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The Alphabet Soup of Scuba Diving: Diving Terms Revealed

It can be pretty confusing, but if you want to be involved in scuba diving, you’ll need to become familiar with some of the many diving acronyms (and the industry has plenty!)  in fact the word SCUBA itself is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.

To help provide a guide to many of the different acronyms found in the diving industry, we have created this simple User Guide to the Alphabet Soup of Scuba Diving.

BCD (or BC for short) Buoyancy Control Device: A standard piece of scuba diving equipment. This vest-like device provides buoyancy and safety for divers during their time underwater.

DAN  Divers Alert Network: This is a non-profit scuba diving safety organization. DAN provides insurance coverage for scuba divers in the unlikely event of a diving-related accident. DAN also operates a 24-hour diver information and medical assistance telephone hotline.

DEMA  The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association: A non-profit trade association that promotes recreational scuba diving around the world. DEMA presents the worlds largest SCUBA Show once a year for retailers, resorts and others doing business in the industry.

DCS – Decompression Sickness: This condition is also known as the bends and occurs when a divers body has absorbed an excess amount of nitrogen gas.

EAN Enriched Air Nitrox: A popular breathing gas that reduces the amount of nitrogen in the air that a diver breathes during a scuba dive. This type of diving requires a special certification and training.

NAUI  National Association of Underwater Instructors: One of the first scuba diver training organizations, NAUI operates through affiliated dive centers, resorts and dive instructors throughout the world.

OW  A common abbreviation for a scuba diver who has completed OPEN WATER certification. Along with OW, AOW is the abbreviation used in the industry for a diver who has completed ADVANCED OPEN WATER.

OWSI  Open Water Scuba Instructor: Term used for an instructor qualified to teach and certify recreational scuba divers.

PADI  Professional Association of Diving Instructors: An education and training organization that offers instruction through affiliated dive retail centers and resorts around the world.

RSTC – The Recreational Scuba Training Council: The RSTC was incorporated in the United States in 1986. RSTC mission is to establish minimum training standards at all levels of recreational scuba diving in order to promote public safety. Nearly all of the scuba certification organizations follow the RSTC standards for training and safety.

SDI  Scuba Diving International: This scuba training and certification organization is part of the International Training group of companies that also includes TDI.

SSI  Scuba Schools International: A scuba training and dive retailing organization based in Colorado. SSI has international affiliates and operates exclusively through SSI-affiliated retail dive centers and resorts.

TDITechnical Diving International: A scuba training organization that specializes in advanced and technical diving.

These and many other abbreviations are common in the dive industry. Stay tuned for more as you become more familiar with recreational scuba diving.

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Picture Yourself in Bonaire!

The growth of digital photography has changed everything, especially for recreational scuba divers (and Kodak shareholders). Seems like just a few years ago, underwater photography was a luxury. It cost a lot of money. The equipment was big and bulky.  And, most photographers relied on trial and error when shooting print or slide film making it rather cumbersome to capture shots worth keeping.

But the days of the old Nikonos V film camera have given way to today’s simple, lightweight digital cameras. These days scuba divers have the option of high quality digital stills or videos  something unheard of just 10 years ago.

If you’ve been to Bonaire, you’ve probably seen the license plates that proudly proclaim the island as a Diver’s Paradise. Well, it’s also an Underwater Photographers Paradise and for good reason.

Here is a few reasons why you could easily picture yourself booking an aquatic photo safari to the popular Dutch destination:

— Well Protected and Preserved Reefs: In 1979, Bonaire established the Bonaire Marine Park. The results of these forward-thinking officials can be seen each and every time you submerge below the crystal-blue waters. Bonaire regularly receives recognition for its healthy reefs and abundant marine life. As a photographer, you couldn’t ask for more. Whether you choose to go shallow or dive a little deeper, you can be assured of having something colorful and healthy to photograph. Frankly, Bonaire’s underwater terrain is the closest to a sure thing you’ll encounter in the entire Caribbean.

— Dive Right In: There aren’t many places in the world with shore diving that matches Bonaire. The island has been named Best Shore Diving in the Caribbean every year since 2004. You can often just leisurely walk right into the water and slowly descend on a reef. For photographers with large cameras and lights, it couldn’t be easier. The local environmental organization STINAPA helps make the island diver-friendly by maintaining bright yellow markers for every dive site on the island. It’s impressive and makes it easy to find a specific place to shoot.

— Divers WELCOME!  Seems like some places you go tolerate scuba divers, but don’t always openly embrace them. That’s not the case on Bonaire. With more than 100 well-marked dive sites surrounding the 111 square mile island, it’s easy to find a place to explore. More importantly, chances are good that you’ll find someone ready and willing to talk about the diving.

The growth of underwater photography has led to an increase in the number of photo labs and operations on the island. Several of the popular dive resorts including Buddy Dive and Captain Dons Habitat actually have underwater photo labs and professionals on their properties. These UW shooters are always glad to offer their suggestions and ideas to fellow photographers. Frequently, photographers gather during the week to share their images -AND their stories.

— Plenty to Sea: At last count, there are more than 360 different species of fish that inhabit Bonaire’s clear waters. Looking to shoot (OK, photograph) a seahorse? You can find one in Bonaire. Do you want to ACTUALLY shoot something? You can do that also! Several dive operations now offer special supervised lionfish hunter programs and activities. If you want to build your UW photo library, there isn’t a better place than Bonaire to get started. You’ll leave with a collection of photos that will take you a while to sort at least until your next dive trip!

Veteran Bonaire visitors swear that the water is always clear, and for the most part, they are right. Bonaire has visibility near 100 feet almost any time of the year. Photographers know these conditions are rare and many book at least one trip to Bonaire each year. It is not surprising to see the same photographers year after year. Can you picture yourself in this underwater photographers paradise? You aren’t alone!

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