A Force for Good: The Researchers

Everyone knows that global environments in general, and the oceans in particular, are threatened. Climate change, coral bleaching, over fishing, runaway plastics – it’s a long list and every day, another study makes the list longer and more daunting. It may seem like everyone’s jumping on the bad news bandwagon, but I look at these reports in a positive, enabling way: the future we don’t want must be predicted to avoid it.

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So, besides studying current issues, marine and environmental researchers show us problems before they arise. For example, in August marine scientists Wortman, Paytan and Yao (University of Toronto and University of California, Santa Cruz) released a study that suggests that, beyond warming, elevated atmospheric CO2 would reduce oceanic oxygen, making the deeper depths toxic and significantly damage fisheries through it effect on the food web. Yes, that’s bad news, but thanks to these researchers we know now, while we still have time to do something about it.

And, this leads to the second reason researchers are a crucial force for good. It’s about predicting problems, but also finding the solutions andsharing them. In a previous blog, I mentioned Dr. Vaughan’s breakthrough in coral restoration – shared research that directly addresses a massive global challenge that’s close to the heart of all divers. In Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Marine Park, biologist Dr. Dorka Cobián Rojas teams with global scientists and “citizen scientist” divers to research causes and implement solutions to coral loss and the invasive lionfish. There also, Dr. Osmani Borrego similarly researches plastic pollution. These are critical research efforts because Guanahacabibes’ reefs are healthy, making them a biological resource oasis needed to find the problems and solutions we need to protect, preserve and restore the world’s reefs and fisheries.

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Let’s not overlook “citizen scientist” involvement, because it is vital. Professional full-time researchers like Rojás and Borrego do not have the time or resources to gather all the data and trial the solutions. Solving massive, world-scale problems calls for massive, world-scale participation – in the ocean, that means you and me. As Project AWARE likes to say, don’t let your dives go to waste. Every dive we make can contribute to research. Dive Against Debris, for example, isn’t simply about picking up litter underwater or pointing fingers – it’s part of finding out how we can stop it.

Another effort is Reef Life Survey, founded by Dr. Graham Edgar, which trains volunteer divers to survey marine organisms. More than 200 RLS divers have already surveyed more than 2,000 sites in 44 countries, creating one of the largest global biological databases in existence. Using these data, researchers expect a shift in fish and invertebrate distribution as the oceans warm – a conclusion only possible thanks to these citizen scientist divers.  India.mongbay.com reports that in India, scientists train fishermen and other volunteers to dive (if they’re not already divers) as citizen scientists for involvement in multiple initiatives, and it has another benefit – public support. “The research also gets community buy-in when their people are involved,” the report quotes University of Kerala’s aquatic biology department head A. Biju Kuma. Go online and you can find literally dozens of ways scientists embrace divers like you and me in researching the solutions to environmental threats.

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There’s a lot to do, so let’s make every dive count. Join Dive Against Debris if you haven’t already, and/or any other citizen scientist effort. We can be researchers while still making images, exploring or doing everything else we love about diving. And, let’s be restorers who use what we’re learning to rebuild, revitalize and recreate a healthy global environment. Let’s be reachers and teachers who use diving to spread what we’re learning and doing, and pass it to the next generations.

Regardless of what today’s trends are, the future is not inevitable. With 25 million PADI Professionals and Divers helping lead the way, and with a new generation of divers to come, we’re already changing course to a different tomorrow with a thriving, healthy global environment. When it comes to gazing into the crystal ball, I like what author-educator Peter Drucker said:

“The best way to predict the future
is to create it.”

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

 

PADI Awards Medal of Valor to Thailand Cave Rescuers Who Represent Diving’s Finest Hour

Leadership and rescue divers instrumental in the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand earlier this year will be the first-ever recipients of PADI’s Medal of Valor. This high distinction will be awarded to Rick Stanton, John Volanthen, Dr. Richard Harris, Dr. Craig Challen, Jason Mallinson, Chris Jewell and Jim Warny. The courage, strength, honor and dignity displayed during the rescue operation propelled the PADI organization to create the medal to formally recognize their contributions to one of diving’s greatest moments in history. Rick Stanton and Jason Mallinson will represent this distinguished group and accept the PADI Medal of Valor at the PADI® Social on 13 November during DEMA Show 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

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In June and July 2018, the world watched as top cave divers and other experts from around the globe converged in Thailand to find and save the “Wild Boars” soccer team, which had become trapped deep inside the Tham Luang cave system. For 18 days, the international effort involved more than 1,000 men and women, who combined their collective talents for the extraordinary recovery of the team.

“It was an awe-inspiring example of humanity at its best, focused on a single noble purpose,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “This complex rescue operation demonstrated action and focus propelled by the unshakeable conviction that those boys would not die on diving’s watch. Rick Stanton, Jason Mallinson and everyone who was part of this effort faced and accepted the difficulties, dangers and risks inherent in the rescue. On behalf of the entire PADI family, it is an honor to recognize these heroes and extend our immense gratitude for representing diving’s finest hour.”

 

Rick Stanton and John Volanthen were a driving force in the Thai cave rescue operation. The pair was the first to discover the soccer team, which had been trapped in the flooded cave for nine days at the time they were found. Together, with Mallinson and Jewell, the divers led the dive rescue and carried the boys out of the cave to safety. Both Stanton and Volanthen are regarded as two of Britain’s foremost cave divers, with more than 35 years’ experience in extreme cave dives and rescues, having led a number of high-profile rescue attempts in the past.

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Dr. Richard “Harry” Harris played a critical role in the rescue, administering sedatives to the boys to facilitate their extraction under extreme and complex conditions. Working in anesthesia and aeromedical retrieval medicine in Adelaide, South Australia, Harris has expertise in cave diving, wilderness medicine and remote area health. Dr. Craig Challen, an Australian cave explorer, early adopter of closed-circuit mixed-gas rebreathers and avid wreck diver, dived alongside Harris facilitating the successful execution of the rescue.

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Jason Mallinson and Chris Jewell were integral to the mission, taking food to the those trapped and working alongside Stanton and Volanthen to carry the boys out through the flooded sections of cave. Mallinson is an exploration and rescue cave diver with 30 years in the field. His achievements have led him to set distance and depth records in caves all over the world. He has assisted in multiple rescues and is a member of the United Kingdom’s international cave-dive rescue team. Jewell is a UK-based exploratory cave diver with more than 12 years’ experience leading cave diving. Belgian cave diver Jim Warny, who currently resides in Ireland, was instrumental in the coach’s extraction.

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“Their daring mission is a wonderful opportunity to show the world what the diving community is made of, and what can be accomplished through a combination of proper training, trust, courage, passion and perseverance,” says Richardson.

Industry stakeholders and PADI Members are invited to stand together to thank these heroic divers. Join PADI in honoring these men at the PADI Social on Tuesday, 13 November 2018, from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Westgate Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

All are invited for a special meet and greet with Rick Stanton and Jason Mallinson at the DEMA Show in the PADI booth (booth 1524) on Wednesday, 14 November from 5:00-6:00 pm. Please join PADI in celebrating these heroes and thanking them for their courage and honor.

The Early Days in Nusa Lembongan…and 20 years on!

Reaching a 20th birthday is worth celebrating! World Diving Lembongan recently celebrated their 20th anniversary of PADI Resort and Retail Association membership and owner John his 25th! Below is a bit about their journey.

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About 22 years ago, a young British couple made their way to a then unknown island, Nusa Lembongan, off the coast of Bali. There they found pristine beaches with crystal clear water, friendly people who welcomed them to their island and their homes, and an amazing underwater world full of stunning corals with spectacular fish.  This adventurous couple wanted to dive but there was no one on the island offering this facility.  This lack of provision however sowed the seed of an idea on that visit. That idea flourished, changing the face of tourism on Nusa Lembongan all those years ago.

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Mark and Shirley, that brave young couple, stayed on the island for nearly eight years, training and employing all local staff as divemasters and boat captains.  They developed World Diving Lembongan and it became a flourishing, successful dive centre.  John Chapman & Sue Beebe took over in 2005 and said that this was “when the hard work had already been done”!

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Since 2005, tourism has grown exponentially on Nusa Lembongan.  There are now dozens of guesthouses, one or two bijou boutique hotels, bars, spas, private villas, restaurants serving a variety of meals from a simple dish of freshly caught fish to a culinary experience of haute cuisine, and at the last count, over thirty dive centres!

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As more and more divers have discovered how spectacular the underwater world here is, more centres have opened to provide for this ever increasing number of visitors.  John and Sue count their blessings daily- “witnessing a world class underwater environment, working with fantastic local staff, enjoying the fascinating ceremonies, and experiencing being part of the World Diving and Pondok Baruna family, we know how truly fortunate we are.  Despite all the progress on the island, the underlying strength of the island’s culture is still there, maintaining it as a magical island where we can all, indeed, feel privileged to witness this wonderful paradise”.

Highlights from the 20th birthday party celebration can be seen here

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It’s loyal  PADI members like these that contribute to the success not only of PADI, but of the entire diving industry! Congratulations once again on the success of World Diving Lembongan and for reaching your 20th anniversary as a valued PADI Dive Centre and John for reaching your 25th! We look forward to seeing the business continue long into the future!

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To find out more about the benefits of becoming a PADI Dive Centre or Resort please visit PADI.com. To view more photos from the previous 20 years of World Diving Lembongan, click here.

How the Closure of One Island Made a Whole Country Start Working Towards a Greener Future

By Conny Jeppson, PADI Regional Manager Philippines

In April this year, the government of the Philippines decided that they were closing one of their most visited islands, Boracay, for 6 months. The decision was made to allow time for infrastructure to improve and most importantly, to develop a new and more efficient waste water treatment.

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With more than 2 million visitors a year, many never thought the closure would actually be possible. Coincidentally, when the closure was enforced many of the world’s eyes turned to the Philippines, some in astonishment, but many looking to the Philippines to be an Eco-leader and example for the future. Even though the financial impact for most was more than could be endured, nearly all operators on the island stood behind the rehabilitation. Operators believed that the action taken would preserve the island and ensure it remained a paradise for future generations to come.

What’s even more interesting is the ripple effect that the closure has had on the community across the country and in some ways, its neighbouring countries. Suddenly and in most parts of the country, local businesses, municipalities and individuals quickly started to also improve the overall condition of their homes and businesses. A good example of this is Malapascua Island where most PADI Dive Centres and Resorts have joined forces by starting to sell refillable aluminium water bottles branded with their own logo. Not only is this a great initiative, but customers can also present their water bottle in affiliated stores and in return, can refill their water bottles for free.

Many resorts and dive centres on the island have also switched to better alternatives when it comes to the use of plastic. Plastic straws are now hard to find as reusable items and non-plastic solutions have become readily available to the community. Evolution, a PADI 5 star resort in Malapascua, have taken this initiative even further with one of their owners, Matt Reed. They have invested in a plastic recycling machine from planet positive products. Matt and the Evolution team have not only envisioned this machine to be used for their dive resort, but they also hope that it can be used for bigger parts of the island.

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El Nido in Palawan Island is another fantastic example of a community being in the forefront to protect the environment. The local government have banned the use of single use plastic such as plastic bags and plastic straws.  The local government have also worked hard to reclaim the local beach by introducing local laws to benefit both the local community and tourists alike.

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The above examples are only a handful of how the Philippines community are joining forces to improve our overall environment. There are many more PADI Dive Centres and Resorts, PADI Instructors and PADI Divemasters working hard to protect, educate and promote a more environmental way of living.

PADI Regional Managers get to experience some great environmental initiatives all around their region. If you are looking to make environmental improvements at your PADI Dive Centre or Resort, contact your PADI Regional Manager to discuss ideas, implementation and support.

November Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

Each month the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Quality Management Consultant  Rebecca Wastall.

The Environment & Risk Management 

“We are blessed with a career that puts us in contact with the ocean – and the ocean demands our respect. Treat her with respect and she will give you a lifetime of adventures, but underestimate her at your peril. Remember: be prudent in your decision making, put your students’ safety above your ego and – if in doubt – stay out.”- Richard Somerset, PADI.

Many of us entered careers as PADI Dive professionals because we love the ocean and its inhabitants.

The famous Jacques Cousteau once said…….

“The sea once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”

It is true, which is why with the support of Project AWARE we strive to maintain this environment, but do we give it the respect it deserves from a risk management perspective?

The environments people dive in vary all over the world. A diver trained in one environment may not be comfortable in another until they have had some experience and learned the techniques specific to that environment. A diver that is confident in warm clear waters may need extra assistance to adapt to a cold water environment with poor visibility. How many of us check our diver’s history, even if they are simply on a guided dive? Do we ask to see our customers log books? Are we asking the right questions to determine the risks our divers might have. Do we identify who may be susceptible to the risks that are present?

We should consider all of these factors every time we dive. Take a few minutes to mentally review the environment on each diving day and applying that to our customers training and experience levels. Ways we can evaluate the match of student ability to environment include environmental checks (looking or even getting in the water to check on current and visibility), and checking student qualifications and logbooks. The fact is every day is different. Don’t get complacent with the environment assuming it will be the same every time we dive. Set the example for others and consider the risks, pass that message on and create a culture of safety.

Financial pressures of running a dive centre combined with the changing environmental conditions we face mean you could be risking a bad dive to pay the bills. Do you at times feel forced to put finances first? The knock on effect maybe you get a bad review or a complaint but ultimately you need to ask are you risking customer’s safety.

Sometimes we hear of cases of concerned divers and instructors who feel they have been forced to dive in poor environmental conditions or make a poor judgement call which has led to an incident. So who takes responsibility for calling a dive off? Who determines if the dive site is suitable for a diver? Ultimately if an incident occurs the liability is likely to rest with the individual member who was supervising the dive. You would not be able to say “but my boss told me it would be fine”. With our training comes the responsibility to make good judgements. We know the risks – now make the call.

While uncommon there is potential risk to divers from interactions with marine organisms. The most common of these is when a diver brushes up against or lands on a marine invertebrate through poor buoyancy control techniques. We should provide thorough briefings describing what aquatic animals divers come across and ensure they know not to touch organisms, to be careful in the sand and not to sit on the coral. This may seem obvious to many of us but there have been situations where instructors are missing this important part of their briefings. So what is the best solution? Again think about the level of risk. Being gentle with the approach, informing your students about the wildlife in the area is an important part of your briefing. So instead of telling someone ‘the titan triggerfish will attack you’, say ‘this is a fish we respect when nesting and give him the distance he needs to protect his young’. Instead of saying ‘don’t kneel in the sand as you may find yourself with a barb in your knee’, say ‘look closely when in the sand as delicate creatures live there and we want to maintain their habitat’. Don’t shy away from the risks but address them carefully and appropriately to the level of risk they pose. This way you are educating about marine life as well as helping divers to minimise the risks.

Let’s work together with our customers to preserve and enjoy the aquatic environment – after all it is a privilege to be able to explore its depths.

Rebecca Wastall | Quality Management Consultant, PADI Asia Pacific.

Email: qa@padi.com.au

PADI Instructor Examinations for October 2018

2/10/2018 | Gili Islands, Indonesia


3/10/2018 | El Nido, Philippines

3/10/2018 | Whitianga, New Zealand


5/10/2018 | Gangneung, South Korea


6/10/2018 | Dumaguete, Philippines


6/10/2018 | Northland, New Zealand


8/10/2018 | Huludao, China

9/10/2018 | Malapascua, Philippines


13/10/2018 | Cairns, Australia


13/10/2018 | Phuket, Thailand


13/10/2018 | Nanning, China


16/10/2018 | Gold Coast, Australia


16/10/2018 | Koh Tao, Thailand


20/10/2018 | Sanya, China


20/10/2018 | Singapore


22/10/2018 | Coron, Philippines

27/10/2018 | Tioman Island, Malaysia


27/10/2018 | Hong Kong

Save On Your 2019 PADI Membership with Auto Renewal

We appreciate you choosing PADI as your diver training organisation throughout 2018 and the hard work you’ve done maintaining your PADI Professional Membership.

2019 PADI Professional Membership Renewal starts this month and below is an easy way to save the most on your PADI Membership.

The best option with the lowest renewal rate is to make sure you are signed up for Automatic Membership Renewal on the PADI Pros’ Site before the 15th November 2018.

You can find this feature on the My Account page or by clicking the button located on the homepage. If you are already enrolled, log on and make sure your credit card information including expiry date is still current. You should have received an email if you are currently not signed up or your credit card details have expired.

There will also be other options later this year for PADI Professional Membership Renewal including Online Membership Renewal as well as the traditional Paper Membership Renewal however to save time and money consider signing up for Automatic Membership Renewal today.

Visit the PADI Pros’ Site to sign up for Automatic Membership Renewal.