Being a responsible scuba diver is important wherever you are diving. But it’s even more so in India because of our dense population. The great news about being a responsible scuba diver is that it has a major feel-good factor, and together we can make a difference and raise awareness – all of which leads to healthier dive sites and the ongoing development of scuba diving in India. Here are some tips to responsibly scuba dive in India, how they help in your underwater adventure, and how they can help you in your daily life too!
1. Get certified to scuba dive in India
If you want to scuba dive, get certified! This not only increases your personal safety underwater, it also means you’ll learn about how to dive to limit your impact on the coral reef and marine life. This in turn means that dive sites stay preserved for you and other divers to enjoy, dive after dive. If you are not certified to dive, sign up for the PADI Open Water Diver Course – you can even start learning online from home now! Once you are a certified diver, you’ll be recognized as such by dive centers all around the world. Yes, you will have more places to explore and more buddies to meet and dive with!
2. Don’t touch coral reef or marine life
Did you know that corals are living animals? You need to treat corals with the same respect you would give other creatures. Touching corals can not only lead to nasty stings, but you can actually infect the reef. Contamination from humans can be deadly for coral reefs, and for the fish living there. Hard coral is often covered with a thin layer of live tissue which protects it. When touched by humans, this layer gets damaged. The basic rules of sustainable scuba diving are: (1) don’t touch the corals and (2) don’t take any corals or shells out of the ocean.
3. Be in control of your movements
Having good control underwater comes through proper training and supervised practice. If you are not a certified diver, sign up for a Discover Scuba Diving program. You’ll learn some basic skills to keep you and the reef safe, followed by an amazing dive in the ocean with an instructor. If you want to get certified, take the Open Water Diver Course and commit to learning to scuba dive in India. Want to develop your diving skills further? Why not take the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course? Being in control of your movements makes you look more accomplished underwater and you’ll also be ensuring the longevity of the reef by not making contact with it. As an ‘in control’ diver, beginners will look up to you and follow your example.
4. Maintain good buoyancy
Divers with good buoyancy control are looked up to wherever they dive. Be a good role model with excellent diving skills, and you’ll gain the respect of your buddies in no time. Good buoyancy control also means that your air will last longer so you can dive for longer. You’ll be able to avoid crashing into a reef or making contact with the bottom. Also, you’ll also be able to maneuver better, which means you can get closer to the marine life and corals. You’ll reduce your stress and anxiety levels in the process as well. Say hello to more relaxing and comfortable dives.
5. Invest in the right equipment
Scuba diving in India is still a relatively new activity. There’s yet an element of ‘cool-ness’ attached to it. You have to have the right equipment if you want to look and feel great underwater. And it has to fit correctly! Over-sized gear or a too-snug fit are both uncomfortable and unsafe. Ask us about which scuba diving equipment you should have and how it should fit for the best performance. If your gear isn’t the right size for you, you’ll struggle with buoyancy and are more likely to damage the reef, since your focus remains on your gear and not on your surroundings. All your scuba gear needs to be tucked away. Nothing should be trailing or dangling, as it can cause to damage to the reef or even lead to entanglement.
6. Don’t pollute the water
For the sake of both land and marine species, it is increasingly important today to be responsible and try your best to reduce your environmental footprint. Never throw trash, even organic, in the ocean. Pick up any trash you see while diving, and others will follow your example. Role model good behavior at home too. Try to reduce your use of plastic by using eco-bags for your shopping and think twice about buying items that are overly packaged. In India, we generate a huge amount of plastic waste. Be a trailblazer and get active on social media about what you are doing to reduce your own plastic consumption.
7. Educate yourself and others
The more people know about something, the greater their interest in protecting it. Learn about corals and marine life and share your findings with others. Not only will you impress them with your knowledge, but you’ll also help create a new generation of educated Indian scuba divers who, like you, want to protect our amazing underwater world.
8. Be an ocean advocate
Being a scuba diver is not just about what we do when we are diving in India. It’s about our behavior at home too. Be a diver everyday by becoming aware of global issues such as climate change and overfishing. Join online conservation groups and be a leading voice on social media. We all know the power of people, so help start a wave of awareness and change!
9. Promote scuba diving in India
Share you underwater pictures and talk with your friends, family and neighbors about your adventures and experiences when scuba diving in India. The more Indian divers there are, the more powerful our collective voice becomes.
Are you ready to put these points into action? Get started by booking a PADI scuba diving course, or your next dives now! Contact us via our online contact form or send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
— BY SARAH WORMALD, PADI
Nethrani Dive Trip 2009
Bangalore Dive Club together with Planet Scuba India has once again managed to take dive trips to a whole new level. The Nethrani dive trip saw a unprecendented 40 divers from India descending on Murdeshwar’s shores. It was a huge number of people and it was a show of strength from the divers.
Nethrani was closed to diving after an incident involving the arrest of some divers. This happened post 26/11 when security was a knee jerk reaction to the terror incident in Mumbai. After numerous efforts by PSI and the local diving community, Nethrani finally got approved for scuba diving.
Divers were all in high spirits waiting to begin their adventure in these “forbidden” waters as such. There was a high level of camaraderie and anticipation in the air. Even though visibility on the first day was poor due to heavy rains the night before the marine life underwater more than made up for it. Huge lobsters, cuttlefish, moray eels and many more varieties of fish kept the divers completely entertained. It truly was a fantastic dive experience.
There were press involved in this dive trip as well. They got a taste of what scuba diving is all about. The one thing that struck both press and divers is the extensive damage that has been done to the marine environment due to excessive fishing. There was mutual concensus that something had to be done to curb discriminatory practices of fishing and some sort of basic education needs to be imparted to the fishermen on what to fish and how to do it the right way without destroying the environment in which they too are dependent on.
All in all, it was a fantastic 3 days of diving and everyone had a good time. Here’s hoping that Nethrani becomes the diving paradise that it is in good time.
International Beach Clean Up Day
Planet Scuba India is proud to have participated in its very first International Cleanup Day event in Turtle Bay. Being a Go ECO Project Aware member and operator, PSI took the first steps into helping the environment.
At least 6 million tonnes of debris enters the world’s oceans each year, causing harm to underwater environments and wildlife. With unique access to the underwater world, scuba divers can help remove debris underwater, raise awareness and drive positive change. Project AWARE Foundation is dedicated to addressing the devastating impacts of marine debris and coordinates global beach and underwater cleanups year round.
International Cleanup Day is the biggest underwater cleanup of its kind. Held annually on the 3rd Saturday in September each year, more than 370,000 volunteers clean over 33,000 miles of shoreline to remove seven million pounds of rubbish.
This year in India David Perry, Operations Manager and instructor at Planet Scuba India registered with Project AWARE and visited Turtle Bay for the cleanup. Joining hands with Turtle Bay Resort Kundapur they initiated the beach clean up. They were helped by participants from FSL (Field Study Learn) an NGO, International students from Germany, Australia and Switzerland, many local kids, teens from the local Youth Club, members from the local church and patrons of the Lions Club. Close to 60 participants helped clean the local beach by picking up litter.
Dominic a PSI representative said the litter they picked up could have filled an entire tempo van. With almost 150 bags of rubbish consisting mostly of plastic bags, glass bottles, shoes and other forms of trash.
It was not all work with no fun, participants had a fun round of beach volleyball to reward themselves for their hard work. Turtle Bay Resort sponsored food and drinks for the participants.
It is through events like this that PSI hopes to spread awareness about protecting our eco system and to lead people with a hands on approach to protect our earth. It is important for people to come together as a community and start making International Beach Clean Up, not only a yearly event but hopefully a monthly event in all parts of the world.
Zero to Advance
How long does it take to go from a non diver to a PADI-Advanced Open Water Diver? All it takes is 5 Days. WHAT?? NO WAY!! IMPOSSIBLE? It’s true. just 5 days.
It begins with 2 days of classroom lessons and pool sessions. Then take a 3 days relaxing trip to the Andamans and completing 9 dives and getting qualified as an Advanced Open Water Diver. Sure you can take the same time do a even more relaxing holiday and get qualified as an PADI-Open Water Diver. But this is me we are talking about. We got to go the whole way or no way.
But i will tell you this, it was a beautiful experience. The classroom sessions give you a feel of what to expect. I shall be honest and say some parts of it were dry but hey all classroom lessons are generally on the dry side. The pool sessions however were good. You get to learn the basic skills in a safe and conducive environment. It puts you at ease and gets you acquainted with the equipment that you will use in the open waters. Also its the best excuse to cool yourself off in this summer heat.
PADI-Open Water Diver: The first 2 days in the island was spent getting certified as a OWD ( we use short forms from here on cos, for one thing it sounds cooler. 2ndly i can’t be bothered to type out the whole thing) The first time you are on the boat and putting on your gear, there is a fleeting moment in the back of your head which says ” am i doing the right thing?” that fleeting moment soon disappears when you roll backwards from the boat to the water and is replaced with a siren that goes ” HOLY *#*$&# what the hell is happening” But when you surface and are lazily floating, you realise this IS the life.
You begin the first couple of lessons learning to breathe normally and adjust to your surroundings. You start to feel comfortable in the water. It feels as if you are back home. You gain more confidence moving around. You start to enjoy yourself. Then it hits you. You are breathing underwater. It seems like almost 2nd nature to you. You see the corals and the fishes. This seems like the most natural thing to do. The OWD course teaches you to move underwater, performing tasks that you need to learn. Like defogging your mask (we are waiting for them to create mini internal windshield wipers) learning how to be buoyant so that you don’t crash land on top of aquatic life. You learn and enjoy yourself at the same time. It does not get better than this.
AOWD(Advanced Open Water Diver) shall be continued in my next installment. But first i shall leave you with some pictures.
Do your part
24th Feb 2009 is the next PADI- Open Water Diver Course. Sign up with us now, so that your summer holidays will be a fun filled scuba diving one. But to more serious news.
One Fifth of World’s Corals Gone: Climate Change Battle to Rescue Remaining
The Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008, released in Washington, DC, December 2008, declares a 19 percent loss of coral reefs worldwide.
Launched by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), the report identifies which coral reefs are recovering and which are declining worldwide. The report states if current trends in carbon dioxide emissions continue, many remaining reefs may be lost over the next 20 to 40 years with alarming consequences.
Project AWARE Foundation, partner behind the project and supporter of the launch event, is encouraged by the report that 45 percent of the world’s reefs are currently healthy. But the Foundation also recognizes a focus on climate change, now considered the leading threat to coral reefs today. Threats including increasing ocean temperatures and ocean acidification are intensified by other threats including overfishing, pollution and invasive species.
“If nothing changes, we are looking at a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide in less than 50 years,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of the IUCN Global Marine Programme, one of the organizations behind the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. “As this carbon is absorbed, the oceans will become more acidic, which is seriously damaging a wide range of marine life from corals to plankton communities and from lobsters to seagrasses.”
Hope is also found in the ability of some corals to recover after major bleaching events, caused by warming waters, adapting to climate change threats. However, the report also shows the recent downward trends have not been reversed in the last four years. And corals have a higher chance of survival against climate change if other human threats are minimized.
“The report details the strong scientific consensus that climate change must be limited to the absolute minimum. If nothing is done to substantially cut emissions, we could effectively lose coral reefs as we know them, with major coral extinctions,” says Clive Wilkinson, Coordinator of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.
“Ten years after the world’s biggest coral bleaching event, we know that reefs can recover given the chance. Unfortunately, impacts on the scale of 1998 will reoccur in the near future, and there’s no time to lose if we want to give reefs and people a chance to suffer as little as possible,” says Dr David Obura, Chair of the IUCN Climate Change and Coral Reefs working group and Director of the Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean Programme (CORDIO) in East Africa.
The GCRMN is a network of people, governments, institutes and NGOs in more than 80 countries, with many partners, including: CORDIO, Reef Check, CARICOMP, Project AWARE Foundation and AGRRA. All reports are available through www.ReefBase.org. To read more of such articles visit ProjectAware