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$5.95 US/CAN

February 2014 | Vol 18 • Issue 2





Beneath the Surface

Raising Awareness

Heading South

Bering Sea Gold

Helping Children

Socorro, Mexico

Necessity is the Mother of Invention... How the Self-Don Drysuit Design Was Born By Susan Long, President of DUI Thirty years ago, drysuits were used mostly by commercial divers, and a few intrepid wreck divers. That’s because drysuit designs back then were bulky, stiff, hard to get into and just miserable to wear. In the late 70’s, Diving Unlimited International (DUI) began designing drysuits as most wetsuit manufacturing was moving overseas. But these designs needed to offer divers something new and different – a drysuit that was lighter, better fitting and most importantly, one that a diver could put on and take off without assistance. Original drysuit designs had a zipper across the back of the shoulders. This made it impossible to zip yourself unless you were a circus acrobat. So DUI research and development designers tried a design with a zipper in the front that started on the upper left shoulder and ended at the right hip. It was a bit of a struggle to get on, but it worked. However, getting it off was nearly impossible. In complete frustration, the designers decided to CUT the suit. Starting at the hips, they made a complete circle. As they started to pull the suit over the top of their head, a new idea was born – by adding another 9” in torso length, about the length of the average head, the drysuit could be easily removed without help! And that’s how it happened. DUI was the first to manufacture self-don drysuits, patenting the design in 1984. The patent lasted 17 years and upon expiration, it was immediately copied by other drysuit manufacturers. DUI’s self-don telescoping torso is one of the most copied designs in diving to this day. DUI continually innovates drysuit systems to improve the diving experience, with 24 patents awarded in the last 50 years.

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Hot News Divers 4 Heroes Chattahoochee River Restoration


Hot News MARES and SSI Joint Venture Remedy for DCI

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Hot News NAUI’s Renewed Focus Wreck of the Rouse Simmons

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Hot News Getting to Know the BCRF British Columbia Cave Diving

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Hot News FIREBALL Run Flower Garden Banks, Texas

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Diver Propulsion Vehicles Behind Discovery’s Bering Sea Gold The Pit: Part 2, Commercial Diving Revillagigedo Archipelago Tropical Dive Directory

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Remembering Bill Wilson ID Kits for Children, Public Safety Small Business Listing Equalize Safely, DAN Andy Lamb’s Critter Corner Poster Contest, Creative Corner Gear Check

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SCUBA & H2O Adventure is published monthly by the Dive News Network Media Group at PO Box 1494, Oak Harbor, WA 98277. The Dive News Network Media Group reserves the right to refuse service to anyone it chooses. © 2013-2014 Dive News Network Media Group. All rights reserved. Important notice: The contents of SCUBA & H2O Adventure are opinions of individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, editor or any of its staff. The publishers and contributors assume no responsibility for any mishap claimed to tbe a result of use of this material. Adventure sports contain inherent risks. Improper use of equipment or improper techniques may result in serious injury or death. Readers are advised to use their own best judgement in each individual situation. We encourage readers to participate in determining the content of this publication by giving us their opinions on the types of articles they would like to see. We invite letters to the editor, manuscripts and photographs related to diving or dive-related business. Send us your stories and photos!


Under n o i t uc r t s n o 14 C 8

20 26 32 38 42 On the Cover: Picture by Rhett Turner for television documentary “Chattahoochee Unplugged”that was televised on Georgia Public Broadcasting Oct 2013. Pictured: Opening day of the Chattahoochee River rapids on the Cowetta Falls in Columbus, Georgia at the wave shaper machine.

Publisher: Rick Stratton Assistant Publisher: John Tapley Editorial Assistant: Jennifer Wilkins Graphic Designer: Katie Myers Accountant: Tove Chatham Show Manager: Selene Muldowney Advertising Sales: Roosevelt Rumble Circulation/Subscriptions: 360.240.1874 For more info, please visit

After 18 years in business you tend to build a tolerance for stress and changes. I’d like to thank my sponsors and Canadian whiskey for helping me deal with this month’s challenges. Last month we received an emergency email notice alerting us that our website had potential security issues. Not to worry – nothing was compromised, but the possibility that it could be at any time was enough to encourage us to make a decision to completely rebuild the site. We used the opportunity to do a clean install and upgrade of the site. This upgrade allowed us to take advantage of all the newest tools on the market and bring the website up to date with technological advances. The end result is fantastic, but if you have visited the site in the past 30 days, you may have noticed it was sometimes down for maintenance or slow to load. We hope you understand we appreciate your patience with our upgrades: good things are headed your way. We have upgraded all the features of the website, most importantly the archive and search features. We have many readers looking for previous articles and or dive sites we have written about in the past, and this area needed improvement. We have thousands of articles in our database to reload and many thousands of web-links to re-link. We ask for your patience–it is a huge job! We are also upgrading our e-magazine reader. We have been using a widget for the past couple of years; however, as technology advances, even our awesome e-reader can now be upgraded. Gone will be the days of hand entering your subscription and then waiting for weeks for a magazine. Soon you will have instant access to the digital magazine and will be able to make changes to your subscription services when you need them. We are all excited about the new features of this upgrade and look forward to sharing them with you. As we begin the second month of the year, the new dive, paddle, kayak and watersports season is already upon us. The shows are happening and we will soon be heading out to mix it up with our readers. We will let you know when and where we will be and ask you to stop by our booths and pick up a copy of the new magazine and tell us what you think. We look forward to seeing you and hearing your feedback.

Happy Diving, Rick


Dear Staff, In light of the media attention currently drawn to the plight of whales and dolphins in our country and overseas – I am wondering if you have an opinion on the subject? On social media, I have been watching daily reports of dolphins being caught, slaughtered and captured by “fishermen” in Taiji, Japan. As a reader I am concerned about how these animals are being brutally captured and then treated when in captivity. What is your opinion on this situation? Alec B. Leary Dear Alec, We certainly can appreciate your concerns and share most of them with you. We understand this is a hot topic and many people have opinions. We do not condone the needless slaughter of any animal and certainly cannot condone animal’s mistreatment while in captivity. We believe there are many responsible organizations in the United States and across the world who have successfully bred and cared for dolphins and whales in captivity. Many of these organizations have rescued these beautiful animals and continue to care for them. We will do our research and share what we learn as well as encourage our readers to share their opinions on our Facebook page at Thanks, Staff reporter and dolphin lover - Selene

Images courtesy stock.xchng

We are always looking for feedback and new topics to cover for incoming mail. Reach out to us with your opinions and comments by emailing or on our Facebook page at!




Join Seminole Scuba for Unforgettable African Adventures!

Scuba center Seminole Scuba, which serves Lake Mary and Orlando, FL, is inviting adventurous divers on a unique and exciting journey to the beautiful African locales of Kenya and the island of Zanzibar from November 16 to 29. Formally “The Wilderness Experience: A Chance to Explore the Majestic Mara”, the trek features transport on game drives in specially prepared safari vehicles, which will be equipped with safari gear, coolers, literature, and the services of a driver and guide. Guests will enjoy diving off the coast of Zanzibar with Rising Sun Dive Centre for an unparalleled excursion and then share their experiences at the relaxing Porini Camps. Though not included in the official itinerary, guests can also experience hot air balloon rides, city tours, shopping, and many other accommodations and amusements. For a full overview of each day’s schedule, and to learn how you can take part in The Wilderness Experience, visit

Sea Experience Welcomes Veterans to the World of Diving

Sea Experience Diving Schools of Fort Lauderdale, FL, has been “Approved for Veterans Training”. Veterans can now use their education benefits to further their dive training and pursue a career in the diving industry. This means veterans using the Post 9/11, Chapter 30, Chapter 31, Chapter 33, and Chapter 35 are now eligible to apply and enroll in professional scuba career development training at Sea Experience. As a professional scuba career training school in Florida, the law requires that any school teaching instructor level classes must be licensed by the Florida Department of Education’s Commission for Independent Education. Sea Experience has held this license for three years and recently gained approval for veterans training. The company is excited to offer a wide range of professional scuba career training to veterans. Contact Jayne Haas at for more details.

Brac Reef Beach Resort: A Diver’s Hideaway

The waters of Cayman Brac are legendary among dive enthusiasts around the world. The plunging walls surrounding the island are some of the most incredible in the Caribbean and hold a treasure that is unparalleled in beauty and adventure. Crystal clear, warm waters provide awe inspiring wall dives, shallow diving and wreck diving at all levels, which makes this the perfect Caribbean dive destination. The diving around Brac offers a spectacular marine environment with reef, wall and wreck diving, including the only 330-foot Russian warship in the Western Hemisphere to explore and


discover. Cayman Brac has preserved that elusive tranquility and natural island getaway charm that many divers search for. A world away from Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac diving features an eco-tourism paradise for divers and nature lovers alike. With more than 50 dive sites, the underwater treasures here are vast. Ask any of the many returning guests why they keep coming back and they will enthusiastically tell you about the diving! Come and visit this unique jewel and transport yourself to the perfect diver’s hideaway. It’s crystal clear! Visit or call (800) 594-0843.

New Florida Organization Hones the Fight against Lionfish

In a strong collective effort to help battle the growing threat of invasive non-native lionfish along Florida’s fisheries and marine ecosystems, the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition (GCLC) has formed. Comprised of concerned divers, fishermen, gourmet cooks, and citizens, the GCLC increases awareness of the situation by promoting and facilitating the removal of lionfish by volunteer divers. The coalition also inspires locals and visitors to consume lionfish by sharing recipes and preparation techniques and encouraging restaurants and fish markets to carry lionfish meat. The GCLC has a passion for protecting and enjoying Florida’s natural resources and openly welcomes anyone who wishes to achieve the same goals. For more information, visit the group on Facebook at or contact Coalition President Gary Emerson at 251-747-6563.

Debutantes Frolic with Manatees Under the Sea

Debutante Divers Club of Mount Pleasant, SC, is looking for more members to join their ranks and is offering a perfect incentive to joining sooner than later: a delightful manatee trip to Crystal River and Blue Grotto, FL from March 6 to 9. “We are a group of girly girls and we’re all about the pictures,” explained Club Founder and President Loren Dupuis. “We want to get some pictures of manatees and their cute little faces.” Founded three years ago as a part of dive center Lowcountry Scuba, Dupuis created a comfortable environment separated from, as she describes, “a heavy saturation of macho spearfishermen”, for female divers to enjoy scuba, build confidence, and advance with fellowship. The debutantes meet monthly for club logistics and proceeding libations and experience quarterly trips: usually around Florida and the Gulf Coast. In addition, many members are marine biologists and environmentalists and the club employs many activities geared to helping aquatic ecosystems, flora, and fauna. Although the debutantes have a local focus, they welcome everyone to their trips. Join the group and take a plunge today by visiting



Divers 4 Heroes By Jennifer Wilkins In life we are all faced with trials and challenges, some moreso than others. The proud men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces – who have served our nation selflessly – return from their service with disabilities and pressures, some of which may not be readily seen. And there is one noble organization that embraces these warriors and helps them find a freedom and release from their woes… by taking them underwater. Divers 4 Heroes is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of wounded veterans and their families, utilizing SCUBA as a means of adaptive therapy and offering a better quality of life. “Our goal is to provide a safe, enjoyable SCUBA experience to the wounded veterans, teaming them up with trained SCUBA divers who can assist and guide them,” says Debbie Twillman, co-founder and Executive Director. “Through these efforts, our veterans develop meaningful friendships and find freedom underwater.” Twillman first envisioned the organization while on vacation in Key West. “I saw a van pull up and watched as a wounded veteran got out,” says Twillman. “I sat and watched as these young men exited the vehicle with their families, trying to maneuver through the streets of Key West—some were in wheelchairs, some on crutches. And I looked at my companion and said, ‘What can we do to help them?’ I had just been certified and discovered a love and a passion for scuba diving, so the answer was clear: ‘Let’s get them in the water.’” This past December, 11 U.S. veterans from the organization travelled to Bimini for a much-deserved underwater excursion. For a moment, as they explored Bimini’s beautiful reefs, wrecks and sharks, these wounded warriors were able to forget the scars of wars – both physical and emotional – and find complete bliss beneath the blue. This special unit of veterans departed from Fort Lauderdale for the short plane ride to the tiny island aboard Tropic Ocean Airways. “These were brothers and it was a privilege to provide them with transportation,” said Tropic Ocean partner and founder, Rob Ceravolo, a Navy Top Gun-rated fighter pilot. “Divers 4 Heroes is an outstanding

organization and I was happy to be part of this trip.” In Bimini, the group encountered a variety of reef sharks, triggerfish and stingrays. “It was indescribable, being in the water and watching these large, beautiful animals feed and interact with other sharks, and then these amazing warriors swimming with them,” says Twillman. Founded in 2007, the Divers 4 Heroes Foundation has served hundreds of warriors with all levels of abilities, including the blind, quadriplegic and paraplegic. The organization conducts monthly and quarterly dives and provides scuba certification tests in Lakeland, FL. The foundation relies on the selfless volunteer efforts of men and women buddy divers who have served and continue to give back to our nation’s wounded warriors. All are welcome to participate. For more information or to see how you can help give back to these honorable veterans, please visit




The riverbed beneath Eagle & Phoneix Dam

Following the Fall The Restoration of the Chattahoochee River By Jennifer Wilkins Photos coutesy Rhett Turner & Chattahoochee Unplugged

The Eagle & Phoenix Dam at high flow

Born in the north Georgia mountains, the Chattahoochee River flows south for over 500 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Its waters are the life-blood of the states of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. But halfway through that journey, in Columbus, Georgia, the river found its way barred by two rock and masonry dams: the City Mills Dam and the Eagle & Phoenix Dam. The river runs right through the city’s downtown area, and is an aesthetic, environmental and recreational asset for citizens. The 100-year old dams used to help power the old textile mills constructed shortly after the city’s founding, but are now obsolete and falling into disrepair. - Jonathan Wickham

So what do you do with them? How do you restore the river to its natural and former glory? The answer is an explosive one, literally, with the pieces falling in quick succession. FIVE. Someone comes up with the wild idea of removing the old dams. FOUR. Plans are drawn, models are constructed and work begins. THREE. The first of these two dams is brought down with much fanfare and celebration. TWO. More work, the project nears completion, and the second dam is demolished. ONE. The largest urban whitewater rapids run in the world is born. “Columbus is here for a reason, and that is because this is the precise place where the fall line and the coastal plain meet,” says John Turner, considered by all to be the driving

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GEORGIA :: COLUMBUS force behind this whole endeavor. Steamboats and other crafts would travel up to the falls, load up with cotton, and then head downstream. The falls generated tremendous power, too, which could be harnessed; hence the dams, essentially turning falling water into money. “Back then the river was an economic engine as it supplied the power for our textile mills,” says Richard Bishop, President of Uptown Columbus, Inc. “But around the 70s when that industry started going downhill, that engine was just cut off. It was not generating the economic power it had for all those years, as it was not needed in that capacity anymore.”


The idea to remove the dams was first voiced by Neal Wickham, an avid canoeist and the owner of Columbus’ first outdoor store. He dreamed of having a whitewater run essentially in his own backyard. He brought the idea to his friend Bill Turner, whose son, John Turner, ran with it. “I thought that was just an awesome idea—the notion that behind these dams was lurking a whitewater experience,” says John Turner. Uptown Columbus partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help shoulder the cost of the project. The corps operates a series of reservoirs up and down the Chattahoochee. Their goal was to return the aquatic environment as much as possible to its natural state. The project was as much one of restoration as it was of recreation. Film producer and director Rhett Turner documented the whole ambitious affair in his film, Chattahoochee Unplugged. “John Turner had an idea to turn his town into a better place,” says Rhett. “He knew that once the dams were removed, it

would create great economic benefits to the cities at large. He made it happen, and it was a really great team effort between him and his group, Uptown Columbus.” “We started filming in June of 2011 and filmed until May of 2013,” explains Rhett. “We were able to get shots of what the city and the dam sites looked like before construction started and everything changed. So we had the complete beginning, middle and end, and we were able to gather some interesting splinter stories from that.”


“We were asked to provide data about the river, since we used it often for diving certification and recreational dives,” says Joshua Blair, owner of Chattahoochee Scuba, in Columbus, Georgia. “So we were hired to survey the river. We started doing things like figuring out how deep the silt layer was and where the bedrock was. We had to identify where all the old dams and pre-structures were, since the city had built up around the river.” “One of the neatest things we came across was a wooden crib dam built directly in front of one of the stone dams,” says Blair. “Since it was a few feet lower than the actual dam, no one had seen it in probably 100 years. When I ran into the dam it was just spectacular. The foot of the dam and most of the bottom was still intact, and as you came up you could see the wooden planks and the ribs of the structure. It was 150 years of history just hidden down there. It was very humbling to be the first person to see this dam in 50 to 100 years.” From Blair’s data, a miniature replica of the Chattahoochee was constructed, with every detail of the riverbed painstakingly recreated. This enabled engineers to develop a whitewater rapids system and observe the flow of

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PADDLE :: SITES & TRIPS :: US :: SOUTHEAST the water. Structures known as sills were designed to help guide the course of the waves, along with what would be the crown jewel of the rapids: the waveshaper. Kayakers appreciate a good hydraulic feature. It can be in the form of a wave, a hole or a breaking wave—something that they can get in and perform tricks and stunts and push their abilities. But those features also needed to be “mellowed out” so that rafters could go through without intimidation. An enormous amount of time and diligence went into creating the perfect balance. A team of divers and engineers helped oversee the construction of the sills underwater—not an easy task. Then the crews began work on the hardest task of all: demolishing the Eagle & Phoenix Dam itself. A platform was constructed above the dam, and holes were drilled down into it, into which they placed the explosives.


Blast day, the first of two. Curious spectators lined the streets and bridges, watching as the first explosion took out a 50 foot section of the Eagle & Phoenix dam. Four days later the crew returned to take out a much larger and deeper section. Within minutes of the blast, a long submerged rapid appeared above the dam. For the first time in nearly two

centuries, whitewater was falling once again. The enormous waveshaper was constructed and put into position, a truly impressive site. They then had to adjust and test it to make sure the waves rushing over it were challenging, but not impossible. At the same time they had to rebuild the surrounding riverbed, creating three extra feet of concrete and boulders.


City Mills, the second of the two old dams, is demolished on January 23, 2013. But further testing and fine tuning is required before the river park’s grand opening, scheduled for the spring.


May 25, 2013, opening day. Fittingly, Neal Wickham is among the first of the rafters to brave the new river. “We opened the river May 25th. Between then and the end of December we put over 16,000 rafters down the river,” says Bishop. “We doubled our initial goal, and that number doesn’t include all the spectators. We’ve also seen an increased growth in other aspects, like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. We’ve really engaged the community with the river again.” “The river also serves as an economic stimulus, to

Produced and directed by Rhett Turner and Jonathan Wickman, and narrated by media personality Mike Rowe, Chattahoochee Unplugged tells the story of how one man’s impossible dream, restoring a key stretch of the Chattahoochee River through Columbus, Georgia, came to fruition. Follow the adventures down one of the Southeast U.S.’s largest rivers by visiting

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A kayaker takes on the new Chattahoochee whitewater run

Filming the documentary, Chattahoochee Unplugged

encourage young professionals to move to Columbus,” continues Bishop. “We have 20 plus miles of riverwalk that you can bike, run, skate… whatever you’d like. And the city has done a wonderful job extending our trail system across the county another 10 miles. It’s become an incredible destination for people all over the region.” “The whole city has been behind this project,” says Dan Gilbert, President of White Water Express, the permanent outfitter in the new Chattahoochee River Park. “The community has taken ownership of the river and the outfitter, and they are just with us 100%. In fact, as we were getting our new store ready to open, we had people from the community dropping in, removing their jackets, and picking up stuff and helping us move in. It’s just been spectacular and a lot of fun. It’s a community effort and it’s been expanding rapidly.” No pun intended. “If there’s a downside to this it’s that we basically helped them tear down our dive site!” jokes Blair. “But it was worth it. We were able to do a large-scale environmental clean-up of the river and that’s tremendous. It is now one of the only spots you can go in the morning and kayak down some serious rapids, then go have lunch and head back to work!” With the waters of the Chattahoochee falling unobstructed once again, the river habitat has been restored, and the city of Columbus renewed.

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BTS Opens Its Doors For Another Great Year!

Taking place at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ, from March 28 to 30, Beneath The Sea (BTS)’s annual exposition will feature seminars and workshops, lots of great door prizes, a film festival showcasing the work of world-renowned underwater videographers, great parties, exhibits and demonstrations by hundreds of manufacturers, dive clubs, dive shops, resorts, and much more! As an award-winning organization, BTS helps promote environmental conservation and the protection of marine wildlife through grants to other nonprofit groups. Through its international poster contest for children, called Ocean Pals, BTS helps educate children on the wonder and delicate nature of the oceans. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit

Boston Scuba Show Returns in March

With spring around the corner, now’s the time to get warmed up for SCUBA! The Boston Scuba Show, founded by The Dive Patrol, Inc., will be held March 1, 2014 at the Holiday Inn in Peabody, Massachusetts. Special Guest Jonathan Bird, of the television show, Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, will be in attendance. During the show, attendees will have the opportunity to be part of a group photo with Bird, copies of which will be made available. During the course of the show, the Underwater Club of Boston will present the Paul Revere Spike Award to Alexine Raineri. Attendees are also eligible for a free scuba experience at selected local dive shops; inquire at the show upon arrival. For more info, contact Fred Calhoun at

Discover Scuba for FREE!

What’s better than learning how to dive? How about learning it for free? American Diving Supply in New Jersey is holding Discover Scuba Classes, and they will be FREE to anyone who mentions this article! The dates for the classes are March 6th, May 8th, July 10th and September 18th. American Diving Supply will also be exhibitors at the following shows, and all are encouraged to stop by, visit and inquire about their services: Underwater Intervention, Beneath the Sea, and FDIC. American Diving Supply handles all aspects of diving for all purposes, including recreational, commercial and public safety. For more information about their services or classes, please visit

An Icy Plunge for a Purpose

Dutch Springs in Lehigh Valley, PA is holding their 2nd Annual Plunge for a Purpose Polar Plunge fundraiser on February 15, 2014. Individuals and teams take the plunge into the icy Dutch Springs lake to raise funds for affordable housing solutions in the Lehigh Valley. Plungers will need to raise $75 dollars in pledges-- participants will receive a commemorative long-sleeve t-shirt and the satisfaction of aiding Habitat for Humanity and their community. Interested in supporting the fundraiser but too chicken to take a dip in that frigid water? Register as


a Chicken, raise the donations and receive the same incentives... minus the icy cold water! Prizes will be awarded, hot beverages will be provided, and there will be a heated pavilion and outdoor fire pit to keep plungers warm! Registration opens at 11 the day of the event, or you can preregister with Habitat for Humanity. For more information or to register, visit

Marine Careers Exhibitors Needed for BTS

Beneath the Sea (BTS) is seeking exhibitors for their 7th Annual Marine Careers Program for high school and college students on Friday, March 28. This is an excellent opportunity to pass along your knowledge and experience to the next generation of marine-minded youths. Students come to the Marine Careers exhibitors in search of the tools, the support, the mentors and the guidance to lead them down the proper path to their chosen marine career. What better way to pass on your legacy and passion for the ocean than to share it with students who are eager to learn? To contribute to this event, please reply to, or visit

Become a Shipwreck Explorer Today!

They say if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life. What if your job was discovering and learning about shipwrecks? It is possible to achieve this dream job by attending Shipwreck School, based in historic Halifax, Nova Scotia. The primary vision of the school is to promote and foster private exploration of shipwrecks by both scuba divers and non-divers alike. Here one can learn all there is to know about the exploration of shipwrecks, including exploration methodology, hands-on training, historical significance, current political climate surrounding shipwreck exploration, and many other topics. The school offers a diverse selection of courses and seminars to clients on location, anywhere in the world. For more information on how you can spend a few days in the company of adventurers, visit us online at

Herbert Nitsch to Join the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is excited to announce that Herbert Nitsch, the current freediving world champion, has joined the organization’s Board of Advisors. Known worldwide as “ the Deepest Man on Earth”, Nitsch earned the title when he set the world freediving record at an astonishing depth of 214 meters (702 feet) in 2007, a feat he surpassed in 2012 with 253 meters (830 feet). Established in 1977, SSCS is an international, nonprofit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Their mission is to end the destruction of habitat and the slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. To learn more about this extraordinary organization and their efforts, please visit




Share Services Through Joint Venture By Rick Stratton & John Tapley In a business opportunity, which began with the New Year, acclaimed global sporting goods manufacturer and developer HEAD, acquired the acclaimed Scuba Schools International (SSI). Through HEAD’s MARES diving equipment brand, the acquisition seeks to provide the most in depth diving education systems while also providing top of the line equipment and other services relative to the scuba world. President and CEO of SSI Doug McNeese, has been involved with the company for more than 20 years. In 1999, he merged his training agency, NASDS, with SSI and completely purchased the company later in 2008. Despite the HEAD-SSI joining, McNeese has no plans on retiring and will continue his position with SSI; in fact, it will give him more opportunities to continue doing what he loves. “[Our goal is] to put players together who have common interests in our industry, to share resources, and bring synergy to our business,” he explains with enthusiasm. “It’s where one plus one equal ten!” SSI has, in recent years, become one of the swiftest growing scuba training agencies in the world. The agency’s extensive matrix, located at over 2,500 dive centers and resorts, is recognized for its innovate products and signature service; MARES’ specialized product lines in swimming, snorkeling, spearfishing, scuba, and freediving, will provide a perfect type of synergy. Executive Director of the Dive Industry Association Gene Muchanski has worked in the industry for the past 40 years

and has served a variety of capacities as a dive instructor, shop owner, head of marking for a training agency and as product manager for a major dive equipment line. According to him, this merger represents a transformational shift in the dive business. “Equipment and training are very important, but manufacturers are in the business of making equipment and not training divers: this is what they do and need to focus on,” he states. “Crossing over, when agencies are selling equipment, blurs the line. What we have seen recently, when MARES sales reps were replaced in the Northeast by SSI sales reps, makes us all nervous. As an industry we are watching this closely. If not handled correctly, this could blow up in HEAD’s face.” HEAD began in 1950 in Baltimore, Maryland, when aeronautical engineer Howard Head designed a sturdier and more maneuverable type of snow ski. This breakthrough sparked additional, more elaborate designs through the 1950s, which cemented the brand’s reputation for quality and success. HEAD acquired MARES in the 1970s and lead the manufacturing company to evolve into one of the world’s top three leading diving equipment brands. The company’s ingenuity and desire for enhancing the world of sport further lead to bountiful investments in tennis, racquetball, bicycles, fitness equipment, apparel, and many more types of athletic and sporting equipment. For more information, and for details on products and services, visit and

What is your opinion on the merger? Be sure to let us know by sending an email to Rick at or join the discussion on our Facebook page at!




Take Me Back Down

The Best “Over the Counter” Remedy for DCIs Article & photos by Joseph Dituri, M.S.

The following is a first-hand example of how a series of unfortunate events was made better by going back into the water for in-water recompression. This article does not offer medical advice. It serves as a personal account from which people may learn. Immediately upon ascending the ladder onto the boat, I knew something was wrong. I felt “funny”. We just completed a 400 feet of sea water (fsw) dive for 25 minutes of bottom time using all the appropriate gasses and making all required gas changes and decompression stops. I did a quick check of my dive buddy and saw he was fine. After removing my wetsuit, one of the support divers noticed the blotchy red patch that had started to form over my left shoulder and around the left side of my abdomen transcending around to my left lower back. It had been less than 15 minutes on the surface and I was sitting while the boat was making its way back to port. Next I had a flash of non-descript internal pain to my left knee. I began to rub it and wondered how long it would be until we were near the second dive site where we would afford the support divers an opportunity to dive. We found it important to reward those who were helping us with a fun dive. My entire thought process was driven toward getting myself back into the water. This thought, I believe, came from the adaptive unconscious (described later) which bears considerable importance to the ability to decide the correct course of action. About 15 minutes later, I began to feel that all too familiar pain, only now it was in my right knee. Bilateral and progressively worsening symptoms began to cause me great

concern. This was the point at which I knew I was in significant trouble. Not wanting to be a bother to the four divers who had endured my four hour dive while they sat on the boat taking turns being in the water to support us, I concealed my pain and stomached a brief offload period at the dock which was about 45 minutes after surfacing. I could not, however, conceal the coughing fit that ensued with a small clearing of my throat while they were loading some drinks from the bait and tackle shop. This uncontrollable coughing progressed and the friend driving the boat got everyone back in the boat and sped out of the channel toward deeper water. At this time, my rash was puffy and red and pressing on it left an indent. I had pain in both knees, which was a five on a scale of one to 10. I was hacking so badly I could not carry on conversation. At the speed with which the symptoms were progressing, I believe I would not have survived a 10 minute ambulance response time, followed by a 30 minute ambulance ride to the chamber or the almost assured 45 minute wait at the Emergency Room (ER) while doctors poured over me trying to find out what was wrong. The chamber is not located at the same place as the hospital ER. I needed a cure now and hair of the dog that bit me was the only immediate remedy available. After the three to five minutes it took to get the boat to 45 feet of water, I grabbed an open circuit steel 72 cubic foot cylinder filled with 100 percent oxygen that had a green regulator on it to ensure someone did not inadvertently


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REMEDY FOR DCI breathe from it at an improper depth. I put it under my arm while someone tossed the anchor. Knowing full well I might be in the water for a while, I had begun to step into a wetsuit at the dock. I could not manage to pull it any higher than up to around my hips. Face mask donned I fell forward off the boat into the water with the tank tucked under my arm unable to put fins on and with nothing else on. I do not recall clearing my ears, the journey downward, or hitting the bottom. I became aware again when Jennifer grabbed my arm and pulled me from 40 to 45 feet up to hang on the anchor line at 30 fsw. Jennifer had little more than an old style Hawaiian backpack for diving and was known for being able to dress for diving very quickly. She undoubtedly saved my life. (Thank you for that Jennifer!) By the time my dive buddy from the deep dive got dressed and re-entered the water, I had been able to pull my wetsuit up over my shoulders, was lucid, and had a plan for my in-water recompression (IWR) cobbled on Jennifer’s slate. I had complete resolution of symptoms within minutes. I was a different person from the uncontrollable cough-laden, bi-lateral pain filled, shell of a man who thought it was a good idea to re-enter the water five minutes earlier. One of the divers brought me my rebreather and I followed out my decompression plan uneventfully watching the support divers enjoy their “fun dive” from my perch at the anchor line while slowly ascending from 30 to 20 and finally 10 fsw. I had a fleeting thought to go to the Diving Medical Physician at Mobile Diving Salvage Unit, where I was stationed, but I was too embarrassed and did not want to face the ridicule or have to explain to the Navy what I was doing at 400 fsw on the weekend while I was on liberty. I thought I was fine until later that night when my abdomen and shoulder area that displayed the initial rash had become very painful to the touch. I was unable to sleep because, when those areas touched the bed, it produced an intense amount of pain and endorphin release. After making my way to the chamber and a short ride in a “round room”, I was without pain or residual marks and live today to tell the tale.

Joe Dituri preparing to dive 250 fsw

This true story is one that could happen without warning or expectation as it did to me. With this truth I intend to invite you into an alternate view of in-water recompression and afford you an opportunity to discover a possible tool that could save your life if performed properly. I recognized the many mistakes I made in this scenario. First was the most common symptom of decompression illness (DCI) which is denial. I initially knew I had DCI, but denied the severity. The second mistake was delaying recompression. My final mistake was not being checked by a physician knowledgeable in diving medicine following my life-saving in-water recompression.

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San Diego Symposium Imparts IWR Discussion and Training Divers interested in learning the ins and outs of In-Water Recompression (IWR) will experience a perfect opportunity at the “In Water Recompression Controversies” event, which will take place at the Kona Kai Resort, Spa, and Marina on Shelter Island in San Diego, CA. The weeklong event begins from April 28 to 29 with a symposium that discusses and debates the merits of IWR. Leading doctors and practitioners, such as Dr. Richard Sadler, Dr. Michael Lang, Dr. Richard Moon, and many others will carry the discourse; continuing medical education credits (CMEs) will also be issued. Dr. Simon Mitchel and Dr. Richard Pyle will serve the event as keynote speakers. A special training session will take place at the same location from April 30 to May 2: guests will be granted an opportunity to train in IWR and Recompression Training Operations in the classroom, recompression chambers, and out in the water. For more details on this event, including pricing information, visit

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Joe Dituri recompressing after 350 fsw

If you are walking down a street and you see a truck coming toward you, do you have time to weigh all the options prior to jumping out of the way? The answer of course is no. Why would I have immediately thought that the “necessary” thing to do was get back in the water? Divers are an intelligent unique breed. In my opinion, one of the most important ways divers could have evolved into technical diving and rebreathers is to have a decision making process that is capable of making rapid judgments based upon little information. This notion parallels the survival skill. As the psychologist Timothy D. Wilson writes in his book, “Strangers to Ourselves”, the mind relegates a great deal of its high level sophisticated thinking to its unconscious. Our adaptive unconscious does an excellent job of sizing up the world, warning people of danger, and setting goals and initiating action in a sophisticated and efficient manner. Wilson says that we toggle back and forth between conscious and unconscious parts of the brain. Whenever we are faced with an emergent situation, we invoke the unconscious part of our brains to assist in making the decisions. I believe that my adaptive unconscious was working to help me recognize I was in trouble. Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “Blink”, feels that this rapid answer is most often correct. The quality of a decision is not directly proportional to the time, effort and energy to make that decision. Knowledge is power, but a delay in taking action may cause irreparable damage. Prior to making the decision to go back in the water a technical diver should take a class and prepare themselves for making the correct decision once the inevitable happens. Joey with toilet



A dual function surface/subsurface signaling device.

Dituri crew

If we knew exactly what caused DCI, the divers at large may feel differently, but since scientists have been unable to find an exact cause, we are merely trying to treat the symptoms. DCI is so multi-faceted that some researchers have spent their whole lives trying to find the cure and cause to no end. If you ask a diver who is newly certified, “What causes DCI?” their answer would be: “I don’t know. I think it has something to do with bubbles.” If you ask a dive master what causes DCI, you will likely get a description of a soda bottle being opened too quickly and the soda fizzing out. If you ask a Technical Diving Instructor from the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD) or a person trained in hyperbaric medicine what causes DCI, you will likely get discussions of the phagocyte and leukocyte reaction to a foreign body in your blood stream coupled with the need for adequate hydration. If you ask the top five scientists who work in decompression physiology, “what causes DCI”, their answer would be: “I don’t know. I think it has something to do with bubbles.” This is just one case where the contentious topic of in-water recompression was the best over-the-counter remedy. This could have gone very wrong and I may not have survived the descent. Authors like Richard Pyle, Don Shirley, and Tom Mount have scribed their accounts of the utility of this “trade secret” in online journals such as “confessions of a mortal diver” and the like.



There are two major points to take away from this article: 1) In-water recompression is the best source for immediacy of care when a diver has a DCI. 2) In-water recompression is not the only thing a diver needs to do if they have a DCI. In-water recompression is by no means a medical treatment and one should seek medical attention post any attempt at IWR. IWR is merely a method of lessening the severity of issues that a diver will encounter because of DCI and affording immediacy of care. Hanging at a deco stop

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Scuba Travel Agency Creates Specialty Project for CCR Divers

Following a refreshing trip to Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire, Cheryl and John Patterson, owners of Deep Blue Adventures in Swanton, OH, returned with a deeper understanding and appreciation of rebreather training. They are readying to launch a complete range of services for closed circuit rebreather (CCR) divers. While the company’s first order of business is to promote existing “Rebreather Friendly” resorts and bring them together with divers, Cheryl doesn’t plan to stop there. She wants to use her experiences and knowledge to identify how to improve all aspects of rebreather travel for her customers in the future such as making it easier and more affordable. On the industry side, she will be working to identify new destinations and resorts that are willing and able to maximize the benefits of closed circuit diving and provide assistance and support to potential new operators in becoming “Rebreather Friendly”. Cheryl’s vision is her company will help grow this highly specialized area of diving by providing CCR divers with a seamless, hassle-free vacation experience and increase their options by assisting the right resorts in catering fully to their unique requirements. And by working with both clients and destinations, and with the involvement of professionals like Silent Diving’s Mike Fowler, she hopes to breathe new life into the travel sector of the dive industry. Check out more developments on this unique approach at

Marlins Scuba Rolls out New Registration Style

As part of its new Open Water Scuba group course programming, Marlins Scuba of Burlington, ON will present the new “rolling registration” system, allows participants to complete the certification process by attending eight of the regularly scheduled Thursday night programs between February 6 and April 24. This is a great opportunity for people with busy and rotating schedules and shift workers who need extra time in the pool. Courses will be held at the local Angela Coughlan Pool. For more detailed information on how you can participate, visit or contact Ben Jaeckle at 905-870-3695.

Len-Der Charters Invites Divers to Take Part in Great Lakes Discoveries

Captain Jerry Guyer, owner of Len-Der Charters of Milwaukee, WI, is hard at work finding new contacts in the Milwaukee area. Despite concentrated efforts from many individuals and organizations to find the remnants of vessels from yesteryear, an uncounted number of Great Lakes shipwrecks remain a mystery. As charter operations pick up during the spring season, Guyer will go full speed ahead to discover exciting new spots. Get in on the adventure at


Northland Equipment Goes for a Different Kind of Catch

Ice diving in the Midwest is a very popular pastime during the winter and Dean Tronrud of Northland Equipment & Diving of Clear Lake, WI, is taking it to the next level. Utilizing a special pontoon boat, and the assistance of nearby Anderson 715.263.2119 Towing, the repair and certification company has been hard at work recovering derelict vehicles from beneath the snow-blanketed ice. According to Tronrud, business has been booming due to this exciting, yet chilly, new venture. Check out more information on Northland Equipment & Diving at NO





UMAST 2014: The Adventure Begins

Presented by The Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society (GLSPS), the time-honored Upper Midwest Scuba and Adventure Travel Show (UMAST) will return to Minneapolis, MN at the Minneapolis Boulevard Hotel February 22 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Guests will experience a variety of activities will include classes, exhibitors, a raffle and silent auction event, and much more! A treasured portion of each UMSAT event, this year will feature another excellent panel of guest speakers who will unveil a bounty of topics regarding divers: this year’s speakers include Becky Kagan Schott, Mike Gerken, Fred Stonehouse, Ric Mixter, and many others. Guests will also be able to participate in an enriching Discover Scuba Diving program Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon; interested people should register in advance by emailing For an additional $50, a complementary two-hour program, Discover Rebreathers, will showcase a variety of different apparatuses within an informative classroom setting; attendees to this event must register in advance at The UMAST Show is one of many important fundraiser for the GLSPS and its mission to help preserve and document shipwrecks. For more information, visit and

MSU Hosts Quiet Water Society Convention

Water sports fans interested in learning the history, lifestyle, and all the ins and outs of non-motorized outdoor recreation won’t want to miss The 19th Annual Quiet Water Symposium, which is slated to be held March 1, 2014 at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion in East Lansing, MI. Guests will enjoy a wide variety of demonstrations and topics such as destinations, safety, and the proper usage of equipment and apparel related to diving and sailing. A number of conservation and watershed organizations will also be on hand to answer questions and present valuable information. The event is organized by the Quiet Water Society: a 501C3 corporation whose mission is to education the public on Great Lakes water sustainability and conservation. At current, the symposium is looking for individuals and groups interested in volunteering, exhibiting, and sharing presentations and demonstrations. For more information, and to find out how you can help, visit


Rick Lorimor

Michael Feld


Dallas Edmiston

NAUI’s New “Three Musketeers”

The plan worked with flying colors and “The Three Musketeers” were elected by landslide numbers, which were reportedly more than By Rick Stratton & John Tapley double the usual turnout. Michael Feld, Rick Lorimor, and Dallas Edmiston were Ranger Rick Lorimor is a NAUI Instructor and owner of elected to the National Association of Underwater Instructor Ranger Rick’s Scuba in Orlando, Florida. One of NAUI’s top (NAUI) Board of Directors in late November 2013. Running on producing instructors, with teaching agreements at 26 local a combined slate of both commitment to NAUI and necessary YMCAs and two local colleges, Lorimor is deeply committed reformations, the three new directors are hoping to improve to NAUI and wants to help take the agency to the next level. the company’s market share and enhance public relations. He understands the concerns facing Instructors and wants NAUI Instructor and Oceanblue Divers Club (of New York to heighten their experience. “Instructors need to be able to City) Organizer and Store Owner Michael Feld is committed earn a living, have better teaching materials, and get a better to the company and is helping it regain the momentum that customer service experience when they need has waned in recent years. “My feeling is that NAUI must start support,” Lorimor states. marketing again. They have not been marketing for nearly 20 “The quality of the Instructors is top notch,” Lorimor continues. “But we are continuing to shrink in relevance years and our market share has fallen to very low numbers,” in the marketplace. [We] are being replaced by agencies Feld explains. “I firmly believe that NAUI is the finest dive who just started a few years ago. We need to be more training agency in the business – set apart by its quality, aggressive and be seen. There is a need to refocus and heritage, and the talent of its members, its core strength is promote our organization.” the talent and commitment of its many instructors. Much of Co-owner of Discover Diving of Buffalo, New York, Dallas diving history was created by NAUI members and instructors.” Edminston has been a NAUI Instructor since 1974 and sees During the campaign, Feld focused on “getting out the the agency’s strongest value in its members. “The quality of vote” by encouraging his fellow Instructors to take an active role in determining NAUI’s future through information on the the Instructors is top notch,” he explains. “But as an agency, we need to be more aggressive and market ourselves more. quality of candidates, education, and participation during the election process. Feld’s focus was primarily honed on It is difficult to find a NAUI dive center: clearly there is a need recognizing the influence of “the competition’s pervasive to refocus and promote ourselves.” message and marketing power”. In the end, they worked For more information on NAUI, the election, or to connect together to promote the vote and their individual candidacies. with the Musketeers, contact

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Christmas Tree Ship -

the Wreck of the Rouse Simmons Article & photos by Cal Kothrade

The windlass of the Rouse Simmons

Books upon books have been written about the wooden three-masted schooner Rouse Simmons. Its history is the stuff of a Hollywood movie. The abridged version of the backstory reads like this: “Each November for several years the vessel would bring fir trees from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Chicago, Illinois to be sold dockside as Christmas Trees. The vessel’s captain, Herman Schuenemann, lost his partner and older brother in August 1898 when his ship went down in Lake Michigan near Glencoe, Illinois. Herman kept the family business going (selling the trees each yuletide season cheaper than many other outlets) by cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the public right from the deck of his tried and true ship.

The intact transom and stern of the Rouse Simmons

The Simmons, though, was no spring chicken. She had been built in Milwaukee in 1868 and some reports say people refused to sail on her and the ship was unseaworthy. Nevertheless, Captain Santa, as Herman was sometimes called, and his crew left Thompsen Harbor along with 5,500 trees crammed into every available space. Trouble began when, on the 23rd of November, 1912, she sailed into a fierce November storm. The schooner would have been riding low in the water due to the overloading. Prior to going to her final resting spot on the bottom of the lake, two crew and the yawl boat were washed overboard into the jaws of the storm by a large wave. Though the vessel tried valiantly to reach safe harbor, as inferred by a message in a bottle found after the ordeal, she

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Anchor chain and Christmas trees


Columbus Welcomes Divers to 55th Annual ScubaFest The 55th Annual ScubaFest, Ohio’s long-running scuba festival, will be held March 14 to 16 at the NorthPointe Hotel and Conference Center, Lewis Center, in Columbus, Ohio. The event will include activities and amusements such as speakers and presentations, the Regional Photo Competition, demonstrations, the Saturday evening banquet, workshops, door prizes, and the free Travel and Exhibit Hall. Two days of presentations will cover the whole range of scuba topics including dive travel, technical, underwater photography, shipwrecks exploration, and equipment. Admission to the Exhibit rooms, with more than three dozen vendors, is free; purchase a daily or weekend pass to choose from among three dozen presentations over the two days. Megalodon shark expert and Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Wright State University Dr. Charles Ciampaglio, will serve as the keynote speaker for the Saturday night dinner. His presentation, “Will the Real Megalodon Please Stand Up?”, will highlight some of his amazing finds with these ancient and fearsome giants. Going along with ScubaFest 2014 is the Ohio Regional Photo Competition, which is sponsored by the Ohio Council of Skin and Scuba Divers, Dive News Network (DNN), the Aggressor Fleet, and Deep Blue Adventures of Swanton, Ohio. The contest is open to underwater photographers from Ohio and the five surrounding states: Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The grand prize is a week on board the Belize Aggressor; and a $500 scuba travel voucher, donated by Deep Blue Adventures, will be presented to the winner of the People’s Choice award. Winning pictures will be published in DNN’s SCUBA & H2O Adventures publication. The entry deadline is March 1 and winners will be announced at ScubaFest’s Saturday banquet; prizes will be delivered within 60 days. For more details on the contest and show, or to purchase tickets, visit


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Heiko Zuerker inspects the rudder and debris at the stern A Christmas tree sits by the windlass

succumbed to the wrath of the Great Lakes and would not be seen again until 1971. Kent Bellrichard of Milwaukee was reportedly looking for the wreck of the Vernon when instead he discovered the Simmons in 172 feet of water sitting upright with her masts on the lake bottom at her bow.” Today the wreck serves as a popular dive site partly due to its rich history, but also because it is a relatively intact example of late 19th century wooden lake schooners. Save for a few neatly stacked trunks that appear like large toothpicks, the trees in the hold have nearly all faded away. Most of the deck is gone, but the well preserved windlass is still on the prow. Her spars lay on the lake bottom out in front of the ship, and one of the crow’s nests is still in good shape, still attached to the mast. The ship’s wheel now resides in the Rogers Street Fishing Village Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and one of the ship’s anchors stands at the

Divers at the bow of the Rouse Simmons

entrance to the Milwaukee Yacht Club. The wreck is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Due to its depth, one must be certified at least to the level of decompression procedures/advanced nitrox to safety dive the wreck. Getting there can be difficult due to its location, which is an hour and half drive north of Milwaukee. Greg Such, owner of Shipwreck Adventures in Two Rivers, a full service dive shop with its own dive boat, can take you there, but you need to make reservations in advance. At these depths, water temps typically do not rise much above the mid-40s so a drysuit is a must. The 124-foot long vessel is still photogenic with a proud bow and intact rudder/stern area, which is sure to satisfy the toughest of UW photogs. For those with the training and equipment, this is another one of Lake Michigan’s “must dives”.

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r e t h g u a D & r e h t Fa Share a Bond

Fatherhood is an amazing experience. You look forward to it all your life. From the time I was a little boy I looked up to Dad and wanted to share in his life in every way we could. Whether it was fishing, diving, or working in the yard, I wanted to share it with him. Later, as I got older, I looked forward to sharing the love of the ocean I learned from Dad with my son or daughter. My father invited me to share his dream of exploration as he introduced me to Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Sea Hunt’s Mike Nelson. I watched as Cousteau brought us his incredible adventures every Sunday night. Cousteau inspired my father; my father inspired me. My father was my hero – he was an adventurous diver like Cousteau. I wanted to be just like him someday. I remember being in the shallow end of the pool, my father showing me his scuba equipment. I wanted to share in his passion and connect with him. Together, we began to explore the bottom of the pool and eventually the ocean. I think he was more proud of me than I was of myself. I have been diving nearly all my adult life. First, with Dad and those early regulators. They were built with a variety of parts: many were supplied by Sherwood Scuba. My first regulator was a Sherwood. He gave me his old double hose, but wanted me to have a working model, so we picked out the Sherwood. It was known for being “bullet proof”. Rugged and simple in design, it was the go to regulator of the 1970s. I trusted that regulator and the Sherwood brand over the next 30 years. As I help my daughter begin her diving journey, I find myself doing the same things Dad did with me. She looks up to me and wants to connect through something we share. I have selected the regulator I will pass down: the Sherwood SR2. It’s still the same Sherwood brand I grew up with, with a new sleek design and high performance. Like the person I hope my daughter will become, it is an improvement over the original. Being a diver has lived in my family for three generations now. As my father handed down his love of the ocean, I too am handing my daughter the same love of the sport and the values I have trusted for more than 30 years. It’s like handing down a favorite truck. Share your memories of how you have shared the sport with your family at www.facebook/sherwoodscuba.

- Rick Stratton




Divers To Celebrate BC’s Honorary Underwater Princess

On March 11, 1989, the nine-foot tall bronze mermaid, “The Emerald Princess”, by Simon Morris, slipped beneath the waves to be installed in her new home in Mermaid Cove off Beach Gardens Resort & Marina in Powell River, BC. Twenty five years later, she has become world famous and a great tourism draw to the area. To mark the 25th anniversary of her installation, a celebratory, non-sanctioned, and completely public event will take place in her realm March 15 and 16. All are welcome to enjoy the dive and meet the man behind the mermaid; catering will also be provided with all proceeds from sales going to a local charity. In honor of the anniversary, the resort will offer a special two-night consecutive deluxe waterfront accommodation, which also includes a $50 dinner voucher for Savoury Bight Restaurant & Pub and complimentary use of the fitness center and indoor pool. Special group activities such as dancing, which are still in planning, will also be available for celebrants and guests during the Saturday night dinner. For more information on the special resort event, visit And, for more details on Simon and his work, visit his website at

Congrats to the 2013 Graduates!

National leader in dive travel Salem Scuba of Salem, OR, recently graduated a group of over 40 divers in Cozumel during the winter training season. Congratulations to Brian Berg, Amanda Rich, Dallas Beaty, Elizabeth Beaty, Ray Beaty, Beth Watson, Rebecca Duell, Sonnia Gallo, Sebastian Gallo, Amy Doran, Ira Doran, Debbie Granum, Frank Kelley, Lisa Van, Reinar Morales, Al Moore, Roberta Moore, Claire Kiener, Sara Swearingen, Dan Borden, Gregg Singer, Mandy Falls, Greg Crosby, Aileen Cochran, Reed Harris, Dan Fieland, Valerie Fieland, Charlie Voss, Jim Bunker, Howard Flaming, Bob Thomas, and Mike Remny!

Treasure Seekers Find New Opportunity in Port Townsend

Octopus Gardens Diving of Port Townsend, WA, is inviting divers to participate in fun and dynamic scuba treasure hunt in local waters. The dive center has hidden two tokens at Point Hudson and the Wreck of the Ranger. In respect for the native environment, the tokens have been delicately placed so divers can easily access them; they are also located within the proscribed depth ranges for open water certification at less than 60 fsw. No purchase is necessary to participate in the event and registration can be completed by stopping in at the shop. Once found by a registered, certified diver, the tokens can be exchanged for prizes such as a Light and Beyond dive light, a Deep Outdoors dive equipment bag, and a 12-fill air card. Future prizes will include gift certificates and service offers from local businesses. For more information on the hunt, visit


Oregon Divers Love their Ducks – PINK DUCKS!

Small, pink, adorable and extremely valuable! Dive for a Cure beckons avid divers to swim, snorkel and paddle into Lake Woahink in Florence, OR. The event is held yearly in May to support OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) Knight Cancer Institute for breast cancer research and education. While the event has ended for the year - the fundraiser doesn’t end - It is never too late to help support Dive for a Cure. Breast cancer affects everyone in one way or another; whether it is you, your mother, daughter, sister…everyone has to consider the possibility that it will profoundly affect their lives. Support the women and men in your lives who are affected by cancer so one day we can say “divers cured cancer!” Mark your calendar for next year and help make a difference this year. Please check out their website at for more information.

UASBC Provides Informative Day for Wreck Historians

Hosted by the Underwater Archeological Society of British Columbia (UASBC), the Shipwrecks 2014 Conference will take place March 8, 2014 at the Canadian Forces Pacific Fleet Club in Victoria, BC beginning at 8:30 a.m. Day Session lectures are scheduled as follows: “Empress of Ireland, the Forgotten Empress” by Rob Field; “The Princess Sophia Tragedy” by Annette Smith; “Valencia Disaster, BC’s Worst Shipwreck” by Silva Johansson; “Sailing into Oblivion, The SS Pacific Story” by Jacques Marc; “Zalinksi Oil Recovery Operations a Success” by Dan Reid; and “Developing James Cameron’s Submersible to Dive the Marianas Trench” by Tim Bulman. The Dinner & Woodward Lecture event, complete with a no host bar, begins promptly at 6 p.m. and features “Guns, Provisions, and the Governor: The Wreck of the Gallleon Warwick, 1619” presented by Dr. Piotr Bojakowski and Dr. Katie Custer of the Atlantic World Marine Archeology Research Institute. Ticket prices for the daytime and nighttime events cost C$35 and C$40, respectively, and can be purchased by contacting John Middleton at 250-743-4495 or Jacques Marc at 250-474-5797 or For more information on the conference and UASBC projects, visit

Project AWARE Shares Top Ten Tips for Divers

Staying its course to help protect the world’s waterways, the global Project AWARE movement is ringing in the New Year through a ten point list of tips for scuba lovers who want to improve their ocean stewardship. The advice is as follows: 1) Be a Buoyancy Expert; 2) Be a Role Model; 3) Take Only Photos – Leave Only Bubbles; 4) Protect Underwater Life; 5) Become a Debris Activist; 6) Make Responsible Seafood Choices; 7) Take Action; 8) Be an Eco-Tourist; 9) Shrink Your Carbon Footprint; and 10) Give Back. An easy-to-share document describing these and many other helpful recommendations can be found at



Burned Children Recovery Foundation

Who are they and why are they so important? By Selene Muldowney In today’s society it is easy to place value on a person based on outward appearance. Most adults and children spend a fair amount of time concerned with how their outward appearance may be a reflection of their inner selves. What if this outward expression of the self was shattered? What if a person’s body, face, and arms became disfigured by burns? What if the reflection in the mirror is unrecognizable? What if it were your child, a family member, or a friend’s child? Children involved in traumatic accidents usually incur bruises, broken bones, and head trauma; but unlike these impairments, burn survivors wear their scars for the world to see. Burns, like many other injuries, can be physically and physiologically devastating and often require lifelong treatment and a significant level of emotional, mental, and spiritual support. Compared to adults, children often have different concerns and emotions to navigate as they physically and emotionally heal. The Burned Children Recovery Foundation (BCRF) was founded in 1989 by Michael T. Mathis, a burn survivor himself. The BCRF offers many programs to benefit burned survivors and their families such as support from experienced survivors, social re-entry, counseling, and information. Mathis had a dream to help as many children and their families to overcome the pain and hardships of re-entering their community. He wanted children to be children and have happy, healthy, and productive lives as they grow up. Although the foundation is located in the Pacific Northwest, their outreach program extends across the country. The BCRF has helped over 119,000 children, but considering over 280,000 children are burned annually in the United States, they still have a long road ahead. They offer three recovery programs: Burn support services, provide funding for recovery costs, Phoenix House, a ten-bed recovery house, and Camp Phoenix, which is an annual retreat. These programs have had a significant effect on the lives of the children who have participated over the years. One child stated: “Michael taught us to not

Michael T. Mathis

be ashamed of ourselves or act different. When people are staring at you and they are too afraid to ask what happened – just go and gently talk to the person and explain what happened. They will likely stop being afraid.” “The true meaning of a person is based on their character,” Mathis adds. “And while children are judged for what is on the outside, I want to help these children love themselves and hopefully educate those people around them.” Mathis wants to remind others that comments could affect a child negatively. This year they have the opportunity to expand their programs and need your help. The BCRF’s mission is commendable and invigorating: after spending the day with these children, my heart and mind forever changed. The SCUBA & H2O Adventure Show has adopted the BCRF as their annual non-profit fundraising organization. The previously planned Children’s Fair, which would have been held Saturday the 5th at four p.m., has been replaced with another event due to scheduling concerns: A happy hour replete with spirits and food with be available with live music with an old school vibe will be provided by the locally grown Memphis Rain Band. Attend the event and enter for a chance to win a motorized scooter! Tickets for the scooter (chance to win) cost $5 each and all proceeds go to the BCRF and its future philanthropic projects. It is natural to want to stop and stare. Instead, take a breath, and, for a brief moment, look into the child’s eyes and simply smile. What you see is a child: a sweet, loving, mischievous, and playful child. Sometimes you don’t appreciate all that you have in your own life, until you help make someone else’s life better. - Selene




Exploring the Untapped Amazement of BC’s Caves

Article & photos by Bill Coltart Located on the scenic West Coast of Canada, beautiful Vancouver Island is the largest island in the Pacific east of New Zealand. The island is 290 miles long and 50 miles at its widest and covers some 12,500 square miles of stunning and relaxing scenery. Approximately four percent of the total surface of the island is Karst: a geological formation formed by dissolution of layers of bedrock. As a result there are in excess of 1,000 caves chock full of adventure, which is more than the rest of Canada combined. The caves on Vancouver Island are well-developed due to significant rainfall, lush and dense vegetation, and mountainous terrain. As a result there is a balanced mixture of very active dry and underwater cave systems, a majority of which are relatively unexplored and just waiting for intrepid underwater adventurers. One such cave is near the tiny, cozy village of Zeballos on the island’s northwest side. This cave had been on our radar for a number of years due to the fact that in summer months a large river disappears, leaving only a dry riverbed, before reappearing again some one and half miles downstream. In the summer of 2012, a joint adventuring expedition of Canadian and American cave divers led by long time caver Peter Norris spent two days hauling hundreds of pounds of dive gear nearly a mile from a rough logging road to a tiny


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hole in the center of the riverbed, where it was hoped they would find a system large enough to dive. Well, not only were they pleased to find a cave, they had discovered what might prove to be the most significant and extravagant underwater cave system in Canada. During its week of exploration the group was able to survey approximately 1,700 feet of smooth white-colored stone passages averaging approximately 30-feet deep until the main 15-foot-wide passage arrives at the drop know as “the chimney”. This 20-foot-wide, perfectly round tube drops from 30 feet to nearly 85 feet, then proceeds horizontally again over a wide bedding plane. The group was able to capture some fantastic documentary video and subsequently named the cave “Wet Dreams”. After a dry summer of 2013, my caving partner and I made our way to the area in an effort to carve a Quad trail through the forest so that gear could be easily transported to the cave entrance. Once completed, we made arrangements to carry on where the previous group had left off. In mid-September we arrived for a week-long expedition, with a mountain of equipment including two camper trailers, three ATVs, two generators to charge light and cameras, Hollis Prism 2 Rebreathers, Dive X Cuda 650 scooters, and dozens of stage bottles.

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The plan scheduled for the week was to explore some side passages, which the previous divers had marked for us, and to see how far we could push the main passage with our souped up scooters. Little did we know what we would find in the coming days. During the third day of diving we decided to proceed down a pair of narrow vertical shafts. These smooth limestone passages lead from 20 feet straight down to over 140 feet and continued down in a zig-zag pattern down from there. As we were already two hours into the dive we tied off the line to return another time. Thankfully, there was still plenty of Swiss cheese-like passage left to check out on this expedition.

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After an entire evening of contemplating our final dive, we made the decision to push the main passage as far as possible. We carefully ensured the scooters and lights were fully charged, stage bottles were topped off, and the remainder of the gear was double checked. Early the following morning, we proceeded into the tiny entrance hole, mounted our stage bottles, clipped on the scooters, and off we went into the blackness. After 45 minutes of cruising through the smooth light-colored passage there was a sudden change in scenery. The fantastically clear water and smooth passage suddenly changed to murky, dark, volcanic-like jagged rock, which seemed to suck in our light. Visability deteriorated from over 100 feet to less than 20 feet in just a few minutes, however we made the decision to press on. After about 15 minutes of scootering it became apparent that we had again passed into another bedding plane, as the rock lightened and visibility again improved. At the two hour mark the passage began to take a sudden turn back up towards the surface. We were unsure at this point how far we were in or where it would lead, but we knew we were running out of time. At the 20-foot mark we decided to stop and decompress for a few minutes on oxygen before the long trip back to the cave entrance. After a few minutes of sitting in the narrow passage I noted that a few feet ahead my bubbles were rippling at the surface. I decided to leave the stage bottles and scooter with my buddy and squeeze up to scout this apparent dry space. Much to my surprise I came face to face with a six-inch cricket perched on a boulder, it was as shocked to see me as I was him. This was indeed a vertical dry passage, likely quite close to the surface. After finishing the preliminary surveys we are excited to find that we’re over 4,200 feet in, at a maximum depth of 145 feet. There is nothing quite as exciting as meeting all your mission objectives and leaving knowing there is more to come!

Bill Coltart is a Cave Explorer, Film Maker and Technical Diving Instructor from Vancouver Island, Canada. He has been teaching Rebreather and Technical Diving for over fifteen years, in addition to running a busy Dive Center and Charter operation. Bill has filmed for various Television and Film projects including A&E’s ‘Walking amongst the Sharks’, Tokyo Broadcastings ‘Amazing Animals’, BBC’s ‘Land of the Mammoth’, PBS’ ‘Mystery Alaska’ and most recently the reality TV series ‘Ice Road Truckers’. In addition to teaching and filming, he is a regular contributor to various diving publications. Together with his wife Sharon, they routinely lead groups of divers to various International Destinations. He also works as a Paramedic for the British Columbia Ambulance Service and for the past ten years has served as the Medical and Safety Supervisor for International Freediving competitions, helping to pioneer groundbreaking safety protocols and standards allowing for numerous depth records to be set. Utilizing his medical expertise, Bill has served on the Advisory Panel and as response coordinator for the Canadian Medical Assistance Team and has volunteered during International Disasters in Indonesia, Pakistan, Haiti, Bangladesh, Japan and the US Gulf Coast. He is often called on by the UN to teach disaster response and coordination courses to various aid agencies. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the British Columbia Dive Association. Bill is part of a group currently surveying and documenting the longest underwater cave in Canada, located in the mountain ranges of Northern Vancouver Island.

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California Cleanin’: On Such a Bright Earth Day!

In appreciation of the earth, and an initiative to further safeguard the environment, Aquatic Dreams Scuba Center of Modesto, CA, through its dive club Modesto Dream Divers, will host a special “Dive In Earth Day”, to be held April 12 at local Del Monte Beach. The 10th annual event will begin with a registration and check-in session at 8 a.m.: afterwards, divers will remove trash, debris, and other hazardous objects from the beach’s waters. But the cleanup isn’t just for scuba lovers: non-divers can also help beautify Del Monte’s sandy expanse. Kids can also get in on the fun through a special critter repatriation station where different varieties of sea life will be returned home. For more information, along with pre-registration options, visit or call 209-577-3483.

Dive the Cenotes of Mexico with a Winter Time Special

Looking to escape to a warmer climate? Cave Training Mexico of Playa de Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, is inspiring divers to explore the country’s exceptional cave/cenote adventures. The company routinely takes divers to these unique sites and offers an encyclopedia of knowledge. “The cenotes, considered by the Mayans as the sacred entrance to the underworld, are nowadays viewed as one of the most exciting adventures for certified divers,” stated Cave Training Mexico Owner Alessandra Figari. “You just need to be open certified and have a good buoyancy control to be able to take part to this incredible and magic experience.” For more information on the wonders of diving cenotes, visit

CSTR and WSA Partner for Online Auction

Two oceanic 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, California Ships to Reefs (CSTR) and Washington SCUBA Alliance (WSA) are banding together to provide scuba and watersports aficionados with some great equipment at this year’s SCUBA & H2O Adventure Show. During the weekend, April 5 to 6 at Pier 91 Cruise Terminal in stunning downtown Seattle, Dive News Network will present a special auction to guests at booths #314 and #316. “Dive News Network selected WSA and CSTR as beneficiaries for our auction due to their complementary goals, which enhance our marine environment,” stated Producer Rick Stratton. “We are delighted to have these two dedicated organizations as participants in the show and auction proceeds.” A groundbreaking online auction will run simultaneously from April 2 to 6 where bidders will be able to stay in the game from any place and any time until the final gavel drops. For more information on these organizations, and how you can partake in the virtual bidding, visit and


Light & Motion Bolsters Local Manufacturing at New Facility

As part of a continuing campaign to “move upstream”, Monterey, CA-based outdoor and scuba light manufacturer Light & Motion recently moved its headquarters to nearby Marina. The new 30,000 square foot facility will enable more professional space for manufacturing operations. “We are a team that loves product and our new building gives us more room to build it. The idea of someone else build it for us would be like sending someone out to take your place on your Saturday morning ride,” stated CEO of Light & Motion Daniel Emerson. “Practice is how we get better and learn to design better products. The new building also provides more professional space for our team to work, and Marina is a great community for working folk.” Acclaimed for its groundbreaking business practices and clean energy solutions, the company has received several commendable distinctions such as the 2012 “Cool California Award” and the “Waste Reduction Awards Program (W.R.A.P.)” Award. For more information on Light & Motion, its product line, and its services, visit or call 831-645-1525.

GoPro Brings Home an Emmy®!

On January 14, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded camera manufacturer GoPro with a coveted Technology and Engineering Emmy® Award for the “Inexpensive Small Rugged HD Camcorders” distinction. The company was specifically selected for the honor due for its innovative HERO3 camera technology. GoPro Founder and CEO Nicolas Woodman graciously accepted the award on behalf of the company. “That the best-selling consumer camera in the world has also been so enthusiastically adopted by film and television professionals is something we’re very proud of,” Woodman stated. “It’s a testament to the quality and versatility of our products and our passion for enabling the world to capture incredible content.” For more information on GoPro’s accomplishments and its product line, visit

FGNMS Presents Seaside Chat Discourse Program

Ocean devotees of all ages looking to enhance their knowledge will experience an invigorating array of presentations hosted by NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) in Galveston, TX throughout February. Taking place at the Aquarium Pyramid at Moody Gardens each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., the “Seaside Chat” series will illuminate questions, concerns, and procedures related to National Marine Sanctuary projects. The specialized talks will begin with “What are National Marine Sanctuaries?” on February 5 and will continue with “Deep Water Tools & Technology for Sanctuary Science” on February 12; “Shallow Water Tools & Technology for Sanctuary Science” February 29; and “Remotely Tracking Sealife” with guest speaker David Wells of Texas A&M University February 26. For more info on the exciting series, visit



Tara with children who benefitted from the charities

FIREBALL RUN A Race to Recover America’s Missing Children

By Jennifer Wilkins Photos courtesy Tarah Mikachich FIREBALL RUN is a gripping and emotional eight day, 14 city, 2,500 mile life-sized trivia game, with America as the game board. To navigate the route, 40 driving teams solve clues based on history, science, nature, theology, pop culture and virtually anything in relation to their geographical location. Once found, they must accomplish missions in order to score—all while aiding a massive effort to recover America’s missing children. Although a trivia game, there is nothing trivial about its purpose or results. FIREBALL RUN is often referred to as “the most fun you will ever have, doing the most important thing you’ve ever done”. Each FIREBALL RUN team is assigned a missing child from their home region and provided with thousands of posters to distribute along the route. A decal featuring the child is affixed to the vehicle, creating a rolling awareness campaign. To date, the endeavor has aided in the recovery of 38 missing children. In addition to the recovery efforts for missing children, FIREBALL RUN teams also make a charitable impact in every destination they visit. Participants have donated over $20,000 in toys to various children’s hospitals, over 6,000 books to a pre-K initiative, 12 lap top computers and a new computer lab to a Boys & Girls Club. The 2013 race started in Longmont, Colorado on September 20th, and ended in Riverside, California on September 28th. Professional wakeboarder, Tarah Mikacich, was thrilled and honored to participate in the event. “We do a lot of crazy missions,” says Tarah, “so we get a ton of media attention, and the missing children are put at the forefront of all the exposure.” “Deciphering clues led us to some of the most beautiful places in America. We went to the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum and sat in the cockpit of the Navy’s first supersonic aircraft, built in 1955. We visited Page, Arizona – considered one of the most isolated cities in America – and viewed its beautiful rock formations.” “The producers made it clear that different teams would go on different missions, and that because of our backgrounds we might be specifically chosen for certain

Tarah and her teammate, Shea, in their team car

adventures. Somehow I ended up in a bikini three times for various ‘water missions’!” laughs Tarah. But the overall mission was always the children, and the response to that was overwhelming and tremendous. “We donated supplies to many charity missions along the way,” says Tarah. “Some were in need of learning tools, while others needed toys, clothes, electronics, and sports & outdoor equipment. We met so many great people in every place we stopped. Thousands of people came out to support and graciously host us. The community effort was very heartwarming. Through the efforts of our teams, their families and associates, two more missing children have been found! That was the most amazing part of this whole adventure.” Tarah has been immersed in the watersports industry her entire life, beginning with water skiing in which she earned numerous national and world titles. In 2006 she made the switch to wakeboarding. She won Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2011, won Female Move of the Year in 2011, and was also the first Pro Woman to win the MyWake Global Challenge summer video contest in 2012. Tarah has been featured on,, and ESPN Radio 1080. She is a great representative of women’s wakeboarding, helping to promote the sport through her riding, coaching clinics, boat shows and demos the world over.




Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary The Texas Caribbean Article & photos by Mike Hughes Two reefs discovered by fisherman long ago, in the middle of otherwise deep waters off Texas, became known as West Flower Garden Bank and East Flower Garden Bank. The banks are sites where salt accumulated 170 million years ago into bulging domes beneath the sea floor. Ten to 15 thousand years ago, reefs comprised mostly of brain and star corals formed on top of the domes about 55 to 60 ft. below the surface. Thirty miles northwest of the Flower Garden Banks is Stetson Bank at about the same depth. Other banks such as Geyer Bank rise to only 130 ft. beneath the surface and go deeper than recreational dive limits. No one is intentionally trying to keep the Flower Garden Banks a mystery: it’s just that being located 110 miles offshore from Freeport, Texas, which in itself is an hour’s drive southwest from Houston, sort of makes it an “open secret.” You need a big, well-equipped sea-going vessel or you need to book with a dive shop that charters boats out of Galveston or the 100-ft. long MV Fling from Freeport, which was my favorite option during this trip. The MV Fling typically runs two to three day charters and I opted for the longer choice. After an initial onboard welcoming and briefing, our Nitrox/C Cards were checked, and fresh homemade snacks were eaten. Once our gear was properly set up, we slept soundly while the Fling made her way out to our first dive site. Saturday was our initial day of diving, and after a light pre-breakfast of pastries and fruits, we were ready and raring to start. I should say right off the bat that if we weren’t diving, we were eating, resting, or both. There was food before and after the dives, and sometimes even more goodies if the rest between dives was too long. The vessel’s cooks, Matthew and Wendy, did a great job of making everyone forget about dieting.


Wendy was the junior member of the crew with three years on board, and, while not working as a cook, she is also a chemist. Tank-filler Neal is an electrical engineer. It seems everyone had degrees and/or tons of diving and boating experience, but most of all, they just plain loved being on the boat and being part of the crew. Captains Bland, Kurt, and Admiral Ken worked full time, but the rest of the crew were all volunteers. Wendy summed it up by saying that some divers take the trip and never come back while other divers never seem to leave. I have to say, though, that on this trip many of the guest divers I met had been on the MV Fling several times before. Our dive masters, JT and John, briefed us well before every dive. Our first two dives were at West Flower Garden Bank. There can be up to 17 buoys, weather permitting, between East and West Flower Garden and Stetson Banks, which the boats hook up to in order to prevent coral damage often caused by wayward anchors. The currents on the surface were moving faster than a diver could swim, but they declined at depth. This made the buoys extremely important: in some cases we had to pull ourselves hand by hand along our guide rope over to the buoy and follow it down some 50 ft. before the currents subsided. It wasn’t hard to do; you just had to perform a giant stride entry into the water then slowly work your way along the rope. And, in the meantime, you were looking down at the coral with 70 to 100 ft. of visibility. I won’t say that you have to be an experienced diver to do these dives, as a few divers were relatively new. You just have to be a comfortable diver: be familiar with your gear, the ocean, and your physical shape. Down below I saw some divers swimming all over the reef while others remained close to the buoy taking pictures and filming quite contently.



Since the early 80s, the distinct 30-guest capacity Fling Charters liveboard has routinely explored the wonders of Flower Garden Banks throughout the year. Divers regularly choose Fling Charters because of the crew’s experience and comfortable accommodations; though they often find it difficult to jump into the blue due to the liveaboard’s signature ice cream-topped brownies and peach cobbler.

Fling Charters

“Meeting all the new people who come out to the boat is what draws us to Flower Garden Banks; it’s also one of the healthiest reef structures in all of North America,” explains Fling Charters Co-Owner Sharon Cain. “Through the year we have many, many sharks: hammerheads and resident tiger sharks in winter; nurse sharks, silkies, blacks, and spinners in the summer. From February to June we get lots of hammerhead spawns and during the summer months you’ll see stingrays, eagle rays, manta rays, eels, lobsters, and an occasional whale shark.”

The first thing you’ll notice diving out here is the amazing health of these reefs: White splotches of bleached dead coral are minimal and the abundance of fish and invertebrate life is maximal. West Flower Bank is not big on the map, but with 23 species of coral blending in seemingly endless mixed patterns, it’s easy to get turned around or find yourself near a side that ends by sloping down to 160 feet. We never went beyond 90 ft., as there was so much life to see around the corals or in the small sandy valleys. Tube and barrel sponges were quite prevalent. Besides the traditional 300 species, and the quantity of each species of fish found locally, rare golden smooth trunk fish are known to hang out here, and even more importantly, the Flower Garden Banks is where scientists first discovered a new species of wrasse called the “Mardi Gras Wrasse”: a flamboyant critter named because of the bright purple, yellow, and green colors on the adult male. After a cool dive with loggerhead turtles at an oil/gas production platform, we hit East Flower Garden Bank where the topography is slightly different. Bigger valleys of sand rested below where conch hung out between coral heads, and deeper cracks and crevices filled with hiding fish were carved into the bottom. On the night dive our team got to witness bioluminescent organisms, the night shift of fish, daytime parrotfish sleeping and a loggerhead turtle resting on the bottom in an almost trance-like state. After late night ice cream sundaes and a good night’s rest, we did one more




dive here then headed over to Stetson Bank. The area has few corals because the water is seasonally a bit too cold for them to proliferate. What you can uncover, though, are layers of clay stone and sand stone jetting upward vertically as if someone punched their fist up through the sand and left the rocks on end. As for the fish, this is where adults seem to come and mingle, where angelfish look like they took growth hormones, and where spotted eels and moray eels like to hang out in the open. The sponges were mostly low-lying varieties and algae covered the flat substrate area. Big schools of fish randomly hung around us. In and around the algae we found several types of cone shells, hairy tritons, Atlantic thorny oysters, and a bright yellow Atlantic cowry. At night the group encountered bearded sea cucumbers, urchins, brittle stars, crabs, shrimps, and one rather large lobster. These are just some of the creatures we saw, but if you wait till winter when hammerheads are migrating, or in the spring when the spotted eagle rays pass by, the view changes radically. Around the first full moon in August, the MV Fling provides a special four-day cruise during the spawning of the corals. Basically, anytime you can book a trip to see these gems in the Texas Caribbean, is the best time to dive. I dream of being one of those annual divers that the crew of the MV Fling just can’t seem to get rid of. Great Dives.

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Diver Propulsion Vehicles Safety While Having Fun Article by John Christopher Fine Photos by Myriam Moran “The judge told him, ‘Did you ever use an electric fan’. The case was thrown out of court,” Dimitri Rebikoff said. It was a lawsuit against the inventor of the most formidable underwater diver propulsion vehicle ever made. The Pegasus was sold for military and reconnaissance applications all over the world. Underwater cinematographers used the long, torpedo shaped diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) to capture dramatic traveling film footage. Pegasus, like most DPVs, had a naked propeller. The hapless soul who was carrying Pegasus to the water lost a finger when his colleague on the other end turned it on by mistake. Naked, unsheathed and unprotected propellers are very dangerous. They can cut, injure, and entrap when articles of jewelry, hair, or clothing get caught in them. I had just presented shipwreck explorer Michel Metery with a medal underwater. It was a French tradition. When an award was to be given, for diving, the celebration took place underwater. Michel was using a DPV to explore the wreck of the Roraima, one of the fabled shipwrecks that sank in the eruption of Mt. Pelée off the city of Saint Pierre in Martinique. Metery was a veteran explorer of these shipwrecks, they were his passion and he dove them every chance he got. The DPV gave Michel the opportunity to extend his range and discover more shipwreck sites underwater. The ships sank in relatively deep water ranging from about 37 to 50 meters. After the ceremony, Michel took off. Our plan was for him to go into and behind the motor spaces of the shipwreck and I would wait and photograph him emerging on the other side sliding through the water pulled by the DPV. It would offer a dramatic photograph. Michel Metery did not emerge. I waited. It was a long time before Michel made his way out from behind the huge motors to the upper deck where I was waiting. Instead of being pulled by his scooter or DPV, he was pushing it, finning at an odd angle. When he got close, Michel pointed with one hand, he held fast to the DPV with the other. Michel was an expert diver; his experience and cool head saved him from tragedy.

John Christopher Fine with diver Peter Leo using a DPV in a channel

The medal on its presentation cord landed behind the DPV propeller and got tangled and wrapped around the prop. The cord pulled Michel down onto the housing. He was trapped, hung up by the medal’s cord, unable to free himself, unable to use the DPV. His good judgment allowed him to extricate himself by swimming slowly with his fins until he got out of the motor spaces and was able to swim up to the upper deck where I was waiting and we could untangle the cord that held his neck to the DPV housing. What the two divers experienced, a physical injury and a DPV prop entanglement, like any line around a ship’s propeller that most divers have seen happen, can and often happened during the use of DPVs. Technology has created a Seadoo DPV with a caged propeller. The plastic housing does not impede the use of the sea scooter in any way and when used with prudence and in conformity with the manufacturer’s recommendations, overcomes the inherent dangers of previous DPVs. “It’s really only a trolling motor inside a waterproof housing,” Bill Roe, a veteran diver and the man who tested many DPVs for a well-known dive magazine said. “The weight is in the batteries. Today there are batteries that are a lot lighter and offer longer range and shorter charge times,” Bill said. That is really the key element to DPV use: safety and convenience. The new Seadoo Supercharged VS DPV weighs 18 pounds. The sealed, rechargeable lead-acid battery weighs about eight pounds. The unit comes complete with a charger and a warning. All rechargeable batteries produce gas when charged. These gasses must be allowed to dissipate before the unit is sealed. If the gas does not dissipate harmlessly in the air the electrical connection can cause it to explode.


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DPVs should have protected propellers

to sunlight is detrimental. The DPV should be rinsed off with fresh water after use. I like to run them in either rinse tank of fresh water if available or hose the unit down well both at dockside after the dive and when I get home. Salt crystals can build up around the propeller so extra care should be used to hose that part off completely. Store batteries outside of the unit if they are not to be used for extended periods of time. DPVs are wonderful fun. They are a boon to divers with physical challenges and dramatically extend the range of any dive. Safety triggers and on-off switches are additional features of the newer DPVs. While DPVs were quite expensive when they were introduced, the pricing has become very competitive and newly innovated units are well within the budget of the average diver. The fun and challenge of diving is exploration. DPVs are a tool that can not only extend the range but also make diving accessible to people with handicaps. With proper use, adherence to manufacturer’s guidelines and the common sense rules inherent in diving with regard to the safety issues described here as well as carefully regulating depth and time, the use of DPVs can be great fun. DPV battery compartment

Underwater photographers who charged their electronic strobes to capacity, then immediately sealed them after charging, took the strobe below and fired it, were surprised when the electrical discharge caused an explosion. One well-known French camerman wore his battery pack strapped to his tank. He forgot to unscrew the plug before diving. When he used the battery pack it exploded. Luckily it exploded in the water and not on shipboard where injury would have occurred. Rechargeable batteries are great but they must be charged and recharged in conformity with the manufacturer’s instructions. The instruction manual for the Seadoo states “Allow two minutes for any gasses to dissipate.” If there is no rush, allow more time, it will do no harm and decrease the likelihood of gas build up once the battery is inside the waterproof housing. While Rebikoff’s Pegasus was large and could carry a heavy load, military divers with a weapons payload or cinematographers with large Hollywood cameras, the average DPV is designed to pull one diver at speeds of about 3 miles per hour (mph). The Seadoo has two speeds, the higher speed will reach about 3 mph and about half that at cruising speed with an operational depth of one hundred feet. Autonomy is about 90 minutes but that depends on the speed chosen and whether the DPV is used intermittently or continuously. Buoyancy was a problem with DPVs; I had lead weights attached to some of mine to compensate for the positive buoyancy at times when the load was only to pull divers and not carry camera equipment. The Seadoo has a sealed plastic chamber that fits inside the nose cone. Stones or lead weights can be added to the chamber to adjust buoyancy as required. Care of DPVs requires that they be kept out of direct sunlight. High temperatures are not favorable to batteries and like all pieces of dive equipment prolonged exposure

The DPV without its nose cone


All That Glitters -

Vernon in front of his dredge, Wild Ranger, photo courtesy Discovery Channel/Tim Beers, Jr


Behind the Show and the People of Discovery’s Bering Sea Gold When you use the word “gold”, most people probably imagine a jewelry store with immaculate displays of sparkling baubles. If you use the term “gold mining” your perspective may change a little. You may imagine a bit of the hard work that goes into it, but the average person probably still sees that hard work and labor resulting in a shiny rock and a profit. The show Bering Sea Gold, which airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel, takes all those glorified and glittery images… and turns it on its head. From the creators of Deadliest Catch, Bering Sea Gold is a reality television series set in Nome, Alaska. And the people who appear on the show - captains, dredgers, divers – are anything but shiny. This is hard country, and it requires a special breed of man (and woman) to tame it. “It’s a much different environment, and definitely takes some getting used to,” says Kevin Jupina, diver on the Wild Ranger. Kevin received his recreational diving certification while still in high school, then spent four years in the Navy where he received his commercial dive training. The show follows a fleet of boats, or dredges, equipped with various setups to achieve gold mining in a cold, northern latitude, ocean environment. Surprisingly, the different crew members are not necessarily what you might envision the typical Alaskan native to be. They hail from all walks of life—from Navy divers to classically trained musicians.

Vernon Adkison, Captain of the dredge Wild Ranger, is an Alaskan State Marine Pilot and has called this untamed land home for more than 20 years. He understands that life out here is risky and harsh, and to thrive here you have to be willing to take a few risks yourself. Sometimes that risk doesn’t pan out (pardon the pun), but the thrill of the journey and the excitement are profit enough. “I find it tremendously exciting and the potential is unlimited,” says Vernon. “I’ve got quite a nice job, far as I’m concerned—piloting ships is one of the best jobs in the world. But there’s something about gold mining, specifically dredging offshore Nome, that excites my passions. It really rings a bell for me.” “I’ve always enjoyed diving,” Vernon continues. “I lived in Hawaii for about seven years and there was a stretch of time there when I was diving every day. I’ve gotten in the water a few times in Nome, but I want to do it on a more regular basis. Most of our divers are professional grade, but some are commercial divers. Commercial diving doesn’t transpose over into being a successful dredger, however. You may be good at commercial diving but not necessarily good at finding the gold.” Diver Kevin Jupina can attest to that. “I had seen the show before, and while watching it I told my wife, ‘I can do that’. I knew the diving, of course, but not the mining aspect. I had to listen to people who had been doing it for years and learned from them.” “When I was asked to dive for Vernon and be part of the show, I jumped at it,” says Kevin. “There was no real

Scott Meisterheim, photo courtesy Discovery Channel/Tony Pontillo

Steve Riedel underwater, photo courtesy Discovery Channel/David Reichert

Article by Jennifer Wilkins Photos courtesy Discovery Channel unless otherwise noted


Ian Foster walking with an auger, photo courtesy Discovery Channel/Trevor Hudson


Emily Riedel and her father Steve prepare to go under the ice to dredge for gold

Emily Riedel, photo courtesy Discovery Channel/Tim Beers, Jr

professional commercial diver on the show. And I knew I could bring something new to it, a different aspect of diving. It’s not just about the gold. It’s about being safe in the water and how to work in the water.” “Most of what we do here is fairly shallow, 20 feet or less, but you can still be killed very easily,” says Vernon. “Diving under the ice— that’s a whole different kettle of fish. You stray far from your hole and you may become disoriented and not find your way back.” The safety aspects (or lack thereof ) inherent in this profession are something diver and Captain Emily Riedel is all too familiar with. “My first time diving was basically this: I was handed a regulator and told to go, remember to exhale and don’t die. That was my training!” says Riedel. “I don’t even remember the brand of compressor I used— it was very sketchy and worked intermittently.” While Emily grew up in Alaska, she studied opera in Vienna. This unique background makes her one of the most refreshing and spirited crew members on the show. She instills her passion for the work and diving into her own dredge boat, the Eroica, which she named after a musical piece. “Diving is such a fun and joyous thing, especially diving for gold, it’s just thrilling,” says Emily. “But this experience gave me a lot of anxiety because of a few near-death experiences. Until I saw how a professionally trained diver harvested gold - versus what you usually see in Nome - I didn’t realize how important the training actually is. You absolutely need that training; you can’t just, say, be a mechanic who also dives.”

This is a point on which many people take issue with the show and its cast. Any professionally trained and certified diver knows that this kind of disregard for safety regulations is dangerous and reckless, and is not how divers should operate. Safety rules and precautions are there for good reason and should always be adhered to. But maybe it’s the remoteness of Nome or the lure of the gold that cause some to act recklessly. Luckily, crew members are taking note, as well. “We’ve gotten more and more safety conscious,” says Vernon. “We try to take as many safety precautions as possible, and as time goes by I’m going to build more redundancy into the system.” “I have my open water certification, but I really want to take that a little further. Really, I’d like to take this as far it will go,” says Emily. “When you find yourself challenged by something, it’s important to face it strongly and fiercely so that you are no longer afraid of it. One of my goals this season is to start diving regularly—to shed my anxiety and fears and just go!” “Emily is a very hard worker, and has the potential to be a great diver,” says Kevin. “You have to be prepared for anything, but you cannot be afraid of the unknown. You have to be comfortable— the more comfortable you are the more productive you are.” Bravery and tenacity are two things these adventurous souls have in abundance. Caution, perhaps, may be a bit lacking. But again, this is harsh country and the work is not pretty. Not all that glitters is gold, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

Underwater dredging, photo courtesy Discovery Channel/Shane Moore

Zeke Tenhoff, photo courtesy Discovery Channel/Trevor Hudson




We are now working on a different part of the Missouri River, on the manmade Lake Sakakawea. We are cutting a 36-inchdiameter ream free from its damaged shaft at the bottom of a ten foot diameter, 135-foot-deep cement caisson. But before that can happen, we must remove the 20 feet of mud that’s bled in from the lake through the drill pipe and buried the tool. Divers spend their 40 to 50 minutes of bottom time swinging a fire hose side to side so the high pressure water can push the mud towards the air lift where it is sucked up to the surface and drains back to the river. Too often, during these three weeks, cranes, people, pumps and other resources are diverted, lost or broken and our work comes to a stop. But despite the delays and frustration, Addam breaks his silence in the middle of a dive. “Hey, I hit something!”


The Pit Part 2: A Good Marine

Article & photos by Mark Norder

Looking at the back of our chamber, the drysuit belongs to the diver now inside

Now in his early 30s, Dave was a Grunt before dive school. Don’t know how long he served; do know he never deployed overseas. Short, stocky, and athletic, he’d been a wrestler in high school and did the same as a Marine, traveling all around the country, competing in college level matches and promoting the Corps. I learned back in Linton that when there’s something crappy to do, call on Dave. All these guys, including him, are right out of school, on their first or second job. All have much to learn, all are good workers and eager, but like divers everywhere they whine like babies when there’s an unpleasant, thankless job to do - all except Dave. I take advantage of this when I need a diver to rely on. This works both ways, and when there is something interesting to do, or an opportunity to learn, he is the first I turn to: always happy to reward his effort and maybe give the others something to think about. He pays his dues in the caisson, jetting mud like all the rest, getting fouled like all the rest, and getting himself out of it like all the rest. From the beginning, knowing the ream will need to be burned free of the shaft, he begs for the opportunity to use the torch. He, like the others, has done it in school. Unlike most of the others, he is eager to try it in these conditions. With enough mud finally removed, he makes the first dive on the second day of cutting the reamer stem. When he finishes and is about to come up, we lose coms with him. When


Looking down the hill from the outside of the caisson

Diver hooking up his bailout hose

Dave’s gear after we’ve pulled it out of the caisson

communication is lost, which is not an uncommon thing, we revert to pull signals on the umbilical and immediately begin to get the diver to the surface. We pull; he replies; we take him off bottom. This continues till he reaches about ten or fifteen feet below the surface, then we can’t pull any more and realize he’s fouled on something. Because we can’t communicate and he’s stuck, we immediately jump the standby diver. Dustin reaches him and makes contact. Using head butts and hand squeezes in the darkness he determines that Dave’s OK and begins trying to find where he is fouled so we can get him to the surface. It isn’t but a few minutes later when Dustin starts screaming into his mic that Dave’s hat is off. With Ben trying to calm Dustin down, I run to get enough phone service to call 911. I get back in time to help Addam, the tender, drag Dave onto the cement cover of the caisson and Ben and I begin CPR, refusing all offers of help; Dave is our guy and we will not leave him. All I keep telling myself is “Don’t stop until the paramedics arrive. Don’t stop until the paramedics arrive.” Do this for, we were later told, over 45 minutes. When the local paramedics finally show up, they set the gurney on the dirt floor of the pump house, then just stand there, arms by their sides. It is Ben and I that pick up Dave’s body and set it on the stretcher. When they still don’t move or say anything, Ben, Kurt, from the drilling company, and I pick it up, carry it to the ambulance, and load him in unassisted. By then, Dustin is in the chamber on the precautionary run I had scribbled out. We wait for him to finish, sitting around numb and tired. Cops come; phone calls come; we go back to the house and drink.




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On Friday, two days after the accident that took Dave’s life, we return to the site to recover the helmet and other gear that was ditched in our attempt to save him. Overseen by the OSHA investigator, local police, and management from the construction company, we pull his umbilical to the surface and retrieved the hat, harness and bailout. First thing we do is put air to the helmet and learn there is no problem there: regulator, dial-a-breath, and free flow all work fine. The bailout had never been turned on and the bottle is still fully charged. No reason is found for his decision to remove the hat and we are left with just our own private speculations.

Mark Norder Mark has worked as a diver and dive supervisor for more than 30 years. He works in locations as diverse as Alaska’s Bering Sea, the Missouri River and Gulf of Mexico. Mark currently resides in Southern California.

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At El Boiler mantas approach divers very closely

Revillagigedo Archipelago

Dive with the Really Big Boys Only a Short Flight South of the Border Article & photos by Sammy Cimeno There comes a time when the hunt for little critters loses some of its appeal and divers begin to seek out animals that are larger and more exciting. This is particularly true for underwater photographers. Our oceans are filled with seals and sea lions, dolphins, sharks, manta rays, and whales; and diving with these fascinating animals opens a completely new dimension to diving. There are many places in the world that provide a world-class adventure diving with these big boys and each offers opportunities for unique encounters. While there is no overall “best spot” to find big animals, the most consistent spot to dive with large manta rays is a group of islands south of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico called the Revillagigedo Archipelago. While many divers visit the Revillagigedo Archipelago just for the mantas, there are many other large animals here to thrill the most experienced diver. The Revillagigedo Archipelago is comprised of four islands: San Benedicto, Socorro, Roca Partida, and Clarion. Divers often refer to the archipelago simply as “Socorro”: mainly due to our inability to pronounce “Revillagigedo”. These islands are typically dived from a live aboard charter

The Clarion angelfish is Socorro’s most energetic cleaner

boat on nine or 12-day trips departing from Cabo San Lucas, and since Clarion is so far from the rest it is only visited on the longer trips. The bottom around the islands of Socorro is relatively stark with a minimum of coral, invertebrates and plant life. This is not a place for those seeking little critters; it is a place to dive with the big boys. Much of the diving here is “porch sitting”—you find a comfortable place to sit, usually facing into the current, and watch the big animals parade by. The massive, volcano-topped San Benedicto is the closest island to Cabo, is about 230 miles away, and takes around 24 hours to get there from the Cabo San Lucas harbor. Dive boats typically spend the first day or two at San Benedicto and there are two dive sites that will blow your mind. El Boiler is on the southwest side of the island and is a massive pinnacle that begins at about 20 feet and descends in steps to over 160. The honeycombed reef is riddled with giant green moray eels and lobsters. Diving at El Boiler is all about the manta rays, since this is one of the busiest Pacific manta cleaning stations. The Clarion angelfish is the site’s most energetic cleaner and mantas, sometimes three or four mantas at a time, come in to be cleaned. It is not permitted to touch the rays; and over the years the mantas have become incredibly comfortable with divers, and they view divers with a sense of curiosity and purpose. They seem to have a particular and unique fondness for bubbles. It is common to have a manta hover directly above a diver and wiggle and jiggle in ecstasy as exhalation

Experience Big Animals Aboard the Nautilus! The Nautilus Explorer charter vessel regularly voyages out to Socorro Island and interacts with the most spectacular and friendly big underwater animals in the world. True giant mantas, also known as Manta birostris and manta rays, can be seen all over the location’s crisp azure waters. Their wing-like pectoral fins can grow up to 22 feet wide and the critters aren’t shy about greeting divers face to face; and it’s not uncommon for bottlenose dolphins to join in on the fun! Shark lovers will also discover a delightful adventure alongside silky, Galapagos, hammerhead, white tip, and silver tip variants of the beautiful pelagic fish; schooling hammerheads can be encountered in big numbers between April and June. Perhaps the pinnacle of any Socorro excursion, a population of 1,200 humpback whales migrate by the waters in January and grant a perfect opportunity to experience their unique language – many Nautilus Explorer passengers have slept soundly during the whales’ soothing aquatic concerts. Check out more opportunities aboard the Nautilus Explorer by visiting


Revillagigedo Archipelago

Hammerhead sharks are fearless at El Cañón

Divers share a close encounter with a Pacific manta ray

bubbles cascade across their belly. Manta encounters may last an entire tank with the mantas passing within a foot or so of divers. They check out divers, hover motionless while they allow the cleaner fish to do their job, and do barrel rolls. These behaviors allow for extended, intimate encounters and provide photographers plenty of opportunity to shoot the rays from every possible angle. These mantas are huge: some were over 16 feet tip-to-tip. On the southeast side of San Benedicto is El Cañón. This site consists of a horseshoe or box canyon-shaped group of pinnacles. The offshore side drops to 180 feet or so, and the inshore floor is around 100. The dive consists of making your way to the lookout over deep water at 70 to 80 feet and

Hawaii    

watch the fish go by. Schools of hammerhead sharks patrol the drop off and, unlike many other parts of the world, seem to have little fear of divers. This is a great place for prolonged encounters with hammerheads and for hammerhead portraits. There were also a few very small and very cute silvertip sharks here. Divers are regularly treated to close encounters with mantas during their safety stops. Cabo Pearce is on the east side of Socorro and is an underwater ridge running from shore out about 100 yards. Again, this is a “porch-sitting” dive: Simply find a spot facing the current and watch the animals parade by. Manta rays, hammerhead, silky sharks, and schools of bottlenose dolphins are predictably photographed here.

Land of Aloha Kauai

      


     

    


Dolphins and Manta Rays and Reefs -

Oh my!


SCUBA :: SITES & TRIPS :: EXOTIC :: MEXICO Humpback whales come to Socorro each winter to calve and mate, and in-water encounters with mother and calf whales is becoming increasingly common. The mothers, with their young calves, sometimes rest right next to dive boats. Lucky divers get to watch mother and calf rest, play, and nurse. Roca Partida is a massive pinnacle that sticks 20 feet or so out of the water. This is a relatively small site and, current permitting, divers can easily circumnavigate it twice on a single tank. If the currents are running you will need to stay in the upstream or downstream sides of the rock. At moderate depths there are several deep bowls in the rock that are normally filled with white tip sharks. There may be as many as a dozen, packed like cordwood in the small depressions. Again, they are accustomed to divers and will often permit a close approach. Around the rock are silky and

Galapagos sharks, and the occasional manta. We saw only individual silkies on this trip, but others reported swimming among a school of hundreds. In 1994, the Mexican government established the Revillagigedo Archipelago “biosphere reserve” to protect this unique ecosystem. Since 2002 no fishing is permitted within twelve miles of the islands and visitors are not allowed to set foot upon the islands. This was my third trip to the Revillagigedo Archipelago, and it has certainly changed for the better since my first dive some 20 years ago. The mantas are still there in great numbers and have not lost their curiosity of divers and their affection for their bubbles, but the other sharks are more plentiful and more curious of divers. In the old days we only saw a few hammerheads or silkies from a distance: now we comfortably photographed them at close range. As a photographer it is insufficient

The Crew of Rocio Del Mar

Rocio del Mar is a love story. It began with the marriage of Dora, a real estate broker in Phoenix, and Lolo, a captain and fisherman. Both shared the love of the Sea and of diving. They concocted an idea to build a liveaboard. Lolo, having grown up in Puerto Penasco, had many friends and family there, and, with the help of these individuals, construction began. They enlisted expert craftsman and engineer Aurellio, his apprentice Julio, fisherman brothers Everado and Beto, and Jorge with a background in construction. The project began. After three years of hard work, Rocio Del Mar set out for its first exploration trip in 2009. An even more amazing part of this story is that these individuals became so invested in this project they stayed together to run the operation. Dora became the ships divemaster; Lolo the captain; Juliio, and Everado the panga drivers; Jorge and Beto deck hands; and Aurellio the ship’s engineer. When divers set foot aboard this ship there is an instant feeling of camaraderie. You can feel the pride and friendships that have been built in every corner of the ship. The crew, now grown to nine, brings Mexican hospitality, a jovial atmosphere, and phenomenal customer service. Once aboard you become part of the Rocio Del Mar family and become part of their story.


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FLORIDA Conch Republic Divers 305.852.1655 Spree Expeditions 281.970.0534

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Revillagigedo Archipelago

The Solmar V is a luxurious platform to visit Socorro

simply to see an animal, it is about having the time for prolonged encounters to acquire images that allow the animals to engage in natural behavior and share their most intimate moments. These encounters are what make the Revillagigedo Archipelago so special. I have dived these islands many times and the Solmar V, with its most experienced and helpful crew, elegant glass and brass décor, comfortable staterooms, and Chef Tony’s great food, is my choice to visit the Revillagigedo Archipelago ( It is a good idea to arrive a day early and stay a few days after your trip to relax and enjoy the ambiance of Cabo San Lucas. The Solmar Resort hotels ( are the place to stay. They are a short walk from downtown Cabo San Lucas, but are at Lands End on a secluded beach with a terrific view and facilities. Playa Grande, down the street, is notably spectacular with multiple pools, great restaurants, and marble adorned rooms.

Kosrae Village Ecolodge 691.370.348

Palau Philippines Marco Vincent Dive Resort Siren Fleet Liveaboards 866.258.6398

Roatan Coco View Resort 800.510.8164 Turquoise Bay Resort 504.2413.2229

TRAVEL WHOLESALE Deep Blue Adventures 888.266.2209 Want to see your business listed here? Contact Roosevelt and join today!


Sam’s Tours 680.488.7267

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Bill Wilson

California Wreck Diver—Dives at 74

Article & photos by Ellsworth Boyd

Bill Wilson, one of the founders, charter members and a former president of the California Wreck Divers, died in Manhattan Beach, June 25, 2013. He was 74 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Diane, two stepsons, Nick and Tory and two granddaughters, Haley and Kalig. Bill had no siblings and shared his life with Diane since 1984. They were married in 1992. Bill often thanked his wife for his extended family. He loved the boys and was ecstatic over having granddaughters. Bill attended San Diego High School and Palomar College in San Diego where his interest in world history spread to shipwrecks and sagas of the sea. He researched and dove on many wrecks during his 40 year association with the California club, one of the oldest in the country. He loved northern California and Catalina Island waters. Among his favorite sites were the remains of the Golden Horn and the Valiant. One of his memorable moments was diving on one of the late Mel Fisher’s treasure galleons, the Santa Margarita, sunk off Key West, Florida. Bill was part of a discovery team that found several California shipwrecks and helped preserve artifacts that were displayed in local schools and dive conventions throughout the country. Bill liked to explain to students the effects salt water has on wood, brass and iron and how the preservation process saves them for the public to enjoy. His art deco displays of shipwreck planks and brass drew praise at dive shows where the California Wreck Divers won many awards. His slide/talk presentations at schools and community associations paid tribute to our maritime heritage and encouraged many people to learn to dive. Bill’s wife was his dive buddy on many of their excursions. She said his dream was to open a museum to display artifacts from the San Diego wrecks, the northern California sites and items found on paddlewheel steamers from the gold rush days. She hopes to fulfill that dream someday. In the 1960s, Bill served in the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command at Ft. Benning, Georgia, participating in a special assignment with the 101st Airborne Unit. When completed, that mission in Vietnam contributed to the U.S. gaining an advantage in a crucial combat area. Throughout his career, Bill was an abalone diver, a mold manufacturer at Hughes Aircraft Corporation and a semi-retired project contractor. His wife said he could fashion an elegant custom built home from his initial design to the finished product. Cars were Bill’s passion in his teens when he won best of show several times and held a record with his coup at Bonneville Speedway. In commemoration, Diane said, “Bill was endeared by all who knew him. He loved diving and along with his other interests, it sustained his enthusiasm for life. He enjoyed sharing things with others. He taught me how to play. People respected his integrity and honesty. Bill was a perfect husband, grandfather and friend. His body is gone, but not his spirit.”



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Child Safety:

Fingerprinting and ID Kits for Children By Selene Muldowney Photos courtesy stock.xchng

Why is this necessary? While the numbers of missing children in the US can be staggering: at 800,000 a year, that number can be misleading or confusing as the numbers are further broken down by family abductions, runaways, and abandoned children. These numbers can be conflicting when assessing what qualifies as missing children. Despite the numerical debate on what qualifies, it is certain thousands of children disappear yearly. Any parent who has dealt with a missing child will assure you one child missing is one too many! We live in a country with an incredible network of law enforcement agencies and federal programs designed to assist parents locate most children more effectively. The Amber Alert program, created in 1996, and operated by the US Department of Justice, has successfully recovered 679 children as of January 2014. This report does not account for the many other circumstances where children go missing – hurricanes, tornadoes, flood, and travel in foreign countries. Locating all children is essential regardless of what caused the child to go missing.


In most cases, the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a child. This is the parent’s worst nightmare, and in those few moments after discovery, the parent is usually overwhelmed and most certainly panicked. Making the fingerprint and ID kit available to law enforcement agencies is crucial. No parent wants to use one – but having vital information on hand saves critical moments. What is an ID Kit and how does this help? Stressful situations can interfere with accurate collection of data. How can parents help law enforcement? They suggest parents have a set of fingerprints (this is the part where we tell you fingerprints will not necessarily find your child but will assist in identification of the child once found), recent photo, description of the child to include birth-marks and other scars, medical concerns and medications, height and weight, and possibly a DNA sample. The documents should be labeled with the date it was made for a point of reference. For a small fee the kit can be purchased through several different organizations. The information is not stored in any


You upgrade your phone: Now upgrade your diving equipment. Public Safety • Sport • Training & Service

mass storage database but rather in the parent’s exclusive possession. Parents can opt to make their own kit to include the basics as aforementioned. Forty years ago the recovery of missing children was significantly smaller. Advances in technology, collaboration between agencies, increased education and awareness, as well as ID kits, have made a real impact on law enforcement’s ability to locate missing children. Several resources are listed to assist in the purchase ID Kits or explain step-by-step instructions on making one. Price point for a kit should be nominal – an expensive kit will not be more effective:

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Equalize Safely

Proper equalization is an essential part of safe and enjoyable diving; it is a skill that may take time and practice to refine and congestion can further complicate the matter. Approximately 40% of all calls and emails DAN receives annually involve ear and sinus issues.

Understanding Equalization

The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the throat to vent air to and from the middle ear. During descent, the increased pressure causes ear drums to bow inward, creating a negative pressure in the middle ear. Equalization techniques enable the higher-pressure air from the throat to enter the middle ear and equalize. If this is not done sufficiently, it can result in injury.

Tips for Preventing Injuries • •

• •


During descent, equalize about every two feet. Never force it; if you are unable to equalize during descent, try ascending a few feet before attempting it again. If this does not resolve the issue, discontinue the descent and abort the dive to avoid potential injury. It is easier to equalize if you descend vertically, feet first, because mucus in the Eustachian tubes tends to drain downward. Learn more than one equalization technique including some of the following: Valsalva maneuver- pinch the nostrils and gently blow through the nose. Toynbee maneuver- pinch the nostrils and swallow. Lowry technique- pinch the nostrils, while gently blowing through the nose and swallowing simultaneously. Frenzel maneuver- pinch the nostrils, close the back of the throat and make the sound of the letter “k.”

Edmonds technique- tense the soft palate and throat muscles, then move the jaw forward and down, and perform a Valsalva maneuver. Voluntary tubal opening: This is an advanced maneuver. Tense the soft palate and throat while pushing the jaw forward and down as described in the first part of the Edmonds Technique. Once this maneuver is perfected, a diver may be able to hold the Eustachian tubes open, allowing equalization continuously during descent. • If you are struggling with equalization, practice in a pool, on an airplane during descent or on land prior to diving. Remember to always be gentle. • When you reach your maximum depth in the water, remember to equalize again. While the pressure changes may feel minimal at depth, it can still slowly cause barotrauma if air spaces aren’t equalized. • If a reverse block occurs, descend a few feet and repeatedly swallow or try an equalization maneuver; do not force equalization. Then, ascend as slowly as possible. • Keep ears clear of ear wax, ear plugs or tight hoods. • Do not treat ear injuries with ears drops, which are designed to prevent an infection known as otitis externa, also referred to as swimmer’s ear. They will not help when an injury has occurred and may actually cause the injured diver additional discomfort. For more information about ears and ear injuries, read the DAN Diving Medicine FAQs on ear equalizing and Stop the Drops! Ear Pain Management. You can also download the “Divers Guide to Ears” and take DAN’s online seminar “Ears and Diving.” If you have any questions, contact the DAN Medical Information Line at +1-919-684-2948 or via email. Divers Alert Network (DAN) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the safety and health of scuba divers. DAN operates a 24-hour emergency hotline (+1-919-684-9111) to help divers in need of medical emergency assistance for diving or non-diving incidents.


photo by Steve Bigelows


photo by Peter Luckham

Atlantic & Pacific Sea Peaches By Andy Lamb While the items featured in the images bear some resemblance to the popular fruit, they are actually tunicates. And specifically, they are Pacific sea peach Halocynthia aurantium and the Atlantic sea peach Halocynthia pyriformis. Their close taxonomic relationship is underscored by the common genus Halocynthia. In addition, these two creatures share a very similar appearance making it difficult to tell them apart. Fortunately, their geographic distribution essentially eliminates this problem for divers. As their names suggest, these two species live in different oceans. The Atlantic sea peach frequents an extensive coastal area from Massachusetts north into the Arctic Ocean and then south into the cool temperate shores of Europe. The Pacific coast line from Japan and Siberia, across to Alaska and south to California provides habitat for Halocynthia aurantium. Large examples of the solitary

tunicate class, each sea peach exhibits the group’s definitive anatomy. An adult tunicate individual is attached (sessile) and possesses an outer layer or “skin” comprised of tunacin (hence the name). Two conspicuous holes adorn the top of this bag-shaped creature. Sea water enters the tunicate via an in-current siphon and exits through a second, ex-current siphon. Once inside, the food laden water is sieved through a very fine meshed internal “bag” called a branchial sac. Microscopic plankton is the food source. (Incidentally, for the best image of a tunicate, an underwater photographer should approach very slowly lest a ‘bow wave’ disturbs the creature, resulting in “crumpled” siphons). Believe it or not, as a typical tunicate, the humble sea peach shares anatomic similarities with man. Its tiny mobile tadpole larva possesses several features that make this life form a chordate – the large classification that also contains

vertebrates (us). The larva has a dorsal notochord and tubular nerve chord that bears a primitive resemblance to the human backbone and spine structure. Once the free swimming larval tunicate locates solid structure, it attaches. Then it undertakes a complete anatomical reorganization to form a small but recognizable sea peach. This amazing process is equivalent to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.



International Poster Contest for Youth Helps Spread Ocean Awareness By John Christopher Fine The International Poster Contest for Youth (IPCFY) was created more than 30 years ago by John Christopher Fine. The idea was to bring children around the world together to seek solutions for ocean environmental problems through their ideas and concerns expressed in art. The contest was inspired by a teacher in the south of France. This dedicated person had her students draw posters for the International Film Festival held there. The young people’s work was inspirational. They saw environmental issues so clearly; they had a right and wrong vision that adults sometimes lose. Adults often dismay or give up trying to solve difficult global problems. The works of so many dedicated children was the impetus for creating an international forum where they could share their ideas and have their concerns presented to reinforce efforts to protect ocean resources. Initial collaboration with Dr. Noel Brown, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme at UN Headquarters in New York, enhanced the program with global perspectives about environmental concerns. Joined by many educational and environmental organizations like the Wyland Foundation, the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), Divers Alert Network (DAN), the World Underwater Federation (CMAS), the Explorers Club, the Divers Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA), the Underwater Society of America and many more, the contest has gone out each year to places all over the world. Over time thousands of entries have come in from remote islands, nations that are in the throes of civil war, developing nations, even from countries where freedom of expression is often limited. Children from cultures as diverse as the world population itself have joined together in peace to express their concerns for the oceans and the creatures that dwell in them. The IPCFY theme, was Save the Manatee. It is always difficult to obtain population statistics on marine creatures but counters from aircraft report that there may be only 1,800 manatees left alive in Florida, perhaps 3,000 in the world. Statistics also reveal that some 200 manatees are killed each year in Florida. The causes vary. Large numbers have been killed by algae in red tides. Many are struck by boat propellers. Some manatee deaths are caused when they are crushed in canal gates. Others are poisoned by pollutants.


Female manatees breed only every three to five years. A year’s gestation is required. Like all marine mammals manatees come to the surface to breathe then submerge for from 30 seconds to as long as 4 minutes. Although manatees can remain underwater for a half-hour they usually surface to breathe more frequently. When they are on the surface they are in danger from boat traffic. Manatees inhabit areas where speed boats navigate thus the peril is evident. Manatees that have survived being hit by boats bear deep scars on their bodies. Manatees can only survive when water temperature does not go below 70 degrees F. Extreme cold snaps also result in manatee deaths. Manatees are defenseless; they can only swim away. These vegetarians drink fresh water thus while they enter salt water and must return to fresh water habitats after consuming marine grasses upon which they feed. Finalists in the Save the Manatee poster contest were judged by world renowned artist Wyland from his studios and headquarters in California. Wyland has painted well over a hundred murals all over the world calling attention to the plight of whales and other endangered marine creatures. Winners are chosen in two age group categories. Primary and secondary school ages each receive medals for first, second and third prizes. Judges also select entries that merit Honorable Mention awards. In 2008, a medal was designated in memory of Darl Christin Harlan Desamero, a winner from the Philippines whose beautiful entry won an award. Eight-year old Darl died before the recognition reached her. This Special Caring Award remembers Darl and her beautiful artwork. Judges designate an entry that demonstrates caring and love of the ocean realm. The 2013-2014 IPCFY theme is SAVE BILLFISH. Joining the list of sponsoring organizations for this contest include the Billfish Foundation, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Pacific Fins Guatemala. Contest rules may be obtained from or will be emailed to entrants by contacting Entries must conform to contest rules and must have a signed entry form attached to the back of the poster. No fees have ever been charged and entry is always free. In some cases nations have organized their own national poster contests on the chosen theme and winners of national contests have been sent to New York for judging in the international contest. Entries for the 2013-2014 SAVE BILLFISH theme must be received in New York by December 31, 2014. Since contestants come from all over the world and often from remote areas, the full year gives teachers, schools and national sponsors time to announce the contest and organize. Visit for more information.


Gear Check

Mike Hughes Mike Hughes is the author of “The North America Dive Guide” and “The Northwest Dive Guide”. He also has made some 430 dive related Youtube videos including “The Dive Shop” parody song. Logbook

Dive First Aid Kits

How does a Dive Maniac log their dives? Using Diviac, of course. Diviac is an online logbook that not only records your dives and uploads your certification cards, but it can add your photos of fish. You can also download over 14,000 photos of fish and other related information. Diviac can show you the map locations of some 8,000 dive operators, as well as uploaded information such as news and the latest info from local dive centers. Diviac does all this using a cloud-based logbook and it works for PC, Kindle Fire, iPad, Galaxy Tabs, and Droid users. Like Trip Advisor, you can use Diviac to plan dive trips, rate a dive center, dive site, or dive charter. Dive professionals can make dive site templates as well as add interesting site information and validate dives. It’s new, cool, and ready to view for you at or see our Youtube video at

Dive First Aid makes first aid kits designed for single divers, groups, professional divers, and dive boats. In Pictured: the Personal+ Kit their Personal+ and Advanced kits you can unzip the companion side pocket and turn on the O2 supply to a M7 or M9 bottle without even opening the main Medical Supply compartment. This is also true of their Elite kit, however it is built right into the kit. Their Complete Care Kit comes with everything required commercially by the World Health Organization including a full automated external defibrillator (AED), Jumbo D O2, marine radio, and sterile saline solution. The Back Pack is ideal for dive instructors and comes with a M7 O2 bottle for 10 to 15 minutes of use and related medical supplies. Dive First Aid also makes soft cover and Seahorse© brand hard case “Save A Dive Kits” and “Replacement Part” kits. They are a one stop shop for all your first aid kit needs, no matter who you are. View more at or see our video on Youtube at

SeaLife’s New Sea Dragons SeaLife now has four new lights and a new modular Flex-Connect system so you can connect seven-inch Flex Arms and change configurations by merely pressing elongated red release buttons. For photo video lights SeaLife makes a Sea Dragon 2,000 and a 1,200-lumen model. The 1,200-lumen model comes with a micro-arm and tray, which can be used with GoPro products. The new Sea Dragon Mini 600 photo video dive light produces 600 lumens and comes with three different mounts so it can be mounted on the any camera cold shoe, attached to an AquaPod, or mounted to a GoPro video camera. SeaLife also has a new Sea Dragon Flash for standard photography. What makes these lights really great is that they are brighter, smaller in size, and easier to attach, which makes them ideal for travel anywhere in the world. Visit or see our Youtube video at

Zayak Sea Sled Introducing the new Zayak Sea Sled by Tropical Paradise Plastics. It’s like a kayak because it keeps you floating above the water and it’s like a surf board as you can lay face down on top of it, but it has an acrylic window through which you can peer down at the fish and coral. The window area is well ventilated and comes with a neoprene soft partition that you place your face against as you look down below. Your face stays dry, the neoprene blocks out unwanted sunrays, and there is no need for a snorkel. You can paddle, kick, or use fins to propel yourself from one continent to the next. At the end of your adventure just pick the Zayak up by a handle and walk up a beach. There is also a cargo area to store a camera. To see more, visit or see our Youtube video under


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