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Maldives Diving Guidelines

November 28th, 2009 Comments off

Guidelines for Scuba Diving in the Maldives

Before heading to the Maldives for the scuba diving holiday of a lifetime, be sure you’re familiar with the Maldivian diving guidelines, ensuring a safe, happy holiday! Download the entire Maldives Recreational Diving Regulation guide here!

Diving Guidelines

1. Planning the Dive

1) It is essential to “PLAN YOUR DIVE AND DIVE YOUR PLAN”. Dive centres must be aware of any changes to the dive plan of the dive boat and divers.

2. Weather Checks

1) It is recommended that dive centres keep aware of local weather conditions and inform divers of any special conditions at each dive site prior to the dive.

3. Low-Risk Conditions

1) Maximum depth of dive site does not exceed 20 m

2) Swell and/or wave height does not exceed 0.5 m

3) Current is nil to slight (diver can swim against it with minimum exertion)

4) Underwater visibility is greater than 4 m

5) Dive starts and ends in full daylight

4. Prohibited Dives

1) Decompression dives

2) Dives deeper than 30 m

3) Dives less than 24 hours before flying(a pressurised aircraft)

4) Dives in restricted /no dive areas (Refer SECTION 10: DIVING RESTRICTED AREAS)

5. Diver Qualifications

1) A diver must present the following documents to the dive centre:

a) Dive certification card from a recognised agency that allows the person to dive
without supervision in open water.
b) Log book validating open water diving experience of at least 900 minutes, excluding
training dives.
c) Medical certificate dated within 12 months of diving or self-declaration stating that
the person is fit to scuba dive.
d) Completed diver registration form at the dive centre.
e) An orientation dive may be required for persons who have not dived within the last 3
months. The dive centre may impose restrictions on a diver’s activities on the basis of
his/her logged experience.

6. Dive Tables and Computers

1) Use of dive tables and dive computers are highly recommended for all divers.

2) Dive tables must be available at the dive base for divers to workout their dives
manually.

7. Dive Flag

1) The wide transport activities around the islands in the Maldives make it essential that divers mark their presence clearly. Therefore, any boat with divers operating from it must always display signals by day or night to inform other boat users. In the
Maldives the daytime signal for divers is the International Code Flag “A” (white and blue split flag) approved by the Ministry of Tourism as an indication of a submerged diver. The flag must be at least 750mm in length and 600mm in width.

2) Dive flag can be used anywhere where divers are diving and should always be displayed by dive boats when it has divers in the water. The use of dive flag is to signal any boat, jet-ski or anybody else in the vicinity that divers are underneath and hence should keep distance, or take care when approaching.

8. Diving from Boats

1) For all dives away from the dive centre, it is recommended that a person with the following qualifications and experience remains on the surface during diving operations:

a) A boat driving/captains license from the Ministry of Transport & Civil
Aviation and with significant experience.
b) Dive Centre staff with adequate knowledge of the dive location or other
person approved by the Base Leader.
c) First aid certificate.
d) Oxygen resuscitation and therapy certificate or PADI /DAN Oxygen Provider Course.

9. Cylinder Pressure Testing

1) Those who are professionally engaged in the filling of compressed air are forbidden to fill cylinders that have not been hydrostatic pressure tested within the last two years. Persons employed by dive centres to fill cylinders (such as compressor boys) must be
made aware of these regulation.

10. Diving in Restricted Areas

1) Generally diving is fairly free in Maldives, but in the vicinity of closed national security installations diving is not permitted. These areas are not always marked on maps, hence it is recommended that divers consult the Coast Guard/ Ministry of Defence & National Security or the Ministry of Tourism in advance, to find out about possible restrictions.

2) All the above stated are valid for the whole of Maldives. Other restricted areas are;

a) Ports, traffic route accesses, passages and alike. Permission has to be obtained from the Maldives Ports Authority / harbour authorities before attempting to dive in designated commercial harbours and ports.
b) Vicinity of areas under the Ministry of Defence & National Security and near maritime vessels.
c) In the atolls where tourism is undeveloped (outside the tourism zone), except in designated dive sites.

11. Diving Wrecks and Underwater Artefacts

1) Maldives being a seafaring nation, it is expected that there will be many wrecks among the atolls. The imperative rule for wreck diving is: “Look but don’t touch!” Those who do not observe this rule are not only damaging the underwater wrecks, but are also obstructing future wreck diving in the Maldives. This rule applies not only to wrecks, but also to any separate objects found under water.

2) Should you discover an underwater object the correct procedure is to mark the spot and then report to the National Centre for Linguistics and Historical Research and the Ministry of Finance and Treasury. A list of wrecks is available from the Ministry of
Tourism

12. Protection of Underwater Cultural Monuments

1) Nothing should be taken out from the sea, and particularly this prohibition refers to cultural monuments. Please contact the National Centre for Linguistics & Historical Research and the Ministry of Finance & Treasury should you find any.

2) Damaging and extracting cultural monuments is prohibited, as well as taking the same abroad. Underwater archaeological researches may be performed only with permits issued by the Maldivian government authorities, and the procedure is NOT covered
under these regulations.

13. Environment Protection

1) As responsible divers, reasonable care should be taken to protect the marine environment, its associated living organisms and their habitats. Divers should be briefed by the dive instructor on responsible behaviour whilst diving, such as buoyancy control, avoiding damage to corals and physical contact with marine animals. Shark feeding is NOT permitted for the divers and the dive centre staff alike.

2) Activities that are detrimental to marine protected areas and protected species and their habitats are prohibited under the Environment Protection & Preservation Act (Act No. 4/93) of Maldives. Marine Protected Areas are living marine aquariums.
Look but don’t touch is the message in these areas, and ONLY permitted activities can take place. Protected areas, as their name suggests, are there to protect typical areas of the coral reef system, and its resident fish and other animals, in as near to a pristine
condition as possible.

3) Permit to dive in marine protected areas may be required. Please check before you venture.

14. Damage Due to Anchoring

1) Dive boats are not allowed to anchor on dive sites. Drift boat diving is the norm in Maldives. Boat anchors destroy fish habitats especially corals and even sea-grass beds. If anchoring is required for any reason, prevent reef damage by anchoring in sandy areas or using mooring buoys.

15. Diving in Bait Fishery Areas

1) Bait fishing is an important activity for the traditional pole and line tuna fishery in the Maldives. Hence, occasionally divers may encounter fishermen collecting bait. In order to reduce conflict between local fishermen, diving should be avoided in the
same area whilst fishermen are engaged in bait fishing. Any such conflicts should be reported to the Ministry of Tourism through the responsible dive centre as soon as possible. Dive centres should also keep divers informed of these traditional economic activities in the country.

16. Diving for Commercial Fishing & Marine Research

1) Diving for marine resources and marine research are not covered under these regulations. Permission should be obtained from the concerned government authorities before engaging in such activities.

17. Confiscation of Equipment

1) The Maldivian legislation provides the Police the right to confiscate objects unlawfully taken up as well as equipment in cases where a diver has applied his or her equipment illegally.

The new Alert Diver Magazine is online!

September 2nd, 2009 Comments off

ALERT DIVER is DAN Europe’s quarterly magazine. It brings news from the dive world about events organized by DAN Europe, and contains interesting articles about diving medicine and research, training and diving safety.

Why a digital version of our magazine?

As Dr Alessandro Marroni (Editor-in-Chief of the Alert Diver Magazine) points out in the first Editorial of the new e-version, “our magazine became more environment friendly, saving tons of paper every year”.

Thanks to the digital transition, DAN Europe is now able to publish the Alert Diver Magazine in 13 languages: English, French, Italian, Dutch, German, Spanish, Polish, Finnish, Croatian, Czech, Slovenian, Turkish, Hungarian…Many more languages will be available with the next issues!

Discover how the e-Edition pairs the convenience & interactivity of online content with the familiar feel & design of a hard-copy magazine.

Choose your language from the ones listed below and read now your copy of AD Magazine!

** Download times vary depending on broadband connection speed and Network traffic. For offline reading, please try the pdf document

Preventing Hypoxia while Scuba Diving

August 19th, 2009 Comments off

How to Prevent Hypoxia while SCUBA Diving

Hypoxia is a medical condition wherein a certain part of the body is deprived of a certain amount of oxygen. This condition can lead to various tissue damages and can affect even the most experienced diver. Divers usually experience hypoxia during altitude dives. It is caused by a decrease in air pressure in deeper waters, hence providing less oxygen for the diver to breathe. What can a diver do in case of hypoxia? Have no fear because here are some safety tips you should consider.

Symptoms of Hypoxia

Symptoms of hypoxia include:

  • fatigue
  • shortness of breathing
  • light-headedness
  • exhaustion

If you ever experience any of these symptoms it is best that you stop diving immediately. You should then rest until you can breathe normally again and you have resumed normal respiration.

What to do Before going underwater to prevent Hypoxia?

In order to prevent hypoxia, make sure you are resting before the dive.  Try not to exert yourself too much while hauling your diving equipment. Once you get into the water, be sure to catch your breath before descending into the water. Resurfacing slowly prevents your body from getting shocked by the sudden change in pressure, and this will help prevent hypoxia or decompression sickness from occurring. If you live at a high altitude, then it is best that you try to familiarize your body with the sudden change in air pressure by staying in lower places for a while before scuba diving in the ocean.

Altitude Diving Safety Measures to Avoide Hypoxia

Before going altitude diving, it is important that you go through the proper training in order to avoid Hypoxia. You can get the required training from certified diving centres. In addition, you also must have the proper gear for it, and make sure that your equipment is in good condition. If you are an experienced scuba diver, but you haven’t done it for a while, then it is recommended that you take a review class to refresh your skills before the dive. Finally, it is important that you always dive with a buddy. Even the most experienced divers do not go into the water without having a dive partner with them. There is always time for safety, so don’t take it for granted!

How to Refill a Scuba Tank

August 14th, 2009 Comments off

How to Refill a Scuba Tank

scuba tnak How to Refill a Scuba Tank

Scuba Tank

When it comes to diving, everyone knows that a scuba tank is an essential requirement. These tanks provide the oxygen we need to function while enjoying the underwater world and all the marine life that lives beneath the waves. You need a fresh tank of air every time you go scuba diving. Renting a tank every time you go is an option, although it can be costly. If you’re going to dive frequently and not always at a dive centre, you might consider purchasing a scuba tank and refilling it yourself. Although refilling your own scuba tank involves installation costs and a rather pricey investment in the equipment initially, it will help save you money in the long run. Operating a compressor, the main piece of equipment required for refilling scuba tanks also requires training and a certification. The certification you require is a Professional Scuba Inspector (PSI) or other DOT- or OSHA-approved certification in order to legally fill any cylinders. Once you have the certification, follow these simple “How To” steps:

1. Start the refill process by checking the hydrostatic testing dates on the scuba tank. It is imperative not to fill scuba tank that do not comply with this requirement.

2. Empty the scuba tank until there are only five to ten pounds per square inch (PSI) of air. Pay attention to sounds of loose objects or water inside. Cylinders that sound damaged or flooded must not be filled. Before placing the scuba tank in a cool-water tank at a compressor facility, you must also inspect the valve for damage, rust or debris.

3. Once you have performed the preliminary inspection of filters, gauges and the compressor itself to make sure they comply with the operational specifications, as well as set the compressor to shut down automatically at the specified rating for the scuba tank, you may begin the actual work of refilling the scuba tank.

4. Make sure you have wiped the cylinder valve and compressor yoke clean and dry, fasten yoke to the cylinder and open the cylinder valve completely. Start the compressor cycle in order to fill the scuba tank.

5. As a precaution, you must monitor the automatic shut off, and be prepared to shut off the compressor manually if need be. Remember, the compressor must never be left unattended while filling the cylinder.

6. Finally, be sure to take steps to ensure your safety of that of those around you, as unexpected accidents may occur.

How to Remove Muscular Cramps while Diving

August 12th, 2009 Comments off

How to Remove Muscular Cramps while Diving

Maldives Underwater Photos Snorkeler How to Remove Muscular Cramps while Diving

Snorkeler in the Maldives

A muscular cramp is an irritating condition that you should take into consideration before and during scuba diving. Aside from the distraction and physical discomfort cramps can cause, they can also cause underwater anxiety which in turn leads to further underwater problems.  However, if you do experience cramping while scuba diving, there are several things you can do.

What to Do in Case of Cramp?

First and foremost, as soon as you get a cramp, you need to alert your dive buddy about the situation. That way he or she can help you with your problem.  Next, establish neutral buoyancy by breathing correctly or if possible, sit on the ocean floor. You will need to have practiced buoyancy beforehand in order to do this correctly.  Third, stretch and massage the muscle that cramped to ease the pain. Continue to massage the cramped area until the pain disappears.  If you’re experiencing cramps in your calf muscle, then it is best to grab the tip of your fin and pull it towards you and then start massaging the calf, or have your dive buddy massage it for you.

Safety Tips for Avoiding Muscular Cramps

As you can see, getting rid of muscle cramps underwater involves a certain amount of experience. So never forget that the basic diving techniques you’ve learned during that time. If you are diving close to the ocean floor, it is best to find an area where you can sit down, rest, massage your muscles. Remember to never sit on corals.

Muscle cramps occur from overexertion or poor physical condition. Be sure to pay attention to your body’s condition throughout your whole dive. It is really important that you are in good shape before starting to scuba dive.

There are inherent risks and dangers to scuba diving, and these may cause serious injuries – even death – if you do not train properly for it. Always make sure that your gear is well-maintained and don’t start diving until you have completed training at a certified dive centre. Remember, you are going SCUBA diving to have fun, not to put your welfare or the welfare of others in jeopardy.

More Safety Tips to Avoid Cramps

Of course, the best cure is prevention. So here are some more tips to avoid muscle cramps.

  1. Fitness.  Get physically fit. Basic fitness reduces the risk of muscle cramps
  2. Alcohol.  Avoid drinking alcohol 12 hours before scuba diving.
  3. Water.  One of the greatest causes of cramps is dehydration.  When scuba diving, you need to drink at least 3 litres of water a day, especially if you are in a hot country.
  4. Sleep.  Before scuba diving, you should be well-rested.  Don’t go scuba diving after a wild night’s party.  You will feel a lot better scuba diving after a good night’s sleep.
  5. Bananas.  If possible, try and eat a banana or two before the dive.  Bananas contain high levels of potassium which neutralise salt levels in your blood, one of the major causes of cramps

Decompression Sickness

August 11th, 2009 Comments off

Decompression Sickness

dreamstimefree 313167712 Decompression Sickness

Scuba Diver in Water

Scuba divers are commonly susceptible to Decompression sickness, or as it is more commonly known, “The Bends.” This sickness occurs in people who find themselves in a situation that involves a rapid decrease in pressure around the body.

Causes of Decompression Sickness

Decompression Sickness, or DCS for short, occurs when nitrogen bubbles build up in the body. During normal breathing, about 79% of the air we breathe is nitrogen; but as we descend in water, our being submerged in the water causes an increase in pressure, and nitrogen is absorbed into our body tissue. Decompression Sickness is not instantly detrimental and it is possible for the body to continue absorbing nitrogen until the point of saturation – when the pressure in our tissue equals the outside pressure. The problem occurs when pressure needs to be released. To counter the sudden change of pressure, scuba divers must ascend from deep water at a slow pace; taking pauses – or safety stops – if necessary, so that the nitrogen can slowly, steadily and safely leak out from the bodily tissue. Decompression Sickness occurs when the ascent is performed too quickly, as the nitrogen escapes from the body too quickly and forms bubbles within the bodily tissue. Normally, any bubbles within the tissue must be on the arterial side of the circulatory system in order to be harmful, while they are generally harmless when on the venous side of the tissue.

Types of Decompression Sickness

There are several types of Decompression Sickness (DCS), the first of which is characterised by pain but is not immediately life-threatening, and could be a mere warning sign of more serious problems. More serious types of Decompression Sickness include Cutaneous Decompression Sickness, where nitrogen bubbles come out of through skin capillaries, and Joint and Limb Pain Decompression Sickness. The second type is more serious and can be fatal as it affects the nervous system. Neurological, Pulmonary, and Cerebral Decompression Sickness are examples of DCS where the nitrogen bubbles affect the nervous system, lungs, or brain, respectively. Some common symptoms of both types include extreme fatigue, joint and limb pain, tingling, numbness, dizziness, blurred vision, and headaches.

Treatment of Decompression Sickness

Treatment of Decompression Sickness is generally administered on the scene, and consists of oxygen therapy and basic first aid. Recompression treatment in a hyperbaric chamber must immediately follow, and the slightest delay in beginning recompression treatment can be the biggest single cause of residual effects. The best treatment for Decompression Sickness is prevention, so follow these tips. Always ascend slowly and safely from every dive, don’t push your limits, perform all required decompression stops and keep physically fit and within a healthy weight range.

Decompression Sickness Treatment in the Maldives

There are several hyperbaric chambers in the Maldives, including:

  1. Bandos Medical Clinic and Hyperbaric Centre, Bandos Island Resort, North Male Atoll, Telephone + 960 440 088
  2. Kuramathi Medical Centre, Kuramathi Island Resort, Alifu Alifu Atoll , Telephone + 960 773 485
  3. Kandoludhoo Divers Rescue, Kandoludhoo Island Resort, South Ari Atoll, Telephone + 960 773 485