As a novice diver, I spent a lot of my time underwater flailing around, with no clue to what marine life I was seeing and where I was going – something I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. Sure, I could identify ‘fish’, ‘turtle’ and ‘shark’, but why was my group getting excited over a worm that looked like a squashed slug?
After finishing the Reef Check course I now know, among other things, why people get excited over slugs (or flatworms, as I’ve learned to call them). The course has taught me several important skills, both theoretical and practical. Being able to identify different species of fish, invertebrates, corals, spot predation and disease, has given me a better understanding of their roles in the eco system making my dives so much more interesting.
Instead of just admiring their pretty colors and shapes, I can roughly tell what species they are, how often they’re found and how thrilled I should be if I see them – which helps to make sure I never again hold up an entire dive group so I can show my buddy a clownfish.
The learning curve, whilst certainly effective when combined with seeing the subjects in real life is manageable and easily delivered meaning it is suitable for all levels.
Another vital skill I mastered during the course is buoyancy control. Reef checking brings a whole new meaning to being ‘slow’; not necessarily a bad thing, since you actually see more marine life that way. Your buoyancy skills will be challenged during each dive, but the course will help you pretty much perfect it by the end.
It’s also exciting to know I’m contributing to something important, the Reef check database, by simply by doing an activity I love.
Author: Patree Witoonchart (Reef Check Certified Diver)