Aloha! Our new Divemaster Intern, Emma Ceolin, shares her experience working with Hawaii Eco Divers! This is what she has to say.
My name is Emma Ceolin and I’m the new Divemaster Intern with Hawaii Eco Divers. I recently moved to the magical North Shore Oahu from Australia. As a PADI Rescue Diver, freediver, surfer, marine biology student and conservationist, I knew before I even arrived that I wanted to get involved with a conservation organization. I figured any company with the words “eco” in it’s title was on the right track. So I got in touch with Ricardo, the owner of Hawaii Eco Divers. Before I knew it I was starting my Divemaster Internship Program. Here is a low down of my experience in the previous 4 weeks…
As a part of the internship, I work in the dive shop 3-4 days per week from around 9am-5pm to pay off my PADI Divemaster Course. Our dive shop is located across from Foodland on North Shore of Oahu. We’re based between the surf shop and the bikini store/juice bar. A standard day in the shop will be anything from bookings, filling scuba tanks, updating social media accounts, updating processes, tidying the store and being first point of contact for any phone calls, emails or walk in’s. All the stuff that goes on behind the scenes.
My first week here I learnt 3 important things. The first is that you will never see greater entertainment than the Foodland parking lot. If you have seen these videos popping up on Facebook of Americans acting crazy at Walmart – well this is like that… only way better! The second was that we do not hire snorkel gear. I learnt this after renting it out for days (whoops!). And the third is that this is a super cool place to work. Everyone on the block is family and there’s heaps of good aloha vibes going around.
Last week was my first experience assisting as a Divemaster! I was so stoked to finally be scuba diving and getting in the water. I was to be assisting our Instructor Loren for the day so we travelled to the Electric Beach on the West Side. Right after gearing up we got hit with a nasty electrical storm and had to cancel the dive. I was labelled “bad luck” because that was the first day in years we had to cancel due to lightening!
I got another opportunity to dive a couple days later assisting Ricardo. This day was full on! We had a total of 4 dives booked with many inexperienced and uncertified divers. I remember prepping myself that morning to expect challenges. Not to be negative, but to mentally prepare myself for any obstacles. With big groups, newbie Divemaster and uncertified divers, there is definitely opportunity for things to go wrong. From 5:00am we loaded the truck up with 26 tanks and drove the 1 hour trip to Kewalo Basin Harbor in Waikiki. This was my first time hauling ass with tanks. Not going to lie, they were heavy and I had blisters by the end of the day. But I was determined to prove that I had the physical capability to be Divemaster.
On the 8am double tank dive we dove Sea Tiger Shipwreck. We were weaving in and out of the shipwreck and cruised with some giant turtles and reef sharks! The 11:30am double tank dive was a Discover Scuba Dive (DSD). This is a program for inexperienced or uncertified divers to take a short introduction followed by 2 shallow reef dives. Ricardo gave us a quick briefing on identification of some of the amazing coral, fish, eel, shark and plant species to expect. Coming from a Biology background, I was all ears! Underwater, this dive challenged me. With a large group of 7 there was constantly divers that were requiring your attention. The first dive we had issues with weight belts, equalization and buoyancy. Most of the dive was spent being an underwater taxi as I swam holding onto a customer’s tank to keep them from sinking or floating away. The second dive, I was working with one of the students as he was having equalization issues and unfortunately had to cancel. Both dives were crazy good fun, but also great learning curves. But at the end of the day each customer (even the one that had to abort their dive) left super stoked and with a big smile. I got awesome feedback from each student and Ricardo. I was even lucky enough to receive some generous tips!
Being a Divemaster is awesome fun. But there is also a serious aspect to it. And I think that was my biggest lesson to take home that day. Balancing the whole “I’m a Divemaster let me wow you” experience with “making sure no one drowns” safety aspect. You have to be able to think quick, learn quick, problem solve, show initiative, perform under pressure, keep a cool demeanor above and under water. It is both physically and mentally demanding. It’s both challenging and rewarding. I’ve always considered myself an introvert and leadership has never been my strong suit. But I have a feeling that’s going to change quickly here.
The Divemaster Internship Program with Hawaii Eco Divers really is the perfect opportunity get professionally certified with PADI, grow your diving skill set and expand your leadership capabilities. It also offers the opportunity to learn basic reef biology and ecology while living in paradise. Whether you’re an avid diver, interested in ecotourism, a budding marine biologist or just someone who wants to try something new, this internship program caters to all who wish to pursue their passion for the ocean.
So that’s my update for week’s 1-4. Looking forward to sharing more with you next time!
Mahalo and Aloha!
Emma Ceolin, Divemaster Intern