Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Rescue Diver

As the first step on our way to becoming a divemaster, the two of us had to complete our PADI Rescue Diver Training. We built, together with three other enthusiastic divers, a training group of 5 divers.  

Our training started with an Emergency First Response course (EFR). We had the possibility to do the course together with the crew from Marlin del Rey on their catamaran. What a nice classroom.

In two days, we learned a lot about the first response, first aid, and CPR. We trained different skills to handle Emergency situations and learned how important it is to act fast but safe and that we must handle a situation out of our comfort zone. Able care given is better than perfect care withheld. It was two intense days with a lot of information. But it was good training and now we all feel more comfortable to respond if we encounter an emergency.

In two pool sessions, we trained the practical skills to rescue a diver in different critical situations. We learned how to handle a panicked diver or a tired diver on the surface. We trained different skills as well for an unconscious diver on the surface or during a dive. The different exercises were intense, but it was necessary. Time is here also very important! It is necessary to act on a plan. And that’s only possible with proper training.

Next thing we did was to go out in the ocean to practice different search patterns. And this training was like a real situation. The visibility was really bad, like 20 cm (8 inches). It was really difficult to find the missing object. But we were able to train our navigation skills and learn that we must trust our compass. Any kind visual orientation was impossible. But it is in exactly in these kinds of conditions that it's more likely a diver goes missing.

We repeated the navigation pattern workshop on another day on a different dive site. The visibility was much better and all of us completed the exercise successfully. On this point, we were ready for the final scenario, the missing diver scenario. Our dive instructors and divemaster set up a scenario for us and we as a team of 5 rescue divers were to handle the emergency. The scenario started, and we ignored the first rule of Emergency First Respond. Stop-think-act. All of us started to act and it ended up in chaos. We were just able to rescue all the divers with help from the instructor. At the debriefing, we spoke about all our mistakes and what we did right. Then, out of stress, we realized how we could have handled the situation better. The result of our final scenario was clear. We failed. But we learned a lot in this scenario. So maybe it was good to fail first because now we know how not to act. We get a second chance to pass our final scenario on another day.      

We, Anna and Matthias, got another chance one week later, We were on a dive with other students and during the surface interval our instructors started a new rescue scenario. We were not prepared for this scenario at all and but remembered to stop, think and act. Anna took the lead and together we were able to rescue the panicked diver and interview him for his missing friend. We asked the captain if he can look for bubbles on the surface and he finally found them. Together with the information from the interview and the observation from the captain we could find the missing diver. We were able to rescue the diver and started with emergency first response, like CPR and rescue breaths. This time we acted really good as a team. We passed the final scenario and we are know official rescue diver.

Happy Day

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

La Paz Swim meet

La Paz Community School organized together with ConnectOcean the first interschoolar swim meet from La Paz on December 1st. The three local private schools, La Paz, Costa Rica International Academy (CRIA) and Educarte participated in the event.

ConnectOcean was involved in three different parts. Leo and Sio helped and supported the staff from La Paz to organize the whole event. They spent days preparing for this race. They worked out the race schedule, did all of the administrative work and found volunteers for timekeeping and organization.

Ernst with his Nipper Lifeguards joined the event, keeping everyone safe. This was the second real task for the Nippers in three weeks.

And we, the interns Anna and Matthias,  together with Sarah were timekeepers together with three other volunteers.

The whole crew from ConnectOcean together with the Nipper Lifeguards worked for this event. It was a special event for us as an Acuatic Academy and swim school, as our students raced, lifeguarded, and worked hard. We were so proud of all of our swimmers! They did such a great job!

It was a great event and the kids had a lot of fun. The goal of the swim meet was not to find out which school had the fastest swimmer, but to make sure kids could have fun, compete against new swimmers, and grow together as a community. Hopefully it inspired more kids to start swimming and worked as a helping hand in expanding the sport within the local area.

ConnectOcean will continue to support events like these in the future. Swimming is not only a very important life skill, but also a very important step in increasing the understanding and engagement in taking care of our oceans. The chance of a person connecting with the ocean increases exponentially with the ability to swim and we look forward to seeing the sport grow more.

The first swim meet at La Paz was a big success, the team from La Paz and Sio and Leo can be proud of what they created. The whole community got behind this event. Hopefully many other races lie this will follow.

Thank you to all the volunteers and all the staff who made this event possible! We truly appreciate your support!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Stand-up Paddling Race

One Saturday, our Nipper Life Guard Kids had their first real task. Las Catalinas together with Pura Vida Ride organized a Stand-up Paddling Race at Playa Danta in Las Catalinas. The Nipper Life Guards and their instructors were assigned to do the lifeguard job. 

The instructors divided the Nippers into two-man groups and sent them in kayaks out to their post. The mission was to take care of the athletes and rescue them in case of an emergency. The Nippers were positioned by every buoy and the instructor's patrol between the buoys and on the beach. 

The Nippers did a great job and we had no emergency. There was just one situation we had to handle. One athlete who had forgotten his camel bag was really thirsty and asked for water. We provided him with one of our bottles and he was able to finish the race.

The Nipper Life Guards left at noon. Their shift was over. We, Anna and Matthias, continued lifeguarding in the afternoon. Anna monitored the beach and Matthias followed the race in a kayak. Fortunately, the afternoon was just as quiet as the morning from the view as a lifeguard. We only had to support one woman who fell from her Dragonboard to catch up with the board again. 

Thanks to Las Catalinas (https://www.facebook.com/LasCatalinasCR/) and Pura Vida Ride for this nice event. 

Photo Credit: Las Catalians

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Turtle Tracks

The last night had a special surprise for us. On our way to work, we got the message that turtle tracks have been spotted at the beach at Las Catalinas.
We went down to the beach to measure the tracks and to take photos. 

It looks like two turtles entered the beach and were looking for a good place for their eggs. We found four holes where the turtles tried to dig a nest. We inspected these holes carefully and concluded that one nest could have eggs. We blocked the area of the nest with a rope to protect it.
Maybe in 40-45 days, we will have baby turtles on our beach. How exciting is that?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mangrove Restoration Project

The earthquake in 2012 had fatal consequences for the Mangrove forest here in Avellanas, Guanacaste. The tectonic plate rose as much as 1.5 meters (5 feet) in some areas and closed the river mouth that flows through this mangrove forest. To grow and survive, the Mangrove forest needs salt and fresh water. The salt water comes in from the ocean with the tides and the freshwater comes from the rain and the river from inland. In this case, where the river mouth is closed, no sea water enters into the mangroves. The trees stood in the stagnant fresh water, it started poisoning the mangroves and the plants started to die. 

How it looks
How it should look

A project team opened the river mouth, so that the fresh water could flow into the sea and the sea water could get to the mangrove, but an unusually hot dry season came along. The rivers began to dry out and the mangroves did not have enough water. Many of the plants died during this time. 
The mangroves and the wetland are very important for the environment. The roots filter pollutants, like fertilizers and pesticides, out of the water. These substances can be toxic for the organisms out in the ocean. They also protect the coast from storms dampening the effects of wave. For many animals these mangroves and wetlands are important as a nursery. The flooded root system offers good hiding places for the young fish and they are protected there from bigger predators.  Birds, insects, reptiles and mammals live as well in this area and create a healthy ecosystem.  

Together with the project team from the La Laz Paz Community School we worked on our first day on a mangrove restoration project. Parents, other students and staff members from ConnectOcean and the project team met next to the dead mangroves. After an introduction, where a lot of information was shared, we split up in three different groups. The first team went out to the dead mangroves to plant over 100 seedlings that the to project team had already raised. 

The second team went out to the mangroves which are still alive to collect seeds. This team collect around 800 seeds in one hour. 

The third team started to prepare pots with mud, so that the seeds could get planted when the second team returns. 

We spent the whole morning to collecting seeds, preparing pots and planting the seeds and suspend the seedlings. But all this hard work was definitely worth it. 

In the end, 100 seedlings started hopefully to grow up in the area of the dead mangroves and in 6 Months, there will be over 800 more seedlings to transplant. It is a good start with around 900 plants; but the forest will need more time and work until it is restored. This is a great first step in the right direction!.


Welcoming New Divemaster Interns

We are welcoming two new Divemaster Candidates into the ConnectOcean Family! They will be here to complete their PADI training and expand their Professional Development Toolbox.


My name is Matthias Landis. I'm a swiss who was living in Zuerich. I'm 25 years old. I'm really excited to start my internship as a divemaster here in Costa Rica. ConnectOcean gave me the opportunity to start a life-changing adventure. For the past 10 years, I have been working as a chemist for the Food Control Authority of Zuerich and it has been very interesting. But i realized that I want to do something meaningful for our planet and something had to change in my life. Since I was a young boy, water has always been a point of interest. During my childhood, I spend the most of the time swimming in the lake near my house. I would like to learn mire about our nature and the aquatic life. And how I can protect them. 
I'm a active person, who likes to be on the move. I like hiking, ride bicycle and swimming. I like sport in general. After sport, I like to read a book or just relaxing and daydreaming. If I have time, I love to travel the world an discover new cutures, see wonderful landscapes and meet people from all over the world. I'm really happy to be part of the                                                                                                   ConnectOcean Family and very excited for the next six months.

My name is Anna, I'm 19 years old and from Stockholm, Sweden. I just graduated from High School and was looking for an adventure to fill my gap year with bevor continuing studying. I wanted to become a divemaster and experience diving and nature, and ConnectOcean caught my attention because they could offer that while being responsible and actively working with social and environmental contribute to the society. 
I grew up in a active family with Icelandic horses and a dog, spending a lot of time in nature and participating in activities such as hiking, horseback riding sailing and skiing. I think that's how i grew into becoming an adventurous girl who likes challenges and value taking care of our planet. I'm si excited to start my internship at ConnectOcean and see not only what adventures it might bring to me, but also how I hopefully develop as a person and might be able to contribute to something meaningful myself. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

¿Has visto al pez sierra?

Here at ConnectOcean, we've been working with the University of Costa Rica on our Marine Life Census Project. While collaborating, Mario Espinoza from UCR shared some of their other projects, one being the Sawfish Conservation Society. They are looking for Sawfish in Costa Rica.

This past week, two swimmers on ConnectOcean's Swim Team saw a sawfish here Playa Danta while participating in an open water swim training. This weekend the University of Costa Rica has come to the beach and some of us went diving and snorkeling in search of the sawfish. We didn't have any luck. today, but hopefully we picked him up on the Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS) we deployed! We'll keep you posted!