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Oyster Diving | PADI Scuba Diving Blog

All the latest news about scuba diving, travel and PADI training courses from Oyster Diving.

My Top 5 Best Scuba-diving Places in Thailand

What better way to start Spring than to dream about your summer holidays?

You should never wish away the year, but when you’ve got the glorious loom of Thailand awaiting you, it’s pretty hard not to. Here at Oyster Diving, we’re crazy about everything that involves a snorkel, tank, or stunning location! So, with that in mind, I’ve hand-picked some of the best places in Thailand where you’ll be able to live-out your underwater exploratory fantasies.

The Andaman Sea

The Andaman Sea is perfect for beginner and adept divers alike. It’s warm and crystal clear waters that are aghast with colourful fish, corals and other exotic sea-dwelling wonders. The setting for this underwater paradise couldn’t be better, the surrounding tropical islands are enough to entice anyone to come here, even if you aren’t a fan of scuba-diving!

The Andaman Sea is renowned for being one of the best – if not the best – scuba-diving adventure areas in Thailand. It’s a fan favourite with the tourists and locals alike, and has been so for the past decade. \

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What is the best dive computer to buy for scuba diving?

What is the best dive computer to buy for scuba diving?

What is the best dive computer to buy for scuba diving?

 

Dive computers are one of the most essential pieces of scuba diving equipment that you can buy. Considering that they help to keep you alive, they are a small price to pay. Most dive computers start with the same basic functions:

·         They give you your no decompression times. This means they can tell you how long you can stay at that depth without increasing your chances of suffering from decompression sickness (excessive nitrogen bubbles that appear in your body  after a dive)

·         They accurately tell you how deep you are so you don’t exceed your certified maximum depth or dive to unsafe depths. Insurance companies will try to get out of any pay-outs if you exceed your maximum depths for your qualification and a dive computer is your proof that you haven’t

·         They work out your surface interval and your residual nitrogen time when you do repeat dives

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Best Locations for School Scuba Diving Holidays

Best locations for school diving holidays.

 

We have been very privileged over the years to work with a number of the UK's top schools and take them on school diving holidays around the world.

During this time we have learnt a lot and this page goes in to some of the details you should consider for school diving trips.

School dive holidays are generally very safe, probably even safer than the annual school ski trip! Diving opens up a world that can be tied in with other subjects they are learning such as Geography, History and the Sciences.

Resort or Liveaboard

The main benefits of a resort based holiday is that it opens up many more options in terms of countries you can visit and the numbers you can bring. There tend to be more rooms available so it doesn’t matter if you wish to bring a group of  10 or 40. You can also combine more activities such as other sports and cultural trips. The main downside is that it does become a little more tricky to manage the group, how can you keep an eye on them all of the time. Most of the schools we work with tend to have children that are very well behaved and don’t wonder off. We can also minimise some of the risks by always having an activity to do when they are not diving such as water polo, and we can get wrist bands that don’t permit alcohol to be served to them.

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The 5 Most Mysterious Shipwrecks | Diving Ideas

Explorers, merchants and travellers alike have said the seas for a millennium, searching for treasures, new lands and new hope. When the seas are kind, they find their journeys are successful, however, the sea is a cruel mistress and can swiftly turn in an instance. Here are some of the most mysterious and intriguing shipwrecks that hide within our planet.

Bianca C

The 600-foot luxury passenger ship was originally named the ‘Marechal Petain’ before she was designed and completed in 1949. In October 1961, after changing hands at least 3 times, she was in port when and explosion ripped through the engine room. Nearly 700 passengers and crew were able to escape as the ship slowly began to sink. After burning for two whole days, her anchor was severed, and a towline was attached to her hull. They managed to tow her 3 miles before storms started and snapped the towline. The Bianca C quickly sank down nearly 160ft before settling on the bottom.

The Doty

The waters of Lake Michigan off the coast of Milwaukee, USA, have seen many ships over the years, but on one particularly bad year, violent storms claimed many more to the bottom. One of those ships was the Doty, a steam shipped designed for transporting cargo across the great lakes. Doty was one of the last giant steam ships in the USA when she went down in 1898. Doty was believed to be lost and destroyed, but was later destroyed in June 2010 nearly 115 years later. She was 300ft below the freezing waves and largely intact! Which was very surprising for a wooden vessel, the Doty and the cargo were upright when the cargo was found.

 

 

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The Top 5 Most Intriguing Underwater Cityscapes

As I’m sure many people are aware, the lost city of Atlantis is only a myth, sorry. However, for the people itching to believe in the fantastical, you’ll be glad to hear that underneath our ocean waters lie a plethora of underwater wonders. I’ve picked my favourite 5 for your viewing pleasure! Take a look below…

1.       The Pyramids of Yonaguni-Jima - Japan

To this day experts still cannot agree on whether the Yonaguni Monument – which lies underwater just off the coast of Japan – is man-made or simply a natural occurrence.

Some experts believe that the structures could be all that’s left of Mu – a fabled pacific civilisation rumoured to have vanished beneath the waves. However, Jun Kimura – a specialist in ancient ship-building - said that his initial impression was that the formations could be natural, but later changed his mind during his second dive.

While there is evidence to support the idea that this was a natural occurrence, looking at the terraced stones and triangular structures that form the pyramid, it’s pretty difficult to believe such a monument could have occurred naturally.

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Dive Sites off the Sussex Coast

Dive Sites on the South Coast off Sussex

 

Indiana Wreck

The Indiana is located roughly one mile out to see from Worthing Pier. It rests in 8-12m of water depending on the tide. The Indiana was a British steam ship returning from Sicily with its cargo of lemons or oranges (although these have long since gone). She sank due to a collision with a German steam ship called the Washington who survived the crash while on her journey to New York.

This is one of our most frequently dive wrecks as it is perfect for novice and experienced divers. It has bags of marine life including large schools of Bib and Whiting, congor eels, crabs and shell fish. A great way to enter the world of UK sea diving.

There’s not much left of the structure of the Indiana as the tides have flattened much of it.

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Emergency Action Plan for Scuba Divers

Scuba Diving Emergency Action Plan

An emergency action plan should be used every time you go scuba diving. This should be handed to the person in charge of surface cover and they should familiarise themselves with it.

Depending where in the world you are diving will depend on what goes on to the emergency action plan.

The emergency action plan below is designed to give our PADI Rescue Divers some of the most important aspects. Depending on the dive site and the type of diving you are doing will determine the exact contents. Therefore you should think about this and not just stick to the template below.

A proper emergency action plan should aid a layman with no diving knowledge on the best course of action to take should an emergency arise. It needs to be clear and concise and not too long otherwise it will take up valuable time.

Contents

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Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Snorkelling

Snorkelling can be an extremely exciting and liberating experience. You can come across a variety of marine life and every snorkelling trip will be different, in some way, from the last. However, while snorkelling is a very enjoyable and easy sport, without some basic skills, good experience, and knowledge about the dangers of the ocean, a first-time snorkelling experience could be a scary and dangerous experience for you. At Oyster Diving we specialise in scuba diving lessons. but don't often talk about snorkelling, which is why I've written this article on everything you need to know to enjoy snorkelling. We hope that you find it helpful!

Masks That Fit

First thing’s first, your snorkel mask must fit your face. If it does not fit properly, water is guaranteed to leak in. To ensure that your mask is properly fitted, hold your mask to your face and breathe in through your nose. If the mask creates a perfect seal and stays in place without you having to hold it, you’ve got it right. If you have bad eyesight, consider getting a prescription-adjusted mask to help you see clearly under the water without having to wear glasses or contact lenses.

If you have a moustache, this could cause a problem with the ‘sealing’ effect so you may have to shave! Be sure to warn the kids, as we’ve all heard the stories of parents traumatising their young children by shaving off their beards. However, going beardless will mean that your mask can seal without any problems.

When you fit your snorkelling mask, the strap should fit snuggly at the widest area of your head. If you wear it at the base of your head, water will seep in. The water should only apply enough pressure to seal the mask in place so don’t wear it too tightly.

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Shark Diving Holiday to Sudan February 2017

Shark Diving Holiday to Sudan February 2017

 

Oyster Diving Club's Sudan Diving Holiday February 2017

 

Like all the best ideas this trip started off as a conversation over a pint (or two) in the pub. Almost exactly a year ago I was enjoying a few après dive show beers with Mark Evans who’s been editor of Sport Diver magazine (and since launched scuba Diving magazine) for the past 25 years. I quizzed him where the best scuba diving holiday locations are as he's been to every diving destination on the planet at least twice. Without hesitation he replied "Sudan, defiantly Sudan". The stories of pristine reefs, lots of shark encounters meant I was totally sold.

Slightly fuzzy the next morning I returned to the dive show and immediately charted a boat through Blueotwo to Sudan for the Oyster Diving club. However instead of doing the usual itinerary of most Sudanese liveaboards, after bit of arm twisting Blueotwo agreed to my request of running the first ever ProjectShark trip to Sudan.

So having said good bye to our loved ones, the club members of Oyster Diving boarded the A380 to escape the impending cold front coming in which the Met Office named 'the beast from the east'.  There were a few pre trip nerves as most of our friends and family accused us being a bit bonkers for wanting to travel to one of the highest risk countries on Earth Donald Trump is definitely not a fan. The jitters were soon forgotten as we settled into our seats on the flight to Dubai with a selection of latest films and a scone with jam and clotted cream. Maddy had been pestering me all week with 'I'm sure I've forgotten to pack something', and as it turns out he'd forgotten his dive boots which meant he went on an unplanned tour of Dubai's dive centres in between flights.

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5 Dream Diving Spots in the Caribbean

There are so many amazing places to dive around the world, and the Caribbean is one of my favourites. The Caribbean has some of the most beautiful waters and coastlines in the world and it stretches from the Gulf of Mexico through to the North American mainland and covers Central and South America.  

Whether you're an old had at diving or you need some diving lessons to get you started, there are endless scuba diving opportunities right across the Caribbean and below are just a few that I think are worth mentioning. 

Crown Point

The southwest tip of Tobago is home to the tourist centre of Crown Point.

The area is well-known for its thriving tourism industry, and for a good reason. In it, you will find nutrient-rich waters off the cost allowing for a wide variety of coral and fish life. Due to the majority of the diving companies being PADI certified, you don’t have to worry about falling into the ‘typical tourist’ category (if that was a worry in the first place!)

Past reviews and tourists in general claim that one of the main highlights is watching the school of Bermuda chub fish chase each other around the coloured coral and sponge reefs, as well as the seahorses, queen angel fish and even the lobsters! The area of Crown Point also offers a plethora of bars and restaurants for a relaxing end to your diving day, or if you’re still raring to go, then their nightlife scene offers a vibrant alternative!

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Top 10 Most Dangerous Fish In The World

If you’re anything like me, you will be curious about what kinds of fish there are out in our oceans. Even to this day, we have not discovered every species of marine life as some areas of the oceans are simply too deep for us to explore. Just take a moment to let that sink in because that alone is incredible! Fish are amongst the most beautiful and fascinating creatures in the world. Here at Oyster Diving we have seen thousands of different fish species of all colours, shapes and sizes and yet they never cease to fascinate us. However, as wonderful as it can be to experience diving and swimming with marine life it is just as important to be aware of the potential dangers in the ocean. A lot of people fear the ocean and we didn’t write this article to scare you but simply to educate you on what to avoid. Today, we have written you our list of Top 10 deadliest fish found on the earth. Read on and enjoy.

The Puffer Fish

The puffer, also called a swellfish or blowfish, is famous for its ability to inflate when disturbed or threatened. Puffers are found in warmer regions around the world, primarily in the ocean but in some instances, they have been found in fresh water. These fish are extremely tough, both physically due to their spiky skin and in a survival sense. Many species are extremely poisonous. The puffer fish has a highly toxic substance called tetrodotoxin, that is located in its liver, ovaries, intestines and skin. The tetrodotoxin poison affects the brain of its victim and can cause weakness, paralysis and death – even with minimum consumption of the poison. Pufferfish are ranked amongst the topmost poisonous fish found in our oceans so are definitely worth avoiding, if possible.

The Red Lionfish

The Red Lionfish are famous for their venomous fin spines, which are capable of producing painful, though rarely fatal, puncture wounds. The fishes have large pectoral fins and elongated dorsal fin spines, and each species bears a particular pattern of bold, zebralike stripes. When disturbed, the fish will spread their fins and, if aggravated further, they will attack with their dorsal spines. The red lionfish is one of the most well-known species and is native to the South Pacific Reef ecosystem. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture its prey, mainly fish and shrimp. If a human were to be stung by a lionfish it would not be fatal however, it would be extremely painful and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties.

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8 Fishy Facts – Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Marine Life

Here at Oyster Diving we are passionate about diving and exploring the natural beauty of the world’s magnificent oceans. Once you descend into the depths, it is so easy to forget everything else, leave your worries on the shore and marvel at the sights before you. It does not matter how many times you go diving, every time you will see something different. Once underwater, you’ll get to experience ocean discovery at a whole new level, literally. The underwater world is so incredibly peaceful and quiet. There is nothing quite like it. Aside from your own breathing, you cannot hear a sound. And then you see the fish. Over the years here at Oyster Diving we must have seen thousands of different fish species. That’s why we decided to write an article of our top 8 Fishy Facts, sharing some of the most unusual fish facts that you may not have known! Read on and enjoy.

Killer Fish

electric eelsMost humans assume that sharks are the number one danger in the ocean. However, there are a couple of lesser known fish species which can be much more dangerous to humans and animals. For example, electric eels and electric rays have enough electricity to kill a horse. And the poison in one puffer fish alone is enough to kill 30 people. One of the scariest was The Goliath Tiger Fish which lives in rivers and is known to eat small crocodiles.

The Real Benjamin Button

Was it just me or was the Benjamin Button film a little…well…weird? If you thought it was an unusual idea for a story, think again as this heart wrenching story is real life for the so-called ‘immortal jellyfish’. This amazing jellyfish can turn itself back into a baby repeatedly in times of crisis. If the fish faces any kind of physical damage, starvation, or anything it regards as a crisis, it can transform all its existing cells into a younger state. Thus, this jellyfish has the potential to be immortal. Unfortunately, jellyfish are often prey to bigger fish. No matter how many times it can change age, it turns out the jellyfish can’t resurrect itself from the dead.

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DIN versus Yoke (A-clamp) Scuba Diving Regulators - which is better?

DIN versus Yoke (A-clamp) Scuba Diving Regulators - which is better?

To go DIN or to go Yoke, that is the question! 

 

There are two types of connections that allow you to attach your scuba diving regulators to the cylinder. These differences are covered off during the PADI open water course but students often forget what they are or just get confused.

 

The two different types are:

 

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What is the Best BCD to Choose?

What is the Best BCD to Choose?

Which BCD Should I choose?

 

This is a common question we get asked by people looking to purchase their first BCD. The BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) allows you to adjust your buoyancy underwater to help you become neutrally buoyant, allows you to adjust your trim to make you streamlined and keeps the tank on your back (or sides for the ever more popular sidemount diving).

 

The main questions you need to answer are:

 

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Welcome to Zeagle Scuba Diving Equipment made in the US

Zeagle – Because it works. And works. And works

 

In the 70s, passionate skydiver Dennis Bulin left Wisconsin to settle in sunny Zephyrhills, Florida. (Hey, anything for better skydiving.) He started Zeagle in 1979 as a one-man operation, building parachute equipment and accessories. When he became an active scuba diver, Dennis’ interests shifted from skydiving to sea diving.

Combining his skydiving equipment expertise with his knowledge of sport diving, Dennis began designing personal buoyancy control devices and other gear. His innovative approach to BC design helped Zeagle become a respected worldwide supplier and manufacturer of diving equipment. 

In 1994, after over 4,000 dives, Tom Gotterup traded in his 1986 Zeagle BC for a new Ranger. Which still performed beautifully… it just looked a bit rough. That’s the essence of Zeagle’s brand. Effortlessly and reliably. And almost endlessly. We create our products the old-fashioned way – with attention to detail. If we feel something needs extra reinforcing, we do it. Thousands of small details you can’t even see give you the best designed,  most reliable equipment possible.

The people at Zeagle like to go home at night knowing they’ve done everything possible to ensure their products will perform under the most extreme conditions, year after year. They stand behind their equipment and craftsmanship 100%. If you or one of our customers have any questions or problems, one call to Zeagle will deliver the answers you need.  It’s the way they’ve always operated. And always will.

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The Aqua Lung i3 Inflation System - What's the deal?

The Aqua Lung i3 System Explained

A few years ago Aqua Lung introduced the i3 inflation system to their premium end BCD’s. The i3 system replaces the standard corrugated hose that hangs over our left hand shoulder that most of us learn to dive with. Instead the i3 system is a neat, streamlined little lever system found on the left hand hip pocket. It is more intuitive then the standard inflator and many divers find it easier to use and control their buoyancy. Good buoyancy control ultimately leads to a more relaxed dive, better air consumption, less stress and is safer.

Unlike a corrugated hose system the i3 system never moves so it is easier to locate and easy to activate. Simply lift the lever up to inflate and press down to deflate the BCD. You can even do this with thick neoprene gloves on.

The best thing for me is that you can deflate facing in any direction; head pointing down, upwards or even sideways. With a traditional deflation system you have to face upright which is counter intuitive if you wish to descend. It also means you can easily deflate if you are swimming through a tight swim-through.

Like standard BCD’s you still have dump valves on the same places if you need to release air urgently, and if you are an Instructor or Divemaster and need to demonstrate the traditional method you can have a standard corrugated hose system fitted too.

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Aqua Lung Scuba Diving Equipment

Aqua Lung - The World's leading Diving Equipment Manufacturer

Aqua Lung are the worlds largest scuba diving equipment manufacturer and they are the biggest for a very good reason – they build high quality equipment at very reasonable prices. They have ranges to suit most pockets, are stylish, comfortable and reliable. Established in 1942 Aqua Lung has been the leader in manufacturing equipment for adventure and product innovation ever since.

We believe Aqua Lung are so good that we applied to become an Aqua Lung Partner Centre, one of only a handful in the UK. This means that most of our school kit is made by Aqua Lung and it means that we offer great prices and a large selection of their products.

Some of our favourite items Aqua Lung produce include:

Regulators – Cores for general use, Legend LX for people who want great performance and the Mikron’s which are great for travel

BCD’s: The Pro HD (male) and Pearl are great mid-range BCD’s but are feature rich and the Axiom (men) and Soul (female) are both high-end comfortable BCD’s that are highly durable and have the option to come with the i3 system. The i3 inflation system allows you to be in any position in the water and inflate and deflate. Standard BCD’s have a corrugated hose which you need to hold upright to deflate.

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Apeks Scuba Diving Equipment

Apeks Diving Equipment For Recreational and Technical Divers

The Apeks brand was formed in the 1970’s by two mates who decided to combine their knowledge of diving and precision engineering. Apeks world class production facility make Apeks scuba diving regulators, hoses, dry suits and BCD’s the industry benchmark for design, quality and performance.

The Apex range has almost cult like status and has been adopted by technical and recreational divers around the world. Apeks scuba diving equipment is being used to explore some of the deepest, coldest and most advanced dive environments on earth. Because when the environment demands, only one thing matters; that your dive kit is designed, developed and tested to keep you safe and comfortable.

The best thing is you don’t need to be a technical diver to use most of it. Take for example the XTX200 regulators, they are built and suitable for technical diving but they are exactly the same to use as the regulators you learned to dive with. The only difference is they are built to last, have an incredibly easy breath, are less likely to free flow, are safer and more solid.

For more details on the Apeks range talk to one of our experts on 0800 699 0243.

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Top Tips on the Best Scuba Diving Buoyancy Control

Buoyancy control is one of the most important skills to master in scuba diving. It means you use less air so can stay underwater for longer, it makes you more confident and stops you damaging the aquatic life or yourself. It also reduces the risk of decompression sickness and other air related traumas such as damaged ear drums and lung over expansion. Good buoyancy is also one of the fundamental methods of being a good underwater photographer.
The best way to improve your buoyancy while diving is to practice and do lots of diving. However there are some tips to help you improve your buoyancy:
1. Make sure you are properly weighted. Many dive centres and instructors will try and over weight you, simply because they know if you have too many weights then you can get down. Not enough weights and then it means extra faffing on the surface, having to recall the dive boat, put extra weights in your pockets and grumpy customers who get fed up weighting.

Well don’t allow this to happen. Each time you visit a new location or are using new or unfamiliar kit then you should do a proper weight check. Being properly weighted means you only need to add small amounts of air in and out of your BCD and it makes it much easier to control buoyancy using your lungs. As you may recall from your open water course, the volume of air increases and decreases according to the surrounding pressure determined by your depth.

Salt water is also more buoyant then fresh water so you will need to allow for this when planning what weight to wear.

The best way to be shown how to check for proper weighting is to make yourself upright at the surface. Place your mask on your face and put the regulator in your mouth. Then empty all of the air out of your BCD and hold a normal breath. You should float at eye level, so when you breath all of the air out of your lungs then you should start to descend. Remember that your tank will lose weight during the dive as you consume air, so the best time to do the weight check is at the end of the dive. If you are doing it at the beginning of the dive just add an extra 1 or 2kgs to compensate.

If you are using steel tanks as opposed to aluminium ones then you will need to use less weight.

After each dive make a note in your log book what equipment and exposure suit you were wearing and how many kg weights you had on. This should then start to build a picture of what you need if you don’t dive for a while.

2. Use your lungs!

Our lungs can hold a huge volume of air and can act like lift bags when underwater. To go down simply breath out, to go up simply fill your lungs. But do remember the No. 1 rule of diving – NEVER HOLD YOUR BREATH!

If you are a new diver the best place to practice this is in a swimming pool or on your safety stop.

3. Make sure you are horizontal

Many new divers swim in a head up position. Sometimes this is what comes naturally to them but more often then not it is because they are over-weighted or their weights are in the wrong position.

Owning your own BCD can assist you with this. A good BCD will allow you to add trim weights. These are little weights that you can place up your back or towards your shoulders. This then helps to counter balance the larger weights in your weight pockets or on your weight belt. Again the best thing to do here is practice.

4. Relax while you dive

If you are stiff and ridged it generally means that you are breath shallower and faster. Simply fold your arms, relax and take nice slow controlled breaths. Again practice makes perfect.

5. Air adjustment to your BCD

Remember to only add small amounts of air in or out of your BCD. Newer divers in particular tend to over inflate or dump all of the air out of their BCD. Remember it normally takes a few seconds for the air adjustment to have an effect on your buoyancy and that using your lungs is a much more efficient method. If you watch an experienced diver they very rarely use their inflate or deflate button.

Most BCD’s still use a standard deflator hose above the left hand shoulder. Therefore to deflate your BCD make this the highest point of your body and make sure you are upright. Hold the deflator hose above your head to help aid the air escape. If you have an Aqua Lung i3 system such as the Axiom i3 or ladies Soul i3 or similar then these should work in any position and are much easier to use.

6. Keep diving

The best way to become a good diver and stay a good diver is to do lots of dives. You don’t just need to be a holiday diver, there are loads of fantastic dives in the UK including historical wrecks, pretty reefs, basking sharks and the ‘playful puppies of the sea’ seals. Membership of the Oyster Diving Club includes one free pool session per month

7. Do a Buoyancy Control scuba diving course

Oyster Diving offer pool workshops on buoyancy control as well as the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course which includes 2 open water dives. If you would like to practice your buoyancy under the control and guidance of a PADI instructor then also consider the Advanced Open Water course which can include a peak performance adventure dive but also qualifies you to 30m


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Is Scuba Diving the Best Diet on the Planet?

Is Scuba Diving the Best Diet on the Planet?

There are currently dozens of new diets around the 18:6, carb free, cabbage soup and so on. However the solution to the perfect diet is pretty simple if you think about it:

Eat more calories then you burn = put on weight

Eat less calories then you burn = lose weight

Eat the same calories as you burn = stay the same weight

The perfect diet should consist of food containing the right amounts of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Reduce your sugar and salt intake and combine it with some exercise and you are pretty much sorted.

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