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Scuba Diving: How to Get Started

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If you have a friend or family member who is thinking about getting in to diving, this guide on how to get started from Sea to Sky offers advice on how they can begin their exciting journey…

Scuba diving is a wonderful way to experience the beauty and diversity of marine life, and to explore shipwrecks, caves, and other underwater features across the world.

For many scuba diving becomes a hobby & passion, but it’s also hugely popular for holidays to destinations such as Egypt, Oman, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and the Maldives, offering an unparalleled underwater experience for new and experienced divers.

Find out more about Scuba Diving in our getting started guide.

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What is Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is where divers use a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) to breathe underwater.

Essential Training

Before going scuba diving, it is important to get proper training and certification. This will ensure that you are able to dive safely and understand the risks involved.

There are various organisations that offer scuba diving certification, such as PADI, CMAS, and SSI (among others). These organisations offer a variety of courses, from basic open water diver courses to advanced specialty courses such as deep diving, wreck diving and tech.

Important Equipment

When scuba diving, it is important to use proper equipment and to follow safety guidelines. This includes using a dive computer, which helps to monitor your dive time and depth, as well as a dive watch or dive planner.

It is also important to use a buoyancy control device (BCD) to help control your buoyancy underwater, and a dive regulator to control the flow of air from your tanks.

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Be Sensible

Scuba diving is a great way to explore the underwater world, but it is also important to remember that it is an activity that comes with risks.

Divers should be aware of their own limitations and should always dive within their own level of experience and training. It is also important to be aware of the potential dangers of diving, such as marine life, currents, and equipment failure.

Overall, scuba diving is a thrilling and rewarding activity that allows people to experience the beauty and diversity of the underwater world. With proper training and safety guidelines, it is a safe and enjoyable activity for people of all ages and abilities.

Dive Training Agencies

Each agency offers different courses and certifications, and each has its own unique approach to scuba diving education.

Below are three of the major agencies and we have summarised the agencies and what they offer. If you are any doubt or confused, drop us an email and we would be only too happy to discuss each of their attributes.

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PADI

PADI, which stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is one of the most well-known and widely recognised scuba diving certification agencies in the world.

Founded in 1966, PADI has trained millions of divers and currently has more than 6,500 dive centres and resorts in over 180 countries.

One of the reasons for PADI’s popularity is its wide range of courses for divers of all levels, from beginner to professional.

The most popular PADI course is the Open Water Diver course, which teaches the basic skills and knowledge needed to safely dive in open water environments.

PADI also offers a variety of specialty courses, such as deep diving, wreck diving, and digital underwater photography, that allow divers to expand their skills and knowledge.

It also offers different types of certifications, such as the Junior Open Water Diver, which is designed for children, and the Master Scuba Diver, which is the highest non-professional certification level in PADI and recognises the diver’s experience and skills.

Another aspect that sets PADI apart from other dive agencies is the flexibility of its courses, PADI’s eLearning program allows divers to complete the knowledge development part of the Open Water Diver course online, before arriving at the dive center. This allows divers to learn at their own pace and to fit the course into their busy schedules.

PADI is also known for its commitment to safety and environmental conservation. The agency has developed a number of programs and initiatives to promote safe diving practices and to protect the underwater environment. These include Project AWARE, which focuses on ocean conservation and marine debris removal, and the PADI Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) Specialty course, which teaches divers how to safely and responsibly use underwater scooters.

In conclusion, PADI is one of the most well-known and widely recognised scuba diving certification agencies in the world. With its wide range of courses, flexible eLearning program, and commitment to safety and environmental conservation, PADI is an excellent choice for anyone looking to learn to dive or to expand their diving skills and knowledge.

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CMAS

CMAS, short for Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques, is a French dive agency that offers scuba diving certifications and training.

Founded in 1959, CMAS is one of the oldest and most respected dive agencies in the world, and is recognised by the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) as a major training organisation.

One of the unique features of CMAS is its multi-level certification system. Unlike other dive agencies, which have a single level of certification for open water divers, CMAS has three levels of certification for open water divers: 1-star, 2-star, and 3-star. Each level represents an increasing level of skill and knowledge, and divers can progress through the levels as they gain more experience.

  • The 1-star level is the entry-level certification for open water divers. It is designed for divers who are new to scuba diving and want to learn the basics of diving, such as dive theory, dive equipment, dive planning, and dive safety.
  • The 2-star level is the intermediate level certification for open water divers. It is designed for divers who have completed the 1-star level and want to gain more experience and knowledge. The 2-star level covers more advanced topics such as deep diving, navigation, and emergency procedures.
  • The 3-star level is the advanced level certification for open water divers. It is designed for divers who have completed the 2-star level and want to gain even more experience and knowledge. The 3-star level covers more specialised topics such as wreck diving, cave diving, and ice diving.

In addition to its open water diver certifications, CMAS also offers a wide range of specialties and instructor certifications. These include deep diving, wreck diving, cave diving, night diving, and more. CMAS also offers technical diving courses, including trimix and rebreather diving.

CMAS is also known for its strong emphasis on safety and environmental conservation. All the diving courses include instruction in dive safety and environmental awareness, and they are actively involved in ocean conservation and marine research projects around the world.

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SSI

Scuba Schools International (SSI) is a globally recognised scuba diving certification agency that offers a wide range of scuba diving courses and certifications.

Founded in 1970, SSI has trained millions of divers and currently has more than 40,000 dive professionals and over 2,500 dive centres and resorts worldwide.

One of the unique features of SSI is its focus on providing a comprehensive and holistic dive education program. SSI has a unique training system that is based on the concept of “Total Dive Control”. This means that SSI courses are designed to teach divers not only the basic skills of diving, but also how to fully control and manage their dive experience, from planning and preparation to execution and analysis.

SSI also offers a variety of courses for divers of all levels, from beginner to professional. The most popular SSI course is the Open Water Diver course, which teaches the basic skills and knowledge needed to safely dive in open water environments.

There are also a variety of specialty courses, such as deep diving, wreck diving, and digital underwater photography, that allow divers to expand their skills and knowledge.

SSI also offers a Master Diver program, which is the highest non-professional certification level in SSI, which recognises the diver’s experience and skills.

Another aspect that sets SSI apart from other dive agencies is its flexibility in the final open water test. SSI allows divers to take the final open water dive test in a pool, whereas PADI requires the test to be done in open water.

SSI also has a strong commitment to safety and environmental conservation. All SSI diving courses include instruction in dive safety and environmental awareness, and SSI is actively involved in ocean conservation and marine research projects around the world.

In conclusion, SSI is a globally recognised scuba diving certification agency that offers a wide range of scuba diving courses and certifications. With its comprehensive and holistic dive education program, flexible final open water test, and commitment to safety and environmental conservation, SSI is an excellent choice for anyone looking to learn to dive or to expand their diving skills and knowledge.

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Course Example: PADI Open Water Course

The PADI Open Water Diver course is the most popular scuba diving certification course in the world.

It is a comprehensive course that teaches the skills and knowledge needed to safely dive in open water environments. The course is designed for people who are new to scuba diving and want to learn the basics of diving, as well as for those who want to refresh their skills and knowledge.

The PADI Open Water Diver course is divided into three main parts: knowledge development, confined water dives, and open water dives.

Knowledge Development

The knowledge development part of the course is usually done through a combination of independent study, such as reading the PADI Open Water Diver manual, and classroom sessions with an instructor. The topics covered in the knowledge development part of the course include dive theory, dive equipment, dive planning, and dive safety.

Confined Water Dives

The confined water dives are the pool or pool-like sessions where you will learn the basic skills of diving such as clearing the water from the mask, regulator recovery, and control of buoyancy.

Open Water Dives

The open water dives are where you will put the skills you learned in the confined water dives into practice.

You will usually complete four open water dives, which will take place in a natural body of water such as a lake or ocean. During these dives, you will explore the underwater environment and practice the skills you learned in the confined water dives.

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Great Way to Learn the Basics and Get Certified

The PADI Open Water Diver course is a great way to learn the basics of scuba diving and to gain the skills and knowledge needed to safely dive in open water environments.

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver and will be able to dive to a maximum depth of 60 feet.

The certification is recognized worldwide and you can continue your diving education with PADI by taking the advanced open water course and other specialties.

Overall, the PADI Open Water Diver course is a great way to get started in the exciting world of scuba diving. With proper training, you can safely explore the underwater world and experience the beauty and diversity of marine life.

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If you would like more information or discuss a course in more detail, contact My Sea to Sky.  Our experienced diving team can talk you through all the aspects of the PADI and SSI courses we run on a regular basis.

Or, why not combine your diving training with a holiday in some amazing locations that are suited to your level of experience? Just ask, we are only too happy to recommend the perfect diving location for you.

We are a full service tour operator offering nature immersive and wellness experiences tailored to our discerning adventurers, looking for active escapes to undiscovered gems.

Blogs

The Ocean Cleanup to Complete 100th Extraction Live from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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  • The Ocean Cleanup marks 100th extraction of plastic pollution from the Pacific Ocean by livestreaming entire cleaning operation from start to finish.
  • Occasion brings together supporters, partners, donors and followers as the project readies its cleanup technology for scale-up.
  • Founder and CEO Boyan Slat to provide insight on the plans ahead.

The Ocean Cleanup is set to reach a milestone of 100 plastic extractions from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Extraction #100, scheduled for 28 or 29 May 2024, will be the first ever to be livestreamed direct from the Pacific Ocean, allowing supporters and partners around the world to see up close how the organization has removed over 385,000 kilograms (nearly 850,000 lbs) of plastic from the GPGP so far – more than double the bare weight of the Statue of Liberty.

the ocean cleanup

The mission of The Ocean Cleanup is to rid the oceans of plastic. To do this, the non-profit project employs a dual strategy: cleaning up legacy floating plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (the world’s largest accumulation of floating plastic), while stopping the flow of plastic from the world’s most polluting rivers.

The Ocean Cleanup captured its first plastic (the first ‘extraction’) in the GPGP in 2019 with System 001, following years of trials and testing with a variety of concepts. Through System 002 and now the larger and more efficient System 03, the organization has consistently improved and optimized operations, and is now preparing to extract plastic trash from the GPGP for the 100th time.

the ocean cleanup

Extraction #100 will be an interactive broadcast showing the entire extraction procedure live and in detail, with insight provided by representatives from across The Ocean Cleanup and partners contributing to the operations.

This is an important milestone in a key year for The Ocean Cleanup.’ said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. ‘We’ve come a long way since our first extraction in 2019. During the 2024 season, with System 03, we aim to demonstrate that we are ready to scale up, and with it, confine the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the history books.

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The livestream will be hosted on The Ocean Cleanup’s YouTube channel and via X. Monitor @theoceancleanup for confirmed timings.

www.theoceancleanup.com

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Book Review: Plankton

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Plankton: A Worldwide Guide by Tom Jackson and Jennifer Parker

This is a book that jumps off the shelf at you. The striking front cover demands that you pick it up and delve further, even if you may not have known you wanted to learn more about the most diminutive life in our ocean, plankton!

Small it might be. Much of the imagery in the book has been taken under huge magnification. Revealing stunning beauty and diversity in each scoop of “soup”. There is lots to learn. Initial chapters include interesting facts about the different vertical zones they inhabit, from sunlight to midnight (the darkest and deepest areas). I loved finding out more about the stunning show that divers oft encounter on night dives – bioluminescence.

The black water images are wonderful. So this is a book you can have as a coffee table book to dip in and our of. But, these tiny organisms are also vital to our very survival and that of all the marine life we love. They provide half the oxygen produced on our planet. They are also responsible for regulating the planets climate. And for a shark lover like me – they are food for charismatic sharks and rays like the Basking Shark and Manta Ray, along with a huge number of other species. This book contains great insight into their biology, life cycles, migration, and how the changes in currents and sea temperatures affects them.

This is a book that is both beautiful and packed with information about possibly the most important group of organisms on our planet. Anyone interested in the ocean should have it one their shelves.

What the publisher says:

Plankton are the unsung heroes of planet Earth. Passive drifters through the world’s seas, oceans, and freshwater environments, most are invisible or very small, but some are longer than a whale. They are the global ocean’s foundation food, supporting almost all oceanic life, and they are also vitally important for land-based plants, animals, and other organisms. Plankton provides an incomparable look at these remarkable creatures, opening a window on the elegance and grace of microscopic marine life.

This engaging book reveals the amazing diversity of plankton, how they belong to a wide range of living groups, and how their ecology, lifestyles, and adaptations have evolved to suit an enormous range of conditions. It looks at plankton life cycles, the different ways plankton feed and grow, and the vast range of strategies they use for reproduction. It tracks where, how, and why plankton drift through the water; shares perspectives on migrations and population explosions or “blooms” and why they happen; and discusses the life-sustaining role of plankton in numerous intertwined food webs throughout the world.

Beautifully illustrated, Plankton sheds critical light on how global warming, pollution, diminishing resources, and overexploitation will adversely impact planktonic life, and how these effects will reverberate to every corner of our planet.

About the Authors:

Tom Jackson is a science writer whose many popular books include Strange Animals and Genetics in MinutesJennifer Parker is a zoology and conservation writer and the author of several books. Andrew Hirst is a leading expert on plankton whose research has taken him around the world, from the Antarctic to Greenland and the Great Barrier Reef.

Book Details

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Hardcover

Price: £25

ISBN: 9780691255996

Published: 9th April, 2024

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