Yesterday was my last day with Paradise Divers, and what a day it was! I didn’t dive since I had to fly first things this morning, but Armande and I guided snorkelers and I did my final Divemaster task in the renovated pool: a Scuba Review! It may sound like a small thing, but watching Dan sign off on my paperwork really put a smile on my face.
I have to thank the marine life for an amazing last day in Tenerife. That snorkel trip was probably the best one I’ve ever been on. The water was so clear we could see down to the sand at 23 meters. The famous sea creatures of Escalera de Palm Mar put on an excellent last show, with an Atlantic ray, bull ray, and green sea turtle swimming in majestic circles under us. In between snorkeling sites, the dolphins (not to be out-competed) came jumping around nearby. I grabbed my mask, slid off the boat, and was able to watch them under the water for a few breathtaking seconds before they swam off again. I’m still savoring that!
Now that it’s over, I have nothing but appreciation for the time and effort Carly and Dan put forth to develop my skills and turn me into a PADI Divemaster (There might have been one or two exercises that I didn’t appreciate them for in the moment 😉). After two solid months of challenges, mistakes, and triumphs, I can confidently say that I am able to lead in and out of the water, and most importantly, help keep my fellow divers safe.
I could see myself working with the Paradise Divers team for longer than these two months, but unfortunately my time is up! It wasn’t easy saying goodbye, not knowing when I’ll see these new friends again, but I can’t stay too sad, since my next adventures are taking me back to Costa Rica! With any luck, I’ll be taking my new dive skills into warmer waters in the next month or two! I’m not sad about ditching the 5mm+ wetsuits, that’s for sure.
I’ve had some really magical experiences in Tenerife, and I already feel the pull that will bring me back.
Be forewarned, prospective Divemaster interns: after you finish this, you will just want more. I’m already thinking about future equipment, specialties, and other places to dive, along with how to meet up with my diving buddies around the world! If diving wasn’t a lifestyle before, it is now!
“I can hardly believe it, but my time learning to be a top-notch DM at Paradise Divers is halfway over! It’s been more challenging and more rewarding than I expected –in so many different ways. I came here as an Open Water diver. In these four weeks I’ve worked through Advanced Open Water, Emergency First Responder, and Rescue Diver training, all while learning the ropes (and knots!) at the dive center. The items we’ve signed off on my DM checklist give me a sense of accomplishment and motivation for the weeks to come!
It’s been a whirlwind learning experience, building both brains and muscle. I’m not sure which has been more intimidating – the Dive Master manual or toting around full tanks! My favorite parts so far are the people I’ve met and the fact that I get to take selfies from the boat and say “Just another day at the office!” Everyone enjoys those. I love that the waters around Tenerife are full of life! I squee whenever I see a cuttlefish in the wild. Brushing by turtles and rays and swimming in the middle of a school of roncadores makes me feel like the mermaid I knew I was born to be.
The most challenging part for me out of this first half of the internship was definitely the practical skills for the rescue course. I really hope I never have to rescue anyone, but if it happens, I’m confident that I was put through realistic scenarios for the best training possible, including rescuing dudes bigger than me.
While the days become routine, each one is a little bit different. I’ve come to enjoy both my days in the water and days at the dive center working on theory. Because I recently finished my Master’s degree, the book-learning parts are comfortable reminders of my study routine in DC (it’s great that dive exams are multiple choice instead of essays!). Organization is part of my personality, so counting cylinders and prepping wetsuits suits me, though I’m still working on consistently getting the right pair of boots together on the first try. 😉
Having other DMs around at varying stages of their own internships has been invaluable. They’ve been an ear to my questions and insecurities and have helped me work through parts of theory that I was unclear on. Not only that, they’re fun people! Between the DMs, Assistant Instructors in training, Carly, Dan, and great customers, I know I’ve made some friends that I’ll be seeing again!”
So 5 weeks in and time to reflect on the experience so far, I’d love to say that everything has gone swimmingly, but that would be somewhat removed from the truth. As I am sure you are all aware, one of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes and acting to ensure that you recognise where you went wrong and how to never repeat your error again. Well, during my DM experience so far I have managed to be the walking embodiment of that idea. It seems that whenever a hiccough, large or small, has arisen over the past few weeks, one has not had to search much further than the end of my rather sunburnt nose to find the culprit. Self-deprecation aside though, those mistakes, and more importantly, learning from them, seems to (and I commit myself to this tentatively) have stood me in good stead for the rest of my time with Paradise Divers; whisper it quietly, but it seems as though both the physical and metaphorical ropes have finally been learned. My knowledge of boat handling (and that pesky anchor in particular) has greatly improved, as has my diving in general, and my understanding of how a dive centre operates. I would like to thank Dan and Carly for their guidance and expertise, I can already feel the positive impact that they have had on my abilities and hope that it will continue for the remainder of my internship.
The quality of the diving itself has been a welcome and pleasant surprise, although expectations were not particularly high, I have come to realise that Tenerife has some truly great diving experiences to offer; whether it be meeting the incredible and inquisitive wildlife that inhabits its shores or visiting the fascinating wrecks lurking beneath the waves, waiting to be explored; the island is a veritable treasure trove of diving adventures, provided you know where to go. Going to work every day wondering which creature you are going to meet and which customer’s holiday you are going to make is more than enough motivation for this budding Divemaster.
My time with Paradise Divers has already cemented in my mind that this is the career path for me! Here’s hoping that the next few weeks mould me into the Divemaster that I want to be, I’ll be sure to check back in and let you know, until then, remember I once heard it said that life is diving, everything else is just a surface interval…
A short introduction: My name is Armande, or Mandy. I am of Dutch origin and have lived in the tropics most of my life. I have been playing Underwater hockey at a high level for over a decade and I am an AIDA 2 freediver.
Previously I had an office job for about 10 years and I decided it was time for a lifestyle change. I decided to truly follow my dreams of turning my hobby of being under water, into a (future) profession as a Divemaster and hopefully Dive Instructor. And by breathing under water this time around.
The DM Internship so far has been a wonderful learning experience and I am still learning so much every day. To give you an idea, in a few weeks time, I have learned how a dive center operates, how to operate the compressor, how to guide dives, do boat and site briefings and attend to customers. I learned how to handle emergency situations and nervous divers and especially how to practice safe and responsible diving. Dan and Carly who run the dive center, are wonderful teachers who value quality and precision. For me this, in addition to experience which I am still gaining, is what makes a good diver and especially a great Divemaster and Instructor. In addition to being wonderful teachers, they are also wonderful people (with good humor) that made me feel welcome and part of the team as soon as I started.
The Internship overall is hard work. It sometimes feels like going back to school, but in a more rewarding way. What I like about the Internship is that the theory is immediately put into practice, and I myself learn best by doing something to remember it. We have multiple opportunities to practice and show our learned skills, which makes them become part of your routine. This goes for dive skills and procedures as well as learning nautical knots and boat handling.
I am now in week three going into week four of the Internship. Since I have been out here on the Atlantic, I was and still am amazed by the marine life. On my second day we spotted pilot whales for example. In a ¨general¨ week we see bottlenose dolphins, different types of rays and green sea turtles. On my first dive with Paradise Divers we saw Atlantic Stingrays, that were approximately 1½ meters wide, I think all the divers present heard my enthusiasm through the regulator during those 35 minutes. Sorry for the disturbance guys.
So to conclude this blogpost, I am a few weeks in and getting into the routine of the diving life and loving it. Unlike an office job the scenery is never the same and neither are the circumstances, even when you repeat a dive site. You meet interesting new people and work with colleagues from many different cultures. And the difference with an office job is that if you are having an ¨off day¨ that feeling is gone by the time the resident turtle greets you on your morning dive.
The handsomely tall Divemaster intern here at Tenerife’s premiere dive center Paradise Divers. I’ve been on the island since January and joined Paradise Divers in May. I am doing a part time internship but trying to show up at the dive center as much as possible. Diving is a lifestyle after all!
Almost four weeks have passed since I joined the team. A lot has been taught and I dare say a lot has been learned. From dive center operations to boat handling and dealing with customers, the value of doing an internship quickly becomes apparent. Being on the professional side of diving with great role models like the owner team Dan & Carly makes the process a rewarding and educational experience. Most people seem to only witness diving from a customer perspective which is fine if you have no intentions of truely ‘deep diving’ the diving lifestyle. However, I feel that becoming a DM is part of growing myself, my experience and my knowledge base.
Understanding the entire logistics, business and technical side of operating a dive center will take some time. That said, in the first four weeks I’ve already helped perform hydrostatic testing of cylinders, learned to operate the compressor, assisted with nervous Discover Scuba Diving divers and much more. This repeat hands on exposure to divers that are newer to the sport helps me to identify and catch on to problems before they become more serious. That alone is an invaluable skill that I belief will make me a safer buddy to dive with.
I feel being part of the team at the dive center is in an invaluable experience that will propel my dive experience to the next level regardless if one were to continue on the instructor path or not. I have quite a few more months to go before I become a full-fledge PADI Divemaster. As far as I’m concerned, I’m looking to enjoy every moment of it.
Just coming to the end of my PADI Divemaster Internship with Paradise Divers. Can’t believe how time is flying.
When I joined few months ago I thought I “can” dive. Over the period I’ve realised that actually I am learning something new every day. Doing the Divemaster internship I have double the numbers of my logged dives but knowledge and experience grew exponentially. Days on the dive boat with real customers and their issues, worries and jokes were educational and fun. Although few “routine” points each dive was different and you would have to adapt to it which makes it interesting. Diving, on the other hand, is entertaining itself anyway. Being here for almost 4 months it is obvious I have repeated the dives sites, however each time I was discovering a “new face” of the site.
On the people side, Dan and Carly truly can run the dive centre and be your coach. Everything happens here in an organised, calm and friendly atmosphere and all questions are always addressed. I felt that I am part of the team from day one. And when other Divemasters joined (Oksana and Lucas) life become more fun and we made truly hilarious trips, even those which were part of our most serious and challenging courses.
Now, I can say I’m getting more into the diving field, and I am not leaving J, planning my further dive journey into instructor level. Dive is fun here.
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…
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.
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
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..
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
* 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.
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.