Eco-Advocacy and Adventure in Galápagos with Roberto Ochoa

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Photo by Roberto Ochoa

By Guest Blogger: Jo Walters

PADI AmbassaDiver™ Roberto Ochoa talks about his recent expedition to Galápagos, when he spent 10 days shooting a documentary film showcasing the beauty of the marine sanctuary and filming freedivers as they encountered the surprising reactions – or lack thereof – of the area’s aquatic inhabitants to their presence.

For 10 days beginning 28 July 2016, a team of noted eco-advocates joined PADI AmbassaDiverTM and marine wildlife videographer Roberto Ochoa on an expedition to the Galápagos Islands to raise awareness of the importance of conservation, promote responsible eco-tourism and film freedivers exploring the recently-created shark and ray sanctuary in the waters of Darwin and Wolf Islands. The team included some of the aquatic realm’s most ardent divers, including professional freediver Guillaume Néry; shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey; Charles Darwin Foundation scientist Dr. Pelayo Salinas De León; Cousteau Divers Founder Pierre Cousteau; deep dive record holder (and PADI Professional) Leo Morales; champion freediver Estrella Navarro; and esteemed underwater photographers Juan Oliphant and Natalie Parra.

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Photo by Juan Oliphant

The Expedition

“The purpose of the expedition and the resulting film is to present a positive message about the natural conservation of marine species and their coexistence of man through sustainable development,” says Ochoa, who is interested not only in showcasing the beauty and bio-diversity of the Galápagos Islands, but also supporting the local economy by promoting responsible eco-tourism. “That’s why we devoted a day of the expedition to a special program for students from local schools and another to snorkeling in the waters of Tortuga Bay with 80 local children, age 8-11. We must educate the young about the importance of sustainable conservation in order to establish a strong foundation for future eco-activism.”

According to Ochoa, one of the most amazing revelations of the expedition was the interaction of marine animals with the freedivers. “For many marine species, this was their first encounter with freedivers, and they seemed to consider them fellow denizens of the deep – probably because, unlike scuba divers, the freedivers were silent so the marine animals responded to them in a totally different manner,” he explains. “It was particularly fascinating to watch the reactions of the hammerhead sharks. They seemed far more curious than cautions when they encountered the freedivers and didn’t hesitate to interact with them. It resulted in truly magical moments captured on film.

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Photo by Juan Oliphant

Features of the Film

Throughout the 10-day expedition, freedivers made four-to-five dives each day and created more than 40 hours of film. In addition to the hammerheads, people viewing the film will see the freedivers interact with a variety of marine creatures. The islands featured whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and iguanas. The filmmaker has another surprise in store for his audience and it’s exciting. The film was shot in a special 360 degree format in some portions. It renders a kind of virtual reality, panoramic viewing experience for the audience.

You can catch a six-minute short version of the Galapagos Evolution documentary at the 2016 DEMA Show. It will preview in November in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The full documentary will have wide distribution upon completion. Visit Roberto Ochoa’s website for additional updates.

PADI and Seiko to Release PADI Special Edition Diver’s Watches

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Article Written by John Kinsella

There’s something special about good solid diver’s watches. They’re functional, durable and good-looking. (They may also be one of diving’s greatest unsung marketing tools; who hasn’t had a diving conversation sparked by a comment about their watch?). And, in an increasingly digital world, quality analog diver’s watches have stood the test of time. For dive professionals, they remain essential symbols of a personal commitment to diving. They are de rigueur for PADI Members the world over.

PADI Members also demand quality and will be keenly interested in PADI’s new partnership with Seiko. Since the launch of their first diver’s watch in 1965, Seiko has become synonymous with quality diver’s watches and a tireless innovator responsible for new technologies and designs for professional and recreational divers alike. These innovations include the world’s first titanium diver’s watch, the first diver’s watch with a ceramic outer case and the world’s first nitrox multi-level diving computer watch. These innovations, and the style and quality of their diver’s watches, has earned Seiko an enviable reputation in the dive industry.

At the core of this partnership is PADI’s and Seiko’s shared passion for diver safety and the marine environment. To launch it, PADI and Seiko will release two PADI Special Edition diver’s watches this autumn.

The first of these, the Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition Kinetic GMT Diver’s SUN065, uses Seiko’s Kinetic technology. The watch’s quartz movement uses a rotor, powered only by body movement, to charge the battery. This watch features a modern version of the legendary two-layer case first seen in 1975 and affectionately nicknamed for it’s superficial resemblance to a can of “Tuna.” The build quality is excellent with clear dial printing, a smooth bezel and a solid crown.

The second watch, the Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition Automatic Diver’s SRPA21, pays homage to a true classic: the 1970’s Seiko 150m mechanical diver’s watch. Its unique case and dial design led divers to nickname this model the “Turtle.” The watch features Seiko’s trademark easy-to-read, wide, clear hands. It’s a clean and simple diver’s watch.

Both special edition models gracefully feature PADI’s characteristic red and blue color palette on the dials and the bezels, and the PADI logo on the dials. Either watch will make a functional and stylish accessory for PADI Pros.

For more information about these watches, please visit the Seiko Store Finder to contact a dealer.

PADI Women’s Dive Day 2016 – A Huge Success

On 16 July 2016, more than 700 events in 77 countries took place to celebrate the second annual PADI Women’s Dive Day. Women, men, girls and boys from around the globe joined together on land and underwater to enjoy scuba diving as one community. Events ranged from PADI Discover Scuba® Diving experiences in the local pool, to adventurous shark dives, to environmental talks and underwater cleanups, to simple fun dives and beach barbeques.

Here are just some great Women’s Dive Day moments shared by PADI Dive Shops and Members:

  • Great Lakes, Michigan—Great Lakes Divers and Team Sedna embarked on record-setting journey where dubbed the #BigFiveDive on which they dived all five of the Great Lakes in just 24 hours.

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  • Cayman Islands—Divetech joined forces with the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre to raise funds to aid women and children seeking shelter from domestic abuse.

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  • Dutch Springs, Pennsylvania—Divers with Underwater Adventures Dive Center explored a sunken plane, fine-tuned their scuba skills, shared stories and heard from experts in the industry.

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  • Bahamas—Stuart Cove’s hosted a Sea Turtle & Shark Conservation Educational Experience. “All our female PADI Instructors get just as excited about this event as our women divers who join us! The day is about getting together to learn and share our passion for exploration, education and conservation,” said Hayley-Jo Carr.

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  • St. Louis, Missouri— The Great American Diving Company challenged divers to an underwater Poker Run and honored newly certified divers at a special ceremony.

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  • Eugene, Oregon—Eugene Skin Divers Supply invited non-divers for a free DSD® and tea social to introduce them to scuba diving.

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  • Coronado Island, Mexico—PADI AmbassaDiversTM Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson led a dive adventure with sea lions and sharks. Watch their video here.

Check out additional event photos in the PADI Women’s Dive Day photo album on Facebook. You can continue the global conversation by using #PADIWomen on your social networks. Be part of the movement! Next year’s PADI Women’s Dive Day is 15 July 2017.

Path to PADI Course Director

When considering the PADI Course Director rating, it’s helpful first to take a look at what it’s not: It’s not the ultimate, or even an appropriate, goal for every dive professional. Nor is it a short-term goal you decide to earn simply for personal betterment, edification or prestige.

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What it is is an essential qualification for those with the desire, the know-how and a plan to work in tandem with PADI Instructor Development Centers and Resorts and train PADI Instructors. It is a major commitment to the dive industry and, most importantly, to yourself.

To become a Course Director you must earn a spot in a Course Director Training Course through a competitive application process that examines your experience and training goals. Success demands preparation and advanced planning. Course Director applicants are expected to present a realistic business plan, developed in cooperation, and integrated, with a PADI Instructor Development Center or Resort. The plan outlines the specifics of marketing and implementing of new instructor training. PADI Master Instructors with solid teaching experience, a great continuing education ratio, and who have assisted with several IDCs may be ready to apply. Other requirements are EFR Instructor Trainer, at least 250 logged dives and demonstrated commitment to Project AWARE.

The current CDTC application lists all the details and resides, along with a host of support materials (including a comprehensive and informative online presentation) on the PADI Pros’ Site.

Applications approved, Course Director candidates start training by completing several presentations, knowledge reviews and a Course Director-level exam on PADI Systems, Standards and Procedures online. The CDTC itself lasts for nine days and includes presentations on organizing and promoting instructor development. Hands-on workshops, in classroom, confined water and open water, focus on evaluation training, professional development and counselling techniques. Candidates create and build professional, and personal, relationships that last lifetimes.

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Those PADI Course Directors who successfully complete the CDTC join an elite group of instructor trainers. Through their PADI Instructor Development Courses (IDCs) and other instructor-level training, they earn a place within the ranks of the scuba diving industry’s most influential leaders and role models. And while it’s still not for everyone, this is the most respected professional rating in recreational scuba diving.

Log on to the PADI Pros’ Site and read through CDTC Questions and Answers document, then check out the online presentation about what it takes to become a PADI Course Director and download the CDTC Fact Sheet.

‘PADI Learn to Scuba Dive’ Video Hits 1 Million Views

We all know how learning to scuba dive can change lives. It’s no myth; we’ve all seen it happen or experienced it ourselves.

In its 50 year history, PADI has been the industry leader for a long time. We don’t just teach scuba better than anybody else, our heavy emphasis on total industry growth enables us all to do better together. It is through the excellent training and marketing campaigns that we are, The Way the World Learns to Dive®.

We’re excited to see the PADI Learn to Scuba Dive video reach over 1 Million views on YouTube, a milestone for the dive training industry. There’s no doubt many new divers have been informed and inspired by this video.

PADI has a range of scuba diving course videos available on YouTube, able to be used and embedded by PADI Members to market their courses. These can also be found on the PADI Pros’ Site for download.

Thank you for all your efforts in teaching the world to scuba dive!

“My PADI. My Ocean. My Hope” Showcases Diver Achievements

To commemorate its 50th anniversary and recognize the important contributions of divers over the past half-century, PADI is releasing a series of short documentary videos entitled My PADI. My Ocean. My Hope.TM The series brings together stories of the human experience in which diving is the foundation for transformation, human connection and purpose.

My PADI. My Ocean. My Hope features a handful of passionate divers and PADI Professionals focused on educating others about environmental, social and humanitarian issues. Here’s a look at three:

  • Leo Morales – In 2008, Morales was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in his right leg, which led to its amputation. After a friend’s recommendation, Morales turned to scuba diving as a way to heal and gain a new outlook on life, and has since set two world records. Now a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor and motivational speaker, Morales hopes that others can be inspired to what is possible. “Under the water you don’t have any limitations,” Morales says. “You don’t have any disability. You are able to fly.”
  • Andre Miller – Having first worked in a dive shop and then in a marine lab, Andre Miller naturally gravitated toward a career as a marine biologist and PADI Instructor. He was integral in establishing a marine sanctuary in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, and today teaches youth about marine life and diving. “My ocean is my life. My ocean is also your ocean. We need it to survive and we need more people in the water. The more people we get certified as divers and free divers the easier it is to protect what we have,” Miller says.
  • Jennifer Idol – After witnessing the Gulf of Mexico in flames after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Idol set out on a mission to dive all 50 states, inspired by a goal to help others to love and protect our waters by revealing their true beauty. “I could have never foreseen that I would eventually take the giant leap to make diving a full-time career,” Idol says. “As a PADI instructor and underwater photographer, I want to help others love diving, become good divers, and love the underwater world so that we may all enjoy it for generations to come.”

“We at PADI are thankful for our Members and the millions of divers who have helped to make this 50th anniversary possible,” said Drew Richardson, president and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “It’s an honor to play a role in the transformational journey diving offers to anyone willing to embrace it. Which is why, as we mark this milestone anniversary, the PADI organization is celebrating the people scuba diving has touched in significant and profound ways. We’re recognizing and applauding their actions, which in turn infuses others with the optimism, courage, determination and inspiration to live a better life and make the world a better place.”

The PADI organization invites you to seek out stories from your divers, friends and communities. Encourage them to share what My PADI. My Ocean. My Hope means to them and how diving has transformed their lives.

Watch the stories, learn how you can share yours and spark conversation at mypadi.padi.com.

My PADI Interview: Margo Peyton, Family Dive Adventures

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Interview conducted by: Brooke Morton

Margo Peyton initially started Kids Sea Camp as a one-week getaway designed to introduce her own kids to diving. Now, nearly two decades later, it has snowballed into a global community: She and her family run 15 weeks in 13 countries, including the Cayman Islands, Bonaire, Honduras, Fiji, Palau, Yap and more.

What’s the secret behind Kids Sea Camp?
Kids Sea Camp creates the avenue for us to have multi-generational travel — that’s one of the things KSC has been majorly successful at. We have 5-year-olds in the water doing SASY and 70-year-olds taking Divemaster courses. We offer activities, programs and education for every member of the family. And it’s place where everyone can feel welcome.

What defines a family? At KSC, we have two moms, we have two dads; we have every race and every religion at our events. We have families with adopted children; we have families who bring nieces and nephews. It’s a fun, relaxing, peaceful place to be — which, in our world, is growing increasingly important.

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How’d it all start for you?
I grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with a father who was a diver. When I was 6, he would put me in a tidal pool breathing from his regulator. I spent my childhood in the ocean, and was a freediver first. It was never a question of if I would get PADI certified, but when.

It happened when I turned 22. My dad gifted me my Open Water Diver certification for my birthday. One thing led to another, and I moved to the Cayman Islands, working first as a Divemaster for Bob Soto’s Diving. Then I transitioned to a career as an international travel consultant.

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How have PADI and Kids Sea Camp changed your life?
For a while, I was a single mom, and I didn’t want to leave my kids behind when I traveled. My whole career up to that point had been about dive and travel. I had to figure out a way to include my two kids — so I started Kids Sea Camp because of them.

And now, it feels like the family-dive-and-travel business is growing in leaps and bounds. I feel like I am running a fine dining restaurant using just an Easy Bake oven. I have created something that nobody else has even touched, that nobody else has been able to recreate.

What makes KSC so successful is that it’s not just a business, it’s personal. It’s about family ties and creating connections about the world. It’s not about money.

How do you keep kids diving?
Try asking your kids to journal their dives together, and then put them on Facebook. This helps create lasting memories for them. One of the most memorable things I did with my daughter was during her first night dive. I made sure to spend extra time debriefing – asking her what she saw and looking up the marine life in books together.

For parents or instructors working with kids, try using an underwater slate or the ScubaPro Waterproof Wet Notes – both good tools. Kids have the desire to come to the surface to tell you what they saw; they can’t hold it in—they want to tell you immediately! The notes let them do that, and continue the dive safely.

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What’s your secret to getting younger kids diving?
For any age, it’s very important to openly discuss and address fears. Kids have fears, but they may be afraid to tell you. A kid knows if he tells you that his ear is hurting, he can’t dive. But if he is questioned later, you may learn he actually had a fear of sharks or jellyfish. It’s important to address those fears immediately. The most important thing for a scuba family is for everyone to enjoy it safely.

Do you have any advice for PADI Dive Centers and Resorts?
I love when resorts offer youth programs and courses, like SASY. There is also Junior Advanced Open Water Diver and Junior Rescue Diver courses. A lot of people don’t even know that these courses exist or that there are so many opportunities in diving for kids.

What’s next for KSC?

I am elated that KSC is growing by such leaps and bounds. I’m very excited about the Instructor Development Course that we are running in Bonaire, August 5 – 19, 2017. It’s the first time that we have ever offered professional courses — and the majority of candidates have been with us since they were SASY students!

Next year, we are also adding Indonesia’s Wakatobi Dive Resort, one of PADI’s newest Five Star Dive Resorts, as a new destination. We will also be introducing a week in Dominica.

Lastly, through Ocean Wishes, we are certifying more and more local children in the communities we go to, including Fiji and the Philippines. In Fiji, we raised money for floors in the schools and brought over loads of school supplies. In the Philippines, we are supplying clothes and shoes. KSC is much more than just diving. It’s about outreach and connecting humanity.

Learn more about Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures at familydivers.com.