Help Divers Protect Their Skin Without Harming Coral Reefs

DCIM100GOPRO

According to a recent study, even a tiny amount of toxic sunscreen can kill coral. Unfortunately, popular sunscreens made by Banana Boat, Coppertone, Neutrogena and others contain oxybenzone, a chemical proven to be hazardous to reefs. Toxic sunscreen has become such a problem, Hawai’i may pass a law banning sunscreen made with oxybenzone.

Unfortunately, choosing a product labeled biodegradable or coral reef safe isn’t enough. Chemicals toxic to coral such as butylparaben, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidine, camphor and the infamous oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3 or BP-3) have been found in products labeled coral reef safe. Before you restock your sunscreen, take a few seconds to ensure it doesn’t contain the ingredients above, or choose a product from our vetted list below.

The sun protection products below received high marks from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and consumers on Amazon.com. These are the least-hazardous sunscreen products on the market (according to EWG’s 2017 research) that also received a minimum 3.5 star score from consumers on Amazon.com. You can view the specific products and links to consumer reviews on our earlier blog post: The Best Natural Sunscreen for Scuba Divers and Snorkelers.

Reef-friendly sunscreen manufacturers – view wholesale info online

Badger Balm

Stream2Sea

WaxHead

Reef-friendly sunscreen manufacturers – contact for wholesale info

Blue Lizard

Beyond Coastal

BurnOut – phone 800-798-7970 or email shona@burnoutsun.com

All Terrain (natural sunscreen and natural bug repellent) call 978-886-3218 or email David Kuykendall dkuykendall@allterrainco.com

Note: no sunscreen has been proven to be 100% reef-safe, but sunscreens made with titanium oxide or zinc oxide do not appear to be harmful to corals (source: NOAA). Chemical processes are used to create any sunscreen, even mineral-based ones.

The best solution for divers and snorkelers is to cover up rather than slather on. A rashguard with UV protection is a better environmental choice than any sunscreen. Choose a long-sleeve version for maximum coverage.

P12-0058-HT_C_SILVER_display

By promoting reef-friendly alternatives to toxic sunscreens, dive operators can reduce their impact on our ocean planet and support the Ocean Health Pillar (one of PADI’s Four Pillars of Change). That said, threats such as coastal pollution, overfishing, and sedimentation are a greater threat to coral reefs than sunscreen. PADI encourages all Members to support the conservation efforts of Project AWARE through donations and education.

Hurricane Relief Efforts

hurricane relief

After two powerful storms hit Texas, Florida and the Caribbean, it has been a difficult time for the millions of people affected by evacuations, flooding, electrical outages and loss of loved ones. We empathize with our friends, family and colleagues after the Category 4 and 5 storms hit, bringing 298-kph/185-mph winds, catastrophic flooding and tropical cyclone rain, leaving 7.5 million people without power for days. With Hurricane Maria currently surging through the Caribbean, our hearts and thoughts go out to those anticipating the storm.

As divers, we want to seize the opportunity to help our fellow dive community in the affected locations. The Red Cross, Caribbean Tourism Organization, and Sandals Foundation are accepting donations to continue providing aid and relief to these specific destinations to help make a difference.

We’ll provide updates on locations that are ready to welcome tourists again once the hurricane passes.

PADI AmbassaDiver Cody Unser Gives Divers with Disabilities a New Perspective

30Aug17_PADI_CodyUnser

Cody Unser First Step Foundation’s (CUFSF) quality of life motto is “Changing Lives One Dive at a Time.” Embodying the Health and Wellness Pillar of PADI’s Four Pillars of Change initiative, a short film showcasing the inspirational story of CUFSF founder and PADI AmbassaDiverTM Cody Unser was recently released. Unser and her CUFSF dive team provide participants with spinal cord-related paralysis with scuba instruction and PADI® Open Water certification to improve quality of life.

“Scuba is that catalyst that can transform people’s perceptions about what’s possible, and that people with disabilities want to not only live life, but thrive in it!” Unser says.

In June, CUFSF took their message to the No Barriers Summit in north Lake Tahoe, California, USA, where Unser’s My PADITM video was filmed to share her story of transcending barriers through diving.

On 12-13 August, Unser and her volunteer dive team conducted a PADI Open Water Diver course for the physical and occupational therapists from the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, along with an introductory scuba event for the institute’s patients. Their goal: to integrate more medical professionals into the world of diving, while showing participants with spinal cord injuries that anything is possible.

“My hope is that the work that we do at the Cody Unser First Step Foundation with our Adaptive Scuba Program will help motivate and inspire the world to become more accepting and adapting for people with disabilities,” Unser says.

Adding support for Unser’s work, and other organizations like CUFSF, the new PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course will launch in November. This new program teaches PADI Pros to help people with varying abilities meet PADI course performance requirements. In addition, the program includes a PADI Adaptive Support Diver course for divers interested in learning how to support dive buddies using adaptive techniques. PADI’s approach to diver education has always been inclusive: Anyone who meets prerequisites is welcome to participate. This new program aims increase awareness of adaptive techniques that focus on what scuba participants can do rather than on what they can’t.

Since becoming paralyzed at the age of 12 due to transverse myelitis, Unser has worked to show others how powerful adaptive sports can be for the health and quality of life of people with paralyzing injuries and conditions. By convincing her doctors about the beneficial neurological and psychological effects of scuba diving on paralysis, Unser has demonstrated to the medical world that diving can promote healing.

“Having lost sensation and function in my lower body, diving made me feel whole again. It’s that feeling of freedom and independence that made me want to share it with others who, like me, doubted and feared life with a paralyzed body on land,” Unser says. “Now that doubt and fear doesn’t exist!”

Be Best. Be PADISM – The Way the World Learns to Dive®

Eco-Friendly Elegance: How to Go Green the Right Way

Written by Tara Bradley
bunaken dive resort

Like many great things in life, the idea behind the Bunakan Oasis Dive Resort began in a bar.

One evening, Elaine and Simon Wallace, divers visiting Wakatobi from England, listened intently as their PADI Divemaster, Maruf Tajudin, known as Acho, told them about his home, on the island of Bunaken, located at the northern tip of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

“He talked with great passion about the reefs and the diving and the fact that he would like to get involved with the education of the next generation, reef conservation and preservation, teaching kids to dive safely and properly and really to make a difference to the area,” Elaine says. “The discussion ‘got’ us.”

With that, the Wallaces visited Bunaken, fell in love with it, and waited until land became available. Five years later, it did, and Tajudin and the Wallaces finally had the chance to open up the resort they’d be dreaming up for so long. All of that planning came into fruition when Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort opened its doors in 2016 and became the first conservation-minded resort on the island.

Finding the Water Source

With a shortage of freshwater on the island, but plenty of well water, the group used Tajudin’s experience working on liveaboards to de-salinate the water. Then they took it to the next level. All of the pipework is now classed for potable water, well water is processed through two freshwater makers and stored in a large 150 cubic meter ceramic-lined tank before it is UV treated and distributed. The water is all tested monthly to ensure it is fully potable. Through this process, the showers, sinks and swimming pool are fresh water.

“All cottages have water dispensers, as do all public areas and the staff village, and all guests are given re-usable drinking thermos flasks,” Elaine says. “It is our aim to negate any need for single use plastics in the resort.”

When it came to the black water treatment system, the Wallaces turned to the French fosse system, the same method used in rural France. The totally self-contained system never needs emptying and exists as its own biosystem, producing just groundwater. Similarly, Oasis’s system is based on several underground BioFil 7 tanks with additional skimming traps, grease traps for the kitchens, neutralizers for the laundry, and a carbon filtration bed.

“The whole system produces nothing but ground water, again we have this regularly tested at the laboratory to make sure no contaminants are introduced into our environment,” Elaine says.

The process is so impressive that guests are granted access to all areas of the property with tours offered to give a look behind the scenes.

“It is important to us that guests can see that their holiday to this incredible diving destination is positive for the island, and that behind the curtain is as good as the guest areas,” Elaine says.

To further their efforts, the property purchased more land. Totaling 5 hectares, they’ve incorporated an organic garden with the goal of growing as many varieties of fruits and vegetables for the restaurant as possible.

The local village wasn’t left out either. With the hopes of granting access to more water and to reduce the need for plastic bottles, a 5,000-litre fresh water tank provides fresh water to everyone for drinking and cooking.

bunaken dive resort

Strong Local Causes

An emphasis on the local environment and people is also evident in the furniture found in all of the cottages, each piece has been built by Bunaken carpenters on the island from wood purchased under permit from the government managed forests.

One of Oasis’s most recent projects involves a mangrove planting program, located in front of the resort, where guests can plant their own mangrove to help provide a nursery for young marine life.

“Prior to the mangrove/jetty, there was nowhere for the marine life that would naturally seek refuge in the mangroves to hide when the tide was low,” Elaine says. “Now we are seeing more and more species colonizing there.”

With the turtle population thriving in Bunaken, a turtle hatchery is also under discussion.

“Thanks to the National Marine Park management, we have been allowed to release several baby turtles as well as a young hawksbill turtle that had been rescued,” Elaine says.

The island itself faces many of the same problems, like floating plastics, found in other marine areas. While a solution for managing the source of the problem is still under discussion, the Oasis team participates in daily beach cleanups, and, with the help of a local NGO, BunakenCare, returns any recyclable material back to Manado in North Sulawesi. And while removing plastics altogether would be ideal, until then, the Oasis and BunkenCare team are doing their part to clean up as best they can.

“When necessary, we use our taxi boat to skim for surface plastic in the area of Liang beach, but one of our next projects is to build a small catamaran, solely for this purpose,” Elaine says. “We are extremely fortunate that the reefs remain almost entirely unaffected by any incoming floating plastic, but if we can stop anything from reaching the beach, it can only improve the ambience of Bunaken.”

bunaken dive resort

Going Solar

Despite detailed investigations, the Oasis team hasn’t been able to implement solar panels for the resort. But they do have them on the boats for lighting.

“Solar is making inroads in some of the larger Indonesian cities, but at the moment we would not be able to get the support needed to rely on a solar solution,” Elaine says. “We hope to be able to progressively implement solar power in the future when the technology is more supported within the region.”

Oasis’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. The resort is the first recipient in North Sulawesi to receive and operate under the Central Government Facilitator for Nature Tourism permit. In honor of being the first property to receive this permit, the property was also gifted with a visit from the Minister of the Environment, Dr. Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

bunaken dive resort

For more on Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort & Spa, or tips on how to make your property eco-friendly, visit bunakenoasis.com.

Join PADI at Surf Expo Sept 7-9

PADI Freediver

Calling all Florida divers! Join us at Surf Expo on Saturday, September 8th to learn more about the value of the PADI Freediver course for your business and meet some of our team!  The show features more than 2,500 booths of apparel and hardgoods and a full line-up of special events, including fashion shows, annual awards ceremonies, and demos.

In addition to our freediving booth, PADI will be offering a free discover static apnea course for those interested in the experience.

PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer, Forrest Simon, PADI AmbassaDiver Andre Miller,  PADI Freediver Instructor Kristofer Landers, and Cressi’s Caribbean Manager, Theo Knevel will be leading the static apnea freediving course.

Contact theo.knevel@cressiusa.com or dial +1 (201) 594-1450 to reserve your spot!

The Magic of Multiple-Level Dive Training

Written by John Kinsella

PADI dive training

It’s not too often you come across something that gets absolutely no hits on Google. Multiple-Level Training is one of those things. Where you will find it is under Organization in the Teaching Techniques section of PADI’s Guide to Teaching. If it’s been a while since you checked it out, take a moment to read it again, especially if you want to boost your Divemaster and IDC enrollment.

The basic idea is to have several different levels of training happening at the same time and at the same place. Done right, multiple-level training is not only an efficient use of resources; it’s a powerful way to motivate existing divers to consider going pro.

The key is planning and careful scheduling (there’s a great sample schedule in the Guide to Teaching) and to build in time for divers to mingle and socialize. It also helps to have a few certified assistants. Consider these strategies to maximize the cross promotional benefits of multiple-level training:

Have all divers together for the area orientation. Let everyone know what’s going on and take some time to introduce the divers to each other: “Welcome to the dive site, we have three activities going on this morning, the Divemaster Mapping exercise, the Advanced Open Water Diver Navigation Dive, and Open Water Dive One.” Cover the usual points, make sure to mention who is doing what (by name), then split up into individual course groups to finish the briefings.

Keep people moving and don’t waste their time. In this example, you could overview the Divemaster Mapping exercise seamlessly with the area orientation before breaking up the groups. This has the benefit of clearly highlighting an interesting part of Divemaster training to both the AOW and OW divers. Then have a certified assistant keep an eye on the Open Water Divers while they assemble their gear and get ready for your predive brief. Meanwhile you’re running through the (detailed) brief for the AOW Navigation dive and setting the divers up to practice their navigation patterns on land. (Which will certainly get the Open Water Divers attention.)

Make good use of your own time. Once you’ve covered the AOW brief, have those divers assemble and set up their gear and present themselves for the dive at a specific time. Head over to the entry point where the OW Divers are ready to go and your certified assistants have the shot line already positioned. Enter, run the dive and when you exit you find the AOW divers ready to go. You supervise that dive from the surface and while the AOW divers are breaking down their gear post dive, you debrief the OW divers before you debrief them.

By now the Divemaster candidates are wrapping up their mapping exercise and you check with them before everyone settles down to enjoy lunch.

All you have to do now is sit back and let the buzz do your marketing work for you.

padi dive training

Why Paperwork Matters

PADI Instructor

There’s an old joke that starts, “what does P.A.D.I. stand for?” Think you know the punchline?

Paperwork

And

Diving

In-between

If that wasn’t your guess, read on to learn about common paperwork mistakes and what can happen if paperwork isn’t done completely and correctly. This article will also answer common questions like, “what happens if a student answers ‘yes’ on their medical questionnaire then wants to change it to a ‘no’?”

Why Is Paperwork So Important?

  • It informs divers of their responsibility to be honest in disclosing and evaluating their medical condition and the risks of diving – even when operators do their very best to provide an enjoyable and relatively safe experience.
  • It establishes the guidelines all divers are expected to follow when participating in this transformational activity.
  • Paperwork is used as evidence to help defend dive pros and businesses if an incident occurs and legal action is filed.
  • Complete paperwork is a requirement of your professional liability insurance policy

What Can Happen If Paperwork is Overlooked
Here’s a hypothetical scenario that’s based on real life:

An open water student signs up for class and turns in his paperwork. The instructor does not closely check the documents and misses the student’s “yes” answer to a history of heart disease and high blood pressure.

During the first open water dive, the student has a heart attack and dies. The medical examiner says the diver’s heart was so bad, he could have had heart attack while sitting in his recliner.

The instructor submits an incident report to PADI along with the student’s paperwork. Meanwhile, the student’s family files a lawsuit.

During a quality management review, the failure to properly review paperwork is discovered along with other issues. The insurance company denies coverage because the instructor violated the Warranty of the Policy – obtain physician’s approval if “yes” answer. The instructor must now fight the lawsuit without insurance, and it could have turned out differently if more attention was paid to the paperwork.

The Most Common Paperwork Mistakes

Pat Fousek, Quality & Risk Management Executive, explains key pieces of paperwork, common paperwork issues, and answers frequently asked questions.

Liability Release – This document explains the risks of scuba diving to the participant and is designed as a contract. The diver agrees to assume the risks and accepts something can and may go wrong. None of us are perfect, and when entering a foreign environment with life support equipment, things do happen.

– Ensure all the blanks are filled in properly before the diver signs the form. This can be done with a stamp (do not obscure any other text), electronically, or filled in by the diver. Do not alter the document after the student signs the form.

–  Confirm the form is signed and dated properly. If the student has questions about the form, suggest they consult with an attorney. Do not attempt to interpret the form yourself, even if you are an attorney.

Non-agency Acknowledgment – This form explains to your customers that PADI Member businesses are not owned by PADI, that dive pros are not employees of PADI, and PADI does not and cannot control the day-to-day operations and decisions of your staff and your business. PADI is not involved in the decisions about whether or not to dive a particular day, the dive site, or what staff members are assigned for a particular duty. That is your business.

The non-agency acknowledgement form is the one most commonly forgotten by PADI Members even though it’s incorporated into the student record file and all the individual liability releases on the PADI Pros’ Site. Before you make copies of a form, please ensure you have the most up-to-date version.* We continually see forms and student record files that are 10 years old or older. As with other forms, be sure to fill in the blanks properly, and ensure the form is signed and dated.

* Current version of student record file (product no. 10058) – version: 5.01 from 6 Jan 2016

Safe Diving Practices Statement – This document is designed to inform divers of their responsibility to dive safely – not only while a student diver, but after certification as well. The diver’s signature on this form confirms s/he is aware of their responsibility as a diver, and failure to adhere to safe practices could place the diver at increased risk. Again, all blanks should be completed, and the form must be signed and dated.

The Medical Statement discusses the risks of diving and asks the diver to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions. A ‘yes’ answer requires the approval of a physician before participating in any in-water activities. The form also advises the diver to consult with a physician “on a regular basis” after completing the course. Always have the diver answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (not just draw a line through all the blanks), sign and date the form.

Invariably, one of your divers will answer ‘yes’ to a question on the medical statement and then want to discuss it with you, or change the answer to ‘no,’ – especially after a friend reminds the diver s/he’ll have to get a physician’s approval. Bottom line: there should be no discussion between the instructor and the diver about the medical statement.

If the diver chooses to change their answer, this is allowed, but the diver must initial and date the change. Think carefully about the reasons for a diver changing his or her answer.

  • Was it a simple oversight? If someone who is biologically male answers yes to, ‘are you pregnant or trying to become pregnant?’ it’s acceptable for the diver to change their answer. Be sure the diver initials and dates the change.
  • Did the diver truly misunderstand the question? If a diver initially answers ‘yes’ there must be a reason for it. You can discuss the situation with the diver, but the prudent thing to do is counsel the diver to be truthful about medical issues for the benefit of their loved ones, their dive buddy, and their own health and safety.

We often get questions about adult divers who had tubes in their ears as a child, but now think it’s not an issue. Another common one: the diver uses an inhaler during the months a particular pollen is active, but isn’t using the inhaler currently. In both of these situations, ask yourself: are you the proper person to verify the diver’s medical condition and physical fitness to dive?
If you have questions about PADI paperwork, or any of the information above, please contact your local PADI Office. Current versions of all the forms described above can be accessed on the PADI Pros Site (padi.com/mypadi) under the Training Essentials menu. Choose Forms and Applications from the dropdown. Using Ctrl + F can help you search the page and quickly find form you want.