When you are training someone to become a dive professional there is a wealth of information that needs to be covered. The basics of how your body is functioning on a physiological level, especially the circulatory and respiratory systems. Physics is brought up in detail when learning about buoyancy and pressure/volume/density relationships. The dreaded terms halftime, M-value and tissue compartment are discussed at length. Hours are spent figuring out NDL’s, ABT’s and minimum surface intervals. Different types of currents are furiously scribbled on the board. Regulators get broken down to their smallest parts and examined intensely.
And that’s only the official classroom sessions. Possibly twice that time is spent diving and assisting PADI dive professionals, learning the ropes . Getting tanks loaded, sorting out gear and scrambling to locate an extra couple of chunks of lead are all a daily trial. Packed lunches have to be double checked, water can’t be forgotten, towels, sunscreen, seasickness tablets, buoyancy games, slates…the list is endless. Assisting with student divers is both rewarding and challenging. Let your attention wander for a moment and a potentially life threatening situation can arise. Sometimes it seems that you are actually training to be a psychologist. People need to be encouraged, pampered, scolded, rewarded, corrected, pandered to and respected and all with a smile.
What’s the trade off, why do people want to put themselves through this type of training. It’s because of what we know is waiting for us just under the surface of the water. Diving is amazing and being able to share that passion is one of the most rewarding experiences possible. But what are we teaching our students and fun divers under our care? Are we utilizing the experience as best as we could? People come away from diving changed. Is there an opportunity to channel that change? Can we encourage and instill a sense of responsibility on the people we interact with as dive professionals?
If you have the right knowledge to draw on we think you can. But where in the divemaster course do you gather the information and frame of mind to enact that. It’s all a bit ambiguously hidden in the depths of the PADI system. If you have ever flipped to the beginning of the PADI Instructor Manual you might have read the line “Open hearts and minds to the hidden beauty of nature’s creation and our obligation to protect it”. Then again like most people you probably skimmed that page. It’s all well and good to state what needs to be done on an idealistic level, but it needs to be backed up with a plan. How do we learn to “open hearts and minds?” Where is that program in the manual? Luckily Project AWARE has similar mission statements and actually has a game plan to get there. Education is the key. The more you know about the plight of the oceans the more you feel the desire to do something about it.
It’s in that vein of thought that at Liquid we now include for free (literally we are paying the costs) the Project AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty and Project AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Specialty with every Divemaster Trainee package. The more you know about our oceans the better equipped you are to transfer that knowledge to your divers. At Liquid we support Project AWARE 100% and we want all of the dive professionals being trained by us to leave with conservation at the forefront of their new dive careers.
So what are these courses?
The AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty is the newest Project AWARE course. The philosophy of the course is pretty straight forward.
Sharks are crucial to marine ecosystems. They maintain a balance in populations of prey species and keep the ocean healthy by removing ill or diseased animals. They are an important resource supporting local economies through fishing and as an attraction to dive tourists.
But sharks are in a global decline. Overfishing has reduced many shark populations around the world to levels that threaten their continued existence. Shark numbers have fallen by more than 80% in many cases, and the continued existence of some species is at immediate risk in some regions.
The goals of the AWARE Shark Conservation Diver course are to inform students of the value of sharks to marine ecosystems and economies, to educate them about the causes of declining shark populations, to build an understanding of what is missing in current shark fisheries management, to dispel misperceptions that may block them from taking action, and to inspire them to help sharks by taking action. The AWARE Shark Conservation Diver course aims to turn students into informed and passionate shark defenders who take action to protect sharks.
Most of our dives are done on reefs. It’s where the action is and where the fish and critters live. In the AWARE – Coral Reef Conservation Specialty Course we can inform divers and non-divers about the plight of the world’s coral reefs. The course describes how coral reefs function and why they are so important. It also reviews why many reefs are in serious trouble and what individuals can do to prevent further decline. Most divers, snorkelers and environmental enthusiasts have already visited or plan to visit a coral reef. The AWARE – Coral Reef Conservation Specialty course provides the knowledge base for proper interaction while touring a reef.
At Liquid we think it is part of our responsibility to help protect and preserve the things that give us so much. We feel the best way to give back is to ensure that dive professionals trained by us are environmentally aware and knowledgeable. After all they are the ones that will be travelling and diving the world we want to protect.