I’ve been obsessed with the ocean for as long as I can remember. I was basically heart broken when I learned that being a mermaid wasn’t an acceptable career choice. In the wake of this crushing realization, I decided to do the next best thing – become a Dive professional.
Academically I studied environmental science, hoping to pursue a career in marine conservation. While it was interesting to learn about the biological factors of the ocean in school, it didn’t actually feel real until I was able to be under the water myself, having staring eye contests with fish, and doing voluntary research on coral reef ecosystems. After completing my first three PADI certifications, I was officially obsessed with diving. In order to hone my skills, expand my dive experience, and inspire others to care for the magic within the ocean, I wanted to become a Divemaster.
After copious research on Divemaster programs, I settled on an eco-course with Two Fish Divers in Indonesia. Their program allowed me to split my experience between three different locations, involving different dive shops, sites and instructors. My journey began on March 6th in Nusa Lembongan, and has been a whirlwind since the beginning.
My instructors here are Anna and Dani, a couple with extensive dive and management experience. I could not have dreamed of having better mentors. They are extremely knowledgeable, patient and hilarious – a pretty fantastic combo. During the Divemaster training, the amount different aspects to be evaluated on can be daunting, but they set up a clear schedule, have been amazingly supportive, and I have already made a great amount of progress.
A typical day begins at 6:30am, where I assist in loading the dive boat with the equipment needed for the day’s dives. We assemble all the gear, and ensure everything is prepared for a successful day on the water. Then, after a delicious breakfast, we head out for two dives. The locations vary between the “North” and the “South”.
The North consists of various sites along the northern edge of Nusa Penida and Lembongan, such as “SD”, which has a wonderful sloping reef where you can see many large reef fish such as puffers and angelfish, along with octopi, lobsters, and even occasionally mola-molas. I have yet to witness one of these bizarre creatures, but one of my coworkers spotted one during a dive last week while Dani and I were preoccupied with a course in the shallows. Alas, so close! The northern sites typically include a fair amount of current, allowing divers to gain experience in drift diving.
The South includes sites such as “Crystal Bay”, “Manta Bay”, and “Manta Point”. I had never seen Manta Rays before coming to Indonesia, and it was a large factor in my choice of location. At both “Manta Bay” and “Manta Point”, I have had the privilege of seeing numerous manta rays. The Marine Megafauna Foundation, based across the street from the center, does continuous research on the resident population of rays; they have recorded over 600 individuals, identified by a unique pattern on the underside of their body. Mantas are unbelievably beautiful, and a great influence on the tourism of Lembongan, and the formation of Marine Protected Areas in Indonesia. In my Divemaster, I also completed the Distinctive Manta Conservation Specialty, so I was able to learn additional information on the anatomy, behavior, habitat and conservation of manta rays.
Within the program, I get to assist on various courses that are taking place at the center. So far there has been Advanced, Discover Scuba Diving, and Rescue Courses. The Rescue Course was particularly entertaining, as I was able to act out various scenarios in which our student had to “rescue” me. Assisting on these courses has given me the opportunity to better understand the dive industry, brush up on my own diving skills, and meet people from all over the world.
The course also involves demonstrating various skills such as mask clearing and regulator recovery, leading briefings about our boat and the dive sites, and two written exams on Divemaster theory. Because I am involved in an eco-program, I am also taking four other specialty courses of choice: Nitrox, Shark Conservation, Underwater Naturalist, and Deep Water.
My favourite aspect of the program so far has been gaining a new perspective on the dive industry. I was previously focused on my own experiences, and what the ocean meant to me, but during this program I have been able to be behind the scenes, witnessing all the hard work that goes into running the shop, and watching the impact diving has on the lives of people from all over the world. In diving, you are modern explorer – always on an adventure. You can go to the same sites, but no two dives are ever the same. “We see what we see” has been a phrase the dive guides here have jokingly stated during briefings, but it’s true that the unpredictability of the ocean makes every dive unique. I love being on the boat after a successful dive, and listening to everyone excitedly speaking about what they saw underwater. People come from all over the world to experience this exceptional feeling, and it is extremely rewarding to be able to assist in providing it as a Divemaster.