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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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Jeff chats to… Ana Filipa Sobral, Founder of The Manta Catalog Project in the Azores (Watch Video)

Jeff Goodman

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ana Filipa Sobral, Founder and Project Leader of The Manta Catalog Project in the Azores.

Ana Filipa Sobral is a marine biologist and conservationist based in the Azores Islands. She moved to the Azores in 2011 and once there, realised that this was one of the few places in the world where Sicklefin Devil Rays (Mobula tarapacana) gather in large groups, making it a strategic place to study them. She started the The Manta Catalog Project and through this project, collects photo ID and occurrence data on Mobulid Rays, with the precious help of divers and dive operators as citizen scientists.

Ana is also finishing her PhD which focuses on population genetics and connectivity of migratory elasmobranchs in oceanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The main goal fueling my research has been to help fill the knowledge gaps on elasmobranch biology and ecology to ultimately assist in the design of effective conservation and management plans aimed at protecting their populations in this remote region of the North Atlantic Ocean.

You can find out more about Ana’s important work at: https://mantacatalogazores.wixsite.com/mobulaid/project.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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News

DIVING talks 2022: the discussion we all want to hear

European DTA Team

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This year’s DIVING talks event will take place in Troia, Portugal from October 7-9 2022. The event will bring together many of the world’s leading divers, explorers, scientists, and researchers, and one of the highlights is sure to be the presentations.

Imagine having PADI, SDI and SSI in the same room to discuss the future of teaching in diving? This would be an exciting debate, wouldn’t it?

Imagine no more. Mark Caney, Mark Powell and Jean Claude Monachon are going to be talking about diving through the perspective of the three biggest agencies: PADI, SDI and SSI.

  • Mark Caney, PADI – Professional Association of Diving Instructors’ Industry Relations and Training Executive, is President of the European Underwater Federation, President of the Rebreather Training Council and President of the World Recreational Scuba Training Council.
  • Mark Powell is the SDI – Scuba Diving International Director of Global Development
  • Jean Claude Monachon is SSI – Scuba Schools International Vice-President, International Business Development & Marketing.

This is one ‘talk’ you won’t want to miss!

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

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