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Reef Report for Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Diving With Children

It was a little miserable this week, with the heavens continuing to wet us behind the ears. Visibility has been less than desirable averaging 2 to 10 metres on most reefs.

During the week certified divers with Passions of Paradise saw groups of brightly coloured Chinese footballer trout in 10 metres of water. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises They were lucky enough to also see a Bluespotted Lagoon Ray. The introductory divers saw a White-tip Reef Shark along with schools of damselfish. Winds picked up this week to 20 to 25 knots, making the best place to be under the water, diving! .

It is predicted that the rainy periods will continue over the weekend. Winds will be a little fresh and blowing strongly southeast at 25 to 30 knots.

Are you still trying to think of something to do with the kids this Easter Holidays? PADI now offers "Learning to Dive" programs to children aged 10 years. A dive medical must be obtained prior to course commencement and must be in accordance with Australian Standard 4005-1. Scuba Diving is a fabulous new skill for children to get their teeth into, and not only provides foundation for future learning but is a great social activity and hobby!

There are a number of debates surrounding diving and children and the suitability of children in a pressurized activity. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises Is age an issue in diving? Simon Mitchell, an experienced dive instructor and dive physician, recently gave his view of this topic in ‘The Undersea Journal’ (1st Quarter 2001). An overview of the issues he touched on involving children and diving can be found below;

‘It is perhaps predictable that introducing diving to young people raises concerns. Since little exists in the way of published data on the topic, much of the commentary springs from speculation and emotion. What is a good rule is that what is appropriate for any candidate wanting to dive is common to both children and adults. Any medical problem that would reduce the safety of an adult would also do the same for the child. The myriad of concerns for a child includes: physical, physiological and psychological. These concerns must be addressed on an individual bases as no 2 children are the same developmentally and/or emotionally.’

‘The bottom line is that there is a risk in scuba diving, as is playing football, or riding a bike to school. Discussing the risks upfront often makes an activity seem fraught with danger, and will inevitable cause concern for a parent or guardian. But being aware of these concerns, and then training the student to be properly prepared for all underwater scenarios will reduce the risk of incident.’

On the basis of Simon’s research and first hand experience with children involved in scuba, he believes the programs available to children can provide a rewarding introduction to diving that, while not risk free, is comparatively safe when measured against many of the other outdoor activities youngsters routinely enjoy.

The full article can be read at www.padi.com

(C) Pro Dive Cairns The weekly reef report is written by Sue-Anne Chapman of Pro Dive Cairns, who compiles them from the many conversations she has with divers, dive instructors, captains, and others in the Cairns dive community. The report is published weekly in the Cairn Post, the local daily paper and appears here thanks to the courtesy of Pro Dive Cairns.

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