How Can We Protect More of Our Oceans?

For more than two decades, scientists have been telling us that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one of the keys to long term ocean health. While some debated their worth early on, today there’s little dispute. As reported by Smithsonian Magazine, MPAs with full protection have four times as much life (biomass). Species grow larger and reproduce proportionately more. MPAs and the areas around them recover more quickly from environmental damage, and (along with fishery management) have higher fish catches — so much so that commercial fishing comes out ahead despite the loss of fishable area.

While established as big wins for everyone, global governments are not on track to meet a U.N. goal to have 10% of the world’s ocean under full protection by 2020. Officially, we’re at just under 6%, but some say it’s really under 4% because some declared MPAs have no enforcement and nothing’s changed.

(Caption: Moreton Bay Hope Spot Anemone Fish – Photo By Chis Roelfsema)

But thanks to Hope Spots, we can help catch up and get ahead of the curve. Hope Spots, if you’re not familiar, were conceived by Dr. Sylvia Earle, with coordination and oversight by Mission Blue, a not-for-profit organization Dr. Earle founded to unite people and organizations for this cause. Hope Spots are unique marine areas identified as particularly distinct due to the diversity of species found there, the habitat’s importance for reproduction, threats from human activity, community economic needs or any other attribute that makes a location central to marine environmental health.

The idea is to conserve and preserve Hope Spots by leveraging public perception and attention so they receive appropriate protection (not necessarily becoming MPAs, and some Hope Spots are already MPAs). As you’d expect, the PADI organization formally partnered with Mission Blue in 2017, adding the weight of 26 million+ PADI Diver voices to the Hope Spot cause. Thanks to Dr. Earle, Hope Spots are a conspicuous example of how one person with a great idea can inspire millions to unite across borders and cultures for a common purpose.

(Caption: Global Hope Spots map. Photo: Mission Blue)

Today, there are almost 100 existing and proposed Hope Spots, and they are important, even though preserving them will not, in itself, halt global climate change, clean up the oceans, stop overfishing, etc. These bigger problems call for big, broad and deep social changes (that are not impossible), but we still need Hope Spots for several reasons:

  • By creating areas with proven biological productivity, they help us buy time addressing some of these challenges. For example, Hope Spots won’t solve overfishing, but by providing areas in which fish reproduction functions unchecked, we prop up fish populations as we sort through the management issues.
  • Hope Spots help preserve biodiversity. Some scientists see this as helping the ocean bounce back with as many species as possible as we make positive changes. Others, accepting that some change is permanent, see biodiversity as central to marine ecology. That is, some coral species tolerate heat better than others; having a diverse genetic supply of such species may be important in a warmer ocean.
  • Hope Spots are inspirational and visible. Hope Spots draw attention. They remind communities just how close and personal ocean threats are, but that we can (and must) act to offset them. As a source of local pride, Hot Spots inspire area divers and ocean advocates to speak up for and fight for them. Mission Blue, PADI and other supporters use social media to highlight Hope Spot stories to make and keep them in the broad public eye.

As a diver, you can support the PADI organization, Mission Blue and others united behind Hope Spots. You can nominate a Hope Spot, and you can participate in events promoting/protecting a Hope Spot (many led by PADI dive shops or instructors, and may tie in Project AWARE as well). Of course, you can contribute to Hope Spot funding – check out mission-blue.org. If you live near or visit a Hope Spot, talk about it in person and on social media – especially with those who may not be aware of it. Finally, get involved with Project AWARE and your local PADI dive operation to make every dive count. Millions of people like you and me passionately preserving, conserving and restoring the ocean is the best hope there is.

Dr. Drew Richardson

PADI President & CEO

The New PADI Dive Shop Locator (Beta) is Live!


Getting people to learn scuba diving (and continue on after they’re certified) is a team effort, and PADI® is always looking for ways to make Members’ businesses stand out and shine. The Dive Shop Locator (DSL) was created more than a decade ago so new divers could find dive training they could trust.

With the newly redesigned and repackaged PADI.com, it was time for the DSL to get a refresh. As the new PADI DSL Beta is unveiled, PADI Members will see a host of exciting features – all with the goal of making sure their business keeps growing. Here’s a quick FAQ of what you can expect from the new PADI Dive Shop Locator.

What are the key features to the new DSL?

Check out the value and sheer number of these new features of the PADI DSL Beta.

  • Better User Experience – The user journey matches what users expect from a location-based search experience from sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Maps. This includes cleaner page layouts and information hierarchy, intuitive task flows and visual consistency.
  • Enhanced Map View – Adjustments to the way search looks at geography has improved the look and feel of the visual indicator dive shop flags to clearly indicate the type of dive center shown on the map (g. a PADI 5 Star).
  • Improved Filtering – New filters use more descriptive terminology and intuitive filter groupings.
  • Faster Loading Speed/Performance – The new PADI DSL is a quicker experience regardless of whether your area has high or low bandwidth.
  • More Detailed Dive Shop Pages – Each dive shop has a unique URL and page. This will allow the pages to be “deeplinked,” which helps marketing teams and members share the URL via email and on websites, and allows pages to be indexed by search engines like Google.
  • Better Mobile Experience – The new DSL is a fully mobile friendly and responsive experience.
  • Improved Search – Users will have the ability to search by almost any (reasonable) dive-related phrase to locate a dive shop or location.
  • More Clearly Delineated Ads – Sponsored ads are displayed within the search results list and map, making them more visible to end-users.
  • Filter by Freediving Centers –  Individual dive shop pages and filter menu includes the ability to filter by freediving centres.
  • Visibility for PADI 5 Star – Search results show all shops but, list 5 Star Dive Centres and Resorts more prominently.

What is a “Beta” and how will this work?

The Dive Shop Locator is an important tool that divers find and connect with dive centers and resorts. To fully understand how any new design affects this process, the PADI team will make both the current and new design available to users and allow them to switch between each experience and leave feedback. For the next two to three months, the team will monitor interact with each, adjusting each design as needed and sharing the learnings.

How long will the DSL Beta run?

The DSL Beta will initially run for eight to 12 weeks, but will be flexible so that enough data can be collected to make the DSL the best it can be.

Maximise Your Potential

Written by PADI Regional Training Consultant, Mark Wastall.

One of the beauties with the PADI System of diver education is how flexible it can be, how easily adapted it’s timeline is, how it can cater for a variety of diving styles, how much it has moved with the times and how much potential there is to keep divers learning.

This style of training means that we, as Instructors, have the ability to be able to add to our students experience and add to the revenue generated from the course. The latter should be great news if you own or run your own dive centre, if you are a freelance Instructor paid by the course or an independent Instructor looking to maximise earning potential.

It is very easy to become blinkered into only teaching the course that is in front of you. ‘The student has asked for a PADI Open Water Course, that’s what I’ll teach them’ is a mindset that a lot of Instructors develop. We can sometimes miss the glaring opportunities that we are presented with. How many times have you told an Open Water student that they cannot take a camera on the training dives as it’s ‘against standards’ but were you aware that you can, in fact, link the PADI Open Water Course with PADI Digital Underwater Photographer LVL1? The knowledge development can be done at any time during the course. The Level 1 Photo dive can be done in confined after confined dive 3 or in the open water as part of the tour potion of dive 4. With 1 more dive after the PADI Open Water Course and the student has Level 2. As simple as that, you have just earned 2 certifications from 1 student, extra revenue for yourself or your dive center and you now have a student who can happily and comfortably take photos underwater. This could also lead to retail potential on top if you are a centre that has the opportunity to sell equipment.

With just a quick look at the PADI Instructor Manual, General Standards and Procedures, you can see how our courses can be linked together and how students can easily earn credit towards the next level of their diving. With this knowledge, you can help increase your Con-Ed ratios. A great help if you are working towards PADI Master Instructor or PADI Course Director.

Another easy course to link with any of the core courses is PADI Enriched Air Diver Course. The theory can be combined during the PADI Open Water Course for example and goes hand in hand when explaining No Decompression Limits. The practical application exercise can be conducted at any time during the course, maybe at the pool during equipment setup. As an enriched air dive is not required, this course can be run with very little overheads but again is 2 certifications and extra revenue.

These extra dives can also count towards a student’s PADI Advanced Open Water Course if the knowledge reviews have been completed or again, why not combine an Enriched Air tank on a deep dive of the PADI Advanced Open Water.

It doesn’t need to stop there either, adding PADI O2 Provider to the PADI Rescue Course is another way to upsell a course with very little extra time or outlay. The training structure can be your friend. Look for the opportunities, maximise your potential.

For further advice please don’t hesitate to contact your PADI Regional Training Consultant on training-sales@padi.com.au.

June Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Manager, Michelle Brunton.

“Taking simple, small actions can make the biggest difference in reducing risk.” Michelle Brunton

The ‘Be safe- Be seen’ type campaigns for cyclists combined with driver education and changes to driving laws has been effective in many areas at reducing the risk of cyclists being hit by traffic.

Surface Markey buoys Dive flags have been around a long time and are one of the most simple and cost effective ways to reduce risk of surface boat incidents, yet they are still not used in every location where there is boat traffic. Incidents in which boats hit a diver have tragic consequences and are devastating for everyone involved. We should have a zero tolerance for these incidents and do everything possible to reduce the risk.

The U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Resource Centre reports that from 2005 to 2013 boat-propeller strikes caused 636 injuries and 38 deaths of people engaged in water activities (boating, water skiing, swimming, snorkelling, diving, tubing, etc.); 442 of these injuries and 29 of these deaths were caused by a person being struck by a vessel.

After reviewing several incidents in which boats have hit divers the following aspects became noticeable:

WHEN: Boats can hit divers before, during and after a dive. We assume that these boat propeller incidents happen at the end of the dive when the divers ascend to the surface. But often they occur on the surface before the dive on during the dive when divers unintentionally get close to the surface.

We should be ensuring the start of the dive is smooth in terms of the descent and that divers are not placed in situations where they drift away from the marked descent line or into areas of boat movement. We should use a well-marked and clearly visible descent line where possible.

We often stress the importance of divers deploying their SMBs at the end of the dive during the safety stop to mark their location. But at the start of dives a diver has an ear problem having difficulty descending, conducting a buoyancy check, or getting more weight from the boat or shore. These situations mean the diver is on the surface possibly away from the pre-arranged descent area and possibly at higher risk of not being seen by a boat driver.

SNORKELING: We tend to think of SMBs and Flags for the use of SCUBA Divers, but what about snorkelers. How do we mark the location of snorkelers in areas of boat traffic? Some locations now require the marking of snorkelers so they are easily seen both by other boats and by the dive operation surface watch staff. So let’s ask ourselves “Does our dive store or resort supply marking buoys or surface marking devices suitable for both snorkelers and divers?

DIVER BEHAVIOUR CAN PUT THE DIVER AT RISK: Some incidents occur as a result of diver skills and behaviour. What diver behaviours could make a difference?

  • Using SMBs every dive – every time
  • Use a hand held float on dives with lots of boat traffic and/or drift dives
  • Training and practicing effective safe entry and descent skills
  • Being aware of boat traffic before the dive, at the safety stop and during ascent
  • Navigation skills – getting back to the planned exit point
  • Buoyancy skills – reducing the likelihood of unplanned surfacing during a dive
  • Know the weights you require – or if you are not sure get in the water and do buoyancy checks so that you can comfortably descend
  • Manage gas consumption – keep fit, plan the dive well in terms of depth, current and bottom time to avoid unplanned ascents due to low air situations

BOAT DRIVING BEHAVIOUR CAN PUT THE DIVER AT RISK: This one might be a bit more complex and requires some good leadership and teamwork between dive stores. Can we get together the operators in the area to talk about the management of boats at our dive sites? Can we come up with a local ‘good practice’ guideline for boat operators that will enhance safety? It might include:

  • Radio communications protocols during drop offs and pick ups
  • Establishing safe lanes where divers tend to surface
  • Agreements that all operators will use a dive flag when dives are in water
  • Agreements to reduce speeds around diving areas to even lower than local law requirements
  • Ensuring Dive professionals and other crew are vigilant on watch and letting the skipper know about DSMBs in the water and divers (especially on larger boats where the skipper cannot see everything)
  • Staggering dive entries between operators so that each boat has time to get in and out of the entry area safely

It is in all of our best interests to reduce the risk of boating incidents. Consider the whole picture and look for ways to reduce this risk:

The timing
The snorkeler
The diver behaviour
The boat behaviour