S E P 2017
Portfolio by Yatwai so
Travels by D. Boschi & R. Sgorbani
Sharm el Sheikh 40 years later
Marine biology by Michele Solca
Travels by Rosi Barbagallo
Justin Beevor wins “Couples” theme
Inon Ucl-67 M67 by Davide Lopresti
Discovering the Painted Doris
Diving in Ustica
Dear friends, Summer is over and winter is approaching again in the northern hemisphere... the time of the year for photo contests is coming. Ocean Art, Marseille and our Deepvisions will be showing up shortly so that uw photographers part of our audience is invited to start selecting their images because I foresee a very interesting and challenging season ahead! Talking about news, after signing a commercial agreement with DRT show of Taiwan, we are also happy to unveil the last relationship we have established, with DOT Philippines, the Governmental Department of Tourism. This is another very important tile in the mosaic of international relationships that the Scubashooters network is building since its birth 5 years ago. And another important asset for you dear friends and followers by means of that we will be able to bring you new initiatives and possibilities. Thereâ€™s another big news coming in the next months... itâ€™s still a top secret project but we are working hard on that in order to be able to unveil it to you as soon as possible. Stay tuned for more.
Marino Palla Owner and Founder Scubashooters Network
Cover image by: Yatwai So
CONTENTS August 2017 3
EDITORIAL by Marino Palla
8 TRAVELS Scuba Diving in Ustica by Rosi Barbagallo
30 REVIEW Inon Ucl-67 M67 by Davide Lopresti
MONTHLY CONTEST “Couples”: the winners
44 PORTFOLIO by Yatwai So
TRAVELS Sharm el Sheikh: 40 years later by Davide Boschi and Rino Sgorbani
MARINE BIOLOGY: The Painted Doris by Michele Solca
DAN EUROPE: the epilepsy
NEXT ISSUE Preview PORTFOLIO: Simon Lorenz
AN INTERVIEW WITH... Sergio Riccardo
TRAVELS: Million Hope by Michela Di Paola
V erein S cubashooters - 8952 S chlieren G raphic
E ditor : F abio S trazzi - S witzerland 38668878
design and supervising :
S ilvia B ogni L ayout : S ilvia B ogni , E lisa F urlani C ontributors : C hiara S crigner
In Lembeh with David and Cristina Do you like traveling and diving? Do you have a passion for marine biology and under water photography? Then join David Salvatori and Maria Cristina Di Palma on their trip to the Lembeh Strait, in Indonesia, the undisputed realm of biodiversit y in the Indo-Pacific area! Save the date for next Februar y 2018, in the beautiful location of the Dabirahe resor t, with special conditions and benefits reser ved exclusively to the members of this group! Sea, diving, professionalism, passion, fun: a "must do" experience!
TRAVELS Scuba diving in Ustica
Words and Pictures
Rosi Barbagallo 9
It was the summer of 2010 when for the first time I set foot on the island described as “the divers’ paradise” or “the Tyrrhenian black pearl”. Although I had only one year of diving behind my shoulders, I realized that this island had some peculiarities that found a way toward my nature. Ustica is an island of volcanic origin, and reveals its wild mark in the presence of wonderful caper plants growing lush on the black lava stone. Ustica is also famous for the cultivation of small lentils by unique color and taste, used as a side dish or served as soups by local restaurants. Ustica is a marine reserve, and its waters are teeming with life. The surrounding sea is of an intense and transparent blue color. And it is in this sea that, in the last two years, I left my heart. The diving centers supporting diving are several, but I set my choice on the way the owner, Roberto Fedele, lives the sea. The diving center “La Perla Nera”, in my opinion, offers expertise and quality equipment (including twin cylinders for those wishing to do 10
technical dive) in a serene atmosphere of fun and friendship. The shows that Roberto can hold on board the dinghy, his jokes, are well known... all without ever lowering his attention to the needs of his guests.
During the dive, you’ll immediately realize Roberto’s great experience about the currents and the routes to follow for avoiding them, or his knowledge about some fish that reveal the presence of barracuda and amberjack ... each dive becomes an exhilarating experience. However, the best thing is that in every dive he is the one more excited and enthusiastic! You can see him flailing around in the blue from afar, to draw your attention, or taking off his regulator and talk about what you have just seen. This enthusiasm is contagious, especially makes you understand that, to him, his is not a job experienced as a burden. His goal: leaving customers satisfied, and his motto is “arrive as customers, leave as friends”. 11
Dives are made of always-new encounters, but in Ustica, barracudas and amberjacks make diving magical. The masters of the island are the groupers: red, golden, stone bass. However, when at the Colombara shoal we first saw a cloud of barracudas, and soon after, darting, about thirty hunting amberjack, well... the groupers looked at us as if they were jealous and annoyed for losing our attention. I was so excited by their presence that I didn’t know where to shoot! At a certain time, the amberjacks stopped chasing the barracudas and, attracted by our bubbles, started circling around us. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will keep in my heart. Beautiful and colorful the dives at “Secchitello”, “Punta Galera”, “Punta dell’Arpa” and “San Paolo”, where the seafans Paramuricea clavata assume an intense purple-red color and the Savalia savaglia reaches remarkable sizes, always on a blue background that takes your breath away, for then remaining astonished in photographing basket stars Astrospartus mediterraneus clinging to seafans. The caves are another Ustica’s peculiarity: submerged inlets that, from the high and steep shores, lead to the heart of the island. 14
Reaching them with shouldered cylinder and lots of excitement, you’ll find environments rich in stalactites and stalagmites. Some caves have air bubbles from which you can surface and enjoy a surreal atmosphere. After admiring the ceiling of these caves that throw you into distant and mysterious eras, as of the rite, switch off the torches and, in the darkest of the dark, listen to the voice of the sea.
The Green Cave, the Blue Cave, the Pastizza Cave, the Totò Cave and the Shrimp’s cave, are different from each other, but the colors and the light games recall in each of them of ancient mythological tales. It is said that Ustica was the home of the sorceress Circe, who used to turn visitors into pigs. Its flat part is described as a green lawn where the mermaids lied around a pile of human bones, remains of unwary conquerors victims of the mermaids’ spellbinder song, ending up gnawed. Writer Maria Corti in her book “The Mermaids’ Song” recites: “Those 20
who watched for long that island from the sea felt the approach of something in the air, like a mysterious vibration. If approached more, the vibration became a female voice that surprised the hearing since it came mysteriously to the threshold of a bird singing, as if the vocal cords of a woman and the uvula of a divine volatile merged their variety of sounds: a thin, damped, insinuating singing, which knew the secrets of pauses and had a remote sense in it. Although it seemed dreamed, the voice kidnapped the human mind guiding it to a world that was beyond the earthly senses, unsustainable for a small sailing being: “How it is all happier there,” he was thinking while throwing himself into the water. “ When evening comes, Ustica dresses up in magic and lights up of lights and festive music. It is a ritual to meet at Kiki’s, by the friend Salvo Gio Tranchina, known for its cocktails and live music. And if you want to enjoy the music of artists who create melodious arrangements behind the magical scenery of a sunset at the Punta Spalmatore’s lighthouse, you only need to choose going at Red’s. Life in Ustica is made of smells that the sea leaves on 23
the skin, of rhythms marked by the sun and of winds that swell the sails. It is made of tales, distant stories, real or mythological, of meetings with modern mermaids â€œunnervingâ€? the locals, of glances and hopes and distant dreams. Of arrivals and departures, but also of constant presences: the Sea and its mysteries. The man questions the Sea in search of himself, but often without listening to His answers. Yet He is there, ready to welcome and to lavish His gifts without any reservations.
MAKE IT EASY
Inon Ucl-67 M67 The UCL-67 M67 underwater close-up lens is designed to deliver high magnification yet superior image quality best suited to full frame SLR macro lenses of focal length 60mm - 100mm with comfortable long working distance enabling easy lighting. The lens also supports mirrorless as well as compact system.
Compatible Lens: â€˘ 60mm-100mm range macro lens for full-frame SLR (*1) â€˘ 40mm-60mm range macro lens for APS-C (*1) â€˘ 45mm-60mm range macro lens (*1), standard zoom lens (*2) for Micro Four Thirds Compact digital camera with maximum optical zoom 5x or less (*2)
(*1) Vignetting may be observed depends on the distance between master lens and lens port glass and/or UCL-67 and lens port glass. (*2) Only usable when the focal length is between 60mm and 100mm range at 35mm film equivalent. Beyond this range, there will be vignetting at the wide side and deteriorated image quality at the telephoto side.
1. Powerful magnification with focal length 67mm (+15 diopter). Maximum magnification of the UCL-67 with range of 100mm macro lens for full frame SLR is 2.76x (area ratio: 7.65x) at the minimum focusing distance (*3). 2. While the UCL-67 delivers high magnification, it still offers long working distance. When using with 100mm range macro lens for SLR, working distance is 52mm (83.4mm from housing port surface) at minimum focusing distance (*3). Together with its compact size, the lens supports friendly lighting even at minimum focusing distance. (*3) When using for AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. 3. The lens is consists of 4 elements in 3 groups using high refractive index glass to accommodate with a macro lens for full-frame digital SLR with compact body yet delivering high magnification and superior image quality. 31
4. Employing achromatic lens effectively suppresses chromatic aberration and anti-reflection coating on all surfaces suppresses flare/ghost. Designed sole use underwater to provide effectively suppressed aberrations in all focal range and unparalleled high quality image on any supported shooting range (*4). (*4) This product is designed for underwater use only. Using on land will have less magnification, distortion, vignetting etc. 5. Optional “Lens Adapter Ring for UCL-67” is attached on the M65 screw thread of the UCL-67 allowing to stack INON M67 series, “UCL165M67”/”UCL-330” on the front side of the UCL-67 to support even higher magnification for super macro imaging needs (*5). (*5) Other higher magnification close-up lens, “UCL-100M67” and “UCL-67 M67” are not usable as those combinations will have significantly degrade image quality.
Lens mount is highly versatile screw type “M67 Mount”.
7. Optional “M67 Flip Mount Adapter for UCL-67” is available to replace with original M67 screw mount to use the lens on a flip mount such as Nauticam flip lens holder etc. This adapter allows the UCL-67 to locate close to housing lens port (*6) (*7).
M67 Flip Mount Adapter
(*6) Not compatible with a flip lens holder with 57mm or smaller inner diameter such as from SAGA. (*7) Original lens mount is replaceable by a customer using precision Philips screw driver to unscrew fixing screws.
When using a close-up lens • Depending on housing, shooting distance, angle of view etc, the lens may block the built-in flash light from illuminating the entire image. In such cases it is recommended to shoot with an external strobe or flashlight. • A close-up lens provides maximum magnification at zoom telephoto end. 33
• Generally, a close-up lens shortens the camera’s close focusing distance. With this product, you can place your camera closer to a subject, achieving a larger image. On the other hand, depending on zoom or aperture setting, it may be more difficult to obtain complete depth of field on a distant subject. • Stacking multiple lenses may cause vignetting at zoom wide end. As you stack more lens, focusing distance gets short and depth of field gets shallow as well.
Product Specification (*1) Model Outer diameter / Length Weight (air / underwater) Lens construction Focal length (underwater)
UCL-67 M67 70mm / 37mm (2.76in / 1.46in) 340g / approx.227g (12.0oz / 8.0oz) 4 elements 3 groups 67mm (2.6in) / equivalent to +15 diopter Magnification (*2) 2.76x (area ratio: 7.65x) Body material / Finishing Corrosion resistant aluminium alloy / Rigid black almite Glass / Coating Optical glass / Both side coating Mount thread diameter / pitch M67-0.75 Depth rating 60m (197ft) (*1) Specification is subject to change without prior notice (*2) When using for AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
Photos by Davide Lopresti Further informations and Accessories INON official website http://bit.ly/2wuRA8i 36
5th Anilao Underwater Shootout November 28 - December 2, 2017 Anilao (Philippines) http://anilaoshootout.ph
Puerto Galera - Oriental Mindoro - Philippines
Share your passion for diving wishlist exploring the magical underwater world of Puerto Galera. This fabulous destination offers the perfect mix of diving and culture, hiding surprises for even the most expert of divers in its unique biodiversity and colourful marine creatures. An ideal destination for macro photographers.
+63 917 533 2985
MONTHLY CONTEST Couples
Justin Beevor Wins a 100$ VOUCHER by N O
L I M I T
PORTFOLIO Yatwai So
My name is Yatwai So from Hong Kong. I started scuba diving by inspiration from BBC documentary The Blue Planet. Since then, I continued the training and certificated as a trimix diver in 2016. Â I got my first dslr macro lens in 2013 and felt in love with underwater macro photography. As influenced by the quote of Japanese legendary painter Katsushika Hokusai. I believe that the skill and technique will never level off and continuous learning and experimenting are the utmost important value of an artist.
Â Fortunately, I meet a group of outstanding macro photographers in Anilao and learn a lot from them. Also this is also my favorite macro diving spot.
Â Light ray is like paints and camera sensor is like a canvas of photographer. Even a photo is just a record of two dimension image but proper composition, light source and shutter can compose a four dimensional picture.
Sharm el sheikh 40 years later Words
Davide Boschi Pictures
He was little more than a boy when he decided to embark on the journey that would take him to the deserted coasts of southern Sinai. Perhaps he had seen on television, in the earliest documentaries of the time, what the turquoise waters of the Red Sea were guarding, with the most beautiful seabed that ever illuminated the screen of an Italian television. As a matter of fact, young Rino Sgorbani began to gather his belongings, preparing one of the first and most important underwater checklists among those who would have accompanied him in the worldâ€™s seas for the rest of his life.
We were in the second half of the seventies, when the shores of southern Sinai were not yet dotted by the luxurious resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Nahama Bay, but by the rusty wrecks of tanks and armored vehicles that the war of the six days had left to bake and get rust on the desert sand. There were no diving centers; basically there were no accommodations, and the only airport was what remained of the military one, inaccessible to civilians. 70
Everything had to be taken from home, starting from the compressor to the generator that made it work, from tanks to photographic films and incandescent lamps batteries, up to “disposable” carbide flashes. There were not even organized trips to reach the south of the watershed peninsula, and the Yolanda vessel had not crashed on the coral reef to overwhelm over it the most famous bathroom fixture shipment that man would ever photograph, outclassing even Duchamp’s pissoir. Ras Mohammad was really, still and only, the Garden of Allah. The young Rino, along with his inseparable friend Enrico Montuschi,
must have realized that and brought also a tent to camp exactly there, under the sun, in the middle of the desert. The Sinai territory was still controlled by the Israeli army; therefore, it was more appropriate to land at TelAviv than in Cairo. In Sharm el Sheikh, then, you could only arrive by renting local offroad vehicles, since going by sea was not really welcome. Thus, you had to cross the whole Sacred Scriptures desert before reaching the unspoiled submerged garden ... There was nothing else to do. 71
And just when I think about these things, our Airbus begins to turn into the Sinai’s blue sky and, beyond the tiny oval portholes, I begin to see kilometers of built-up coastline teeming with blue, residential pools, paved roads to four lanes and large verdant gardens. We are about to land at Sharm el Sheikh ... But we are in 2017. In these waters I’ve already brought hundreds of dive-friends, at least for the last twenty years, but I’ve never dragged there Rino Sgorbani, my favorite video maker. I managed to motivate and convince him to revisit these sites, which he and his friend Montuschi had explored when they were still unknown, swearing that he would have rediscovered them splendid as then, though much more enjoyable. Moreover, our respective ladies might enjoy it at the beach or in the boat, as they please, without the slightest trouble. And finally, I will get pictures “as it should” portraying me in this sea. I really miss them. Once at the Sheikh Coast Diving, an overflowing Pierpaolo Peluso welcomes us, noisy like a platoon of soldiers on the leave who have not been drinking a beer for weeks. Under the jolly and carefree skin of the Sicilian big-boy, we soon discover hiding an attentive and 75
scrupulous person, able to monitor carefully the ceaseless influx of hundreds of divers coming from all over the world. It is precisely among these that Rino and myself have to place ourselves, armed with his rebreather and the inseparable camera, complete with strobes, housing and electronic bits-andpieces of all sorts. The diving center is extremely welcoming and roomy, with a structural and logistic ability to be the envy to the old memories of the seventies, and not only... Fortunately for us, inside, there is also a â€œTec Areaâ€? specifically equipped for the technical configurations and for 78
those who practice underwater photo and video, where Rino immediately fixed himself up, as if it was his own. I do not have Rinoâ€™s technical needs, therefore I throw an old recreational BCD inside a numbered bag, add a pair of fins and an octopus (moreover with INT connection), a smelly, ragged neoprene shorty and Iâ€™m already in heaven.
One of this diving centerâ€™s magic is that, in order to get embarked, you do not have to suffer the struggle of a transfer and the exhausting queues at the Marina Travco pier. Just take a walk along the jetty in front of the diving center itself...and you are already in the boat. The Check Point is pretty much in front of you. Our main target is to make a photographic reportage on the Million Hope wreck, on behalf of a well-known Italian diving magazine, but we have no intention of missing the most classic dives that always characterized this long stretch of coastline and that I still have to show again, after centuries, to my Mediterranean adventuresâ€™ buddy. Nothing better, then, that to departing immediately toward Ras Mohammad and diving onto the overhang cobalt blue water surface surrounding Shark and Yolanda reefs, to capture the first moment of the return to Sharm el Sheikh. Our companion, Pierpaolo Peluso, other than being an experienced enchanter of masses of scuba divers, is also a great underwater photography enthusiast and a skilled tester of scuba gear, among all those more or less required to practice this activity. 83
As soon as he took a seat on the boat, Pierpaolo did not lose a second to open the first discussion with Rino about the various devices, starting from the housings to get to the lights, passing through all the endless plethora of accessories they have in common. At briefing time, Rino looks a bit dazed, as if he did not even remember what we were talking about, but once jumped and reached the vertical wall of Shark Reef I see his black silhouette, topped by bright lights, rushing closer to the first Platax schools. It is done: Rino is there! The
lights reverberate on fish scales and, at times, they color like ink-jets the madreporic wall concretions. The current is gentle and favorable, and the water temperature would be pleasant even if we were in our panties. The large purple and fuchsia Alcyonaria flow placidly in front of us, reflected into the glass dome protecting the lens, deforming themselves while they seem to rotate inside it. 86
From behind come the lightning of Pierpaolo’s flashes, who seems more amused of shooting at Rino’s return in Sharm el Sheikh than at any other sea creature. A beautiful concentration of big snappers kidnaps instead my memories, which I even keep alive every year since a long time, and leads me to deflate my jacket so to reach them into the deep blue, beneath me. I call uselessly Rino and Pierpaolo, lost, this time, in chasing some barracuda away from the wall, and I soon find myself alone, among the
grim, wary and a bit killer look of the famous Lutjanidae inhabiting this site. It’s all too good to last long, and soon we find ourselves on the sloping saddle of Yolanda reef, in another landscape, in a predominantly benthic world. Rino seems almost annoyed by the sudden disappearance of pelagic fish and looks around, as if to say “where the fuck are they gone?” while Pierpaolo laughs into his regulator, taking him by surprise with some pictures. Nevertheless, the real surprise is waiting for Rino around the corner, that of the reef ... 87
It is the wreck of the Yolanda cargo: the wreck that was not there. From what I remember of his tales, it seems to me that Rino was used to going hunting in the site where the miserable remains of the Yolanda are now... Starting from the shore and swimming on the surface, he crossed the section of the madreporic mass at its edge and, with a few fin strokes, he then came out on the sandy, gently sloping plateau where today the famous toilets and rusty sheets of the cargo holds are scattered.
“There were trevallies that big swimming here,” said Rino, “who didn’t even know what a spear gun was. Believe me; it was much easier to get a sumptuous dinner than a bottle of water at Ras Mohammad.” About ten years later, the National Park was set up and fishing was banned, or regulated, in favor of local populations only. Fortunately for us... Turning the western corner of Yolanda Reef, I expect the usual downstream strong current, which makes spit the tongue into the regulator to all of us, regardless the age, race and license. But no, it doesn’t pull a breath of water and the Yolanda’s burial mound let us fly over it tamely, conceding itself in an unusual and quiet magnificence. 88
Schools of unicorn fishes make a fine show in front of our lenses, while some big moray eel moves from a sink to a toilet, or vice versa. The spotted stingrays, from the golden â€œfleeceâ€?, raise placid clouds of sand that a gracious current just moves, while big colored parrotfishes spit red rust between a bite and another. After an extensive sightseeing tour and a countless series of photos, Pierpaolo and I are now ready to finish our decompression at 3 meters. Rino, instead, remains adamantly flattened to the junk at the bottom, and to fishes turning there around, as would a stubborn cat in front of the rubble of its home, just collapsed and then invaded by mice. We know very well that, using a rebreather, the former young boy will not have any gas supply issue nor decompression problems, but we do not have the slightest idea of when he intends to come back... One thing, however, we have proved for sure: forty years later, Rino is back in Sharm el Sheikh... From now on, it will not be that easy to keep him away. So much for those who say that the Red Sea is no longer what it once was... In Aqua Veritas
MARINE BIOLOGY The Painted Doris Words and Pictures
The painted Doris (Felimare picta) is a nudibranch belonging to the Chromodorididae family. It is one of the families most numerous and common, consisting mainly of medium or large size specimen, characterized by elaborate and glittering colors. They feed on various types of sponges, so it is useful to know the specific diet to know where to look for given individuals.
Carnivorous, and very often monophagous, they have long and crawling movements although extremely graceful. As you may know, all nudibranchs have rhinophore (cephalic appendages with sensory, tactile and chemo-receptive functions) located on their head, a buccal appendix, a scraping radula differentiated from species to species depending on the type of food they feed on. Other characteristic features of the family to which our friend belongs, are the elongated ovoid shape and the presence of a pseudo-branchial tuft at the terminal end of the body, more or less noticeable and more or less retractable. Toxic, or anyway with an unpleasant taste for a possible aggressor. 96
They have few pre-dators, which means that they do not need to camouflage with the surrounding environment but indeed they flaunt flashy colors in order to attract attention and signal their presence: the so called aposematic (or cautionary) colors. After introducing the family, it is now the turn of our storyâ€™s protagonist: endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, the Felimare picta prefers habitats characterized by rocky or debris bottoms up to a maximum of 50/60 meters depth, where it moves at a fairly low speed, compared to some of its fastest kin such as Felimare villafranca. Of considerable size (it can reach 15/20 cm in length), it is also easy to encounter in Posidonia oceanica meadows and tends to prefer sciaphilic environments. Recently I found it even in precarious equilibrium on a branch of a red sea fan (Paramuricea clavata) on a vertical wall. Formerly known with a long series of names (the last, before the revision of the genus carried out on molecular studies basis in 2012 was Hypselodoris picta, still accepted as a synonym), it exhibits a strong chromatic variability from one individual to another. Pattern and colors paint it with spectacular shades of blue, whitish, green 99
and purple, with stripes, spots and dots of bright yellow covering it for its entire length. The “head” has small buccal appendages in the lower part, and the rhinophores in the upper. The latter, of blurred blue color (the darkest part is always located at the end), have twenty to thirty oblique lamellae and are delimited by a yellow ring, residue of the coloring typical of the juvenile form, at the base of the sheath that accommodates them when retracting. In the cephalic area, and in the caudal one, they also have subcutaneous vesicles capable of releasing a toxin, useful to scare away a possible aggressor. The mantle has sinuous reliefs and a yellow border sometimes even very marked, clearer towards the ends and the underside. The mantle does not cover the foot, which is well defined and easily identifiable although characterized by the same pattern as the mantle itself. In case of danger, the foot contracts toward the front of the body giving the nudibranch a rounder appearance. The branchial tuft, located in the rear part of the body, consists of a dozen pseudogills, which they retract on any threat perception, either predation or a simple disturbance by the “human” element. 101
But don’t worry, since the picta tends to tolerate with a certain elasticity the curious and photographers, compared to its other cousins: just think of how fast Peltodoris atromaculata - the famous sea cow - retracts its gills and rhinophores, being extremely sensitive to light variations and displacements of the surrounding water mass.
You will have time and opportunity to observe and photograph it with no hurry. Each pseudo-gill, often of a slightly less marked color than the body, looks like a small feather and has a thin yellow stripe running along its entire length. The radula is the fundamental tool for nutrition, located at the underside of the nudibranch, “behind” the buccal appendices, and effective in scraping the sponges’ surface In fact, the painted Doris feeds on sponges, particularly on Ircinia, Dysidea (mostly) and Crella genus, and on their symbionts (cyanobacteria photosynthesizing). In that way, it satisfies its energy needs succeeding at the same time to increase its defenses, enhancing the internal toxicity and making itself a particu102
larly unpleasant bite for potential predators. The presence of such a defensive mechanism makes the mimetic capacity, which other mollusks need, unnecessary for the picta: the coloring itself warns predators that, since this prey does not need to hide, they will not enjoy it. According to some biologists, differences in feeding would result in variations in the mantleâ€™s color, and the particular shape of the radula would provide yet another species identification criterion in doubtful cases. Letâ€™s now talk about some spicy detail: like other nudibranchs (in particular, all belonging to the genus Felimare), the F. picta are simultaneous hermaphrodites. This thus means they have active both male and female sexual organs. For reproductive purposes, a contact is necessary for there to be an exchange and fecundation of gametes. Placement on the right side of the genital appendage causes the coupling to occur in a crossed manner. Often, during the reproductive period (May / August in the Mediterranean), you can even witness short chains of individuals waiting their turn to fecundate each other. Eggs are laid in a mucus band that holds them together and protects them, 103
securing them to the substrate chosen with a spiralshaped layout. The coloring is characteristic, and it appears in various shades of yellow: once opened, they will release the veliger larvae that, after a short pelagic phase, will undergo a metamorphosis becoming adult individuals. The photos in this article were taken in the Ligurian Sea: some in the Marine Protected Area of Portofino (GE), others between the Santo Stefano shoal (IM) and the Bussanaâ€™s Lighthouse shoal (IM), places rich in biodiversity. The encounters have a fairly marked seasonality: from the immediate pre-reproductive period - in April - until late September, although not lacking in other periods of the year. A curiosity to notice: At the eastern slope, I always and only came across lonely individuals, while at the western my encounters were usually with multiple individuals during the same dive. Easy to locate given the size quite noticeable, it can make us smile thanks to the sometimes undeniably pompous poses it can assume, and its brightening colors fun to portray. As a sea lover, I cherish the hope that by learning more in detail the characteristics, habits and peculiarities of its inhabitants, divers can enjoy in a more complete and conscious manner the encounters with these beautiful organisms, which contribute to giving gaudy colors to this so underestimated Mediterranean Sea, which instead is able to donate incredible colors and emotions to those wanting to deepen their knowledge. The vir104
tuous circle of knowledge, respect, protection, and - ultimately - love for the underwater world, can return in part to the Oceans what they donate us emotionally. Love, learn, respect, protect. CAPTIONS 1. As a good tightrope walker, here is our Doris perched on a red sea fan: you can notice the marked blue color that characterizes rhinophores and excretory apparatus, which we can see simultaneously thanks to the particular “C” position the nudibranch assumed. 2. The mantle’s edge covering the head and buccal appendages facing downwards. 3. Detail of the lamellar structure of rhinophores and their degrading blue color. 4. Different background coloring but constant presence of the yellow circular edging at the rhinophores’ base. 5. Pseudo gills arranged in a crown to form the so-called branchial tuft: note how, despite the marked prox-imity to the lens, the nudibranch was confident enough to avoid retracting them. 6. Detail of the branchial tuft: we can notice the feather like shape, the background coloring clearer than the mantle, and the presence of yellow lines giving it its characteristic color. 7.
Detail of the copulatory organ, retracted just after fecundation.
8. Crossed coupling, originated by the presence of genital apparatus on the right side of the body. A third individual is waiting its turn, to form a small caravan. 9. Please note the typical coloration, the mantle edge and the shape of the rhinophores on the head. 10. Egg laying, front view: a low-power spotlight provides the lighting so as not to disturb the nudibranch at this delicate moment. 11. Here we clearly see the yellow ring (residue of juvenile coloring) beading the sheath accommodating the rhinophores during retraction, in place at the time of shooting. 12. Spiral-shaped disposition of eggs through the emission of a mucus band that holds them together, protects them and ties them to the substrate where they are released. Lighting through a low power, diffuse light so as not to interrupt the act. 105
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DAN Epilepsy Divers who have epilepsy should consider all the factors of their condition before going underwater, as a seizure while diving can have serious implications for the diver. The terms “epilepsy” and “seizures” (or convulsions) are generally used interchangeably. Seizures are paroxysmal (unpredictable and uncontrollable) manifestations of the electrical properties of the cerebral cortex. To put it differently, it is the uncontrolled, involuntary electrical discharge of neuronal activity of a part or whole of the brain. To bring this into perspective, epilepsy is a medical condition with recurrent, unprovoked seizures. The classification and manifestations will depend on the area of the brain that is involved. WHAT MAY CONTRIBUTE TO EPILEPSY? One may find it quite surprising that seizures are a very common, non-specific manifestation of neurological injury and disease. As we understand it, the main function of the brain is to transmit electrical impulses. It is said in recent literature that one’s lifetime likelihood of experiencing at least one epileptic seizure is around 9% and that the likelihood to receive the diagnoses of epilepsy in one’s lifetime is about 3%. The prevalence of active epilepsy, though, is only 110
about 0.8%. Epileptic seizures may have many causes, including a genetic predisposition, head trauma, a stroke, brain tumours and withdrawal from alcohol and/or drugs. It would appear that certain conditions may lower the threshold for epileptic seizures and in-water exposure certainly counts as the single most important one when we bring diving into the equation. Sensory deprivation, hyperventilation, nitrogen narcosis, acidosis (from carbon dioxide retention), anxiety and hypoxia (for whatever reason) may all contribute to lowering the threshold of convulsions under normal circumstances. These can all occur more easily at depth. Other factors include fatigue, psychological stress, substance abuse, flickering lights, illness and certain nutrient deficiencies. Combining even a single one of the aforementioned factors and in-water exposure puts an epileptic person at greater risk when diving; firstly, it increases the risk of having a seizure underwa111
ter and secondly, it increases the near-inevitability of a fatal outcome, i.e. drowning.
HOW DOES EPILEPSY WORK?
Let’s take a closer look at the anatomy (structure) and physiology (functioning) of epilepsy. It can broadly be classified as focal seizures, where the electrical discharge of neurons (brain cells) involves only a specific part or area of the brain, or as generalised seizures, where the whole brain is involved. The structural area of the brain that is involved, in part or as a whole, is called the cerebral cortex and anatomically constitutes the surface area of the cerebrum (the “large” brain). The focal interictal epileptiform spike or sharp wave is the clinical neurophysiological hallmark of focal-onset seizures and the cellular neurophysiological correlate to this is called the paroxysmal depolarization shift (PDS). In short, this process involves depolarisation (a change of the resting potential or “current”) of the neurons through calciumdependent potassium channels followed by a prominent after hyperpolarisation. If the number of discharging neurons are more than a several million, scalpelectrographic electrodes are able to record the electrical activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG). The mechanisms that may co-exist in different combinations to cause focal-onset seizures are decreased inhibition or increased excitation of the neurons. These will be summarised, because an in-depth discussion falls outside the scope of this article. Mechanisms leading to decreased inhibition of neurons are defective gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-A and B (which is a neurotransmitter) inhibition, defective activation of GABA neurons and the defective intracellular buffering of calcium. Mechanisms leading to increased excitation of neurons are increased activation of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors, increased synchrony between neurons due to ephaptic (passage of an electrical impulse from one neuron to the next) interactions and increased synchrony and/or activation due to recurrent excitatory collaterals. Focal-onset seizures may advance to generalised seizures. The influence of the diving environment on epilepsy has already been discussed. When considering these variables individually, each and every one already constitutes a contraindication to diving. One should appreciate the gravity of the situation when these are combined. 112
WHAT CAN THE DIVER DO ABOUT EPILEPSY?
While it is true that the risk cannot be quantified, most medical professionals will remain reluctant to declare recreational divers with undiagnosed seizures or the diagnoses of epilepsy fit to dive in view of the possibility of a fatal outcome should the risk occur. It is the opinion of this author that an individual with epilepsy should channel his/her adventurous energy into land-based activities that can offer just as much exhilaration and fulfilment. Seizures that were caused by vagus stimulation (fainting due to a nerve outflow pathway), positional hypotension (low blood pressure), low blood sugar, recreational drugs and fever convulsions before the age of five (without any subsequent seizures), may be the exceptions. The data available to us tell us the following: 30% of individuals suffering from epilepsy will have seizures or convulsions despite their medication, about 50% of children suffering from juvenile epilepsy will have no recurrence in adulthood with no increased risk when compared to the general population (some authorities maintain there is an increased risk of less than 1%), chances of experiencing another seizure decreases exponentially with time and reaches an almost normal risk after five years (which does not take the added stresses of diving into
consideration), and 30% of children and 65% of adults will experience epileptic seizures or convulsions in the first two years that they discontinue their anti-epileptic medication. Some diving authorities now allow individuals with epilepsy to dive after five years with no seizures after discontinuing their medication. Other medical professionals are of the opinion that two years without seizures after discontinuing medication may be an acceptable risk for these individuals to dive, with the provisos of a depth restriction to 15 metres of seawater (MSW), clear warm water and no nitrox breathing mixtures. Although the incidence of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is low (about 2.3 times higher than in the general population), most of these deaths are due to impaired consciousness. A diver with epilepsy should ultimately decide. Should they wish to continue with diving after considering all the information provided, they should accept the increased risk, as should their dive buddies.
WANT A SECOND OPINION?
Safety when diving should always remain your first and foremost priority. This also applies when considering a condition like epilepsy and its medication. Remember, you are also responsible for the safety of the divers diving with you. The DAN Europe hotline is always available with specialised help.
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