This May 2017 kicks off the second year of our commitment to Project Aware’s “Adopt A Dive Site” Program. For twelve straight months, we have religiously conducted monthly Dives Against Debris and collected over 123.32 kg (271.89 lb.) of underwater debris! In terms of piece count, this translates to 2,179 pieces of debris offloaded from our favorite underwater backyard, Kontiki Marina. We couldn’t have possibly done this without patrons supporting the cause.
This year, as we strive to continue our efforts, we hope to give back to our most loyal patron. We will still be doing at least 1 dive against debris every month and from the period May 2017 to April 2018, the patron with the highest attendance will earn the “Diver Against Debris” specialty certification for FREE. That’s right, at the end of our second year of collecting underwater debris, one truly dedicated underwater warrior will earn the Project Aware Diver Against Debris certification, honoris causa. That’s the least we can do for our beloved ocean warrior. This certification will bring you closer to achieving Master Scuba Diver rating later. We will be posting the Dive Against Debris schedules as events on our Facebook Page so watch out for that. The first event will be on May 28, 2017.
We continue to hope we get to a point where we would be proud to say we have no debris to report. To add more meaning to our efforts this year, all underwater debris collected which can be upcycled as ecobricks will be used as such. Look out for our upcoming post on the dos and don’ts of ecobricking!
Until then, keep diving but don’t let your dives go to waste and don’t ever, ever litter.
We have been consistently gathering underwater warriors every month to help us clear the ocean from debris one dive at a time. To commemorate our commitment to helping keep our ocean trash-free, our twelfth monthly dive against debris was done on Earth Day 2017. We were graced by the presence of fellow dive pro Greg and his wife Ivy, Earl and his son Ethan, Hilbert and Doc Karl.
It being Earth Day, there were a few efforts made in our adopted dive site, Kontiki Marina, during the morning. A group of local divers did a clean up dive for the local government unit (LGU) of the City of Lapulapu. Since our scheduled Dive Against Debris was set at 2PM, we were kind of excited by the prospect that we might not have anything to report for the dive. As pointed out by Greg we have to remember the clean up was made in the morning and that the time from then and 2PM trash could accumulate considering the boat traffic on one Sunday during summer. Sad to say Greg was right. We were able to harness 27 lbs of trash, despite the fact that the LGU unearthed a huge amount of trash which prompted one standard size garbage truck on standby for the aftermath.
As usual, the profile of the garbage we collected consist mainly of plastic. To get more insights on the type of trash collected, you may click here. Photos taken during the event are up on our Facebook Page.
This being our 12th set of data collected, we will be compiling a year’s worth of garbage collected from our beloved adopted dive site Kontiki Marina. We will be publishing a report on this along with other ways on how we can be of help so look out for this upcoming post!
Our heartfelt thanks to this month’s patrons. We hope to see you again next month!
Open Water Course with Ben taken during the tour portion of his 3rd open water dive training. School of active Rabbit Fish was unusually thick on this dive. Current was a little strong, visibility was about 25m. Other divers were diving and training in the area as well.
High tide, water entry depth was about 2m, dive time is 43 minutes, maximum depth is 15m, water temperature is 26 degrees Celsius.
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Is Your Sunscreen Saving Your Skin but Harming the Environment?
It’s summer time again on this part of the world. The sun has been meaner more than ever and thus requiring more potent sun-protection additives to sunscreens. When going out to buy one for your upcoming summer adventures in the beach, please also consider the effects this may have on our underwater friends especially the corals. It’s not enough that the label reads “organic”.
Be mindful of the ingredient called oxybenzone. This is component found in many sunscreen products as well as shampoo and mascara. It is a very dangerous component which can cause severe deformity in corals and even death to these underwater creatures. Per MarineSafe.Org, one drop of this substance is equivalent to six and a half Olympic-size swimming pools’ worth of water sufficient to damage coral. It’s that harmful to our underwater friends. It could also even be harmful enough to humans as this substance is being tagged as an endocrine disrupter, meaning it affects the hormones and reproductive functions of the user. Oxybenzone is currently being tagged as a product which meets the criteria for substances under high concern and is included in the list of substances which needs to be replaced. MarinSafe.org has published a list of chemicals commonly found in sunscreen lotions which may be beneficial to humans but are extremely deadly to corals. You may access the list on this link.
Next time you use a sunblock when you hit the waters, consider buying green brands. Or you may go to your garden and check your pantry. You can whip up some concoction free of petrochemicals and other artificial ingredients. For a natural water-resistant sun lotion, you may use the gel of an aloe vera and mix it with some beeswax, shea butter, olive oil, and rosemary extract– these are the common ingredients used in marine-approved sunscreens. And just wear a hat!
It’s been our tenth consecutive month doing a Dive Against Debris and we are still getting lots of things which don’t belong underwater. This month we were able to collect 18 lbs of debris off the sea. As usual, this is mostly comprised of plastic. The full report on the types of debris collected may be accessed here.
As always, we are forever thankful to our patrons who support the cause. Special shout out to Jan, Tanya and Jayvee! We look forward to having more and more volunteers in the future. Our tribute slideshow to this month’s event may be viewed here.
Next month, we are scheduling the Dive Against Debris on Earth Day, April 22. This will be an afternoon dive followed by a chill night dive. Hope to see you there!
There is more to scuba diving than breathing underwater, and admiring & experiencing the beauty of what lies beneath our seas.
Your certification means that you have been trained by a qualified instructor, and has successfully demonstrated mastery of the skills, and completed all theoretical knowledge validation required to be a safe, capable and independent diver to dive in depth and environment in which you are trained for. Your certification carries with you your center and instructor’s name to vouch this fact.
As you dive more, application of these scuba skills will become more natural. Overtime, you will be performing these skills without any conscious effort. But before you can safely dive, you must acquire these skills and perfect these 12 drills by way of proper training.
1. Swimming – This is a very basic but important skill to master. You need to swim to get from point A to point B when in the water. However, the kind of swimming in scuba diving is not as tiring and demanding compared to swimming on the surface without the aid of buoyancy compensation devices to keep you afloat and with fins to easily push you.
2. Equipment familiarization – Scuba diving requires specialized equipment. You need to be familiar with its use, operations, assembly, disassembly and care.
- instrument reading & monitoring
- proper cleaning and care
3. Pre-dive checks – Going through your checklist before jumping in the water can save a dive, and may save lives. Unfortunately, this step can easily be taken for granted. Most problems underwater can be safely avoided if pre-dive checks are done thoroughly.
- buddy check
- proper weighing check
4. Dive planning, Communication, situational & environmental awareness – plan the dive, dive the plan, agree in everything unanimously.
- maximum depths, maximum time, turn around time, separated diver protocols, emergency procedures, etc.
- hand signal
- recall procedure
- dangerous marine life to watch out for
- water movement changes, depth changes
5. Regulator drills – these are skills that you need to do when the regulator is out of your mouth for one reason or another. Without knowing how to safely put your regular back in your mouth, you’d be breathing water instead of air.
- regulator clearing
- regulator recovery
- regulator-snorkel exchange
- free flowing regulator breathing
6. Mask drills – masks can flood and fog underwater, they can be knocked off by a fellow diver, or the strap could snap. Knowing how to put them back and clear them is essential to a more enjoyable dive.
- mask clearing
- mask removal
- no mask breathing
- no mask swims
7. BCD drills – your buoyancy compensation device makes your dives fun, easy and effortless. Know how to use it properly, and knowing what to do when it fails is not only important, it can save you or your buddy life.
- Inflate / deflate
- Power inflator use
- Oral inflator use
- low pressure hose disconnection
8. Entry, Ascent & Descent techniques – getting in and out of the water is not as easy as 1, 2, 3. There are established safe procedures for going down and going up. Various deep water entries are also essential and knowing when to use what technique is important.
- Giant Stride
- Controlled seated entry
- 5 point descent
- 5 point ascent
9. Air depletion exercises – what do you do when you run out of air? What you do in this situation will either save you or injure yourself. Master these techniques like your life depended on it!
- Alternate air source use
- Controlled emergency swimming ascents (CESA)
10. Problem solving drills – you can’t talk underwater, you can’t just swim up to the surface everytime you encounter a problem. Although most problems can be avoided during pre-dive checks, equipment failures, cramps and other minor things may happen during the dive. You can safely solve them by practicing these skills.
- weight removal & replacement
- scuba unit removal & replacement
- cramp removal
- tired diver towing
- loose cylinder band fixing
11. Neutral buoyancy & Hovering – by far the most difficult scuba diving skill to master. How you hover is what separates you from a novice diver to an experienced diver. Knowing the principle, understanding the techniques and paying conscious effort can help you hover like a pro.
12. Other Skills – Other skills that, when mastered, make you a better diver and a better buddy.
- Proper kicking
- Skin Diving
- Surface marker buoy (SMB) deployment
Details, procedures, critical steps and the purposes of these skills are discussed to you by your instructor during your in-water training.
Getting certified quickly is the best way for you to save money.
There are notable objections and concerns expressed about the practicality of doing 2 days worth of in-water training for Open Water Diver Course versus doing it in a span of 3 to 4 days. Doing what seems to be a quick training may in fact offer you all the opportunity to dive confidently without the direct supervision of a dive professional after earning the certification.
What is in-water training?
In-water training includes confined water dives, open water dives, and water surface skills such as diver towing drills, navigation, swimming and skin diving. As most open water training curriculum from major training agencies, the knowledge development is usually done ahead of time. You can’t put knowledge in application unless you have already learned it. Now with the advent of technology, classroom/instructor-led teaching is becoming very rare and obsolete these days as they tend to overwhelm students with new and uncommon information in a short time.
2 days of in-water training is not only possible, it has always been the practice of most training agencies in the last 20 years. In the previous years, students only have access to the course manuals on site, days before the in-water training starts. The introduction of digital product suites made everything convenient.
Why is 2 days better than 3 or 4?
Your time is valuable and your money deserves value in return. Your resources should not be wasted sitting in the classroom reading the manual, watching the course videos and answering the knowledge review portion after the end of each chapter. You are better off doing something worth while. That day is one less day of accommodation you need to spend on. You, as a new diver, could use an extra day of post certification dives and put the training into practical use and gain more experience instead. Who wants to sit in a classroom anyway?
The key to delivering successful and effective course depends mostly on the student-instructor ratio, the students’ ability to demonstrate the minimum performance requirement for the course, and the experience of the instructors who handle the course. An effective open water diver course that is properly planned, thoroughly conducted and professionally delivered should not take more than 2 days.
If your open water training requires more than 2 days then that is a cause for concern! Chances are, your instructor is not efficient enough to conduct the course, or your class has too many students, or a slow learning student in the mix slowing you and the entire class down. Slow learners must be isolated and taught separately as that class could certainly extend an extra day of remedial training. Downgrading the certification to just Scuba Diver rating is also an option. A Scuba Diver certification is a subset of Open Water Diver course, and may be upgraded to Open Water Diver rating in the future. More about subset courses and its benefits in a different article.
Important things to consider
At face value, cheap offers can be tricky. They can be more expensive if they drag longer. Once you factor in the value of your time, your additional days of accommodation, and missed opportunities to enjoy your vacation, it adds up to the cost.
Major reason for divers to discontinue diving after certification is the lack of confidence. You should be wise enough to consider safety, quality of training, and post certification experience opportunities as your most important consideration. You don’t want to spend all that money, go through 2 days of training, and not be confident about your skills as a certified diver!
Become a better diver, spend your time and money where they matter most.
Open Water diver course with one of the Philippines rising star in the artistic field. Gringo demonstrates the kind of Open Water diver students we at Dive Funatics produce.