Training Programs for Instructors and Divers
The number of divers in Turkey has exceeded 100,000. Almost all of these divers receive their diving training from a diving Instructor affiliated to Turkey Underwater Sports Federation (TSSF). There are currently more than 1,400 active diver instructors in Turkey. One of the aims of the project is to train these diver instructors on “protection of underwater cultural heritage” with special education programs, to ensure that these instructors transfer their knowledge to their students in a correct and effective manner. To deliver all the necessary materials free of charge, and to create an examination and certification system are also important components of this program.
The first step in the framework mentioned above was to prepare a book titled “Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.” The book was published in March 2018 and was prepared by academics working in the field of underwater archaeology and experts from the Ministry of Culture. The book was published by Turkish Underwater Sports Federation, and was prepared considering the principles and recommendations of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey, and the universal approaches of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) regarding the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. The purpose of the book is to provide an approach and knowledge in order to prevent damage to archaeological heritage by divers. The book also aims to inform the relevant institutions about the cultural values found underwater by the divers, consequently transferring them to future generations and bringing them to the attention of the world of science. The printed version of the book is distributed free of charge to the diving instructors by TSSF, and the PDF version is freely accessible on the website. The second step was to organize Instructor Training Programs for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. A total of 398 instructors have participated in this program, which has been organized four times since November 2018, two in Antalya (November 2018 and May 2019), one in Istanbul (March 2019) and the one in Izmir (March 2020), and it is the first and only program organized in the world within this scope. “Instructor Training Program for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage” is organized completely free of charge for diving instructors with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey, Turkish Underwater Sports Federation, UNESCO and ICOMOS. Diving instructors also provide this training to their students free of charge. With the decision taken in March 2020 by Turkey (TSSF), “Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage” Program was made mandatory for all “CMAS (World Confederation of Underwater Sports) Two-Star” divers. In line with this decision, all divers who wish to obtain a higher diver certificate must receive this training. Accordingly, at least one person in each diving group in Turkey within a few years will have received the training in question.
After the aforementioned training, all participants who pass the exam sign an agreement declaring that they will preserve “Underwater Cultural Heritage.” With this contract, divers are both involved in the process of preserving the underwater cultural heritage and report the archaeological remains they see during their dives to the official authorities. In the last 2 years, 7 shipwrecks have been documented in the Mediterranean and 3 archaeological sites have been registered by the relevant museums with the notifications made by the diving instructors who participated in this program. Face-to-face training has been suspended due to the pandemic, and webinars for Instructors have been initiated by TSSF. The textbook of the program has been financed from the TSSF budget, and each program has cost 6000 Euros on average