Underwater Navigation… Diving Tenerife

One of the divers who was diving with us the other day asked me a question which a lot of people seem to ask… 

How do you do it, lead a dive and know exactly where you are going and know how to get back to the anchor…???

Well it made me want to write up this blog and give an overview of how we do it.

The main 2 things that you need when you are navigating a site is to know where you are and where you are going, to do this you need to have good observation skills and know how to use your compass. This is the aim of the PADI Underwater Navigation Specialty course. Those of you that have done your advanced will have had to do the Navigation part which touches on some of these basic skills. 

Ok, so how do you improve your Navigation skills? There are many ways but here are some tips to get you started…

  • If there is a map of the site you are diving already then use it,  try to remember the main landmarks mapped so that you know where you are, there may even be bearings…
  • Before starting your dive take a compass bearing of the shore, boat etc vs the direction of travel, this will get you out of trouble if you get lost.
  • Use natural Navigation, start looking as soon as you start your descent, for example, is the anchor near a landmark you can use, a rock or a wall that will guide you back… as you follow the dive site, make turns at landmarks that you can remember so that when you are on your way back you know where to turn. Another way of navigating is to pick a path that you follow such as a wall, a cut on a wall or special rock formation, look ahead and pick a point to aim to, you will need good visibility for this..
  • Go slow… not only will you miss a lot of what’s there to see but the faster you go the more you will get lost and you will not be able to take in the information of the route and landmarks.
  • Trust and use your compass… know how to use it and take it on every dive, I personally now use a digital compass built in on my suunto and it makes it so much easier. If you have a compass on your console then it is also now a lot smaller than they used to be and therefore easier to carry and use.
  • Stay away from sand only sites… most of the divers will end up going round in circles without a compass, if you have to go across sand, then my advise is to check the compass regularly to check you are still on track.
  • If you are comfortable with Navigation, Don’t be scared of exploring beyond the known sites  but make sure that if you wonder outside of the dive site that you have information on currents, boat traffic etc… 

Divemaster Internship – Final Blog – Zach – Paradise Divers Tenerife

Whelp. That’s a wrap, finished, over, donezo. 3 months of my Divemaster internship has finally come to a close. I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because I’ll start crying if I keep on talking. 

Zach trying out some sunglasses

Learning at Paradise Divers has given me so much experience, knowledge and understanding about diving, the industry, and all the people. Throughout the 3 months, I’ve met tones of amazing people and learned more about myself.  It wasn’t easy at the dive shop or diving everyday. I’m sure you’ll understand when you wanna just relax and talk to people. However, when the time calls jumping in the pool or rolling into the ocean; once there, made you appreciate what you are doing. 

I wasn’t lying when I said I was going to keep this short and sweet. Much thanks to Dan and Carly, Darri and Fabio. These people have always been there for help and understand, with many laughs and jokes, it was amazing. Thanks

Zach

Buoyancy Control – Paradise Divers Tenerife

So what is Buoyancy…..

Archimedes’ principle indicates that the upward buoyant force that is exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces and it acts in the upward direction at the centre of mass of the displaced fluid.

So what does it mean? Why is buoyancy so important in the world of Scuba Diving? How can experienced divers make it look so easy?… well the truth of the matter is that knowing the principle of Archimedes or trying to figure it all out on this blog is not the answer… the answer is simply practice, experience and adjust.. I always tell divers that it takes someone on average between 50 to 100 dives to be comfortable in the water and have very good buoyancy skills. In this blog I will talk about ways to improve buoyancy and what to look for to adjust your trim but everyone is different and what works for one person might not work for another, therefore if it works then use it, if it doesn’t then try something different..

Buoyancy Control

Positioning

One of the first things you should look at is how you are positioned in the water, the majority of divers will be head up position, fins kicking upwards, kicking all the sand up… this is normal for beginners but it is something that should be looked at and fixed at the beginner courses such as the Open Water course. Unfortunately most of the time it is due to the Instructor over weighting the students to keep them down in case of an uncontrolled ascent and not adjusting as they progress… the diver then thinks it is normal and carries on using the same amount of weight once qualified.

All this extra weight will change our centre of gravity… COG.. those into car racing or flying will know that it is very important to understand and monitor the COG, well in diving it is the same, the more weight you carry on the belt (below the centre of gravity), the more air compensation you need therefore the BCD is inflated which increases the air volume above the centre of gravity, this will cause the top part of the body to float upwards and the fins to lower.

Most divers will notice this when they stop fining such as on a safety stop or taking a photo. When moving forwards they are constantly finning upwards therefore compensating for the negative buoyancy and being able to hold their depth somewhat, but when they stop fining they sink.

Another area to look at is how horizontal you should be, my position is pretty much horizontal (flat) with my arms in front of me, and this plays two roles, 1 I don’t have to move to monitor my computers and 2 it adds weight to the top of my COG. If I was to bring my head up it would also cause more friction against my body when trying to move forward, To demonstrate the effect simply put your hand outside your car window when moving and hold it horizontal/flat, it would be streamlined but when you slightly rise your fingers your hand will be pushed upwards…

Try to practice swimming in a skydiver position where your shoulders are inline with your hips and your back slightly arched. Once you start to get into this position you will soon realise which part you will need to adjust.

Weights

Weight belt or integrated?? “Maybe Both”!! The best way to adjust is to have smaller weights making up your total weight needed, 1kg or 2kg at maximum.. There are so many options for weights and as previously mentioned it will be different for everyone. Some of the options are, harness system, integrated weight pouches, weight belt, tank weights, BCD trim weight pockets, ankle weights, clipped weights (these are good for trying out different positions).

Position of Weights

So imagine I have a diver who has all their weight on their belt and they are complaining of not being able to keep their legs up… my first question would be, are they properly weighted?, first step is to do a weight check with an empty tank 50 to 60 bar of air. Once that is checked then we would need to move some weight up, this can be done by using trim pockets or tank weights. Another option which we haven’t discussed yet is the tank position, moving the tank up would increase the weight above the COG therefore bringing the upper body down and more horizontal.

Distribute your weight as much as you can and try out different positions and configurations, if it feels good then use that configuration for a while then adjust if required.

Breathing

As well as adjusting your position and weights we need to look at how we use our breathing and BCD inflator.. Too many times have I seen divers with their inflators in their hands inflating and deflating as they navigate through boulders, rocks and walls… only to find out that they have to turn back to the exit 15 minutes before anyone else… if this is you, your air consumption could be affected by how much you use your inflator or how much weight you are carrying.

The Perfect Hover Practice during a Safety Stop

Without holding your breath at any time you should be able to use your breathing control to move vertically in the water. On small depth changes breathing a bit deeper or releasing that extra air from your lungs could move you over a boulder or to descend to a sloping bottom, this will reduce the amount of air you use in your BCD and reduce air consumption, for big depth changes you would of course still use your BCD.
Log your configuration

For those that dive regularly with the same equipment it is easy to keep a note on your mind as to what weights and where you position them once you have done all your testing and check out dives… for some of us that use different kit and/or dive in different environments we cannot remember all the details… this is where a log book comes in handy… many divers ask me.. surely you don’t keep a log book still after thousands of dives… the answer is yes I do, I can give you the hours I’ve spent underwater and how many pleasure dives and courses I have done and there are various reasons why I still log them (through my computer download) but for the topic we are discussing I log configuration details and weight used such as for sidemount, twinset, single cylinder, single cylinder with a stage bottle or when I use a shorty vs a 5mm wetsuit or 7mm semidry.. each with different weight position and amount.

Log Book

If you select not to keep a log book then simply note it down on a booklet and keep it with your dive gear, it saves time, money and embarrassment… after all you don’t want to be the one on the surface with your fins sticking out of the water trying to fin down to start your descent…

I hope this has given you some guide around ways of improving your buoyancy, and if you need more help and guidance get yourself on a Peak Performance Buoyancy course… we run them all the time and most divers come out of the course with carrying less weights and better air consumption..

Happy diving
Dan

Angel Sharks – Paradise Divers Tenerife

As we are well into Angel Shark season here in Tenerife I thought I would write about them… They are interesting, weird looking Shark and sadly they are an endangered species… in some locations even extinct  now.. More on this later.. On this Blog I will talk about angel shark diet, habitat, reproduction, species, and physical appearance.

1.5m Angel Shark at 22m

Angel sharks belong to the family of Squatinidae. These sharks have stretched-out bodies along with the wide pectoral fins that largely resembles with the rays. There are around 16 species that fall under the genus Squatina in the same family. The angel sharks inhabit all throughout the tropical and temperate waters of the world. One of these species is known to exist in deep waters at a depth of about 1,200m.

The angel sharks are not considered to be dangerous to humans but one should not approach them as they have a powerful bite force and pointed teeth. Angel sharks are typically termed as ‘Bottom-dwellers.

At a depth of 10m the Angel shark tries to hide under the sand

These are angel shark species

* Sawback Angelshark
* Clouded Angelshark
* Eastern Angelshark
* Angelshark
* Ornate Angelshark
* Ocellated Angelshark
* Hidden Angelshark
* Sand devil
* Australian Angelshark
* Chilean Angelshark
* Japanese Angelshark
* Taiwan Angelsharkindonesian Angelshark
* Smoothback Angelshark
* Western Angelshark
* Argentine Angelshark
* Pacific Angelshark
* Gulf Angelshark
* Mexican Angelsha

General Information:
* The rear part of angel sharks resembles more like typical sharks.
* They have their eyes and spiracles right on top with five gills located below.
* The length of angel sharks measure around 1.5 meters.
* These shark species are very fond of eating crustaceans, mollusks, and fish.
* The angel sharks are ovoviviparous and they give birth to 13 – 20 pups.
* These fish are harmless but the respect should be given as they can pose danger if provoked.
* Back in 1980, the angel sharks provide an important food source especially for fisheries.
* The largest Angel Shark in our waters measures around 152 cm with the maximum age lived of 30 years.
* The males become mature at 8 years, with the length measuring at 75 – 80 cm.
* The females reach the maturity age after 13 years, with the length of 90 – 100 cm.
* There are white markings on the angel shark’s body coupled with the reddish-brown color. They display different colors that ranges from bright brown to the light grey. This much variation in the colors enables these species to be camouflaged themselves.
* They have sharp teeth with the upper jaw embedded with lots of teeth and the lower jaw with even more teeth.

What do angel sharks eat?

They tend to camouflage themselves in sand patches, rocky areas or patch reefs during daytime. Some of the most common angel sharks preys include squids, small fish, octopus, and crustaceans. These species are sit-and-wait predators. These fish often prey on mollusks, croakers, hake, halibut, peppered shark, corbina, blacksmith, flatfish, and other kinds of bony fishes. They seldom take on invertebrates other than those mentioned above.

Where do angel sharks live?

The angel sharks have an extensive distribution around the globe with species inhabiting across the tropical waters to the cold northern waters, and are often found in deep waters. Most of these species are active during night; they are considered to be bottom-dwellers and are known to prey on species that are hidden under the sand with the help of their trap-like jaws. These species are best known to primarily feed on small bottom fishes.

Reproduction

according to the available data the mating of these species begins in summer season. The young sharks tend to develop inside the female mothers. The gestation period lasts for about 10 months and the usual births take place in the months of June and March. The females litter 13– 20 pups. These pups are 25 cm long at birth.

Let’s save our Angel Sharks!

Dan

Paradise Divers Tenerife – Divemaster Internship Blog – Zach

Hello! It’s Zach! All the way from Canada, please… send more Canadians, we need more normal people at the dive shop.  🙂

Anyways, my time at the dive shop has been wicked. I’ve learned so much from Dan and Carly. Everything from logistics to operations, it’s been a very busy few months. They’ve given me the opportunity to work by myself, and with the support of 2 other Divemasters (Darri and Fabio; Both from Iceland). Besides Dan buying us more donuts, I couldn’t ask for more.

Diving in Tenerife has been amazing, currently have over 60 dives. Within these dives, I’ve successfully completed my Rescue diver and Enriched Air. Also, the marine life! Wow! The water is filled with so many things.  I’ve had the opportunity to see so much, and when you come here; you’ll understand. With only a few more weeks remaining in my Divemaster internship, we are just finishing up skills and starting the testing. With that being said, I’ve gotta study and practice my skills!  Until next time!

Zach

Paradise Divers Tenerife – Divemaster Intern Blog – Darri

A long time ago (2 months) I landed on an island far, far away. These two months have been probably the best time of my life. The first two weeks were more about settling in on the job, learning the operations of the dive center, as in paperwork, how to deal with customers, book customers for dives etc. Including also, what my actual role here is all about, how to act on our boat and how to beahave in the water with customers.

The settling in on the island was easy, the weather makes you feel like you’re constantly on holiday and people are in general very nice. Dan and Carly also made it incredibly easy to settle in at the dive center, they are so nice understanding people that even after my first two weeks on the job, I felt like I’ve worked at the dive center much longer and known them even longer.

About the marine life, which is waaay different from what I’ve seen in the cold waters of Iceland, it is just amazing here. Here there are so many different colorful and interesting species, crabs, turtles, octopus, barracuda, cuttlefish and especially the sting rays and adorable angel sharks. Just thinking about the marine life gets me excited for every dive.

As time went by, we completed our EFR and rescue diver qualifications and the focus could be put on the divemaster element. The instructors at Paradise Divers, really are world class, they make the learning a lot easier and so much more enjoyable than I could have imagined, they don’t just teach you what you need to learn but they also enjoy so much watching you learn that you can see it in them. I’m really looking forward to my last month here as there are a lot of things still to get done.

Paradise Dives Tenerife – Divemaster Intern Blog Fabio

Floating with ease.. neutrally buoyant.. thoose have been the last 2 months of my Divemaster internship here at Paradise Divers DIve Center.
I am called Fabio and i have been one of the three interns here last two months here at Paradise Divers and only one month to go until i´m quilified Divemaster.
Dan and Carly the instructors here are really patient, kind, funny and straight up professionals. When i came here i had no expirence and took my open water and advanced open water courses with Dan and Carly and since then i have become better than  i could ever imagine, they have tought me so much and i am planning to come back in end of this year to do my instructor course with them because i wouldn´t want to do it anywhere else.
In this time i have been here i have seen so many awesome creatures as Atlantic rays, Angel sharks, Dan, Golden spotted snake eel, lot of diffirent types of octopus and couple of wrecks wich have been very much fun to see and i can´t wait to explore more in the near future.
Being here have brought me to the level that i can call myself a Padi Pro and that is all Dan and Carly to thank for.
Me and the other interns we might be hard to handle at times but that is just because we are just way too awesome as a trio 😉 Being here has made us all a very close group and good friend, Dan, Carly, me and the other two interns Darri and Zach.
But unil next time, keep diving and remember the first rule in diving.. don´t poke the Angel shark.. he doesn´t like that hehe

Paradise Divers – Diving in Tenerife – Divemaster Internship Blog – Cameron’s First Week!

Hola a todos!
My name is Cameron and I am Paradise Divers next victim… I mean…. Divemaster Intern!DSCF4206 I have been in Tenerife just over a week now and it has been an amazing experience. Dan and Carly have been very welcoming and have made my transition to island diving life very easy. It has been a very steep learning curve the first week on the job, from learning the ins and outs of the dive shop, to knowing my way around the boat, and the various dive sites on offer in Tenerife.

The marine life is abundant and very diver friendly here. My first dive at El Puertito I got to meet with some of the local turtles including Jose and Julio who gave me a friendly welcome to the island. I came to Tenerife with only 4 dives under my belt and have almost reached the 20 dive mark already. By the end of summer I will have well over 100 dives and a wealth of diving knowledge to share with others. I have already completed my Advanced Open Water course and will be completing my Emergency First Response and Rescue Diver course by weeks end.

I am looking forward to a fun and challenging summer completing my Divemaster course. You will be hearing a lot more from me in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Hasta el proximo tiempo ,

Cam J

Paradise Divers – Marine Life – Cuttlefish

I think Cuttlefish are among one of the most unusual  species found in our ocean.  We luckily see them at most of our dives sites here in Tenerife, its always interesting to watch them change colour and pattern so rapidly depending on their mood and to become camouflaged to match their background.   I have not yet witnessed them when they feel threatened, but they are known to release ink to try and confuse their predator.

They belong to the same family as squid and Octupus, in turn

Cuttle Fish Alcala August 12th 2014they  are among the most intelligent invertebrates and have one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates.

They have a unique internal shell, known as the cuttlebone, which is gas filled and the cuttlefish use this to assist with their buoyancy control. Today, cuttlebones are commonly used as calcium-rich dietary supplements for caged birds, chinchillas, hermit crabs, reptiles and snails. 

Cuttlefish eat small molluscs, crabs, shrimp, fish, octopodes, worms, and other cuttlefish.  They use their camouflage to hunt and sneak up on their prey. They swim at the bottom, where shrimp and crabs are found and shoot out a jet of water to uncover the prey buried in the sand. Then when the prey tries to get away, the cuttlefish open their arms and shoot out two long feeding tentacles to grab them. On the end of each, a pad covered in suckers grabs and pulls prey toward its beak, where it gets paralyzed by venom and then eaten.

Cuttlefish are also known to rapidly change their colors to achieve an effect of hypnosis to stun their prey before catching and consumption.

Their predators include dolphins, sharks, fish, seals, seabirds, and other cuttlefish. The average life expectancy of a cuttlefish is about one to two years.

Male cuttlefish challenge one another for dominance and the best den during mating season. During this challenge, no direct contact is usually made. The animals threaten each other until one of them backs down and swims away. Eventually, the larger male cuttlefish mate with the females by grabbing them with their tentacles, turning the female so that the two animals are face-to-face, then using a specialized tentacle to insert sperm sacs into an opening near the female’s mouth. The male then guards the female until she lays the eggs a few hours later.

The most successful  methods to acquire a mate is camouflage; smaller cuttlefish will use their camouflage abilities to disguise themselves as a female cuttlefish. Changing their body color, concealing their extra arms (males have four pairs, females only have three), and even pretending to be holding an egg sack, disguised males are able to swim past the larger guard male and mate with the female.

As I mentioned, they are very intelligent!

By Carly Pickford.

Paradise Divers – Marine Life – Moray eel

The moray eel is a large species of eel found in warm and temperate waters all around the world. Despite their snake-like appearance, moray eels are in fact fish and not reptiles.

Moray eels are found in both deep and shallow waters in tropical and sub-tropical regions at depths of less than 50m.  At our dive sites here in Tenerife, you will commonly see three different types, the brown, the black and the fang tooth moray.

They vary in size, but grow averagely up to 100cm in length.  The fang tooth moray can be distinguished from the other morays by its bright yellow and black markings. It’s elongated jaw and large number of sharp glass like teeth, give it a more aggressive appearance. 

They don’t see very well but they make up for it with their very excellent sense of smell. They tend to do their hunting at night and rely on smell to help them get their prey. Some types of fish will follow them to be able to avoid predators themselves.

The moray eel is a relatively secretive animal, spending much of its time hiding in holes and crevices amongst the rocks on the ocean floor. By spending the majority of their time hiding, moray eels are able to remain out of sight from predators and are also able to ambush any unsuspecting prey that passes.

Like many other large fish, the moray eel is a carnivorous animal surviving on a diet that consists of only meat. Fish,  including squid, octopuses, cuttlefish and crustaceans such as crabs are the main source of food for the moray eel.

The moray eel is often one of the most dominant predators within its environment but moray eels are hunted by some other animals including other large fish like grouper, barracuda and sharks.  Moray’s normally grab their prey using an element of surprise, then they wrap their body around it until it becomes flat enough to swallow.  Alternatively they take a bite at a time, tearing their prey apart.  They have two sets of teeth, one located in the jaw and the other in the throat to facilitate digestion.  They keep their mouths open constantly in order to assist with breathing and provide constant circulation of water towards the gills. 

Moray eels tend to mate when the water is warmest towards the end of the summer.  Moray eel’s fertilisation process occurs outside of the womb, in the surrounding water. More than 10,000 eggs can be released at a time, which develop into larvae and become part of the plankton. It can take up to year for the moray eel larvae to have grown big enough to swim down to the ocean floor to join the community below.

 

At many of our interesting sites in Tenerife, you will find cleaner shrimp providing a cleaning service to the moray eel. They remove parasites from their bodies, mouth and in between their teeth, providing a good source of nutrition to the shrimp.

I find Moray eels fascinating to watch, they may appear frightening to look at but they are not aggressive and would only react in self defense if we make them feel threatened…. or you wave your fingers near them and they mistake them as food!

By Carly Pickford

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