The Individual Member Master Scuba Diver Challenge is Coming 1 May!

 

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Get ready for a friendly competition! Enter the 2018 Master Scuba Diver™ (MSD) Challenge from 1 May 2018 through 30 September 2018 and you could win a 2019 PADI® Membership renewal. You’ll also gain bragging rights and receive special recognition in PADI’s eNewsletter, Surface Interval.

HOW TO WIN 

The PADI Instructors showing the most percentage growth in Master Scuba Diver certifications (as compared to the same time frame last year) will win. You’ll only compete against others in your competitor group:

COMPETITOR GROUPS

  • PADI Individual Members with 0 MSD certifications during the 2017 period
  • PADI Individual Members with 1 MSD certifications during the 2017 period
  • PADI Individual Members with 2-4 MSD certifications during the 2017 period
  • PADI Individual Members with 5+ MSD certifications during the 2017 period

Each competitor group listed above will be awarded one 1st place winner, for a total of four prizewinners! In addition, you will receive a downloadable suite of tools to help you market the challenge to your students and students will have the chance to win a grand prize too! All students who earn the Master Scuba Diver rating from 1 May 2018 through 30 September 2018 will be automatically entered to win a dive vacation for two to Anthony’s Key Resort.

Keep an eye out for more details and challenge registration via e-mail and the PADI Pros’ site coming soon!

View the Official Contest rules here.

The 2018 PADI Retail and Resort Master Scuba Diver Challenge Starts 1 May!

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Get ready for a friendly competition! Enter the 2018 Master Scuba Diver™ (MSD) Challenge from 1 May 2018 through 30 September 2018 and you could win a 2019 PADI® Retailer & Resort Association Membership renewal. You’ll also gain bragging rights and receive special recognition in PADI’s eNewsletter, Surface Interval.

How to Win

The PADI Dive Centers or Resorts showing the most percentage growth in Master Scuba Diver certifications (as compared to the same time frame last year) will win. You’ll only compete against others in your competitor group:

COMPETITOR GROUPS

  • PADI Dive Center or Resort with 0-4 MSD certifications during the 2017 period
  • PADI Dive Center or Resort with 5-9 MSD certifications during the 2017 period
  • PADI Dive Center or Resort with 10-14 MSD certifications during the 2017 period
  • PADI Dive Center or Resort with 15+ MSD certifications during the 2017 period

Each competitor group listed above will be awarded one 1st place winner, for a total of four prizewinners! In addition, you will receive a downloadable suite of tools to help you market the challenge to your students and students will have the chance to win a grand prize too! All students who earn the Master Scuba Diver rating from 1 May 2018 through 30 September 2018 will be automatically entered to win a dive vacation for two to Anthony’s Key Resort.

Keep an eye out for more details and challenge registration via email and the PADI Pros’ site coming soon!

View official contest rules here.

Ready to ramp up your PADI Master Scuba Diver™ program? Get ready for the challenge by checking out these tips on how to put your Master Scuba Diver program to work here.

PADI Member Forums 2018

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While remaining committed to safe and responsible diver education, PADI® has deepened its commitment to the environment with the PADI Four Pillars of Change initiative, focused on making a significant impact on key issues facing the dive industry and the ocean planet.

Member Forum 2018 reviews PADI’s Pillars of Change and what you can do to help facilitate its objectives. In addition, we will review the globalization and revitalization of all digital products, as well as two new initiatives for 2018: the new PADI Club, and PADI Travel.

Member Forum

As always, your knowledge of PADI Standards will be tested, and you’ll gain insight into better risk management while reviewing dive-incident scenarios. Registration is free and recommended. Click the link below to register for an event near you!

United States – 2018 Member Forum Schedule 

Canada – 2018 Member Forum Schedule

Caribbean and Latin America – – 2018 Member Forum Schedule

*Dates and locations are subject to change.

If you are unable to attend a live event, click here to attend a Member Forum online.

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How to Get the Divemaster Job of Your Dreams (Part 2)

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Put yourself in the Winning Seat

Your PADI Divemaster certification can open the door to a fun and rewarding career anywhere in the world, but landing a great job takes work. Last month, in Part 1, we highlighted different skills you can add to your CV to help you stand out from the crowd and put you in the winning seat.  Below are some more strategies to help you outmaneuver the competition and snatch up your dream job.

How Will You Bring in New Customers?
New customers are the key to the success for any business, and dive operations are no exception. If you have personal connections or new ideas to help the dive shop owner bring more people through their doors, you’ll have a leg up on other job applicants. Here are a few ideas to consider:

– Build relationships with the concierge at local hotels
– Suggest ways to bring lapsed divers back into the shop with PADI ReActivate™
(a program DMs can conduct)
– Pitch a kids scuba summer camp program

– Do outreach to local businesses who might want EFR training
(you can even become an EFR Instructor)

Take Advantage of Online Tools

Visit the employment board on the PADI Pros Site to learn what skills employers are looking for and how you stack up to other PADI Divemasters looking for work.

Promote your skills and passion for diving on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media channels. Take time to learn how using social media can boost your scuba career.

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Every Day is a Job Interview
The dive industry is small, and developing a bad reputation can quickly bring your scuba career to a halt. The diver next to you could be friends with a shop owner, and the server at a restaurant might work part-time on a dive boat. Always present yourself as a professional, trustworthy person online and in real life.

Your appearance can be an important factor in getting hired. Imagine two job applicants with equal qualifications: one who looks like they just washed up on shore and another who has clearly put time and effort into maintaining their hair and clothes – who do you think gets the job?

It’s also important to maintain physical fitness. A dive operation entrusts Divemasters with the safety of their customers. Do you have the strength to help someone back onto a boat? Could you egress someone during a shore dive?

Once you land that Divemaster dream job, act professionally and follow through on what you agreed to during your interview. If the job doesn’t work out, give as much notice as possible.

We hope the tips above help you take advantage of new opportunities in the New Year! For a list of dive operators looking to hire PADI Divemasters, visit the PADI Pros’ Site and choose Employment/Classifieds from the Online Services dropdown menu.

Top 7 Mistakes New Dive Center Owners Make

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As a new or aspiring dive center owner, here are some things to keep in mind before solidifying your game plan.

Choosing the Wrong Location
Finding the right balance between affordable rent and a location in a high-income area is a struggle for many new dive shop owners. Generally speaking, it’s better to pay a little more for a location in a high-income area near a reliable pool. Cheap rent is often a double-edged sword. If getting to the shop is inconvenient, customers may choose to pursue a different recreational activity.

Carrying Too Many Product Lines
By limiting the number of product lines, a shop owner shop can maximize their financial resources. Buying “deep and narrow” is a safer, more economical choice than carrying too many brands. This doesn’t mean signing an exclusivity contract, but it does mean saying, “no,” or “not right now” to manufacturer reps.

Not Understanding Business Strategy
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is not spending the time to make a decent business plan and get advice about costs, profits, turnover overhead, etc.,” notes PADI EMEA Regional Manager (RM) Matt Clements.

Christian Ambrosi, a PADI Americas RM echoes Clements’ sentiments, “Everyone should understand how to analyze an income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flow. Without this knowledge, you can’t measure the health of your company.”

Pricing is another common struggle, “Some dive centers price everything based upon what the dive centre down the road is charging rather than costs, or what the product is actually worth. Other dive shops mistakenly focus on having the greatest number of customers rather than being profitable.” said Tosh Tanner, Territory Director at PADI Asia Pacific.

Sporadic Business Hours
When a dive shop publishes its hours to Google, Facebook, etc. it’s important to adhere to the posted hours. Regional Manager Ambrosi asks, “How many times would you stop at a store with a sign that reads ‘be back in 30 min’ before you find a shop that provides that service when you want?”

Fernando Martins, RM for PADI Latin American notes, “I’ve seen excellent dive pros open a store that later fails because they have another job and try to run the shop too, so the business becomes like a hobby.”

Poor Hiring Choices
“Hire for personality, not skill set,” recommends RM Nick Jenny. “You can teach skills, but a million-watt personality is something you’re born with. The next time you’re shopping and someone goes out of their way to help you, or adds special something to the experience, consider whether this person might want to sell travel and adventure instead of clothing or electronics.”

Not hiring individuals with a sales-oriented mindset is another big mistake. “I repeatedly see instructors who are afraid to close a sale as they are afraid of being pushy. The people who work in your shop should be both eager to sell and provide great customer service,” said Clements.

Insufficient Marketing
The number one mistake new shop owners make is failing to invest in marketing efforts. “I’ve seen people open a shop thinking their personal dive associates will keep them in business,” said PADI Americas Regional Manager LeRoy Wickham.

“They overlook the fact that the majority of these friends already have most of their gear and only bring in small business like air fills and maybe some repairs. It’s not enough to keep the doors open,” Wickham explained.

Successful dive business owners spend as much time developing their web presence as they spend building out their physical location. A dive shop’s website is typically a new customer’s first impression of the business. It should be designed by a professional and feature inviting photos of smiling divers on a mobile-friendly platform.

For outdoor signage, a simple design with a dive flag and “Scuba and Snorkel” is an effective choice. As supplementary tactic, business owners should allocate capital to online search advertising such and Facebook ads targeting local users interested in scuba diving (not post boosting).

Not Asking for Help

If you’re interested in opening a dive business, involve your PADI Regional Manager early on. Your RM can help you choose a good location, conduct staff training, and take advantage of PADI’s marketing resources.
Attend PADI Business Academy to strengthen your business with pricing and fraud avoidance workshops plus hands-on experience with web and social media marketing tools.

Further Reading:
Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill
PADI Business Academy information and schedule
Does Your Business Project a Professional Image?

Junior Scientists in the Sea Inspires Young People to Get Certified, Stay Involved

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Photo: Junior Scientists in the Sea

Junior Scientists in the Sea (JSIS) is a year-round program that helps young people gain real-world job skills while fostering an interest in scuba diving, science, engineering, and the underwater world. Any student age 12 or older is welcome to participate. Founder Les Burke explains:

“Whether or not you are certified does not matter. If you cannot swim, we will teach you. If you want to stay on shore or in the boat, we still want you to join us. In addition to scuba diving, we have drones, remote operated submersibles and remote camera equipment. We have something for everyone.”

Les Burke became a PADI® Instructor in 1983. Les spent 33 years in the Navy, including 28 as a Navy diver, and worked as a Navy diving instructor at the Naval Diving & Salvage Training Center in Florida. Altogether, Les has certified more than 2,000 divers at all levels of diving.

Les founded JSIS with the goal of creating new divers, scientists, and engineers with the skills and passion to protect the ocean. “JSIS is designed to expose kids to a meaningful, educational program combined with on-the-job training, hard work, and opportunities to solve real-world problems right in their own backyards. The new experiences, new places, new people, and new approach will create new hope, new ideas, and new attitudes. Instead of choosing from well-traveled, often-overcrowded trails, JSIS is blazing new ones,” Les explained.

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Photo: Junior Scientists in the Sea

JSIS activities can include:

Coral reef surveys and restoration initiatives
Fish and invertebrate identification
Invasive species surveys
Maritime heritage and underwater archaeology activities
Safe Boating and navigation classes
Public Speaking, communications, and “writing for a purpose” workshops


JSIS Partnerships

“Our programming is used by high school activity clubs and other after school programs, County Parks and Recreation, and as a stand-alone program at dive centers,” Les said.

Teresa McKinna VP/CFO Key Largo Undersea Park home of Jules’ Undersea Lodge said, “We love Les here at Jules’ Lagoon and his work with Junior Scientists. Les is one of the hardest working advocates for the education and betterment of our youth I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. His mind is always working and looking for new interest for his students.”

Why Become a JSIS Chapter?
“Training the next generation of aquatic stewards is key to the future of our industry and a great way for dive shops to give back to their community.” Les said. “If we don’t take care of the rivers, lakes and oceans, that source of livelihood could go away, and teaching SCUBA to under-represented and low-income youth can generate more return on the investment than is imagined. This kind of work is rewarding and can open other doors if done with passion and honor.”

“For the bottom-liners, JSIS is good for business. Junior Scientists are very active and as they improve their diving competency and level, they’ll need gear as things are lost or worn out,” Les explained. “JSIS can also complement community service requirements and attract more college-age divers.”

“We have empirical data showing parents will invest in their kids when they see them in an active program with educational and ecological benefits,” Les said. “And JSIS delivers results. We monitor our students’ grades (where allowed) and have found an across the board increase in 95% of our students. We also have 8 students now attending post-secondary programs.”

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Photo: Junior Scientists in the Sea

How PADI Dive Shops Can Become a JSIS Chapter

Many JSIS chapters started when dive center owners realized they had passionate young dive students and not enough for them to do. Whether you have an existing group of divers, or are looking to grow your business with youth programs, here’s what you need to know about starting a JSIS chapter:

– The first step is to contact Les to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between JSIS and the dive organization

– Monthly meetings are required (more frequent meetings are encouraged, but monthly is the minimum)
– All programs must be safe, ethical and legal
– JSIS encourages diversity among students and chapter leaders

JSIS recommends need-based free or reduced rate SCUBA instruction, but does not mandate it. JSIS partners with various organizations for activities and fundraising to support its chapters, and shares any grant money received. “The more kids we are serving, the more funding we are eligible for, so growth begets growth,” said Les.
For more information on becoming a JSIS chapter, contact Les Burke at les@jsisinc.org. Read more about JSIS on PADI’s blog and connect with Junior Scientists in the Sea via their website or on Facebook.

Aligning with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is the first global alliance working to solve the worldwide problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear, known as ghost gear. Founded by World Animal Protection in 2015, the GGGI works to reduce the volume of ghost gear, remove and recycle it, and rescue entangled animals. By aligning with the GGGI, the PADI® family can help mobilize divers to look for and report harmful ghost gear that annually entangles and kills marine life including hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds.

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PADI joins GGGI as a member of its global solutions group to help develop new ways of mitigating the ghost gear problem. This complements the efforts of Project AWARE®, which actively works as a GGGI member to build evidence through its Dive Against Debris® program. Working together, the goal is to develop and implement projects to reduce and remove ghost gear from the ocean. This includes equipping PADI Divers with the knowledge and techniques to identify, report and, with proper training, safely remove ghost gear from waters, creating a global movement of millions of underwater eyes on the lookout for ghost gear.

More than 640,000 tons of fishing equipment is left in the world’s oceans each year, with reports showing that this debris affects more than 800 species of marine life. Many nets lost in global waters are enormous – often far bigger than football fields – trapping and killing marine life under the surface. Mostly made of plastic, ghost gear is also highly durable and can persist in the oceans for up to 600 years.

“We are happy to team up with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative,” says Drew Richardson, PADI Worldwide President and CEO. “PADI is committed to protecting the ocean planet and, with our unique underwater vantage, the dive community can play a significant role in locating marine debris. Along with Project AWARE, we look forward to working with the GGGI to empower and mobilize PADI Divers to join the fight against ghost gear.”

“We are proud to welcome PADI, with its millions of underwater eyes around the world looking out for ghost gear, as a pivotal new member for the GGGI,” says Elizabeth Hogan, U.S. Oceans and Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, the GGGI’s founding participant. “Ghost gear is a true global problem that knows no borders, and PADI will surely play a crucial role in helping us to locate, remove and recycle ghost gear, which causes such immense suffering for marine animals.”

To learn more about ghost gear and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, visit www.ghostgear.org.

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive®.

 

Going PADI – The Best Decision

Switching training organizations is rarely an easy decision, but when a business becomes a PADI® Dive Center or Resort, the results can be truly outstanding. Last year, more dive centers and resorts joined PADI than ever before.  A case in point is Dive West, in Dallas, Texas, USA, that chose to go PADI in December 2015 and has since become a thriving PADI Retail and Resort Association member. Dive West’s management was motivated to join PADI after experiencing a decline in satisfactory customer service from another dive training agency.

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“Top-flight customer service is an essential element of the PADI Member experience,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “Life in a PADI Dive Center is often hectic, so quick and efficient service is imperative to allow dive center staff to deliver the same to their customers. That’s why PADI Regional Headquarters puts so much emphasis on exceptional customer service for members.”

Dive West finds PADI customer service outstanding. “PADI staff are always Johnny-on-the-spot,” says Brandi Farch, Dive West Store Manager. “We never have a problem accessing PADI services or reaching the right person on the phone.”

After joining, Dive West took advantage of PADI’s business consultation services, which has been an important factor in the store’s success. Like many businesses, Dive West had struggled to find the right pricing for their services and had been stuck on the same course pricing for more than eight years. However, trusting in the power of the PADI brand and PADI’s innovative marketing programs, Dive West instituted what they felt was more realistic, value-based course pricing and has thrived as a PADI Member ever since. “In less than two years with PADI, we’ve already exceeded the number of diver certifications we completed in the previous three years with our prior training agency” says Farch. “Joining PADI was the best decision we ever made for our store.”

Not surprised, Richardson says, “The PADI System of diver education brings student divers through the doors of PADI Dive Centers every day around the world. PADI’s proven marketing strategies and innovative marketing tools, such as a free annual marketing tool kit, also bring in customers.”

“We love the marketing tool kit and look forward to it each year,” says Farch. “I’m excited to decorate the store with all the new banners, flags and other point-of-purchase items, and I put it all up as soon as the kit arrives.”

“We’ve also enjoyed an increase in both walk-in and drive-by traffic since we switched to PADI. I believe this is partly attributable to our PADI-designed window wrap,” Farch explains. “Previously, we had a simple marquee sign that said ‘Dive West’ on our storefront. Many people didn’t even realize we were a dive shop. However, the window wrap dramatically changed all that. Now we’ve got ‘LEARN TO DIVE’ in great big letters, the PADI logo and other attractive graphics on our windows. People know we’re a dive shop and they drop in to check us out.”

Farch also appreciates the name recognition PADI enjoys. “People recognize PADI; we no longer have to spend all day explaining the difference between the various dive training organizations to potential customers.”

Closely tied to this recognition is the increased availability of instructors. “One of the best things about switching to PADI has been the increase in the number of qualified dive professionals who can work for us,” says Farch. “We used to have a lot of trouble getting instructors; nobody wanted to pay the money to become an instructor for our former training organization because it simply wasn’t beneficial enough for them. Now, we not only have seven or eight PADI Instructors on staff, we are also growing our own divemasters. In fact, we’re nearly finished training our first class of four PADI Divemaster candidates.”

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive.

 

Positivity and Keys Strong After Irma

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Written by PADI AmbassaDiver, Jack Fishman

Much like the thick limestone structure of a bountiful coral reef ecosystem in the face of a Category 4 Hurricane, the resilience of the people in South Florida is powerful.  When I moved to the Keys three years ago, I was struck by the passion and dedication those living here have for the beauty of the land and sea surrounding us. Even before Irma, this spirit offered endless opportunities to forge community bonds and joint efforts to sustain and preserve the Keys and environs.

We certainly need that commitment now. Now that the storm waters have cleared and the winds subsided, we are left with damaged infrastructure and homes, vegetation scattered across roads and property, and debris tossed everywhere by the storm. The damage varies and each section of the Florida Keys fared differently – sometimes by mere blocks. The media has portrayed vast destruction and loss and sadly that is true – just not everywhere. Key Largo, where I live and work, suffered the effects of Hurricane Irma but luckily escaped the full weight of the storm. Oceanside homes and businesses felt the effects of flooding and high winds, but structures in Key Largo and the Upper Keys generally are still standing proud, with much of the damage quickly assessed and repaired as we eagerly await the return of residents and tourists alike.

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Sadly, so many in the middle and lower Keys (and even in the upper Keys) were not so lucky. My good friend Caitlin Scott is one of them. Nonetheless, she expresses hope, which she sees every day in how the community has come together. As she says:

“Marathon, a little island just under 10 miles long, was full of tropical lush scenery, until September 10th when Hurricane Irma tore through this little slice of paradise. I headed down several days after reopening, almost a week after the storm, and was met with a sight that brought me to tears. My beautiful island I’ve called home for the better part of four years was now in shambles. Where beautiful palm trees used to stand is now replaced by brown remnants of the tropical environment. Driving around the town quickly opened my eyes to what type of power Mother Nature really has; homes in ruins, business destroyed and people left with nothing. Through all of this devastation and some of the saddest scenes I’ve ever witnessed I saw something even more important, strength.”

Stronger than any hurricane has been the force of the community and first responders coming together. Responders from every corner in the country flocked down to the Keys to help corral debris, restore power and help residents make their way back to some state of normalcy.  Some left the safety of their own homes to come here and live in temporary arrangements to aid in the repair of our infrastructure. At my own home, an electric crew from Wisconsin was able to restore our power, while I was sorting out debris in my yard. I got the chance to personally thank them and offered to take them diving; thankful that even in a small way I could show them how much we all appreciate what they have done for us. We in the Keys owe a huge debt and thank you to all the emergency personnel who have dedicated their time and incredible effort to help the Florida Keys start to work its way back from the wreckage. As Caitlin so eloquently notes:

“The Keys community is something anyone would be lucky to be a part of, and after this storm I’ve never been prouder to call this island home. Everyone quickly banded together to help each other in whatever way they could, even when they themselves had nothing. First responders came from all over the country just to offer assistance in any way they could. The phrase “Keys strong” has quickly caught on during this rebuilding process and that could not be more accurate. The Keys community is made up of some of the strongest individuals I’ve ever met, and together we will rebuild our home into the tropical paradise we are known for. Phoenixes rise from the ashes and are reborn: well, Phoenixes have nothing on the Florida Keys, from the ashes we will rise, stronger.” 

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Now that the storm has passed, with fingers crossed that we (and everyone) stay out of the paths of the alphabet of hurricanes that continue to devastate, we at Rainbow Reef, the Key Largo-based dive center where I work, have been determinedly shoring up the dive center, getting things ready to take people back to the beautiful waters we love. As I am writing this, we are fully operational as are so many other tourist destinations and shops in throughout the Upper Keys, with rebuilding slowly working its way through the harder-hit middle and lower Keys.  And all of us are paying particular attention of course to surveying the state of our reefs.

We are not scientific divers, but we are ambassadors to the sea and to reefs we have come to know better than ourselves. As anticipated, the ocean off the coast has changed after Irma. Myself, our Marine Conservation Co-Coordinator Shayna Cohen, and our teams of divers have observed the effects first hand. What we saw at first was truly heartbreaking, topography of the reefs changed significantly across the barrier system. A lot of recognizable coral structures we knew and loved had changed, or were simply not there. The sand has been displaced. Sea fans and soft corals are less plentiful; however, the substrate is there to support their return. Many high profile coral structures remain and offer ever new surfaces and ground for new life to flourish. Algae (at first stripped bare) has started to return, enough to sustain many bottom dwelling fishes. It will be important to see how that changes over time. Coral heads once again peak out from their tiny homes, raising their tentacles in the water eagerly awaiting their next meal. Some are bruised and battered, yet some life has returned to the reefs. As we move into fall, the water temperature should drop, helping to soothe the frayed nerves of the reef allowing for a faster recovery then would the heat of summer. It is important to acknowledge the destructive capabilities of a hurricane, and the reality of the changes in reef structure, coral density and fish life. Overall we were very lucky. The reefs fared remarkably well given a hit from a category 4 hurricane. The wrecks in the Upper Keys are still standing proud, a few dings and missing pieces from the surge, but otherwise unscathed. Every day more fish return, with Sharks turtles and Sting-Rays still cruising happily along the spur and groove formations of the reefs. When these amazing creatures welcome us back to their home, we should dust off our fins, make sure our buoyancy is peak perfect, and treat the reef like an old friend who is very tired, and needs some time to get back to their old happy state. Let’s all do our part and give the reefs and animals the respect they deserve as we dive back into that beautiful watery realm.

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The weeks and months after this life changing event will be critical. As the reefs heal and change, the communities will continue the healing process as well.  And we too will need to change in some ways. We need to be that much more careful to tailor our practices and even our livelihoods to protect our fragile ecosystems and prevent further decline of so many vital reef species. Shayna Cohen does a great job of describing the changes over time first hand:

“A month ago, in an article I wrote for Project Aware, I spoke about a brain coral I have seen wane in size and prominence over my time diving my favorite reef. The truth is, following the hurricane, that brain coral is no longer there, and the juvenile colonies I saw as a beacon of hope are less abundant, but that doesn’t mean hope isn’t still there. Hope now comes in the Ocean’s resilience and strength. However, hope also comes from the knowledge that humans, and especially divers, can play a role now more than ever to help heal our marine ecosystem. As visitors of the underwater world, it is our exciting duty to acknowledge and learn from the changes left by the hurricane, and to use that information to be more conscientious and contributing divers.

We have our work cut out for us. For the past year, we at Rainbow Reef and others have expanded operations to include teaching and spear-heading marine conservation efforts with a focus on safe and efficient marine debris removal efforts. We cannot predict all the changes and materials that have entered our ocean after this severe storm. With the help of PADIProject AWARE FoundationThe LonelyWhale4OceanStream2Sea The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration and many passionate individuals who make up our island family, we will be working hard to remove debris from locations throughout the Florida Keys. 4Ocean works very closely with our operation to ensure safe removals of marine debris, increased access for resources, and expanding perceptions across South Florida. We are endlessly thankful for their support.

Our well-trained and professional staff has already dived in many canals and lagoons to help remove odds and ends (big and small) and to restore accessibility to our waterways. This process will be ongoing, requiring time and dedication to ensure the debris does no further harm to our ecosystems. We will be coordinating with the community, government, professional and conservation organizations to use our skills to search for, aid in the logging of, and safely remove as much debris as humanly possible.

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We encourage you to come down and see it all for yourselves. See what mother nature is capable of. Get involved. Participate in the effort to haul, remove, sort and catalogue debris. Take the PADI Dive Against Debris Speciality with us and leave your experience with real meaning and training. On the reefs one must hone your skills. Make your dives count. The PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course is an excellent start to ensuring the continued health of our beautiful reef structures as divers explore the depths. Learn about Project AWARE’s 10 Tips for Being a Good Diver which lay the groundwork to allow all of us to ease back into safe and productive diving practices that leave the reefs in better shape than we found them. These practices help us become more aware as we accept responsibility for our reefs and become part of the healing process, instead of simple observers.

Remember “Keys Strong,” our rallying cry for healing and rebuilding the Florida Keys.  We are stronger together, and even stronger when those outside the Keys join us. We rely on tourism. We love to share our beautiful home with others and to work together to preserve what we have here. Thanks to the incredible work by First Responders and infrastructure teams from all over the world, we are nearly there.

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The best way YOU can help is to come visit us in the Florida Keys.

Dive shops are carrying divers to the reefs and wrecks, restaurants are open, motels are open, gas stations are open, bars are open, roads are clear. With the healing of our reefs around us, and restoration of the lives of residents and businesses here in the Florida Keys, we eagerly await your return.

Help Divers Protect Their Skin Without Harming Coral Reefs

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According to a recent study, even a tiny amount of toxic sunscreen can kill coral. Unfortunately, popular sunscreens made by Banana Boat, Coppertone, Neutrogena and others contain oxybenzone, a chemical proven to be hazardous to reefs. Toxic sunscreen has become such a problem, Hawai’i may pass a law banning sunscreen made with oxybenzone.

Unfortunately, choosing a product labeled biodegradable or coral reef safe isn’t enough. Chemicals toxic to coral such as butylparaben, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidine, camphor and the infamous oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3 or BP-3) have been found in products labeled coral reef safe. Before you restock your sunscreen, take a few seconds to ensure it doesn’t contain the ingredients above, or choose a product from our vetted list below.

The sun protection products below received high marks from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and consumers on Amazon.com. These are the least-hazardous sunscreen products on the market (according to EWG’s 2017 research) that also received a minimum 3.5 star score from consumers on Amazon.com. You can view the specific products and links to consumer reviews on our earlier blog post: The Best Natural Sunscreen for Scuba Divers and Snorkelers.

Reef-friendly sunscreen manufacturers – view wholesale info online

Badger Balm

Stream2Sea

WaxHead

Reef-friendly sunscreen manufacturers – contact for wholesale info

Blue Lizard

Beyond Coastal

BurnOut – phone 800-798-7970 or email shona@burnoutsun.com

All Terrain (natural sunscreen and natural bug repellent) call 978-886-3218 or email David Kuykendall dkuykendall@allterrainco.com

Note: no sunscreen has been proven to be 100% reef-safe, but sunscreens made with titanium oxide or zinc oxide do not appear to be harmful to corals (source: NOAA). Chemical processes are used to create any sunscreen, even mineral-based ones.

The best solution for divers and snorkelers is to cover up rather than slather on. A rashguard with UV protection is a better environmental choice than any sunscreen. Choose a long-sleeve version for maximum coverage.

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By promoting reef-friendly alternatives to toxic sunscreens, dive operators can reduce their impact on our ocean planet and support the Ocean Health Pillar (one of PADI’s Four Pillars of Change). That said, threats such as coastal pollution, overfishing, and sedimentation are a greater threat to coral reefs than sunscreen. PADI encourages all Members to support the conservation efforts of Project AWARE through donations and education.