Share Your Vision

It’s estimated that every two minutes, humanity takes more pictures than were taken in all of the 1800s. As of 2018, they say we shoot at least 1 trillion images annually – 2.7 billion daily or 1.9 million every minute, posting about 300 million daily.

As amazing as these numbers are, what I find more amazing is that just as these words found you amid the approximately 9-quadrillion-plus words humanity uses daily, the images you and I take as divers do not get lost amid the trillions of others taken. In fact, they are more visible than in the past.

This is because while image volume is skyrocketing, how we use imagery is expanding. Not that long ago, the average person shared crude (by modern standards) snaps as prints or a slideshow with a few friends, and relived memories now and again by flipping through them. Reaching more than a handful of people with stills or video was almost exclusively the domain of serious enthusiasts and professionals.

But not anymore. Today we use mobile devices to capture about 90% of images, and imaging has grown into part of everyone’s communication. We all reach thousands-plus on social media. We can post in (or almost in) real time whenever we want, and our images transcend “pictures” because they’re messages sent to people with whom we have personal ties – that’s what gets your images (and words) through the staggering numbers to get seen, and it doesn’t end there. On the receiving end, your friends see them almost immediately and when they’re interesting and/or compelling, they broaden who you reach by reposting to others with whom they have personal ties. So, our imagery reaches more people, and it is more powerful because it is a universal communication that conveys our experiences, visions and perspectives across national borders and language barriers.

This is especially true for us divers. Thanks to its extraordinary ability to emotionally connect with the human experience of going into inner space, photography has always been close to the heart and soul of diving (the first underwater photos actually predate scuba). Today, divers easily snap images with color, sharpness and quality that the pros agonized to get in the 1960s and 70s. Applying these modern technologies to high end cameras and computer post-processing, today’s serious underwater shooters produce stills and video that were unimaginable, unimaginably difficult or even impossible two decades ago.

All this means that whether you’re passionate about serious imagery, or just snapping casual shots (and we need both), your images have power. They can influence. You can use them to communicate with others about the oceans and underwater world at a time in history when it matters most.

Stills and video of coral, kelp forests and reef-wrecks show that the underwater world is beautiful, worth experiencing and worth saving – we need these, but our messages must be wider. Ugly, but important, shots of dead/broken coral, adrift plastic, a litter-strewn beach or a sea lion drowned in a ghost net remind people that we have some urgent, serious problems that threaten life on Earth. Divers in an AWARE underwater clean up, restoring coral and staging a save-the-sharks outreach show that divers care and are doing something about these problems. Before-during-after dive moments with buddies, video of an Advanced Open Water Diver student triumphantly mastering navigation, and shots of a physically challenged person, an elderly person and a youngster diving together show that diving forges friendships, teaches us about ourselves, and embraces everyone.

It’s often said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Whether it’s your mobile device, a mask-mounted GoPro or a pro-quality camera, as a diver your posted images can be worth more than that. The right image may be worth a thousand fewer kilos of plastic contaminating the seas. A thousand more sharks still alive. A thousand more divers shoulder-to-shoulder with us as the seas’ ambassadors and a force for good.

So please, shoot, post and share. The world needs to see what you and I see.

 

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

A Way to Pay It Forward and Make a Difference

Like most PADI® Members around the world, you’re probably aware that the 2017 hurricane season wreaked havoc in the Caribbean. And in 2018, other areas suffered from natural disasters: earthquakes in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Taiwan; Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit Guam, Marshall Islands, the Philippines and southern China; plus there were 11 other typhoons and a list of other disasters. Every year, natural catastrophes devastate -different parts of the world, including some of the most popular dive destinations. Each event costs hundreds of lives and billions in US dollars of damage.

If you live in an unaffected area you can help those affected – especially your fellow PADI Members. Here’s how: Go there, and go diving. Better yet, set up a group dive trip and take everyone you can there with you.

I don’t want to make light of the -tragedy wrought by storms and other natural disasters. Rather, I’m pointing out that economic damage from lost tourism can often have a lasting effect on dive operators in these regions. To use the Caribbean as an example, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reports that, overall, tourism accounts for 15 percent of the region’s gross economy – $56-plus billion US and 2.4 million jobs. But that’s the regional average – many islands’ economies are more than 25 percent tourism, with a few more than 90 percent! Lost tourism following the 2017 hurricanes is costing the Caribbean billions in US dollars beyond the physical damage costs.

Following a disaster, restoration has two stages: relief and recovery. Relief is the immediate aid to provide food, shelter, fresh water, medical supplies, etc., to the affected areas. Recovery is the much longer process of rebuilding businesses, structures, homes . . . and the economy, which is often the last to recover. That’s where dive travel comes in. The sooner tourism returns, the faster that part of the local economy rebounds, which also helps fund physical restoration. In many areas dive tourism is a significant part of tourism, and in some locations, it’s almost all of it. The more diving contributes to the tourist economy, the bigger diving’s role in recovery.

So, immediately after natural disasters, we can help by giving to relief organizations, and if able, by volunteering to go with these organizations to assist with relief. After, as things stabilize, we can help by restoring the diving portion of tourism. It’s important that we don’t stay away just because “everyone else is.” We find out what’s open and who’s still operating, and start going back as soon as possible. We spread the word.

Tourism and dive tourism often become functional again faster than the general public realizes. Using the Caribbean as an example again, although some areas and operators were and remain devastated, most of the top dive destinations are open and operational. Many dive operations that got hit hard are already back up. Others had very little or no damage and never really shut down, apart from the storms themselves. However, despite these facts, the WTTC predicts that it will be 2022 before visitor spending reaches pre-2017 levels.

Although I wish PADI and diving were big enough to knock down predictions like this single-handedly in every disaster-affected location, we’re not. But, with more than 130,000 professional members and millions of divers around the world we can sure make a difference and help recovery, just by going to these places to do what we love doing.

Good luck, good teaching and good diving.

Drew Richardson Ed.D.,  PADI President and CEO

 

Take Responsibility, Own the Dive, Gain Confidence

Not many adventure sports occur in alien environments. In that regard scuba diving is less like skiing or rock climbing and more like playing ping pong in outer space. Divers have to learn knowledge and skills as well as how to properly kit up to simply breathe while participating in and enjoying the activity. To be captivated by diving, an individual needs to engage deeply in diver training. How do we get people to do that?

PADI® courses, while remaining true to their roots, are continuously refined toward moving the diver beyond elementary knowledge and skills to being and thinking like a diver. Your personalized, patient instruction, coupled with PADI training programs and materials, not only sets divers up for success, it also helps them take ownership of their decisions and experiences. For example, they can make diving adventurous or Zen-like because they develop the ability to make sound diving decisions.

Open Water Diver Course – Being a Diver

In the Open Water Diver course, student divers transition from discovery and learning to actually being divers. Each knowledge development section begins with “Being a Diver” and covers topics from understanding what happens to our bodies and our equipment underwater to understanding dive environments and conditions, equipment fit, function and maintenance, taking responsibility for oneself including health and fitness, actively diving, refreshing skills and taking continuing education courses. Students think about what they want out of diving, and they ease into the dive lifestyle through the dive center and dive social media.

At the start of inwater training, students begin purposefully evaluating personal comfort levels using the Skill Practice side of the PADI Skill Practice and Dive Planning Slate so they learn to:

  • Recognize when a skill has gone well and feel confident in their ability.
  • Understand that if a skill has not gone well yet, repetition and practice will develop their ability until they can recognize success and feel confident about the skill.

Use of the confidence self-checks enhances learning directly and indirectly:

  • Indirectly – The instructor recognizes mastery, but finds that students don’t express confidence. If instructor and student assessments don’t match, through this discovery the instructor can use repetition and encouragement to create confidence that matches competence.
  • Directly – The diver learns that it’s good to express emotional discomfort to guide learning. It indicates the need to take extra time to repeat, slow down and review. After certification, the diver has learned how to take responsibility when presented with a diving scenario in which confidence is lacking. This encourages the diver to appropriately step back and evaluate readiness. It might motivate the diver to ReActivate®, take a continuing education course, get professional guidance, etc., depending upon the situation.

This is why the PADI Skill Practice and Dive Planning Slate is required. Using it, student divers take more responsibility for their training. It’s a tool that gets them to speak up if they need to slow down or need extra practice, or to say they’re ready because they know that they are. This approach not only lets them enjoy learning more because they grow in ability as well as confidence, but also because they learn that their choices will affect what happens in the water, which is certainly the case once certified.

Though Open Water Diver students have always been part of the dive planning process for open water dives, the 2013 revision enhanced this by putting them in the lead for Open Water Dive 4. Flipping the slate, divers use the Dive Planning side to work in teams to plan and execute the dive. Ideally, the instructional team is there only to oversee and help when required.

Building upon what they practiced during Confined Water Dive Five’s minidive, students transform into divers under your supervision. They “own” the dive because they show you that they can do it without your instructions. What better way to measure if students have the skills needed for certification than to watch them carry out a dive?

During the debrief, you can reinforce their ability to dive without supervision by using guided discovery questions about what went well and according to plan, how the dive could have gone better, and what they would do differently next time. They are beginning to think like divers.

Advanced Open Water Diver – Thinking Like a Diver

With the 2016 revision of the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, the required Thinking Like a Diver knowledge development section illuminates the path to diving proficiency. By building on previous knowledge, divers focus on four central dive skills:

  • Planning dives with secondary objectives
  • Developing and applying situational awareness
  • Managing task loading
  • Maintaining good dive habits

This section applies to all Adventure Dives. Regardless of experience coming into the course, Thinking Like a Diver gives students even more ownership of their dive experiences. They do this through awareness, by knowing how to think through problem situations, and by recognizing the value of good habits that might have gone unnoticed before.

Thinking Like a Diver, when fully applied, not only boosts diver skill level, but also creates an earned and appropriate sense of confidence. Putting this into practice on each Adventure Dive and reflecting on it with the instructional team during the debriefing instills the responsibility divers must take for themselves.

As with many activities, people sometimes rely on others to make the experience go smoothly, and skilled PADI Pros play an integral role in helping divers do this. Yet, ultimately, divers must take responsibility for their diving decisions (even on a guided dive). The more they do so, the more they make better decisions that reduce risk, increase enjoyment and boost their emotional investment in the diving experience.

IDC – Thinking Like an Instructor

The revised IDC refinements put our most experienced educators – PADI Course Directors and IDC Staff Instructors – more squarely front and center when it comes to mentoring, and that includes helping new instructors to “own” their instruction and to take responsibility for their teaching decisions.

IDC eLearning exposes instructor candidates to concepts underpinning instructor training. When they come to class, they spend more contact hours in workshops with seasoned instructor trainers. Through training-based scenarios, both dry and inwater, candidates practice the art of teaching in simulated experiences. In this environment, candidates are free to make mistakes, learn from them and adjust accordingly.

The revised IDC (in development now) embodies the thinking-like-a-diver concept turned pro. While candidates hone and develop decision-making skills critical to teaching people to dive, they also acquire the knowledge they need to be successful, not just at the IE but more importantly when they step in front of their future students.

This article appeared in the Fourth Quarter 2018 The Undersea Journal®, written by Julie Taylor Sanders

Ocean Conservation Legislation – Recent Successes Around the World

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While there’s no doubt that individual actions towards ocean conservation have the power to make positive impacts on our blue planet, legislation passed by city, state, and national governments also has the power to create big waves. As divers, we are deeply connected to the ocean as well as acutely aware of the many threats it’s facing. In recent years, as public knowledge about the declining health of the ocean grows, there has been an amazing surge of laws, bans, and policies passed around the world in order to safeguard the future health of the ocean. Here are some highlighted examples of locations making a difference for ocean conservation.

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Bali

This tropical island destination in Indonesia recently announced an all-encompassing ban of single-use plastics including styrofoam, straws, and plastic bags. On December 24th, 2018, Bali’s Governor announced the ban and hopes that the new policy will lead to a 70% decline in Bali’s marine plastics in just one year’s time. The ban will go into effect in June.

Hawaii

The Hawaiian island chain is the first U.S. state to ban sunscreen products containing chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate that are harmful to coral reefs and marine life. The bill, which was passed by state lawmakers in May of 2018, will go into effect on January 1st, 2021.

United Kingdom

In order to tackle the issue of single-use plastics and their potential to pollute waterways and oceans, in early 2018 the UK announced a 25-year plan to ‘set the global standard’ on eliminating plastic waste. Prime Minister Theresa May also announced a proposed ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds. The Queen of England even joined in by banning plastic straws and water bottles from the Royal Estate.

Palau

In 2015, this small island nation in the South Pacific declared 80% of its waters as a ‘no-take’ marine reserve. Approximately 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers) in size, this ocean sanctuary is about the size of California, even though the nation of Palau is smaller than New York City – meaning that Palau has set aside more of their nation’s waters than any other country in the world.

Seattle

Thanks to a city-wide ‘Strawless in Seattle’ campaign, on July 1st, 2018, Seattle became the first U.S. city to enact a ban on plastic straws, along with single-use plastic utensils. In an effort to reduce marine plastic pollution, Seattle’s 5,000 restaurants are now only allowed to offer reusable or compostable straws, utensils, and toothpicks.

European Union

Following a surge of public support (thanks in part to documentaries like David Attenborough’s BBC Blue Planet series), the European Parliament voted for a comprehensive ban of single-use plastics by 2021 in an attempt to reduce pollution levels in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The policy is set to include a wide array of items like plastic cutlery and plates, straws, polystyrene food containers, and plastic cigarette butts.

Antarctica

A remote and largely pristine stretch of ocean off the coast of Antarctica – the Ross Sea – was declared in 2016 as one of the world’s largest marine reserves. The unanimous decision was voted upon by delegates from 24 countries to protect an area approximately 598,000 square miles of the Southern Ocean from commercial fishing.

Key West

In early 2019, Key West’s City Commission voted to ban the sale of sunscreen products that contain oxybenzone or octinoxate in an effort to protect the corals and marine life of the Great Florida Reef. The ban is set to officially go into effect on January 1, 2021.

Vanuatu

In the summer of 2017, the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu announced a plan to ban the use of and importation of single-use plastic bags and bottles – making Vanuatu the first country in this ocean region to launch a policy of this nature.

Want more good news? PADI Pros and PADI Dive Centers and Resorts are poised to enact ocean conservation ‘legislation’ of their own. Dive shops around the globe are putting some amazing policies into place to help contribute to positive ocean health.

For example:

  • Rainbow Reef Dive Center in Florida is no longer using single-use plastic water bottles and is only using reef safe sunscreens.
  • Evolution Diving Resort in the Philippines is removing single-use plastics from their operations as well as installing solar panels on their accommodations.
  • Camel Dive Club in Egypt has banned all single-use plastic straws and cutlery from their hotel and restaurants.

Feeling inspired? Check out our Mission2020 Pledge to learn more about how you and your diving community can join us in safeguarding the health of our blue planet.

PADI/GoPro Evolution Video Contest Kicks Off

PADI® is partnering with GoPro to present the three-part Evolution video contest series, which will run through October 2019. Whether it’s a sunken ship in your favorite quarry, an unforgettable turtle encounter or a freedive over a vivid reef, you and your divers have a shot at winning valuable prizes as you show off your video and editing skills. Best of all, the contests are a chance to increase your business by offering specialty courses and camera sales.

The CAPTURE contest, which is open for entries from 15 April – 30 May, asks divers, who are at least 18 years old, to simply capture an amazing underwater experience; the second contest, EDIT, is open 1 July – 15 August and tests your editing skills with a series of clips provided by GoPro; the final contest, CAPTURE/EDIT, opens 16 September – 31 October and requires you put everything together – capturing and editing – into one awesome story.

The three contests are open to everyone – amateurs and pros alike – and, beyond just being fun, offer incredible opportunities to boost your business:

  • Teach underwater photography. While divers can get tips on how to capture and edit amazing underwater footage from GoPro professionals, consider cross promoting the contest with a PADI Digital Underwater Photographer specialty course. Either offer the specialty on request, or schedule a handful of courses throughout the duration of the contest period (essentially, all of 2019). When selling the Digital Underwater Photographer specialty, point out to your divers that they’ll likely be able to shoot footage during the course that they can then enter in the contest!
  • Consider other specialties. Digital Underwater Photographer isn’t the only specialty you can promote – there are a number of great courses that tie in nicely not just with the contest, but with digital underwater photography as well. Peak Performance Buoyancy is an obvious tie-in because peak buoyancy makes underwater photography more rewarding; Fish Identification teaches divers to identify fish and understand fish behavior better; and, the Boat Diver and Wreck Diver specialties can get divers to environments they may not have dived before, for exciting new encounters. What’s more, if your divers take enough of these specialties, they’re on their way to PADI Master Scuba DiverTM.
  • Sell the hardware. Finally, take this opportunity to sell more GoPro cameras and accessories, or if you don’t currently sell GoPro, consider adding them to you inventory. Only videos shot on a GoPro can be entered into the Evolution contest, so what better way of promoting the sale of GoPro cameras and accessories than by featuring them right next to information about the contests!

To help you promote the PADI/GoPro Evolution contest to your divers, there is a full range of marketing collateral and resources on the PADI Pros’ Site. Happy shooting!

Jamaica’s Underwater Trailblazer

When Michael Clarke became a PADI Course Director in 2017, it marked not only a special moment in his career but also one for Jamaica – Clarke was Jamaica’s first PADI Course Director under the family-owned Sandals Resorts International (SRI) which includes Sandals and Beaches Resorts, the Caribbean’s leading all-inclusive resort company. Since then, Clarke has certified over 132 instructors for SRI.

Michael Clarke

Clarke lived and worked on his home island of Jamaica until 2004 when he relocated to Beaches Turks & Caicos, for the next seven years where he ran the brand’s largest dive shop until returning home to Jamaica for a promotion as the Group Watersports Director for SRI. Today, Clarke, along with the rest of the Sandals and Beaches Resorts team, operates 17 different dive shops across its chain of resorts spanning seven Caribbean islands and have certified over 100,000 divers. Sandals and Beaches Resorts also currently have 81 PADI Elite Instructors on staff.

“This for me was an emotional time as I never dreamed that I would be a course director and most of all the first Jamaican one,” he says. “Being able to transfer knowledge and years of experience onto someone that will change their lives for the better is such a humbling experience.”

Through his work in the diving community, Clarke became a mentor for others in the Caribbean communities in which Sandals operates. As an attraction for divers around the world, Clarke, and the PADI certified Sandals and Beaches dive team at each resort’s Aqua Center discovered that guests appreciated the authenticity of having locals guide them on their favorite dive sites and reefs. Best of all, certified divers can dive daily during their resort stay… it’s all inclusive!

“We have really great wall dives that make for spectacular dive sites,” Clarke says.

Michael Clarke and Sandals team

With the growing interest for diving among the local community, Clarke and the Sandals team decided to host an IDC for five Divemasters as a way to inspire other divers and raise interest in scuba diving to the rest of the Jamaican community. 

“For me, this is only the beginning as we have so many people, not only at Sandals but in the respective Islands that want an opportunity to become instructors,” Clarke says. So my goal is to promote and inspire Caribbean people to become dive professionals.”

In addition to completing a structured IDC with the PADI and Sandals staff, the five candidates also received hands-on experience with overnight stays on the property. The IDC ended with an award ceremony to commemorate their successes.

The growing diving community in Jamaica has also brought awareness to the importance of conservation in the underwater world. In March, the Sandals Foundation celebrated 10 years of fulfilling its promise to the Caribbean community of investment in sustainable projects, from the implementation of Marine Protect Areas (MPAs) to planting coral reef nurseries for transplantation, while also assisting with ongoing cleanup efforts on the islands by establishing national and international events. The Sandals Foundation has already invested in countless projects and programs that support conservation and environmental awareness, and the Foundation has committed to engaging 100,000 people in protection and conservation over the next 10 years. To learn more about the Sandals Foundation visit www.sandalsfoundation.org.

“The goal is to get more people into diving through internship programs and continue to work along with the Sandals Foundation through environmental programs,” Clarke says. “We want to make our guests aware of how important it is to protect the underwater world.”

Michael Clarke

“To date, the Sandals Foundation manages two Marine Protect Areas (MPAs). They’ve funded the development of coral reef nurseries in Jamaica and St. Lucia and they have made environmental education for communities and schools a major priority through funding programs such as the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation’s Save our Seas School program, Floating Classrooms, Ride to Save the Wetlands and distributing thousands of reusable water bottles and grocery bags spreading the importance on the reduction of plastics.” -Heidi Clarke, Executive Director, Sandals Foundation

With the long list of accomplishments that Clarke and the Sandals team have already achieved, the outlook for the future of Jamaica as well as the other Caribbean communities where Sandals Resorts International operates, and its divers is looking pretty bright.

New Partnership with IBCCES

PADI Worldwide and the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) have collaborated to bring the Certified Autism Center™ program to PADI Dive Centers and Resorts. The Certified Autism Center designation recognizes businesses trained in autism sensitivity and awareness, and  go above and beyond to better serve customers with autism and other cognitive disorders. The alliance will make IBCCES training and certification available to PADI® Dive Centers and Resorts. After becoming a Certified Autism Center, dive centers and resorts receive ongoing marketing support from IBCCES, enabling them to reach more than 20 million families around the globe who have children with autism.

Research shows that engaging in stimulating experiences such as travel, animal interaction, outdoor play and water activities is therapeutic for children and individuals on the autism spectrum. With one in 59 children diagnosed with autism in the U.S., special-needs travel is the fastest growing family travel segment. According to a recent study of 1,000 parents with a child on the spectrum, 87 percent would be more inclined to visit a center where staff are trained and certified.

To earn the Certified Autism Center designation, your dive center or resort  works with IBCCES to train at least 80 percent of your customer-facing staff so they have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with  families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum. Training covers the topics of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development and emotional awareness. Training must be taken every two years to maintain the certification.

Several PADI Dive Centers and Resorts have already completed the IBCCES certification including Sandals/Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean and PADI Five Star Dive Center First Coast Divers in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.

“This training opened my eyes to a whole new market and also helped me better understand many of our current customers,” said Dan Mechelke, General Manager of First Coast Divers, which became a Certified Autism Center in March 2019.

“We want every family to be able to enjoy the incredible Caribbean diving that Beaches Resorts offer daily,” said PADI Course Director Michael Clarke, Sandals Resorts International’s Group Watersports Director. “Two years ago when we introduced Beaches autism-friendly resorts program, we became the first resort company in the world to be distinguished by IBCCES. Now, Beaches Resorts is proudly taking our commitment to inclusivity for families with children on the spectrum to the next level as an Advanced Certified Autism Center. Through our longstanding PADI partnership and a mutual collaboration with IBCCES, we’re ensuring that all our guests have the opportunity to experience our world class dive destinations.”

In addition to increased staff confidence, you can benefit from this training by gaining access to a large under-served market, along with increased revenue and retail sales. If you’re interested in making your dive center or resort an ideal destination for customers with autism and other sensory disorders, visit https://ibcces.org/padi/.

Eco-Tourism and Diving: An Opportunity and a Responsibility

By Danna Moore, Director of Global Operations, Project AWARE®

Eco-tourism is defined as environmentally and socially responsible travel, and dive operators are well positioned to provide services for this growing market. With continued threats to our ocean planet, it’s appropriate for the dive industry to encourage and inspire divers to travel responsibly and protect what they love. In areas where poor business practices and unchecked tourism development are damaging sensitive marine habits, divers have the economic strength and personal passion to make changes by demanding sustainable practices. As a dive professional, you can be an eco-operator who leverages your customers’ economic power to support ecologically friendly businesses, while encouraging others to follow your lead.

Consumer Demand Already Exists

A 2017 study by Unilever, a consumer goods company focused on sustainability, revealed that 33 percent of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental effects. Customers, especially those in younger demographics, leverage their purchasing power to encourage businesses to make sustainability part of their operations; those that do stand apart in the market from those that ignore consumer concern for the global environment.

At Project AWARE, we’ve heard first-hand that divers choose 100% AWARE partners because they support conservation and protecting the environment. As these partnerships grow, so does the demand for a healthy environment. This means we must continue to reward responsible operators with new and returning customers, and those businesses in turn must continue to “up their game” with respect to sustainability, protection and restoration.

Divers Want to Participate

Beyond choosing sustainable operators, divers show increasing interest in participating in community actions while they travel. Many markets serve this growing demand by providing conservation courses and events that build a sense of community during their stay.

For example, partnered with the Curaçao Hospitality and Tourism Association, the Curaçao Dive Task Force marketed their annual World Cleanup Day event, attracting more than 140 divers across 18 dive centers to participate in 2018. The engagement didn’t stop after the event, however. Recognizing the link between conservation action and tourism growth, Curaçao divers have adopted more than 12 individual dive sites for debris collection year-round, as of this writing.

Other dive operators have tapped into this growing market by selling travel packs with a conservation angle. Brad Snyder, owner of Float N’ Flag in Ontario, Canada, successfully ran off-season warm-water trips by embedding an eco-theme through Dive Against Debris® and shark and ray conservation. “It gives people a secondary objective for the dive, helps keep our dive sites clean, and through the social media exposure broadens the impact of the activity,” Snyder says. These trips, along with continuous conservation events locally, give Float N’ Flag divers a purpose, keep them diving throughout the year and bring in new divers who want to do business with environmentally -responsible operators.

Linking Demand to Supply

As consumers demand more and yet even more sustainable options, suppliers work to meet this growing demand. At present, “eco-tourism” is difficult to define and this definition often differs across regions and travel destinations. This however, provides us the opportunity to more closely define “sustainable dive operator” and an “eco-tourist diver.” This ability to help redefine things is a huge opportunity for community collaboration. Simply put, this is because community lies at the very heart of sustainability.

By connecting our communities, educating consumers, agreeing upon best practices and promoting -environmental stewards, we can create positive changes for the ocean. As Snyder from Float N’ Flag pointed out: “While one little dive shop in Ontario can only have a little impact, uniting similar-minded shops around the world is critical to make the results scalable.”

Many resources already at your fingertips were created by divers for divers:

  • Responsible Shark & Ray Tourism Guide. Developed by Project AWARE, World Wildlife Foundation and Manta Trust, this guidebook provides practical, science-based information for shark and ray tourism operators who want to offer the best possible experience to their customers, while conserving species and habitats, and making a positive contribution to local communities.
  • PADI Travel™. Global online travel platform and full-service team dedicated to providing top-notch travel services that inspire divers to explore more of the underwater world and take care of our oceans. To find eco offering, select the Eco Travel tab on the main PADI Travel page.

Based on an article that appeared in the First Quarter 2019 The Undersea Journal®

Responding to Neurological DCS

Neurological symptoms are not the most common symptoms of DCS, but their onset can be rapid and their consequences serious. These symptoms can also be difficult to manage in the field. Much like a stroke, neurological DCS requires a rapid response, so it’s critical for you to be able to identify and respond quickly and correctly. These symptoms can be both highly variable and undetectable to the person experiencing them, so knowing how to assess a diver after a dive can make all the difference.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of and proper response to neurological DCS are very similar to dealing with a stroke. DCS that affects the brain and nervous system can manifest in many ways, but here is a list of the most common neurological symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Numbness
  • Paresthesia (a “pins and needles” sensation)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Problems with physical coordination or bladder control

You’ll notice that many of these are also symptoms of stroke, so following the FAST (face, arm, speech, time) model for identifying a stroke is an effective way to begin analyzing someone with suspected neurological DCS. Whenever you suspect a stroke or neurological DCS, assume the worst-case scenario and respond accordingly.

Responding

Once you’ve identified symptoms of suspected neurological DCS, your first response should always be to activate emergency medical services. Whether you’re offshore and need a complex evacuation or you’re diving minutes from the nearest hospital, it’s critical that the injured diver reaches qualified treatment as quickly as possible.

The American Heart Association (AHA) currently recommends a 60-minute door-to-door policy for suspected strokes. For example, no more than one hour should pass from the time a stroke is identified to the time that stroke victim receives treatment in a hospital. This same window of time — or an even smaller one — should be the goal for injured divers. The biggest factor in promoting positive outcomes for injured divers is rapid access to definitive care.

After emergency services are activated, provide care for the injured diver to the best of your ability. Administer emergency oxygen and make the diver comfortable while waiting for help, and if you have additional training, perform a neurological assessment and provide a detailed report to first responders. As long as you act within the limits of your training, your quick response and care will ultimately help the injured diver get the best possible outcome.

For information on neurological assessments, DCS response, or advanced first aid training visit DAN.org

Plastic eRDPML™ Retires

The blue plastic version eRDPML™ calculator will no longer be produced and supplies will run out soon.

The popular eRDPML eLearning (70031-1), accessible in the PADI Library, will continue to be available. If you’ve been providing student divers with the blue plastic eRDPML, please switch to providing students with the digital version.

As with all digital products, the eRDPML works on both Android and Apple products, accessible on smartphones and tablets. You provide students divers with a digital eRDPML via a code, either as part of a crew-pak or purchased separately.

Contact your PADI Regional Training Consultant if you have any questions about the digital eRDPML.