guaranteed. The dive shop that wants repeat business should be willing to explain the services it provides and why there is value in doing business with that shop. Vague answers are often designed to make a traveler hopeful. Once you have paid for a package and arrived at your destination, refunds may not be available or the trip may be of a lesser quality than expected. The same circumstances apply to training. What are the details of the class and what are you really paying for? A student should begin a class knowing when and where money must be spent, and the true value of any dollars paid. If a dive facility can provide a clear understanding on these topics, you can feel more comfortable knowing it is attempting to be honest and forthright. In many cases, if the facility or organization charges higher prices than competitors but is honest in this fashion, they may truly provide a greater level of service that the facility feels is of a higher value.

Friendly Feel

When you communicate with a new dive operation, they should provide the type of feeling that you want from a dive center. This does not mean that one shop is better than another, but students, instructors, retailers, and buyers are often more comfortable with others who have specific personalities. As a diver, you should look for the type of dive center that puts forth that “vibe” that got you into, or made you stay in, diving. A dive operation should be a place where you want to go. For decades divers have used local dive shops as a “hang out” spot. This level of comfort between a diver and a dive facility promotes quality and trusting business. As a diver, you should look for the shops that suit your personality.

Communication

Communication is critical in both the scuba world and the retail world. As a shopper, you want to know when your product will arrive or what it may cost to partake in the next adventure. As a dive student or buddy diver, you need to feel comfortable communicating with buddies or dive professionals. Prior to traveling or starting new business with a dive shop, start a chain of communication. Go visit the business if possible, shoot the business an email, or just pick up the phone and call. Good communication is a sign of good business. Opening a channel of communication with a dive facility should help you better determine how well the shop will interact with you prior to spending any dollars.

No Hidden Fees

As mentioned earlier, understanding the value of service provided by a dive shop and open communication with a shop are critical to good business. Hidden fees are one of the factors that can spoil a good business interaction. When a shop lays out what you are purchasing or the program you want to buy, it should explain any possible ancillary costs. As a customer, remember to ask for these things and make sure you are not misunderstanding any expenses. Most people have paid for something at some point in life only to arrive at the purchase place and find out that there was an additional associated cost. These costs should be transparent. If they are truly hidden, look at other dive facilities and see how costs compare. Where one shop charges more money for a specific item or class, that shop may just be more honest about the cost to the customer.

Fun

Finally, a dive shop should provide a “fun and exhilarating experience” to its customers. Whether you are a traveler, a student, or just a local shop visitor, you should feel at home working with dive professionals. You should feel like they care about you, your group, and keeping divers in the sport. As you communicate with dive operations around the world you will know how you feel about the operation once you speak to its employees. When you spend dollars, you should feel like the money was worth spending. It always pays to read reviews about dive operations, but remember that most often, the bad reviews are the only ones available. People rarely post comments to the digital world about good times. For this reason, contact dive shops wherever you may end up and see how you feel. Do you feel like the shop operators go the extra mile for you and is it a place you want to send your family? If the answer is yes, then that shop is likely going to be a fun place in which you can do business.

Remember that diving is a bonus activity in your life. You should enjoy the sport, and the professionals with which you work should help you feel inspired to stay wet. This is the type of organization you are looking for. Look for the shop you can see yourself hanging out in on a day off, or the one where divers behave like friends and family. Shops of this type are the ones that best promote diving and make this sport more enjoyable. Look for diving family and learn to trust your gut. Most often, the way people behave reflects the way they will do business.


– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

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North American Rolex Scholar of Our World Underwater Scholarship Society

photos and video provided by:


Ana Sofía Guerra:
2014 North American Rolex Scholar of the
Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®

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Taking my professional scuba diving career to the next level was the perfect way to wrap up my year as the 2014 North American Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. In March, I started my SDI Instructor Development Course (IDC) in Rosebud, Victoria in Australia. Under the guidance and careful instruction of Rubens Monaco from IDC Scuba, I learned all about the side of diving we often don’t think about as recreational divers – the responsibility that comes with teaching someone else how to dive. Throughout an intense and information-laden week, I learned methods for effective teaching, both above and under the water.

I hadn’t realized how many things we take for granted when we have been diving for a while, but they can actually be completely alien to someone who has never put a regulator in their mouth and taken a breath underwater. I suddenly had to think through all the steps of these actions that had become entirely second-nature to me, like clearing out some water from my mask or purging my regulator. There are so many things that instructors have to think about to ensure their students turn into proficient and safety-conscious divers.

I am excited to now have the training to be able to introduce others to an activity that I am so passionate about, and hope diving becomes to them what it has for me, a lifestyle.

Check out some video footage from my SDI Instructor Development Course below!

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Will Scuba Diving Drain My Savings?

by Dr. Thomas Powell:
equipment


10 Tips for Saving Money as a Scuba Diver


Hobbies, sports, and things we do in our personal time are often outside the realm of typical expenditure and necessary daily activity. For this reason, any expense in regard to these activities may be viewed as excess or unneeded spending. Scuba diving is one of those sports or hobbies that individuals or groups take on because they love the water, crave something different, and desire to be below the surface. Despite this desire, income is often allocated for family needs, emergency funds, and long-term planning. Subsequently, divers all over the world often look for deals and ways to save money in order to remain in the sport. When any money is available to spend on scuba diving, that hopeful expenditure must be carefully planned and performed to ensure optimal value is obtained.

Many methods exist through which scuba divers can save money in an effective and sensible fashion. Ten of these methods are listed below.

  1. Dive your own equipment.

    Many people love the idea that you can travel anywhere and simply rent the equipment you need to have fun at your destination location. This is always a nice convenience but conveniences almost always have a price. Every time scuba equipment is rented, fun may be had for a short period, but then those rental fees are lost. The choice to own your own gear may seem costly, but once a diver possesses everything he or she needs to go out and dive, those rental fees disappear. Over time, owning your own gear can actually save you money.

  2. Support your local dive shop.

    Local dive shops are the backbone of the scuba industry. These stores support the needs of divers and promote adventures and fun on a daily basis. One of the greatest things about the dive industry is that dive shops create scuba families. These families are groups of people who travel, dive, and socialize together. In many instances, the local dive shop may even transform into a local “hang-out”. If a diver seeks out a local dive shop and builds a relationship, divers will often discover that the shop will work to offer deals, discounts, and support in return for loyalty and business promotion. These relationships are what have made the dive industry a lasting and fun entity. Developing a loyal relationship with a shop that works to support you as a diver can help you save money as you build your dive kit and plan dive-based adventures. The best way to develop a relationship of this type is to visit your local dive retailer and ask them questions when you need information, or ask for pricing when you’re in the market for items.

  3. Buy equipment for the future.

    When buying equipment, divers often seek out cheaper packages and in many cases new divers look at purchasing “starter equipment”. The reality surrounding purchasing equipment is that a diver should invest in quality equipment that suits the dive-based needs of that diver. If a diver sees him or herself doing more down the road such as technical, penetration, or even public safety diving, the gear should be designed to provide value over long periods and for various uses. Essentially, your dive gear should allow you to evolve as a diver. If one set of gear can be purchased to suit multiple needs, the necessity of purchasing multiple sets of equipment over a short period is eliminated. Though a diver may spend more money on the front end for a more versatile set of equipment, money may be saved through the elimination of future excess spending. This is another realm of education and understanding into which local dive shops can provide insight.

  4. Buy what you really want.

    When scuba gear is needed for various reasons, people often compare equipment they want and equipment for which they are willing to settle. When a person “settles” on something that is not exactly what he or she wanted, that person may become frustrated and unhappy. The desired item may have been the one thing that made diving even more enjoyable. For this reason, many people often settle for one item and then replace that item in short order for what they really wanted. If you purchase the items you really want, the potential for satisfaction is increased while the need to replace and re-buy items may be decreased.

  5. Buy complete sets of gear.

    Many divers often buy equipment in pieces or as they find deals. One thing that many dive shops will do is provide a discount if a full equipment set is purchased at one time. In fact, certain manufacturers may even offer discounts if a complete set of gear made by that same company is bought at one time. For this reason, a diver may save money in the long-run by inquiring about possible discounts for purchasing an entire setup. The upfront cost may be greater, but the total expenditure may be less than what a person would spend by purchasing a gear set in pieces.

  6. Look for or create package deals.

    Around the world, dive retailers often like to organize packages made up of popular items. If these packages are purchased, the items within the package are discounted. In many instances, if you are seeking a handful of items or more than one “big ticket” item, dive retailers will work with you to create a purchase-based package to encourage the sale. For this reason, a diver may be able to save money through the purchase of multiple needed or wanted items rather than purchasing one item on multiple occasions.

  7. Service your equipment!

    People are not designed to survive under the surface of the water without the support of functional equipment. When equipment breaks or is not reliable, costly repairs or replacing certain items may become necessary. The act or servicing your equipment in a proper fashion on a regular basis can help to eliminate many basic problems or catch issues before they become catastrophic. Essentially, caring for purchased gear may eliminate future expenses by making that gear last longer. Regular service can be performed by a dive retailer, but even tune-ups prior to a big trip are available just to ensure that equipment is functional and safe to dive. Certain manufacturers even allow divers to become certified to service specific equipment items after learning how the equipment is built and maintained. Aside from service, remember that equipment must be stored in a safe and protected manner to ensure that simple weather, natural elements, or basic temperature does not damage equipment.

  8. Develop a long-term training plan.

    Training can become a costly venture when a diver seeks to learn about many topics and venture into the various educational paths within scuba diving. There are lots of scuba classes out there available to divers and in many instances, divers hope to participate in many of them. In many instances, one of the best courses of action is to visit with a local instructor or dive retailer and develop a long-term educational plan. This plan may be altered or change as new experiences occur or information is learned, but it provides a path for an eager diver. When plans like this are developed, many dive professionals or scuba retailers will be willing to establish package pricing where a diver pays a reduced rate for many programs. Essentially, a diver can create a roadmap toward goals and pay a reduced total price for planning education in this manner.

  9. Buy quality and comfort instead of brand.

    When a diver chooses to buy an item based on cost alone, the diver may become dissatisfied with the fit or feel of the item. Discomfort eventually results in the purchase of a replacement item. For this reason, a diver should always seek to purchase scuba equipment that fits in a proper fashion and improves the experience of scuba diving. Though the best fitting equipment may cost more than similar items on the front end, purchasing equipment in this manner may eliminate the need to buy replacement gear due to poor fit and feel.

  10. Try shore diving!

    Finally, divers often love the adventure associated with jumping off a boat into new and unknown waters. In many cases, boat diving is the primary type of diving performed by vacationers each year. In Southern Florida, places like the Blue Herron Bridge are rated as world class shore dives. Shore diving offers the ability to dive almost any time with minimal associated fees. Shore diving offers a diver the ability to get more diving in on a trip with little extra expenditure. Essentially, a boat is not always needed to go get wet. Shore diving is inexpensive, fun, and available on almost any coastline.

No diver wants his or her financial resources entirely depleted because of the sport he or she loves. After all, you need to have funds available to keep traveling and trying new things. To be responsible as a scuba shopper try developing a relationship with your local dive shop, plan out how you can responsibly purchase the gear you want, and develop a long-term training plan that can keep you out diving and having a good time. Plan for the future and try to understand that on certain occasions, spending more now may mean you spend less in the long-run. Be financially responsible where appropriate but more than anything, remember to make sure diving remains fun. You are only willing to spend your hard-earned money in the first place because you enjoy the sport, and you should do what it takes to own the sport for your own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.


– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

sally

Which Scuba Certifications Do You Need and Why

by Sean Harrison:
scuba certsSo you sat all winter, and for some of you it has been a rough winter, looking at your diving photographs, reading the dive magazines, and posting on social media all your diving dreams and fun stories, just waiting for the water to warm up. Why wait?! You can’t make the water warm up any faster! I know you can travel to warm water, but you can be warmer in the water no matter what temperature it is now. How you ask? A dry suit.

Dry suits have come a long way over the years and so have the undergarments. Perhaps one of the biggest advancements is that dry suits are more flexible than they have ever been. In years past, dry suits were primarily designed to be used in cold water only, which is not the case with current dry suit designs. Some manufactures have designed dry suits just for tropical water temperatures while others have taken a different approach and made a suit that can be used in any water temperature just by adjusting the undergarments (more on undergarments later).

Being “cold” doesn’t just happen in “cold water”, divers often get cold in very warm water. While there are many theories and questions out there about what cold water is, it’s all relative – what is cold to one person may not be cold to another. Any time you submerge yourself in water temperatures colder than your core temperature (36.5 -37.5 C / 97.7 – 99.5 F) your body releases heat through the skin. You also lose heat through your lungs as the cold compressed air is breathed in and then exhaled. This can make a diver very cold after multiple dives per day, over multiple days. While there needs to be a temperature difference between your core temperature (warmer) and the surrounding temperature (cooler) for your body to lose heat, the difference does not need to be very much. It does need to be enough so you won’t overheat but not so much that you become hypothermic.

Taking a dry suit course will not only make diving in tropical waters more comfortable, it will also extend your diving season. Think of all your dive buddies, sitting there, waiting for the season to begin as you are posting pictures and stories of the dives you are already enjoying. Then, at the end of their season, you are still diving! This is simply accomplished by adjusting the undergarments you use.
Undergarments, like dry suits, have come a long way. Going back to those early days again, the early undergarments were bulky and did not wick moisture away from your body. They also had big zippers and seams that would, over the course of a dive, irritate your skin. Divers during these times would use cotton and wool garments to stay warm. We now know that cotton keeps the moisture too close to the skin and causes you to be cold. Wool, while maintaining your warmth even when wet, cannot be worn by many divers and is not the best option. Today’s undergarments are made with materials that wick the moisture away from your body, are less bulky, can be adjusted to water temperature, and some of the recent ones are non-compressible and neutrally buoyant.

So if you are looking for a course that will make you more comfortable in the water, and extend your diving season, consider the SDI Dry Suit course. Be that diver that everybody is jealous of because you get to dive more.