Over the past few weeks we have had the privilege of completing the PADI Advanced Open Water Course with students from NGO Korero o Te Orau. The environmental NGO consists of Cook Islanders who are passionate about protecting the culture, environment and natural resources of the nation.
Last night Neil was proud to present their certificates. Congratulations Te Koha, Charlene, Athina, Meilani, Temata, Ta’a and Te Ati!
Buoyancy really is one of the most important dive skills!
Mastering your buoyancy can reduce air consumption and effort, improve trim and positioning in the water, and enable you to optimize your weighting. Importantly, improving buoyancy control can seriously reduce the impact divers have on the underwater environment, making it easier to avoid unintentionally kicking the bottom or making contact with sensitive organisms.
If this sounds great to you, consider signing up to the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty Course! In just two dives you can perfect your buoyancy, hovers, weighting and trim, making you a more environmentally friendly and efficient diver.
We’re running this for just $220 NZ throughout November and December. Give us a call on 21873 or email email@example.com for more details.
Congratulations to all those who have achieved diving certifications over the last few months! We’re so pleased you chose to progress your PADI education with us, and hope you can join us on plenty of dives in the future!
Today we headed out to begin our first coral transplant!
We began by searching for ‘Corals of Opportunity’ - live, healthly coral fragments on the seabed. It’s important to be able to identify coral that is already dead, bleached or with signs of disease. Bleached coral is unlikely to respond well to transplatation as it is already exhibiting signs of environmental stress.
Step 2 was to attach the fragments to the frames. We gave our method of attaching our coral fragments to the frames a huge amount of thought! Zip ties are easy, but break and pollute the ocean with yet more plastic - not a suitable option for us! Marine epoxies, whilst relatively benign once cured, are not a friend of the Environment either while being mixed or in their production. We have opted for mild steel wire to tie our fragments to the frames. These too will corrode and break, but 1mm wire should fail after our fragments have attached and is thin enough to effectively twist with simple hand tools underwater. Mild steel corrodes to form naturally occuring iron oxides, rather than breaking down into harmful microplastics. It is less likely to break and gives a more secure fix, whereas plastic can stretch and loosen over time. Steel is also less likely to be ingested by marine animals.
We were joined on our dives by a Green turtle and various reef fish. One particularly interested wrasse hung around for the whole of our second dive!
It’s awesome to be able to get this up and running during the Covid Downtime, but we’re incredibly excited to invite visitors to get involved in our coral restoration work. If you’d be keen to get involved drop us an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for frequent updates!
For the last year Dive Rarotonga have been working with the National Environment Service and the Ministry of Marine Resources to set up a coral restoration project. We received some funding through Ridge to Reef, which enabled us to make a strong start on the project. After a long wait we finally received approval for our site!
Coral nurseries and artificial reefs are forms of active reef restoration aimed at increasing coral health, diversity and abundance. Nursery design, depth, location and structure are important factors to consider when planning a restoration project.
Our pyramid frames have been designed to be strong, low profile, and to maximise water flow, in order to reduce the risks of storm damage. Our site ranges in depth from 7 metres to 10 metres. This seemed an ideal depth to protect the frames from disturbances in the water while still being accessible. Site accessibility is essential to allow for maintenace. The depth is suitable for the coral species we intend to transplant onto the frames, as this is a depth range they currently survive in. We also had to consider water quality, and selected the site due to it being away from land based sources of pollution, freshwater run-off and sediment discharge - these would all increase the likelihood of algal growth, which would be detrimental to coral health.
We used structures that are fixed to the bottom rather than floating to prevent any hazard to marine life that could become entangled in floating lines. In addition to this, fixed structures are at less risk of damage during a storm or rough waters. We fixed the frames to bare rock to avoid causing damage to natural reef or habitat. We have installed a fixed mooring at the site, so as to prevent any anchor damage, either to the frames or to healthy reef that already exists there.
We are incredibly excited about getting divers involved in this project! We will be running unique PADI Distinctive Specialty courses at the site, relating to coral restoration and surveying, and will be installing a fixed camera mount so divers viewing the site can take photographs to support our monitoring process.
Keep watching the What’s New page, plus Dive Raro FB, Instagram and Twitter accounts for updates on this project!
In the last few weeks we’ve been running free Try Dives in our pool. We’ve had lots of interest and so far all participants have given scuba diving a huge OK!
Congratulations to all those who have completed dive courses in the last few weeks! Ellen McBryde completed the PADI Deep Diver specialty course and is now certified to dives to a depth of 40 metres! Ellen also completed the PADI Divemaster course! James, Zach, Joumana and Angela completed the PADI Open Water course, and are all now certified divers! Zoe completed the PADI Self Reliant specialty course, and is now certified to dive without a buddy (with full backup gear)!
We are most grateful to our students, as well as our regular divers and staff, for supporting us throughout this difficult time and helping to keep us afloat (pun only slightly intended!)
We’ve had a bit of time on our hands with fewer divers on the island, but we’ve been keeping busy maintaining Dive Rarotonga’s facilities! Neil has done a particularly awesome job remodeling the poolside seating - who needs Bob the Builder?
Dive Rarotonga is still open and operating as normally as possible!
We have made a few changes to our shop opening hours. We are currently opening the shop:
Monday - Saturday 10am to 5pm
We are running two to three dive trips per week. The shop will be closed while we are out diving!
We are still answering the phone and checking emails! Please feel free to contact us on 21873 or email@example.com
I am by no means a marine biologist, but I love marine life, especially those tiny creatures that are bright and colourful, yet incredibly difficult to spot. Nudibranchs and flatworms certainly fit this description - they can be as small as your little fingernail and come in a mind blowingly vast array of colours and patterns. But can you tell the difference between a nudibranch and a flatworm? Here are a few facts!
Classification: All animals are classified into phylums by certain characteristics - these are pretty broad groups (for example, humans, kangaroos and hamsters share the same phylum). Flatworms and nudibranch, for all their similarities, belong to different phylums. Nudibranch are classed as ‘Mollusca’ while flatworms are classed as ‘Platyhelminthes’. Simply put, a nudi is a mollusc, not a worm.
Gills: The name ‘nudibranch’ originates from the Greek word for ‘naked gills’. Nudibranch often have gills on tufts of filaments on their backs, which are described as external gills. Flatworms do not have gills at all and must pass oxygen and carbon dioxide through their skin by diffusion - this is why they are flat!
Antennae and sensory organs: Both nudibranch and flatworms have antennae-like structures, which differ not only between nudibranch and flatworms, but also between different sub-groups of nudibranch! In general, nudibranch have rhinophores and external gills. Rhinophores are sensory organs which enable them to detect one another, predators and prey. Instead of rhinophores, flatworms have ‘eye spots’ that contain nerves that are extremely sensitive to light - this is why they are generally found in shady spots such as under rocks or coral. The upper surface of a nudibranch often has cerata, cone-like projections that assist in respiration and digestion. In some species these are transparent, putting it’s gut contents on display!
Eating: Both nudibranch and flatworms are carnivorous, eating algae, sponges, cnidarians, corals and anenomes. Both species are also cannibalistic! Many flatworms have a symbiotic relationship with algae that live on them, whereby the algae produce food for the flatworm through photosynthesis.
There’s an enormous amount of information out there about nudibranch and flatworms. Check out some of the awesome facebook groups, forums and websites for more information. You could even consider participating in a PADI Underwater Naturalist specialty course, or Dive Rarotonga’s unique PADI Invertebrate Survey Diver distinctive specialty course to learn about these stunning marine animals in a practical setting!
Huge congratulations to Ellen McBryde, who completed her PADI Divemaster course at Dive Rarotonga on Sunday. Welcome to the world of the dive professional Ellen!
But she’s not quite finished yet. As soon as her course materials arrive Ellen will begin her PADI Assistant Instructor course and her Emergency First Response Instructor course. She’s certainly making the most of being stranded on a tropical island!