Divers in Training: Certification for 5 Student Volunteers
In working towards the specifications of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), the ERI through Marine Biologist, Celso Cawich and Marine Field Technician, Victor Alamina trained student volunteers to meet the AAUS’ criteria of the Divers-in-Training (DIT).
In early October, Celso and Victor put on their trainers hat and journeyed out to the Calabash Caye Field Station at the Turneffe Atoll in the company of Ruth Gutierrez, Areli Perez, Saddith Torres, Kelvin Tillett and Felix Quewell. The volunteers took the challenge of performing to the physical requirements of DIT and building familiarity with dive equipment, dive planning and dive safety procedures as outlined by the UB Dive Standards Manual and the PADI Open Water Diver Manual. They also looked at recreational dive planning and practiced dive planning scenarios.
The students speak of the experience:
Areli: “It was one of the most grueling and rewarding weekends of my life. I pushed myself to limits that I had never considered, but was pleasantly surprised in my abilities to overcome, even if not perfectly, at least to some degree the challenges that this training offered. I encountered unconditional support and motivation from both the instructors and fellow trainees. We each found different activities to be the most difficult; my personal nightmares were the 25 meter horizontal dive and the 12 minute 400 meter swim, both of which had to be done without mask and fins. Although I managed to overcome the former, I was left with three minutes to minimize in the latter. I am both scared and excited to know that these are just the basic qualifications to become a diver in training, but I’m also filled with determination to improve my water skills and someday become a scientific diver.”
Ruth: “This training has benefited me in many ways in relation to my academic career, my physical well-being and increased my knowledge in marine research. In addition, I improved my skills in safety procedures especially precautions when conducting research in the marine field. I was capable of completing all tasks in the practical scuba training, open water evaluation and successfully passed the written examination, however, in the Swimming Evaluation I wasn’t able to complete one exercise of swimming 400 yards in less than 12 minutes without swim aids. I thirst to persist in gaining more knowledge in the marine field and this experience has inspired me to become an ambassador in the protection, conservation and preservation of our natural resource in both terrestrial and marine areas in my country, Belize.”
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