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My first dive was in a murky lagoon in Key Largo, Florida. I bumbled along with a herd of excited new divers, stirring up the soft, oozing muck at the bottom of the lagoon. Diving was fantastic, but I didn't see much. For most of the dive, I was enveloped the brown cloud of bottom sediment that the divers had stirred up. Our finning technique, the flutter kick, was quickly reducing the visibility in the lagoon.

The flutter kick is an inefficient kick. It propels water above and below the diver, which does not contribute to forward motion and wastes energy. The downwards propulsion of water also disturbs sand and other bottom sediment, leading to a reduction in visibility. The frog kick is a much more effective kick, and is easy to learn with proper instruction. Click through this tutorial to learn the basics of the frog kick.

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Our sea creatures are in trouble. What with warming temperatures, pollution, plastic debris and over-fishing, the oceans need protecting more than ever before. And governments are becoming more committed to creating marine reserves. But are they just paying lip service to the problem or really addressing it? Too often a marine reserve allows commercial fishing and other exploitation. A marine reserve which isn’t really a marine reserve at all.

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Whale shark by Tim Nicholson
Whale shark by Tim Nicholson

The new IUCN Red List reveals that growing human pressures on whale sharks and slender hammerhead sharks are putting these species at an increasing risk of extinction. Both the shark species are now listed as Endangered.

Numbers of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), the world’s largest fish, have more than halved over the last 75 years as these slow-moving sharks continue to be fished and killed by ship propellers.

Although conservation action in India, the Philippines and Taiwan has ended large-scale fishing of whale sharks in these countries, they continue to be fished in other locations, including southern China and Oman. As whale sharks and tuna are often found together, the sharks are frequently caught by tuna fishing boats.

Unregulated fishing is also behind the fast-falling numbers of the distinctive slender hammerhead shark (Eusphyra blochii), whose shape makes it easily get tangled up in fishing nets. This species has moved from Near Threatened to Endangered on the IUCN Red List.


Eusphyra blochii - Slender Hammerhead or Winghead Shark. By CSIRO National fish Collection [CC BY 3.0 au]
Eusphyra blochii – Slender Hammerhead or Winghead Shark. By CSIRO National fish Collection [CC BY 3.0 au]

Although it is difficult to say how many individuals remain, recent surveys of fish markets in Indonesia found only one slender hammerhead shark among approximately 20,000 sharks of other species. A similar pattern is expected throughout Asian countries where coastal fishing is intense and largely unregulated.


“It is alarming to see such emblematic species slide towards extinction,” says Jane Smart, Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme. “These new IUCN Red List assessments emphasise how urgent it is for the conservation community to act strategically to protect our planet’s incredible diversity of life.”

A full update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, including assessments of many other species, will be announced at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 to be held in Hawaii from 1 to 10 September.

Whale sharks are found in all tropical and warm seas except the Mediterranean. The rise of dive tourism in many areas is making the fish more valuable alive than dead in some locations, including at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, Donsol in the Philippines, Placencia in Belize and Isla Contoy in Mexico. In all these places, and in other countries like the Maldives, India, Thailand and Malaysia, the whale shark is protected. However, the whale shark migrates long distances out of the safe areas and into the fishing zones.

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It's a fact: we need oxygen to live. It's because of the way our cells use oxygen that we are able to breathe, exercise, and even think. In each of our cells, structures called mitochondria take the oxygen which diffuses in from our blood, disassemble it into its two component atoms (remember, oxygen - O2 - is composed of two oxygen atoms), and then hook some available hydrogen nuclei to them to form water.

The process releases energy, which is used for all functions of life. The problem is that in disassembling the oxygen molecule, it involves a step in which an extra electron is hooked on. This forms an intermediate called a superoxide anion, and this is a bad actor. It is highly reactive, and it will make mincemeat out of most other molecules it comes in contact with.

These anions are like coals in a furnace: as long as they are contained, we get lots of safe chemical energy; if they get out we get a great deal of damage. The mitochondria are designed to contain these superoxide anions, but just in case some get loose, there are a host of protective chemical reactions designed to sop them up and prevent them from doing any damage.

Besides producing excessive amounts of the superoxide anion, elevated tissue oxygen levels also affect a variety of other biochemical reactions which may affect oxygen toxicity in ways that are only beginning to be understood. Tissue-protective mechanisms and biochemical reactions are tuned to life in an atmosphere containing 21 percent oxygen, or 0.21 atmospheres absolute (ata) oxygen partial pressure. (See sidebar: "Remember Partial Pressure?", page 34.) As the partial pressure increases above this comfortable 0.21 ata, protective mechanisms are slowly overwhelmed and biochemical reactions are affected. This may eventually result in "oxtox," or oxygen toxicity.

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Learning to Adapt

As divers, we must adapt to an environment that exerts pressure on our bodies. The most common injuries reported to DAN each year involve pressure-related injuries to divers' ears and sinuses. A little education and common sense will go a long way to avoid these problems. Take a minute to read this page. DAN, your dive store and your instructor want your scuba adventures to be enjoyable and safe.

Sinus and Middle Ear Injuries

Barotrauma is a pressure-related injury. Middle ear barotrauma, known as "ear squeeze," is the most common diving injury. Sinus barotrauma also occurs, but is less common. How does it happen? Pressure changes when diving cause barotrauma. During descent, air spaces in the sinuses and middle ear must be able to equalize to the surrounding water pressure, which increases with depth. When pressure in air spaces can't equalize, the diver may sense pressure or pain from one of these areas. During ascent, if the expanding air can't be vented, the cavity pressure increases, resulting in discomfort. This type of injury can range in severity - from mild to extreme. A sinus or middle ear injury may occur suddenly and lead to inner ear damage. For this reason, divers should know and use the "clearing," or equalizing, maneuver that works best for them.

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By G. Yancey Mebane, M.D.

My experience with seasickness is that at first you are afraid you will die, then after a few hours you are afraid you will not.

Seasickness, or motion sickness, ruins diving trips, vacations and travel for many. Everyone is susceptible, and motion sickness can be produced in anyone if the circumstances are right. A lot is known about motion sickness, but total understanding of the cause is not clear. There are individuals who are resistant to motion sickness, but sufficient angular acceleration will induce motion sickness in anyone.

Even astronauts are annoyed by this problem. Approximately 70 percent of all crew members experience motion sickness of some degree during the first 72 hours of orbital flight on the space shuttle.

If you have experienced motion sickness, you probably think of it as primarily nausea. One theory says that this symptom is the result of your brain's inability to resolve the conflicting signals that it is receiving from the ears, eyes and body.

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Scuba diving is a growing industry as a form of ‘nature tourism’ allowing enjoyment of the beauty of coral reef ecosystems. However, as the recreational diver population has increased, diving activities in some heavily dived sites have caused negative ecological impacts, with divers unintentionally contacting live corals and causing physical damage. In this research, we investigated the rate of divers' contacts and physical damage by observing divers' underwater behavior in Okinawa, Japan, and tested the effectiveness of pre-dive briefings as a mitigation measure. Of 105 divers observed, 7% contacted the live coral cover and caused skeletal breakage, and 91% made contact at least once but did not cause visible damage. The average contact frequency of the divers during 30 min of dive time was 0.53 times/min. The contact frequency of the divers decreased significantly after they listened to an environmental briefing among the divers who could maintain neutral buoyancy, but not in the divers who could not. This study suggests that buoyancy control training for divers may also be important for coral reef conservation in addition to environmental education.

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The most intelligent invertebrate – what can the octopus do?

The octopus is believed to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates. As well as its relatively large brain, each of the octopus’ eight arms has its own rudimentary intelligence. This allows the arms to function independently. Researchers think that the octopus evolved intelligence to help it hunt and elude predators.

In the wild, octopuses collect and manipulate objects. For example, octopuses have been observed arranging stones around the entrance to their dens. One octopus was captured on video using two coconut hulls as a makeshift suit of armour, holding the shells around itself and rolling along on the sea-floor like a ball. This has been construed as evidence of tool use.

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Adaptive scuba diving is a growing sport. This growth is propelled by the dedication of highly motivated advocate/divers like Cody Unser.

A year after she became paralyzed due to Transverse Myelitis - a rare inflammation of the spinal cord thought to be caused by infections or immune system disorders - Cody took up scuba diving as a way to keep up with her active family. She was thirteen years old at the time. Now, sixteen years later, she and her mother Shelley Unser head the Cody Unser First Step Foundation and its subsidiary dive programs Cody’s Great Scuba Adventures and Operation Deep Down.
Scuba Diving in an Aquarium - © Cufsf.org
Cody Unser During a Demo Dive at the Aquarium of the Pacific. © Cufsf.org

Introducing Scuba Diving to Everyone
I first met Cody at the No Barriers Summit in Park City Utah last summer. She and her team ran a series of adaptive scuba clinics at the summit, giving people with a diverse array of disabilities the opportunity to see if diving might be right for them.

From her stylish purple wheelchair she shared her passion for the sport with the enthusiasm and clarity that could only come from someone with her level of personal experience both as a diver and a woman with a disability.

Scuba Diving May Offer Relief to People With Disabilities
Though Cody first took up diving as a hobby, she soon began to notice positive physical changes taking place under the water.While diving she felt more aware of the paralyzed parts of her body. These increased sensations lasted for a few weeks after a dive trip, but would soon fade.

The physical changes she was experiencing soon paired with her innate curiosity and drive to make a difference in the lives of other people with disabilities. She spoke with her doctors at Johns Hopkins hospital and convinced them that it was worth a scientific study.

In 2011 Cody traveled with a team of medical experts, adaptive dive professionals, and ten disabled veterans to the Cayman Islands to follow up on her idea. This pilot study found improved sensitivity and motor control in participants with paralysis and marked reduction in symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in participants living with that condition.

As in Cody’s case, these improvements faded in a few weeks time. What the study accomplished was creating a clear scientific baseline that scuba diving might offer real physical and emotional relief for people living with a variety of disabilities.
The Empowerment and Independence of Scuba Diving
Cody’s personal philosophy stresses the joy and empowerment that occur while scuba diving. For people with disabilities the world can feel limiting. Scuba diving - especially for those with physical disabilities - offers an entirely novel environment to explore on their own terms.

The weightlessness of the ocean allows us freedom from the restriction of movement we feel on land. Underwater people with disabilities and their able bodied peers are all transformed into swimmers. The differences between wheelchair users and those who can walk disappear. This, combined with the feeling of accomplishment that all divers feel upon completing their adpative scuba certification is deeply empowering for people with disabilities.

To share these positive benefits with others Cody uses her foundation to raise money to plan trips and offer certification training to as many people with disabilities as they can reach.

Currently they are fundraising for a dive trip to Florida for a group of young people with Spina Bifida and Cerebral Palsy from the Riley Children’s Foundation in Indiana. If you are interested in making a donation they have a Go Fund Me campaign.

Get Involved With Adaptive Diving
Aside from running her foundation, planning dive trips, and advocating for further medical studies of the effects of diving on people with disabilities, Cody has continued her studies both in and out of the water.

She is a PADI certified advanced open water diver, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health at George Washington University in Washington D.C. This year, she will be inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame for all that she has accomplished.

It is people like Cody Unser who advance the sport of adaptive scuba diving. She has created opportunities for dive professionals, medical researchers, and people with disabilities alike.

Her passion for diving and drive to include others in the adventure of it all are far reaching and profoundly positive. If you are interested in adaptive diving I urge you to look for opportunities to get involved and help continue to grow the positive impact that it has on the world.

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Scientists in Australia have discovered that vinegar kills Crown-of-Thorns Starfish just as effectively as the current drug, which can be expensive and difficult to source.

Outbreaks of the venomous Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci) pose one of the most significant threats to the Great Barrier Reef.

Researcher Lisa Boström-Einarsson said vinegar had been tried unsuccessfully before, but James Cook University scientists refined the process which resulted in a 100% kill rate.

Ms Boström-Einarsson said the findings were exciting. “Currently divers use 10 or 12 ml of ox-bile to kill each Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS). It’s expensive, requires permits and has to be mixed to the right concentration. We used 20 ml of vinegar, which is half the price and can be bought off the shelf at any local supermarket.”

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Shipwrecks are magnetic to divers. Mysterious, poignant and sometimes haunting, sunken ships have compelled humankind since we first figured out a way to breathe underwater. There’s something seductive about the hidden treasures they harbor in their rusty bellies, and some of the world’s most popular dive destinations owe their fame to wrecks.
From the historic warships of Chuuk Lagoon, Palau, Bikini Atoll and the Scapa Flow to the man-made attractions of the Florida Keys, New Zealand, Grand Cayman and Australia, the draw of artificial reefs is global. But sunken ships pose unique challenges to divers, including the potential for entanglement in fishing line, laceration by sharp metal or becoming lost deep in their bowels. Specific training and equipment are prudent when attempting any wreck dive, and there’s no quick and easy substitute for experience.

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The most technology-savvy diver will appreciate the i750T’s advanced features such as its OLED color screen and Bluetooth Smart capability, while every diver will appreciate its simplicity and compactness of design.

The i750T combines the best of today’s most advanced performance features with an out-of-the-box simple to use interface. Every feature thoughtfully maximizes your focus on the dive experience. Thanks to its exceptionally crisp OLED color screen, easy-to-use interface and 3-axis full-tilt compass, reading your dive data has never been easier. And tracking and sharing your dive takes just seconds with its Bluetooth Smart wireless connectivity to your mobile device. With optional hoseless gas integration and a paired-for-life optional transmitter, your dive is off to a quick start. Powerful technology and engineering meets intuitive and compact in the i750T.

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Before purchasing a wetsuit be familiar with the materials and designs utilized in making wetsuits, and figure out what kind of diving you do.

How a wetsuit works

Wetsuits are made of neoprene rubber, a closed-cell foam that traps millions of tiny gas bubbles within its structure. Unlike open-cell foam (i.e., a sponge), water won’t saturate neoprene, but the gas bubbles tend to give the material a lot of inherent buoyancy. When you put on awetsuit, your 98.6-degree body temperature warms the gas bubbles in the neoprene, which act as insulation. This, combined with a snug ft, minimizes the amount of water that enters the suit and keeps body heat from escaping.

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You live to dive because you enjoy the beauty and mystery of the underwater world. You love being able to see nature's intriguing marine life up close and personal. Having a job and the financial rewards it brings lets you enjoy the good things in life like scuba diving. Have you ever thought about combining the two? Diving and earning a living doing it. This article will show you how easy getting started on that path is.

For decades, Ocean Corporation has been teaching commercial diving skills to the most passionate of divers, enabling them to become the Ultimate Diver. These divers are an elite group. Their underwater office is deeper than most recreational divers ever venture and is both a challenging and rewarding work environment. They perform construction, inspection, repairs and salvage on the world’s underwater infrastructure, and their missions include working in inland, open-water and offshore dive operations.

What is Ultimate Diver Training

With the Ultimate Diver Training you get the hands on instruction and skill set you need in order to thrive. And you get it from the best instructors in the business. They are former commercial and military divers who teach you the essentials with no fluff. You will master:

• air diving
• mixed-gas and saturation diving
• open water diving
• deep water diving
• contaminated environment diving
• underwater nondestructive testing
• operating remote vehicles
• the use of decompression chambers
• underwater welding
• rigging
• offshore safety and survival skills
• first aid

How to make it happen

The life of a commercial diver can be challenging. But it is very rewarding. Would you have what it takes to join their ranks? Think you can become the Ultimate Diver? If so, the Ultimate Diver Training program can provide you with the knowledge and skill set to be the best of the best - a commercial diver. And Ocean Corporation is the school that can mold you into one.

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Do you consistently run through your gas supply faster than other divers on the boat? Do you frequently have to end the dive before the rest of the group? What's going on? And what can you do about it?
First, you can stop beating yourself up over it. People are different. Those with slower metabolisms will — other factors being equal — use less oxygen. Small divers have to use less energy than big ones to swim forward, so they also use less oxygen. Nature doesn't distribute her gifts equally, and you may never be the stingiest sipper of gas on the boat.
On the other hand, most of us can reduce our gas consumption and thereby extend our dives. We can be better, even if we can't be the best. Typically, divers waste air in one or more of these three ways:
By leaking it before it gets to their lungs, thanks to free-flowing octos and worn out O-rings.

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Today Oceana launched its second expedition to document previously unexplored marine areas in Malta as part of the LIFE BaĦAR for N2K project. Scientists from several countries including Malta will research underwater caves, sand banks and reefs in order to provide the Maltese government with enough data to identify new Sites of Community Importance under Natura 2000, a network that gathers together areas of high ecological importance in the European Union.

This year, improvements to technical equipment have been incorporated to enhance the performance of the campaign team’s work. Such improvements, including the use of underwater scooters, will now allow divers to move faster and be able to spend more time documenting secluded caves. Additionally, a boat equipped with a multi-beam sonar will work in parallel to survey the underwater terrain. The sonar will also serve as a vital tool for scientists to be more precise when choosing research spots and will help increase the efficiency of Oceana’s Remotely Operated Robot (ROV), which is able to reach 1,000 metres deep.

“We are very excited about the final leg of our at-sea work in Malta. Last year’s findings include large coral reefs, undiscovered caves at great depths and species that were rare or had never been found in this part of the Mediterranean. Discovering so many ecologically-valuable features in a country famous for its diving spots proves that the true abundance of the sea is yet to be fully uncovered. The protection of these areas will allow for a better conservation of Malta’s rich marine heritage and eventually a healthier Mediterranean”, said Ricardo Aguilar, expedition leader and research director at Oceana in Europe.

Both expeditions will sum up a total of 120 days of intense work at sea on board Oceana’s research catamaran, the Ranger. In 2015, the field work lasted 52 days and included 106 dives carried out by the ROV and divers. The images gathered are still being analysed and, together with this year’s findings, will serve as the groundwork for the creation of marine protected areas.

LIFE BaĦAR for N2K project is co-financed by the EU LIFE+ Funding Programme and led by the Environment and Resources Authority in collaboration with the Maltese Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the University of Malta and Oceana.

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Part of any solo diving certification includes instruction on all the additional equipment that solo divers are expected to carry. Without a buddy to help you out underwater, you need to be completely self-sufficient throughout your dive. This means carrying a range of backup equipment. Top of the list, as one might expect, is a backup air supply.

Is it likely that you will run out of air? Not if you have prepared thoroughly for your dive. However, equipment malfunction can occur. You might experience a problem with your cylinder, regulator or pressure gauge, once you’re beneath the surface. You might miscalculate your air consumption rate, or forget to check your gauges frequently, and find yourself out of air. What do you do?

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How does pressure change underwater and how do pressure changes effect aspects of scuba diving such as equalization, buoyancy, bottom time, and the risk of decompression sickness? Review the fundamentals of pressure and scuba diving, and discover a concept no one told me during my open water course: that pressure changes more rapidly the closer a diver is to the surface.

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Vest-Style vs Back Inflation BCDs: Pros and Cons

When purchasing your scuba gear, one important decision to make is whether to buy a back inflation or vest style BCD. Many new divers have never heard of a back-inflation BCD, so here's the low-down.

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Can You Scuba Dive With Glass or Contact Lenses?

Like many divers, I am completely dependent on corrective lenses for survival. I have terrible vision, and without my contact lenses I would be unable to drive, walk down the street, or find my way around my own apartment. While some extreme activities require perfect vision (being a fighter pilot, for example), scuba diving isn't one of them. Divers with poor vision have a variety of options available to help them see underwater.

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U/W Bike Race

eventsiconJoin us on July 4th for this annual event benefitting the Children's Mile of Hope.

Lionfish Tournament

eventsiconWe need your help to make Carteret County's 5th Annual "If you Can't Beat 'em, Eat 'em" Spearfishing Tournament a success! This Tournament is a joint effort between Discovery Diving and Eastern Carolina Artificial Reef Association (ECARA).

Treasure Hunt

eventsiconFood, prizes, diving, and fun! Proceeds benefit the Mile Hope Children's Cancer Fund and DAN's research in diving safety.


2013Join us June 3rd, 2017 in support of the East Carolina Artificial Reef Association.  Click here for more info on this great event and how you can help to bring more Wrecks to the Graveyard of the Atlantic.