Global PADI IDC Tour with Bas

Beaches, Sceneries and lots of sharks!

Since I started teaching in the different locations we offer at Dive-Careers, there has never been a place better than another, but they all have their little something and all fantastic in their own way.

 

Let me give you an idea how its like…. This is how my adventure looks like. A bit from the past and from the future.

 

As I am mainly teaching in the Philippines and South Africa my year started in Bohol with Sierra Madre Divers. Having this kind of facilities makes it sooo easy to conduct a really nice and relax IDC. A successful IDC and Lucy is already working as an instructor at my next destination.

 

Bohol IDC
Our pool for our Bohol IDC confined water presentations

As I am finishing now the second IDC at Sierra Madre Divers and almost having the IE my guys are really focused during the mock IE Exams. So stay focused and you guys will rock!!!

 

Bohol IDC
The classroom during your Bohol IDC

 

El Nido!!!!!

 

El Nido IDC
the spectacular scenery of El Nido during your PADI IDC

 

The pearl of the Philippines. As you can see on the pictures I don’t need to say much about it. El Nido is a nice, small and relaxed place to start your careers as a dive professional. Even if Marie and the candidates saw a MANTA on the Open Water presentations I still think it was a blue spotted sting ray, but what ever! Maybe I am lucky from the 10th of April when I will be conducting the next program, so still time to join the next IDC and experience the vibe of Palawan.

 

Now That was in a nutshell what I was doing the beginning of the year…and getting ready for a full South Africa run.

 

Pro Dive, Port Elizabeth!!!!

 

South Africa IDC
A spectator during your Port Elizabeth South Africa IDC

 

The city where you can have 4 seasons in 1 day and yes I experienced it and it is not a rumor. Next to fantastic dives we did last year ( My best dive ever) I always love the launching and the adrenaline that kicks in when you leaving for a dive and almost sure that you will see sharks. I will be starting there on the 5th of May and maybe, I say maybe, we can convince Louis and Michelle ( the owners of Pro Dive) to show you where I did a dive with hundreds of seals and some Great Whites in Plettenburgh Bay, a memory for life I promise.

 

After that I will make my way back to Durban at Calypso Adventures and Diving centre.

 

South Africa IDC
The sunsets during your Durban South Africa IDC

 

Beautiful beaches great diving and only a bit away from the ALIWAL Shoal where all the action is happening with the reggie’s. Even on your day off you can go and clear you mind and do some surfing with one of the pro’s in Ushaka where the dive center is located. Also Arne is always up for a Tec dive if you are interested.

 

Than just before I will return to the Philippines I will be conducting my very first IDC in CAPE TOWN

 

South Africa IDC
The PADI examiner during your South Africa IDC

 

Famous for the shark diving and for me the cold water hahahah.

We will be conducting the program with Ollava Scuba Cape Town and I am excited to maybe be diving with the big boys from the ocean and it would be great to catch up with Laura Andreas who did the IDC with us in Koh Tao, Thailand and now an active PADI Instructor at Ollava Scuba.

 

After all this action its time for me to go back to the Philippines but South Africa don’t worry I will be back before you know.

 

If you have any questions about my upcoming programs please contact me on

bas@dive-careers.com

 

BAS

Complete your PADI Instructor Course in El Nido, Philippines – Our newest location

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.

Philippines IDC
The view from the beach of our El Nido IDC

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

Great IDC, amazing people and beautiful place

“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.

deep blue seafari idc

“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.

IDc Philippines
Some of the marine life during your presentations on your El Nido IDC

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.”

IDC Philippines
Sean practicing rescue Ex 7 during the El Nido IDC

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 mark@dive-careers.com

PADi IDC Philippines
Confined water during the El Nido IDC. Such a specatcular setting

The Whale Shark and the Dive Industry

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 a length 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

Shark Whaleshark front

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.

Shark Whaleshark from below

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.

Shark Whaleshark side 2
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

http://www.marineconservationkohtao.com/index.php?view=article&catid=37%3Aunderwater-life&id=51%3Awhaleshark-sightings&tmpl=component&print=1&page=&option=com_content&Itemid=57

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.

Shark Whaleshark away

For more information about our dive professional and environmental programmes in Phillipines or Koh Tao, Thailand please contact me on mark@dive-careers.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.