Every year at the DEMA (Dive Equipment and Marketing Association) Show, which is the largest dive industry trade show, among other things, we look for one new item, thing, device, or program that will help introduce the general public to the amazing world of scuba diving. This year at the November 2018 show, we had to give two fins and a snorkel up to the Peter Diving System. At first glance the Peter Diver System resembles a hookah system where air from the surface is supplied to divers down below. In this case two to three people can simultaneously breath off of one tank of compressed air. The tank, or cylinder of air, floats on the surface in a yellow boat shaped-like harness with multiple hand hold built right in the sides, and has a dive flag mounted on top. To use the system requires students to don a mask, snorkel, wet-suit, and fins. An instructor goes over a large sized but easy to follow teaching/safety training chart before taking the students into the water just like during a discover scuba diving program, then the students can put on a very light weight belt in warm waters, place the regulator in their mouth, and go under water. The peter system will let students dive down to a max depth of 6m (20ft).
The instructor stays with the students and can look up at the tank to see how the air supply is doing by quickly checking the color of the emitted gauge light: green is full, yellow is half full, and red is the last quarter of the tank, and time to surface. It’s fun and easy to learn and try, afterwards the kids are ready to do a discover scuba dive. They already know the drill about training by chart before the dive, so they are ready to take the next step, and before you know it, they are excited and ready to sign up to become open water divers, with weight, belts, buoyancy compensator vest, and back mounted tanks.
The conversion rate is great, but this is not the end of the story, it’s just the beginning. People with physical challenges or adaptive needs, will find that it is easy to use diving underwater when the weight of a back mounted tank is removed from the equation. It’s easier for those of us with back issues too. The entire system with a carbon tank may weigh only 10kg (22lbs) and only needs to be placed in the water, not strapped to your back during the dive. This is great for hull cleaners and people doing repairs underwater too, as tanks can get heavy even when you’re neutrally buoyant or floating like a leaf.
So, you can see that there are multiple benefits from using the Peter Diving System; SSI (Scuba Schools International), a worldwide diver certification/training organization has teamed up with a diving school in Majorca Spain to get people interested in the world below. The Peter Diving System is available in at least seven other locations around the world; see the map at www.peterdiving.com. We feel that any system that can easily excite and usher in new potential divers to any scuba training organization is a positive advancement for the entire scuba dive industry, as well as a win for all future local dive communities and a lifelong family recreational activity.
Scuba Diving Is Transformational
Scuba Diving Is Transformational!
Has scuba diving changed your life?
A recently released 2016 research study conducted by researchers at East Carolina University working with Outside Magazine showed the motivation for adventure travelers has changed from a former study completed in 2005. The new study revealed that adventure travelers crave transformative experiences, but not as a byproduct of the pursuit of adventure activities. Instead, adventure travelers are actively motivated by a desire for personal growth and change.
Interestingly, of the 10 recreational activities identified as transformational by all those who participated in the research study, scuba diving was listed as number 8 and the overwhelming majority of participants were not scuba divers.
Earlier this year, we asked our e-news and social media followers to tell us how scuba diving was transformational for them. Our divers disclosed that scuba diving not only transformed them as individuals, but also influenced a loved one or their entire family, helped them overcome a fear, embrace a healthier lifestyle, and reminded us that you are never too old to get certified.
Louise and Dennis Marquering were both teaching biology and oceanography over forty years ago when they got married. They went snorkeling on their honeymoon and two years later became certified divers, which helped enhance their teaching experience. They have been each other’s dive buddies from the start and have traveled together to places they would never have explored otherwise. But, it doesn’t end there. In her own words, Louise writes, “Mothers have tears when their daughters get married. I teared up when our daughter completed her check out dive as a young teenager.” Well, their daughter has since grown up and is married to a diver. Now, the entire family goes on dive vacations together.
Scuba diving can help children’s self-confidence and create strong, family bonds. Valerie Rule defines this passionately when sharing her story. She tells us that they got their children in the water as early as age two, placing them on their laps, putting a mask on them and allowing them to breathe from their octopus regulator underwater. They enrolled their children in a scuba rangers program and, as soon as they were old enough, took them on their first dive vacation to Belize. Now in their twenties, their children are still their dive buddies and the four of them are still traveling together. Scuba diving has been, she says, “transformational in these and so many countless ways, and it has been an indispensable tool in binding the four of us together.”
Ed Rau discovered scuba diving as a young single man. He got married and his wife also became a certified diver. The couple had three children and they all became certified divers. He now has a 13-year-old granddaughter who is now a certified diver. Ed writes, “I always found a way to sacrifice whatever I had to in order to be able to go on a dive trip.” He shares that he started taking 8 mm snapshots that played movies on those old film projectors, which eventually progressed to underwater video. The whole family goes on dive travel vacations together and they always have “3 generation pictures” taken of them underwater! Certainly, the images and video relive their memories but also serve as a legacy for future family generations.
Sometimes scuba divers need to fend off certain anxieties, but what if the anxiety one is dealing with is unrelated to going underwater or the diving experience? We have all heard stories of individuals who had to escape a demon or two in order to accomplish a life goal.
Dr. Bill Bushing has been an educator and avid scuba diver his entire adult life, teaching marine biology at the high school and college levels. But, Dr. Bill (as he is known) had to overcome his fear of flying commercial aircraft in order to travel to those select destinations that he so desperately wanted to dive. He got over his fear of flying and has traveled all over the world, from the Caribbean to the South Pacific and Australia, including the islands of the Bahamas, the Philippines, Palau, Egypt, Fiji, Tahiti, Thailand, and other dive destinations. He also goes on trips to conduct studies and produce films. He has a newspaper column and TV Show, “Dive Dry with Dr. Bill,” and is a recipient of the 2011 California Scuba Service Award. He is a good example of someone you might consider never had a fear to overcome, but his story reminds us that our love and passion for scuba diving, and our desire to explore the oceans worldwide, is enough to dare us to overcome any fear – even when that fear is flying.
Suuz Martines, works in the dive industry, and has developed her professional persona, CoCo Cheznaynay® Secret Agent of Truth & Style, who teaches courage, truth, and advocates facing your fear. But as Suuz stated, “when I began scuba lessons, a strange performance anxiety surfaced; not about water, claustrophobia, fish, nor the equipment, but the act of being lined up to perform the certification skills. This was the beginning realization of the bullying I buried from my childhood. I knew I had to overcome this fear and get my certification or abandon CoCo. How could I teach through a character when I could not do as she says?” If not for scuba diving, she would have never embarked on solo dive travel trips beginning in 2000 and met strangers who became friends.
Scuba diving encourages some people to live healthier lives and embrace the sport ever so lovingly. Sherry Mitchell depicts herself as “a lover of life and scuba diving.” She and her husband gave up smoking, started exercising and eating better after becoming certified divers. As part of their dive classes, they were learning how to stay healthy so they could dive safer. They also became closer in their relationship and joy in life that they did not experience before scuba diving. Sherry also writes that they have been to some wonderful places and poetically illustrates the diving experience when describing her encounter with wild dolphins, giant manta rays, sharks, jellyfish and other marine life. She finishes off by telling us that they want to continue their plans of living healthy so that they can continue traveling and diving long into their senior years.
Many scuba divers will still be enjoying diving and traveling into their senior years, but Karen Jernigan is proof that you are never too old to fall in love or get certified. She was in her 50’s when she met her husband, who was a diver. A year later, she became certified. Since then, they have been traveling all over the world to scuba dive. She says she cannot imagine a vacation without the opportunity to dive. Karen says that they have also met many wonderful divers and they do seek warm water diving. The couple is now in their 70’s but looking forward to more years of traveling and diving.
Another group of divers who have benefited from scuba diving are war veterans and those with physical or emotional challenges. When they enter the water, experience underwater life and realize they are weightless and free, it becomes therapeutic. Specialized instructors, family, friends and fellow divers will willingly assist while more destinations and resorts are welcoming their visits. Many have learned to manage almost all on their own quite well. Others may require additional assistance, but all exhibit a new level of confidence and are so upbeat and resolute that nothing can stop them from diving.
Many encounters in life influence and change us in various ways. We all seek to focus on good things that bring about positive changes that make us happy when engaging in any sport, hobby or interest of any kind. As witnessed by the revelations of our readers, diving not only motivated them but became a shared fulfilling lifelong journey pursued with intense passion. In reading their truthful inspiring experiences, we realized two things. Human emotion creates moisture around the eyes and for everyone who becomes a certified diver; puts on special gear, loads a tank on their back, inserts their regulator and plunges into the water; there is one unanimous conclusion…
Scuba Diving is Transformational!
A Short DEMA Show Gear Review
What’s New in Dive Gear?
A Short Review of Unique New Equipment!
Every year we can’t wait to go to the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) Show, the dive industry’s premier trade exhibition. Sure, it’s a time to visit with old friends, strengthen business relationships, and attend a plethora of interesting seminars, but for us, the icing on the cake has to be the unveiling of new scuba dive gear, free dive gear, and in general, the products that make playing in water just more fun, enjoyable, and/or exciting, and without doubt, this November’s DEMA Show exceeded our expectations.
First off, we were swept away by the SEABOB F5 DPV. The underwater propulsion system can go 12mph/25kh/h in water. It can last for 300 minutes on the lowest power setting and recharges in 90 minutes. The max depth and time can be preset, plus you can wear a harness that’s easy to unclip when going fast or spinning around. The DPV only weighs 64 lbs / 38kg.
For a revolutionary product that is right out of Star Wars, you have to see the SWES 600 underwater ionic light. This 600 lumen light (in salt water) does not use batteries and you can’t recharge it. You simply place it in the water, and the ionic exchange gives it power. You can literally dive, rinse, and dive again, for three hours a day for two years, giving you 2140 hours of dive light time. How cool is that?
As for trends, people have been making new fins for years, but this year TUSA is making the HyflexSwitch fin, which you can detach the blade from the foot pocket and fit it all in a travel bag, then put it all back together again in minutes, so you no longer have to purchase a smaller less powerful set of fins for your travel vacation while leaving your favorite pair of fins back home. Speaking of new fins, Indigo Industries makes the Shift XT modular fins and you can also detach the fin bade, but in this case, you can exchange a split fin blade for a zip split fin blade, plus you can change the bare foot pocket for a strap when wearing booties, which seems to be the ultimate transformer type fin to date.
Also excellent for traveling divers is the new Scubapro Hydros Pro BCD. The thermoplastic material and gel pockets dry fast and fold down to almost nothing making this BC easy to place in onboard luggage. You can add weights to the pockets, or use as a harness system with a weight belt for further reduction of travel space.
Now when it comes to details, we have to mention the new WaterProof EX2 drysuit that has built in thigh pockets on both front legs, a side arm pocket for sunglasses when on shore, a built in strap for VH1 radios, a pee zipper already installed, a zip pocket for pens, a built in blind plug that can be replaced for a air release valve, or heater battery cord intake valve. It also has velcro locations for applying your name, badge, and identity patches, plus a new type of velcro straps for dry gloves. It’s like they thought of everything that you might want, and then added some extras features just to blow your mind.
Ok, so you don’t always have to have a ton of improvements to set a product apart from the rest, take Aqualung’s EVO4 boots for example. Sure, they have a sturdy drysuit boot with a vibram sole and are made with the military in mind for slippery decks and rocks, but when you pull on the laces of the EVO4 boot, they cinch from the bottom on up, not just the top tightens like most other boots with the laces loose near the toes. EVO4’s produce a fast good tight fit all the way up, and something as simple as a good fitting boot can make or break an easy entrance into or out of the water.
Having a defogged mask can also make or break an enjoyable dive. Fog Kicker is a new biodegradable anti-fog coating that you can apply like marking with a felt pen on your mask lens and one coat is good for 10-15 dives.
As for cameras, SeaLife has the new DC2000; a 20 meg pixel camera that shoots jpg and even in raw format. This 1 inch fast sensor camera comes in a new rugged easy to use housing rated down to 200ft / 60m, but even without the outer housing, the inner camera is rated down to 60ft / 18m, making ideal to use below or above the water. Of course it wouldn’t be a SeaLife product if the DC2000 system wasn’t compatible with a fish eye lens to give an 80º wide field of view, and you can also use it with all the Sea Dragon Flash and light systems, including the new Fluoro-Dual Beam to give animals a blue background to show off their natural colors when desired. How awesome is that?
Sometimes all you need to impress us are great prices on dive gear and in this case we have to mention SEAC, pronounced “Sea-ak”. From an Italian free dive and spear gun foundation they have expanded to a worldwide made full line of scuba dive products that are comparatively low priced, which is a major priority for getting new divers such as millennials into aquatic sports. As we have seen in the past, as dive gear prices go up, the percentage of potential new divers attracted to the sport goes down. So we have to commend Seac for not only producing quality gear, but for helping price point conscious new scuba, skin, and free divers focus on the immediate fun of these aquatic sports; long term retention in these sports will then just be a matter of good times!
On the other end of the spectrum our list would not be complete if we didn’t mention The Darkwater Vision Hammerhead mask that allows technical divers to see in low light arenas. Whether you are doing night dives, deep dark dives, or murky river dives where you are trying to find Megalodon teeth on top of the sediment with the touch of your hands, now you can wear this high tech mask and see with a game-like ethereal quality what was previously too dark and occluded to see naturally. The Hammerhead mask system essentially does for divers, what night vision does for the armed forces, but it’s also excellent for underwater welders too; Dearth Vader would be jealous if he wasn’t already seeing red.
There were lots of other products that we would like to mention that were unveiled at the DEMA Show, but hopefully you’ll get a chance to see them at your local dive store early this year when many of these items should be shipping. For us, it’s time to stop writing, go get wet, and try out the aforementioned products extensively until the next DEMA Show.
Giant Sharks Through Time
Giant Sharks Through Time
Great Whites are currently the largest predator shark on this water planet, but it hasn’t always been this way. The first large predator shark dates back to 100 million years ago back to the Cretaceous period of time. The shark I am referring to is Cretoxyrhina manteli, which is commonly known as the Ginsu shark because of its sharp ginsu knife slice and dice teeth. The teeth were large, sharp, and had smooth edges similar to the modern short fin mako shark. This large lamniform shark grew 20-24ft long and preyed on fish such as the 20ft long fanged tooth Xiphactinus, Plesiosaurs such as elasmosaurus, mosasaurs, and archelon turtles. Remains of sea going reptiles such as Mosasaurs have been found inside the stomachs of fossilized Ginsu sharks, Ginsu teeth marks have been found on fossils of Mosasaurs, and half digested fossilized remains of smaller Mosasaurs bones have been found near Ginsu shark deposits. Ginsu sharks died out some 82 million years ago and this could be partly due to the fact that certain species of mosasaurs grew close to 50ft long and in turn became the top predator of the time. Whether Mosasaurs ate all the Ginsu sharks, dominated the former Ginsu shark food supply, food sources like Xiphactinus fish diminished, or the rising number of other predators proved overwhelming, Ginzu sharks managed to survive for 18million years and just like the warm waters of the Thethys Ocean, Ginsu Sharks ultimately became extinct.
For the next 54 million years a few early species of mako sharks radiated in to sharks 20 to 30ft long sharks such as Paratodus benedeni, Isurus hastalis, and Isurus estheri, but 28 million years ago during the Oligocene a new large species of shark came to light and pushed these mako sharks out of sight and out of mind. It was a time when whales dominated the seas and radiated into many species. The new shark Carcharocles megalodon or simply Megalodon, which grew to some 43 to 52 plus feet in length, roamed the warm waters in search of big fish and whale buffets. Remnant fossilized teeth over seven inches long are still found on the muddy bottoms of rivers in South Carolina and Florida as well as off shore along the south eastern states.
An intermediary 16ft long form of broad tooth mako shark with coarse serrations on its teeth and similar to great white teeth was found in 6.5 million year old fossil deposits of Peru. Scientist are now confident that the great white took it’s current form from ancestors of serrated tooth mako during the early Pliocene 4-4.5 million years ago along the Pacific Coast where whales and seals are still quite prevalent. In the late Pliocene around 2-2.5 million years ago great whites radiated out to other parts of the world. Megalodon sharks finally died out 1.8million years ago, giving them a total life long run of almost 26 million years on this water planet. It’s not known if great whites lead to the extinction of Megalodon sharks, but juvenile megalodons with butter knife smooth teeth would have had to compete directly against easy chomping great whites with steak knife teeth. The sharp teeth would come in handy against seals, and may have given great whites an edge on hunting young whales too. It’s also known that species of giant mako sharks became extinct as great whites filled the niches of the precursor instead of the mako .
Some fifteen million years ago the cold Antarctic circumpolar current came into existence and by 10 million years ago several species of sharks began to grow in size. By the end of the Pliocene, somewhere around 3 million years ago, the waters became cooler as the Greenland ice cap accumulated. Megalodon fossils are usually associated in areas that were once warmer or tropical. Perhaps the great white by just being able to hunt in colder waters than megalodons and ability to expand out around the world could have eventually reduced the megalodon’s immediate, as well as their migrating food supply, and led to the megalodon’s final extinction.
Millions of sharks are killed yearly and efforts to curtail or eliminate this routine practice must be enhanced. Knowing the evolution of giant sharks, now more than ever, it is important to safe guard the existence of great whites. Because if they went instinct even accidentally, it could take another 25 million years before the world could see such a large top predator, and that is only if the food supply was abundant, over fishing was no longer a threat, and the climate or water temperature was agreeable to a currently unknown future radiated shark species.
Anxiously Awaiting Your Next Dive?
Anxiously Awaiting Your Next Dive?
If you dive less than 7 to 14 times a year you might want to take a refresher course before you go on your next big vacation or scuba dive adventure. You have either read something like this in your introductory scuba course, a dive magazine, or heard it down at a local dive shop. The reason is simple, if you practice diving on a regular basis, you become more familiar with more facets of your dive gear and scuba diving conditions in general. Being comfortable with your dive gear and the local dive conditions is the goal of every diver as it reduces anxiety and enhances your over all dive experience, but besides the basics, what else can you do to ensure the a perfect dive the next time out? Perhaps we should talk about dive gear first.
Even if you are diving warm waters, we recommend wearing a full rash guard or preferably a 3ml wetsuit that covers your torso, arms, and legs. Sure on the first dive you are warm in just a swimsuit, but after several dives and several days, you may start to feel cold before the end of the dive, and the urge to find a bathroom will eventually override your desire to maximize your bottom time. Acting on this urge before surfacing only exacerbates the situation by briefly heating your outer extremities then cooling them down while your blood vessels have become dilated by the sudden warmth which makes your heat loss increase exponentially. A wetsuit or rash guard is also a good way to protect your body from fire corals, jelly fish, and even prevents you from getting sunburned shoulders and legs when you are diving less than 20ft below the surface or doing decompression stops. A hood, bandana, cap or scap also works as the ultimate sun blocker for your head, especially if your hair is short or you’re like some of us and folically challenged.
Having your own gear with you on a trip always reduces anxiety because your familiar with how it operates and comfortable with how it fits , but sometimes renting gear is the best option, especially when it comes to the airlines baggage policies and added cost. We always recommend taking your own mask, booties, dive computer as there is nothing worse than a leaky mask and a limited or unfamiliar computer. Fins could be added to the essentials list if based on previous rentals that with every kick it reminded you of the movie Foot Loose. As for the rest of your rental gear, be sure and do an easy shallow shore dive to make sure you are absolutely comfortable with how the unfamiliar gear operates, sits, and fits. Now if you dive with steel tanks and you find yourself using rental aluminum tanks while on vacation, you’ll need to add some additional weight too. You’ll notice the difference aluminum tanks make at the end of the dive when aluminum tanks down around 500psi try to make you float to the surface if you didn’t plan a head and weight yourself properly for this contingency.
Everyone talks about how important buoyancy is and we recommend on working on perfect buoyancy so you can glide down underwater and surface later on as soft and slow as a snowflake or leaf swept along in a gentle breeze, but what if your next dive adventure calls for diving down quickly to get below the swift currents near the surface? You might need a little more weight, and little more practice to control a little quicker descent. Also, the added weight will affect how much air and at what rate you need to expel air from your BC on your ascent back to the surface too. Practicing with a few extra pounds of weight will lessen your overall anxiety when it comes to diving in areas where currents are typically stronger.
Task overloading is a common phenomena that can lead to symptoms of high anxiety. If you have been out of the water for awhile, chances are diving a deep night drift wreck dive from a boat while navigating using dive lights and taking video/pictures while lobster hunting is going to feel like a multitasking nightmare. Perhaps a better option is to strap a Gopro or Intova video camera in place so you are hands free, and for all the types of diving you plan on doing, perhaps training in each of these fields separately and in advance would not only prepare you for your next dives, but would also put you in the water more frequently. Skills in boat diving, deep diving, drift diving, night diving, and navigation to name a few, could be used at almost any resort or dive site worldwide. When your trained properly, it is easier to anticipate your needs, plan your dive, and actually dive your plan from Belize, Cozumel, Bonaire, Palau, Truk, or Papua New Guinea. Also, good dive operators are there to help you. Don’t hesitate to communicate any concerns you may have. Even the most experienced divers have encountered feelings of unease and apprehension. Voicing any worries along with all of this training with your gear and dive conditions increases your safety, knowledge, and your confidence and ability to make the best decisions when it counts most, and thus makes every dive more pleasurable and relatively anxiety free.
North American Aquarium Diving
North American Aquarium Diving
There may be times when you find yourself in a another city either due to work, visiting relatives, or just because you wanted to get away, explore, and play. If this happens to you, and you can’t bring all your dive gear, and yet you are looking for something a little more exciting than viewing goldfish in hotel lobby aquariums then we thought you might like the following list of relatively convenient yet definitely unusual dive sites.
Sure, this list is all about aquariums, but ones so big, diver friendly, and filled with sharks and other exotic creatures that you may have to rethink how you classify the seven seas. So, starting off our list of potential dive sites in a semi-random pattern from east to west this is what we have discovered so far.
Long Island Aquarium. This must be one of the easiest dives in the world. They provide everything for you including a mask with underwater communication abilities and you don’t even have to be a certified diver. A trained shark dive instructor goes with you inside a shark cage, which is lowered, into the 120,000 gallon Lost City of Atlantis shark exhibit. Besides a 12ft long trident, pillars, and remnants of the lost city, you just might see sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, moray eels, grouper and a 300lb turtle named “Jaws”. This adventure also includes a souvenir beach towel and an emailed photograph of you diving. www.longislandaquarium.com
Baltimore’s National Aquarium. Be a guest diver in the 335,000-gallon Atlantic Coral Reef Tank. This is an authentic fabricated oval reef with some 500 plus fish, rays, and sharks. The 13ft deep dive is operated by Atlantic Edge scuba school and dive shop in Gathersburg. You must be certified and bring you own wetsuit, mask, snorkel, and fins. After the dive don’t miss the new 225,000-gallon Blacktip Reef exhibit with 793 different fish and sharks.www.aqua.org
North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island. The “Dive with the Sharks” program allows you to dive with sand tigers, sandbar, nurse sharks, and a replica of the USS Monitor ship in a 285,000-gallon “Graveyard of the Atlantic” exhibit. You can have photos and a video made of you experience. They have two dive sessions each weekday and one session on Saturday and Sunday. All gear is supplied and you must be a certified diver.www.ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island
The Georgia Aquarium. Here you can dive with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, in the largest indoor habitat that we know of. The Ocean Voyager exhibit built by Home Depot is 284ft x 126ft and 20-30ft deep and holds about 6.3 million gallons of seawater. It’s a chance to dive with up to 4 whale sharks, rays almost 9 feet wide, and 1,000 other fish. They supply all the gear, but you can bring your own mask if you want and you have to show your dive certification card. www.georgiaaquarium.org
The Epcot Dive Quest at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The Caribbean Coral Reef is 5.7 millions gallons of saltwater fun and includes over 6,000 sea creatures, which is more sea life than you might see on a natural reef. For swimming with sharks and rays you need to have a C-card, but not the for the Dolphins in Depth program. Diving here is one of those “book early, book everything, and book often, adventure sites”, but would you expect anything less from a Mickey Mouse operation? https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-divequest/
The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida. The Dive with the Sharks program operates in a 93,000-gallon tank called “Sharks Bay”. The dives are 3 times daily and you can basically kneel in the sand and watch the teeth glide by you. Were talking teeth attached to sand tigers, zebra sharks, nurse sharks, and black tip sharks. A paired Florida Aquarium divemaster makes sure you have a fun and safe dive. Bring a mask, towel, swimsuit, and C-card. www.flaquarium.org
SEA Life Minnesota Aquarium at Mall of America. SEA Life has two really cool exhibit dives. Atlantis is their Saltwater dive and you will swim in a tank of sand tigers, nurse sharks, huge bowmouth guitarfish, large sawfish, wobbegongs, white tips, zebra sharks, and more. You glide right over the tunnel of people peering inside the exhibit and it’s fun to pick shark teeth up right out of the sandy substrate and show the families walking through the tunnel what you found. The second dive in Sturgeon Lake is an unexpectedly fun dive, especially if they are feeding the turtle and fish. You’ll never experience outdoor lake diving with this degree of clarity nor this docile concentration of alligator gar, walleye, sturgeon, and bass. Bring all your dive gear including C-card, gloves, and a hood. SEA Life supplies tanks and weights. After the dives you get a souvenir T-shirt and you can keep all the shark teeth you find.
Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth, Minnesota. The “Dive-N-Feed Experience”, may not be found on the website, but it’s still occasionally offered on special request with plenty of advance notice. Here is a chance to feed freshwater fish and dive in a two story, three chambered, Isle Royale exhibit with Steelhead, kamloops, brown, coaster brook, and lake trout. Also, Siscowet lake trout, burbot, Atlantic salmon, coho salmon, sturgeon, walleye, longnose suckers, and American eels. They have over 100 Great Lake species in all. Bring your C-card and dive gear to keep you warm in the 52ºF 45,000-gallon main tank. Caution, diving here may lead to you becoming an active volunteer diver too. http://glaquarium.org/
Downtown Aquarium, Denver, Colorado. There are several ways to dive this aquarium, but all are done in conjunction with A-1 Scuba and Travel. For certified divers you can dive with the fish in the “Under the Sea” exhibit, and Dive with the Sharks in the “Depths of the Pacific” exhibit. If your not scuba certified, dive students training with A-1 Scuba and Travel may complete open water dives 1 & 2 at the aquarium, so call A-1 for more information on any of their aquarium dive programs. www.divedowntown.com
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada. Their “Dive with the Sharks” program is available for guests staying at Mandalay Bay. Now just about any marine biologist or batfish going blind from nematode infection will tell you that Shark Reef has had several unfortunate die offs in the last unlucky seven years from eels, sea turtles, schooling fish, and sharks. Fortunately, after the main circular lobby tank sprang leaks, the fish and sharks from this exhibit were transferred to the tank where the cow rays recently died off, so it all looks good to passing tourists, but concern about alleged reports about a shark left on the loading dock over a weekend and becoming injured, to not being able to dive 48 hours in the salt water after being chemically treated for parasites, and sharks with visible signs of parasitic infection, or showing signs of abnormal behavior still seem to plague Shark Reef, but hopefully a team of marine biologists can turn all this around soon, as Mandalay Bay Resort is one of the best beach resorts in Las Vegas. www.mandalaybay.com
Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California. Daily dives into the 350,000-gallon Tropical Reef Habitat ;swim with over 1000 fish, use an underwater camera, and get a souvenir towel and memory card all combine to make this a fun dive. All equipment is provided, but you can bring your own mask and booties. Must be certified and see age restrictions. www.aquariumofpacific.org
Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, Oregon. People come here annually to this 23-acre Pacific marine wildlife attraction. Passages of the Deep is considered the best shore dive on the Oregon coast. This was the former home of Keiko the Orca whale and the site was transformed into three ecosystems so you can dive 26ft deep at Halibut flats with skates, sturgeon, and rockfish, or sit on a 13ft ledge or dive with the big sharks like the 10ft long Broadnose Sevengill shark at the Open Sea Exhibit. Eugene Skin Divers Supply operates the underwater dives. Must be open water certified. http://aquarium.org/
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, Washington. Their “Eye to Eye with Sharks” program just started last year, but it’s a big hit with those that have experienced it. They actually have two dives in this 240,000-gallon tank, one is a cage dive for non-certified divers, and a scuba dive for those that are certified divers. The sandbar tiger sharks, nurse sharks, and even the wobbegongs here are some of the biggest you may ever see close up and personal. Dives are available Fridays through Mondays up to four times daily. All gear is supplied for these dives, and you will wear drysuits, so you can wear street clothes on underneath and keep them dry without need of a towel except for hair, but they’ve got that covered with a souvenir towel! No personal cameras are allowed. www.pdza.org/dive
Maui Ocean Center, The Hawaiian Aquarium. The Open Ocean exhibit has 750,000-gallons of salt water, 20 sharks, stingrays, and thousands of fish. Open to divers three days a week except holidays. They supply weight belts and tanks; you bring everything else. Why dive an aquarium in paradise? Guaranteed sightings of sharks! A constant rotation of sea creatures with those in the nearby natural native waters makes every visit here unique. Reservations required and you get to keep the shark teeth that you find in the sandy substrate. www.mauioceancenter.com
Now it’s quite possible that this list is ever changing and hopefully forever expanding. Keep in mind that available days of diving and the frequency of dives may change for any location. Most locations give you a tour of their backstage areas and a glimpse of other animals not normally seen by the general public. This includes breeding pools of fish, and species specifically raised to trade with other zoos and aquariums. A briefing on the dives and in depth information on fish, sharks, and local ecosystems may also be provided. The total tour time could take 3 to 4 hours. Sharing these dives with family members will create life long memories whether they go on the dives with you or look in from the other side of the clear acrylic wall. We hope you get a chance to take part in some or all of these unique diving opportunities.
We Dove or Did We Dive That Dive Site?
We dove or did we dive that dive site?
Recently, at a well known dive destination, we overheard two scuba divers talking about a dive site where one of the divers dove the other day. The other diver happened to be an English major and insisted that dove was not the past tense of dive. The first diver disagreed saying that dive and dove were like drive and drove and divers have routinely used the word dove for more than the last 50 years. The English major countered that dove refers to a type of bird use in a Prince song as well as a chocolate covered ice cream bar and a brand of soap.
You could not say we dove the Titanic, but that we were diving or went diving on the Titanic. In an old fashioned way, the English major had a point, but English is a dynamic ever changing language that continuously allows us to form new nouns, verbs, and change words as we deem them needed. Eventually, certain words are used in certain ways so frequently that they become officially accepted by leading contemporary English Dictionaries. Television shows, Movies, Internet, and Pod casts seem to only increase the accumulated speed of new words, verbiage, and jargon.
Take a TV show like “Finding Bigfoot,” although the one thing you will never see on this show is an actual bigfoot, you will pick up a whole array of words never before known to those outside the bigfoot community. The cast of the show routinely makes comments that have reference to Sasquatch; the Northwest First Nations word for Bigfoot. In the show, they hunt for squatch or go squatchin in the squatchiest places they can find and the squatchiestness of a site determines how close to finding a bigfoot they ultimately almost get.
In the popular show “Call of the Wildman,” Instead of saying rat raisins, porcupine scat, raccoon excrement, or animal feces, Turtleman calls everything “Pootie poot or poodie poo.” You might even hear someone on the set yelling, “something was pootie pooing in here”, and by now there is no one in Kentucky or anyone who watches the Animal Channel on a regular basis who doesn’t know the meaning of Pootie poot. By the way, for as far as we know, this word has no affiliation with the “Pootie-poot” nickname former President George W. Bush gave Mr. Vladamir Putin of Russia.
Now some words have fought hard not to become generic words that we take for granted. Take the word “xerox” for example.In the seventies everyone was making, taking, viewing a xerox of some other piece of paper. Xerox was a noun, a verb, and a corporation, but now that anyone can make a copy by using almost any copier/printer, we have a whole generation of kids that may not even know what a Xerox copy machine looked like or how enormous it even was.
On the other hand some words seem to have lost the battle no matter how hard they tried to keep pure a trademark brand. The Kleenex Corporation put tons of money into the words “Facial tissue”, but despite their best efforts, people still find it more convenient to say, “Hey, pass me a Kleenex,” and blow their nose without any regard as to what specific brand of facial tissue that they have truly just desecrated.
Now we could continue on with other innovative and new words, or you could Google a few more of your own: Oh, we mean search for words online using a well-known yet definitive free web browser service. We googled “dove” and found plenty of references towards scuba diving, but I guess the people employed at certain definitive dictionary companies are not into scuba diving, sasquatch, or pootie poot, as much as other niche groups of people are, so it could take another 50 years for the word “dove” to become officially sanctioned as a proper word.
Then again, some words will never be officially acceptable such as the word “ain’t”. This word is used by hundred of millions of people yearly, found in countless books, and occasionally slips from the lips of past presidents, senators, and congressmen alike, but it is loathed more than the nine words that you can’t say on public, non paid, free access TV or radio. Ain’t is just one of a few select words that could potentially break the backbone of the English language and ruin the livelihood of countless English teachers: just the mention of this word can cause acid reflex in some social groups. We hope that the duel or triple meaning word “dove” is not as loathsome to those in power as the word “ain’t”, but ultimately that’s not our call.
Even here, our work is not done, as scuba instructors routinely tell students, “Inflate your BC!” and seldom do you hear anyone say,” Inflate your buoyancy compensator!”, or shout out even the more less used and outdated phrase, “Inflate your buoyancy compensating device.” By the time you spit out all these old antiquated words, everyone has surfaced and they are heading for shore or they have already stepped aboard the boat.
So tell us where you last dove, and do you plan to dive there again?
Problem With A Leaky Mask?
Problem With A Leaky Mask?
We have all had it happen at one time or another. A dive mask that leaks.
It could be one that was burrowed, rented or recently purchased but that constant distraction of continually having to clear your mask makes your dive uncomfortable. Water inside your mask also creates a distortion in viewing objects underwater which makes taking pictures a future exercise in editing or deleting. Salt water in your eyes stings and water in your nose can lead to coughing which is not fun at 60 feet.
So here are a few suggestions on how you can avoid this problem.
All of us divers love going underwater but there is one thing even more important and that is coming up! The more we learn about diving safely, the more enjoyable our diving will become and you’re never too “experienced” to learn. Yes, this means you.
So what is most important for safe diving? Is it self-reliance, attitude, fitness, experience, certifications, equipment, diving variety, planning, a dive buddy?
When it comes to a safe fun diving experience, there is no one multiple choice answer. It’s all about learning and practicing.
We take diving seriously and want all divers to come up from every dive with a smile, a story and looking forward to their next fun dive.
Dive training complete. Check.
Check Out dives signed off by instructor. Check.
C-card in hand. Check.
Photo Courtesy of PADI
So now that you’re a certified beginner diver what do you do next? Stay in the water, of course!
You’ve invested time and money getting certified plus you love your newfound hobby so why not continue to dive? After all, this is the crucial period that will determine whether you’ll keep diving or just have another Done that item to check off your list.
We are assuming you want to stay wet and enjoy the underwater world so; the next step is to gear up!
Let’s face it diving isn’t cheap and neither is the gear so what is a beginner supposed to do? Most new divers buy mask, fins and snorkel then just rent their other gear but that can stack up to a lot of wasted cash on gear that doesn’t fit or work well, has been used by God knows who, and we are pretty sure that smell isn’t the ocean.
Best way to ensure your comfort, safety and convenience is to start investing beyond a mask, fins and snorkel in your own gear and you start with the wetsuit.
Photo Courtesy of Scuba Gear Reports
The most important and personal piece of gear you will EVER own (trust us). A proper wetsuit is supposed to act as a second skin while keeping you warm and comfy in the water.
Just like Goldie Locks your wetsuit should fit just right. A suit that is too tight will make it hard for you to move and breathe properly and a suit that is too loose will make sure you can’t feel your fingers from the cold.
Your best bet is to buy your own wetsuit and you should buy it in person to ensure it hugs (and lets loose) in all the right places! Also, keep in mind where you dive as water temperatures can help you determine how thick or light a suit should be or if more than one is needed.
The Regulator with Instrument Console
Now that you are all suited up your next piece of gear should be your regulator with an instrument console.
Who wants to use gear that has been drooled all over by countless others, not to mention the fact that you aren’t sure how well its been cleaned or when was the last time it received maintenance.
Your regulator system includes a first stage, a primary second stage, a back-up second stage or octopus, and an instrument console with a dive computer to measure depth, air consumption and inform you of your dive profile for safety. This is the heart of your life support system, so you can dive happily knowing your regulator is properly adjusted, up to date with its service, and who the last person to use it was.
Photo Courtesy of Scuba Gear Reports
Of course, we all know you need some sort of buoyancy in the water because who wants to constantly fight rising or sinking as you enjoy the sights of the ocean? Your next piece of equipment should be the Buoyancy Compensator.
We placed this one at #3 because you can rent it easily and comfortably so long as you pick up the right size for you. So, it can wait til you’ve got your own wetsuit and reg.
The key to picking the right regulator is size and (like a wetsuit) keep in mind where you will be diving.
Your BC will be the center of your dive rig; it’s what everything connects to and it allows you to fine-tune your dive set-up, which adds up to a more pleasurable experience.
All the Rest
After you’ve got your fins wet and your basic gear you will probably want more equipment as an avid diver. Your own tank, weights, underwater light, extra dive wrist computer, booties, gloves, safety sausage, accessories like a ScubaDoRag and dive bag to hold it all together come with time as the need for it grows.
For Scuba Gear Reports full detailed article on Buying Your First Set of Dive Gear click here.