Diving with…Mike Harterink, Scubaqua Dive Center, St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean
In this ongoing series, we speak to 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 the name of your business?
What is your role within the business?
How long has the business operated for?
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
25 years, PADI Course Director
What is your favorite type of diving?
I love to dive off the beaten track.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
The reefs surrounding St. Eustatius are flourishing in a protected marine park. Underwater you will experience what much of the Caribbean must have looked like many years ago. Add some historical dive sites and more recently sunk wrecks to the mix and you’ve got yourself a divers paradise! And we dive how we want to dive ourselves on our vacations; small groups (6:1) and unlimited dive time.
What is your favorite dive in your location and why?
Blue bead hole is a dive site between the old harbor bay and the color full reefs, under the volcano, in the south of the island. Here you find a mix of coral heads, sandy patches, sea grass and if you are lucky: blue beads. Actually, according to the legend, the beads find you, not the other way around. Even without being found there is a fair chance you encounter some amazing critters. Pike, and sailfin blennies, juvenile angelfish and the blue beads guardians: flying gurnards.
What types of diving are available in your location?
Statia offers a huge variety in environments packed in a nutshell. Deep dives, coral gardens, historical dives, wreck, and muck dives are all in 10 to 15 minute reach.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
We have four owners here which allows me and my partners to dive with our guests on a daily basis.
What is your favorite underwater creature?
Hard to choose but one of my favorites are the turtles. We encounter both Green, and Hawksbill regularly.
As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?
Although Statia wasn’t damaged too much by last year hurricanes Irma and Maria, we stil feel the negative aftermath due to cancellations.
Is your center involved in any environmental work?
We are! All of our staff keeps a special garbage bag in their BCD in case they find some (plastic) garbage. But we do more to preserve our environment:
We collect and store rainwater to use for our rinse buckets, our toilets and showers at the dive center. The amount of water we collect covers about 80% of our needs. We installed drinking water fountains. We provide free fresh water to customers at the dive center and to divers on our boats in an effort to reduce the use of plastic bottles. We also use cups and straws made from recycled cardboard instead of plastic. We have two separate garbage bins for recycling.
We continually try to educate our divers about responsible behavior (including good buoyancy control) to protect our fragile coral reefs (no anchoring allowed, one boat per dive site, etc.).
We offer low guest-to-guide ratio (max 6:1). This gives us more control over behavior which could damage the underwater environment. We also make sure that the divers respect the established marine park rules.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?
Owning (or working in) a Dive Center is a labor of love. It’s crazy that for instance a Open Water certification worldwide is priced for around 400 US$. For a lot of dive centers it’s hard to keep afloat.
What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
The moment you arrive in St. Eustatius, locally known as ‘Statia’, you immediately get that typically Statia feeling. There are no big crowds at the airport. Actually you don’t find big crowds anywhere on Statia. St. Eustatius is untouched by the big development companies. You don’t find casinos, shopping malls or worldwide fast food restaurants. What you do find is a safe and friendly island where time stood still. You can enjoy cosy restaurants and bars in Oranjestad, St. Eustatius’ one and only town. This is the place to unwind, read that book you always wanted to read, and to dive the beautiful Statia waters.
Where can our visitors find out more about your business?
Jeff chats to… Christopher Bartlett, MD of Indigo Safaris, about scuba diving in Dominica and Mexico (3 of 5)
In the third in this exclusive series of five videos, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Christopher Bartlett, Managing Director of Indigo Safaris, about their diving and wildlife adventures, and some of their top destinations. In this episode Christopher talks about Dominica and Mexico.
For more information, please visit www.indigosafaris.com
Rather listen to a podcast? Click on this link to listen HERE.
Reefs Go Live returns for new season
CCMI brings the ocean directly to classrooms around the world through live-stream lessons from underwater
In 2018, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) launched Reefs Go Live, their innovative, flagship education programme that live-streams directly from underwater on the coral reefs in Little Cayman to students in classrooms around the world in real time. For the 2022 season, the four episodes of Reefs Go Live reached more than 107,000 viewers in 22 countries. CCMI’s Reefs Go Live team hopes to expand their reach with four new episodes and supplemental teaching resources to help integrate the material into classroom lessons.
Science Communications & Development Manager for CCMI, Beth Chafin, is excited to be part of another year of Reefs Go Live:
“Knowing we have an audience that spans the world, our team is energised as we plan and implement our Reefs Go Live season for 2023! We feel that creating a connection to the ocean and sharing the beautiful coral reefs of Little Cayman with others, both locally and abroad, is one of the most important ways to increase support for critical, timely issues such as marine protection and sustainability. At CCMI, we are fortunate to have these stunning reefs at our doorstep; not everyone is so lucky to be this connected to coral reefs, but healthy coral reefs are vitally important to everyone on earth. Bringing the ocean into classrooms and homes through Reefs Go Live allows us to share the work we do at the Little Cayman Research Centre, facilitate real-time interactions between viewers around the world and our experts in the field, and inspire the diverse audience to take positive action for the future of coral reefs.”
The first episode of 2023 will take place on Friday, 31st March at 10 am Cayman time (UTC -5h). The episode, ‘Finding Hope on our Reefs’, will feature what CCMI’s long-term monitoring of Little Cayman’s reefs shows us. The data from the annual surveys reveals important trends in reef health over time that reflect global threats and the benefits of strong local protection. Reefs Go Live hosts will explain why this annual monitoring is important and what the results tell us about the future of our coral reefs that we all depend upon. Viewers of each episode will be able to ask questions of the diver and participate in polls through the online platform to make Reefs Go Live an interactive experience.
Additional episodes for this year will run at 10 am (UTC -5h) on the following dates:
Thursday, 11th May: Adaptation on Coral Reefs
Wednesday, 24th May: Reef Resiliency & Restoration
Thursday, 8th June: World Ocean Day – 25 Years of Coral Reef Research
Registration for Reefs Go Live is free and is only required once to receive access to all episodes: https://donate.reefresearch.org/rgl2023.
Reefs Go Live provides an opportunity for students from all over the world to engage with the stunning ocean environment in its most natural format. As coral reefs around the world face unprecedented pressure, generating increased engagement with these precious ecosystems creates an opportunity to promote marine sustainability in a positive and fun way.
Reefs Go Live utilises streaming technology with underwater video and audio equipment to enable real time broadcasting from Little Cayman’s stunning coral reefs. Little Cayman, a Mission Blue Hope Spot, hosts one of the healthiest reef ecosystems in the Caribbean, which overall remains healthy and shows resiliency to climate change impacts. The broadcasts and education materials draw connections from CCMI’s current research conducted in Little Cayman to the national science curriculum and key ocean literacy principles, making CCMI’s work relevant and accessible to students and viewers of all ages, and emphasizing the relationship that we all have to coral reefs, no matter where we are.
Reefs Go Live is a free education programme that is made possible by the generosity of The Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. To register for the broadcasts and teaching resources, please visit: https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/education/reefs-go-live/