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Diving with…Michael Gary Aldridge, Orca Scuba Diving Academy, Essex, UK

European DTA Team

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In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer


What is your name?

Michael Gary Aldridge

What is the name of your business?

Orca Scuba Diving Academy

What is your role within the business?

Owner

How long has the business operated for?

13 Years

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

28 Years –  Master Instructor

What is your favourite type of diving?

I would say drift diving.  Drifting along a reef, watching the underwater world go by.

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

Before I set up Orca, I was working for a local company and realised they were selling courses, not teaching people.  With this in mind, I set up Orca to teach people and not just sell courses.  Right from the onset I decided to concentrate on working with families, in particular young people.  And to that end, we have spent a lot of time nurturing links with local schools, colleges and youth organisations.  I am proud to say we were one of the first centres to be awarded the PADI Youth Approved Training Centre certification accreditation.  We continue to encourage people of all ages to come and dive with us.

What is your favourite dive in your location and why?

A few years we were approached by one of the teachers we work with in a local school and were asked if we could do a DSD for her sister. This in itself isn’t usual until we found out that the sister had lost the use of her legs and was blind due to terminal cancer, so without hesitation I put together a five man team, which included a videographer, to make sure that she had a great time and was safe and the whole family would have the memory forever.

What types of diving are available in your location?

We have pool diving from 3 – 20 ft, UK lake and coastal and overseas trips through Scuba Travel.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

Having someone say they can’t do it, then seeing their smile when they achieve something.

What is your favourite underwater creature?

Thresher Shark

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

Shop expansion to have in-house equipment servicing and tank testing, plus the completion of the two classrooms.

As a centre what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

Online retailers selling equipment at an unmatchable price but not training new divers, so just skimming profit off the industry.

Is your centre involved in any environmental work?

Indirectly.  We have trained up a lot of students who have gone to work full time or voluntarily for conservation organisations and this is something we promote in the centre to all students.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkelling industry overall? What changes would you make?

I see the industry as quite strong overall, although it is going through some major changes with new training organisations coming into play.  This can only add to the public awareness of our planet and conservation problems. I would like to see more control over the quality of the diver training worldwide.  We have heard a lot of horror stories from divers who have come into us regarding some resort training.  This goes from a 13 year old having cave and wreck penetration on an Advanced Open Water course, Discover Scuba Diving students being taken to 20 metres or a ratio of four to one to a single dive master in open water.  As well as flagrant standard breaches just to achieve certification levels and take money.

What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

I come across a lot of people who say ‘I don’t like that’ or ‘I can’t’ before trying.  So I always say ‘Just have a go, you never know… you might just enjoy it’.

Where can our visitors find out more about your business? (This is where you enter your contact details and any specific details on how our audience can reach you)

Visit the shop at 17 Repton Close, Repton Court, Burnt Mills Estate, Basildon, Essex, SS13 1LN

Visit the website at www.orcascubadivingacademy.co.uk

Send us an email at info@orcascubadivingacademy.co.uk

Call us on 01268 520111 or 07960 140520

You will also find us on facebook, twitter and instagram.

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Gozo Diving and Gozo Technical Diving join RAID

European DTA Team

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Great news for RAID divers around the world: Gozo Diving & Gozo Technical Diving have joined the RAID network and now offer RAID courses, and RAID-quality support in one of the classic Mediterranean dive destinations.

Malta is a well-known and highly rated diving destination. The water is warm (around 28 degrees), the visibility is epic (20-40 metres), and many sites have weak to moderate current. So, there are great dive sites for every level of experience, and these include fantastic and historic wreck dives.

Located on the Island of Gozo, RAID’s new dive centre, offer the complete range of recreational, technical and Instructor courses. The facilities include two classrooms, access to an onsite pool and a full CCR room. So, visiting divers and instructors can enjoy nitrox, trimix, as well as oxygen-compatible air fills, rentals of sidemount cylinders, twinsets, and stage cylinders, DPV rental and of course high-end teaching, coaching and experienced guiding.

Gozo Diving and Gozo Technical Diving has more than 30 years of experience in training, exploration and diving professionalism. Now fully aligned to offer the the complete spectrum of RAID courses, which means both experienced divers as well as those who want to start exploring the underwater world can come and enjoy the dive site attractions of Malta and Gozo knowing they’ll get the fun and full-service experience our agency and network of RAID dive centres are famous for.

To find out more, email: info@gozotechnicaldiving.com or visit their website at: www.gozotechnicaldiving.com

Photos: RAID Blog

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DIVING talks 2022: 4 great reasons why you should attend!

European DTA Team

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International Dive Show DIVING talks 2022 takes place from 6-9 October in Troia, Portugal. Here’s four great reasons why you should attend…

1. The ‘Talks’ and the Speakers

What do you get when you have in the same room Dr Alessandro Marroni, Dr Óscar Camacho and Dr Simon Mitchell? Undoubtedly an incredible amount of knowledge in diving physiology and hyperbaric medicine. If you are a diver, you know the value of such a debate.

What do you expect to see in a Bill Stone presentation?

Wouldn’t you like to discuss with Thomas Stachura, Leigh Bishop or Armando Ribeiro their findings underwater in the expeditions that led to the discovery and identification of new shipwrecks?

2. The Exhibition: brands and trials

It’s about talking with ‘who knows’ and testing that piece of equipment even underwater if you want!

Friday, October 7, is BRANDS DAY. Try dive the Mares SCR Horizon, test your preferred scooter, and more. Bring shorts or a swimming suit. This is happening in the swimming pool. Join us on October 7. Diving Talks is also Brands Day!

3. DIVING talks is a family/ partner friend event

You don’t need to leave your family or partner behind. 

If you want to attend, transform this trip into a partner or family trip to Portugal. There are many things they can do while you enjoy the Talks.

It is not that you need to have something planned. The peninsula is such a fantastic site to enjoy; there’s the beach if you want to relax by the sea, there are trails you can check out, or you can relax by the pool.

4. YOU CAN ACTUALLY DIVE!

If you have free time and want to explore Portugal underwater, DIVING talks can be the pretext for a ‘stay and dive’ side-program.

Diving talks partnered with Portugal Dive, a boutique dive concierge that organizes dive trips to Portugal; the mainland and in the Azores and Madeira archipelagos.

Diving recreational or technical, you can expect the European Atlantic’s most transparent waters full of life, schools of fish, the big pelagic, and even monk seals: all that and wrecks, inland caves, you name it.

Opt to arrive one-week earlier or leave one-week later, and chose the stay and dive program for your type of diving and preferences.

For more information, contact Arlindo Serrão via e-mail: arlindo.serrao@portugaldive.com or check out the following links:

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