Group snorkelers visit LIRS as part of a student group or a special interest group led by staff of the group’s own institution or by professionals engaged by that institution.
Group snorkelers may or may not be experienced snorkelers.
They are supervised while snorkeling by suitably qualified adult members of the group.
Group snorkelers who are over the age of 18 years may elect to snorkel independently under certain circumstances with the approval of their snorkeling coordinator and after completing an Independent Snorkeler Form.
REQUIREMENTS FOR SNORKELING
Formal snorkeling qualifications are not required.
Each snorkeler must complete a Group Snorkeler Form before any snorkeling takes place. The form requires a statement about swimming ability and disclosure of certain medical conditions that may increase the risks of snorkeling.
At least a week before the trip starts, group leaders must forward a completed Group Snorkeler Form (Form 2) to LIRS for each group member including supervisors. Parent/guardian signatures are required on the form for each group member who is under the age of 18 years.
The following supervisory roles must be filled by competent and qualified adults who are part of the group: a snorkeling coordinator, one or more licenced and experienced boat drivers, one or more lookouts or guides, and one or more providers of first aid/ medical oxygen. The supervisors must accept their various responsibilities in writing on the Group Supervisor Form (Form 3) before any snorkeling takes place.
obtains a completed Group Snorkeler Form (Form 2) for each person in the group, including supervisors, and submits them to LIRS at least a week before the trip begins (the signature of a parent or guardian is required for snorkelers under the age of 18)
appoints a competent and suitably experienced person as the snorkeling coordinator (the group leader and the snorkeling coordinator may be the same person)
ensures that sufficient adults in the group are competent and willing to accept the other required supervisory positions
advises (or requires the snorkeling coordinator to advise) the group of the institution’s restrictions on swimming from shore during free time, with or without snorkeling gear, and enforces those restrictions (or requires the snorkeling coordinator to enforce them)
Group snorkeling can take place anywhere within the Low Risk Area (see below) that is designated daily at LIRS on the basis of prevailing and forecast weather conditions
The snorkeling coordinator must assess whether low risk conditions actually exist at the site before snorkeling takes place. If they do not, then the group must move to another location.
Groups may charter the resort’s dive boat for snorkeling trips to reefs away from the Lizard Island Group. These locations are outside the Low Risk Area and such trips are conducted under the resort’s regulations.
Other proposals for snorkeling outside the Low Risk Area are subject to additional risk assessment by the snorkeling coordinator and approval from the LIRS Diving Officer.
LOW RISK AREA
Southeasterly conditions prevail for at least eight months per year and a stable Low Risk Area (shown shaded) generally applies during those conditions. Note that:
The LIRS Diving Officer may cancel this general dispensation at any time
The LIRS Diving Officer may post a map showing a different Low Risk Area according to prevailing and forecast weather conditions
informs snorkelers of the plan for following a guide, if a guide is appointed, and
requires all snorkelers to form buddy pairs, or trios if an uneven number of people.
One or more lookouts must be posted if the group size is 12 people or more.
The snorkeling coordinator must assess whether a single lookout is reasonable for each activity. As a guide, one lookout is usually reasonable within the Low Risk Area for groups of up to 25 people who are competent swimmers but risk assessment may indicate the need for more lookouts under different circumstances.
have a binoculars and polarising sunglasses to enhance the lookout’s ability to see all snorkelers
have a whistle to make a general recall signal
count snorkelers entering the water and keep constant watch, making frequent head counts
keep track of snorkelers as they return to their assigned boats or as they reach shore
ensure that all people are present before the group leaves the snorkeling site.
If the lookout is not also a first aid and oxygen provider, the snorkeling coordinator must make sure that a person who does have such training is immediately available to assist the lookout if required.
If a signal for assistance is made by a snorkeler, the lookout must quickly assess the level of emergency. The lookout should consider passing his/her duties to another person while going to the assistance of the snorkeler, or of recalling the group. However, if the snorkeler clearly requires immediate aid, the lookout should act to provide it immediately.
The snorkeling coordinator may dispense with a lookout and appoint an in-water guide instead only if:
the group involved in the snorkeling activity (including the guide) is of 11 people or less
the snorkeling coordinator has conducted a proper assessment of the risks involved in not having a lookout (i.e. additional risk assessment on the Group Supervisor Form (Form 3) or a similar format), and
If group snorkelers over the age of 18 wish to become independent snorkelers during the course of their visit to LIRS, they must obtain the consent of their snorkeling coordinator and complete an Independent Snorkeler Form.
For the purposes of group snorkeling, “night” is defined as any time between sunset and sunrise.
The snorkeling coordinator must discuss plans for night snorkeling with the LIRS Diving Officer at least a day in advance. Consideration must be given to locations, personnel, navigation, equipment and specific procedures. The coordinator must submit a risk assessment (i.e. additional risk assessment on the Group Supervisor Form (Form 3) or a similar format) for approval.
Each snorkeler must have
a cyalume or other constant light source firmly attached to the snorkel, and
an underwater torch
At least one lookout must be posted but more may be required depending on the size of the group, weather conditions and other risk factors.
The lookout must have two torches and a VHF radio.
SWIMMING DURING FREE TIME
During “free time” from group activities at LIRS, group members often wish to swim from shore with or without snorkeling gear.
Groups differ in the degree of regulation required of such water activities, ranging as they do from early secondary school students through tertiary students to elderly adults.
At the beginning of the trip, the group leader must advise the group of the institution’s restrictions on swimming from shore during free time, with or without snorkeling gear, and enforce those restrictions. The group leader may delegate these responsibilities to the snorkeling coordinator.
Restrictions should be based on careful risk assessment, considering age, ability, location, distance from shore, time of day, weather and sea conditions, number of people participating and whether there is a need for supervision or a sign-out procedure.