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Diving with… Black Rock Divers, Tobago

Caribbean DTA Team



In this ongoing series, we speak with the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…

What is your name?

Markus Baumgartner

What is the name of your business?

Black Rock Divers, Tobago

What is your role within the business?

Owner, Director, Master Scuba Diver Trainer

How long has the business operated for?

15 years (from 2002 – 2016 as Extra Divers Tobago) and since November 2016 as Black Rock Divers, Tobago. We are based at Grafton Beach Resort, Stonehaven Bay, Black Rock, Tobago.

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

For more than 30 years; PADI MSDT, SSI DiveCon Instructor, NAUI Instructor Trainer, CMAS *** Moniteur, TDI Ext. Range Instructor, DAN O2 Instructor, EFR Instructor

What is your favorite type of diving?

Tropical Water, Drift Diving, Wreck Diving, Night Diving, Shark Diving, Critters and Easy Diving

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

Individual Service, small groups, relaxing, stress free diving environment, short distance to dive sites, healthy reef, rich marine life, shallow to moderate depth, safety first, good quality rental gear, DIN / Yoke valves, metric / imperial gauges.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

Cove Ledge, for nurse sharks, rays and turtles

Japanese Garden, for the most diverse coral reef on the island

Divers Dream, for the most pristine coral reef, large schools of Snapper and Grunt, Nurse Sharks and Eagle Rays. Plus, very strong current!!!

What types of diving are available in your location?

Reef Diving, Drift Diving, Night Diving, Wreck Diving, Shore Diving and Boat Diving

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

Sharing my passion for diving and for tropical reefs and wrecks with my customers. I can also have a positive impact on my dive students and divers regarding safety, good dive practice, environment awareness and protection & respect for the marine environment.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

Manta Ray

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

Unfortunately not.  We are lobbying the government to recognise that a healthy marine environment can make a positive contribution to tourism in both Trinidad and Tobago.  We are striving to maintain a healthy marine environment and would love to see the creation of protected marine parks, some artificial reefs and wrecks.  Initiatives such as these would help to support the dive tourism industry on the island and bring wider island wide benefits.

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

Tobago is still relatively small in terms of tourism which has pluses and minuses for us and our visitors.  The lack of numbers means that we can offer a more personal service and give divers a rewarding experience.  On the negative side it does mean that we are not able to invest more in improving our facilities.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

Lion fish control / survey work, Sharks and Rays Survey project, beach & reef clean ups, support for Turtle protection initiatives.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?

I am concerned about how diving is becoming a ‘grey’ market. We have to find ways to attract more young people into the activity again. If we succeed we can ensure that we still have customers in the coming 25 years or so. We would love to be able to tempt younger people away from cyber world activities back to the real world!

What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

Rich Marine Environment, healthy reefs, huge variety of marine species, good chance to encounter Nurse sharks, Reef Sharks, Sting Rays, Eagle Rays, Manta Rays and different types of sea turtles, great for drift diving lovers, small privately owned dive operator, no mass tourism industry, all year round season, outside of the hurricane belt, decompression chamber / hyperbaric facility on the island, appropriate dive sites for beginners and experienced divers available, water temperature between 26 – 29 degrees Celsius!

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?


Call: +1 868 741 3945


Seahorse National Park announced on Eleuthera in The Bahamas

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown



This week has seen the announcement of the designation of Seahorse National Park at Hatchet Bay Cave and Sweetings Pond on Eleuthera. This monumental announcement comes after years of efforts from the BNT and its partners in advocating for the protection of Sweetings Pond and its surrounding areas as an official national park under the BNT’s management.

Sweetings Pond is a large, land-locked saltwater pond in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera. It has many unique natural features, but the most notable of them all is its incredible seahorse population, which is believed to be the densest population of seahorses in the world. The new 548-acre national park protects the entire one-mile-long pond and the surrounding terrestrial area. The land surrounding Sweetings Pond is a blend of intact coppice, mangroves, and farmlands. In addition, the new national park includes the extensive Hatchet Bay Caves system. This historic cave system is a popular attraction and contains a number of impressive geological features. It is one of the longest dry cave systems in The Bahamas.

Since 2014, the BNT has been leading efforts to have the area declared as a national park. This included years of public outreach and stakeholder consultations in communities across Eleuthera; education presentations in local schools; science and research efforts; and engaging consecutive government administrations. In 2018, the BNT submitted the “20 by 20 Marine Protection Plan” to the government, which included the recommendation to declare Sweetings Pond and other areas in The Bahamas as protected areas.

During the lease signing ceremony for Seahorse National Park, Minister Clay Sweeting, said, “This lease agreement for Sweetings Pond has been a long time coming. It represents a milestone in our journey towards sustainable development. It symbolises our collective responsibility to safeguard our natural heritage and create a harmonious relationship between economic progress and environmental preservation.

“I would like to express my gratitude to all stakeholders in this process of drafting and finalising this lease agreement. Their dedication, expertise, and commitment has been crucial in ensuring that this agreement falls in line with our vision of creating a thriving ecosystem while promoting responsible usage. Let us continue to preserve the jewel that is Sweetings Pond for many generations to come.”

The BNT invites the public to stay tuned for more news about its plan for the country’s newest national park: Seahorse National Park at Hatchet Bay Cave and Sweetings Pond!

To learn more about the role the BNT plays in managing terrestrial and marine national parks, conserving wildlife, and informing environmental policy, please visit its website:

Follow/subscribe to its various social media channels: FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

Banner Image: A lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus), female, clining to algae in an alkaline pond in The Bahamas by Shane Gross

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PADI Club invites Ocean Lovers on exclusive dive trip to Bonaire this September

Caribbean DTA Team



Following the popularity of the PADI Club trip to Belize at the end of July, a second “dive trip of a lifetime” has just been announced by PADI Club to Bonaire this  September 23-30, 2023.

Offered exclusively for PADI Club members as part of their yearly benefits, attendees will get to seek adventure while staying at the all-inclusive Buddy Dive Resort, one of PADI’s premier members on the island. Other PADI Members in Bonaire – including Toucan Divers, Divi Flamingo, Wanna Dive, Dive Friends and Scuba Do – will also be hosting various dive experiences throughout the week.

“Bonaire is a unique and beautiful gem in the Dutch Caribbean and we want to show our Club Members this little island looms large as a dive destination,” says Zach Pavkov, PADI Club Operations Manager. “This trip offers participants a chance to not only explore a world-class diving destination but do so through some of the very best PADI Operators.”

PADI Club members will receive a generous discount for this seven-day diving adventure, with packages starting at $1,739 per diver for double occupancy.

Included in the package are:

  • social events that include hosted dinners, cocktail parties and live music
  • transportation in Buddy Dive Resort’s famous pick-up truck
  • daily shore diving and boat diving
  • accommodation, with the option to share a room with another solo diver or rent out one, two and three-bedroom apartments to host larger groups of divers
  • surface interval activities that include PADI Seminars and island excursions like hiking and bird-watching.

“Because the water surrounding Bonaire has been an established marine park for 44 years, Bonaire is now a top-ranked destination with abundant marine life that includes scorpionfish, flounder and frogfish, moray eels, hawksbill turtles and eagle rays, ” continues Pavkov.

With limited spots available, the list of participants will be decided on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who are not yet PADI Club Members but are interested in joining the trip can sign-up, which will also give them access to:

  • 20% of PADI eLearning® programs and PADI Gear™
  • a free ReActivate® online refresher
  • a free DAN® Prepared Diver course
  • a subscription to Scuba Diving® magazine
  • access to the PADI Club Celebrity Speaker Series webinars
  • brand partner benefits from GoPro, Uber, Salt Life and more

To further support ocean lovers to create positive ocean change, five percent of the PADI Club membership fee will go towards supporting conservation efforts around the globe.

“PADI Club benefits are designed not just to empower divers to explore the ocean, but also enable them to play a pivotal role in saving the ocean too,” says Pavkov. “This year’s additional expedition to Bonaire gives our community the chance to come together and explore our shared blue planet in a truly meaningful and connected way.”

Click here to sign up for PADI Club and reserve your spot here to join the Bonaire dive trip.

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