Diving into a Few Lessons

By Annabel Thomas
The Bali Times

SEMINYAK ~ PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is a worldwide organization and so, although it’s divided into territories (Bali is in the PADI Asia-Pacific territory), the standards and requirements for all PADI courses are the same worldwide.

The full certification course is the PADI Open Water Diver course, followed by the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course – don’t be fooled by the name; while it will give you experience of five very different kinds of diving environments, the five dives required won’t make you “advanced” overnight.

Anyway, PADI also offers specialty courses to suit a very wide variety of interests: Underwater Digital Photographer, Search and Recovery, Underwater Navigation, Underwater Naturalist – the list goes on, and includes the PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Course.

And so, as I recently wrote about the USAT Liberty shipwreck in Tulamben Bay (northeast Bali), I thought it would make sense to give details of the PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Course this time.

Whether sunk intentionally, accidentally or tragically, it seems that the lure of any kind of underwater wreck is irresistible to some divers. Through the PADI Wreck Diver Specialty course you receive an introduction to the skills, knowledge and procedures you need to safely and confidently undertake wreck diving.

The course involves four dives over two days, so if you’re doing this in Tulamben, I recommend either staying overnight or doing the dives on non-consecutive days as it’s two and a half hours from southern Bali.

Before the course starts, your chosen PADI Dive Centre will give you a PADI Wreck Diver Manual which you’ll need to study in order to complete the accompanying Knowledge Reviews. The manual will be yours to keep for reference after the course.

The course will cover the planning, organization, procedures, techniques, problems and (potential) hazards of wreck diving. You will also go through with your PADI instructor the preparation and use of lights, air supplies, special equipment, penetration lines and reels; and cover limited-visibility diving techniques and emergency procedures.

If it all sounds a bit Gadget-Man (or Gadget-Girl), fear not – it’s really great fun.

One of the real treasures of shipwrecks is the opportunity they provide to explore the past. Wrecks can serve as important habitats for fish and other aquatic life because their substrate acts as an artificial reef for entire ecosystems.

Invertebrates, such as mussels, sponges, scallops and sea fans, attach themselves to the hard surface of the wreck. Since these organisms often support higher levels of the food web, fish populations congregate and propagate in the safe haven of the structure. The abundance of life and biodiversity found on wrecks can be similar to that of the world’s most pristine coral reefs.

Divers are privileged to have access to underwater sites that are part of our cultural heritage or maritime history. To preserve the sites for future generations, it’s important to be informed, dive responsibly and treat shipwrecks with honor and respect. Divers must be responsible when exploring these submerged sites, looking after themselves, the environment and the cultural heritage.

Project AWARE created the Respect our Wrecks campaign to educate divers about preserving our underwater cultural heritage and demonstrate the environmental value of such sites. For more: www.projectaware.org

The writer is director of AquaMarine diving in Bali.

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