It's always great and fulfilling to introduce people to the underwater world, and it's even more fulfilling when guests come back to us for more training and diving.
Paul Spence first came to Matamanoa Island Resort in July 2016 with wife Kim. Having done a couple of introductory dives previously in Cairns and Hamilton Island, Paul decided to take the plunge and complete his PADI Open Water Diver course with Em. Paul's natural ability to master the skills meant he was able to complete his training in a few days and on 28th July 2016 he became a certified diver.
Paul fell in love with the underwater world and returned home to Melbourne to complete more training. He completed his PADI Advanced Open Water course in September 2016 along with his PADI Boat Specialty.
In February 2017 he went on to complete his PADI Rescue Diver course and by then his addiction with diving had well and truly kicked in and he completed his PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider, PADI Underwater Navigation Diver and PADI Enriched Air Diver specialties in March 2017. As well as training, Paul was able to participate in some non-training dives just for fun.
Paul and Kim returned to us at Deep Blue in August 2017 with their youngest daughter Nicole. Paul's intentions were to complete more diver training and to continue to expand his knowledge about the different aspects of diving. He was also hoping that Nicole would fall in love with the underwater world during their holiday and complete her PADI training with us. Both were a success!!
Paul needed one more specialty course and only a few more dives to complete, to achieve the Master Scuba Diver rating (PADI's highest non-professional rating), and on 3rd August 2017 he completed his PADI Deep Diver Specialty. On 9th August 2017 (a little over a year after completing his first certification) we sent off Paul's Master Scuba Diver application to PADI.
Not happy at stopping there, Paul went on to also complete his PADI Wreck Diver Speciality.
In the diving industry we hear stories of divers entering wrecks and caves without any training or the correct equipment, or divers who have been down to 40m without ever hearing or understanding about gas narcosis. So it's always refreshing to meet a diver who is interested in all aspects of diving, and is happy to do the required training to learn how to execute different areas of diving correctly under the supervision of an experienced instructor. Its great that Paul now has an acknowledgment from PADI by way of his Master Scuba Diver rating to acknowledge his achievements.
Meanwhile, Nicole was doing great with her PADI Open Water training. Nicole managed to overcome all of her nerves and fears and like Dad, mastered the skills required to complete her certification.
Naturally, we were excited when Paul contacted us to inform us that he and Kim would be coming back to Matamanoa Island this year for their 3rd time. Paul literally "jumped straight in" and did his first dive with us on the afternoon of his arrival by beginning his PADI Search & Recovery Specialty with Trev.
Once the S&R course was completed Paul began his Tec 40 course.
Tec diving can be like learning to dive all over again. There is much more theory and planning involved as well as becoming familiar with the different kit configurations. Paul's Tec 40 course began with theory sessions in the classroom.
Paul adapted to the different kit configuration extremely well. He flew through the drills and picked up on the theory quickly and on 8th August 2018 he qualified as a PADI Tec 40 diver.
Sadly, Paul and Kim's time with us was coming to an end. We managed to get out with Paul for a few non-training dives before his departure.
Well done to Paul on all you have achieved and thank you to Kim for supporting Paul on his adventures. We look forward to seeing you both again next year. Vinaka!
It was a first for us to actually witness a giant triton feeding on a Crown of Thorns at our Yadua Pinnacles dive site!
(Photograph courtesy of guest Gary Pile from the UK)
Some interesting information on the Crown of Thorns starfish and giant triton snail........
The crown of thorns starfish (COTS) Acanthaster planci is known for its incredible appetite for feeding on the flesh of live corals leaving white, dead coral skeletons behind it. COTS are a natural part of the ecosystem and COTS outbreaks are both good and bad. But how so?
Good only when the outbreak takes places at a gap of around 15 years. They just infest the areas and feed on the corals that grow faster and provide the opportunity for the slow-growing corals to regenerate. This allows proper balance. The problem occurs when these outbreaks happen in quick successions (that is, in less than 15 years). Since the corals do not get ample time to regenerate, coral reefs become endangered.
To make the situation even harder for the coral reefs, other factors like coral bleaching and cyclones occur. These factors are also known for destroying and killing the corals and make food supply short for the Crown of Thorns Starfish. For instance, the Staghorn Corals are their primary food source. However, when the food source is wiped out by these other factors, the COT start feeding on other corals which are not so fast growing. This creates a massive threat for the coral reefs.
The giant triton (Charonia tritonis) is named after the Greek god Triton (son of Poseidon and god of the sea). Due to the beauty of their shell, the giant triton has long been harvested from coral reefs, primarily for sale to shell collectors leaving a shortage of them in our seas. Their preference for feeding on COTS is well known.
COTS have a particularly well developed sense of smell and there is nothing more alarming to a COTS then the scent of a giant triton. Equally, there are few things more enticing for a giant triton than the scent of a COTS. Once detected, a COTS will be purposefully hunted down and devoured by a hungry giant triton.
Here at Deep Blue when we notice an unusually large amount of COTS on our snorkel or dive sites, we have clean ups to try and help save our coral reefs.