No more SCUBA diving after 2050

Fijian dive sites still teem with beautiful fish and coral.

Lauren Mowery

Fijian dive sites still teem with beautiful fish and coral.

Yesterday, Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. Donald Trump — not all Americans. In fact, the majority of the U.S. wanted to remain in the accord. Politics aside, while nobody yet knows the true impact of this potentially fateful decision, scientists have already modeled a variety of detrimental repercussions from preventing a global temperature increase of 2 degrees. In some areas of the world, the effects of climate change are real and evident. Consider our ocean reef systems.

As a 17-year open water diver certified by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), I’ve witnessed the rapid degradation of our coral reefs. Gray, broken, and dead. Dwindling schools of colorful fish. Increasingly, that description fits a large number of dive sites around the world. Last month, I dove in the Bahamas. Not long after, Nevis. After we surfaced near St. Kitts, the dive master admitted nearly 80% of the surrounding coral was declared lifeless. Confirming these anecdotal impressions was the recent news about the Great Barrier Reef: In the last two decades, the 25 million-year-old ecosystem has bleached to the point of fear for its total and complete extinction.

Twenty. Years.

While the ramifications of a dying ocean far outweigh the interests of a sport, the question should still be asked: what will happen to SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving if our coral reefs are dead?

I contacted the PADI organization for their thoughts on the looming crisis. Divers serve as one class of guardian to our aquatic habitats, bearing witness to changes while vested in their protection. I connected with Dr. Drew Richardson, President and CEO, PADI Worldwide. He’s been with PADI for thirty years, diving since 1971. “I’ve been lucky enough to have dived on all continents and both the Arctic and Antarctic polar ice environments. I love the adventure and exploration diving offers” he said.

I posed a few questions in the interview, touching on dive community responsibility, science and innovation, and great places to still experience the beauty of our underwater world. Fortunately, the answers aren’t as gloomy as you’d expect. I’ve published the interview in its entirety, below.

Climate change, ocean warming, acidification, and bleaching events are killing our reefs. Given the current pace of decline, what do you think is the future of the sport?

Unquestionably, there are serious and formidable issues threating the world’s coral reefs. That said, I’m a firm believer in engagement, problem identification and mitigation. My life philosophy is to remain optimistic and focused on a “future hope”. In my mind, there is no other option. Hope is the anchor to the soul. The danger is that we lose hope, or we feel like there’s nothing to be done.

In the wake of our 50th anniversary at PADI, we have deepened our commitment to ocean health and conservation. Our 25 million divers across the planet are becoming active as a force for good and driving towards a healthier planet and healthier reefs on local, national and international levels.

The PADI organization is committed to being a global force for good. We are passionate about creating a preferred view of the future in healthier oceans.

As the largest diver training organization in the world, PADI has the reach and influence to mobilize divers to be citizen activists. We train one million new divers each year across the planet who can engage in strategic alliances, have a powerful voice and get involved in real solutions to drive change.

As for the future of the sport of scuba diving, I feel there are strong tailwinds which will drive future growth in scuba diving. These include a growing middle class, a strong interest in adventure/action sports, strong global tourism trends, and environmentally conscious millennials to name a few. We are all about a future of engaging millions of new divers, training them well to be confident and comfortable divers, encouraging and enabling them to seek diving adventure and exploration of the planet’s underwater realm and paying it forward as good stewards of ocean and marine life health.

Baselines on coral reef communities may shift due to a variety of drivers, but there will be a strong and growing interest in underwater exploration and immersion- it’s a transformational and life-changing personal journey that we look forward to offering up to the planet for decades to come.

Diving the Blue Lagoon in Fiji.

Lauren Mowery

Diving the Blue Lagoon in Fiji.

What can divers do to help, whether in their personal lives or within the framework of the sport?

Loads. Start with the “man in the mirror”, stay informed and do what you can to make the world a better place and become a more powerful catalyst for change. We already are seeing this in thousands of individuals on a local level and we are helping to get their messages out. All of us who care about these issues can amplify engagement efforts to support life below the waters of this world and support initiatives which promote the sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources. We encourage divers to align with like-minded business and organizations. The diving community will become powerful change agents who share a like-minded love, mission and passion to be a force for good and tackle and mitigate the problems which threaten our ocean planet.

Local fishing practices and pollution are other contributors to reef decline. What can divers do to positively impact those practices?

Stay informed, get engaged, initiate conversations and educate others about the issues. We all can make informed choices about how we live our lives, what we eat who we do business with etc. We can support set asides, marine protected areas and hope spots and support sustainable development and life practices. Support the development of social norms and institutions that allow the responsible management of reefs. Policy-makers might help local communities and people live with reefs sustainably, and encourage people to be more invested in their local reefs. We don’t get to live in an ideal world, we live in this one.

You’ve likely read about 3-D reefs. What’s your thought on how quickly those can be created to contribute to reef health and regeneration? What else may help, if anything?

I love the innovation and hope that is driving this initiative. Artificial reefs have been around a long time with mixed success. Time will tell if 3-D reefs can help restore on any longer-term or mass scale.

What dive areas are still in good shape for viewing colorful fish and a lively reef?

There are hundreds across the planet. As for tropical marine ecosystems-places like Palau, Sipadan, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Indonesia and the Philippines. In the Caribbean Bonaire, Saba, much of the Bahamas, Las Rocas, and many areas in the Red Sea and the Maldives. There remains much beauty to be seen.

When she’s not in a vineyard or the ocean, Lauren Mowery covers drinks, food & adventure/luxury travel. Follow her around the world on Instagram and Twitter.

Providence Equity Sells Scuba Certifier PADI for $700+ Million

By Matt Jarzemsky

Providence Equity Partners LLC agreed to sell scuba certifier Professional Association of Diving Instructors to a group of wealthy families and endowments for more than $700 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

The consortium includes philanthropists who were drawn to PADI’s efforts to promote oceanic conservation as well as its business, people familiar with the deal said. They purchased the company through an entity dubbed Mandarinfish Holding, named for a Pacific Ocean-dwelling fish whose vivid orange, blue and green colors make it a favorite of some divers, the people added.

Orange County, Calif.-based PADI is the world’s largest diving membership and training organization, having issued more than 25 million certifications, according to its website. Scuba equipment salesman John Cronin and swimming and diving instructor Ralph Erickson founded it from their homes in the Chicago suburbs in 1966, offering membership and course training materials to dive shops and resorts.

Providence bought the company from private-equity firm Lincolnshire Management in 2015 and helped it expand in China and upgrade its e-commerce system. It tripled its investment on the sale, according to a letter to its investors reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

PADI’s new ownership reflects a shift in the investing landscape. Its buyers included so-called family offices, which manage the fortunes of the wealthy. These organizations have long invested with private-equity funds, but they’re increasingly cutting out the money managers and doing their own private-equity-style deals. By doing so, investors avoid paying private-equity firms fees for managing buyouts and have greater flexibility to hold businesses for many years.

Rhode Island-based Providence has invested in several companies related to sports, live entertainment and active pursuits. The firm last year sold sports-marketing companyLearfield Communications Inc. for a return of about 2.9 times its investment, the Journal reported. It sold Ironman Triathlon operator World Triathlon Corp. to China’s Dalian Wanda Group in 2015, quadrupling its investment.

Deutsche Bank AG advised PADI on the deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Write to Matt Jarzemsky at [email protected]

Did PADI Keep Money And Not Issue Certifications?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is a consumer alert involving PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and a Jacksonville company that teaches people to dive.

According to the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida, as many as 180 people who paid hundreds of dollars through what they believed to be PADI and Groupon to take scuba lessons at Scuba Lessons Jax allegedly haven’t received their certification cards.

The warning comes after numerous complaints from customers poured in to the BBB about the alleged PADI/Scuba Lessons Jax deal.

Matt Hayes said he was looking for affordable scuba lessons and found PADI – Scuba Lessons Jax on Google.

“It was more affordable than the rest and there was no fee to rent gear,” Hayes said.

Hayes is now frustrated because he, like so many others, is complaining about not being able to get his diver’s certification card from PADI.

“They informed us after we passed the class, which was the weekend of Dec. 3, 2016, that it (certification card from PADI) would take three to four weeks to get to us, and it’s now March of 2017. What happened? I don’t know. I reached out to them at the end of January and could not get ahold of them, could not get ahold of the owner,” Hayes said.

But Hayes never got his card and is now out $399.

“If I could resolve this, I would like a refund or get my certification so I can be certified officially,” Hayes said.  It sounds like PADI needs to step up and either issue the certifications or help get Mr. Hayes and others their due refund.

PADI may have dropped the ball in issuing these certification cards as it can take a while for them to process c-cards when they are busy.  Also, PADI has supposedly gone through an ownership change not too long ago.  Maybe PADI’s systems are not as well functioning as they were before the ownership change?

Scuba Lessons Jax’s website is down for maintenance at the time of this article submission.  While searching Google for that website, we found this…





Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Handing Out Scuba Certifications


Royal Caribbean is now the only cruise line out there with onboard Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Five Star Dive Centers, where guests can become certified scuba divers as part of their cruise vacation.

Program Details

Royal Caribbean’s partnership with PADI offers a range of programs; from a 30-minute Try Dive program ($29) for those who just want to get their feet wet, to PADI’s Reactivate Program for certified divers who want a refresher ($59).  Those who want to center their vacation on diving can enroll in the Open Water Diver course to earn their complete certification, which starts at $599 per person.

The course begins at home, with an online course that will ultimately leave more time for actual scuba diving while on the cruise.  Once on the high seas, divers will test the waters in the ship’s pool before heading out to complete the four mandatory, open-water training dives in some of the world’s most beautiful waters.  The training dives will be split among two ports, and upon returning home guests will be certified divers that will be able to plan and execute dives on their own.

How to Book

Guests can book their PADI course before boarding through the Cruise Planner, or while onboard at one of the PADI Five Star Dive Centers found on ten ships across the fleet: Oasis-class, Freedom-class, and Voyager-class ships, as well as Anthem of the Seas.

Featured photo: Flickr Creative Commons


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