Monthly Archives: August 2016

Exclusive 2-4-1 ticket offer for PADI divers at DIVE 2016!

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Once again, PADI will be exhibiting at DIVE, taking place at the NEC, Birmingham (UK) on the 22 and 23 October. We invite you, your diving and your non-diving friends to visit us at the PADI Village where PADI staff will be on hand to have a friendly chat and answer all your questions.

Introducing Gary Green, our new PADI AmbassaDiver:

This year, not only will PADI introduce you to the latest digital products and features, but we’ll also introduce you to a man who, with the help of PADI Dive Centre Deptherapy, overcame some massive obstacles in life and, against all odds, lives to tell the tale. Gary Green, our newest PADI AmbassaDiver, will be joining us for the weekend to tell us how scuba diving changed his life after he was injured so badly by two bombs in Afghanistan that he was medically withdrawn from the Army. You can read Gary’s story here.

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So come and visit the PADI stand to get inspired about how scuba diving really does change your life and get advice on planning your next adventure. If you’re feeling inspired, why not sign up for your next course with one of the exhibiting Dive Centres and get a free PADI gift* to take away with you.

What’s on over the weekend:

Over the course of the weekend we’ll be holding some great seminars and workshops, which we’d love you to join us for:

Date Time Seminar Location
22.10.16 10:30 – 11:00 NEW PADI Digital Underwater Imaging Adventure Dive Photo Zone Stage
23.10.16 13:00 – 13.20 NEW PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course Ocean Theatre
23.10.16 13.20 – 13.40 PADI Highlights UK Diving Ocean Theatre
23.10.16 13.40 – 14.00 “How My PADI Changed my Life” – PADI AmbassaDiver, Gary Green Ocean Theatre

Good news – if you completed a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Experience or a PADI Open Water Diver course on or after 1st November 2015 you are eligible for the 2-4-1 DIVE 2016 ticket offer**. Simply go online and book in advance using the discount code PADI2-4-1NEWDIVER. Alternatively, you can book on the day and you’ll receive your complimentary ticket at the kiosk. Don’t forget that photo ID must be brought to the show to claim the offer.2-4-1 ticket offers for PADI divers!

We look forward to seeing you there!

* Subject to stock availability. Only applies to PADI courses booked with exhibiting PADI Dive Centres during the show

**2-4-1 ticket offer is not valid with other ticket promotions. The two tickets will be charged at £14.50. All ticket offers are valid only when appropriate ID and proof of certification is shown on entry to the show.

Be A Better Dive Buddy: 5 Things NOT To Do

 

Dive Buddy

If you’ve been keeping up with the PADI blog, then by now you’ll have a good idea of why we love having a dive buddy around, and things you can do to become a better dive buddy.

However, there’s also plenty of things you should avoid doing if you want to your shared scuba experiences to stay safe and enjoyable. Here’s our top five:

#1 – Adding to peer pressure

You might find yourself diving with someone who has less experience than you do, or perhaps they’ve not been in the water as recently. Maybe they are just a little less confident as a diver. Whatever the reason, if your dive buddy doesn’t feel happy with a particular dive plan, then don’t push them into doing it. Even if you feel pressure yourself from the rest of the dive group, remember that diving is not a competitive sport – take everything at a relaxed, comfortable pace and you’ll both have a much more enjoyable dive as a result.

#2 – Not paying attention to the pre-dive activities

If you’re chatting away to other divers during the dive brief, or too busy messing around with your dive computer when your buddy is running through their BWRAF, then chances are you’ll be missing out on important information which you’ll need later on the dive. It might be something as simple as confusing your buddy’s hand signal or going in the wrong direction, but not listening to buddy checks can lead to more troublesome issues, like not knowing how to assist your buddy in an emergency situation. Pay attention on the surface and you’ll be safer under the water.

Dive Buddy Check

#3 – Not paying attention during the dive

Of course, descending below the surface doesn’t mean it’s time to switch off completely; you also need to stay attentive to your buddy throughout the dive. That means staying close enough to provide help should they need it – not wandering away into the depths without looking back. Make sure you keep an eye out for signs of narcosis or nervousness, and check regularly to make sure they have enough gas. Being close and attentive also makes it easy for your buddy to show you marine creatures they’ve managed to spot!

#4 – Pulling risky underwater pranks

If you regularly dive with someone that you’re good buddies with on the surface, then the chances are you both enjoy a good joke together. But while you are both preparing equipment and being a dive buddy underwater, put the pranks on hold. Swapping around equipment, playing hide-and-seek and trying to jump on top of them are not-so-funny ideas that are at best, irksome, and at worst, incident-inducing, so save the funnies for a later date and focus on enjoying the experience.

#5 – Being selfish

Closely linked to #1, this one is particularly relevant to divers who often make their own plans together. It’s important to remember that as a dive buddy pair, there are two of you. That means that there are two sets of interests, goals and experience levels, and it may be the case that they don’t always match up. You might enjoy wreck diving, your buddy might prefer reefs. You might love spending hours in one spot taking photographs, your buddy might get a thrill from buzzing around on a diver propulsion vehicle. Whatever your differences as a buddy pair, make sure that when you plan your trips, you consider each other’s preferences and come to fair compromises so that you can both enjoy the sort of diving you want to experience. If you really can’t agree on what you both want to do, then why not sign up for a group trip and mix-and-match buddies?

Happy Dive Buddy

Make sure you’re not doing any of the above and you’ll be a much better dive buddy as a result. If you find yourself regularly diving with someone who falls into these five categories, make sure to drop the hint by sharing this article!

Want to put your excellent buddy skills to practice? Get in touch with your local PADI Dive Shop today and book your next course or trip.

Diving Olympics – The Final Five of the Sea

Diving Olympics Great White

It only comes around every four years, but the Olympics bring out the fastest, strongest, and most dominant forces on Earth to compete for the top spot on the podium. When it comes to underwater Olympics, we nominate these five sea creatures to bring home the gold as the Final Five of the sea.

Diving Olympics SailfishFastest 

The Sailfish grows at a remarkable rate of over 4 feet/1 metre long in just one year. It boasts an impressive speed of up to 68 mph/110 kph making it one of the fastest in the ocean. This fact is not so good for the small pelagic fish and squid it likes to gobble up along the way.

Diving Olympics Bull SharkStrongest 

The Bull Shark is known to be aggressive, unpredictable, and quite large, averaging at 7.9 feet/2.4 metres long and weighing in at 290 pounds/132 kilograms. To date, the largest bull shark was recorded at a hefty 694 pounds/315 kilograms. In addition to all these big numbers, their bite is equally powerful chomping down with an estimated 1,330 pounds of force. Ouch!

Diving Olympics Flying FishHighest/Long Jump 

Flying Fish cover an average distance of 160 feet/49 metres and clock up to 45 seconds in flight. They’re loved by divers for gracefully gliding at the water’s surface. What’s even more fun? They hit speeds of more than 43 mph/69 kph.

Diving Olympics Sperm WhaleBest Breath Hold 

There’s no question the Sperm Whale would win the freediving portion of the Olympic events. These big beauties are the largest toothed whales in the water. They measure up to 67 feet/20 metres long and weighing over 62 tons/56,246 kilograms. When it comes to feeding time, they dive to over 2,600 feet/792 metres in search of food.  They hold their breath at over an hour, the longest dives achieved by mammals.

Diving Olympics Mimic OctopusBest Disguise

Meet one of the most entertaining creatures in the sea. The Mimic Octopus deserves an Oscar for its acting abilities. Light brown is its natural color. The master of disguise protects itself from predators by changing its color and shape order to mimic an abundance of critters including the lion fish, sea snake and even at the surface as a jellyfish.

Sea creatures adapt incredibly well to their ocean environments. Check out more of the Fastest Fish in the Ocean

Discover the Real Balearic Islands

East of the Spanish mainland, the Balearic Islands are a treasure to behold. They benefit from a lush Mediterranean climate that is conducive to year round diving – although prime time is between July and September. Comprised of four main islands with surrounding smaller isles, there are over 80 dive sites to choose from.

There’s plenty to check out topside too, think bohemian vibes, rustic old towns, stunning beaches, inlets and coves, plus enticing mountain ranges with great hiking opportunities. Each of the islands has a unique character that promises to inspire all types of travellers.

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Mallorca

The largest of the main islands, Mallorca, provides easy access to the Marine Reserve of Cala Ratjada. The reserve is 11,000 hectares of rugged rocky formations that bear the name the ‘big cheese’ due to the proliferation of holes within the structure. Much like Swiss cheese – as the namesake suggests – it is possible to see straight through these port hole like tunnels, making this the perfect environment for a wide range of sea life including moray eels, cuttlefish and the curious dolphin-fish.

The Cove de Jeroni is also a must experience to tick off too. One of the more unusual dives you can complete, the real highlight is surfacing within a cavern to an astonishing light show. Streams of reflected light bounce around the cave highlighting the stalactites clinging to the ceiling.

Menorca

Decreed a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Menorca is a without question a wonder of natural beauty. Hence, it’s no wonder that this extends below the surface to the countless walls and underwater caves that can be found along the limestone coast. Discover a 220 metre long cave with air pockets that lets you glimpse a superb array of stalactites and stalagmites. The incredible water quality and huge range of biodiversity that can be found around the island is something that you won’t want to miss. See John Dory, rays, groupers and more.

Ibiza

Ibiza is home to the largest shipwreck in the Mediterranean, the Don Pedro. At a whopping 142 metres in length and lying at a maximum depth of 46 metres, you’ll need the minimum of PADI Advanced Open Water Certification to reach this particular vessel. However, there are plenty of other shipwrecks to uncover and numerous options for those looking to get certified. Behold a forest of Gorgonians, or find yourself drifting around ‘The Haystack’ as you’re watched by shoals of barracuda and damsel fish. The crystal clear waters ensure that you’ll see for miles and be amazed by the geology.

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Formentera

The more secluded and quite of the islands, Formentera’s peaceful and relaxed topside is reflective of the magically serene dive scene. The underwater landscape is dotted with colourful anemones, sea grass meadows and various rock formations. The waters attract a vast range of protected marine life including hammerheads, blue sharks and seahorses plus vibrant starfish, playful dolphins and sea turtles.

Convinced that you need to discover the underbelly to the Balearic Islands? The PADI Scuba Diver course is the perfect companion to your Spanish islands adventure. As a subset of the PADI Open Water course, the PADI Scuba Diver will provide you with the basics of scuba diving and the freedom to explore to 12m in depth under the guidance of a PADI Professional. Great if you’re short on time and can’t complete the full Open Water course.

Get started online before you go with PADI eLearning. You’ll only need to complete the first three of five sections to qualify for the PADI Scuba Diver knowledge component.

Start now or contact a PADI Dive Shop in the Balearic Islands.

Mallorca

Menorca

Ibiza

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Introducing Gary Green, PADI AmbassaDiver

 

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Our lives do not always go as planned. Sometimes, we face obstacles that we believe we’ll never manage to break through. But what do you do when conflict and war destroys not only your body, but also your mental health and all hopes of a ‘normal’ life? How do you reconstruct yourself? For Gary Green, our latest PADI AmbassaDiver, the answer is two words: Scuba Diving.

A career – and life – turned upside down

In 2009, Gary’s life changed forever while he was based as a rifleman in Afghanistan.

I joined the Rifles as an 18 year old boy in 2007, passed out of Infantry Training Centre (ITC) Catterick in May 2008 as Best Recruit, and was appointed to 4Th Battalion The Rifles. In June 2009, I was deployed to Southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as part of the election support force. I was based in a small patrol base 100m north of a territory heavily controlled by the Taliban. I was faced with daily fire fights and a very high threat of IEDs (improvised explosive devices).  

On 21st August 2009, I was hit by two IEDs concealed in the side of a compound wall, initiated by a command wire and operated by the enemy. I was left blind in my right eye with shrapnel still buried in my face, arm and legs.”

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Facing the struggle of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

After Gary was medically discharged from the Army in 2010 as a result of his injuries, he began the long struggle with rehabilitation into everyday society. Within a short space of time, the impact of his terrible experience took over as he headed down a path of self-destruction.

Upon leaving the Army I struggled to adapt to a life I no longer understood and no longer wanted. I hit a downward spiral of alcohol and drug abuse, trying to distract myself from the demons within me. I struggled with anxiety attacks, aggression and ruminating thoughts of self-destruction and suicide. My behaviour had become acidic; everyone that had remained by my side had been slowly worn down by my burdens. I was unrecognisable from the person I once was, war had truly left me scarred inside out. I lost my house, my family and my dignity. I never lost my hope, though.”

In 2011, Gary began receiving treatment and medication after being diagnosed with acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Two years later, he started channeling his energy into a career as a writer and manager.

“In 2013 I decided to not let my condition define me. After facing my condition and defeating my addictions, I wrote a book which detailed the daily struggle of a life at war and the more destructive struggle with a life outside of war with PTSD.”

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Discovering PADI, Deptherapy and scuba diving

The following year, Gary was introduced to Deptherapy, a UK charity that aims to rehabilitate seriously-injured British Armed Services Personnel who have suffered life-changing mental or physical injuries through the medium of scuba diving.

I had decided to fight my demons. I’m not exactly sure what clawed me from the black hole I had jumped into, but I was grateful for this inner willingness and I grabbed every opportunity with both hands. One of these opportunities was the charity Deptherapy, supported by PADI. Between them both, I was granted a new life.

Without divulging the extent of my suffering due to PTSD, it would be hard to imagine just how relieved I was once I was released. It was as though once I went underwater, all the sins and trauma were washed away from my body. Once underwater, my mind was empty. I could only concentrate on what was in front of my eyes and the skills that PADI had given me.”

 

“Underwater I discovered a world where PTSD did not exist, a world where I found peace within myself coupled with an unparalleled beauty. Without my PADI certification and the generosity of Deptherapy, I would have never found the ocean. Most importantly, I might have never found peace.”

 

The future, films and being a PADI AmbassaDiver

Now a PADI Open Water Diver, Gary is planning his PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course in Egypt.

“I will be diving in the Red Sea to complete my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, my PADI Deep Diver specialty course, and then finishing the trip with a wreck dive. The trip will be with Deptherapy and I will be part of a larger group of students, all veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffering with the mental and physical injuries of war. The courses are delivered specifically for wounded soldiers and veterans; it’s a diving trip but it’s also a form of therapy for everyone involved. Once back home, I will be looking to do dry suit training, after which I can start diving in the UK. This will give me the opportunity to get more dives under my belt and to also dive with some of the other veterans on a regular basis.

While in Egypt we will be filming part of a documentary on the Deptherapy charity; I’ve already been filmed in an interview for this. It details the story of my life before, during, and after war, also the story of how and why that changed when I learned to scuba dive on my PADI Open Water Diver course. We will use the trip to film ourselves in action, and hopefully this will raise a lot of awareness for scuba diving with PADI for the veteran community.”

As a PADI AmbassaDiver, Gary will be blogging for PADI, sharing the story of his journey with the aim of helping and inspiring other veterans and PTSD sufferers to discover the healing power of scuba.

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Bay Islands of Honduras

Honduras

The Bay Islands are nestled in the southwest corner of the Caribbean, about 48 kilometers/30 miles north of Honduras. The outstanding reef systems draw divers from all over the world and the islands have become a veritable hive of dive activity. Part of the second largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the islands of Roatan and Utila in particular feature vibrant coral, multicolored tropical fish, sponges as big as refrigerators and pelagic species such as manta rays, sea turtles and, especially from mid-February to April, whale sharks.

Each island offers different experiences both above and below the water. Roatan has a wide variety of accommodations, from all-inclusive resorts to budget hotels, great beaches and there’s plenty to do topside for nondiving partners. Utila is more laid back and is a well-known destination for backpackers looking to become dive professionals. Many complete their training from start to finish while living on the island. The Bay Islands are a great place to take that next course while enjoying dive sites second to none.

Locate a PADI Dive Shop

Great Dives

  • West End Wall, Roatan – This wall starts great and gets even better as you drift along. Fish cover the top and a variety of sponges and corals cling to the side. Keep a sharp look out into the blue for schools of pelagics including eagle rays.
  • Dolphin Den, Roatan – This site has a network of tunnels and canyons that takes you from one side of the reef to the other. You wind through an underwater maze, illuminated with natural light filtering through crevices, which starts at 5 metres/15 feet and exits at 12 meters/40 feet. Look for eels and silversides. The dive site gets its name from a tragic incident when many dolphins became disoriented in a cave and perished.
  • El Aguila, Roatan – Wreck divers will enjoy visiting El Aquila, a 64-metre/210-foot cargo vessel purpose-sunk as an artificial reef. It rests at 30 metres/100 feet on a sandy bottom, which is full of garden eels. Prepared for divers before sinking, it’s easy and fun to explore the ship’s open compartments while looking for fish and moral eels.
  • Black Hills, Utila  Located on the southeast end of the island, the Black Hills is a seamount that starts at about 10 metres/35 feet and drops to 50 meters/165 feet on one side into a trench. You’ll see thousands of brightly covered tropical fish, but also barracuda, horse-eye jacks, and yellowtail snapper.
  • Halliburton, Utila – The Halliburton is a 30-metre/100-foot long supply vessel that was purpose-sunk as an artificial reef in 1998. The wreck lies in 30 metres/100 feet of water and sits upright, with the deck at 20 metres/70 feet and the bridge at 18 metres/60 feet. Marine life varies from shrimp hiding in the cracks to large schools of fish circling the bridge.
  • Blackish Point, Utila – The reef is made up of black volcanic rock and soft corals. Starting at 9 metres/30 feet and dropping gradually down to 24 metres/80 feet, you’ll encounter stunning overhangs and crevices that host lionfish, moray eels and huge spiny lobsters. You may even spy a big midnight parrotfish.

Want to know more? Visit ScubaEarth® for further information on thousands of dive sites, marine species, destination essentials and more.

Dive Summary

Visibility – Visibility is generally good in the Bay Islands from 24-45 metres/80-150 feet. Although it can drop lower during the rainy season.

Water Temperature – Water averages 25° C/78° F in winter and 29° C/84° F in summer.

Weather – Diving is great all year and warm tropical weather is the norm, with little change in temperature from winter to summer – the average being 29° C/85° F. Humidity is usually high, especially from May to September. June through October is hurricane season in the Caribbean.

Featured Creatures – If you’re looking to spot a whale shark, it can be done all year, but the best chance is off the north shore of Utila from March to May and again from August to October. There are more than 300 identified fish species in Bay Island waters. Divers frequently see dolphin, grouper, rays, barracuda, angelfish, butterfly fish, grunts, parrotfish, yellowtail snapper, horse-eye jack, octopus, lobsters, crabs, moray eels and hammerhead sharks.

Recommended Training – Take the PADI Deep Diver and PADI Wreck Diver courses for diving on the deeper walls and wrecks of the Bay Islands. The PADI Enriched Air Diver course is also a good choice as enriched air nitrox is available in the islands. Technical diving is also available, so look into PADI TecRec courses, including the PADI Rebreather Diver course, if interested.

Locate a PADI Dive Shop

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Travel Info

Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

Language – Spanish is the official language of Honduras, although most resorts and dive businesses have staff members that speak multiple languages.

Currency – Honduran Lempira. Credit cards are widely accepted.

Major Airports – A few international flights arrive at Juan Manuel Galvez International Airport on Roatan, but most flights pass through mainland Honduras or other countries in Central America before connecting to Roatan or Utila. You can also get to the islands from the mainland by ferry.

Electricity and Internet – Electricity is 110 volts, 60 Hz. Internet service is available in most of the hotels and cafes.

Topside Attractions – On Roatan, there are several zipline tours said to be some of the best in the world. You can also explore the island by horseback or visit Arch’s Iguana Farm or the Butterfly Garden. On Utila, you can enjoy a variety of other water activities besides scuba diving – kayaking, wake boarding, kite surfing, wind surfing, boogie boarding, etc.

Locate PADI Dive Shops and Resorts in Roatan or Utila

Information links:
Tourismroatan.com
Aboututila.com
Utilaguide.com
Honduras.com/bay-islands

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