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Peak Performance Buoyancy


Buoyancy control. You learned the basics in Open Water Diver, but how long ago was that? Have you practiced recently? Some of the most experienced divers I know still use the first dive or two on a dive trip to fine-tune their buoyancy control.

Learn about proper weighting and trim in Peak Performance Buoyancy

Learn about proper weighting and trim in Peak Performance Buoyancy


Why is buoyancy control so important? For several reasons.

  • To keep from hitting sensitive aquatic life or stirring up the bottom
  • To make diving as effortless as possible
  • To reduce how much air you use and extend your bottom time.
  • To allow you to participate in other specialty diving activities such as photography and videography with threatening the sensitive aquatic life.
  • To help streamline your profile in the water


One of the top ten things you can do to protect the aquatic world while diving is to become a buoyancy master. The Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course guides you through ways to perfect your buoyancy control. You can try to figure it all out on your own, or you can take the fast track with professional guidance.


Good buoyancy control starts with proper weighting. Proper weighting varies based on you and your scuba kit. For example, if you’re diving a 95cf steel tank, you may not need as much lead in your weight system compared to using an 80cf aluminum tank, even though they look similar in size. Your dive environment and exposure protection play a big part in your weighting, too. Diving warm tropical waters with just your swimsuit or a shorty wetsuit might require only a few pounds of weight. Diving the colder waters of the Pacific Northwest, though, with a drysuit and heavy undergarments might require 25+ pounds of weight. Regardless, you’ll learn how to estimate how much weight you need and then how to test if it is enough with a buoyancy check.


If you’re diving colder waters and have a lot of weight, you may want to split up the weight between different weight systems. For example, you could put fifteen pounds in an integrated weight system in your BCD and combine that with ten pounds on a belt. You’ll learn about weight systems and how to use them to balance the weight you’re carrying.


Weighting is important, but distribution of that weight can dictate your position in the water. For most diving, you often want to be in a prone position, laying horizontal, face-down so you can see what’s below you. Other times, you may want to be vertical, such as on a wall dive. How you distribute weight changes your position in the water. If you weight yourself to be vertical, but really want to be horizontal, you may spend your dive working hard to maintain position. You’ll learn how to use trim weights and where to position them. For safety, though, you will want to make sure you can ditch at least part of your weight. The great news is that if you split the weight between systems, you’ll only need to ditch one system to gain buoyancy rather than dropping it all.


Okay, you got into scuba because it was fun. Peak Performance Buoyancy also integrates some workshops and games to help you practice and tune your buoyancy control. It’s not all lecture; we play games, too.


Peak Performance buoyancy requires two open water dives. On those dives, you’ll practice what you learned in class and in confined water, adjusting your trim and practicing hovering and how to approach things underwater without crashing into them.


Make yourself a better diver and help protect our delicate aquatic resources. Become a Buoyancy Master with the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty; one of the ten things you can do as a diver to protect our ocean planet.

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Shark Conservation


Sharks are amazing creatures. Unfortunately, they have earned a bad reputation. Sharks rarely attack humans. When attacks have occurred, they are most likely due to the shark confusing the human as food. Movies have portrayed sharks as man killers, but you’re much more likely to be killed by a deer or cow than a shark.


Sharks are apex predators.   They keep the oceans healthy by removing sick aquatic animals and keeping fish populations under control.  Shark Conservation is essential for ocean sustainability.

Sharks are apex predators. They keep the oceans healthy by removing sick aquatic animals and keeping fish populations under control. Shark Conservation is essential for ocean sustainability.

Why do sharks seem so menacing? Probably because they have a rather grim appearance and have a somewhat blank appearance. Think about it: sharks are one of the oldest known families of animals. They’ve not changed much and relative to the ‘cute’ and mostly harmless fish you might have in a home aquarium, they are predators. [Keep in mind that many fish in home aquariums can sting or bite, but they are treated as pets.]


Sharks aren’t just a predator, they are an apex predator for the oceans. That means they sit at the top of the food chain or food web. The only predator they should worry about is man. Apex predators, whether in the sea or on land, play a key role in keeping ecosystems in balance and keeping them healthy. How does that work? Apex predators keep other predators in check, often making sure that other predators don’t overwhelm and destroy or disrupt an ecosystem. Apex predators also remove sick animals from the ecosystem, which helps curb the spread of disease.


Sharks are incredibly vulnerable. Okay, I just said they were an apex predator. How can they be vulnerable? Unlike many fish species that spawn in huge numbers, sharks live a long time. They mature later in life and they don’t breed in the numbers that fish lower down in the food web do. When juvenile sharks are killed before reaching maturity and spawning, they numbers of sharks start to dwindle. Some shark species are threatened by extinction due to overfishing and fishing practices that catch sharks as bycatch. Sharks have been overfished for their fins, to make shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia. Many restaurants have stopped making shark fin soup because of public pressure to stop the process of shark finning. When sharks are caught for their fins, they are brought onto the boat, their fins are cut off and the shark is dropped back in the water to die. A grisly and wasteful approach to fishing.  Shark Conservation through your help as a diver is essential.


Sharks are also threatened by public or government overreaction. A recent shark attack in Australian waters resulted in the government calling for a shark cull: basically catching and killing sharks in the area. As it was, the person attacked was probably in waters known to have sharks and the person probably appeared as food to the shark.  As a diver and member of the public, tell your elected officials that Shark Conservation is a priority and they should focus on the science not their unjustified fear of sharks.


Taking the Shark Conservation Distinctive Specialty course will enhance your knowledge of sharks and their behavior. You’ll learn more details of how they are threatened and learn ways you can help conserve sharks and promote marine health by keeping these apex predators. You’ll make two dives with your instructor. If you’re lucking enough to see sharks, you’ll passively observe their behavior. If not, you’ll look at ways that the sharks may be threatened in that environment.


As divers, we’re natural ambassadors and advocates for aquatic life. Do your part to help conserve sharks for aquatic health and future generations of divers: sign up for the Shark Conservation Specialty today.

Learn more about Sharks in Peril at

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“Did you see that fish with a big eye?”

“Yeah, Ron. It’s a squirrel fish.”


Get more out of diving.  Learn about the fish you see in AWARE FishID

Get more out of diving. Learn about the fish you see in AWARE FishID


How often have you heard that on a dive trip? You’ll get more out of the dive when you know what you’re seeing. The AWARE FishID Adventure Dive and Specialty are great ways to start identifying the fish you see when diving.


There are over 21,000 known fish species. That’s a lot to know, but there are ways to group the fish into families based on their similar characteristics. Also, you probably won’t find all 21,000+ species on the same dive. There are usually a small group in the area you’re diving, so you can focus on what you’re likely to see.


The AWARE FishID Adventure Dive and Specialty diver course use twelve common groupings for the most common fish you’ll see when scuba diving. They include:

1. Butterflyfish, angelfish and surgeonfish

2. Jacks, barracuda, porgy and chubs

3. Snappers and grunts

4. Damselfish, chromis and hamlets

5. Groupers, seabass and basslets

6. Parrotfish and wrasse

7. Squirrelfish, bigeyes and cardinalfish

8. Blennies, gobies and jawfish

9. Flounders, scorpionfish, lizardfish and frogfish

10. Filefish, triggerfish, puffers, trunkfish, cowfish, goatfish, trumpetfish and drums

11. Eels

12. Sharks and rays


Some of the characteristics you look for include fins, body shape and behavior. For example, squirrel fish have big eyes and a large rear dorsal fin (dorsal=>back). Squirrel fish also tend to be nocturnal, so you probably won’t see them out much during the day; you might see them lurking in crevices, though.


You’ll learn some techniques for recording your observations while diving. You can use specialized slates that have pictures of the fish common in an area or use a generic slate that you just divide into a grid and record what you see.


Black Durgon  A fish you might encounter in tropical waters during your AWARE FishID training

Black Durgon A fish you might encounter in tropical waters during your AWARE FishID training

Why is it important to record what you see? For some divers, it’s personally rewarding. Beyond that, the information you collect can help researchers determine if something is changing in a fish population. In the AWARE FishID Specialty, you’ll learn more about recording data and submitting it to REEF to be used by researchers. The cool thing is that you don’t have to change your dive to accommodate the fish identification and record keeping. This is called the ‘roving diver’ approach. You do your dive like you normally would, just making notes as you go.


To compliment the AWARE FishID Specialty or adventure dive, you might also want to take the Underwater Naturalist Specialty. You’ll learn more about the underwater world, going beyond fish and looking at invertebrates (animals without a backbone) such as squid and octopi and also plant life such as algae and sea grass. You’ll also more about characterizing and naming aquatic species.


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Underwater Naturalist


PADI Underwater Naturalist teaches you how to classify invertebrates, vertebrates and plants in the aquatic world.

PADI Underwater Naturalist teaches you how to classify invertebrates, vertebrates and plants in the aquatic world.

Underwater Naturalist. The name seems scientific, yet almost leaning towards the scientists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: natural philosophers. And it should sound scientific. The PADI Underwater Naturalist course focuses on objective, scientific observations of the aquatic world. You’ll learn the scientific nomenclature for naming and describing aquatic organisms. If you’re like me, you may have grown up watching Wile E. Coyote cartoons. There was always the still screen where they showed the road runner and Wile E. with their pseudo-scientific names. In the PADI Underwater Naturalist specialty course, we’ll learn the actual names to describe plans, vertebrates (animals with backbones) and invertebrates (animals without backbones).


Who can take the course? What’s involved? What will I do?


A certified Open Water Diver or Junior Open Water Diver can take the course—so a certified diver as young as ten. There is a good amount of knowledge development, which can be done in a traditional classroom, on the beach, on the boat or independently with a book. The essential part of the Underwater Naturalist, though, is diving and applying that knowledge. So, let’s focus on the dives. There are two open water dives. On each dive you’ll practice passive interaction with aquatic life. I know it’s incredibly tempting, but touching a fish can be quite detrimental. Many fish have a scaly exterior. What you may not see right off is that there is often a thin mucous-like substance coating the scales (makes the fish slippery), which protects the fish. Touching the fish can rub that off and leave the fish vulnerable to infection. Think of touching a fish being akin to someone walking up to you and sticking their finger up your nose and wiping off the protective mucous. It HURTS!


Coral reefs are the ideal place for an Underwater Naturalist to observe and study aquatic life

Coral reefs are the ideal place for an Underwater Naturalist to observe and study aquatic life

Beyond passive interaction, what else?

Dive 1 is focused on observation and naming plans and animals. Your instructor will help you with books, slates and online resources to help identify what you see on the dive.


Dive 2 is focused on identifying both predator/prey relationships as well as symbiotic relationships. Coral reefs are a great example of both. Coral is an animal that lives symbiotically with an algae. The algae photosynthesizes food for the coral animal while also providing a way to recycle the coral waste. In the process, either the coral animal and/or the algae secrete the calcium carbonate skeleton that makes the hard backbone of the reef. But corals come in different types. Some grow quickly, others don’t. Some have defensive chemicals that repel or irritate would-be attackers. The coral animal also sifts plankton for food. What types of symbiotic and predator/prey relationships have you seen while diving?


On both dives you’ll practice diving techniques to avoid impacting the aquatic world. That sandy bottom you think you can land on may not be as insensitive as you think. There may be a variety of fish that have covered themselves in sand to camouflage themselves. Being a buoyancy master can help you maintain your distance while getting close enough to see the cool stuff that’s going on. Consider taking the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course, too.


An often asked question about the PADI Underwater Naturalist course is if you have to do it in the ocean. The short answer is no. Almost any dive site will work. There are some adjustments to the dives. For example, if you’re diving in fresh water you don’t need to identify as many vertebrates. Often times, though, if you look carefully you can find a lot in fresh water that just might be as obvious as the vividly colored organisms on the coral reef.


You're not limited to the ocean as an Underwater Naturalist.  Freshwater diving has many unique opportunities to observe aquatic life.

You’re not limited to the ocean as an Underwater Naturalist. Freshwater diving has many unique opportunities to observe aquatic life.

The AWARE-Coral Reef Conservation course can help your understanding of the aquatic world when you take the PADI Underwater Naturalist course. A symbiotic relationship, you might say. Learning about life on the reef can help guide where and how you look for organisms on the reef.


Digital Underwater Photography opens up new vistas for identification. Take snap shots on the dive and identify what you shot after you return to the surface. Be careful, though. Don’t hold on to the reef to get those photos.


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Ten ways Project AWARE and Coral Reef Conservation Specialties make you a better diver

Project AWARE logo showing a diver and a shark


Divers are natural advocates and ambassadors for the underwater world. We see and do things most people never will. We are the voice of the reefs, the fish, the aquatic mammals and the vegetation that makes up our aquatic world. As ambassadors and advocates, we need to have the knowledge to talk to others about what happens beneath the waves. The Project AWARE and AWARE-Coral Reef Conservation specialties develop your knowledge so you can be that advocate.


Project AWARE was founded years ago as the environmental arm of PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Originally planned as a ten-year project, it is now well into it’s third decade and it has grown into a world-wide non-profit aquatic conservation organization. “AWARE” stands for Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility and Education. Project AWARE has influenced generations of divers, guided massive cleanup projects and promoted conservation of endangered species such as sharks and rays.


The Project AWARE Specialty and the AWARE-Coral Reef Conservation Specialty are both based on the “AWARE-Our World, Our Water” eBook.


In the Project AWARE Specialty you’ll learn about:

  • The Project AWARE Foundation
  • The Ocean Commons & a basic intro to marine ecology
  • Fisheries issues (what’s overfished, what’s endangered, what’s okay to eat)
  • Coastal zone management & how politics impact how the coast interacts with the reef
  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Marine Pollution
  • The role of the diver in protecting the aquatic realm—what you can do to help!


In the AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Specialty, we delve into Coral Reef ecology in depth:

  • What is coral?
  • Nature of life on the reef
  • How threatened are the reefs
  • Protecting the reef: techniques for diving to reduce and avoid impacting the reefs

coral reef diver opportunities

This all flows into the top ten ways you can make a difference

  1. Be a buoyancy expert
  2. Be a role model
  3. Take only pictures—leave only bubbles
  4. Protect underwater life
  5. Become a debris activist
  6. Make responsible seafood choices
  7. Take Action
  8. Be an eco-tourist
  9. Shrink your carbon footprint
  10. Give Back


The Project AWARE and AWARE-Coral Reef conservation specialties give you the tools to make this happen. You can specifically fine-tune your buoyancy skills with a buoyancy refresher or Peak Performance Buoyancy. Shrinking your carbon foot print can be as easy as remembering to turn off the lights when you leave the room and making sure you recycle as often as you can. You can go further by using a reusable water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Most culinary water in the USA is as good as or better than bottled water and costs a fraction of the price, and also has a much lower energy cost to produce. Being an eco-tourist doesn’t have to be difficult: shop for dive operations and resorts that take care of their boats and properly treat their sewage before discharging it.


Learning more about life on a coral reef opens up new things for you to look for on the reef. Ever been diving on a reef at night and it looks fuzzy? Then it suddenly seems to change in the blink of an eye. You’re probably not imagining it. Coral reefs are animal, vegetable and mineral. You may just be seeing the tentacles of the coral animal suddenly retracting in response to a disturbance. AWARE-Coral Reef Conservation will show you more about what goes on on and in the reef.


Be an advocate for aquatic conservation: Take the Project AWARE and AWARE-Coral Reef Conservation Specialties.


[They also count towards the PADI Master Scuba Diver rating!]


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Dive Environment & Earth Day


Next month, April, has one day that sets it apart: Earth Day. Remember, most of our planet called “Earth” is covered in water. In fact, “Water” might have been a better name for the planet we live on. As divers, we get to explore the rest of the planet that few will ever have the chance to see. We are on the front line of conservation because we know what goes on under the waves and we can be the voice of the ocean.


Beach & underwater cleanup--AWARE Divers at work

Divers at a beach and underwater cleanup. Earth Day is a great time to get involved!

In April, my blog posts will go over the various programs and courses that can expand your knowledge of the diving environment and how you can help protect our diving playground. Here’s a quick sample of some of the upcoming topics:


  • Project AWARE Specialty & AWARE Coral Reef Conservation
  • Underwater Naturalist Specialty
  • AWARE FishID Specialty
  • Shark Conservation Specialty
  • Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty
  • Master Eco Diver

Project AWARE logo showing a diver and a shark

The Project AWARE Foundation is a non-profit organization that specializes in education and conservation of our aquatic world. Their two primary goals are protection of sharks, a heavily threatened species, and marine debris. Project AWARE was started by PADI in the late ’80s. Since then, it has grown and changed. PADI supports Project AWARE in a variety of ways, one is the various diving specialty courses to help you learn more about the aquatic world and how to protect it.


The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. People concerned with the health of our planet spoke out on protecting the planet we live on. Earth Day for divers probably means more because we see more of the planet than non-divers. Divers are the natural ambassadors and advocates for the aquatic world.


Threats to aquatic ecosystems aren’t limited to the oceans. For example, in 2010 there was an oil pipeline leak in Red Butte Canyon near Salt Lake City. That leak contaminated a creek and spread the spill over many miles before being caught and somewhat contained in a lake located at a park. Another example is what happens when an invasive species gets into an aquatic ecosystem. Lionfish have become the scourge of the Caribbean. Zebra mussels have invaded many lakes. In one of Utah’s hot springs, someone introduced tilapia. This fish has decimated the underwater vegetation and started to threaten the lake’s ecosystem. This lake is also one of the popular dive sites in Utah and divers have noted a distinct problem with visibility due to the lack of vegetation.


Protecting our aquatic resources is important to all of us. Much of the oxygen we need to survive is produced by phytoplankton in the oceans. We need oxygen to live. If the oceans die, our source of oxygen dies and we’ll go with it.


It’s not all gloom & doom, though. Some great strides have been made for conservation. There is much to do and we’re able to make a difference. Stay tuned for more information on how you can learn more and how you can personally make a difference.


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Ready to check your knowledge of CPR and First Aid?

CPR and First Aid training is something even children can learn

Even a young child can learn the basics of CPR and First Aid, including using an AED.


CPR & First Aid

Test your knowledge of CPR and First Aid with this quick quiz

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Get ready for dive season


So far this month, I’ve talked about diving fitness and how to get to or stay on top of your game. If you’re like many divers, you have a dive season. You’ve probably had a period of non-diving and now you want to get ready, right? Let’s take a look at four things  you should do to get ready: Physical fitness, diving skills tune-up, emergency procedures and local orientation with a PADI Pro.

Wreck diving with two scuba divers

First of all, let’s get back to physical fitness. Being physically fit and getting rid of the extra weight are good for you regardless. For scuba, it’s really important. You’ll be better able to handle your kit and you can probably trim down on how much lead you need in your weight system. On the decompression side of things, fat tissue has been linked to decompression sickness. Reduce the fat, reduce some of the risk.


Next, think about your skills. When were you last diving? When was your last scuba class? Remember, the PADI Open Water Diver course isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning of your education. Taking classes can help you brush up on skills and learn new skills at the same time. If you’re not really interested in more training right now, you should at least consider a Scuba Review or Scuba Tune-Up.


Open Water scuba student practicing skills with an open water scuba instructor

Confined Water Skill practice

Scuba Review is a short review session with an Instructor, Assistant Instructor or Divemaster. You’ll go over the basic knowledge you learned in Open Water Diver including the dive environment, scuba equipment, dive planning, etc. Then you’ll get in the water to practice skills—the most important part. In the pool, you’ll practice:

  • Assembling your kit
  • Pre-dive check with your buddy
  • Entering the water
  • Five point descent
  • Mask clearing
  • Mask removal and replacement
  • Regulator recovery and clear
  • Skin diving skills
  • Alternate air-source usage & other emergency procedures



Unfortunately, if your initial training wasn’t the best, you might feel a bit uncomfortable with these skills and may not want to do them. Let’s look at why you should be proficient and comfortable with the skills.


Mask skills are important because you’ll probably get some water in your mask for one reason or another. I’ve been diving for well over twenty years and I’ve never had my mask kicked off, so I don’t consider that a reason. I have had to adjust my mask strap underwater, so I had to take my mask off. I’ve also had some photos taken of me without my mask.


What about your regulator? Again, you might need to make an adjustment or you might just want a good picture of your face and not some large piece of plastic or brass.


Emergency procedures are essential to practice and be proficient with. Problems don’t occur often and most can be prevented. But if you couldn’t prevent a problem, being able to respond quickly can prevent a problem from becoming a serious accident. Know where your alternate air source is. Know where your buddy’s alternate is. Know where your buddy is—stay close. Same Day, Same Ocean is not a good buddy procedure. Remember, you’re there to have fun together and help each other out.


divers getting ready for diving in a high mountain lake; they should have extra emergency oxygen because of their remoteness

These divers are diving in a remote location and should probably have an extended amount of emergency oxygen.

Okay, you’ve gone through a review and you’re ready to dive. Is it a site you’ve been to before and you know? Or, is it a new site? If it’s new to you, consider getting a dive professional to give you a guided tour. They might charge for it, but it’s well worth the money. Having someone show you the best way to enter and exit a dive site can make the difference between a good dive and one that you don’t enjoy. They can also point out the cool things to see while on the dive.


Ready? Go Dive!


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PADI Master Scuba Diver: How to get there

In my last post, I talked about being at the top of your game. One of the ways to get there is through the PADI Master Scuba Diver program. Let’s look at what it takes to become a PADI Master Scuba Diver.


A PADI Master Scuba Diver has:


Stay at the top of your game with PADI Continuing Education

PADI Continuing Education is key to staying at the top of your game

For the first three requirements, it’s optimal to complete the PADI programs, but if you’ve completed equivalent training with another agency, that’s okay. The requirement for five PADI Specialties have to be PADI programs.


Now, let’s think about what all of these certifications mean and how that puts a PADI Master Scuba Diver at the top of his/her game. In Open Water Diver, you learn the basics of diving safely. This is really a license to learn and definitely not the end of your education. In PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, you’ll complete five(5) Adventure dives. These are the first dive of the correlating PADI Specialty Diver course. Two of these dives are Underwater Navigation and a Deep dive. The other three Adventure dives can be tuned to your interests and what is suitable for the local diving environment. For example, Altitude adventure dive is common in the Intermountain West, Boat adventure dive is common in coastal areas, Dry Suit adventure dive is common in areas with cold water, etc. Think of Advanced Open Water as a sampler of the specialty diving areas, so you can try something before jumping into the full PADI Specialty.


Your next step can either be into the PADI Rescue Diver course or continue with PADI Specialties. In the PADI Rescue course, you’ll learn how to prevent and respond to problems. You’ll learn about the psychology of rescue, how equipment can be an issue and techniques to calm a panicked diver, help a tired diver, search for a missing diver and how to provide care to an unresponsive diver. Part of the requirement for PADI Rescue Diver is to also complete a CPR and First aid program. This will often be the Emergency First Response course, taught in tandem with the PADI Rescue Diver course.


Looking at Specialties, remember that the Adventure dives you made for Advanced were the first dive for the correlating PADI Specialty Diver course and they count towards the Specialty. For example, if you were to just take the PADI Altitude Diver specialty, it requires two dives. If you completed the Altitude Adventure dive as part of Advanced, you only need to make one additional dive, not two, to complete the PADI Altitude Diver Specialty. Some specialties require more than two dives. Underwater Navigator requires a total of three dives. You complete one as part of your Advanced course.


Another way you can approach this is to complete five PADI Specialties. If you include the PADI Deep Diver Specialty and the PADI Underwater Navigator Specialty, you can earn the PADI Advanced Open Water certification. Or, maybe you want to explore other areas of diving that you didn’t look at in Advanced and you want to earn some different specialties—that works, too.


Beyond the training requirements, you also need to log at least fifty(50) dives. Those dives can include your training dives, but you should also dive for fun. The dives you log as part of training only amount to about 19 or 20 dives, so you’ll need another thirty dives. You can definitely get those by taking more courses, but it might be better if you go dive with your buddy and practice what you learned in your training. Make some night dives, practice your buoyancy control, go on a live-aboard boat diving trip, practice identifying fish. You took the training to see what divers do for fun, so go live the adventure and have fun.


Now that you’ve completed PADI Master Scuba Diver, you’re an ideal buddy. You know your basic diving skills, you know how to help other divers, you’ve practiced specialty diving skills in at least five different areas and you’ve a significant amount of diving experience.


Want to do more? Sometimes it looks like PADI Master Scuba Diver is the end of the road, but it’s not. Nor is going down the professional path towards PADI Divemaster. You can do both. In fact, I highly encourage all PADI Divemasters to also become PADI Master Scuba Divers. Why? PADI Divemasters that are also PADI Master Scuba Divers become not only ideal buddies, but ideal instructional assistants because of their experience in Specialty diving areas.


Ready to take that step towards PADI Master Scuba Diver? Drop me a line and I’ll help you start planning your path towards PADI Master Scuba Diver.



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Top of your game: How to get there or stay there


Get to the top of your game with training and practice

Training and practice, essential elements to get to or stay at the top of your game

Most of us want to do well at whatever interests us. For a cyclist, that may mean being able to ride the STP, a 200+ mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland. For a runner, it might be able to run a marathon. For a diver, we all want to be proficient in our diving skills and be able to dive safely. So, how do you get to the top of your game in scuba? Is it training? Or just diving a lot? Or watching how other divers dive? Asking divers and dive professionals for advice? All of these are important and they’re interrelated.


Training provides a structured approach for you to learn and practice new skills. You benefit by having professional guidance and supervision, which can reduce the learning curve if you were just trying to do it on your own. All divers need to start out with some basic training on equipment, skills and knowledge about diving. After that, taking additional training expands your knowledge and skills, opening up new realms of diving.


Diver practicing photo skills to stay at the top of his game

Practice your skills to stay at the top of your game

Training helps, but if you don’t dive often, your skills will decay. Depending on your experience and training, you might need a refresher after 3-6 months of inactivity. We learn to dive so we can have fun and explore, so you need to dive for fun and practice what you learned in your training.


Watching other divers can be good and bad. If you’re around proficient, well-trained divers, what you see is probably excellent. Unfortunately, some divers have some bad habits that really shouldn’t be mimicked. Look for divers that appear calm and are comfortable with their scuba kit.


Asking divers and dive professionals for advice can help you avoid pitfalls. Don’t reinvent the wheel; ask for advice and learn from what other divers experience. This can be advice on what equipment to buy, techniques for entries & exits, how to get your camera or DPV into the water, etc. If you’re on a dive boat, chances are there is a divemaster overseeing the dive. They may provide a briefing, but if you have questions, be sure to ask them.


Getting to the top of your game will probably require you to train and get experience. The PADI system of diver education makes the training progression easier.


Open Water Diver → Advanced Open Water → Rescue Diver


During that progression, you’re introduced to specialty areas of diving in Advanced Open Water (your instructor may have introduced you to some specialty areas during your Open Water course, too). If you found areas you really enjoy, you should consider taking Specialty Diving courses in those areas.


Stay at the top of your game with PADI Continuing Education

PADI Continuing Education is key to staying at the top of your game

At the top of your game, you become the ideal buddy. Someone people want to dive with. That ideal buddy is a Master Scuba Diver. A PADI Master Scuba diver has training through Rescue Diver plus five Specialty certifications and has experience of at least fifty(50) logged dives. In my next post, I’ll discuss more about the PADI Master Scuba Diver rating, how to get there and dive into the various Specialty areas that are available.


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