PADI Foundation Awards $330,000 US to Grant Recipients

The PADI Foundation awarded more than $330,000 US in grants in 2019 to encourage and support research and education related to marine environments. Every year, the PADI Foundation funds worthwhile projects that improve understanding of: aquatic environments and encourage protection of ecosystems; people’s relationship and ability to survive in the underwater environment to benefit the scientific community and general diving public; hazards to humans and ecosystems related to climate change in coastal and ocean environments to advance response measures.

Since 1992, the PADI Foundation has awarded nearly $4.7 million US to almost 900 projects. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the PADI Foundation is a separate and distinct organization, corporately unrelated to PADI® and its affiliates, but was established and is funded by PADI.

In 2019, out of more than 400 grant applications 64 projects were selected to receive a total of $332,568 US in grant money. Projects in 20 countries around the globe were funded, including:

  • Exploring unique Omani kelp forests to transform global underwater forest conservation
  • Coral monitoring and restoration in Utila, Honduras
  • Spatial ecology from above: Incorporating drones in identifying populations and habitats of dugongs and sea turtles in Johor, Malaysia
  • PADI Foundation Leaders Initiative Scholarship: Developing diverse marine science leaders through education and mentorship
  • Implication to water quality in the context of climate change: Nutrients and potential mobility of phosphorus in mangrove sediments with different land use pattern in southern Vietnam
  • Assessing the conservation status and developing awareness of sharks and rays in the northern coastline of Cameroon
  • Partnering with the offshore sailing community to monitor marine microplastic pollution
  • Mapping and modeling of the Seattle Fault tsunami inundation in Puget Sound
  • Implementing disease intervention strategies on corals in the southeast Florida reef tract and assessing their potential impact on mucus microbial communities
  • Zooplankton plastivory: First approach on microplastics in Antarctic coastal environments

“The recipients of the PADI Foundation grants reinforce my hope for the future and share in our mission to be a force for good,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “These individuals are combining their unique talents and passion to identify issues, provide understanding and solutions to mitigate the problems that threaten our ocean planet, and further enable and encourage underwater exploration. The PADI organization is honored to support them in their efforts, both at the local level and on a global scale.”

Each year, the PADI Foundation Board of Directors and advisory council of subject matter experts consider proposals with budgets up to $20,000 US, although the average award ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 US. Applications for consideration in 2020 may be submitted beginning 1 November 2019, and no later than 10 January 2020. Learn more at www.padifoundation.org.

Meet Your 2018 Retail and Resort PADI Master Scuba Diver Challenge Winners

In 2018, PADI® Americas challenged PADI Dive Centers and Resorts to a friendly competition to see who could show the most percentage growth in Master Scuba Diver™ certifications. The following dive centers came out on top! Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to all that participated in the challenge. Your amazing achievements and dedication in certifying Master Scuba Divers continues to create loyal customers, confident and competent divers, and more stewards for the underwater world.

In no particular order, here are your 2018 Retail and Resort Master Scuba Diver Challenge Winners:

Scubatec Dive Center
Caracas, Venezuela

“We are very happy and pleased to have won the Master Scuba Diver Challenge in Venezuela. We worked hard to achieve it and also proved to ourselves that with work, dedication and professionalism, we can still achieve wonderful things despite adversities in our country.”

Blue Planet Scuba
Washington, D.C., USA

“Through promoting the MSD certification, we’ve seen a culture change within our shop among staff, students and even our more experienced divers. It has inspired people to continue their training and keep diving.”

Seattle Scuba
Seattle, USA

“We always have the Master Scuba Diver Challenge here at Seattle Scuba. It is a great accomplishment for our divers and we encourage all of them to aim for that certification.”

Go Pro Diving
George Town, Cayman Islands

“At Go Pro Cayman, our students in the Master Scuba Diver Challenge not only experienced the underwater world, but celebrated what they learned above the water afterwards. A fun challenge for all and well worth it.”

Ready to jumpstart your Master Scuba Diver Program? Learn more about increasing productivity with PADI Master Scuba Diver here.

Meet Your 2018 PADI Pro Master Scuba Diver Challenge Winners

In 2018, PADI® Americas challenged PADI Instructors to a friendly competition to see who could show the most percentage growth in Master Scuba Diver™ certifications. The following PADI Pros came out on top!  Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to all that participated in the challenge. Your amazing achievements and dedication in certifying Master Scuba Divers continues to create loyal customers, confident and competent divers, and more stewards for the underwater world.

In no particular order, here are your 2018 PADI Professional Master Scuba Diver Challenge Winners:

Ryan Scalf
Hawaii, USA

“Being part of PADI’s Master Diver program and seeing it transform divers confidence and skills while challenging them to be better, is a major reason I choose this profession.”

Michael Gray
Florida, USA

“Averaging 1,400-1,500 dives each year, my office under the USAF Special Tactics Training Squadron allows me an opportunity to become a contender within this challenge.”

Riccardo Sturla Avogadri
Virginia, USA

“If you know the standards and the PADI teaching system you will find a way to obtain successful benefits and awards from PADI. I will never forget this Master Scuba Diver Challenge!”

Congratulations again to all of the winners:  Ryan Scalf, Michael Gray, Riccardo Sturla Avogadri and Lane Peter.

Ready to jumpstart your Master Scuba Diver Program? Learn more about increasing productivity with PADI Master Scuba Diver here.

Updated Dive Shop Locator Now Live

The updated PADI® Dive Shop Locator (DSL) is now live in eight languages (with more to come) and makes it even easier for divers to find you. Here’s what’s new:

Responsive Design for Mobile Devices

The DSL was redesigned with mobile users in mind and is responsive to any device screen with familiar touch navigation.

Map function:

The map uses familiar mapping functions like dragging, zooming and selecting a map entry for more information. Users can redo searches in new areas and rest the map to their current location. Plus, hovering in the results pane highlights the dive shop flag for that particular dive center on the map as a visual indicator of its location.

Premium:

Premium upgrade listings are given higher priority in searches and are shown at the top of search results. These listings also provide a more detailed dive shop profile and display the dive store’s logo. Plus, you can now list the courses available at your dive center by editing the account tab under Premium Listing at the PADI Pros’ Site.

Sponsored Ads:

Sponsored Ads are now displayed with a yellow border in the results pane and yellow dive flag in the map area. As of 1 January 2019, advertisement display order will be randomized, which means anyone may be at the top of the results.

Search results:

While all dive centers and resorts are shown in an unfiltered search, Five Star and Premium listings are given weighted priority. There are numerous filters available but to improve search results, dive centers can purchase a Premium Listing or Sponsored Ad or upgrade to a Five Star membership level. The weighting system is a balance of Five Star status, Premium Listing status, distance from center and search keywords.

Check out the improved PADI Dive Shop Locator today and be sure to provide your comments by using the feedback button.

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.

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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 (e.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 centers.
  • Visibility for PADI 5 Star – Search results show all shops but, list 5 Star Dive Centers 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.

Dive in with Seiko Prospex

Seiko has pioneered several features in dive watches that set the global standard, including the accordion or corrugated style strap, the wide arrow shaped hands for extra legibility, and the two-piece case construction for added security. With half a century of history and innovation, With half a century of history and innovation, adventurers who face the world’s harshest environments consistently choose Seiko dive watches.

Now, Seiko would like to invite PADI® Dive Centers to become Authorized Seiko Prospex Retailers. As a valued retailer, your dive center will be featured on the Seiko Dealer Locator and highlighted as a Preferred Prospex Retailer. You will also receive earlier insight on Seiko Prospex watches with creative social and digital assets to support and drive traffic to your location. At the storefront, Seiko will provide an exclusive countertop display accompanied with engaging point-of-sale materials and promotions that will captivate visitors and students alike.

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For more information on how to become a Seiko Prospex retailer please email seikodive@seikousa.com.

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®.

 

Rebreather Training Council Publishes First Standard

The Rebreather Training Council (RTC) is made up of training agencies that provide courses for divers using rebreathers. The RTC’s mission is to promote the safe use of rebreathers by creating industry training standards and operational protocols. Having agreed to minimum standards makes it easier to compare certifications from different agencies. PADI is a founding RTC member and active participant in council meetings.

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In August 2017, the RTC published the first training standard – RTC Rebreather Diver Level 1. This standard describes the minimum required training for diver to dive with a rebreather to a maximum depth of 30 metres/100 feet with no planned stage decompression stops and without supervision by an instructor or divemaster. The PADI Advanced Rebreather Diver course meets or exceeds all the requirements of RTC Rebreather Diver Level 1 standards.

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.

Hurricane Relief Efforts

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After three powerful storms hit Texas, Florida, the US East Coast, Puerto Rico and many Caribbean islands, it has been a difficult time for the millions of people affected by evacuations, flooding, electrical outages and loss of loved ones. We empathize with our friends, family and colleagues after the Category 4 and 5 hurricanes hit, bringing 298-kph/185-mph winds, catastrophic flooding and intense tropical rain, leaving more than 10 million people without power for days.

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As part of the PADI family, please seize the opportunity to help the dive community in  affected locations. The Red Cross, Caribbean Tourism Organization, United For Puerto Rico and Sandals Foundation are accepting donations to continue providing aid and relief to these specific destinations to help make a difference.

We’ll provide updates on locations that are ready to welcome tourists again once the hurricane passes. Check out this update from the Florida Keys.