© 2003 Geoff Allen
Where do I go from here?
The certification card for an entry-level qualification is like a learner's permit to dive. You will need to do a little more diving before you become totally comfortable, competent and proficient at it. You can tell when you are getting good - the amount of air you use will drop as you become more skilled and relaxed, and diving will become another motor skill, like riding a bike. The best way to gain experience is just to do more diving - there is no substitute.
Meet and talk to people on websites such as this, our Discussion Forums are over flowing with a wealth of information on all topics diving related, and if it's not there, then ask and someone will have an answer for you. There is even a forum set-up just for new divers.
Joining a local Dive Club is a good idea - you can meet other keen divers and even get discounts in shops, on courses as well as being able to use their facilities (sometimes their boats); these are often independent of a store. Some dive clubs have hire gear at very cheap rates and often boat dives at very low rates, they are a good place to meet like minded people and to gain some valuable diving experience.
There are many organisations that look after these issues, some are Federal and State Government Agencies and some are Non-profit Independent Organisations. I have listed a couple just to give you an idea of what they are about and what they do:
Clean up Australia Day. The Clean Up Australia Day Campaign started in 1989, mainly above the surface of the water and then starting below the surface not long there after. Clean Up the World 2001 involved more than 37.5 million people from 128 countries. This is a community project where on one day a year a lot of people get together and pick up rubbish from community type areas. In the water, it is locating and removing some foreign items unless they have been there for a while and someone has made the item their home.
Coastcare. The objectives of Environment Australia's Coastcare Program is to engender in local communities, including local industries, a sense of stewardship for coastal and marine areas; to provide opportunities and resources for residents, volunteers, business and interest groups to participate in coastal management; to support community identification of natural and cultural heritage resources; and to facilitate interaction between the community and bodies with responsibility for managing coastal areas.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is one of the leading conservation organisations in Australia, and is the only national group devoted solely to protecting the marine environment. It is a non-profit, non-government organisation that has a unique role in promoting the study and conservation of all aquatic life.
Threatened or Endangered Species Programs.
These programs have been going for a long time, they are usually community pushed and government legislated. A couple of them are the Dragon Search Program and the Grey Nurse Shark Program.
Dragon Search. 'Dragon Search' is a monitoring program that encourages members of the community to provide information about sightings of the unique southern Australian fish - the Sea Dragons. The information will be used to determine the distribution, habitat requirements and research and management priorities for these little-known species. Anyone who visits the beach in Australia can get involved.
Threatened & Endangered Species Program. NSW Fisheries is the State's leading agency in the conservation and management of living aquatic resources. They are responsible for the administration of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 that provides a comprehensive framework for the protection of living aquatic resources. To help meet the challenges, NSW has a range of programs in place including the identification and protection of threatened species and other rare species or ones that play a vital role in the health of our aquatic fish communities.
Advancing your Training.
Having completed your entry-level course and gained some experience you could do a specialty course or two, or an advanced scuba diving course. The further recreational levels of qualifications are normally Rescue Diver and Divemaster, the first level of higher professionalism within the industry. Some Training Agencies will allow you to do the advanced scuba diving course straight after your entry level dive course, a great way to build on your skills while its still all fresh in your mind.
The Last Word.
To answer that nagging question that is in the back of everybody's mind that hasn't tried scuba diving before - sharks.
The only time you hear of a shark is when the Media blow an attack way out of proportion; they tend to forget to tell you that the other 3 Million people in the water at the time didn't get attacked. And, the only time you tend to see pictures of a shark, is, when some poor idiot, and the cameraman, has been sitting at the back of a boat baiting the water for 2 or 3 weeks. And then they aggravate it by pulling the food away just as it is about to take a bite.
You are more likely to have 5 car accidents on the way to a dive site than to be bitten by a shark. And 25 car accidents than to die from a shark attack! Surfers are more likely to be attacked than Scuba Divers, because, they are in the same area as the shark's favourite food, Seals. So if you have 5 car accidents on the way to a dive site, turn around and go diving another day.
"As a diver of over 12 Years and Instructor of 10 Years, the only shark I have seen, is the one I have gone looking for, and even then, sometimes I don't find them".
The information contained in this article has been gathered from various places, various sources and the experience and training of the originator. Once again, it is not to be taken as the only way things are or should be done, there are others.