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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Paml mar Cave (3)

Paradise Divers – Marine Life – Burrfish

These beautiful, rare fish are found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean. We have two boat dive sites which we visit regularly in Tenerife, where we have resident Burrfish.  It’s always enjoyable seeing the delight on our diver’s faces, when they have the opportunity to see a burrfish during their guided dive!

burr fish

They are found singly hiding in protected shaded areas in caves and under rocks. They feed nocturnally on hard shelled invertebrates, including sea urchins where they use their powerful jaws to crush the food… often the spines from the sea urchins get stuck in their lips.

This fish is solitary, except during mating periods, it has a nocturnal activity with a maximal activity at sunset and sunrise.

The average length is 33cm and they are found at depths of 20-100m

In case of danger, the Burrfish can inflate itself by swallowing water to deter the potential predator with its larger volume and it can raise its spines.

We would like to stress the importance of not catching or playing with the Burrfish because it is hard work for them to swell up and the consequent wear and tear on the muscles can harm the fish if it is forced to do this too often.

There seems to be a lot of confusion between the puffer fish and the porcupine fish. The main difference is that the porcupine fish are covered with sharp spines, which are visible even prior to ‘puffing up’, however the puffer fish have thinner spines that are only visible when ‘puffed up’

I always look forward to seeing our resident Burrfish, they are inquisitive and personable and a joy to watch!

By Carly Pickford

 

 

 

Paradise Divers – Diving in Tenerife – Divemaster Internship Blog – Carrie’s 10th Week!

It’s now on my 10th week and time is near the end.  I have a handful of skills and such to complete as well as a few of my specialty courses as well.  These last few weeks will be crunch time.  Mapping project of Punta Maravilla is done.  I didn’t think drawing a map was even possible or within my skill set, but it turned out to be not so bad after all.

I’m rounding out 90 dives now and should have surpassed 100 by the end, which was a goal of mine when coming here.  Another thing that I am able to check off of on my list.  I also played an unresponsive diver this week and that was an eye opening experience.  I was no longer in the driver’s seat that I had been in during my rescue course; I was the victim.  It was a great experience to know and see how someone else reacts in the same situation.  You aren’t “alive” to give them pointers or help them in getting off your gear.

In the past 2 weeks I have noticed significant changes in the ocean.  The high winds and rough seas have passed and with it the low visibility.  The last couple dives have been calm and visibility has been spectacular to say the least.  In doing the wreck, El Condesito, I felt like I could see so many more parts of the ship and could see the ship from a ways back and it was much easier in my mind to reconstruct what the ship looked like previously.  El Puertito has never looked so alive since much of the sand has settled out of the water.  The amount of fish seems to have tripled there simply because you are able to see more clearly.  The clear water also helped me spot an electric ray at Punta Maravilla as well.  They have an amazing camouflage and I think I may not have spotted them had the visibility not improved.

As for me personally, I have traded my days off during the week for the month of March to go spend a few days with friends in Munich.  I am really looking forward to going as a few of my friends meeting me there I have not seen in 2 years.  It will be a great chance to not only see what Bavaria has to offer, but catch up as well.  This also means going back to the cold weather.  I am pretty far removed from the lower temperatures at this point and presume it will come as a big shock.  I have been very spoiled here on the island with fantastic weather all the time.  This is truly an ideal place to live and dive all year round.

I am looking forward to finishing up this next couple weeks and be the Divemaster I came here to be.  I’ll be excited to attend the next dry dive for my Grand Rapids Scuba Club and report on my time here.  I know many have seen the pictures I have posted online, but I haven’t had much chance to catch up with anyone to tell them of my progress and my divealicious adventures.

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Paradise Divers – Diving in Tenerife – Divemaster Internship Blog – Carrie’s 8th Week!

Time is flying here. I’m on week 8 of this trip and I can’t believe it.  I have a lot to report in this blog so hold onto your hats; it is going to get windy.

I have begun the mapping project of Punta Maravilla with Carly.  I have completed the necessary slides for the dive briefing, we just need to collaborate and put together a comprehensive underwater map of the area. I have done the site only 2 times so right now formulating a sketch seems impossible.  I know that with more time and maybe bringing a slate with me to sketch underwater will be a big help.

Emergency action plan for El Condesito has also been completed and I have successfully put together a template for an emergency that may arise at this particular site. The plan is comprehensive and contains information on the coordinates, a list of actions to take, dialogue information for calling EMS as well as emergency phone numbers and a map to the nearest hospital.

I have now done a few dive briefings and am comfortable in doing them as well as leading dives.  I have a few sites I am comfortable with and would be able to lead in the event I am needed.  I enjoy being in the lead, every time I make it back to the anchor it’s like a little pat on the back… you made it Carrie.

I finished watching the PADI Divemaster video and have read the Divemaster manual and completed all the knowledge reviews.  A bit of study and I am ready for the exam!  I have a now put effort into the water skills such as a timed 800 meter snorkel and a 100 meter tired diver tow.  I also need to prepare for the underwater assessment of the basic open water competencies.  There are 24 to be exact.

On the more personal side, I went and enjoyed Carnaval this last weekend in Santa Cruz.  It was not a Rio de Janeiro size celebration, but it was a great time nonetheless.  The amount of effort that everyone puts into their costumes was incredible.  Everyone was there to enjoy themselves and it was apparent by the amount of empty alcohol bottles, smiles and people dancing in the streets until the wee hours of the morning.  I highly recommend that everyone goes at least once in their life to see the effort put into the festival.  I also went rappelling down a valley here.  Now that was intense.  It looks much easier than it actually is.  I was holding on for dear life over a 100 foot drop and caves the size of a two-story house.  I finally got the hang of it on about the 3rd drop of 5.  It was a wonderful sense of accomplishment to look up from the bottom and see just how far down I had gone.

Next week my intentions are to finish up a few more specialty courses and plug along with the water skills. I had better get off the toilet now…. Dan is probably wondering where I am.  I’ll catch back up with you in 2 weeks time.

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Paradise Divers – Diving in Tenerife – Divemaster Internship Blog – Carrie’s 6th Week!

It is now 6 weeks into my internship and I can’t believe how fast the time is flying by.  I have 6 more weeks to go and a handful of things left on the docket.  I have now passed the Deep Diver specialty course as well as the Rescue Diver portion.  I found both courses to be very informative.  The deep specialty took me 43 meters (143 feet) under the sea.  You can feel the weight of the world on you from down there….literally.  No time to waste at that depth as your air goes considerably fast.  As for the rescue course, a lot to learn in the water on how to deal with both panicked divers and unresponsive divers. The techniques on how to be most effective in these situations were eye opening. Dan and Carly have demonstrated their dedication to my learning and development. Poor Carly had to play panicked and dead for half a day.  I am glad she is such a good sport about getting in the water to help me learn.

 

I am officially now working on the actual dive master skills and literature.  I have completed my reading and theory portion as well as a few of the practical tasks.  I have a lot to go in the next 6 weeks, but each week is another progression.  I have even considered looking for jobs around the world using my dive master certification.  My initial intent was not to use the certification just yet, but the more I am in the water, the more I don’t want to get out!  I also had no initial intention of becoming an instructor, but I now foresee that in my near future.  This internship has been a great eye opener on the possibilities diving has to offer no matter what continent you are on.  As much as I love to travel and swim with the fish, I may have found a great niche for me.

 

This week has been the beginning of Carnival here on the island.  I have the weekend off and will be heading up to Santa Cruz to enjoy the festivities.  I am excited to see all the costumes and dances.  After this weekend I will be buckling back down for a mapping project with Carly and a couple more specialty courses.  Stay salty my friend, until next time!DSCF9151

Paradise Divers – Diving in Tenerife – Divemaster Internship Blog – Carrie’s 2nd blog

Forgive me Padre, It’s been 2 weeks since my last blog and here are my confessions.

I’m madly in love with this island especially from the viewpoint of the boat.  You can look up and see El Teide, the volcano, and directly down into the sea to see how much life is down there waiting for you.  The views are breath taking.

I came here with about 36 dives and have now logged about an additional 20 in total.  In 20 dives, I have managed to gain many things including expanding my marine life knowledge as well as where each is commonly found.  The hidden nooks and crannies that so many hide in I never really noticed before because I was too busy looking at the big picture.  The dives I have been doing have helped me to focus more directly.  Having this extra knowledge is helpful during a dive to point out what other divers may miss and would like to see.  I have now been able to spot various species on my own such as a couple absolutely stunning nudibranchs.  Both were bright yellow with neon blue trim and only about 1.5” long.  In a sea that swallows entire freighters….I’d say they are pretty small in comparison.

Week 4, I lead my first dive and the good news is- it went off without a hitch.  We did not anchor in the general area that we normally do due to other dive boats. Despite this, I was able to not only find the wreck, El Condesito, but lead the group around, monitor air, point out sea life and safely make it back to the anchor.  This was a liberating feeling.  I had done it! I knew when it was all said and done that I had done a great job.  Dan reassured me too that I had done well.  I was very confident, from the ropes at the dock, to the organization of getting everyone in and out of the boat.  This confidence in my performance is why I am here.  I wanted to become a dive master to better myself as a diver in all aspects of the trade.

This next week I should be finishing up my rescue diver course which I’m sure, like most anything I have done so far, will be challenging.  I anticipate being sore and tired!  I will let you know how that goes !

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Paradise Divers – Diving in Tenerife – Divemaster Internship Blog – December – Harrison

Well its the 10th week of my internship already and I cant believe how quick its going. I can tell after a week of being home I’ll want to be back out here diving again, and that’s what just might happen…

Big news for paradise divers is that Dan is now a proud owner of a new RIB, much larger and quicker than his previous one allowing more divers to go out and enjoy the dive sites. I’m buzzing to get out on it and dive from it.image2

This week we were out on a DSD (discover scuba diving course for beginners) and Carly, another Divemaster, spotted yet another Angel Shark but at El Puertito this time. Two very lucky customers to see that, and of course the turtles were on top form spending plenty of time with us getting their shells scratched.image3

Myself, Dan and Carly went out to El Puertito to do a Project Aware dive. This means taking a net bag diving with us and picking up any rubbish laying on the sea bed. Its surprising how much stuff we came out with, its sad really because the turtles or any other sea life 12313656_10153744242254561_1038849370425681484_ncould easily get trapped or tangled up in the rubbish and result in serious harm. We collected together a load of glass bottles, cans, plastic bottles, rope, and even fishing lines with hooks still attached.

 

Anyway back to paradise for me… bye!

DM Internship blog – Carly Pickford

Hi Everyone,

4 weeks later and I’m now a qualified Rescue Diver, the course was challenging but great fun! Many different scenarios in open water to deal with, from panicked to non – responsive divers. The course has increased my confidence considerably.

I completed my first deep dive at 39 metres this week. We went to a site called Palm Mar Cave. I had to write my name backwards and do a maths test. I was pleased to say that I did not suffer with nitrogen narcosis which was much to Dans disappointment as he had the camera at the ready!

image1 image2Yesterday I led my first dive (only a little assistance from Dan!) with two open water divers at El Puertito. The green turtles (Jose, Julio and Humpy) were there and behaved in their usual friendly inquisitive manner; always a pleasure to see happy divers faces when they come along.

I also led my first snorkel trip this week at El Puertito. The visibility was great and we saw a Scorpian fish, barracudas and of course the local resident turtles. The customers had a great time, bar the slightly scary driving experience in the mini bus! I assured them I was a better diver than driver….practice makes perfect hey!!