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Amazing Underwater Encounters

amazing underwater encounterThere are many reasons to love scuba diving. Some people just love being in the water, or experiencing the thrill and adventure that diving is. Some find it to be a relaxing escape, but almost everyone agrees that exploring our oceans and coming face-to-face with some of the world’s most interesting marine life imaginable – straight from the depths of the mystifying seas tops the list of scuba diving benefits. Whether it’s a rare species of coral, the elusive frog fish or a massive great white shark, we all have had an amazing underwater encounter. At SDI/TDI/ERDI World Headquarters, we want to know… What was your first AMAZING underwater encounter? Share your first-hand account and pictures/videos with us, and we will publish right here for all to enjoy. Just fill out the form below.

 

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1. Sea-Horse giving birth!


Back when I was guiding dives in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, I had an experience that blew my mind! Talk about being at the right place at the most perfect time to witness this wonder of nature in the birth of new life. I was leading my group along the wall of Cousin’s Rock looking for neat things among the black coral. Some of the main attractions were the sea-horses, but I never expected to see one that was about to give birth! Luckily, my video camera recorded the whole thing.
Cris Merz


2. AMAZING encounter (while teaching)

whale shark encounter

The most amazing encounter I experienced while teaching was during the SDI Scuba Discovery course with two participants. The students took to the water quickly and easily during our pool session in the morning but naturally, they were antsy to get in the open water environment to experience diving in the ocean. Little did we all know our open water dives were going to be one of my most memorable experiences in the water! After our first descent, we enjoyed a leisurely dive across a beautiful reef in the Caribbean around 10 metres/30 feet. With limitless visibility in crystal clear water; we saw a green moray eel, a turtle, and an assortment of colorful reef fish but we did not anticipate what was coming next… A massive shadow came over us and we looked up to find an enormous whale shark swimming near the surface! We couldn’t believe our eyes as we remained still in the water, hovering, while watching this incredible creature swim away… To make this experience even better, we were greeted by two manta rays swimming around the boat upon our return! They put on a fantastic show as we conducted our safety stop prior to ascending. Now keep in mind, this was the first diving experience the SDI Scuba Discovery divers experienced and the first time I saw a whale shark! It was an amazing encounter while teaching I will never forget.
– Lauren Kieren


 

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Is Diving on Your Bucket List?

By Dr. Thomas Powell:
SDI diverIn modern society, the term “bucket list” has become a common topic discussed among people of all ages. The concept suggests that people should list out the things they wish to do during their lifetimes. This list would consist of things that a person feels he or she cannot miss out on enjoying. A simple search on the Internet can provide an individual with pre-made bucket lists as examples for others to use. #BucketList

Bucket lists often include trips to unique destinations and adventurous activities. These activities may include jumping out of airplanes, rock climbing, visiting spas in exotic locales, and even scuba diving. Age, physiology, health, and life experience often do not play a part in determining what dreams are truly possible. Instead, wild adventures and physically demanding ideas may be placed onto a bucket list. The purpose behind developing a bucket list is to develop dreams and establish a plan as to how to accomplish those dreams. #Dreams, #Adventure

Scuba diving is a sport that can be friendly to a vast array of differing people with differing physiologies. Equipment alterations, such as the use of side-mounted cylinders can even allow individuals to reduce weight-associated problems by mounting those cylinders after entering the water. Essentially, bad knees, age, or a lack of physical strength are issues that can be overcome with proper training and practice. Dive instructors must recognize physical or mental limitations and ensure the diver is capable, but people of all types may still choose to look into what they may consider a dream sport. #ExceedingLimitations

Working in the Florida Keys is an experience that can show any dive instructor the differing people who enjoy the sport of diving. Every day, divers in every reasonable age category with vastly different personal life stories jump off of dive boats to enjoy the undersea world. For reasons such as this, scuba diving is a sport that may pop up on anyone’s bucket list, and it rightfully should. Anyone who has spent time underwater can relate that new things will be seen, and a whole new environment will be ripe to experience. #NewThingsNewEnvironments, #UnderseaWorld

In regards to individuals who already know how to scuba dive, the scuba world has a multitude of avenues and styles that may be entertained. New equipment configurations or even types of diving may be dream activity someone may place onto a bucket list. Some examples may be found when an experienced diver dreams of one day entering a cave, or diving deeper than they have gone in the past. Just because someone already knows how to dive does not mean that further adventures within the scuba world will not hold a rightful place on a person’s bucket list. #DeeperFarther

Diving is a sport that can lead individuals to new and exotic locations. Wherever there is water too deep to stand, a person may be able to experience the aquatic environment. This fact suggests that one bucket list item (scuba diving) can take an individual to some of the other places and on some of the other adventures holding spots on that same list. For this reason, new and old divers alike should look into diving. If this sport is not already on someone’s bucket list, maybe it should be considered. #ExoticLocations, #DreamConsiderations

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

How Scuba Diving Inspired My New Lifestyle?

by Casey Tart

2 SDI divers

People everywhere go through various experiences in their lives which affect them in some way. The resulting effects can be good, bad, or a combination of both. It’s not until you find and develop your own internal motivation that an experience really becomes a defining moment in your life. This happened to me a little over a year ago when I started my journey into the underwater world. The exhilaration of breathing underwater, the peace and calm of feeling weightless, and the awe of the vast underwater world is absolutely amazing. This experience was unprecedented; however, the inspiration and overall impact diving had on my health and wellbeing was even more profound.

I was going through a difficult time in life, and unfortunately was letting the frustrations and challenges in my life affect my happiness and well being. Over a period of 4 or 5 years, my quality of life slowly deteriorated. The pressures of supporting a family, working long hours, night shift rotations, and financial stress became what defined my identity. I was showing all the signs of depression and didn’t realize it; loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities, fatigue, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, insomnia, and weight gain. It wasn’t until my doctor told me I was approaching the obese BMI threshold for my age group, that I became aware of how much my overall health and happiness had degraded. I knew then I was facing a rock bottom situation. I reached out to my father, because he has always been a stalwart constant in my life. His advice was fitting for the type of father he had been for me growing up. He and I had been through some very tough times in my childhood, and he was always there to do what was needed to get me and my brother through the hard times. My father said I needed to take care of myself first in order to be able to provide and care for my family. If I was sick and unhappy, I would not be able to be the father and husband my family needed. He asked me, “What do you want to do for yourself, to take time to relax and recharge?” I immediately thought about his interest in scuba diving and the way he talked about it. Seeing the joy and excitement it brought him was invigorating. Getting open water certified and diving had fulfilled a lifelong dream for him. He did this later in life and only regretted that he had not tried sooner. Also, we grew up on the coast, so I had many fond memories of swimming, boating, and being in the water. So I answered his question, “I would like to learn to dive with you.” If you know my father, that was it, and now I was committed. Just talking about doing something is not his way, so we set a date. He called his dive shop in Florida the next day, ordered the open water material and scheduled a time for me to go with him in three months for the certification. I knew I needed to make some dramatic changes, and this was the pivotal moment when I started my climb out of the hole.

I spent the next couple of days researching what was needed to pass the open water certification. I watched videos of diver’s underwater experiences, which further exhilarated and inspired me to become a member of this adventurous community. I also knew that just acquiring a certification would not be enough. This was an active community, that from my research, was obviously able to adapt to different and sometimes difficult situations and physical stress. I needed to be able to enjoy this as a hobby, and it was going to bring balance to my life. So I started to research weight loss, fitness tips and techniques, and made a promise to myself that I would lose 25 pounds before my certification test. I researched what was a healthy caloric intake for me, planned out a fitness and exercise routine, and started a journal to track and log my progress. I had no idea what I was capable of, but I was determined to become a diver, and this was my path to a happier and healthier life. To my surprise, I was losing weight fast, and my energy levels increased almost immediately. I was much more engaged at work, at home, and was fully entertained by the training material. I would call my father and discuss SAC rate calculations, Boyle’s law as it relates to pressure underwater, and discuss types of scuba systems and equipment even though it was more advanced knowledge than what is required for a basic open water certification. I was hooked!

On the day of the test, I weighed in and had lost well over my 25 pound weight loss goal. 30 pounds in three months, I was immensely surprised at the results in such a short time! I completed my swim test and dive skills with ease, and received an almost perfect score on the written exams. My instructor described me to other professionals in the shop as an “A” student, and extremely comfortable in the water. I was equally impressed with the support and patience of the dive professionals, which set the tone for what I now know as the most encouraging and supportive community of people I have ever been a member of.

diving lifestyle weight loss

Now, I am a certified Open Water Scuba Diver, and I can’t wait to get in the water again! That week my father and I dove the Crystal River Springs in Florida, 2 dives per day for 5 days. It was just as I had imagined and seen in the videos, amazing! The water was warm, clear, no currents, and definitely optimal dive conditions for a newly certified diver. When I came home after that week, I couldn’t wait to get in the water again. I researched local dive shops and luckily when I walked into Air Hogs Scuba, the dive professionals were just as fun and encouraging as the other divers I met in Florida. I asked them, “How can I stay active and in the water here away from the coast?” They introduced me to Public Safety Diving and over the past year with Air Hogs, I have continued through Advanced Diver, Rescue Diver, and Master Scuba Diver recreational certifications. I have also started ERDI Operations training, and have been actively volunteering with a local rescue & EMS public safety dive team, as well as, diving with some very impressive divers. I am honored to be a member of a public safety dive team, and to be diving with some of North Carolina’s best Sheriffs’ Deputies and EMS professionals. The team has been training or supporting local swimming events on an average of twice a month, and I am now working on my professional Divemaster rating, and I am just as excited as I was a year ago about continuing my training and involvement in scuba diving. I have attended private schools, military academies, and have worked in corporate business environments in multiple industries throughout my life, and cannot compare any other experience to the comradery of the diving community as a whole.

I can say proudly a year later, I have lost over 50 pounds, co-workers have mentioned a notable change in my overall happiness and engagement, and my family and I have greatly improved our quality of life. Diving itself may not have been the activity that directly burned 50+ pounds of fat, however it was the lifestyle change and motivation that lead to my success of weight loss, and a healthier and happier lifestyle. Hopefully, I am now being the father and husband that my wife and kids will be proud of!

Longsnout Seahorse

SDI Scuba Discovery for local Boy Scouts

On December 7th, 2013, Air Hogs Scuba in Garner, NC, took on a mission that many scuba facilities outside certain organizations do not realize is available as an opportunity. That mission was to conduct an SDI Scuba Discovery program for a local Boy Scout troop. The boys met with instructors Joshua Norris and Rob Bradish at 10:00 AM to cover basic information, complete forms with parents, and learn how to assemble and disassemble scuba equipment. Later that afternoon, the boys assembled at a local pool facility to begin their scuba adventure.

First, the boys participated in a small swim and snorkel evaluation, which included the skills necessary to achieve the BSA Snorkel badge. Second, the boys completed the full SDI Scuba Discovery course which earned them the BSA Scuba badge. Finally, the boys were “turned loose,” under the evaluation of their instructors, to play and have fun. This activity left the boys with a taste for diving, and an understanding that with a full certification, the scuba merit badge could be earned.

Working with Boy Scouts is not new to Air Hogs Scuba. In the summer of 2013, the shop participated in a local BSA High Adventure program, which brought between 10 and 20 scouts each week to the facility for introductory scuba programs. A learning curve showed the instructors that the SDI program was easier for the boys to understand and could be complemented with the full open water video presentation. Instructors Thomas Powell, Josh Norris, Rob Bradish, and Anthony Piscopo then chose to only use the SDI program when working with Boy Scouts from that point forward. Similarly, the basic swim and snorkel skills allowed the boys to earn a series of badges during a short period. Essentially, added value was developed. To further expand on shop recognition, the local BSA council provided a customized and tradable patch based on the Air Hogs Scuba logo. Only the boys and girls (Venture Troops) who participated were allowed to earn the customized patch.

An introductory SDI scuba program for Boy Scouts can easily be developed for any International Training facility. This development is a simple process that entails meeting with a council representative, training your staff through online BSA programs, gaining access to troop leaders, and presenting potential value. BSA programs are not agency specific and can be great fun for boys and their families. Similarly, these programs build groups of clientele from area churches, businesses, and organizations.

Find out what to expect in SDI Scuba Discovery Dive Course.