Thursday, 17 January 2013

diveology: diver's identification guide


DIVEOLOGY  
by
Claudio Di Manao

Part 1



Franz with hammerheads
The late 80s saw the expansion of scuba diving, when this activity  from being exclusive became very  popular. For this we can blame mainly diving instructors who were getting percentages on the sales of diving courses. Then the concept 'every  human can dive' broke free:  the hotel pools got transformed into training fields and change their name: they become 'confined water '. The seas were no longer called ‘Red Sea, Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean’: all of them became 'open water'.
Immediately a clash arises between the two generations of divers: old divers who had been forced to months of torture in order to obtain a beginner licence, and on the new born divers, whom in half-day or so, were immediately granted a dive and brought to view  the whale sharks.
Then more problems added up: the diving population enriched with different languages and cultures. Indian Chinese, and even Nepalese divers appeared on the world scene. The entire world wanted to go underwater and a Babel of different languages, clothing, education and mentality crowded very soon all the diving centers in the planet. Professionals and weekender divers needed an orientation point, a certain point, a starting point, even a mile stone... they needed anything that helped to better understand the characteristics of their buddies, of their divemasters, the fish, coral, danger, they needed anything, even an internet blog that could help to organize a diving boat or a group o divers in that mess and to avoid the usual loss of time and money.
The first attempt to configure a real taxonomy dates back to 1988 and it is due to Helmut Caspar Weissbrau, scuba instructor from Frankfurt. After  years of careful observation of the on board conduct of divers of different ethnic groups, ventured into a first classification criterion that was based on nationality.
Unfortunately, the nationalities of the emerging countries had not yet emerged, therefore they couldn’t dive either, and also there were many countries where PADI still had not spread the word, where no one Master Scuba Diver Trainer had yet said: "Yes, you too, guys can go underwater!" However, we have to thanks Helmut for the birth of  the 'Diveology'.
Then, in 1991 the Swiss Poissonfritte Gilbert, who before escaping to the Maldives had worked as a psychotherapist in Geneva, published a remarkable article on the DAN Magazine, entitled 'psychological profiles of divers: a guide to the interpretation of dreams, desires and deviations typical of those who go underwater. ' A further change in classification is due the american researcher Julian F. Bubbles, diving  instructor around the Caribbean: " The Shocking Impact of Old Equipment and Old Diving Procedures on PADI Divemasters Formed After the 1996."
Thus were born the terms still in vogue 'Diver jurassicus ', 'Diver herectus' and 'Diver sapiens'. His study proved invaluable to all, as by investigating equipment and diving licence dates of issue one can be able to understand which kind of offenses, damages and risks to prevent and also evaluate the degree of alarm for fishes and corals.

Rob with hammer

The '96 was a golden year for the Diveology. In that year also appeared the work of Franz Von Bakter, the greatest explorer, zoologist and diving instructor of both hemispheres. He realized that, in order to classify the divers, he had to apply the same criteria already adopted to classify the fishes. His new theory led to the compilation of the first anthropometric tables on the shape of the divers and the first 'Diver's Identification Slate', published in the same year by the Marine Trust of Vancouver. Of course, it started a new controversy. Grouping the divers by different swimming techniques was also questioned. Basically, Von Bakter’s detractors did not share the very basic principle of his work: the divers had to be classified as fishes. They didn't like this idea at all.
 In 1998, Ralph van der Guss, a Dutch instructor with a solid background of soft drugs, launched serious accusations to all previous works, but especially those of Von Bakter: comparing humans to fish was not politically correct, he stated. Among articles with his signature a couple deserves to be mentioned: 'Western Divemasters and Third World Crews: Outbreaks of Racism and Neo-Colonialism?', Diver magazine 1998; followed by:
'Nitrogen Liberalization and the Right to the Nitrogen Narcosis.' (Taucher, 1998) and later, also for the same magazine: 'Depth and Euthanasia: the Inalienable Right to CNS Toxicity'. (1999)

to be continued...

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