Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

Secret lives and secret worlds hidden in Singapore's most popular coral reef.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Reef Friends XPLORE! get divin'

Finally, the trainees have a chance to get down for some dives! Everyone's excited!

The first practical was conducted at Kusu island. We departed promptly from Keppel Marina where the trainees promptly assisted in loading up the boat, and even had a go at giving an area and boat briefing!

We were blessed with great weather and very slack currents. The tide was high which gave us greater depth and opportunity to explore the reefs of NE Kusu. The objective of this trip was primarily to familiarise the trainees with the site. Though some of them had dived the site before, they might've done so with a line transect and had less chance to check out the reef proper. This time, with dive guides, more time, and good vis, trainees could at least mentally plot out the topography and scape of the reef, recall some natural landmarks, notes which all aid the future mapping of the reef that each guide will have to draft out at a later stage.

Xplore! trainee and certified dive master, Howard rigs up while our skipper looks on. We truly enjoyed being onboard with this skipper who understood the needs of divers and was patient and punctual!

Here some divers begin to make their descent with a reference line. The water this weekend was a tad cold! After 70mins... we were all racing to get out! Well, at least I was! Brrr...

With Xplore trainers Jani and Tse Lyn (Blue Water Volunteers), and myself from the Hantu Blog, there was many an opportunity for questions and discussions about methods of communicating and delivering info whilst guiding. The use of techniques during reef interaction was also much in dialogue, and some trainees whilst very competent at reef ecology and the identification of organisms, talked about upgrading their skills to make dives more comfortable and effective. The same was true for trainees, some of which were dive masters, to gain more skills in the environment department!

Yes, lots of smiles and questions that satisfied our enthusiam! It was really good to be out in the field, where it all happens, with the trainees! It was very motivating, but at the same time, a reality check for some when they came to realise the tasks that were at hand. This awareness fuelled more questions pertaining to reef guiding. The very fact that this activity requires a minimal investment of time and undeniable dedication and committment, also led some to have to give up their places on the Xplore! program as external committments could not allow them the time or energy to participate any further. But that's not the end! Because there are several other programs that they can participate in such as the BWV Reef Exhibitions and Reef Walks, and they can even join us again for the next intake if that is a better time! There's never an end-all situation when it comes to conservation and education!

Being in the field also gave more insight into the activities that occur around our southern shores. Here, a dredger harvests sediment from the seabed. This particular method causes significant leeching that stirrs up a plume of silt that can travel great distances to eventually rest of the reef and its inhabitants.

For a look at some of the critters and organisms observed that Kusu that weekend, check out Hui Bin's, Xplore! trainee, photo web.