Originally from England, I first learned to dive so that I could go cage diving with great whites off Guadalupe Island, Mexico, in 2008. From that first shark encounter onwards, I have been utterly hooked on the underwater world, and particularly on the issue of shark conservation. Whilst studying for my degree in London, I worked at London Aquarium, before going to Mozambique to research whale sharks off Tofo. I completed my PADI Instructor’s course while living in South Africa, and spent nine months teaching and guiding on Aliwal Shoal, where I set up a tiger shark ID project and began writing for the conservation organisation Shark Angels. After a seven month trip teaching around South East Asia, I'm heading back to Africa to explore the incredible dive sites of Tanzania.
Of course, the purpose of DSD is ultimately to encourage those who are on the fence about diving to sign up for their Open Water course. At the end of the experience, participants are given information on a full certification, and in many cases, dive centers offer a discount on Open Water courses taken as a result of the DSD. This gives the course a monetary value; another major benefit of the DSD is the credit participants can gain towards their Open Water course. The skills learned during a DSD are the same as those learned in the first confined-water section of the Open Water course, and the optional open-water tour counts as the course’s first open-water dive. Those who complete a DSD don’t have to repeat those sections of their Open Water course, which gives them a head start in getting certified.
I can personally vouch for the value of the DSD, having enrolled in my own Open Water course after an unforgettable DSD experience in Australia. For me, the DSD was the cheapest way to experience the underwater world when my budget was stretched to the limit. Those who are considering the DSD as an affordable intermediary step should note my experience as a cautionary tale, though — I fell so hard for diving that I ended up spending everything I had not only on my Open Water course, but also on every certification all the way up to professional level soon thereafter. The DSD course could also save you money, of course, if as a result you realize that diving isn’t for you after all.
Anyone over the age of 10 can complete the DSD course, provided that they’re in good health and can pass a basic dive medical assessment. Because of this, DSDs are also a great way for divers to introduce family members and friends to the sport, particularly if they have reservations about enrolling in a full certification course. In the end, the real value of this course is that it makes diving accessible to everyone, including those who are nervous and those who may not have the time or money to commit to a full certification. Ultimately, the Discover Scuba Diving program enables anyone with even a fleeting interest to experience exactly what it is that makes our sport so special.
Article by: Jessica Macdonald