By: Craig Smith
Being a Commercial Dive School SAAMBR has trained and given work experience to 29 intern divers, 12 of which come from the Sodwana Bay area.
Since 2013 SAAMBR has been a registered and accredited Commercial Dive School with the Department of Labour. Initially, this registration allowed us to teach Class 6 Benign Water Commercial Diving. We were able to train staff to be competent to do most of the animal husbandry diving in our facility. This diving includes cleaning and maintenance of exhibits and feeding animals.
However, ORI scientists and some uShaka Sea World Aquarium staff need to work at sea or in non-benign conditions. This led to SAAMBR being registered and accredited as a Dive School, able to teach Class 4 diving.
SAAMBR can now train divers to complete most underwater functions required to achieve its mandate. Recently a Diver Intern programme was initiated. This programme trains and grants work experience to young people wanting to be divers. We train novices to either Class 6 or Class 4 levels and give them one to two years’ work experience.
For many years, SAAMBR has had a connection with the Sodwana Bay community. Some of our most respected aquarists, divers and technical staff members are from those communities. One of SAAMBR’s Corporate Social Investment initiatives involves an annual Outreach visit to schools and community leaders in Sodwana Bay. Many of the divers in our intern programme have now come from the area. To date we have trained and given year’s work experience to 29 intern divers of which 12 are from the Sodwana Bay area. Our SAAMBR diver programmes have enabled us to build the capacity of many young people. To date, seven divers (six from Sodwana Bay) have progressed to permanent positions in SAAMBR.