Youths encouraged to become professional scuba divers
written by: Rosalee D. Wood
Scuba Diving is one of the more adventurous tour experiences offered in Jamaica, which has some of the best diving sites for all skill levels. Some of the underwater attractions available in our waters include sting rays, sharks, sea turtles, colorful fish, corals, as well as old plane and ship wrecks that lay on the ocean floor. Several challenges, however, are affecting Jamaica’s water spaces and the local diving industry on a whole. They are Poor fishing practices by our fisherfolk, pollution, lack of general public awareness, accessibility to new and evolving technologies, and, perhaps most importantly, the scarcity in trained professionals who follow industry standards without compromise.
Seeing locals as young as 10 years old jumping from cliffs into the ocean or from the top of water falls into blue holes, makes one wonder why we do not have enough Dive Instructors.
Sharren Robinson, who hails from the community of Llandilo, Westmoreland, is now an Entertainment Supervisor at Sunscape Resorts. However, he wears many hats, one of which is Dive Instructor, which he has been doing for 13 years now, 6 of those years being at the professional level. What started off as a fun time was turned into a profession. He has been in the hospitality industry since 2003, where he started as an Entertainment Trainee. While working as an Entertainment Coordinator, he was required to read a lot of resort fact sheets so that he could provide accurate information to guests about each tour. His detailed responses on scuba diving were overheard by the resort’s Dive Instructor, who, after finding out that Robinson had never been diving before, invited him to have his first dive experience. “From then, I was hooked!” Robinson said.
He was never one to settle, and so as each opportunity presented itself to allow him to elevate in the industry, he took the offers. He reflects that his most memorable experience in diving was going through his second internship and Instructor Development Course (IDC) for Master SCUBA Diver Trainer rating (MSDT) in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, with ProDive International. He has “been trained in a total of 9 specialty diving disciplines as an instructor.”
Despite having several other awards under his belt, including winning monthly, quarterly and yearly staff awards in various categories, Robinson expressed that his “greatest achievement is becoming a Diving Instructor,” which allowed him to train and certify student divers to PADI standard, two of whom he has mentored up to Dive Master Rating. Diving has also allowed him to travel and gain experiences he never imagined he would.
Although his current title is Entertainment Supervisor, and he is unable to dive and train as often as he would like, Robinson continues his diving prowess by volunteering at local Marine Parks, where he currently works on several projects including the Coral Restoration Project, Invasive Specie Control and Transec Monitoring in the Negril, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and South Coast regions.
Robinson hopes to help revolutionize diving in Jamaica. He believes that this can further boost the country’s tourism revenue, as divers can visit all year round. In addition, more jobs can be created as there is a shortage of professional divers on the island. He urges youths to look beyond the familiar and turn their play into a profession.