The deep blue offers exciting opportunities for those seeking to combine adventure with a rewarding profession.

It has been only around 50 years since the aqualung was invented by the famous French oceanographer, Jacques Yves Cousteau. It enabled man to stay underwater for an extended period. Also called SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus), it was initially used only by marine biologists and other oceanographers to explore the undersea world.

However, soon others were quick to realise its potential as a device to attract tourists who could be trained to use it and explore and enjoy the thrill of diving deep into the ocean and see the spectacular sights of the ocean like corals and aquatic life.

The world’s leading Scuba diving training and certifying organisation is PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). In September last year, PADI issued its 20 millionth Scuba diving certification. PADI was founded in 1966 by John Cronin, a scuba equipment salesman for U.S. Divers, and Ralph Erickson, an educator and swimming instructor, who were concerned about the scuba diving industry. They felt that the current scuba certification agencies were unprofessional, did not use state-of-the-art instruction and made it unnecessarily difficult for people to enter the sport. John and Ralph knew there had to be a safer, easy way for people to learn to breathe underwater.

In 1966, John brought a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label and thirty dollars to Ralph’s Illinois apartment in Morton Grove. They decided it was time to start a scuba training organisation. John insisted that the word “professional” be in the name of the company. Ralph wanted an “association of diving instructors.” After a few scotches, the acronym PADI was born: Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

Today PADI is the world’s largest recreational diving membership organisation. The membership includes dive businesses, resort facilities, academic institutions, instructor trainers, dive educators, divers, snorkelers and other water sports enthusiasts. PADI Divers carry the most respected and sought after scuba credentials in the world. Today, 50 years on, Scuba diving training and facilities are a $ 46 billion (annual) industry worldwide.

A little late in catching on, the sport in India is nevertheless rapidly growing in popularity. There was 280 per cent growth in certification in India in 2005-2011 and in 2010 the growth was 43 per cent.

This writer, who has a PADI certification as an International Open Water Diver, acquired in California USA, dived in 2009 off the Netrani Island near the Karnataka coast on the invitation of Madhava Reddy, Director, Planet Scuba India, headquartered in Bangalore. Planet Scuba India offers courses leading from ‘Open water diver’ level through various stages right up to Instructor level.

Starting with basic lessons in a swimming pool, the aspirants are guided through various stages including on trips to places such as Goa, Netrani, Andamans and Lakshadweep until they are certified.

Mr. Reddy has top-flight instructors working for him. There are tremendous opportunities for trained scuba professionals (all levels of expertise) today in India and in many other countries especially in the tropics.

Incorporated in Bangalore in January 2007, Planet Scuba India is India’s first inland scuba diving training institute. Planet Scuba India offers theory lessons in the comfort of classrooms and then the students train in a pool to get familiarised before heading to the ocean.

Planet Scuba India was founded to help scuba enthusiasts to discover the underwater world in a safe and educational manner.

A 5-Star PADI dive centre, Planet Scuba India encompasses the best diving skills and knowledge, a deeper understanding of the importance of the underwater world to our ecosystem and networking with people who share similar interests. Mr. Madhava Reddy, who owns and runs Planet Scuba India, is a former journalist with over 16 years of experience with The Economic Times, Financial Express, Observer and Reuters. He has been a diving enthusiast for many years. For further information, contact:

Planet Scuba India Private Limted

Tel: + 91-80-25590556,

25590557, 41573939

Email: info@planetscubaindia.com

Website: www.planetscubaindia.com

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Sports & RecreationMay 14, 2012