Whale Shark Diving in Belize

Whale Shark Diving and Snorkeling In Belize
by Ralph Capeling
Splash Dive Center – Belize

Every year divers flock to Placencia Belize to dive and snorkel with whale sharks – one of the few places the world where you can expect whale sharks to arrive on a scheduled basis (although they do not always seem to carefully check their calendars).

The Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve located near Placencia in Southern Belize, is a spawning aggregation site for many different tropical fish species including cubera, mutton and dog snappers which produce tons of spawn. This spawning occurs around the full moon to last quarter during the months of March to June. This is what attracts the Whale Sharks to the Gladden spit. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean growing up to lengths of 60 feet/18mt. Divers and snorkelers get a rare opportunity to swim along with this magnificent creature.

The wall here slopes down to 160 feet/50mt then drops off into the blue abyss. Diving is done in mid water at a depth no deeper than 80 feet/24mt in groups no larger than 12 divers with their dive masters. Special procedures are followed on this dive to ensure safety and to limit any harm that may be caused to the sharks. Snorkeling is done on the surface in open water, however snorkelers have an excellent chance of seeing the whale sharks as they come to the surface to feed.

Splash Dive Center uses two methods to find whale sharks.  – looking for the snapper or looking for the birds.

  1. We use fish finders to find the snapper as the whale sharks come to feed on the spawning aggregation and put the divers in the water above the snapper. The divers try to stay with but well above the snapper and try to stay in a tight group so that the bubbles are concentrated.  The idea is that the whale shark will see the bubbles, think that is the spawn and come directly to the divers.  As the bubbles go to surface, often the whale sharks do too, so the snorkelers get a close encounter.  We have had some situations where the whale sharks came from the side rather than from the deep, so the snorkelers saw them but the divers who were looking down, did not see them.  Other times, the whale sharks have come close to the divers and then gone back down without tasting the bubbles.
  2. We watch for birds circling as when they flock over the sea because they are feeding on bait fish. Whale sharks also feed on bait fish and they do that on surface.  When we see the birds, we head for the spot.  Usually in this situation, the divers tend to stay at snorkel depths

Ralph Capeling of Splash Dive Center reports on whale shark sightings on ScubaBoard each year.  His posts for 2018 to date can be seen at https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-sharks-2018.556434/page-2#post-8286770.  The April whale shark moon was very interesting with the whale sharks being found by watching for the birds.  His reports for 2017 which was a poor year for whale shark encounters at  https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-shark-reports-2017.543105/  and his 2016 posts at the following link  at https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-sharks-2016.524598/

The dates for the next two whale shark moon seasons are;  May 29th to June 10th and June 28th to July 12th.

Whale shark diving is blue water diving with no visual reference – you cannot see the reef or the bottom.  For that reason, with diver and guest safety paramount, Splash only takes advanced or experienced divers (30+ dives) to dive with whale sharks.  Splash also requires all divers to have done at least one dive tour with us before we take them to dive in the whale shark zone or to the Blue Hole (check out dive).

For additional information, go to Splash’s website  www.splashbelize.com and click on Contact Us or email ralph@splashbelize.com

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New Artificial Reef in St. Lucia

PRESS RELEASE
The St. Lucia Divers Association – Anbaglo
May 20, 2018

RE : Sinking of the Vicky B in the Anse Chochon area as an artificial reef and a dive site.

The St. Lucia Divers Association – Anbaglo in collaboration with the Customs Department, Fisheries Department, St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, The St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Associations’ Tourism Enhancement Fund, The Marine Police and the Minister of Tourism.

They came together for the sinking of the vessel Vicky B in the Anse Cochon area on Friday 18th May 2018.  The main aims were to increase the stock of dive sites and artificial reefs in St. Lucia, This is a climate change mitigation initiative as well as a product development move. This as St. Lucia moves to protect our natural reefs and fragile ecosystems by putting in and developing artificial reef to create additional habitats for our marine life, and additional dive sites to decrease the stress on our natural reefs.

This come on the heels of the sinking of the Barge SK-2, which capsized in Soufriere a couple months ago dumping it cargo near the Humming Bird Hotel. The Divers Association, Fisheries Department, SMMA and SLASPA quickly moved to seek permission from the relevant ministries to acquire and sink this barge in the Anse Cochon area for the same purpose.

The removal of the Vicky B from the Port Castries has also added to the efforts to beautify the harbor.

The next venture for The Divers Association in their product development, artificial reef, and dive site establishment is the acquisition and sinking of the Doggers Bank Tug. This Tug had sunk in the Castries Harbor some years ago. It is presently partially submerged in the Bannan Area of the Harbor.

Donovan Brown
President St. Lucia Divers Association – Anbaglo
Phone: 758-488-0482

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Editorial – May 2018

The Seasonality of Diving
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional

The seasonality of an industry is mainly determined by the customer (The Buyers).  We Industry Professionals (The Sellers) take our recreation’s seasonality curve into consideration when planning our inventory purchases, training schedules, activities calendar, our marketing and advertising expenditures and even our personnel vacations.  The variables that go into determining your “Season” are Time of Year, Holidays, School Schedules, Work Schedules, Weather, the Traditional Four Seasons and of course, Tourism Capacity, Prices, Occupancy Rates and Availability. Depending on your location and the type of diving you represent, your “Season” may vary from others in the industry.   The greatest variable factor in the seasonality mix is the weather.  We cannot control the weather but we can prepare for it and make any necessary contingency plans when it affects us negatively.

The basic season for the average recreational diver, with children, is from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  In the United States, that’s May 31 – September 4th.  Kids are out of school and the family plans its vacation accordingly. This standard season affects parents with school aged children and Teachers.  An important demographic in the diving industry may be Grandparents and Great-Grandparents with school aged children too.  Check with your customer base and see if this season applies to them.

The changing weather patterns in the traditional Four Seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) has dictated the type of diving and the location for the average recreational diver.  If it’s too cold in Chicago in January, then maybe a diving vacation in the Caribbean is a tempting alternative.  But bad weather can easily be combated by properly outfitting your local divers and thereby extending the diving season or creating a “new season.”  I remember looking forward to December diving in Southern California.  The water was usually very calm and very clear.  I’ve seen many 100+ ft visibility days on my December Catalina Dives off of Ship’s Rock.  You just had to prepare for the weather.

Dealing with different seasonality curves can be interesting, challenging, or FUN.  It all depends on you and your imagination.   Heck, in Florida we have Four Season too. Love Bug Season, Tourist Season, Hurricane Season and Summer!  You can either fight it or make it work for you.  Your choice.

Well, I have to go and make plans for my new season – Dive Season.  We just finished Trade Show Season in April and Hurricane Season and Planning Season are next in line.  Might as well go diving.

See you in Long Beach.

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DIA Members To Exhibit at Scuba Show – Long Beach 2018

Dive Industry Association Members at Scuba Show
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The following Dive Industry Association Members are exhibiting at Scuba Show on June 23-24, 2018 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, CA.  Make it a point to visit our DIA Members FIRST.

Local Dive Operators

Manufacturers

Travel Businesses, Destinations, Resorts, & Dive Operators

Non-Profit Organizations

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Tektite Industries Recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business

MARCH 15, 2018 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TEKTITE INDUSTRIES Recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business.

Small businesses across New Jersey are starting to save money, share their successes and inspire other businesses by implementing sustainable business best practices. Joining this list, TEKTITE INDUSTRIES, located in Trenton, NJ, became one of the first businesses in the state to be recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business.

In August of 2014, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) launched the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry. The registry is an Internet site where businesses that have implemented sustainable business practices can register their achievements and be recognized.

  • TEKTITE achieved recognition because, as a company, they practice energy conservation and recycling. They:
    – Use recycled paper products when possible.
    – Reuse or recycle their industrial scrap.
    – Reuse or recycle their incoming packing materials and cartons.
    – Use energy-efficient lighting.
    – Use energy-saving machinery controls.
    – Use single-stream recycling dumpsters.
    – Equipment is used in their manufacturing processes to conserve and recycle coolant water, heating their building, conserving fresh water, and reducing liquid waste.
    Some of TEKTITE products are designed to directly reduce the amount of plastic and/or
    hazardous waste:
    – The Mark-Lite product line provides an environmentally friendly Chemical Lightstick
    Alternative™. Plus, the Mark-Lite helps reduce operation cost by 80% as well. Many Diving resort destinations have banned the use of chemical sticks as a result of their offering a reusable alternative.
    – Their ELZ, Traffic Strobes, and Marine SOS strobe products reduce or eliminate the need for chemical incendiary flares, reducing hazardous combustion products, and hazardous waste of date-expired, unused flares.

    TEKTITE efforts resulted in the reduction of wastewater, landfill volume, and energy savings. Tektite was founded on green/sustainable principles in 1990. They are concerned about the environment and are committed to improving the Earth’s environmental condition.

    For more information about the registry visit: http://registry.njsbdc.com/

    For more information about TEKTITE INDUSTRIES visit: www.tek-tite.com

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DIA Members to Exhibit at Scuba & Watersports Expo 2018 – Tacoma, WA

by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The following Dive Industry Association Members are exhibiting at the Scuba & Watersports Expo on April 21-22, 2018 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center in Tacoma, WA.  Make it a point to visit our DIA Members FIRST.

Retail Dive Centers

Manufacturers

Travel Agents & Wholesalers

Travel Businesses, Destinations, Resorts, & Dive Operators

Non-Profits & Associations

Media, Shows & Events, Retail Services

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Editorial – April 2018

It Takes The Whole Community
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional

I’ve had three months of exhibiting at dive shows this year and am getting ready to head off to Tacoma in two two weeks for the Scuba & Watersports Expo.  Working non-stop with Show Producers, Exhibitors, Speakers and Attendees for the past twelve months was not only exhausting, but very educational and enlightening.  One thing I can say for certain;  Divers are very passionate about their recreation and their profession.  Exhibitors want to meet as many attendees as they can during the entire length of the show.  I don’t care if it’s one, two or three days long.  They want high quality – high volume traffic.  Preferably traffic that spends money on diving.  Attendees want to see new dive gear, new training courses, exciting adventure dive travels, and a multitude of diving related goods and services.  And that includes non-profit, environmental  programs and events.

We know the pieces, or components, of a dive show.  They are the Venue, Show Management & Staff, Volunteers, Exhibitors, Speakers, Sponsors, Local Promoters and Attendees.  The most important of these is, of course, the Attendees.  They are the “WHY” we are having a show to begin with.

What I have come to realize in the past year of attending trade and consumer dive and travel shows is that I look at shows as having three overall components;  National Industry Professionals, Local Industry Professionals and Local Divers (and people who want to be divers).  To have a successful dive show, you need all three components to actively participate or you don’t have a show.

The National Industry Professionals are the Dive Equipment Manufacturers, Training Agencies, Travel Companies, Non-Profits, and Services Companies.  They usually make up the Exhibitors, Sponsors and Speakers.  Without their involvement, the show is not going to happen.  Notice I did not use the word, “Support”.  Let’s stop asking dive companies to “support” us.  They make money selling stuff to us.  We want their involvement.  It’s good for them, it’s good for us and it’s good for the local diving community.

The Local Industry Professionals have the most to gain from their local diving show, hopefully their largest annual event.  They are the Local Dive Stores, Dive Boats, Dive Clubs and Dive Instructors.  They are the local professionals who make a living from diving, albeit part-time or full-time.  They may also be a very large part of the third component, the Local Diver.  Show Producers conduct these dive shows to benefit the Local Industry Professionals and to give them an opportunity to share they local diving community with the rest of the world.  The shows need their involvement to promote the show and communicate it with the entire local diving community.  I would think twice about doing a show in an area that didn’t have the involvement of its Local Industry Professionals.

(There is one group that belongs to both the National and Local Industry Professionals, that I have chosen not to talk about now.  They are the Seminar Speakers.  These Industry Professionals are our Story Tellers.  They are people we put on a pedestal and have well deservedly given awards, medals and recognition to.  They are a large group that plays a big part in the past, present and future of dive shows.  Let’s address that issue in another article at another time.)

Local Divers are the lucky individuals who still think of scuba diving as a hobby or as their main recreation.  I envy them so much.  Have you forgotten what it was like when diving was your Hobby?  You talked about it all the time.  You introduced your friends to it.  You went diving every weekend.  You had FUN.   The success or failure of a local dive show is in the hands of the Local Divers and people who want to become divers.  Having a great show keeps Divers active in the recreation and bringing in new Divers helps the industry grow.  Your local dive show should be the great annual diving revival.  It should be fun and the social event of the year.  Maybe we should make diving a Hobby again?  Or at least our family’s favorite recreation again.

If you have read this far, you know that our industry faces big changes next year.  As the number of Divers gets smaller and smaller, the number of marketing options to promote our businesses and industry continues to grow.  There is only so much money in the pot for face-to-face marketing.  We all face some hard choices next year.  Some of our dive shows on “the circuit” are growing and getting more successful;  some are getting old & stale and shrinking;  some are dying on the vine as we speak; or some are going through changes that may end in closure.  In the mean time, the Travel & Adventure Show just added their 9th show (Boston), the Outdoor Show is growing in numbers and popularity and a small dive show with a new owner just opened his second location.  At Beneath the Sea last month countless Members and Exhibitors bent my ear talking about their future options for advertising and promotion.  Many of them ask for stats on all the dive shows going back 18 years.  They want to see past performances and possible future trends.  If you look at some of my charts, your future marketing choices may be obvious.  I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have one recommendation:

My recommendation is to get involved with the local diving community that is working together to make their show the one we all want to be a part of.

Let’s talk in Tacoma.

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Discount Coupon for Tacoma Dive Show

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Editorial – March 2018

The Industry Awakens in March
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional

March is here and Scuba Divers are thinking about diving again.  For many of us in the United States, it has been a long, cold, hard winter.  In fact, some of you are still dealing with the cold, the rain and the snow.  That’s OK.  It’s sunny and warm somewhere.  Spring Breakers will appreciate that.  So will our traveling diving friends.

The Industry Planners have been getting ready for the 2018 season during January and February and are in the middle of their pre-season marketing push for the month of March.  We saw surprisingly good turn-outs at the January Dallas Show and February’s Our World Underwater.  We haven’t got a report from the Boston Sea Rovers yet and the industry is getting ready to invade Secaucus, New Jersey for Beneath the Sea.  Shortly after BTS, we’ll all be in Tacoma for the Scuba & H2O Adventure Show.  Then it’s DIVE, DIVE, DIVE until Scuba Show in June.

Managing the Tacoma Show has really made me think a lot about the power of proper planning, targeted communication, community involvement and follow-up.  Putting on a successful show or running a successful company takes the same skills and attention to details.  You have to plan well and implement your plans in a timely manner.  You have to communicate your plans to everyone involved in the project/company.  One central person has to get everyone on-board and keep them in the loop.  Too many things can fall through the cracks if you don’t.  And the last thing is proper and continuous follow-up.  Sending out a message is only one part of the process.  Did your attended audience receive it?  Did they read it and understand it?  Did your “Call to Action” make them commit to your offer?  Are you all ready to go on Day 1?

If you are an experienced planner you know that success can only happen if you perform the proper inputs and nurture the process until it produces the desired outcome.  Plant the seed – water the field – harvest the crop.    Business is no different.  Neither is an Industry.  The recreational diving industry is only going to improve if we continue to run our businesses professionally, proficiently, productively and profitably.  The New 4 P’s of Marketing.  The Business of Diving makes the Hobby of Diving possible.  

That idea brings us to a great realization.  Dive Industry Professionals should do what they enjoy doing and are good at.  Do you enjoy teaching more than anything?  Did you get in the business so you could go diving more often? Do you like to tinker with equipment and fix things?  Think about what you really like to do and figure out a way that you can specialize in that.  All of the other stuff can be delegated or sourced out.  The thing is that as Dive Industry Professionals, we need to do the things we like to do and are good at and hire people to do the things we don’t know how to do or don’t like to do.  If you spend all of your time doing everything that has to be done, you’ll never have the time or the money to do the things you want to do. “I do the things I have to do, when I have to do them.  That allows me to do the things I want to do, when I want to do them.”

I hope to see you at Beneath the Sea.  I’ll be at Booth 412 if you want to talk to someone who loves to do Sales & Marketing, and is good at it!  Safe Travels.

 

 

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DIA Members to Exhibit at Beneath the Sea 2018 – Secaucus, NJ

by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The following Dive Industry Association Members are exhibiting at Beneath The Sea on March 23-25, 2018 at the New Jersey Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, NJ.  Make it a point to visit our DIA Members FIRST.

Retail Dive Centers

Dive Operators

Dive Clubs

Manufacturers

Travel Businesses, Destinations, Resorts, & Dive Operators

Non-Profits & Associations

Media, Shows & Events, Retail Services

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