1. Are classes or skills being taught on the students knees in the pool and/or in open water ?
If the answer is "Yes" then you are NOT in an Ocean Friendly Class and are not becoming an Ocean Friendly Diver. There are six laws of learning: the first is called the "Law of Primacy," which states that the first thing you learn is something you are going to remember the most. So, if the first thing you learned or were taught was to be on your knees, whether in an Open Water Class or Discover Scuba Class or even an 'Intro to Tech' class, then that is what you are going to remember. From then on your foundation and mindset will be to perform skills and emergencies on your knees. That is NOT Ocean Friendly and is a BAD HABIT that will plague you all of your diving career. Every time you have a problem or need to perform a skill you will revert to being on your knees and will thrash the environment. We know that in the pool there may not be delicate corals to destroy but because of the law of primacy, even if you only do it once, it will imprint that in your muscle memory and then in the open water you will always revert to being on your knees which will destroy the environment.
In all UTD classes, starting with our Open Water class, we teach proper trim, neutral buoyancy, and proper team positioning from the beginning. We never allow a student to kneel on the bottom or even touch the bottom, we never instill the bad habit of going to your knees when dealing with a problem or performing a skill. All students perform all skills while remaining neutrally buoyant, even during our "Experience Diving" or "Discover Diving" programs. This may take a little extra time but with our unique teaching methodology we are able to get students to enter the water and first work on neutral buoyancy, trim and positioning before proceeding to conduct skills and safety drills.
Here is what our students learn in ALL classes as good buoyancy and trim.
2. Are you learning kicks and propulsion that both protects the environment and provides you with the ability to position yourself without using your hands?
Besides poor trim and buoyancy damaging the environment, often classes don't take the time to teach proper fining techniques. Most divers revert to the flutter kick from swimming techniques which are NOT applicable in diving and certainly NOT Ocean Friendly. A standard flutter kick, like in swimming, directs the water downward. This creates massive silt and also potentially allows for the striking of the fin blade on the reef, which of course damages it. Certainly not Ocean friendly.
All UTD classes, including our Open Water class, include proper propulsion and positioning techniques.
Frog kicks, backward kicks, and helicopter turns are not only are taught to ensure you have the ability to move forward without disturbing the environment, but also to ensureyou have the ability to position yourself without the use of your hands, again reducing the destruction of the environment. Using your hands for positioning in the water runs the risk of unwantingly striking the reef and creating permanent damage. UTD promotes using your feet to move forward, backward, and even turning around.
Here is a short video clip of a proper frog kick:
3. Do you use a streamlined equipment configuration such as UTD/DIR in all you classes?
A very definite issue, and certainly not Ocean Friendly, is using or promoting an equipment configuration that has no order, organization, or consistency for things such as spare regulator or gauges. Anything that hangs or dangles has the potential to bang on the reef or drop down and smash the corals.
All UTD Classes use a configuration that is very streamlined. All pieces of the configuration have a purpose and a place. They are bolt snapped up to ensure they do not dangle and damage the reef.
Here is an overview video of the configuration:
Next: UTD's Pledge to you to be an "Ocean Friendly" training agency.