Too many Scuba incidents – Stress, and how to deal with it.

The background

I cannot explain why, but it seems as though more recently there appears to be a wave of scuba diving deaths or incidents that I am being made aware of. Maybe, it’s just a coincidence that it happens to be people within my social networks sharing this information, or maybe with the continued growth of social media has made it easier to have access or exposure to this information?! I don’t know. Either way, the incidents have come to my attention as of late and to me its something that cannot be ignored.

I am not a detective and I do not want to even open the door to try to suggest what has been the cause of such incidents but the interesting common denominator with the majority of these incidents is that the cause of death remains unknown. The diver has failed to surface. When I do hear of such incidents it does prompt me to examine and share with the diving community one topic that is simply impossible to ignore, and I can assure you with no doubt, that each diver that has failed to rejoin us for sure experienced this on their last fatal dive. Stress.

The problem

Stress is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil. It is a normal human emotion we all experience when we face threatening or difficult situations. Stress is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat, whereas stress is the expectation of future threat. Associated with the secretion of adrenalin, stress can help us avoid dangerous situations or get out of them. It can make us alert and it can spur us to deal with a threat or other problem and not simply avoiding it (i.e., the “fight or flight” reaction). However, if feelings of foreboding become too strong or last too long, they can hold us back from many normal activities and have debilitating outcomes.

A more intense form of stress is panic, a sudden, unexpected but powerful surge of th-4fear. Panic can cause a wholesale flight from the immediate situation, a reaction that is especially dangerous for scuba divers. A diver who experiences panic at depth is subject to near-drowning, lung over-expansion injuries and death. Panic attacks are extremely dangerous under water, and sometimes its difficult to know what triggers them.

Out of a millions of certified scuba divers, a percentage of recreational scuba divers die each year, but little is known about the precipitating events for many of these deaths. A coroner’s report of “drowning” tells us nothing about what led to, or caused, a divers death. Reports by DAN (Divers Alert Network) and other agencies into scuba diving accidents state that:

“Researchers in diving accidents implicate panic, as a response to stress or anxiety as the major cause of diving fatalities”

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In Medical Examination of Sport Scuba Divers (1998), Alfred Bove states:

“Panic, or ineffective behaviour in the emergency situation when fear is present, is the single biggest killer of sports divers”.

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In 1998 the Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) guideline for the Recreational Scuba Divers physical examination listed “a history of panic disorder” as an absolute contradiction to scuba diving.

However, we must be very clear that there is no way to determine that panic in accidents does result in fatalities, this is merely an assumption based on knowledge of the psychological and behavioural responses that people make to stress. What we do know is that many people feel stress before a dive especially when they are starting out on their scuba diving journey. It is completely understandable as it is a new alien world that is being explored. Beginners don’t know what it is going to feel like underwater or if they will enjoy it. In abnormal situations, stress is manifested by apprehension and dread, though it sometimes cannot be attached to a clearly identifiable stimulus. This stressful state usually occurs in response to a mishap, such as a dive mask flooding with water. This may cause the diver to panic unnecessarily and behave irrationally. The essential feature of a panic attack is a period of intense fear that is accompanied by a sense of imminent danger and an urge to escape, or a desire to flee from wherever the attack is coming from. An
expected result of a diver having a panic attack would be that the divers breathing rate increases, there by resulting in decreased efficiency or oxygen exchange, and a feeling of suffocation ensues. The diver would then typically try to make a rapid ascent to the surface or departure from a certain location or frantically grabs for air supplies and lack of concern for the safety of others.

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Another way that panic can show itself is what we call Passive panic. These divers are perceived as calm, they will sink, and perish without a call for help. The buddies of these divers thought their associates were non-stressed, and normal. Recognizing this form of panic is very difficult, the victims show no outward signs of any difficulty, but most will have “blank eyes”. Underwater they may lose their regulator and not try to replace it. They will not try to save themselves. Typically a passive victim will seem confused, or vague and then slip underwater. It is the divers total inability to look after themselves and willingness to sink that appears in most case studies.

Either way the panic manifests itself it arises when individuals lack a solution to a critical problem. Sometimes, experienced divers with hundreds of logged dives also experience panic for outwardly no clear reason. The panic most likely occurs because divers lose sight of familiar objects, become disoriented and experience a form of sensory deprivation. The likelihood of a victim of panic coping with any situation is slim to none. In the study of divers death, many still had the weight belt still in place, mouthpiece had been removed, buoyancy compensators were not inflated, and air was still in the tank. This all suggest panic.

One training goal of all scuba diving agencies at all diving levels is to provide the diver with these “solutions” which should become automatic behaviours.

The factors of stress and what to look out for.

Physical Causes of Stress:

Overloading

Sensory Deprivation

Time Pressure

Equipment

Cold Water

Poor Fitness/Swimming Ability

Strong Currents, Waves, Obstructions

Dangerous Marine Life

Psychological Causes of Stress:

Peer Pressure

Social Evaluation

Ego Threat

Fear of the Unknown

Fear of Evaluation

Pre-Dive Physiological Signs:

Increased Heart Rate

Rapid Respiration

Muscle Tension

Frequent Urination

Increased Perspiration

Voice Changes

Decrease in Skin Temperature

Pre-Dive Behavioral Signs:

Introversion

Mental Errors

Forgetfulness

Extreme Cockiness

Irritability

In-Water Symptoms:

Rapid Respiration

The “Wide-Eyed” Look

Inefficient Swimming

Clinging and Clambering

Fixation and Perceptual Narrowing

Sudden Surfacing

High Treading/Trashing

Equipment Rejection

The studies

Many studies have been conducted to examine divers with a history of panic attacks and what were their in water responses. Similarly, reports have been conducted with random scuba diving populations to examine if a panic attack has ever occurred and what the divers response was. This type of panic survey has quite interesting implications on diver training. From these studies and what I can read and interpret are some general conclusions:

  1. Generally the data collected by these various studies would suggest that training of how to deal with emergency situations is largely effective. There was a high percentage of panicking divers who stated that they did remember their training in the emergency situation and it enable them to deal with the situation.
  1. All divers benefit from repetitive skill practise. The more familiar divers are with skills, the more likely they are to respond appropriately to panic. Repeated practice in confined water, including spontaneous drills, raises the response availability levels.

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  1. Student divers who show more elevated levels of stress and anxiety may be more prone to panic. This may be clear if they show stress when dealing with a new skill. These individuals benefit greatly from repetition, through though the practise required may be higher than for other individuals.
  1. Studies would also suggest that women are much more likely to recognise and ask for help than men in a stressful situation. I am not sure why, but I guess that cultural influence is probably a good speculation. Male self-reliance is quite high in most cultures, asking for help may threaten their self-esteem, or men may be conditioned from a young age to not seek out assistance?! Emphasising diving as a team activity maybe help deal with these gender differences and enable men to be more receptive to assistance and may help to offset self-esteem issues.

Prevention techniques

 Training

Professional training builds your diving confidence, nobody can argue this point. Years of research and tried and tested techniques have gone into the created of today’s scuba diving courses. Modern scuba diving training has been specifically designed to ease stress and slowly build on skills to a point where divers are ready to go out into open water. Organizations, such as SSI, have skills and procedures that divers must learn in sequence – these standards are adhered to by SSI Instructors worldwide. Studying theory, watching videos and learning skills in the pool is followed by practicing in the sea with your instructor. This allows you to slowly develop at your own pace – only progressing when you are comfortable with each section.

This sequencing of training not only applies to the recreational diving world but also to those more experienced divers who are looking to extend their diving either to greater depths or to involve mandatory decompression. For these divers, their basic diving skills should be habitual, but more importantly they are now going to enter a world where sometimes to “go up” is simply not an option. Decompression diving, throws into the equation even more potential stress situations that need to be trained for and managed well.

Stress & Rescue Diver Course

Scuba divers describe the SSI Stress & Rescue Diver course as the most challenging, yet most rewarding course they’ve ever taken. Why? Because you learn to prevent and manage problems in the water, and become more confident in your skills as a diver, knowing that you can help others if needed. Through the course you will learn accident prevention, as well as how to handle problem situations is they occur. The programme is about avoiding, recognizing and solving problems on the surface and underwater.

The SSI Stress and Rescue course prepares you to deal with dive emergencies, minor and major, using a variety of techniques. Through knowledge development and rescue exercises, you learn what to look for and how to respond. During rescue scenarios, you put into practice your knowledge and skills.

Course Content:Diver Stress & Rescue

  • What Is Stress?
  • Stress In Diving: Causes And Prevention
  • Detecting And Dealing With Stress
  • Accident Management
  • Skills Needed To Deal With Panic And Rescues
  • Conditions That Complicate Rescues

Equipment familiarity

During scuba diving training, divers learn how to set up, adjust, check, and put on their equipment. Understanding how your equipment works will give you added confidence and reduce stress. Making sure everything is fitted correctly and securely, with the help of your instructor or buddy, is very important. One of the most important factors to think about when looking at equipment is to make sure that the type of equipment that you are wearing is suitable for the diving environment but most importantly making sure that you have the correct training to be able to use all the equipment in an efficient, habitual automatic way.

Confined Water Practice

This is probably the area of scuba diving at all levels that is simply overlooked. The majority of certified divers only going back into a confined water environment when making a new course and the shallow water skills being a mandatory part of the new course. As I mentioned earlier, as a diver learning to scuba dive their training is performance-based, and they have plenty of time to learn and practice scuba diving skills in the pool before heading out to the open water. Just have a think to yourselves honestly, when was the last time you personally made a review of all scuba diving skills and I mean more than can you clear a mask!

Relaxation and Visual rehearsal

All divers of all levels should begin their dive feeling relaxed and calm. Try not be rushed to get ready, give yourself time to go through the dive plan in your mind with your buddy to make sure you are both clear of the techniques, emergency procedures, entering and exiting methods and generally the diving route. At the start of the dive aim to become relaxed with slow, deep breathing and allow yourself time to get to get orientated to being underwater by pausing after your descent. Take an additional moment in the shallow waters to regulate your breathing. The key point is understanding that breath control and relaxation go hand-in-hand.  Check your equipment and computer, and to signal to your buddy that everything is OK. To not rush and do not be rushed by others. When you rush, you create stress and may not follow the procedures you have been taught. Similarly, don’t rush around underwater – take time to appreciate what nature has created and enjoy the full experience of breathing underwater. Having a good level of calmness will aid in control of stress levels in the water. Divers who also learn the “Calming Response” in Stress and rescue courses, learn a technique which involves stomach breathing. The calming response is a fast and effective way of improving relaxation and performance.  Scuba divers, using this technique, can significantly increase breath control and relaxation within 5 – 10 breaths.

Diving discipline

I have addressed the issue of training and that comfort through repetition of skills is essential in creating automatic habitual responses. However, as divers consider themselves to become more experienced a certain degree of complacency could become evident. This complacency to me is more of an issue than the novice diver with more limited experience. Dare I say it a sense of arrogance surrounds this type of diver and the perceived assumption that “it will never happen to me”. This type of diver no longer considers the underwater world to be a hazardous environment and as such may lack respect for the potential hostile conditions that scuba diving situation can present. Diving preparation falls to a minimal level, equipment is not maintained to an acceptable standard, and recommended diving guidelines no longer apply to them.

Don’t let yourself fall into this category. Have discipline, keep up to date with current training developments, equipment advances, stay mentally and physically active, keep the respect for the underwater world, keep your skills refreshed, plan a dive and dive the plan, and finally leave the ego at home!

Summary

The fact of the matter is that Scuba Diving has inherent risks that simply cannot be removed. However, though the techniques outlined above we can aim to make ourselves as divers as prepared as possible for the activity. Similarly, stress is an emotional factor that also cannot be eliminated from the human psychology. However, there are ways in which we can have better control on stress, awareness of where, when and how it can occur can enable us to keep a good handle on it.

The underwater world can be as unpredictable as it is amazing, this it what keeps drawing us back to it.

Dive safe everybody.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Diving Manager & Owner

SSI Recreational & Technical Instructor Trainer

cat@tekstremediving.com

http://www.tekstremediving.com

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Scuba Diving Industry & Drop Out – The complexities of the teaching environment

An introduction

SSI_LOGO_Loyalty_Cycle_RGB_pngOver the years there has been a lot of changes going on in the scuba diving business. Continued growth in the industry involves attracting new customers and keeping certified divers interested and active. It involves a continuing upgrade of services not only in retail and education, but also in the resort and hospitality sector. Although there are many aspects of scuba diving that are different from other businesses, the basics of business still apply. The art of winning new customers and keeping existing customers is still paramount for a successful business.

Behind the diving operators the training agencies and the manufactures are a team of individuals whole sole purpose is to market the scuba diving industry to the worldwide community. Their primary goal is to attract the audience, to sell them the desire to sign up and learn this physical activity of Scuba Diving. The scuba diving industries, as well as many others (including the hospitality business) to me, in my opinion, have a lack of perspective. For instance, hotel web sites are aimed to advertise the greatness of their facilities, but there is usually very little information about the quality of services. In comparison most scuba diving sites that I have looked at aim their information on how good their services are, but not why they are so good; they use many generic words to describe the key places to visit but not why they are so beautiful, unique or special. They claim their centre and their instructors are the best, yet fail to say how or why.

The Statistics

According to most statistics from web sites that you look at, they will state that there are approximately 1.2 million scuba divers all over the world.  (2013 numbers)

References:

http://www.numberof.net/number-of-scuba-divers-in-the-world/

http://www.undercurrent.org/UCnow/dive_magazine/2007/HowManyDivers200705.html

Now, as to the accuracy of those numbers I cannot possibly comment as I have no access to official data but lets use the number to give us a general idea. Apparently 66% of the scuba divers all over the world are male and 34% of the scuba divers all over the world are female.  (We will look a bit more into that further on) We know that customer retention is vital for a financially successful company to exist but what I want to examine is how many customers do dive centers manage to enroll in an entry level course through the powers of marketing only to find that they drop out before completion of that course?! I want to examine immediate retention, not long term retention.

Dive centers or clubs that focus on sales only and neglect customer service may bring in lots of new members, but if the students are not satisfied during training, there is a high chance of drop out and the dive Centre’s low retention rates may be chipping away at their bank balance. According to some reports, it costs two-and-a-half times more to recruit a new member as it does to retain an existing member. Dive Centre employees need to work together as a team to minimize attrition and maximize immediate retention.

The teaching environment – Understanding participation

As many of you might know my university training before I entered into the scuba diving industry was within the Sports science, coaching and Teaching realm. I don’t pretend to have a master’s degree in this area or any PhD, and I have never written any professional papers on such topics, but my base knowledge combined with 15 years of actual teaching scuba diving has taught me quite a lot!

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What I can tell you is that the majority of the population learn most efficiently in a non-stressful environment. Excessive stress caused by an over emphasis on successful performance and negative orientated feedback frequently results in lowering of self-esteem and severely hinders the learning process. Juniors especially find activities stressful when they perceive they will not be able to adequately respond to the demands of the others in a group, and therefore risk a negative social evaluation of their ability. If exposed to a stressful environment overtime anxiety, fear of failure and inadequacy will increase leading to dropout. But how can that be relevant in the scuba diving world? Surely, this is not an issue because the customers, lets not forget, are paying customers and so would never be the subject to negative feedback by their instructor or made to feel in any way uncomfortable or incapable. Right? Secondary, this is not a competitive environment; there are no teams, no winners or losers. Right?

Wrong… Here are a few example situations:

  • A diver, who repeatedly cannot clear their mask, will consider himself or herself to be a loser if everybody else in their group has managed to successfully complete the skill.
  • An Instructor who is becoming frustrated by a student who cannot perform a skill will start to lose their patience and show negative mannerisms due to the pressure of time constraints and the perception of the need to “pass everybody” by tomorrow. These mannerisms can be in the form of facial expressions, sarcasm, lack of attention etc
  • A student who has completed a skill easily may begin to get bored and irritated by other members of the group who take longer to learn. This can result in abusive comments and an undesirable pressure put upon the rest of the group.
  • An Instructor who is becoming irritated with a junior diver as the instructor does not know how to hold the attention of the younger mind with begin to show anger and lose their calm.

Unfortunately within the teaching environment there are always going to be two variables that cannot be removed:

  1. The Instructor
  2. The Student

The Instructor

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) claim as of 2015 it has a membership of over 136,000 professional individuals. I wonder how many of those professional individuals have ever had any official training in teaching, coaching, skill acquisition, or psychology outside of what they were taught in their 10 day Instructor Development Course. (Please note at this point, that this is not about any one agency, this is about the scuba diving professional levels as a whole) I wonder how many of those professional individuals know the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of students? I wonder how many of those professional individuals understand why you must change the way you teach to an introvert in comparison to an extrovert?

classroomThrough my background I was able to learn about such areas and how to deal with such variations in teaching. I do not write this trying to persuade you that I am the best teacher, far from it, but what I do want you to understand is that my background has given me a huge advantage when in the teaching environment. This advantage, this knowledge, many Scuba Diving Instructors do not have. Based on that, how can we expect the instructors to be able to deal with so many different group dynamics, personalities, Egos, gender, age variances and combine that with learning an activity in this alien underwater environment. That’s a tough job! I personally feel that during Instructor training their should be at minimum some time spent on the psychology of learning, to at least give these new instructors more of an awareness of what to expect.

I can tell you that there are some amazing instructors out there, who had not had any formal teaching training but are absolutely phenomenal instructors who their students keep returning back to them time and time again. Likewise I can also tell you that there are some instructors who have reached such a professional level based on their personal performance and scuba diving ability, but really they should not in the teaching environment with customers. The key attributes of the Scuba Diving Instructor; patience, persistence, compassion, organization, and empathy to name a few being sorely missing.

The Student

Of course, in the teaching environment we cannot leave out the actual student. In order to be able to understand why students respond and act in different ways when in a learning environment we must first examine the goal orientations:

There are two main goal orientations, mastery orientation and ego orientation.

Mastery Orientation – More preferred ego

– Learning & Task mastery

– Personal Progress

– Participation

Ego Orientation

– Social comparison

– Public evaluation

– Normative success

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Within a group of individuals learning to dive you may very well get a mixture of such Ego’s. It is the tough role of the Instructor to then try to balance that out and to have control to prevent any unwanted transfer of negativities from one student to the next. It’s quite possible that the students who have Mastery orientation feel pressurized and stressed by the Ego orientated individuals. This can cause tension and distraction from the actual skills practice.

In examining the Ego motivations we have only scraped the surface of the psychology of learning and I can sit here and write thousands more pages on so many more concepts of skill acquisition and performance development but I wont. I just want to give you the understanding that the teaching world is complex and there is no “one way” to teach.

If we are to look just very briefly a little bit more into the gender differences we would find that the values that females
seem to naturally embrace – taking part in an activity not just to be successful but to have fun, is the complete opposite of the Ego orientated individual. Maybe in such conflicted environments the female will then decide to “Opt out” rather than endure if the perception of fun is no longer present. Could that partly help us understand the ratio difference of males and females taking part in scuba diving activities? Studies also confirm what women tend to suffer an increased crisis in confidence and larger drop in self-esteem in non-mastery motivational teaching environments. As a result, females are more likely to quit the activity in comparison to their male counterparts because they do not view themselves as being not good enough.roathan_balbi-5299

By understanding the principles of reinforcement, effective communication and positive feedback Instructors will be able to create a mastery motivational teaching environment. Adults and children alike in this type of environment are more competent when learning new skills, show greater persistence and performance improvement, they have less fear of making mistakes, display greater sportsmanship, enjoyment and have lower levels of tension and worry about performance.

If the experience is positive, the student will likely continue participating. If the experience is negative, the student may drop out, and lose interest completely in scuba diving. That student is now lost forever.

How to be a successful Instructor

If becoming a scuba diving instructor is a pathway that you are looking to head down then I would like to suggest a few things to you. Firstly, be selective not only of where you make your Instructor Training Course (ITC) but more importantly who is running the course; the Instructor Trainer (IT). Feel free to ask the IT what is their background, how much time will be spent discussing the psychology of learning during your ITC, how much time will be spent on customer retention and the methods in how you can achieve this. This is what will enhance your teaching ability over other instructors.

ITC

My next piece of advice is to read. There are many very good sources of information on the Internet with regards to teaching styles and techniques. Try these styles out with your students and see what a difference it makes. Of course learn and take note from your peers around you. Look, listen and see how other instructors are teaching. I don’t want you to copy them, no way, you are your own individual personality, but maybe take some features from one instructor that you like, combine it with other styles from a different instructor and create your own personal style. If you manage to achieve this, your students will keep returning to you over and over again. And finally stay passionate, enjoy being the teacher, make a difference to somebodies life.

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship” James Comer

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Diving Manager & Owner

SSI Recreational & Technical Instructor Trainer

cat@tekstremediving.com

http://www.tekstremediving.com

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship”

Southern Red Sea Exploration.

So finally on dry land and I am back in the office where I find some time to reflect and evaluate upon the “exploration trip” that my colleague Shaun and myself had recently undertaken.

I use the term “exploration” for lack of better terminology, but I feel an explanation is in order as “exploration” also is not really the correct word!   The term “Exploration” would suggest to the reader that we were finding new dive locations, new reef systems, when simply this was not the case. We were in fact visiting very well know reef areas but the “exploration” part was specific to the depth that we were diving and the area of the reef we were diving.

 Emperor Asmaa

During my very first years working in Egypt I had the pleasure and opportunity to visit most dive locations within the Egyptian side of the Red Sea, from as far north as the straights of Tiran down the southern reef systems of Elba which lie on the Sudanese border and everything and anything in between. These were the days where as a safari guide you were not “fixed” to any single route, you were moved around from boat to boat, route to route each week. What this created was a generation of safari guides which a huge expanse of diving knowledge and experience of the entire Red Sea. Sometimes I miss those days, now however, I don’t think the husband would be so happy with me being out at sea for 6 weeks each time!

Anyway, I am becoming side tracked….

So, I found myself back in the southern area of the Red Sea, of which the purpose of the trip was to “explore” each of the dive sites between the depths of 40m – 80m. Currently, there are no companies who offer specific technical diving trips to this area, OK, there are a few boats where they could cater for the odd deco dive but nobody is looking specifically at these dives sites though the eyes of the diver who would like to go that bit deeper. We had to find out why. Is it because there is nothing of interest below 40m in this area? Is it because the potential stronger currents pose a safety hazard to divers during decompression? Or is it lack of knowledge of the area? Or is there simply no demand. We at Tekstreme Diving wanted to try and answer these questions….

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The reef systems in the southern Red Sea are absolutely stunning in the shallow water and believe me this continues though to depth, actually, I would say even better in terms of quality of coral growth. As an example, the size and abundance of the Gorgonia fan corals that we were witnessing between 50m – 85m were mind-blowing. You need to trust me when I say it was like diving untouched reefs, reefs where no diver’s fin had accidentally clipped the coral and snapped off an entire branch, no damaged hard corals about from natural processes, this is what we were experiencing. It was amazing. You can see that not many divers are visiting these depths and the currents provide such a rich supply of nutrients that the soft corals especially can flourish.

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A particularly favourite of mine is a narrow tower of a reef, the local turn for it would be a “Habili”. This particular Habili looks like nothing on the surface but is simply one the reefs which is the most rich in life, its an aquarium for all creatures great and small. This cone shaped reef gets wider as you get deeper and provides marine life, colour and excitement all the way down to around 75m. We actually spent most of our dive at 50m watching as grey reef sharks smoothly cruised in and out unfazed by us as we were still and quiet. The world of having no bubbles on a rebreather comes into its own and the pelagics come closer to check us out. There is a potential for much current on these reefs but as these reef systems rise all he way to the surface you will always have a reference to swim alongside as you fulfil your decompression obligations. Plus, we will always have zodiacs to support us from the surface so if any divers find themselves away from the reef they will always be tracked and collected.

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Within the southern area there are also some wrecks. One in particular is sat at a maximum depth of 50m, this wreck attracts a huge array of marine life and has a great atmosphere. It’s at a nice depth to enjoy a longer bottom time having a scrape around and exploring the wreck in its entirety. There is also another more historic wreck, which is not greater in depth than 30m, but makes a great afternoon dive. Do dive it well it would still require some decompression due to its size so for sure a great feature of the area.

There is talk of another larger wreck within this approximate area but deeper which we aim to do a more specific search for on our next trip to this area. I am always a bit dubious when it comes to listening to tales of sunken wrecks as most of the time it turns out to be nothing, but when I have now had information from a few different sources all talking about a similar location, it certainly gets my attention.

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Moving a little bit further north there are some reefs that sit on the edge of a deep-water trench with walls dropping vertically down depths. These reefs are fed by a stong consistent currents that suppy the goodness for the corals to flourish. It’s on these reefs as you descend through the depth ranges the types and colours of corals here is changing quite dramatically. The colours of the soft corals are not restricted to the shallow waters they can be found through 50, 60, and 70m. Whip corals, black corals and Gorgonians’ in substantial volumes and sizes can be found at depth. Some of these reefs over the years have taken their toll on safari boats and the wrecks that are left behind may not have an exciting history but, what you find is that over time they have created a mini ecosystem and they attract a wide variety of marine life around the outside and inside. For sure it makes a nice feature of the dive.

 arch3

Of course we can’t be visiting the southern area without a stop at Elphinestone reef. This particular site needs no further exploration from us, this is one dive site that is already included in some of our other existing technical safari trips, but I include it here for those who have never had the opportunity to dive the reef. This finger long reef has dramatic plunging walls to the east and west, with plateaus on the north and south. You can dive to 100m all the way around this reef if you wanted to! Typically, we dive the northern plateau to any depth between 40 – 100m with eyes peeled with the to aim to find either Grey Reef sharks off the tip of the plateau or Hammerhead sharks. Its an area that gets a great current feed and so very nutrient rich. The colours of soft corals across the plateau are some of the best to be found in this area. As an alternative dive to the north, the reef has provided for us a natural landscape feature in the shape of an archway. Running directly under the southern plateau, this natural feature allows you pass from one side of the reef to the other. You can swim through this archway anywhere between 48m – 60m. It is also on this southern side of the reef where you have chance to find the Oceanic White Tip reef sharks patrolling the shallow waters.

Summary

As much as we have had a great week of diving and the exploration of the area at depth has begun there is a great deal more for us to do and hopefully more wrecks and natural features to be found. With the information that we now have, we have put together an itinerary for next year that will return to the sites that we have just visited but will also build in more time for further exploration. This means, for the divers on trip next year, will be just like us and exploring these areas for the first time. Is there a demand for this type of diving, this type of exploration, I absolutely believe the answer is yes.

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“Exploration is really the essence of human spirit”

Frank Boreman

Trip Details

Dates = 14/08/16 – 21/08/16

Vessel = Emperor Asmaa

Price = 999 euros

Contact info@tekstremediving.com for details on the trip and how to reserve your place.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Techical Diving

Tekstreme “The Tour” visits Malta

Tekstreme Wings

MALTA 2016

May 7th – 14th

Price = £600

 

The Maltese Islands’ clear blue Mediterranean sea is ideal for scuba diving. All three islands offer some unique diving experiences with an abundance of reefs, caves and wrecks that make diving here some of the most interesting in the Mediterranean. The calmness and clarity of the sea makes for excellent visibility whilst the risk of encountering dangerous fish is extremely low, creating the ultimate conditions for scuba diving. For the more experienced divers, there are plenty of challenging dives to choose from.

Price Includes:

  • 7 nights self catering accommodation in shared villas with equipment storage
  • Transfers to and from the airport
  • 5 days diving
  • Transfers to and from Dive locations
  • All ferry costs
  • 12 litre Twin set hire or CCR tank hire
  • 1 decompression tank
  • Technical guides

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This trip is aimed at diving some of the most popular wrecks and reefs of Malta and Gozo to with all dives between depths of 30 – 55m. It is preferably that divers should hold a certification to enable them to dive to 50m on either air or limited trimix. Lower certifications of certifications are also welcome and courses to achieve the higher levels are available during the trip.

For the shallower dives (30 – 40m) there will be planned two dives per day. For the deeper dives up to 55m it is planned for 1 dive a day. This makes for a minimum 8 dive trip. The dives are subject to weather conditions but hopefully will include the following: P31 patrol boat, Rosie Tug Boat, El Faroud, MV Karwela, MV Xlendi, HMS Stubborn and the Blue Hole to name a few.

Nitrox, Helium and extra Deco cylinders are available but not included in the overall price. All extras are to be paid directly to the Dive centre at the end of the trip.

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 Flights are available quite inexpensive from most major UK airports.

 Email to info@tekstremediving.com for more information.

Tekstreme “The Tour”.

Did you know, that one of the most common questions that I get asked when guests are enquiring to me about Tekstreme and wanting to do some diving with us is, “Are Tekstreme located in other countries?” To date, I have had to reply that the answer is no.

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Tekstreme have, since establishment, concentrated their time offering technical services throughout Egypt. As a technical company we are one of the largest in Egypt with operations, through the facilities of Emperor Divers, in Sharm El Shiekh, El Gouna and Marsa Alam plus offering multiple specific technical safaris throughout the year. I guess personally for me, before taking Tekstreme to other destinations I want to be sure that we have the right attitude, approach, business plan, commitment, audience and of course the desire. Right now I believe we can easily tick all of those boxes. However, these things are not to be rushed. Much research needs to be done on destinations, availability, profitability, demand etc etc. We see in our industry too many technical operations opening up around the world yet one year later they close their doors. As a reputable technical diving company we need to ensure that if we take on such a project outside of Egypt that our customers can be assured that we will be there to stay.

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Now don’t get too excited, this blog is not Tekstreme announcing a new location, not quite yet, but what we are doing in the meantime is to take Tekstreme “On Tour”. Beginning in 2016 we are going to be offering technical diving trips to multiple other locations outside of Egypt. This way, our customers who want to have the benefit of diving multiple locations, but staying with Tekstreme are going to be very happy. Tekstreme will be organising diving trips including accommodation in various European destinations to begin with, before expanding to worldwide destinations. We will only be using the facilities of highly reputable dive centres in each location who we know will maintain high standards that our customers demand. On each trip one of our highly trained technical team members will be there with our customers to ensure that our high standards are kept and of course to offer technical courses on each trip.

For each trip, we are keeping them quite exclusive, small groups only. We plan to take a maximum of around 8 – 10 divers on each trip. For us, it has always been about quality, not quantity and this philosophy will not change. We want to have a more intimate group of divers that we can care for on a personal level, rather than a conveyer belt of divers!

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For us, these are really exciting times and we cant wait to take kick start Tekstreme “The Tour”, we hope that we are going to see many of our technical diver friends come and join us and make this the best technical tour ever.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Diving Manager

info@tekstremediving.com

Brother Islands & Safaga Red Sea Technical safari.

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So the dates have now been released and back by popular demand….

 

Tekstreme will be offering a fully equipped technical safari to include the Brother islands from the 6th June – 13th June 2014Image

The itinerary (weather dependant) should include:

 

Panarama Reef in Safaga

The stunning walls of Small Brother Island

The Wreck of the Numidia on Big Brother Island

The Wreck of the Aida on Big Brother Island

The Wreck of the Salam Express in Safaga

The Wreck of the Gulf Fleet in Hurghada

The Wreck of Colona V in Hurghada

 

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There will be only 16 places available, and these spaces are available for all levels of technical diver. Trimix certification is not  a requirement but would be of benfit. All levels of technical courses and Gas Blending courses can all be run on board.

The boat will be the Gold boat “Superior” from Emperor Divers. Check out http://www.emperordivers.com/liveaboards-fleet-superior.php for more details and specifications of the boat

For a more information on how to join our summer time technical safari contact me directly at tekstreme@emperordivers.com

The price for the trip is only 1172 euros.

This price includes:

7 nights accommodation

Food and soft drinks on board

All Marine Park fees & Fuel surcharges

Transfers to and from the airport

Twin set hire or CCR tank hire

2 x Decompression / Bailout tanks

All Oxygen fills for CCR

Dont hesitate to book yourself and join us on some of the greatest tech dives in the Red Sea.

Cat & the Tekstreme Team