I came across this great interview recently with HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL where he displays a common sense approach to recreational diving and how, if we think that a dive is boring, its probably because we aren’t looking close enough.
Hugh is a “Celebrity Chef” from the UK and is author and star of the River Cottage TV series, and he is a passionate campaigner for sustainability, both above and below the water. His recent “fish fight” campaign challenged the assumption that imposing catch quotas on British fishermen may not be the best solution to over-fishing, resulting as it does in a terrible waste of fish thrown overboard as “discard”.
Unsurprisingly, Hugh is a passionate diver, and one the episodes featured him diving in the Maldives, where he had gone to show the benefits of catching tuna by pole and line.
When and where did you learn to dive?
I originally learned when I was working at the River Café in London in about 1989. One of the waitresses was a member of the BSAC-run Cormorant Dive Club, and I diligently attended what seemed like interminable pool sessions in Swiss Cottage.
Are you saying you didn’t enjoy the experience?
No, not at all, it was just that it took months before I did a proper dive. Eventually we did a club trip to Hurghada. I couldn’t believe the colours under water, and the brilliant psychedelic appearance of the fish and corals. It was literally mind-blowing.
But what astounded me most was that some of the other divers moaned about their dive and said it was “rubbish”, because they hadn’t seen any sharks or something huge!
Was that because they were much more experienced?
Obviously I was inexperienced, but I remember seeing a Napoleon wrasse, and all this fantastic colour. I made a promise to myself that day – that no matter what kind of a dive I ever had, I would never, ever complain about it. It always seems to me to be supremely ungrateful that any human being should think that they somehow have some sort of divine right to see something “special” on a dive.
Have you kept that promise?
I think so. Someone once told me that if I’m bored on a dive, I should just swim up to a rock or a piece of coral and stare at what’s a few inches in front of me. And sure enough, there’s always something happening, something moving or growing there that I might not have noticed if I hadn’t pressed my face close to it.
Did you ever get beyond your BSAC Novice qualification?
Well, I have a confession to make; I never quite got my certificate signed off. And for about 10 years, every time I went on a diving holiday I had a battle to convince the dive centres that I was certified.
I always took my BSAC temporary card and my log-book, and usually it worked, though a couple of times they made me do a resort course, which was a real pain.
Then, about 10 years ago in Seychelles, I decided I needed to sort it out properly, so I took a PADI Advanced course at the Underwater Centre on Mahé. That golden PADI card shines like a beacon in my wallet, something that I’m much more proud of than my driving licence!
Do you know how many dives you’ve done?
Certainly two, maybe three hundred. I’ve dived every year for over 20 years. I’ve been lucky enough to dive in places like Seychelles, Mexico, the Red Sea, Madeira, Maldives, the Bahamas and South Africa.
Ever been scared under water?
Yes, in Stoney Cove, when I lost my regulator and couldn’t find it. I panicked and shot to the surface, blindly forgetting all my training. Luckily I wasn’t very deep, but I had to force myself to go back into the water, or else I might have been put off for good.
And once, somewhere near Durdle Door [Dorset], I got separated from my buddy. It was around Easter and the water wasn’t warm or clear and I felt really frightened for a while until I spotted his bubbles.
Oh, and in Kenya I had to share air with my divemaster when he took me off on a long swim at the end of a dive.
Are you interested in diving kit?
Do you own any?
I own everything, but I couldn’t tell you who made it without looking at it. My computer
is at least 10 years old, a Uwatec. I love it. I have two prescription masks, ‘cos I’m quite short-sighted. I bought a spare, and I acquired some contact lenses so that I could use a full-face mask for the filming we did in the Maldives.
Part of that programme was about the way we mistreat the marine environment. Is that something you worry about when you dive?
Yes, and it comes back to what I said about what we think we have “a right” to see when we dive.
If we don’t see the fish we want, or we come across something ugly under water, then maybe it’s because of what human beings have done.
Man-made problems may just be what you see when you dive. And that’s why I don’t think we have any special right to “demand” that we see a shark, or whatever it is we expect to find.
Do you have a diving wish-list – or something you’ve always wanted to see under water?
It used to be a manta ray, and that’s what I got to see in the Maldives at Lankan. And my first-ever encounter with mantas was caught on camera, which was great, and why I probably sounded ridiculous on-screen, but I was beside myself with excitement.
I went back into the water later without the cameras and had well over an hour with the mantas. There’s only one way to describe what it felt like; just such a pure privilege. As for a fantasy underwater sighting, it would have to be a giant squid fighting with a sperm whale. Not very likely.
Is there a marine creature that you might find frightening?
I’d love to see a really big shark, and I might find it frightening.
Stephen Fry once described you as having “the silliest hair in Europe”. Has it ever been a nuisance under water?
Wearing a two piece semi-dry, it did tend to get pushed forward and get trapped under the mask seal, but I’ve recently had it cut!
In November 2010 PADI announced the new PADI Divemaster course, however the new materials were not available in Indonesia until July 2011. Since then, Two Fish Divers have taught the new course to about 10 students in Bunaken & Lembeh, and we think that the new DM course is a great improvement.
What Has Changed
In summary, PADI have toughened the prerequisites, increased in-water training by 50%, and completely overhauled the dive theory part of the Divemaster Theory.
Slightly Tougher Prerequisites
Candidates must now have 40 logged dives to start the DM course (used to be 20). They will therefore get more out of their course by being more experienced divers before the course begins.
Additionally, the Deep Diver and Search & Recovery Diver specialty courses are highly recommended. Candidates with these specialty ratings can drop these two Practical Application Skills (see below), however we prefer to cover these anyway to make sure that candidates have up-to-date training.
Increased In-water Training
One of the biggest changes come in the water where PADI has increased the amount of in-water training by 50% including:
These workshops and assessments give the candidates the training and experience they need in order to carry out their functions after certification.
Overhaul of Dive Theory
Overall, the Divemaster Theory emphasizes the supervisory and leadership aspects of being a Divemaster. It has not changed much under the new DM course except that there is now a greater focus on awareness of the environment.
However, the dive theory part of the Divemaster Theory (physics, physiology, etc) has undergone an overhaul.
Under the old DM course, the most intense part of the course was the dive theory as candidates did the same dive theory as an instructor. Under the new DM course, the dive theory is now an “intermediate step” between whats required for the Rescue Diver and that required for an instructor. The dive theory is now a review of the theory from the prerequisite courses (OW, AOW and Rescue), and this is what it should be!
What about the exams? Now there are 2 exams, and they are written in less-technical language to “better assess comprehension of all the knowledge development topics”.
Divemaster Course Online
This was introduced at the same time as the new DM course. It is a great alternative to using the PADI Divemaster manual and DVD. It means that you can do all your DM Theory before you get to us in Bunaken or Lembeh, and more time can be spent on the skill development and practical applications.
Note that the DM exam is not included in the online program as its designed to be administered by us when you are here.
Revised PADI Divemaster Materials
The biggest change has been with the PADI Divemaster Manual itself, which increased from 200 to 300 pages. PADI says it “includes new course information and functions as an additional study tool for the DM exam. Each chapter now includes a case study based on real scenarios that illustrate sound judgement and other leadership skills.”
The Divemaster DVD also gets an upgrade, with new footage, plus video of the 20 scuba skills to “demonstration quality”.
Other revised material include the Divemaster slates that were revised to match the course content.
We think that the new format of the PADI Divemaster Course is alot more fun since candidates spend alot more time on the dive boats. If you are interested, there are a number of options to choose from, have a look at the the PADI Divemaster options with Two Fish Divers for more information.
Hope to see you in Bunaken or Lembeh!
As we all of head off to amazing scuba diving adventures, we are burdened with the pesky airlines’ baggage fees; thinking, are we even going to get our gear to the dive site or should we just rent gear that could be old, ugly, and questionable condition? It seems that there has to be a trade off, paying the cost of the airline fees versus paying to rent gear. Now there is a solution to this with Aqua Lung’s Travel Gear.
Travel Gear from Aqualung – Aqualung have developed a range of light-weight dive gear where everything, including the fins, has been specifically designed to provide you with max comfort while easily fitting in a carry-on bag. Pack light, travel more, “Why rent when you can travel light?” Just check out these weights!
On Aqualungs website they even have a handy weight calculator so you can calculate the weight yourself!
The Travel Bag
The Aqualung Travel Bag is made from heavy-duty PVC-free 600D nylon and total weight is only 7.26lbs/3.29kg for lightweight travel. It meets most major airline size requirements for carry-on baggage, and was designed to accommodate the new Aqua Lung HotShot dive fins.
The Zuma BCD is an ultra-light, weight-integrated, back inflation BCD that has everything you need, yet lacks weight and bulk. Once you lift it, you’ll feel for yourself that a size ML/LG weighs less than 2 kg (4.4 lbs), with the airway and weight pockets included!
Whats even more amazing is that it packs into a really small space!
Sport Diver Magazine’s Editor’s Pick, 2008 Gear Guide. Aqua Lung considers the Mikron Regulator to be the smallest and lightest weight regulator on the market today, weighing in at just 26 oz. (din) and 31 oz. (yoke). Even more amazing is that performance is not sacrificed by the extreme compactness of the regulator, and its balanced first and second stages produce exceptional breathing performance.
AirSource 3 Octopus
Sport Diver Magazine’s Editor’s Pick, 2008 Gear Guide. The Airsource 3 combines a high-performance second stage with a power inflator. By eliminating the need for a traditional octopus, the diver can streamline his entire system. In addition, unlike a traditional octopus that can drag in the sand or damage coral, you’ll take comfort knowing that the Airsource 3 is right in front of you ready to deliver life saving air in a moment’s notice.
The amazing Hotshot Fin has been engineered with the traveling diver in mind. It offers unsurpassed comfort, compactness for carry-on travel and power for a fully outfitted scuba diver. The foot pocket is designed to be worn with bare feet, and neoprene socks or thin-soled boots may be used for thermal protection. Its also very compact and light – it measures only 20.9in/53cm and so fits in carry-on luggage, and only weighs only 3.28 lbs / 1.5 kg.
Sport Diver Magazine’s Editor’s Pick, 2008 Gear Guide. The Micromask is a revolution in mask design. Never before have lenses been so close to the eyes. This not only results in an amazingly wide peripheral view but an extremely low internal volume, making it very easy to clear.
If you like the idea of having a snorkel that rolls-up then try the Nautilus Snorkel. It can be carried in a BC pocket or hung from a D-ring, and can be deployed in a snap, making it the most travel-friendly snorkel ever!
If you want a more traditional snorkel, the Impulse3 Snorkel consistently has been the best selling snorkel in the world. Available in a FLEX version that allows the patented COMFO-BITE mouthpiece to drop out of the way while switching from snorkel to SCUBA.
Adventure should take you anywhere, any way you want to get there and the Suunto D4i dive computer is a great choice. The new DM4 software allows easy synching with Movescount.com, where you can share your dive profiles, images, and experiences online. This makes the D4i a great choice for those who love socializing as much as diving. There is also the option of a wireless readout of your tank pressure and air time so you do not need those gauges anymore – another weightsaving idea!
Coelecanth is a Devonian lobed fin fish that thrived in the oceans 450-500 million years ago. Its importance lies in the fact that it is considered the “missing link” between fish and animals, ie they were the ones that crawled from the waters to create life on land. It is also an inhabitant of Bunaken Marine Park, and probably one of the most unusual inhabitants at that!
It is common to see dolphins in Bunaken National Park. There are 28 different types of whales and dolphins that have been seen in the park, however they are shy animals and most of the times we see them in the surface rather than diving.
When we do see them then often it is in very large schools of 50-100+ animals, as in the photo on the right.
Here a little bit more information about these amazing animals!