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Sustainable Tourism: Tiny changes that make a big difference

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What is sustainability? Why is it important? Here is the dictionary definition:

noun

1.

the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed.

2.

Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.

Do you ask yourself these questions prior to making a decision about what dive center to dive or train with?

A few years ago I realized quite how much damage some Tourism practices could be for the environment.  I watched on the dock as a sailing adventure company loaded boxes and boxes of drinking water of small plastic bottles on to their boat. 47 boxes of water, each with 24 bottles containing less than 500 ml in each. Providing the guests drank all the water that would be 1128 single use plastic bottles between only 6 people, in less than a week. That is a huge amount of plastic waste.

I decided to start investigating how I could make our dive center more environmentally friendly by adopting sustainable practices. As divers we should not just be ambassadors for the Oceans, but for the planet.

We strive to ensure that our business practices and services are environmentally sustainable and that we safeguard the ocean environment for generations to come. These decisions are not taken lightly: they involve commitment, time, and funding. Our team has invested in finding and following standards and protocols that have propelled us forward as a sustainable leader in the dive industry. The most important decision is knowing how and what information to choose and decipher prior to embarking on becoming more sustainable. It is not simply a question of “googling it”.

We have partnered with Ocean First Institute and Sustainable Travel International to keep us moving in the right direction.  Through these organizations, we have joined the “Blue the Dive” movement.  Cortez Expeditions complies with the requirements set forth by this movement, striving to maintain them while simultaneously adapting our company to incorporate further eco-friendly practices on a daily basis.

The heart of our business plan is sustainable tourism – we realize that by being stewards of the natural environment we are not only protecting our livelihoods but allowing future generations to enjoy the same natural wonders we are privileged to experience in the Sea of Cortez.  We welcome any questions and discussion about our standards because we know that only through collaboration can we effectively protect the Ocean for those who come after us.

  • We guarantee the following environmental practices at Cortez Expeditions:
  • Our facilities and boats are 100% free of disposable plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
  • We use refillable jugs for water and tea and encourage guests to either use our reusable aluminum bottles or come with their personal reusable bottles.
  • Our food is organic, sustainable, and locally sourced.  Not only is our food tasty, it is ethically sourced, transported, and treated. www.smartfish.mx
  • Our staff maintains the best environmental practices above and below the water. Our dive briefings provide guests with necessary information for better understanding of the dive sites and how to minimize our impacts on the site.

In addition, our staff practice diving protocols that help guests improve their techniques in the water, enabling guests to get the most out of every dive while cultivating a respect for the marine environment.

Find out more about Luke and Cortez Expeditions at www.cortezexpeditions.com.

Luke Inman is a Photographer, Film Maker, Writer, PADI Course Director, Techincal Instructor Trainer, Dog Walker and owns Cortez Expeditions, the only PADI 5 Star IDC and TDI Dive Center in La Paz Mexico.

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New academic study to confirm rehabilitative benefits of Scuba Diving

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A new study into Scuba Diving Rehabilitation Charity Deptherapy’s approach to supporting Armed Forces veterans with psychological injuries such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through the medium of scuba diving has been carried out by Petra Walker in conjunction with Hanna Kampman of the Posttraumatic Growth Research Unit at the University of East London.

This study, which used Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), demonstrates that scuba diving has rehabilitation benefits beyond those found in other forms of sporting rehabilitation exercise.

IPA is a qualitative methodology that examines the experiences of participants and has been used in previous studies of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) in para-athletes.

Petra is an experienced diver herself and was exploring the wellbeing aspects of scuba diving as part of her Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology when she came across a previous study on Deptherapy. Past studies have mainly focused on the medical aspects of diving, so the opportunity to examine the mental health side of rehabilitative scuba diving was impossible to ignore.

The full study is currently embargoed until it is published at a future date in an academic journal, but it follows similar academic research into the work of Deptherapy by the University of Sheffield Medical School (2018) and the University of Nottingham (2019).

Richard Cullen, Chairman of Deptherapy commented: “This evidence-based study demonstrates yet again the value of scuba diving and, in particular, the support provided by Deptherapy to severely traumatised people within the Armed Forces community. We await the publication of the detailed findings which we anticipate will be of considerable interest to all organisations who seek to assist in the rehabilitation of veterans through sporting activity, as well as the Scuba Diving world.”

Team Deptherapy returned to the UK last week from their first training expedition since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. A small group of six veterans travelled with the Deptherapy Instructor Team to the charity’s international base at Roots Red Sea to undertake practical Scuba Diving training in the clear, warm waters of the Red Sea.

Joining Team Deptherapy for the first time was 20 year old paraplegic Corey Goodson who had this to say: “I have been made aware of a new academic study about the benefits of Deptherapy. Last week I learned to scuba dive properly with Deptherapy, a huge achievement for someone with paraplegia. Deptherapy doesn’t judge your injury, whether that be physical or psychological; it looks beyond, and it sees the person inside. That person is who they work with, and the Deptherapy programme encourages you to see your fellow beneficiaries in the same light. More important than the sense of achievement during the training, was the support, care, encouragement and love the team showed me. I have found a new family in Deptherapy. I am home now but the support, friendship and banter continue; it is motivating and empowering, it gives me a deep sense of wellness and worth. I look forward to continuing my rehabilitative journey with Deptherapy.”

For more information about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit www.deptherapy.co.uk.

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Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 6

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Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 6 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Thursday has dawned and it is down to the House Reef with an outgoing tide that is approaching slack so we can get in the water straight away.   Lots of chat about last night’s RAID O2 Provider session with Moudi.  Oatsie is talking about sidemounts and marine biology, Swars is looking forward to his first sidemount session this afternoon.

Moudi is supported by Oatsie this morning and doing some more skill work with Keiron.

Moudi running the guys through the RAID O2 Administrator Course

Corey was asking last night about what it is like at 30 metres, so I have decided that with Michael and Swars we will take him to 30 metres.  We are going to run a narcosis exercise so out comes the slate with the numbers 1 – 25 randomly placed in squares.  Corey’s task, in the dive centre, is as quickly as possible to touch each number in sequence.  He does it pretty quickly and Michael briefs him that he will need to do the same exercise at 30 metres.

Michael briefs the dive and we set off down the beach.  Corey has improved beyond measure and he is becoming a pleasure to dive with.  So we are off to follow the South reef to 30 metres where we will complete the second part of the exercise.

At 30 metres Michael hands Corey the slate; there is a considerable difference in the time to complete the exercise at the surface and at 30 metres.  There are lots of mitigating factors in how quickly you can identify the numbers and explaining a slower time at 30 metres than at the surface does not mean an individual is suffering from narcosis.  Identifying random numbers, if you run the exercise at the surface, several times with an individual over a number of hours can result in wide variations in the time taken to complete the exercise.

We finish the dive with Corey smiling from ear to ear and we have a discussion about depth and air consumption.  The second dive of the morning is a fun dive, then it is lunch in the beach restaurant.  After the burgers I am sure we will need to look at our weighting before the afternoon’s dive.

We will need to look at weighting after this lunch!

Corey and Keiron have got into the habit of recording their dives online using the RAID online log book which is a tremendous facility and as the instructor I can access that data.

Moudi and Keiron are going for a fun dive as are Corey, Oatsie, Michael and myself. Swars is getting kitted up for the first experience of sidemount with Guy Henderson.

Swars getting to grips with his sidemount cylinders

People often look at the relationships that exist between the dive team and our beneficiaries and try to extrapolate a similar relationship to disabled students they might have.  Our relationships are built up over a period of time, in some cases over many years.  We also provide 24/7 support and have chat groups etc on social media; we also meet up socially when we can.  It is somewhat different than a individual coming in to a dive centre and saying ‘I want to dive’. Your relationship is likely to be the same as any other student, you will teach them, they might stay with the dive centre or like many that will go on holiday to do some diving, you might never see them again.

Our main aim is to create a family atmosphere for our programme members, one where they feel secure and they are able to discuss freely with the team and fellow beneficiaries their feelings and needs.

Few dive centres are charities, and owners might want to consider costs of running a course for someone with a disability that might take more than the standard four pool sessions etc.  You may find the number of sessions and the staffing levels have to increase.  Many dive centres, because of their size and turnover are exempt from providing accessibility.  How will this affect someone who is a wheelchair user?  Can they gain access to the dive centre, the classroom, the toilet?  What are the changing facilities, can they get wheelchair access to the pool?

Lots of things to think about.

Roots’ beautiful reef

The reef is beautiful, so much aquatic life and the corals look splendid, especially the pinnacles.

A good day’s diving, Swars has really enjoyed his sidemount.

Lovely way to relax in the evening with the Roots BBQ, a fitting end to a great day.

Last day tomorrow and our final blog!


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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