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November 2020 Newsletter

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Vol. 48 No.11


Gulf Stream in a Martini Glass

By Andy Dehart

Few aquariums are able to house pelagic fishes. The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science has pioneered a novel exhibit design to house these exciting aquatic ambassadors and recreate the open ocean feel of the Gulf Stream. Andy Dehart, VP of Animal Husbandry and Marine Conservation will provide details on the construction and activation of this unique exhibit and offer insight into the animals that are featured in this exhibit.

With more than 25 years of experience in animal husbandry at several major public aquariums throughout North America, Andy Dehart oversees all animal husbandry operations and aquatic life support operations at Frost Science. Dehart also oversees the museum’s marine conservation initiatives, including restoration efforts, the marine exotic species response program and species-specific conservation efforts.

Prior to joining Frost Science, Dehart helped build and open Toronto’s Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada as the Director of Husbandry, and had previously spent 19 years at the National Aquarium in both Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Additionally, Dehart was part of the opening team at the Kingdom of the Seas Aquarium at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska. Dehart’s extensive knowledge of sharks has led him to serve as Shark Advisor for the Discovery Channel, and he has appeared on the “Today Show,” “The Early Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Larry King Live,” “Fox News,” “USA Today,” “The O’Reilly Factor” and “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” He has been featured in seven Shark Week productions for the Discovery Channel.

Dehart earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Presidents Waves

The Board of Directors has decided to hold the annual election at our General Meeting in December. Yes, this December we will have a General Meeting over Zoom rather than having a Christmas party. Hopefully next year we can all get a vaccine and start getting back together in person again.

Club Bylaws require that the Board’s proposed slate of officers be presented to you in the two newsletters before the election.  Presented for your consideration are the following:

 President:  Chris Hardham
 VP Programs:  Rick Dayan
 VP Overseas Diving:  Nils Jacobsen
 VP Local Diving:  Ryan Goheen
 VP Social:  Alan Feuerman
 Secretary:  Amy Wellman
 Treasurer:  Ronnie Farr

Anyone interested in running for an elected position on the Board should notify me, either at a General Meeting or by email (president@usadiveclub.org).

Appointed officers will be selected during the first Board meeting in January.

If you would like to view free Zoom tutorials, you can find them here. Or you can take a free Zoom class from Geeks On Tour here.

Don't forget to keep checking our Facebook page for the interesting articles Howard is posting. https://www.facebook.com/usadiveclub

Happy diving,

Roger Cooper

Overseas Dive Trips

Local Diving

  • No upcoming local dives


  • No upcoming mini-trips

Social events

  • No upcoming social events

Hospitality Hut

Clare Florio Anthon

Greetings From The Hospitality Hut,

Well, here we go again.  As more businesses reopen, there is an increased risk to your health.  Please remain safe. Common sense is a special quality to have and practice.

We are in the middle of a Presidential election.  Please VOTE!

Until we are able to meet again, in person, I encourage you to visit our home page www.usadiveclub.org.  Please click on the calendar and keep up to date on all the diving and non-diving scheduled activities. You may also take a look at the photo gallery and take a peek at past events. Julie continues to update the photo gallery to keep us all "in the loop."

wish you all Happy Days,

Clare Anthon

Hospitality Coordinator


Dear Members and Want to be Members,

Hello November Divers,

We have made it through another hurricane season unscathed.  Wish I could say the same about the pandemic.  Hopefully you all have been safe and well.

Fall is here and the winds are shifting. Several dives have been canceled due to sea conditions but the water temperature is still 81 and the lobsters are out there. We've had 4 new members since the pandemic started but looking forward to meeting in person again and meeting our new members face to face.

I have seen a few underwater pictures of you diving at a grouper gathering and at the Blue Heron bridge.  Several of our members took off for a kayak trip that covered some of the Central Florida Springs & rivers.   Staying in touch with the club virtually and exploring the outdoors are safe and rewarding activities.  Keep wearing your masks and join us for our online meetings.  

Don't forget that newly certified divers (in the past 12 months) can join our club for free!!  Our dues are $50 a year later.

Remember you still need to wear your masks.  Stay well.


Yours truly,  Stephanie & Eunice

(your volunteer membership chairs)
USA Dive Club Membership

Come join the fun. 

Eunice Hamblen                                Stephanie Voris
Membership Coordinators

USA Club Announcements Alert

Please check your spam folder for club emails that coming from our Google Groups email system. Several members have commented that they are not receiving certain announcements that have been sent out. Spam filters are triggered by emails that are sent to numerous email addresses with the same content.

This may be where your club communications are.

Upcoming events

    • December 03, 2020
    • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM (EST)
    • Zoom meeting

    USA Dive Club members and their guests are invited to attend a virtual meeting using Zoom. We will have our annual election during this meeting. Please attend to vote for officers for 2021.

    You must register in advance for this meeting. Click on the link below to register. Members bringing a guest should send the guest's name and email address to president@usadiveclub.org so the guest's registration will be approved. Members and guests must register using this link.


    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing the link to click when it is time to join the meeting. You must register before 5:00 PM on the day of the meeting.

    Please join the meeting a little early to allow time to admit people from the waiting room before the meeting starts.

    We will start the meeting with 10 minutes of social time so we can catch up with our friends. We will have our annual election. Then we will turn the meeting over to our speaker.



    By Keith Herman

    Keith was born and raised in Delaware, Ohio about 45 minutes north of Columbus, very near the Columbus Zoo and aquarium. He spent his formative years playing soccer, fishing, and generally being outdoors. He attended Miami University 2001 – 2005 and received degrees in Zoology and Psychology. Miami University (Oxford, OH) is not to be confused with University of Miami (Florida). Miami University was founded in 1809, while Florida did not even become a state until 1845.

    Keith started his career caring for fish, in the fall of 2005, at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN. After three and a half years, he took a promotion and left for warmer weather, landing at SeaWorld Orlando in early 2009. He then spent over eight years maintaining aquariums there for millions of guests each year. In January of 2017 he started at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, Fl., where he has been for just a few weeks shy of four years now. Gumbo Limbo is by far the smallest facility he has worked at, but he has been enjoying the challenge of caring for fish endemic to South Florida.

    • December 10, 2020
    • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM (EST)
    • Zoom

    Agenda - More details available later

    1. Call to Order
    2. Roll Call -- Secretary
    3. Motions to approve Minutes as distributed by Secretary
    4. Distribute new member applications (if any)
    5. Old Business
    6. New Business
      1. Vote on new membership applications (if any)
    7. Reports
      1. President (Roger Cooper)
      2. VP of Programs (Ken Glaser)
      3. Promotions (Ken Glaser)
      4. VP of Overseas Diving (Nils Jacobsen)
      5. VP of Local Diving (Ryan Goheen)
      6. Mini-Trips (Ryan Goheen)
      7. Secretary (Amy Wellman)
      8. Treasurer (Ronnie Farr)
      9. Hospitality (Clare Anthon)
      10. Membership (Eunice Hamblen and Stephanie Voris)
      11. Audio/Video (John Ficarra)
      12. Newsletter (Chris Hardham)
      13. Education Coordinator (Howard Ratsch)
      14. Historian (Robert Shearer)
    8. Adjournment

    All members are welcome to attend Board of Directors meetings as observers.

    • April 03, 2021
    • (EDT)
    • April 10, 2021
    • (EDT)
    • Little Cayman Beach Resort

    IT’s Back! It’s Bigger! It’s Better!

    And we have a new date!

    April 3 – 10, 2021!

    DEMA special = free Nitrox

    Price is based on a $100 repeat customer discount

    UPDATE – May – due to Corona – the trip got rescheduled.
    Same price as before (even better deal than before as we are now in high season). We have room for more divers – on a first come basis. We also have airline tickets for more divers. We will add rooms, only as they sell. Some uncertainty about the price of airfare. We have Ocean View upgrades available. Ronnie has an email with the latest Security and cleanliness protocol from LCBR. (Their website seems to be a week behind.)

    Spend a relaxing week at the premier, deluxe, full service resort on Little Cayman Island. We have been there multiple years running, and we’re going back again – because it’s just that good! Rated as the number one destination in the Caribbean for wall diving, number two for favorite reef diving, the sea life and underwater photography, the dive sites, water temps and visibility are outstanding, never to be forgotten by those who have experienced them. For those of you who have not experienced the diving at Little Cayman, it’s everything you can dream about, dramatic vistas, amazing photo opportunities/views, wildlife that must be seen to be believed - like the friendly groupers that follow you like a puppy everywhere!

    Divers don’t have to lug gear every day from their rooms or even onto the boat. Your gear will be collected once you arrive and stored at the shop next to the dock. You set up your gear the first day on the boat and after that, the Reef Diver crew set up your gear and change your tanks for you. You need only to stroll down the dock, jump on a boat - large, comfortable, covered boats! - And go diving. The four boats are 42 to 46 ft long and 16 ft. wide and have freshwater showers and restrooms. Rinse tanks and a drying room are on the dock for mask, fins and wet suits.

    Ronnie will be your trip leader. The trip starts at Miami airport, then to Little Cayman. Little Cayman Airways is instituting a $25 fee for luggage. Here is the link to the Cayman Airways new baggage fee structure as well, so as always, pack light, but the good news is that they have reduced their extra baggage fees:


    Interested in cutting down on your luggage fees – Ronnie does have a price list for rental gear …

    Once there, we dive, eat, relax, and just generally have a fantastic time for the whole week! There is a pool, Wi-Fi, beach chairs and hammocks, and you can rent kayaks, sailboats, and paddleboards as well. All diving and dining will be done at the Little Cayman Resort. Nitrox is included! And you can also purchase extra afternoon dives either as a package or as individual add-ons. Doing 2-3 afternoon dives: it is a bargain to book from home.

    It’s always wise to purchase travel insurance for any trip. Here are a few links you can use if interested:

    To see some photos from prior trips – go to:

    Trip Prices / payment schedule:

    Click here for the signup form.

    Airfare is estimated high – there is an 80-90% chance that airfare will be dropped by $45. Your passport must be valid until at least 10/11/2021.

    If you attended the 2019 – and lost one/two dives due to weather – you are entitled to a discount $25/$50: Please check w/ Ronnie/Nils – it will be added to you final refund post-trip.

    Trip Lead: Ronnie: treasurer@usadiveclub.org

    • May 15, 2021
    • (UTC+11:00)
    • May 22, 2021
    • (UTC+11:00)
    • Volivoli Resort, Fiji

    Volivoli Resort, Fiji

    May 15-22, 2021

    Rescheduled from March, 2020

    2021: We start from home on Thursday 5/13 from MIA(FLL) to Los Angeles (LAX) and continue later the same day to Nadi, Fiji. Airfare LAX-NAD-Solomon is quoted in the Solomon/Bilikiki trip – or check out the Brisbane option. Business upgrade is available – but expensive. Volivoli will pick us up on arrival – no need for Raffles this time, and drive us back to the airport for the departure to Solomon. At present we are 5-8 people travelling on the vouchers from 2020. This is to allow for new signups – either just Fiji or as an add-on to Solomon.

    DetailsVolivoli - Resort on the north shore of main Island Viti Levu – recently remodeled – it looks great - we spent 2 days there as part of the March 2020 evacuation:

    • Premium Ocean View Villas – ground level
    • Welcome drink on arrival
    • Beach BBQ (Tuesdays)
    • Traditional Meke performance (Thursdays)
    • Double occupancy
    • All taxes and tip included
    • All ground transfers
    • Free use of kayaks and participation in a variety of complimentary resort activities
    • Unlimited shore diving (reserve tanks 24 hours prior) – they have about 5 resident seahorses
    • Full meal plan – 3 meals daily with juice, milk, rain water, coffee, and tea at breakfast
    • 3 days of 2 tank boat diving & 2 days of 3 tank boat diving

    Not Included:

    • Nitrox
    • Airfare MIA(FLL)<->LAX

    Signup is first come first serve – Nils will request to add the rooms only as they sell. If you sign up by 7/23 the club will cover any potential “single supplement”.

    Please click here to see the full trip details, including costs.

    Please click here to download the signup form.

    • May 22, 2021
    • (EDT)
    • June 01, 2021
    • (EDT)
    • Solomon Islands

    Solomon Islands

    Bilikiki Live aboard – May 22 June 1, 2021

    The Solomon Islands is an interesting tropical destination inside the Triangle of Diversity. Biodiversity example – they have 50 species of seahorses. Solomon is located south of Equator, closer to PNG than to Fiji. The latitude is very similar to Micronesia. This is in more ways than one a “trip of a lifetime” Our club in our 49 year history has never been there. And if you look at a list of places that might not be here in another 100 years due to sea level raising Solomon is on top of that list! Solomon Islands are the third largest group of islands in the Pacific. We are going there in the dry season – for visibility.

    Click here to see full details of the trip.

    Click here to download the signup form.

    • July 24, 2021
    • (EDT)
    • July 31, 2021
    • (EDT)
    • Belize Aggressor IV

    DEMA Special

    July 24 - 31, 2021

    Belize Aggressor 4 picture

    $2850 without air


    • Accommodations aboard the yacht
    • Diving - up to 5 dives a day – 5.5 days
    • Tanks, weights, belts
    • Airport and/or Hotel transfers on day of charter
    • All meals and snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, local beer and wine
    • Tips

    Does not include:

    • Nitrox $100
    • Port Fee $110
    • Airfare: FLL-BZE - Please book your own flights when they become available
      • Southwest (#629 [10:55] / #1027) when available for July 24 - 31
      • Starting mid-January, check Southwest site daily to book ticket early
      • Flights in early August were recently selling for $308
    • Friday Night Dinner - We are on our own in town.

    We can board on arrival at the dock, after 3 pm.

    Your passport must be valid until at least 2/1/2022.

    This is a trip that the club has done several times – but not as often as we would have liked due to high airfare cost. Now with Southwest as the second carrier the prices for air have dropped 60% or more. Together with the DEMA special pricing ($600 rebate) we are able to offer this trip at a very attractive price point. We are likely to be greeted by a known face - Captain Dennis Gautreau – who was our captain in Bahamas in 2014.

    Belize mapMost of the diving will be off Lighthouse Reef, but we will occasionally also do Turnefe. Expect to see both large and small animals: Tarpon, Grouper, Eagle Rays, Squid, Octopi, Seahorses, Frogfish, etc.

    Boat-site: https://www.aggressor.com/belize-iv.php

    It’s always wise to purchase travel insurance for any trip. Here are a few links you can use if interested:

    To see some photos from prior trips - BZE AGG III - 2015
    https://usadiveclub.org/Photos - and check out 2015

    Trip Prices / payment schedule:

    Click here for the signup form.

    Trip Lead: Nils: overseasdiving@usadiveclub.org

Past events

November 12, 2020 November Board of Directors meeting
November 05, 2020 November General Meeting
October 08, 2020 October Board of Directors meeting
October 01, 2020 October General Meeting
September 14, 2020 September Board of Directors meeting
September 03, 2020 September General Meeting
August 20, 2020 Board of Directors meeting - Discuss new bylaws
August 13, 2020 August Board of Directors meeting
August 06, 2020 August General Meeting
July 16, 2020 July Board of Directors meeting
July 09, 2020 July General Meeting
June 11, 2020 June Board of Directors meeting
June 04, 2020 June General Meeting
May 07, 2020 May General Meeting
March 28, 2020 March 28th, Loggerhead, 10 spots at 7am - $60
March 20, 2020 Bowling for Turtles
March 14, 2020 Founder's Day Party at Kathi's House
March 12, 2020 Fiji - March 2020
March 05, 2020 March General Meeting
February 19, 2020 Bimini Mini Trip - Dive with Hammerheads!
February 16, 2020 Feb 16th with Scuba Tyme, 7:30 AM, $55, 5 spots
February 15, 2020 Visit the Bonnet House
February 13, 2020 February Board of Directors meeting
February 08, 2020 Manatee Swim in Crystal River
February 06, 2020 February General Meeting
January 16, 2020 Board of Directors meeting
January 09, 2020 January General Meeting
December 14, 2019 December Board of Directors Holiday Party
December 07, 2019 Christmas Party
November 21, 2019 November Board of Directors meeting
November 10, 2019 Potluck Picnic/BBQ
November 07, 2019 November General Meeting
October 26, 2019 Sat Oct 26th - Blue Heron Bridge 6:33 PM to 8:33 PM
October 17, 2019 October Board of Directors meeting
October 06, 2019 Oct 6th w/ Scuba Tyme
October 03, 2019 October General Meeting
September 28, 2019 Flagler Museum Tour and Lunch - New Date and Time
September 27, 2019 September 28-29th In Islamorada
September 15, 2019 Sept 8th - GOLIATH GROUPERS! with Jim Abernanthy!
September 14, 2019 Sept 14th - Loggerhead
September 12, 2019 September Board of Directors meeting - Canceled
September 05, 2019 September General Meeting - Canceled
August 24, 2019 August 24-25th With Sea Dwellers in Key Largo
August 17, 2019 August 17th w/ Starfish
August 14, 2019 August Board of Directors meeting
August 11, 2019 August 11th w/ Parrot Island - LOBSTER!
August 01, 2019 August General Meeting
July 21, 2019 Scuba Tyme, July 21st
July 20, 2019 Scuba Tyme, July 20th
July 17, 2019 July Board of Directors meeting
July 13, 2019 Loggerhead, July 13th
July 06, 2019 Cuba – Garden of Queens – July 6-13
June 30, 2019 June 30th, Odyssey Divers
June 22, 2019 June 22nd, Parrot Island
June 19, 2019 June Board of Directors meeting
June 09, 2019 June 9th, ScubaTyme
June 06, 2019 June General Meeting
May 25, 2019 Little Cayman, May 25 - June 1st
May 19, 2019 Silverball Museum followed by Lunch at Bru's Room
May 18, 2019 May 18th, Dive Boat Diversity
May 09, 2019 May Board of Directors meeting
May 04, 2019 May 4th with Loggerhead
May 02, 2019 May General Meeting
April 27, 2019 Water Taxi Tour & Lunch in Fort Lauderdale
April 20, 2019 April 20th with Splashdown, 7:30 A.M.
April 11, 2019 April Board of Directors meeting
April 06, 2019 April 6th with Scuba Tyme, 7:30 A.M.
April 04, 2019 April General Meeting
March 29, 2019 Bowling for Turtles with Force-E
March 14, 2019 March Board of Directors meeting
March 09, 2019 Potluck Dinner & House/Pool Party at Kathi's
March 07, 2019 March General Meeting
February 07, 2019 February General Meeting
January 31, 2019 Yap - Palau, Feb. 2019
January 27, 2019 Lunch at Shooters followed by Intercoastal Boat Tour
January 10, 2019 Board of Directors meeting
January 03, 2019 January General Meeting
December 16, 2018 Board of Directors meeting
December 08, 2018 USA Dive Club Holiday Party
December 06, 2018 December General Meeting and Elections
November 10, 2018 Lion Country Safari
November 08, 2018 November Board of Directors meeting
November 01, 2018 November General Meeting
October 18, 2018 Board of Directors meeting
October 14, 2018 Oct 14th with Diversity
October 13, 2018 October 13th with Scuba Tyme
October 07, 2018 Coral Reef Day at Museum of Discovery & Science
October 06, 2018 October 6th with Parrot Island
October 04, 2018 October General Meeting
September 29, 2018 Key Dives in Islamorada
September 23, 2018 September 23rd with Scuba Tyme
September 22, 2018 Funky Buddha Brewery
September 15, 2018 September 15th with Diversity
September 13, 2018 Board of Directors meeting
September 06, 2018 September General Meeting
August 19, 2018 August 19th with Scuba Tyme
August 11, 2018 Bonaire - Divi Flamingo Resort - August 11-18, 2018
August 09, 2018 Board of Directors meeting
August 05, 2018 August 5th with Loggerhead
August 02, 2018 August General Meeting
July 28, 2018 Tour of Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse & Lunch at Two Georges at the Cove
July 21, 2018 July 21st with Diversity
July 12, 2018 July Board of Directors meeting
July 08, 2018 July 8th with South Florida
July 05, 2018 July General Meeting
July 01, 2018 Wine tasting and Dinner at CoopersHawk Restaurant
June 30, 2018 June 30th with Odyssey Divers
June 24, 2018 June 24th with Scuba Tyme
June 16, 2018 Cozumel - Iberostar June 16 - 23, 2018
June 14, 2018 Board of Directors meeting
June 09, 2018 June 9th with Loggerhead Divers
June 07, 2018 June General Meeting
May 26, 2018 May 26th with Odyssey Divers
May 16, 2018 Mini-Trip to Bimini
May 12, 2018 Kayaking event - Winton Manners Loop
May 10, 2018 Board of Directors meeting
May 05, 2018 CANCELLED - May 5th with Parrot Island Scuba
May 03, 2018 May General Meeting
April 29, 2018 iFly Experience and Lunch
April 23, 2018 April 22nd with Logerhead
April 14, 2018 BAHAMAS AGGRESSOR - April 14-21, 2018
April 10, 2018 Board of Directors Meeting
April 07, 2018 April 7th with Diversity
April 05, 2018 April General Meeting
March 31, 2018 Kayaking in the Keys!
March 17, 2018 March 17th with Scuba Tyme
March 10, 2018 Potluck Dinner with Fireworks
March 08, 2018 Board of Directors meeting
March 01, 2018 March General Meeting
February 03, 2018 Manatee Festival 2018 at Manatee Lagoon
February 01, 2018 February General Meeting
January 27, 2018 Kayaking - Jonathan Dickinson State Park
January 21, 2018 Monster Miniature Golf & Lunch at Casa Tequila
January 17, 2018 Tommy Younger - Celebration of Life
January 11, 2018 Board of Directors meeting
January 04, 2018 January General Meeting
December 07, 2017 2017 Holiday Party
November 09, 2017 Board of Directors meeting
November 02, 2017 November General Meeting
October 22, 2017 Eat, Drink and Play
October 14, 2017 Diving with Starfish
October 07, 2017 Diving with Diversity
October 05, 2017 October General Meeting
September 29, 2017 Black Fin Resort in Marathon ** CANCELED **
September 23, 2017 Diving with Scuba Tyme
September 17, 2017 Diving with Dixie Divers
September 10, 2017 Diving with Kyalami ** CANCELED **
September 07, 2017 September General Meeting ** CANCELED **
August 26, 2017 Diving with Odyssey
August 12, 2017 Diving with Loggerhead
August 12, 2017 Cozumel - August 12-19, 2017
August 05, 2017 Diving with Starfish
August 03, 2017 August General Meeting
July 22, 2017 Mini-Trip to Islamorada
July 11, 2017 South Florida Underwater Photography Society meeting
July 08, 2017 Diving with Parrot Island Scuba
July 06, 2017 July General Meeting


(Suspended until live meetings are allowed to resume)

USA's Lobster Pot drawings Include CASH prizes, and a variety of PRIZES donated by South Florida Dive Shops,
other Sponsors or Club Members.

Funds from ticket donations help to support our many club activities. Congratulations to all our Lobster Pot participants. Be sure to visit our Local dive shops who support us and say 'Thanks'.

Educational Blog

A New Business Model for a Redefined Local Dive Center

COVID-19 accelerated changes happening in the scuba diving industry. How to be ready.

By Darcy Kieran


This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

Retail, education, and travel industries are going through a severe transformation that started before the coronavirus pandemic. But the speed of change has accelerated in a COVID-19 world, and we need to keep up — or better yet, get ahead of the curve. The dive industry has been resisting changes to its business model for a while but can no longer withstand a tsunami of changing customers’ expectations and behavior.The global pandemic has reset the gameboard. How can dive businesses emerge stronger?

I will look at the historical ‘distribution channel’ used to provide scuba diving lessons, dive gear, and scuba diving travel to scuba diving consumers. Then, I’ll look at how it is changing and how the current coronavirus pandemic is accelerating this evolution. Finally, I’ll look at what it means for your scuba diving business.

Traditional Distribution Process for Scuba Diving Products & Services

Historically, dive gear and scuba lessons have been provided to the consumer by ‘local dive shops’ (in ‘origin’ dive centers) and ‘dive resorts’ (in dive destinations). And way back then, dive travel was mainly sold by local dive shops.

We’re talking, here, pre-internet. But the dive industry business model barely changed after the arrival of the internet. Consumers have changed, but not the scuba diving industry.

Bear with me for a minute.

Pre-internet, it was difficult for a newly certified scuba diver to independently select the best dive destinations for his/her annual vacations. The dive instructor in the local dive shop was the principal source of information. Scuba divers would come to the local dive center to check pictures of previous trips to different scuba diving destinations. And group travel was arranged by the dive instructor.

Dive gear manufacturers, scuba diving training agencies, and dive resorts (dive destinations) were relying on local dive shops to reach consumers.

The local dive shop was both ‘the front line’ and the gatekeeper.

This model doesn’t work anymore, and you can expect this fact to be even more apparent post-COVID19.

Noticeable Dive Industry Trends

I will be looking at ‘trends’ but only as it relates to the distribution channels used to reach scuba diving consumers.

Trends in Dive Travel

Dive travel was the first scuba diving industry sector to bypass the local dive shop significantly. Knowledge about dive destinations is now available to all, on the internet — with much more in-depth knowledge than what the local dive instructor could provide.

A local dive professional can’t be knowledgeable about every dive destinations in the world. In that sense, the internet is providing more value to the scuba diver. And ‘providing value’ is vital for a business to be sustainable.

The next dive industry segment to bypass the local dive shop (in ‘origin’ locations) is scuba diving training.

Trends in Scuba Diving Training

Initially, online education (eLearning) was introduced as a means to let dive instructors do what they love best — be in the water — while the ‘boring’ part of teaching in-class could be done at home ‘in the comfort of your pink slippers.’

What eLearning also created is an additional way to bypass the local dive shop. It is quite simple and convenient to proceed with the ‘dive theory’ part of learning to scuba dive at home — or at work! And, then, you get to your dream vacation destination where you will go underwater with a dive instructor, first in a pool, then in the magical ocean.

I do not believe this provides the best value to the consumer. You end up with rushed ‘confined-water’ (pool) training sessions because there are just so many more exciting things to do under sunny tropical skies! Cutting corners is no way to fight our excessive dropout rate. But it is a challenge to be communicating to future scuba divers that it is more valuable to them (in the long run) to be learning to dive at their local dive center before going on vacation. Therefore, the trend toward going to a dive resort after eLearning is continuing to grow.

With COVID-19, learning online instead of in-person has become the norm rather than the exception. It means that selling online courses will simply be easier than ever before. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the trend toward eLearning.

Within the dive industry, we’ve seen training agencies rush to launch new online learning programs — about anything and everything.

This eLearning trend is here to stay, and it means that it is becoming even easier to bypass the local dive shop.

“The shift of learning from outside the home to inside has blurred the lines between learning and leisure.” McKinsey & Company

To counteract this trend, local dive shops would need to reach local consumers while they are researching ‘scuba diving in Fiji’ or ‘PADI certification in Cozumel.’ Even with an unlimited online marketing budget, this would be a tough challenge. And local dive shops barely have any marketing budget!

Trends in Scuba Gear Distribution

This was the last leg on which local dive shops could still hope to stand. And there would be a lot to say about this! But I will move as quickly as possible to discuss ‘what to do about these trends.’

Selling scuba diving equipment is the way most local dive shops have kept the lights on. The cycle of extracting money from clients in a local dive shop has, for the most part, be in this order:

1.                     get them in with cheap scuba lessons,

2.                    sell them overpriced dive gear, and

3.                    book them on a dive trip to sell them more courses and equipment.

With the beginning (training) and the end (diving) of this cycle bypassing the local dive shop, it is making it hard for local dive shops to keep their lights on! Scuba divers going straight to the dive resort are often not even aware of the existence of a local dive shop.

And that’s only one trend.

Another significant trend with dive gear has been a reduction in “sales per diver.” New scuba divers tend to buy less scuba equipment than their male baby boomer predecessors. This could be an entire post in itself. Make sure to subscribe to Scubanomics at the bottom of this article.

Otherwise, a crucial development in retailing, of course, is eCommerce. That’s another trend we’ve seen surging during this worldwide pandemic. If you are not convinced, look at this graph from McKinsey & Company, a renowned US-based management consulting firm that advises on strategic management to corporations, governments, and other organizations.

Just like eLearning is now part of everyday life, eCommerce is now more accepted than ever before. The dive industry can’t continue to ignore this fact.

Why has eCommerce been so slow at being implemented in the dive industry?

There are numerous reasons why eCommerce has been slow at penetrating the scuba diving industry.

For one, dive industry leaders have continued to maintain that the local dive shop was, and ought to, remain the focal point of the industry. This was based more on nostalgia than on sound business principles.

Can local dive shops operate an eCommerce site in a way that will satisfy today’s consumers? No. It would require an investment far superior to what a local dive shop owner could afford.

When shopping online, consumers expect speed and convenience. Delivery has to be tomorrow, or earlier! And convenience means that a scuba diving equipment website should have all models in all sizes and all colors. Our internal distribution issues are none of their concern! On this front, as for dive travel, the internet is providing more immediate value to the scuba diving consumer than the local dive shop with its limited inventory and product knowledge.

By pretending that local dive shops were able to continue to satisfy evolving consumers with a small, undercapitalized store, the dive industry has simply delayed the inevitable.

Direct to consumer’ is how most dive gear manufacturers will try to offset a reduction in scuba gear sales in local dive shops. We can already witness it on Aqualung’s USA website, which is now a full-fledged eCommerce website.

You can’t blame dive gear manufacturers from bypassing local dive shops — they were the last to do it after scuba diving certification agencies and dive travel.

New Distribution Process for Scuba Diving Products & Services

The local dive shop is no longer ‘key’ in reaching scuba diving consumers, and it is facing an existential challenge: What is the new raison d’être of the local dive center?

A Redefined Local Dive Center

First, let’s address the elephant in the room.

I can hear you yelling at me through your smartphone screen! “Local dive shops are crucial for the diving community. They provide air fills as well as access and information on local dive sites.”

Yes. I know.

In fact, the current coronavirus pandemic is contributing to making local dive shops more of a dive destination than merely an ‘originator’ of clients for dive resorts in the tropics. But here’s the thing… That’s about scuba diving (the activity), not selling gear.

Local ‘dive centers’ can still bring value to scuba diving consumers. Dive ‘shops’ provide very little value nowadays.

Shaming people into buying dive gear from you because you are providing air fills was always a non-sustainable business scheme, and it is now utterly disconnected from reality.

local dive shop sells six different products and services to scuba divers:

·                      Education / Training

·                      Equipment / Toys

·                      Experience / Travel (the activity of scuba diving)

·                      Rental Dive Gear

·                      Repair and Maintenance

·                      Refills

The first 3 are the big ones. They are known as the 3Es or the 3 Ts.

We’ve already discussed them. These products and services no longer need the local dive shop to reach end-users. And in many cases, the scuba diving consumers find more value when shopping outside the local dive shop. ‘Value’ includes convenience, product knowledge, and availability.

We need to face reality: the 3 Es (or 3 Ts) are bypassing local dive shops, and that trend is intensifying.

So, now what?

You can only swim against the current for so long!

The way to be successful in any business is by bringing value to consumers. And that could be in the last three services listed above. They can more hardly be remotely provided.

It is conceivable that repair & maintenance and rental gear could eventually be provided from a centralized and remote location. But for now, these are services for which scuba divers may directly benefit from your local services.

In other words, the local dive shop should drop the word ‘shop’ and work on being a quality ‘dive center’.

Find a location near an appropriate local dive site. Setup a fill station for air, nitrox, and possibly trimix. Maintain quality rental dive gear to be used at that dive site by scuba divers and dive instructors. And offer repair & maintenance on scuba diving equipment.

That is a ‘local’ business.

I bet you’ll find that your profitability may even go up! Maintaining a retail store can be expensive.

At that new dive center location, the focus is on scuba diving. That’s why you want to be near a proper local dive site. You may also select a pool, especially if it’s deep enough for scuba divers to practice their skills outside of scuba lessons.

Of course, you may offer scuba diving lessons at that location, but the focus has to be on promoting ‘scuba diving’. The rest is just there to support the activity.

And now is a good time to do it. People are looking for adventures close to home.

Operating under this new business model requires that each of these services be profitable in itself. You can no longer rely on selling overpriced dive gear to subsidize the rest of your operations. It is not sustainable. It is preventing evolution in the dive industry.

Promotional & Visibility Issue

I know the owner of a local dive shop in an urban area who will be transforming his local dive business into such a dive center, dropping the in-store retailing of dive gear.

The first problem you will encounter if you proceed like him is with dive training agencies and scuba gear manufacturers.

To be listed on their website as a retailer or training center, you must be operating a store. Scuba diving training agencies and dive gear manufacturers are forcing us to maintain this non-sustainable model of a ‘local dive shop’ operating 6 businesses under one roof.

So… The h*** with them!

Your main source of new clients is likely to be Google and word of mouth.

Word of mouth and good reviews will be easier to get if you concentrate your energy, money, and time at providing what you are good at, instead of trying to be everything to everybody. You got into diving because you love diving. Focus on that! That’s how you will be able to offer consistency in the quality of the experience under your personal craft brand.

This is how you can plan to make a good living out of your passion for scuba diving.

Furthermore, soon, the most significant part of your revenues should come from repeat business because your focus is on the adventure of scuba diving. Your business model is based on people diving locally. It is no longer based on quickly churning new entry-level scuba diving certifications to please the PADI and SSI of this world.

Otherwise, Google is not like your dive training agency. You do not need to operate a retail store to be listed as a business on Google map. The same principle applies to Facebook. Take advantage of that!

It will be good for you — and for the dive industry.

It’s always been ridiculous that consumers searching how to ‘learn to dive’ on Google where being directed to ‘retail stores’ selling gear, while the actual location to take the scuba lessons was often miles (kilometers) from there!

This is a business opportunity for your local diving business, and it can be an exciting transformational time for the scuba diving industry.

A Future Scuba Diving Brand Based on The Experience

The scuba diving industry is lacking a reliable worldwide brand. Scuba diving is a global activity, no matter where you live. And the experience you encounter under Brand A in dive destination X is usually totally different than the experience you discover under the same Brand A in dive destination Y.

Since scuba diving is an activity where safety matters, scuba diving consumers need to have ‘trust’ in the quality of the experience they will encounter, everywhere they go.

Eventually, we will see a scuba diving brand establishing itself as a provider of a consistent scuba diving experience at all locations. The focus will be on the consistency of the quality of the activity of scuba diving.

Keep an eye out! That is the brand under which you would want your reborn ‘local dive center’ to be operating.

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WANTED: A console that will hold an Oceanic computer and already has a pressure gauge in it.

Gary Sharp



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