Mentoring by the more experienced members of an UVG is also integral to the success of the program. Divers will always be undertaking research activities as a member of a buddy pair. It is our strong recommendation that dive leaders create buddy pairs such that the members of the pair have varying levels of experience. Thus one member will be acting as a mentor, the less experienced member will be ‘learning on the job’ – not only will the standardised methods be reinforced but so too will good diving behaviours. An exception to this may be when a fish inventory or marine debris survey is undertaken in deeper water that requires both members of a buddy pair to be ‘experienced’ divers.
Dive leaders have the responsibility of allocating members to buddy pairs. Each member of a pair must understand their responsibilities during the conduct of an actual survey. The protocols require that one member of a buddy pair act as the recorder. In this context (they have other duties to undertake in addition to acting as a recorder) they must ensure that they enter the data legibly. It’s important to make sure that all values, codes and text are carefully written on the data sheet.
Although you might think that you will remember exactly what your scribble means at the time you write it, it can sometimes be a considerable time between writing in the values and when they are transcribed into the online databases provided for data entry. Take the extra time to make sure that all the values and notes are legible, not only for you, but also for anyone else who might need to gain access to the data. It’s also the responsibility of the dive leader to collect the data sheets from each of the buddy pairs at the conclusion of survey. At that point the dive leader should read each of the sheets and if any information is missing, or writing illegible, then the recorder will be required to rectify the situation.