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Mauritius: where the world loves to learn to dive

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Ocean Spirit Dive Centre in Pereybere has just been awarded PADI 5 star status after training more than 120 divers in the past five months. Jill Holloway reports on the dive training boom in Mauritius.

Mauritius, with its calm barrier reef, enclosed lagoons, turquoise blue seas, great visibility and exquisite corals, has become incredibly popular as a diver training centre. You can do a zero to hero PADI diving course with Barlen right here in Pereybere. Or bring your family – we have whole families coming here and learning to dive, checking into a self -catering apartment or villa, and enjoying a great holiday together.

Many families choose to spend their holiday money on diving rather than luxury accommodation, and they leave the richer for the experience. Most dive centres can assist you in finding accommodation options, from ultra- luxury resorts to studio apartments. All tourist accommodation in Mauritius is registered with, and inspected by, the Tourism Authority, so you are pretty well guaranteed wifi, air con and clean sheets.

A Discover Scuba course, followed up with an Open Water diving course, are a great way to spend a holiday with the family. Mauritius, always popular with honeymooners, hosts a new generation celebrating an engagement or marriage with a dive course together. One guy actually proposed in writing on a dive slate and he and his new fiancée came up to the surface wrapped in each other’s BCs and celebrated at the dive centre late into the evening.

I did my Advanced course in a disused quarry in Johannesburg. It was cold, dark and deep. The viz was less than a metre and it was no fun. We had to navigate using instruments alone, with no margin for error, because you could only see half a metre. I watched as my buddy failed his navigation, powering past the marker point 30cm below us on the mesh platform, in the shocking viz. Mauritius, undoubtedly, does it better.

Three months ago, I watched Janet Aurore do a PADI DSD course in the exquisite lagoon at Pereybere in the north of Mauritius. I dived with her last week after she also gained her Advanced Nitrox qualification. She soared and glided in the deep blue of the Silverstar wreck, blowing bubble kisses for her family back in China, and I realised that this is what Mauritius is really about. Confidence in the water, the soaring joy of diving, and the exquisite deep blue water and white sand. Mauritius is really a great place to learn to dive.

It’s also a great place for gap year students to spend time. Many dive centres offer a three month training internship, so it really is worth investigating. (“You’re spending your GAP YEAR IN MAURITIUS! Wow, dude, take me with you!” was the comment of the son of a friend).

Mauritius is a clean living Island. Drug import controls are so stringent that I have to get a doctor’s prescription for my vitamin supplements and the packages are opened by customs anyway. I have yet to see a prostitute but I suppose because Port Louis is a sea port there must be some. However, this is an island where family life is important, and where parents and kids spend a lot of time together.

The local Pereybere PADI Course Director, Barlen Veerasamy, runs regular Instructor training courses at incredibly competitive prices. He also arranges accommodation for his students in and around Pereybere. Barlen is a great, hands on teacher and has qualified many of the excellent Mauritius Instructors here. He qualified the hard way, at the age of 14. Barlen was cutting sugar cane in his school holidays to pay for his diving courses. He spent many years carrying tanks before he finally realised his dream of owning his own dive centre.

If you are an adrenalin junkie and want to go the deco diving route, Olivier Fayolle is a specialist SSI Course Director in TEC diving. He has 20 years of experience in training divers and recently sold his diving business to focus on multi-level diving, deep diving using decompression techniques, and mixed gas diving. With the water clarity, Mauritius is a fabulous place to take a deep diving deco course.

So, if you want to learn to dive, Mauritius is the place to do it.


Words and Pics: Jill Holloway; Coral Pics: Abdul Khathlan

Copyright: Ocean Spirit, Mauritius

www.osdiving.com

 

 

 

Jill Holloway lives in Mauritius and at Sodwana Bay Isimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa. A PADI qualified Nitrox diver with over 1,500 dives, she is a passionate observer and preserver of the marine environment, and has a database of over 35,000 fish pics and hundreds of Gopro videos on fish behaviour, which she shares with her readers.

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Guides invited to apply for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship

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Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification

The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.

As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.

Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:

  • have completed and passed all modules of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
  • be able to demonstrate they or their employer are not financially able to purchase the certificate
  • be a national of a country which receives official development assistance from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.

Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.

Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”


Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit www.greenfins.net/green-fins-dive-guide-scholarship-applications to apply.

To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit www.greenfins.net/appeal/sponsor-a-dive-guide.

Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Go Fish Free this February

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There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.

Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.

Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.

“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”

To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit www.fishfreefebruary.com

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Competitions

This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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