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Blog: What defines a Technical Diver from a Recreational Diver…

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What defines a Technical Diver from a Recreational Diver? Some say it’s the diver in heavy black suit of armour, dripping wet as they emerge from the sea on a sun-scorched beach, or the muscular athletic build of a mid-40s descendant of Thor complete with battle scars carrying that rebreather on their back, or that arbitrary look of distain from your instructor guru when you get the mathematical formula for trimix gas calculation wrong… well thankfully none of the above!

A wee bit of knowledge can be a bad thing, but I say, it’s worth building on that knowledge and inspiration to become the best diver you can be! But hold your horses a bit, easy tiger, let’s not jump in at the deep end first.

Technical diving is not just about taking a bunch of cylinders down to the ocean abyss, or wearing as many lights, or computers as your arm will take, or other gadgets. We’ve heard the term “all the gear and no (little) idea”. Unfortunately, some accessories named above including scooters, are far too easy to acquire when you have the cash. It’s more sensible to invest some money to further your abilities to handle these accessories in the water and be confident and safer! Incidentally, in order to buy a new rebreather, there has to be some training involved! Divers are actually far more admired and respected for being safer, rather than for being ego driven by depths, equipment or just being plain down right stupid pivoting on the limits.

Back in 1991, a friend of mine Michael Menduno, actually coined the term “Technical Diving”, and he published “The Journal for Technical Diving”, as founder and editor of the hugely influential AquaCORPS Journal (1990-1996). He talks about the pioneering of Helium in mixed gas back in the 1930’s, discusses protocols in technical diving, safety, accident analysis and rescues, narcosis and decompression theory.

Buying yourself a Ducatii 1198cc doesn’t make you a World Superbike rider, but you can learn to use it safely first, learn the corners and power curves of the engine, but most of all respect and keeping within your own limits. In just the same way in diving, we learn how to dive, buy our kit and progressively take courses to the limits we enjoy.

One of the biggest challenges I hear a lot, is about how difficult the transition from recreational to technical diving is. Erroneously, if you think for a moment, you may find you’ve incidentally created yourselves new paths and goals when you realise you’ve actually become safer and more confident through better training.

Well it might not come as a surprise, RAID have produced some pretty inclusive courses allowing divers to transition smoothly between recreational and technical diving. One of the biggest transitions is to think differently and simply be more aware.

I wish I could say for the most part of my early training the transition to technical diving was smooth, however for me back then, it was pretty much a steep learning curve. However, over the last few years courses have been formatted to be easier to digest, nothing removed, in fact more added and just easier to absorb.

The most intrinsic core skill any diver could have, the one at the top that governs everything else… is awareness.

Awareness isn’t just the ability to judge your distance from something or someone as you swim along.  So let’s break this down into three categories: Personal awareness, global awareness and the domino effect.

Personal awareness focuses on your mental state of mind before, during and after the dive; gas management and observation; confirmed dive plan; reserves; equipment working; your skills including finning and balance on the dive.

Global awareness is a spherical metering between the diver and everything around them including your team mates. A 360degree radius in every direction at any depth of water column.

The Domino effect basically looks at the knock-on effect that not being aware in the first two instances has a consequential effect in the future moments. For example, poor finning technique near to the floor could reduce the visibility for the diver behind or damage something. Not sticking to a dive plan could leave you and your team not knowing or guessing what to do and when, building anxiety and increasing SAC rates. Not looking after your equipment or servicing it, may cause a premature failure on the dive. Being dehydrated could make you feel nauseous or anxious, which could lead to other things including DCI.  Poor trim will, in essence, have a knock-on effect on your buoyancy, your breathing rate (SAC/RVM) and your ability to think clearly. Every diver feels the advantages of good balance/ trim, as you relax, you can hover and you can deploy an DSMB easily and without stress.

All the above and much more tends to hone the skills of a good technical diver, but in reality, these are the same skills every diver should have. Some of you may already have acquired these skills, which essentially means the transition to technical diving will be seamless for you.

RAID have already released all of our courses, from Open Water to Cave2, for public viewing globally during this pandemic, allowing anyone to decide if that course is the right one along their path.

Regardless of training or pleasure diving, we all need to keep ourselves sharp on every dive by defining awareness to our consciousness, this will make us better divers, safer and allow us to enjoy diving even more.

Garry Dallas – www.simplysidemount.com

Crazy haired and passionate diver, teacher, author and photographer. Life-long adventurer, keen to explore new environments including caves and wrecks whilst enjoying the tranquillity and surreal places below the surface. Protecting the ocean and wildlife, but also dedicated to improving diver safety. Still dreaming about that boat on the ocean, love on the seven seas, pirates, treasure and rum.

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

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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

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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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Competitions

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 info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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