Blog/Gallery

Every Week is Shark Week

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One month after he lost his right leg to a tiger shark, while bodyboarding in Hawai’i, Mike Coots was back in the water. And now, 18 years later, shark advocacy has become Mike’s life mission.

A professional photographer and influential force in the surf community, Mike is committed to changing people’s perceptions about sharks and lobbying for their protection. Although a certified diver before he lost his leg, it’s only been in the last year that Mike realized the best way to save sharks was to get face to face with the same species that took his leg and share that story with others. Through the power of storytelling and his photography, Mike hopes to show people that sharks aren’t the mindless killers portrayed in the media.

What happens when you decide to scuttle the largest plane purpose-sunk for divers to date?

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Announced last year, DiveBahrain’s 100,000 square meter (over 1 million square foot) Underwater Theme Park centres around the largest purpose-sunk plane wreck in the world. At over 70 metres (235 feet) long and nearly 20 meters (64 feet) high, this is no mean feat, and will create an incredible wreck for divers and marine life alike.

Last week, that plane was ready for launch, positioned on the bank of the lagoon in Amwaj, yellow flotation devices attached for the first stage of transportation to its new home. Within view of the media tent, the plane started its slow crawl; inching, literally, towards the sea.

While this happened, we were versed on the underwater theme park, and the journey the Boeing 747 had already taken to arrive here on the banks of the lagoon. Aimed at highlighting the importance of conservation, reconnecting with heritage, and increasing diving tourism in the region, this park will also include a smaller purpose-sunk wreck, a sculpture garden, reef balls and a replica of a traditional pearl merchant’s house.

Bahrain has a deep connection with diving, ‘Bahrain has always been known for its diving history… our economy was established on pearl diving. So diving, and the sea, is really entrenched into everything we do,’ explained Hamad Almahmeed, DiveBahrain organiser, during PADI’s Facebook live. So it makes sense for their new diving venture to reflect this heritage with a large scale pearl merchant house. The wind towers of the pearl merchant house will extend alongside the aircraft, and will extend off the sea floor by 12 meters (39 feet), placing them in the photic zone, which will allow the park to explore and experiment with coral nurseries.

Environmental welfare has been a major consideration in the preparation for the Boeing 747 scuttling, and theme park as a whole. Alongside the obvious positive impact of introducing large structures to host marine life and fish, the project hopes to establish a coral nursery and allow school and university students to use the park as a ‘live lab’ to further understand our impact on the aquatic environment.

Over the last eight months, the Boeing 747 went through an intense decontamination process, stripping out all wiring, all hydraulic, pneumatic and fuel systems, and all adhesives, insulation, plastics, rubbers, chemicals or other potential toxic substances that could be damaging to the aquatic environment it will soon call home. We learnt that they’d even gone so far as to remove every nut and bolt in the aircraft, cleaned, and then replaced them.

Watching the plane float in the Bahraini sea, guided by a Navy vessel and tug boat, and surrounded by a flotilla of other vessels was an incredible experience. Opening in August 2019, we can’t wait to head to the site for a dive.
In the future, you will be able to take a site-specific PADI Distinctive specialty course to ensure the best diving experience in this one-of-a-kind diver’s theme park. So be sure to check back on the blog for updates and videos from diving the wreck!
 

Choosing Dive Gear for Children

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Children need special consideration when it comes to scuba equipment. As well as their size, they are not as strong as adults, and get cold and tired much faster. If you’re planning to share the underwater world with your kids, make sure they’re using the best dive gear in terms of size, fit, and ease of use — and don’t forget to keep it colourful and fun!

Wetsuit

A snug fit is essential for any wetsuit, but especially for children’s (they don’t have as much body fat to keep them warm). Don’t go excessively thick either, as this will restrict mobility and cause discomfort. A full-length wetsuit with padded knees will help to protect limbs from scrapes.

Regulator

Choose regulators designed for travel or women, as they tend to be smaller and lighter and will make it easier for smaller mouths to hold the demand valve in place. Moulded mouthpieces will provide the best possible grip; keep a few spare, as kids are prone to bite through them. Shorter hoses proportionate to your child’s size will help to reduce drag and snag hazards.

Cylinder

An aluminum 40cub.ft. Or an aluminum 50cub.ft. cylinder is usually compatible with a child’s build. Adding a handle makes it easier and safer to carry, too.

BCD

Jackets with plenty of straps, bands and inserts will provide a secure fit without rising, and will expand to grow with kids as they get older. Make sure it’s simple to operate; think quick-release buckles, velcro, and single-hand dumps. Integrated weight pockets also provide a more comfy option for smaller frames than weightbelts.

Mask

A child’s mask will provide a proper seal on smaller faces, and designs with low profiles are lighter, and easier to clear. Look for a soft silicon skirt that’s hypoallergenic (great for sensitive young skin) and quick-release buckles for easy adjustment. Or, try a full face mask; they feature a wider vision and an integrated regulator that allows easy clearing and a more natural way for kids to breathe without bitten mouthpieces or jaw fatigue.

Fins

It’s worth choosing an open heel design to allow more room for growth. Look for longer, softer blades, as they’ll provide easier propulsion, helping to prevent tiredness and cramp in little legs.

Snorkel

A child-friendly snorkel is better suited to smaller faces and lungs, as well as being easier to clear. Look for splashguards to prevent water entering the snorkel on the surface.

Don’t be tempted to buy bigger sizes because your child will ‘grow into them’; having the correct fit at every stage is essential for enjoyment and safety. Many manufacturers offer child-friendly gear, for example:

  • Cressi Morea wetsuit
  • Aqualung Kids      wetsuit
  • Dive Rite Transpac      Jr.
  • Aqualung Zuma BC
  • Aqualung Wave BCD      (XXS)
  • Oceanic Explorer BC
  • Cressi Marea VIP      mask and snorkel
  • XS Scuba Goby mask
  • Aqualung Kids fins
  • Cressi Agua Kid fins

Alternatively, consider hiring equipment until they’re older.

Above all, make sure your kids are involved in choosing and maintaining their gear — it is, after all, part of being a diver!

5 Reasons Your Family Should Get Scuba Certified

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We all know how incredible the ocean can be to explore underwater, but wouldn’t it be even more amazing to share these moments with your family? Children as young as 8 years old can be introduced to scuba diving through the PADI Bubblemaker program. While those aged 10 years or older can embark on their PADI Junior Open Water Diver course. It’s never too late to get scuba certified and start living the dream as a scuba family. Not convinced? Check out these 5 reasons why you should get your family certified.


1. Shared Interest for Exploration

If you’re a parent you would know the struggle of trying to find a weekend family activity that everyone enjoys and agrees on. However, if your family becomes scuba certified you will always have a new dive site to explore, new skills to learn and new marine animals to spot underwater – no two dives are ever the same. Scuba diving is the perfect activity to show your family the beauty of the underwater world, inspire ocean conservation and create memories that will last a lifetime.


2. More Outdoor Family Time

In this day and age, technology has become an integral part of our daily regime (whether we like it or not). From answering emails to playing games, watching YouTube or going on social media, technology is everywhere. Scuba diving allows your family to be immersed in nature and the outdoors, while also eliminating the possibility of anyone being able to check their phones. Who else knows a family member that could do with a scuba diving technology detox?


3. No One Misses Out

If you’re a diver you would already know how hard it is to scuba on a family holiday. From finding spare time outside of activities to organising babysitters or even destination choices – fitting in just one dive can be hard, let alone a few! Instead of watching your family snorkel above you or leaving them on the dive boat, why not show them the oceans beauty from another view? Not only will you be able to experience incredible adventures underwater, but your family will also be bursting with conversation topics for years to come – who doesn’t love a good diving story!


4. Easier Holiday Planning

Deciding on what destination you should choose for your next holiday should be exciting not challenging. For some families this decision can erupt in chaos with disagreements over what destination to choose – hot or cold, history or scenery, ocean or no ocean. However, when you share a common interest these discussions become easier and arguments begin to dissipate among family members. With a scuba family your holiday planning becomes simplified to ‘what diving destination do you want to cross off your bucket list? Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia or maybe Egypt?’ Once you have chosen your holiday destination you can then start planning some diving activities that the whole family can enjoy together.


5. Cherished Memories (and Photos) Forever

Are you someone who loves sharing photos on social media or maybe you love putting together a photo album after your holiday? Imagine the phenomenal photos and videos you will be able to capture while diving on a family holiday – we bet none of your friends will have family photos quite like yours! Not only will you have beautiful photos and videos to share from your trip, but you will have many diving stories to share. Diving with your family is an incredible experience that will leave you with many treasured memories (and photos) for years to come.

Want to start living the dream as a scuba family? 

Tec 40 – Who, What, Where, When, Why?

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Are you a scuba diver looking for a new challenge? Or maybe you’re wanting to explore underwater places deeper than 30 meters or that nobody has ever seen before? Then the PADI Tec 40 course might just be for you. Not only is this course a great place to start your technical diving journey, but you will also have the chance to build on and advance your recreational skills.


Who Should Take the PADI Tec 40 Course?

You may have looked at or heard about technical diving and thought, is this for me? As a Tec Deep Instructor Trainer, I would conduct a casual interview over a coffee with anyone who expressed interest in technical diving. It is important to discuss the aspects of the course and the general attitude required to take this kind of challenge on. It takes discipline and commitment to really get stuck into technical diving, as well as an adventurous mind set. Most of all I like divers having a good reason to get started, not just “I want to go deep”. I prefer hearing that someone has a goal that they’re wanting to achieve using the technical diving system.

To start your technical journey with the Tec 40 course, you must first be a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, Enriched Air Diver with at least 10 dives logged using enriched air deeper than 18 meters/60 feet, Deep Diver with at least 10 dives logged at 30 meters/100 feet and you must be at least 18 years of age with a minimum of 30 logged dives. Completing the Tec 40 course will allow you to extend your deep bottom time while exploring wrecks or deep reefs, for longer. The Tec 40 course is also the stepping stone to PADI Tec 45 and PADI Tec 50 courses which extend your depth, capabilities, skills and bottom time even further.


What is the Tec 40 Course?

The PADI Tec 40 course is your first step into technical diving. It is a basic level of decompression diving that will allow you to dive with redundancy of gases, higher mixes of Enriched Air of up to 50%, decompression on EANX 50% for conservatism and up to 10 minutes of decompression. With the Tec 40 certification under your belt, you will certified to make limited decompression dives to 40 meters/130 feet.


Where Should I Take My Diving to the Next Level?

This is one of the coolest things about technical diving – it can be completed almost everywhere! PADI has over 366 TecRec Centres in over 64 different countries, worldwide. This diversity allows you the freedom to pick from the top diving destinations with the most skilled technical instructors, worldwide. Whether you want to dive in search of 40 meter wrecks in Malta or if you want to cruise with hammerhead sharks 40 meters down in Borneo, you will be able to find a PADI TecRec Centre to achieve your goal.


When Should I Become a Tec 40 Diver?

The simple answer – when you’re ready. This could be when you’re an Advanced Open Water Diver with 40 logged dives or when you’re a Master Scuba Instructor with over 500 logged dives. Despite if you have been diving for 6 months or 10 years, it’s all down to the individual’s skill level and attitude. A quick discussion with a PADI Tec Instructor will help you answer this question. Our main aim is to keep everyone safe, so we don’t let anyone expose themselves to this level of diving before they’re ready. But when you’re ready, you will know and so will your instructor!


Why Should I Take the Tec 40 Course?

For so many reasons! You will enhance your skills learnt from your experience as a recreational diver, you will learn gas planning, buoyancy control, you will become a problem solving master, and much more. With guidance from your PADI Tec Instructor and the use of the technical syllabus, you will learn a range of extra skills that will take your diving skills from being advanced to expert.


Are you interested in having more time to explore places that others have never seen before? Or maybe you just want to advance your diving skills?

The Social Psychology of Safe Diving

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  As certified divers, we should already have a pretty good understanding of how to dive safely. But many of us have found ourselves in unsafe diving situations such as diving beyond our training or diving despite apprehension or discomfort. Many of these dangerous situations result from poor decisions made before a dive, but why do divers make bad decisions when we know better?


I have found myself in several unsafe situations in diving. Once a dive operator encouraged me to go on a dive that was deeper than I was trained to go. Another time one put together my equipment for me, and when I went to double check it he told me not to bother, saying they had "been doing this for years." Many divers give in to this sort of pressure, but why does this happen despite all the training we've undergone?


We could say these dive operators have an unsafe dive culture, but I think we must examine how such cultures arise. Many factors contribute to unsafe diving. One is pluralistic ignorance, which is when people act as if nothing is wrong because nobody else is acting like anything is wrong. In diving, this can occur when someone suggests something unsafe and nobody speaks out against it. When this happens we tend to look around, notice that nobody else seems to be concerned, and think something like "Well, nobody seems concerned, so maybe I'm paranoid; it must be OK." We must not take the inaction of others to mean that everything is as it should be.


Another factor is known as diffusion of responsibility. This occurs when a person's sense of responsibility diminishes in the presence of other people. In diving, we might see something that is inappropriate but say nothing because we assume it is someone else's responsibility to say something. It is particularly easy for novice divers to fall into this trap since they tend to assume that everyone else is better suited than they are to take responsibility for the dive. Remember, you are the best advocate for your own safety.


Deindividuation is another factor that can lead to unsafe diving. This phenomenon is often called "being lost in the crowd," but it doesn't necessarily require a large group. We feel fewer constraints on our actions when many people are around us, as might be the case on a full dive boat. When we are lost in the crowd, we tend to act more impulsively and may thus be more prone to making errors.


Close-knit groups of friends can be particularly prone to groupthink, which is when everyone in a group agrees with each other without thinking things through. Someone might suggest an unsafe dive, and everyone gives their assent without much thought.


On the other hand, diving with people you don't know can also be problematic. We tend to want to be liked by others, so we sometimes do things we normally wouldn't to get along or for others to like us. Often called normative social influence, it can encourage us to make an unsafe dive in an attempt to be liked by others. If someone suggests diving deeper than you are trained to, you might feel pressure to say yes if you want to be liked by that person. Although putting your life in danger just to be liked might seem strange, normative social influence is powerful and should be taken seriously.

Informative social influence is a bit different. This is when we do as others do because we think they know what is best. We learn from them and follow their lead. This is a good thing as long as the person we are learning from is doing things properly. Unfortunately, novices often look toward anyone with more experience, but not every diver is a worthy role model.


The good news is that we can counter these unwanted influences in many ways, including reading articles like this one. The simple act of learning about these influences can be enough to weaken them. We can also do the following:


· Take control. Don't assume somebody else will say something is amiss. Review your training, and stick to it. If someone suggests doing something outside of your training, say you aren't comfortable doing it. Chances are that someone else in the group is similarly concerned but is too shy or uncomfortable to say so.


· Slow down. We tend to act impulsively around other people, so slow down and think. Rarely do we have to make split-second decisions before we dive. Taking a minute or even just a few seconds to think things through can effectively counter errors due to impulsiveness.


· Play devil's advocate. It's natural to blindly go along with the crowd at times. To counter this, think about what might go wrong. We won't always identify plausible concerns when we play devil's advocate, but sometimes we may notice potential problems.


· Rely on your training. Part of safe diving is recognizing unsafe diving. If you are unsure, consult your manual or ask a diver with knowledge, experience and a commitment to safe diving. You can often tell who these people are: They tend to talk about safety, have advanced training and help novices before dives.


· Model good behavior. If you are an experienced diver, lead by example. Don't be afraid to go out of your way to make it clear you are a safe diver. For example, you might invite novices to plan their dives with you. This helps create a climate that benefits everyone.


· Role-play. Practice with a friend what you would do if someone pressured you to make an unsafe dive. We often make poor decisions because we are put on the spot and don't have time to think things through properly. Practicing what you would say and who you would say it to can make it considerably easier to make the safe decision. Prior to doing something exciting like diving, we tend to respond with our dominant response, but a beginner's dominant response is not always the correct one. Through role-playing and practice you can make your dominant response one that supports safety.

Most of us understand, intellectually at least, the risks associated with cutting corners, rushing dives and not being fully prepared.


By learning to recognize factors that lead to unsafe decisions, we can help keep ourselves out of dangerous situations.