Monthly Archives: April 2016

7 Facts about Sea Lions

 

Sea Lion Galapagos

Sea lions are some of the most adorable creatures that you’ll find in the sea. In fact, the name “sea lion” may be a bit of a misnomer. “Sea puppy” might be a better fit. Of course, this is purely an opinion, and you’re probably looking for a few sea lion facts, so here are seven of them:

#1 – They’re mammals – That makes sense, considering the “lion” part of the name. Sea lions give birth to live pups, and the females produce milk to nurse their young – just like puppies!

Sea Lion Mother and Pup

#2 – There are many species of sea lions – There are actually seven different species even though they all often seem to be bundled into the same category. Sea lions belong to a group of animals called “pinnipeds.”

Sea Lion on Dive

#3 – The bigger, the better – Male sea lions grow to be pretty big – much larger than females. The females look for the largest males to mate with, so in this case, yes, bigger is better.

Sea Lion

#4 – The Northern Atlantic Ocean is off-limits – You can find sea lions in bodies of water throughout the world – except for the Northern Atlantic Ocean. This is strange since its temperatures are certainly compatible with where sea lions typically live, and there’s plenty of food there. Scientists have no idea why sea lions refuse to live in this area.

Sea Lions California

#5 – They can have age-related health issues. When they grow older, sea lions become prone to pneumonia, epilepsy, and cancer.

Sea Lion Close Up

#6 – They’re very social. Sea lions communicate in a variety of ways, although scientists are still somewhat baffled as to what their sounds mean. They travel in large colonies, which have subgroups. Sea lions will even move from subgroup to subgroup during their lifetimes – so in a way, they’re kind of like cliques.

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#7 – They are endangered. This one is probably our fault; humans hunted sea lions for many years until they were on the brink of extinction. International laws now prohibit the hunting of sea lions in an effort to protect and save them.

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Learn more about the sea puppy (okay, fine – the “sea lion”) in addition to many other majestic sea creatures with the ScubaEarth Critter Finder.

5 Ways You Can Be A Better Dive Buddy

 

Better Dive Buddy

We all learn about the buddy system when we start diving but with increased experience and confidence it is easy to forget the essential basics. The buddy system is not just for beginners, it is important for the safety of all divers in a group.

Want to be a better dive buddy? Here are 5 essential tips you should never forget.

Always remember your buddy check

Just because your equipment worked fine yesterday doesn’t mean that you haven’t missed something today. If your Divemaster sees you running through the buddy check he will recognise that you are responsible divers before you even enter the water.

Use the BWRAF acronym to help remember the buddy check steps. Begin With Reviewing A Friend

Always maintain buddy contact and communicate often

This doesn’t mean that you need to swim on top of each other. As a general rule, try to be no more than 2 seconds apart. In an emergency you may need each other and it helps the Divemaster control the group if you are together. Don’t forget to ask your buddy if they are “okay” regularly. Diving really is more fun with a buddy and you’ll get to share some incredible moments together. If your Divemaster sees you communicating he’ll recognise your dedication to each other and to safety.

Remember that you are a buddy “team” and diving is not a competition

Be encouraging towards your buddy but never force them into a dive they don’t want to make. If you or your buddy are unsure about anything, ask your Divemaster together for advice and guidance.

Dive, dive, dive

The more you dive the better you get. By diving in a range of conditions and environments you’ll broaden your skill base and diving knowledge, increasing yours and your buddy’s dive safety.

Continue learning

If you have just passed your PADI Open Water Diver Course consider moving on to Advanced Open Water. You’ll learn new skills and try different types of diving. When you have completed your Advanced certification, you’ll be ready for the Rescue Diver Course which equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to be able to perform self-rescues, rescue other divers and recognise potential problems before they develop.

Following these 5 steps will help you become a better dive buddy.  Contact your local PADI Dive Center or Resort to find out course information or to find some more dive buddies of your own!

Better Dive Buddy

 

PADI AmbassaDiver Liz Parkinson on Freediving, Sharks, and Women’s Dive Day

 

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A PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and Advanced Freediver Instructor, Liz Parkinson uses her affinity for the aquatic realm and her love of freediving to advocate for ocean conservation and shark protection – and to inspire women around the world to do the same. With PADI Women’s Dive Day™ coming up on 16 July 2016, we caught up with Liz to find out how she champions the causes she cares about and if she has any plans or recommendations for this year’s Women’s Dive Day.

Liz Parkinson was born in the UK but grew up a competitive swimmer in South Africa. At age 18, she was recruited to the University of Hawaii on a swimming scholarship – and there she discovered the wide world of water sports. She fell in love with scuba diving and became a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, eventually working her way up to a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer rating. “When you live in a place like Hawaii, it is hard not to get involved in the huge variety of watersports literally at your front door step,” she says.

However, it was freediving that finally captured Liz’s heart, and sharks in peril that ultimately inspired her. After graduation, she began traveling the world pursuing her twin passions, freediving and shark conservation. Along the way she has appeared in print, film and on television as a model, stuntwoman and spokesperson for ocean conservation.

Eventually, Liz found a home in the Bahamas at PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center Stuart Cove’s Bahamas, where you can find her working both in front of and behind the camera. “Freediving with sharks and capturing images used to enhance shark awareness are part of Stuart Cove’s’ ‘Save the Sharks, Save the Seas’ campaign,” Liz explains. “The Stuart Cove’s team is also deeply committed to environmental education for children – teaching kids about the environment, what needs to be done now to protect it and how they can make a difference.”

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Your enthusiasm is contagious. What is your secret for encouraging and inspiring others to take action for ocean conservation and sharks in peril?

I feel fortunate that I can combine two things that I love, freediving and sharks. It’s great when you’re able to inspire others by doing what you love. I hope that through imagery and the use of social media as a porthole to reach people, we can inspire both men and women to take action. Maybe by seeing the efforts we make, and showing the world that sharks are not what the majority of the population think they are, we can encourage others to do what we do – or come up with their own ideas to spread awareness and help save an animal that needs their help.

How can people get involved in ocean conservation?

Ocean conservation is a huge topic. People from all over the world and from all walks of life are getting involved through nonprofits, foundations, organizations and companies – all working under the banner of “Save the Oceans.” Of course, Project AWARE is a great way for divers to get involved. This year, I’m volunteering as the team captain for Project AWARE Foundation’s 2016 TCS New York City Marathon, supporting a team or runners to raise awareness and funds for ocean protection through Project AWARE.

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Scuba diving is often erroneously perceived as a male sport. Now that PADI has a freediving program, how do you think we can avoid that stigma for freediving and get more women to become freedivers?

The new PADI FreediverTM course is an exciting program! I hope the work I do with sharks – using freediving as a tool to capture people’s interest – will open this world up to women. I believe that leading by example is a great way to get people interested and involved in any sport or cause. I hope that women who are inspired by love of the oceans will sign up for a PADI Freediver course and experience the aquatic realm from this unique perspective.

As a PADI Instructor and a PADI Advanced Freediver Instructor, do you have any suggestions for divers for PADI’s Women’s Dive Day 2016?

For Women’s Dive Day I strongly encourage all divers, women and men, to find an event and get involved. I hope that all PADI Divers around the world will participate to attract more women and girls to the beautiful sport of diving.

Follow Liz on Instagram or Facebook to find out what she and the Stuart Cove’s Team is up to and how you can get involved.

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Women’s Dive Day 2016 is PADI’s second annual celebration of women in diving, taking place this year on 16 July 2016. This event provides special opportunities for women to try diving, rediscover a sport they loved in the past or just go dive with friends!

Find a 2016 PADI Women’s Dive Day event near you now!

6 Ways to Give Back to the Ocean

 

reef-fish-coral

“With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.” –Sylvia Earle.

We owe the ocean everything; it fills us with wonder, enchants us with beauty, and sustains all life on Earth. The greatest gift you can give to the sea is conservation. Here are six things you can do to help protect the ocean:

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Practice Responsible Recreation

Whether you are surfing, diving, or just enjoying a day at the beach, be accountable. Take only photographs, leave nothing but bubbles, collect any ocean debris and trash you see, and always respect marine life (no touching or harming of the animals).

 

coast-reef-ocean

Decrease your Carbon Footprint

Cut carbon and help climate change effects on the ocean. Become mindful of energy consumption by: going solar, switching to a fuel effective car, walking more, buying locally, and switching to fluorescent light bulbs. Also, don’t forget to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

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Reduce Plastic Use

Plastic is polluting the world’s oceans at an unprecedented rate. There are currently about 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, with 8 million pieces being contributed yearly. Help do your part by substituting plastics for reusable items. Carry reusable grocery totes, lunch ware, water-bottles and avoid buying plastic packaged products.

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Make Sustainable Seafood Choices

Global fish populations are dwindling significantly due to destructive over-fishing, bycatch, irresponsible fishing practices, and loss of habitat. Bluefin tuna are fast approaching the Endangered Species Llist, while approximately 100 million sharks suffer each year from wasteful finning customs used for delicacies like shark fin soup. You can make wise sustainable seafood choices that support healthy oceans by blacklisting certain species from your meals. Check out the Worldwide Sustainable Seafood Guide for a list in your region.

shark-fin

Get Involved

Get involved with organizations and institutions working to make a difference in ocean conservation. Offer to volunteer in research, cleanups, or ocean movements. Get active by signing petitions, voting, and supporting legislators and laws that protect the ocean and the environment. You can also help by donating to your favorite ocean foundation such as Project AWARE.

freediver-dolphins

Get Educated about the Ocean

Read and learn as much as you can about the ocean and how your actions have an impact, so that you can make informed decisions and inspire others. Go diving and witness the magic of the ocean firsthand.