I recently completed our first Instructor Development course on the Bali Indonesian Island of Nusa Lembongan. The course was held in conjunction with Two Fish Divers that have had a successful, well respected dive resort on Nusa Lembongan for the past four years. Nusa Lembongan, just a 30 minute boat ride away from the main island of Bali, Indonesia, is growing quickly as a popular destination for divers, regular manta ray and seasonal mola mola sightings, plus a laid back vibe drawing divers from around the globe.
Our PADI IDC in Nusa Lembongan had a great group of students from around the globe. Plus it was an excellent opportunity for me to catch up with many old friends that are now settled in Nusa Lembongan. I had a great time on the IDC. Maybe a little too much some nights but it was great fun catching up with former candidates and friends. And I think the candidates had a great time as well judging by some of their reviews.
Mark the miracle man!
“Couldn’t have been happier with my IDC experience with Mark. I call him a miracle worker as the person that walked through the door at the start to when I walked out at the end are two very different people. I’m extremely happy with the outcome and feel that he trained us to a very high standard which meant that the exam was a breeze for all of us. Mark’s years of experience are very evident in the way he teaches, he has it down to a fine art. ” Nicole from Adelaide, South Australia
Amazing course director
“Doing the IDC with Dive Careers and more specifically with Mark Soworka, was for sure the right choice. We had 12 solid days of preparation including a lot of theory and GSP exams which made us 100% ready for the IE. The inwater preparation was also great as we had to demonstrate and brief several skills in both confined and open water. A few days before the exam, we also had a mock IE which allowed us to put ourselves in the propel exam conditions! Sharing my IDC experience with others, I realized that we had much more training than usual which made all of us succeed! I will highly recommend Mark! Also the people at Two Fish have been very useful during the whole course which could be a bit stressful. Special thanks to Frederic Brysse, Brice, Rowan and Danielle Drury” Rhome with an accented e, from the Basque region of France.
Professional & fun
“If you are considering a professional dive career than look no further, @ Dive-Careers they know what it’s all about.” Ben from the Netherlands.
Staffing the Lembongan IDC
“Mark and his exceptional knowledge made the IDC for all candidates very interesting and fun. Loved staffing the IDC at Lembongan!” Kim from the Netherlands via Koh Tao
Fantastic Time – Friendly and Thorough
“I had a fantastic time doing my IDC. Mark and the staff instructors were excellent and we couldn’t have been any more prepared for the IE. I was lucky to have some awesome team mates which made the whole experience really fun and enlightening. I would recommend Dive Careers and Two Fish to anyone wishing to do their IDC and have complete training and enjoyable experience at the same time. Two Fish staff were excellent and always willing to help and offer advice ranging from tips for being an instructor to fixing my regulator. Thank you to everyone:)” Tristan from the UK.
Good staff & people..
“The IDC at Two Fish Divers on Lembongan was a nice and educational experience. The staff, lead by Mark Soworka, were extremely good at teaching and knew their stuff.” Mikko from the cold, desolate Arctic, a man of much emotion.
On our May IDC we had pregnant manta rays circling overhead. The next Instructor Course is scheduled for September, mola mola season. Looking forward to it. If you have nay questions about our Indonesia programs just check out www.dive-careers.com and email me on firstname.lastname@example.org . Look forward to seeing you on your instructor course soon.
Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean, boasts spectacular coral reefs and famous shipwrecks for year round diving off many parts of the island. Tourism and scuba diving holidays remain on the rise after the end of the war making it critical for dive operators to continue to provide safe diving practices and develop comprehensive marine conservation measures and systems.
Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka Water Sports Centre located in Seenigama, is a not-for-profit community based tourism initiative managed by Sri Lankan NGO, Foundation of Goodness (FoG). Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka is committed to delivering a high quality recreational scuba diving operation while educating their customers, the local village community and area fisherman on marine conservation. FoG, in partnership with PADI and Platinum Course Director Mark Soworka sent Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka head dive master, Roshan Deepal to Temple Adventures in India to take part in the PADI Instructor Development Course. This was all made possible through PADI’s Scholarship programme whereby Roshan’s PADI fees were fully covered by the organisation enabling him to obtain this esteemed certification.
Roshan’s scuba career began over 20 years ago in a small coastal fishing village in Dodanduwa in southern Sri Lanka. His first memories are of the sea where the village community comes together for work and life. He was given the opportunity to obtain a certificate through the Sri Lankan government in basic diving and swimming skills. Little did he know his first job as a lifeguard at a hotel in Negombo would be the start of an exciting adventure ahead. The hotel expanded on his government training and enabled him to be employed at their onsite diving centre taking hotel guests on scuba day trips. There began Roshan’s passion for showing others the wonders under the sea.
Roshan is very grateful for the opportunities he has been provided all along his scuba career and the pinnacle has been his recent IDC at Temple Adventures in Pondicherry, India. With PADI’s scholarship programme assistance, Roshan was able to secure something he never thought possible. He also met many new friends, networked with other professional divers and to his delight, went diving in a fresh water quarry for the very first time.
Roshan has since returned to Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka with an enthusiastic outlook on growing the scuba industry and awareness of marine conservation in Sri Lanka. His first major task will be to teach OWD and conservation topics to the many disadvantaged rural young people who have gone through FoG’s diving & training programme. Without Roshan and FoG, a PADI certification would not be attainable within the resources of this rural community. He will also introduce marine conservation materials and coral planting initiatives to Foundation of Goodness for possible funding to continue preserving and repairing the coral reef off the Seenigama coastline.
In the coming years, Roshan would like to widen his experience and become qualified as an equipment specialist as this specialty is rather unique to Sri Lanka. He is grateful for the many opportunities and has always felt that his role within the Foundation of Goodness was serendipitous. Before he was hired on as Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka’s Dive Master, he was merely weeks away from leaving his wife and two small children for a long-term diving job in Oman.
Roshan never wants to stop learning and growing in his career. He wants to teach from his heart and ensure his students, Sri Lankan and foreign, are excited and learning to dive at the highest level of safety and care. He feels it’s his destiny.
The Foundation of Goodness, a local NGO located in a coastal village named Seenigama has been in operation since 1999 but really became most effective after the 2004 Tsunami which resulted in over 150 lives lost in Seenigama alone.
Before the Tsunami, for many generations, one of the main livelihoods in this coastal region was coral mining and burning to make quicklime, which was illegal, dangerous, and an environmental nightmare. Research conducted after the tsunami quickly showed that in areas where coral reef had been destroyed, the waves were much more powerful and destructive. This research led to the banning of coral mining resulting in many people (and youth) losing their means of making an income.
In response, the Seenigama Diving & Training Centre commenced in 2008 to redirect local diving and swimming skills from a destructive purpose to one that is constructive. Through our training programme, rural young people have the opportunity to gain diving qualifications to achieve well-paid employment in the technical and recreational diving industry. It is only through previous donation and support that the Foundation of Goodness has been able to successfully implement this project. In recent years, with the economic recession, it has become more difficult to fund this vital programme. Therefore, in 2013, Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka Water Sports Centre was established as a community based tourism initiative to sustain the Seenigama Diving & Training Centre. Dive Seenigama, Dive Lanka is the first not-for-profit dive centre in the region and 100% of the profits are reinvested back into the Foundation of Goodness.
El Nido is a truly magical place, with beautiful limestone cliffs, white sand beaches and a great marine bio-diversity. Stunning scenery, great dives and a genuinely friendly atmosphere in Deep Blue Seafari Dive center make it an ideal location for the Dive Instructor course.
March 2016 saw our first IDC In El Nido. Only a couple of candidates, Sean and Chris, made a great little course. Allowed us to even schedule to meet Seans special needs. Guess they had a great time judging by their reviews on Scubatribe
“Scenery that cant be beaten and staff that were amazingly helpful and friendly made for a great experience during my IDC. The guys at Deep Blue Seafari made me feel like a part of their shop family and did everything they could to make my time there as easy as possible. The shop, their boats, the staff, everything was 5 stars. Mark the course director wasn’t bad either. 🙂 All in all a fantastic place to do an IDC.” Chris.
“What a great experience! The owners and staff could not do enough to make our stay and learning experience there as great as possible. The diving was awesome with deep blue seafaris many dive trips and saw many critters and flambouyant cuttlefish on night dives but now need to return for some more caves after a taster!” Sean.
I also had a great experience. El Nido, for me, was like a trip back to Koh Tao in the mid 90’s. Felt like a 20 year old backpacker again. Evan shared a house with the IDC candidates. That helped ensure Chris would make it home after the beach. We managed to intermingle the IDC presentations with some good restaurants and chilled little beach bars, an excellent, relaxed atmosphere facilitated by the incredibly helpful staff and owners of Deep Blue Seafari Dive Center. And, importantly, resulted in the guys getting great results in the Instructor Exam and feeling confident to get out and work inthe industry as dive instructors.
My trip to El Nido was also a great opportunity to catch up with candidates from previous IDCs in Thaialnd and Philippines. Even got visits from former divemaster candidates from years ago, with a social call from Tamara. Excellent to see our candidates making a success of the dive industry, Tom getting into some interesting conservation projects in Palawan and Pauline and Simon running a great video training company in El Nido.
I would like to thank Diana and Jose from Deep Blue Seafari for having the vision to bring PADI instructor courses to El Nido and for making it such a relaxed and enjoyable experience. As they say:
“We like our guest and students to feel like part of our family. We focus on quality customer service, quality equipment, very professional training and safety.”
As the Course Director I had a great experience and so did the candidates. Dive-Careers.com looks forward to continuing to develop the IDCs on El Nido with Deep Blue Seafari. For 2016 we have 4 IDCs scheduled and look forward to a successful IDC future in Palawan, Philippines.
If interested in joining our El Nido IDc programmes or divemaster training contact me on email@example.com
Sri Lanka is truly an amazing country. A generous and hospitable nation filled with wonderful stories, a rich and diverse culture and history, and fascinating dive destinations. I had the great fortune in February 2013 to conduct the first PADI Instructor Development Course in Sri Lanka. It was an excellent experience.
The IDC was conducted at Poseidon Diving Station Hikkuduwa with all Sri Lankan nationals as candidates. Right from the beginning the stories and experiences started flowing. The dive center was started in 1973 by Swedish adventurer Sven and Lesley Sembakuttige, father of the present owner Chami Sembakuttige. Fortunately Sven was actually visiting with his family so I had the opportunity to listen spellbound to his stories of diving Sri Lanka in the seventies. At 82 he only gave up diving last year and has a lifetime full of adventures from diving in the first ever made dry suit, discovering wrecks and treasures around Sri Lanka, even showing me the tiny compressor that they smuggled into Sri Lanka to fill those first tanks; through to the stories of the importance Chamis dad played to the local community.
No greater tribute to that exists than the comparatively low loss of life on Hikkuduwa in the 2004 tsunami. Chamis family have strongly advocated protecting Hikkuduwas reef for decades. During the IDC we had Oliver Ridley and Green turtles nesting and hatching right in front of the dive centre. Swim twenty meters out to where we were doing the confined presentations and you have hundreds of trevally schooling, incredibly enormous turtles swimming around and interfering with the confined skills and a school of bumphead parrotfish. A great testament to the local community protecting their reef. Reefs either side of Hikkuduwa have been decimated by generations of limestone mining. During the tsunami, those areas that had lost the natural barrier protection of the reef were completely devastated with massive loss of life. Few died where the reef remained relatively in tact. A legacy to the forethought of Lesley Sembakuttige.
Some of the guys leading dives there, like Lal and Sunil, have been leading dives in the local area since the 70s and 80s. Such an immense wealth of local knowledge and experience. Lal was actually on the fisrt Sri Lankan IDC and has been a registered PADI divemaster since 1993. When I checked his card at the commencement of the IDC I remarked on how worn and water logged the card looked. He replied how he actually lost his wallet in the tsunami, only to rediscover it three years later on the inner side of the reef, PADI Divemaster card still in tact.
Next IDC I really hope I can organise a trip with these guys out to the Great Bassos 1701 silver wreck found by Arthur C. CLarke in 1961. They still know where the treasure lies. But then again, I would also like to go diving in March/April off Tincomalee after seeing the video from one of the other IDC candidates, Menake, of diving with a pod of sperm whales. Guess I will have to do several more trips to Sri Lanka.
WE also conducted the first Enriched Air instructor course on Sri Lanka. This was at the insistence of Lakshmann who was doing his staff instructor course. After years of diving on mixed gases and blending his gases at home, he thought he better do the course and check that he has been doing things correctly all of these years. I guess that he has not blown himself up is proof that he was following correct procedures. He actually started diving with Mike Wallis who was filming underwater Sri Lanka back in the 60s and 70s and was invloved with Arthr C. Clarke in the finding of the treasure on Great Bassos.
Teaching the next generation of Sri Lankan divemasters and PADI Instructors is well underway. Poseidon Diving were also hosting Plongeurs du Monde at the same time of the IDC. Plongeurs du Monde is a group of committed dive instructors that devote their time and money, with support from PADI, to training scuba diving to local children in under developed regions. Louis, the president of Plongeurs du Monde, has established programmes in Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and is also looking at India. Since the 2004 tsunami they have trained over 200 kids in Sri Lanka. This year saw their first batch of successful PADI Rescue Diver candidates and next year will be the beginning of PADI Divemaster training. They are doing a wonderful job at helping foster an appreciation and respect in local communities for scuba diving and the underwater environment, plus helping mould our next generation of PADI dive professionals.
Such a wealth of experience on this IDC, but they were all still very nervous when it came to completing the PADI Instructor examination. They did not know what to expect from PADI. At the beginning of the IDC they had recounted how on the first ever PADI Member Forum conducted by Johnny Chew after the tsunami, they had all turned up nervous and worried, expecting PADI to administer exams and check their knowledge. Luckily the PADI examiner, Rob Scammell put their fears to rest and made the IE as relaxing as possible, creating an environment conducive for these guys to show how knowledgeable as divers they are and how good as instructors they will be. Drummers on the beach and drinks and curry we celebrated 100% success for the first ever IDC on Sri Lanka. Congratulations Menake, Praveen, Feroz and Lal. Sri Lanka will continue to grow as a dive destination with continued support from you guys and I look forward to IDCs on Sri Lanka in the future. Thanks also for the support and help during the IDC from Chami, Lakshmann, Devsiri and Rob.
IT was really a week of firsts. After the IE Rob Scammell conducted the EFRI trainer course with Rob Partridge for Temple Adventures in Pondicherry, making him the first EFRIT in India.
After the IE I had the opportunity to travel around Sri Lanka for a few days and found a wonderful country rich in history and culture. Visited some of the best ruins and examples of buddhist art that I have seen anywhere. Plus glimpsed great national parks with a wonderful diverstiy of wildlife. I really look forward to returning to Sri Lanka. It is sure to become a must see travel destination in the near future and is simply a fantastic destination for an IDC.
Currently we are conducting three IDCs per year on Sri lanka. March/April in Hikkaduwa, June/July in Trincomalee and November/December again in Hikkaduwa. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in being part of these programmes.
South Africa has some stunning and exhilarating destinations both above and below water. South Africa gives your the opportunity to dive with sharks, explore untouched wrecks, plus some of the most exciting game park safari destinations in the world.
Dive-Careers.com have been conducting IDCs in conjunction with Calypso Diving in uShaka MarineWorld, Durban. It is great facilites with some of our shallow water sessions actually taking place in the aquarium with rays and groupers cruising past. Excellent diving off the coast of Kwazu Natal, with some of the most world famous shark dives off nearby Aliwoal Shoal. They programs have been really successful as you can see by the below Scuba Tribe reviews. Our candidates have doen really well on the instructor exam, but, more importantly, we have helped launch them on great careers in the dive industry.
“I did my IDC through Dive Careers in South Africa this past month and I was blown away by the amount of knowledge and guidance I was given! Having come from Mozambique and diving all day everyday to sitting in a classroom was not a pleasant thought, however thanks to Bas who was an incredible Course Director I could not wait to get in there and learn! I left with more confidence and a renewed passion to go out and teach diving to the rest of the world! I would definitely recommend this team if you want to get out and join the PadiPro world ! Big thanks to the team for all they did for us and for going the extra mile to get us ready for the world of teaching! Dive Careers gives you that step ahead and and constantly inspires you to achieve success! Top marks or in exam terms …5/5 !!!” Matt
“very good preperation, more social and conversation than lecture based which made it very easy and pleasurable to participate. very happy with the outcome and would definitely recommend dive careers” Ivan
“Thanks to our course director, Bas Van Riemsdijk, as well as the people on course with me, each and every moment was exceptionally AMAZING and definitely memorable! Bas has been a pure inspiration and role model for us involved in the diving industry and strive to share the same passion as he does!” Ruark
“Bas was absolutely incredible! Not only is he a great CD, but a great person too. We got along very well and I enjoyed every minute of the IDC. It was an incredible experience and I recommend dive careers to everybody. Thank you Bas and dive careers!” Brendon
Our programs in Durban continue to grow and offer new opportunities. Arne, the owner of Calypso, is now also offering Technical diver training with fully closed rebreather training. This is a very exciting new opportunity for our instructor candidates in Durban. It iwll open up so many dive sites around Durban that are little explored plus opens up opportunities in the dive industry globally.
An unexpected phone call that brought me an adventure; yep, this is how the story begins…and probably how I will have to end.
Working as a Platinum Course Director for Dive-Careers is the most fantastic job you could think of. We travel the world to teach people how to teach people how to blow bubbles underwater, yes, that’s it! We offer courses in Thailand (Koh Tao), India (Pondicherry and Andaman Islands), Philippines (Bohol and El Nido), Sri Lanka (Hikkaduwa and Trincomale), Sicily, South Africa (Durban) and this year we started in Indonesia where we will be offering IDCs in multiple locations such as Bunaken, Lembongan and Bali.
This is where is where my story begins: Indonesia!
On the 12th of February, 7pm, I received a phone call informing me that there was a last minute change in our plans due to passport issues (yes…things like that can easily happen when traveling the world!!). This is what I heard on the phone: “Marie, you need to leave Koh Tao in 2 hours, get on a boat, get on a plane and make it fast as you have to be in a bit more then 24 hours in classroom, in BUNAKEN, Indonesia, for an IDC”!
AHHHHHHHHHHHHH (That was my reaction!)
It had to be done, despite the fact that I had to leave behind important people (and you know who you are!).
With some good help of someone who was trying to make me chilling a bit (let’s be honest…I was stressing a bit!), we got the ticket booked, I grabbed my suitcase and off I went.
Never thought that one day I would be running in an airport with Mark Soworka. Thank god he got in good shape the last few months!
Koh Tao – Surrathani – Bangkok – Jakarta – Manado – Taxi to the Marina and boom, 24 hours later, the staff from Two Fish Divers were waiting for me. The last step of the trip was to board their transfer boat. Direction: Bunaken!
Didn’t really know what to expect for our first IDC in Indonesia, but I know now that it went way beyond my expectations.
I’ve been welcomed and introduced to the Two Fish Divers efficiency right on arrival. It’s like being at home where even Mama cooks for you 3 times a day, where you walk 2 seconds from your bungalow to either jump in the pool or to the café to grab a nice cold Bintang. No need to go outside of the place, you got it all right in the front of your eyes.
But hey! I wasn’t there for the food and the cold beer (even though, it was also very nice! Haha!), I was there for an IDC, which is why 1 hour after my arrival, I was jumping in the pool with the candidates for a Skill Circuit.
Right there, the laugh started and I knew that it was going to be a very nice 2 weeks ahead of me with great company.
IDC Candidates coming from Belgium, England, France, Indonesia and USA and two members of the Two Fish Divers Team coming from England and New Zealand joined us for their Staff Instructor Course.
If we add the French Canadian on top of that (!!), we were representing 7 countries. But the nationalities don’t really matter do they?!? Most importantly, the vibe was at it’s best.
Time in the classroom, in the pool and in Open Water was the plan. Our schedule looks the same everywhere we teach, offering a consistency and high quality level of training, but can I add something?! The WATER and the DIVING here were unbelievable! After our 1st presentation, I was hoping so much that the candidates would have enough air left so that we could go on a dive. And thank god, they did!!
First presentation was at “Rowi”, perfect for muck diving. We even heard whales during the dive, only problem is that the whale has a name: Bryce, the Staff Instructor.
Second presentation was at Lekwan 3…and the drop off right behind us was really tempting! How could we have not fly in the blue after the great presentation of the candidates.
Oh, and we heard “Bryce the whale” again!
For the third presentation at…I can’t remember the name…was as spectacular as the rest. Simply magic to have to evaluate in these waters.
Of course we did spend time in the pool in between as well…and I can’t think of one single presentation during which we didn’t crack up!
Classroom?! Yes of course, but it was all about discussion, interaction, sharing experiences and knowledge in between 8 fabulous people (I am counting my self in!).
We always hear as Course Directors, the candidates say that the IDC was an absolutely amazing experience. This even includes the days they definitely wish their CD slept in and didn’t show up!!!). Our first IDC in Indonesia proved this once more.
It is intense, yes, but it is also the occasion for such a good time.
For us, the Course Directors, every IDC is a simple reminder that what we are doing, is fantastic. At the end of the program, when the candidates are standing holding their diplomas, same as they did in Bunaken, you can imagine the feeling!
Adding to this brilliant time, the Two Fish Divers team has been exceptional. Perfect resort with a relaxed, tranquil and happy atmosphere, with the local staff playing guitar and singing! All services for the guest are being done at a top quality level. Really cool to see such well organized dive resort.
I wish I could have done a “Two Fish Run” by visiting more of their locations (They also have dive facilities LEMBEH, MANADO, NUSA LEMBONGAN, BALI AND SOUTH LOMBOK), but it will be for next time! At least I had the chance to visit Lembeh where we went with the candidates once the IDC was done to complete their Specialty Instructor training. Deep, Wreck, Nitrox, Night, Drift, O2 provider, Photography and AWARE Fish ID was on the menu.
Amazing experience again and this, because of the Two Fish Divers spirit! The diving? What can I say when we see 5 Pygmy Sea Horses on the first dive on one single little piece of 30cm of Coral!
I can’t wait to back for more! Maybe I should mistakenly (like the “oups” type of mistake!) drop water on a certain passport?! Haha!
No, but seriously, today, new PADI Instructors are walking in different streets of Indonesia with their heads up. Today, there is a Course Director on her way back to Koh Tao, Thailand, with a very proud feeling. You guys will be amazing and we are looking forward to work with you.
Yep, an unexpected phone call that brought me an adventure!
A massive thank you to Two Fish Divers team. Thanks to you new Instructors and thanks to you too both Staff Instructors! Absolutely amazing time and we will have more!
The guys must have had a great time an dMaire did an excellent job despite the last minute change, judging by the SubaTribe reviews:
“Marie gave us the best preparation for not only the Instructor Exam but also for the carreer of a diving instructor. The whole two weeks have been well organized, efficient but also full of fun… i can only recommend to go through this great experience 🙂
“I signed up for my IDCS course with Dive Careers and Two Fish Bunaken – what a great experience and a fantastic location! The classroom, pool and dive centre was really convenient as it’s all contained in the resort. Loads of support from the whole Dive Careers team, not just our awesome CD, Marie-Lise Roux. The whole two weeks was great fun, both me and the other IDCS were able to get involved with the candidates and we are able to add our experiences while at the same time learning some great new skills. Recommended!” DD
“Had a great time and learned lots. Really felt supported and like I was important…even though I know you do this constantly and teach 4 million people. The IE was a breeze after all the thorough preparation”. Roya
Another day, another dive… another day of pinching myself to see if this is all some crazy dream!
Arriving in Koh Tao 6 months ago I couldn’t have dreamed that by now I’d be a fully fledged PADI instructor embarking on my MSDT internship. This is me living the dream with my first open water student!
The buzz of getting someone from zero to diver is awesome! Beginning the practical aspect of my MSDT was great thanks to Jesper who let me observe him so I could fine tune my academics and see a master at work, learnt some of his famous dive jokes too… shamefully I now use them with my students!
Working with the DMTs on their workshops has been a blast. Andrea Warren, once my Divemaster Trainer, has shown me the ropes and I now feel confident taking the team out on my own. A great bunch of people who love diving just as much as I do! Here’s some of the gang after their snorkeling and skin diving workshop. Led by me!
When I contacted Dive-Careers about coming to do the Divemaster course I thought it sounded too good to be true… I can dive as much as I want? I can assist instructors if and when I feel like it? I can come to any lectures or workshops when it suits me? What?… there had to be a catch… nope, it was for real and I ended up extending my trip because I was having so much fun and my diving was getting better and better.
Four months down the line I was ready for another challenge, I heard Mark Soworka was back in town for the IDC so I went for it! The course was busy and exciting. Most days we laughed til we cried, our team was awesome. Here we are celebrating, having smashed our instructor exams.
The logical next step for me was to begin my MSDT Internship so that I could continue diving with Buddha View, attend lectures and specialty workshops with Bas van Riemsdyk and Marie-Lise Roux and ultimately increase my employability by being able to teach specialties. So far it’s been awesome, combining freelancing and learning with the full support of the Dive-Careers and Buddha View teams. Absolutely living the dream and loving every minute!
Whale sharks and their importance to PADI Dive Professionals
As a PADI Course Director I am fortunate enough to dive and work in many areas frequented by whale sharks. Diving with such a wonderfully gentle, yet large, fish remains an incredible attraction and draws large numbers to dive sites known to have frequent whale shark encounters. That popularity has highlighted the plight of the whale shark, but also places increasing pressure on dwindling populations. As dive professionals we have the responsibility, and also the possibility to promote whale shark conservation. This article will review basic whale shark ecology and the importance of whale sharks to the Philippine and Koh Tao, Thailand dive industries.
Whale Sharks , Rhincodon typus, can reach alength of 13 meters and a weight of more than 21.5 tonnes. It is the sole member of the genus Rhincodon and the family, Rhincodontidae, which belongs to the subclass Elasmobranchii in the classChondrichthyes. The species originated approximately 60 million years ago.
Its range is generally restricted to about ±30° latitude. It is capable of diving to depths of at least 1,286 meters and is migratory.Dive-Careers.com conduct instructor training programmes in both Bohol and El Nido, Palawan, Philippines as well as Koh Tao, Thailand. Just like I am travelling around from instructor development course to IDC, there is evidence to suggest the same group of whale sharks migrates throughout Asia. This highlights the importance of an international effort to help with whale shark protection
During our Sierra Madre/Infinite Blue IDCs (PADI Dive Instructor courses) on Bohol, Philippines , Dr. Alessandro Ponzo conducts a seminar for us on the research his organisation, Large Marine Vertebrates, is conducting on whale sharks in the Philippines. Dr Ponzo has set up research stations in both Oslob and Leite to further investigate the impact tourism is having on whale shark populations. He presents a fascinating seminar packed with wonderful information about the little understood life cycle and behaviour of whale sharks. From Dr Ponzos seminar we get a strong appreciation for the imminent danger whale sharks face through short term exploitation. Dr Ponzo points out that in 1997, the last year of legal whale shark fishing in the Bohol Sea, 700 Whale sharks were fished. The population at present in the Philippines stands at around 350 sharks. With a return to uncontrolled fishing in Philippines, we could see the total annihilation of Philippine whale shark populations in less than a year.
The Philippine whale shark population also faces the threat of unregulated tourism in such areas as Oslob where whale shark feeding is used to attract large numbers of tourists. Whale Sharks feed on macro-algae, plankton, krill, and small vertebrates. They also feed on small fish and the clouds of eggs and sperm during mass spawning of fish shoals. The many rows of vestigial teeth play no role in feeding. Feeding occurs either by ram filtration, in which the animal opens its mouth and swims forward, pushing water and food into the mouth, as highlighted by the movements of the sharks around around divers at such dive sites like Chumporn Pinnacle off Koh Tao, Thailand, or by active suction feeding, in which the animal opens and closes its mouth, sucking in volumes of water that are then expelled through the gills. In both cases, the filter pads serve to separate food from water. Whale sharks migrate to feed and possibly to breed. Feeding by locals in such areas as Oslob, where the fisherman are catching krill to keep whale sharks in the local area and draw tourists, are clearly affecting eating patterns and migratory routes. Our whale shark seminar during the Sierra Madre IDCs, Bohol, Philippines are aimed at highlighting this problem and encouraging our IDC candidates to participate as volunteers on the research programmes Dr Ponzo is running at both Oslob and Leite. Jaki and Brett from Sierra Madre / Infiinte Blue Divers are actively campaigning on Bohol against supporting such areas as Oslob with dive tourism. Sadly many dive centers continue to send divers for this orchestrated and harmful whale shark experience.
Neither mating nor pupping of whale sharks has ever been observed.
The capture of a female pregnant with 300 pups indicates that whale sharks are ovo-viviparous. The eggs remain in the body and the females give birth to live young which are 40 to 60 centimetres long. There is evidence that the pups are not all born at once, but rather that the female retains sperm from one mating and produces a steady stream of pups over a prolonged period. It is believed that they reach sexual maturity at around 30 years and the life span is an estimated 70 to 100 years. This long life span, late sexual maturity and relatively low birth rates make whale shark conservation difficult.
In 2009 at Pilar, Philippines, marine scientists discovered what is believed to be the smallest living specimen of the whale shark. The young shark measured only 38 centimetres. Recently, similar sized specimens were found off the coast of India. Little is known about the early life cycle of whale sharks. It is believed that they disappear into the great ocean depths until they reach adolescence. The spotted markings of a whale shark are useful for camouflage of a bottom dweller, similar to a carpet shark, so, it is assumed these markings are important to the protection of young whale sharks dwelling on the bottom at great depths.
Koh Tao. Thailand remains a very popular destination to see adolescent whale sharks. There are frequent sightings of whale sharks in March to April and again September to October, with occasional sightings throughout the year. It remains one of the best chances of diving with whale sharks of any dive destination in Asia. Popular dive destinations need strict codes of behaviour defining diver interactions with the marine environment. During our Divemaster and Instructor Progammes with Buddha View PADI IDC Resort on Koh Tao, we conduct a Marine Resource Management seminar helping dive professionals develop knowledge about the marine environment and a code of practice to impart to their future divers. We encourage the following general guidelines, promoted by The Shark Trust, the Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management, and PADI Project AWARE Foundation be followed for both their own safety and for the safety of the sharks.
Code of Conduct for Swimmers and Divers
* Do not attempt to touch, ride, or chase a whale shark
* Do not restrict normal movement or behavior of the shark
* Maintain a minimum distance of 3 meters from the head and 4 meters from the tail (caudal fin) of the whale shark
* No flash photography
* Do not use diver propulsion vehicles near a whale shark
Save Koh Tao Association are also encouraging the recording of sightings off Koh Tao, as you can see on
listing recent whale shark encounters off the coast of Koh Tao, Thailand.
In 1998, the Philippines banned all fishing, selling, importing and exporting of whale sharks for commercial purposes, then Thailand in 2000, followed by India in May 2001, and Taiwan in May 2007. They are currently listed as a vulnerable species; however, they continue to be hunted in parts of Asia, such as Taiwan and the Philippines. The population numbers are unknown and the species is considered vulnerable by the IUCN. It is listed, along with 6 other species of shark, under the CMS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks. As dive professionals we are in a unique position to highlight, through education, the plight of whale sharks and the importance of their conservation to the general public. We hope through our Marine Resource Management seminars at our IDC and divemaster programmes throughout Asia and promoting such research projects and volunteer work as that done by Large Marine Vertebrates in the Philippines, we are making, if only small, at least a positive change to the perception of our marine environment and an appreciation for the continued existence of whale sharks.
For more information about our dive professional and environmental programmes in Phillipines or Koh Tao, Thailand please contact me on email@example.com All photographs courtesy of Adrian Kaye, Buddha View, Koh Tao, Thailand. We offer photography and videography courses through Buddha View. Contact if interested in getting some great footage of whalesharks.