Previously Expedition Medicine had run it’s Diving and Marine Medicine course in the Bander Khayran area of the Oman coast but decided to change location to guarantee great diving to the Maldives. So, in October of this year an eclectic band of medics from literally all over the world joined Diving Medic Dr Lesley Thomson – who has treated divers at the Plymouth and Aberdeen Hyperbaric Units, Dr Robert Conway founder of award winning marine conservation charity Blue Ventures, Dr Mark Read a marine biologist and Head of the endangered species unit of the Great Barrier Reef National Park and Mark Hannaford veteran of over 25 years of adventure travel and expeditions to all of the worlds continents aboard the dive boat Ari Queen for a week amongst the coral atolls of the Maldives.
The diving standard was set by our first ‘proper’ dive after our initial check dive when we dived at a Manta Ray feeding station. I don’t think any of us were really prepared for the spectacle surrounding us. Diving down to about 25 metres we positioned ourselves below the reef edge and it wasn’t long before a mass of manta rays, both fully grown adults and juveniles, were looming out of the slightly murky water and gracefully glided over our heads. This really set the standard for the diving on the course, which reached a pinnacle on the last dive where a mass a over 10 Grey Sharks were spotted amongst huge flight of Eagle Rays, White tipped Reef Sharks, a giant Napoleon Wrasse and the most relaxed Hawksbill Turtle that any of us had ever dived with, calmly grazing next to us as we admired the gallery of marine life whilst a territorial Titan Trigger Fish took a fancy to our dive guide!
The teaching side of the course maintained equally high standards, with a range of specific diving medicine related topics covered, including decompression sickness and diving physiology. The team also drew upon Lesley’s experiences as a medical officer and diving medic for the British Antarctic Survey, Rob’s years of marine conservation work in Madagascar, Mark Read’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the underwater world and Mark Hannaford’s quarter century of experience of running expeditions and adventure travel.
If you are getting the impression that it was a pretty action-packed course you would be right – some days lecturing did not finish until 10pm! – but it was also hugely enjoyable! The enormous wealth of experience amongst the delegates meant that their input and knowledge added a great deal to the overall leaning. In terms of meeting like-minded people it was a great opportunity to establish some great networks and share contacts.
The Diving and Marine Medicine course in the Maldives is accredited by the Wildness Medical Society for CME points and also counts towards gaining a Fellowship of the Wilderness Medicine (FAWN). A full list of the topics covered can be found on the Diving Medicine course page of the Expedition Medicine website.
Dates for next year’s course are to be confirmed exactly but will be mid-October 2011 – send us an email here [email protected] to preregister your interest.