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Scuba Diving, Travel

5 Destinations Worth Getting PADI Certified

From PADI.com:

 

So if you earn your PADI Open Water Diver certification, where can you use it? Everywhere. Start with these beautiful destinations:

Bonaire

Diving in Bonaire

The reefs off this Dutch island continually rank among the Caribbean’s best for species diversity, which means you’ll encounter more varieties of fish on one dive here than anywhere else in the region. That’s in large part because visionaries in 1979 created The Bonaire National Marine Park, protecting the corals and the fauna that depend on them. Plus, with more marked shore dives than any other Caribbean island, Bonaire offers a D-I-Y dive experience, perfect for divers looking to fill logbooks on the cheap.

Indonesia

manta ray

Smack in the middle of the Coral Triangle, aka the biodiversity hotspot where the Pacific meets the Indian Ocean, Indonesia abounds in the stuff of divers’ dreams. It’s hard not to love the opportunity for face-time with marine megafauna, including giant mantas and oceanic sunfish. Not only do the coral reefs serve as picture-perfect examples of healthy ecosystems, swarming with hot pink anthias and orange anemonefish, but the area is also home to muck dives where you can encounter the weirdest of the weird in the fish and critter ID books, from the mimic octopus to the Bobbitt worm.

Seychelles

With beautiful coral reefs, famous granite rocks, and incredible wrecks to explore, the Seychelles islands are alone worth getting PADI certified to explore a variety of marine life and history.  Located 1,500 km (932 miles) east of mainland East Africa, the Seychelles are comprised of 115 islands laying on a submerged plateau just four degrees south of the equator.  These islands are welcoming year round with water temperatures remaining between 26°C – 30°C (78°F – 86°F). Interested in having some big encounters? Running into mega fauna like sharks and manta rays are common due to the calmer water from March – May and September – November.

Mexico’s Riviera Maya

You don’t need to be cave certified to dive all cenotes—only an Open Water cert is needed for accessing some of these stalactite-studded sinkholes with likely the clearest waters you’ve been diving in.

Mexico’s Mayan Riviera sits on top of one of the world’s largest networks of underground caves, so diverse in features and formations that many offer passageways well lit by the sun.  You will definitely want a guided experience if you’re a beginner and we recommend the PADI Cavern Diver course before you go. Want to see more of the cenotes? Watch this video here.

Your Backyard

Find the dive site nearest your home, and drop in as often as possible. Whether it’s a reef, river, lake or quarry, just the sheer act of getting to know the landscape, residents and water-movement patterns creates a relationship that will change you. It’s one thing to encounter a Caribbean reef shark or loggerhead turtle on vacation, it’s quite another to encounter the same aquatic life so regularly that observing anomalies becomes second nature. Doing so fosters an intimacy and understanding that’s transferable anywhere you dive.

Looking for more dive sites to explore? Check out these Top 5 Winter Diving Hotspots.

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Scuba Diving, Sea Life

7 Species of Sharks Your Should Get To Know

From PADI.com – By Peta King

 

Over-fishing is driving sharks to the brink of extinction. In fact, many populations have seen a decline of up to 80%. Healthy oceans depend on healthy shark populations because they keep the marine food change in balance. Sharks grow slowly and produce few young – meaning they are incredibly vulnerable. The saddest part? Many of the leading factors in the decrease of populations of sharks are caused by human activity.

Here are seven types of sharks we think are work getting to know (and help ensure they have a brighter future).

Grey Nurse Sharks, AKA Sand Tiger Sharks

Grey Nurse Sharks

Grey nurse sharks are extremely vulnerable due to their slow rates of reproduction. Where they aggregate, grey nurse sharks are generally found near the bottom at depths of 10 – 40 metres (32 – 130 ft). They’re often observed in or near sandy coastlines, submerged reefs or rocky caves. You can see these wonderful creatures off the coasts of North/South America, South Africa, Japan and Australia.

Great White Sharks

Great White Sharks

Possibly the greatest threat to great white sharks has been ‘the Jaws effect.’ Following the release of the movie Jaws, great white shark numbers plummeted. It’s not all bad news though – in 2014, reports showed that population numbers were increasing again. That said, there’s still a long way to go before this species is in the clear.

Whale Sharks

Whale Sharks

Population numbers are actually unknown for whale sharks, however they’re believed to be vulnerable. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea reaching up to 12 metres long but despite their huge size, whale sharks are extremely docile and feed only on plankton. You can see whale sharks in all kinds of places – Belize, Ningaloo Reef in Australia, many parts of Asia – but do your research, and try to choose an organisation that respects these gentle creatures.

Basking Shark

Basking Sharks

The second largest living fish (following the whale shark) is the basking shark. Not a lot is known about these guys, even with the recent advancements made by scientists. Like whale sharks, basking sharks filter feed on zooplankton – using their gill rakers to let the plankton into their mouth while keeping out anything else. Being highly migratory, basking sharks move around a lot but your best chance to spot them is in the United Kingdon from April to October.

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

Scalloped hammerheads are sensitive light, so they prefer to hang around in deeper water. They’re also highly social, so often can be found in packs of 100 or even more! Sadly, scalloped hammerheads are considered endangered, due to threats like shark-finning and commercial fishing. Diving alongside them is a truly unique experience and you can do it in Colombia, Costa Rica, the Red Sea, Bahamas and Australia among other places.

Pondicherry Sharks

The pondicherry shark is listed as critically endangered and some people believe it could already be extinct. No one has spotted one since 1979, largely due to heavy unregulated fishing in the region. According to earlier records, the pondicherry shark was once widely found – from the Gulf of Oman, to Pakistan and India. They are relatively small in size and have a long snout and large first dorsal fin.

Thresher Sharks

Thresher Sharks

A thresher shark’s greatest asset, it’s tail, can unfortunately also be the cause of their demise. Their long tails are used like a whip to stun and catch prey but often get caught in fishing nets. These impressive creatures can be found in Taiwan, California and Mexico with the Philippines being reported as the best place for divers to spot them on a regular basis. With the support of divers and non-divers alike, Project AWARE recently saw success in having Thresher Sharks listed in CITES to offer them further protection.

To learn how to help secure a brighter future for these amazing creatures, consider taking the Project AWARE Shark Conservation Distinctive Specialty Course.

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Free Diving

New World Record in Free Diving Under The Ice

From thescubanews.com:

There are two different types of free diving – the better-known free diving for depth and the lesser known free diving for distance. But in both disciplines the divers use just one breath to get as far as possible.

Croatia’s Valentina Cafolla, 19, set a new world record for distance on Sunday to 125 meters beneath a sheet of ice up to 70 centimeters thick on the Lago Di Anterselva Lake in the Italian Alps – beating the previous world record held by Turkey’s Denya Can. Cafolla accomplished the feat on the second and final attempt after aborting her first attempt.

“I didn’t get the perfect breath before the start and started to panic a bit so I had to abort it after 75 meters,” the new world record holder said after making it the full 125 meters on her second attempt. It took her exactly 1 minute and 27 seconds. When she surfaced Cafolla struggled to stay conscious and thus fulfill the resurfacing requirement protocol of the world association. “I’m really happy that all the intensive preparation paid off,” said the Italian-Croatian dual citizen. “I’m also happy that I’ll be able to dive into warmer water next time.”