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Adaptive Diving: Training Agencies Come Together to Discuss Growing Community of Adaptive Divers



Dive centers, operators, resorts, really the whole dive industry is now challenged to meet the needs and desires of a growing adaptive diving community, welcoming them to a very adaptable sport while also addressing standards and safety.  In a ground-breaking seminar sponsored by the Diving Equipment and Manufacturing Association (DEMA), representatives Mark Slingo, Disabled Divers International (DDI), Mark Rausch, Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA), Barbara Thompson, Rebreather Association of International Divers (RAID), Thomas Powell, Scuba Diving International (SDI), Charley Oxley, Scuba Schools International (SSI) and Jim Gunderson, National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) sat down to discuss the similarities and differences in approach moderated by the Dive Pirates Foundation.

We organized this panel and we can’t thank DEMA enough for accepting this as one of their sponsored seminars during this conference as we as a foundation are working with all of these agencies to provide quality training for adaptive divers and we rely on all of them for guidance and leadership in this niche of the diving community,” explained Sophie Wimberley, Dive Pirates President and co-moderator of the panel discussion.  “Networking with dive centers across the US we are looking for adaptive diving instructors who will also accept what we have developed as safe diving procedures for our recipients and we welcome their feedback and involvement as there are many unknowns, such as depth, long term effects verses short term benefits, networking with the medical community that truly understand the health requirements needed for safe diving, and more.”

Cognitive Conditions

One topic explored during the panel included how each agency addresses divers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries, autism and other cognitive conditions.

The key is having a very frank discussion with the student diver and making sure you get honest answers to what are the person’s triggers, how does he or she responds to those triggers, and what might cause that trigger under water,” said Mark Rausch with HSA.  “Then together we make an action plan of how to minimize creating that situation, but realistically how to handle it should it occur for the safety of the whole buddy team.”

Tribal Knowledge

All participants acknowledged no amount of experience can prepare you for every adaptive diver’s need, and training affiliations evaporate when you reach out to fellow divers who may be able to trouble-shoot an adaptive diver’s unique issues.

It’s the tribal knowledge of divers, we are one of the most welcoming recreational sports out there, and we all love sharing the experience with newcomers, that’s why we are here, so when it comes to getting someone in the water, we rely on our personal networks, regardless of affiliation,” said Mark Slingo with DDI.

Rosemary Kidd, who started Kidd Scuba and hopes to expand her business with the adaptive community, listened in.  “I’m a new instructor with NAUI, went on and became an HSA instructor, because I’m an occupational therapist, I can rehab, and I want to get the disabled diving population built up,” Kidd said. “So just to see this at DEMA was fabulous, and there’s lots of issues we need to keep discussing but it gave me new stuff to think about so we can keep it going!

Dive Operators

Questions raised by the audience sparked a lively discussion about the concerns dive operators are faced with… the certification card and the validity of the diver’s ability and needs.  Many divers certified before a debilitating illness or accident may not circle back to an instructor or dive center to re-evaluate their status as an open water diver, and the operator is faced with the dilemma of wanting to provide for the customer and advocating for his or her ability to dive while also managing the safety of the diver and buddies as well as limiting themselves of any liability.

“I still think the biggest weakness that exists was not the people that were in there, the various agencies and the people that attended, but the people did not attend.  They’re the ones that somehow have to overcome their liability concerns,” said Mark Dugger of Midwest School of Diving in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.  “These are divers, no different than anyone else, once they get under the water, you have to overcome that and more importantly get a lot of the resorts and dive operators around the world to understand that there are another group of divers that can dive in a safe manner as long as the standards are followed.”

All agreed this is a concern that needs to be addressed and many suggested a follow up panel including dive operators to better understand how training agencies and operators can work together to encourage adaptive divers be re-assessed and how to network with each other when questions arise.

Wimberley added, “we are already formulating the next panel discussion for next year, as this was just the beginning of coming to the table and sharing information to grow this community in the safest way possible.”

For more information about Dive Pirates Foundation visit their website by clicking here.


The Rescue – available on Disney+ tomorrow (Watch Trailer)



If you missed the recent cinema debut of The Rescue film, you can watch it on streaming channel Disney+ from tomorrow December 3rd.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo), The Rescue is the edge-of-your-seat account of the rescue of 12 Thai school boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave system in 2018.

The Rescue chronicles the dramatic rescue of the boys and their coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Academy Award®-winning directors and producers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin reveal the perilous world of cave diving, the bravery of the rescuers, and the dedication of an entire community that made great sacrifices to save these young boys. An outing to explore a nearby system of caves after soccer practice transformed into a two-week saga of survival and a story that would capture the world’s attention. With exclusive access and never-before-seen footage from the rescue, the film tells the story of the imagination, determination and unprecedented teamwork displayed during this heroic edge-of-your-seat mission with life-or-death stakes.

Check back for our review of The Rescue soon!

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Guardian investigation finds endangered sharks for sale in Taiwan



A field investigation into Taiwan’s shark fin industry was conducted by Shark Guardian between December 2020 and March 2021. The investigation obtained documentary evidence of fins from endangered shark species being openly offered for sale by over half of all shark fin traders surveyed in Taiwan’s southern fishing port of Kaohsiung.

Of the 13 shark fin processing and trading companies visited, more than half were found to be trading CITES- listed fins, and seven had shark fins from CITES Appendix II-listed species as part of their product range. One company saidthere was no difference in selling protected or unprotected species. Protected sharks’ products usually create a problem for international shipping only.”

The new report details how seven out of thirteen traders surveyed in Taiwan were found to be selling shark fins from silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, mako sharks, thresher sharks and great white sharks in broad daylight – in contravention of Taiwanese and international law.

Over a three-month period, Shark Guardian investigators witnessed multiple shipments of shark fins from endangered species being unloaded at Donggang fish market which is in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung.

Alex Hofford, Marine Wildlife Campaigner with Shark Guardian, said “To save sharks and the marine environment, Taiwanese authorities should implement an immediate crackdown on its cruel and unsustainable shark fin trade, and should tighten up local laws to ban the domestic sale of shark fin as well as better enforce its international obligations under CITES. It is also high time that the Taiwanese government should rein in its out-of-control distant water tuna fishing fleet, who are a major supplier shark fin to Chinese markets. Whilst Taiwan is a beacon of democratic and progressive values in Asia, it is allowing its unsustainable and often crime-ridden fisheries sector to rape and pillage our ocean with impunity. This must stop. Taiwan needs to show leadership in environmental protection and must quickly clean up its act as regards its sleazy shark fisheries and trade sectors.”

During our investigation, Shark Guardian also found evidence of Taiwan-based online retailers selling fins of endangered species of shark in contravention of local and international law.

According to WWF, a third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, yet fishing and trading in unsustainable shark fin remains a highly profitable, but environmentally destructive, enterprise for Taiwanese companies operating out of Kaohsiung.

Brendon Sing, Co-Director of Shark Guardian said “Clearly more must be done to protect sharks globally. There are over 500 known shark species with only a handful of them listed under CITES. Even then, CITES listed sharks are still traded illegally where monitoring and enforcement lack any power and expose loopholes in the system. As long as this continues, there is no real protection for any shark species regardless of CITES listing or not. Taiwan must be responsible and take positive action in response to this report.”

Shark Guardian believes that excessively large profit margins are the main reason why Taiwan has never acted to rein in its shark fisheries and trade.

Shark Guardian hopes that Taiwan can apply its progressive values towards preserving the marine environment by imposing a comprehensive ban on the physical and online selling all species of shark fin in Taiwan. Such a ban would go above and beyond what is required under international law, and Taiwan’s domestic laws can be changed with public support.

For more information about Shark Guardian visit their website by clicking here.

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Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

Price NOW from just £975 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from London Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email

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