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With measured precision remotely operated vehicles D2 and Seirios are lowered into the deep blue waters of the Caribbean. Ready for the unknown, they begin the descent through the water column to the seafloor hundreds of meters below.

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Posted by on in Wrecks

What makes the Cuttlefish so good at controlling its colour and blending in with its surroundings? This month scientists at Harvard University and the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory have helped answer that question.

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Europe is woefully behind in its ambition of achieving a ‘good environmental status’ of our seas by 2020, according to a report published today by the European Environment Agency.

Only 4% of the marine species and habitats assessed have achieved the 2020 target of ‘good’ status.

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Dave’s friends would never believe he went to more than 200 feet — he had even borrowed a computer so he could prove it. He was thinking about that and smiling right up until he took a breath from his regulator and there was nothing there.

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The mantis shrimp is able to repeatedly pummel the shells of prey using a hammer-like appendage that can withstand rapid-fire blows by neutralizing certain frequencies of "shear waves," according to a new research paper by University of California, Riverside and Purdue University engineers.

The mantis shrimp is able to repeatedly pummel the shells of prey using a hammer-like appendage that can withstand rapid-fire blows by neutralizing certain frequencies of "shear waves," according to a new research paper by University of California, Riverside and Purdue University engineers.

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Posted by on in Wrecks

Sick and dying starfish (sea stars) have appeared in a multitude of locations between Alaska and southern California.

“It’s like a zombie wasteland,” says biologist Emily Tucker told Nature. “You’ll see detached arms crawling away from their body.”

Called Sea Star Wasting Disease, it can cause the death of an infected starfish in just a few days. Its effects can be devastating on starfish populations.

The disease has hit before, in southern California in 1983-1984 for example and again in 1997-98. These events were associated with warmer sea temperatures. The current outbreak is more widespread.

It is particularly worrying because one of the starfish affected, Pisaster ochraceus, was the original “keystone species”. This is a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance. Without it the ecosystem would be dramatically different. The concept was first proposed in 1969 using Pisaster ochraceus as a primary example. Within a year of Pisaster ochraceus being removed, biodiversity halved.

Lesions on the animal are the first signs of the disease. Tissue then decays around the lesions which leads to break up of the body and death.

There is a map of where diseased sea-stars have been found at http://data.piscoweb.org/marine1/seastardisease.html

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Marine conservation group Oceana have found an amazing array of marine life in their expedition around the Canary Islands.

Oceana - Siphonophora

Siphonophora, photo © Oceana

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Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of hurricane Katrina. Experts who have studied the US navy’s cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying ‘toxic dart’ guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet’s smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.

Dolphins have been trained in attack-and-kill missions since the Cold War. The US Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have apparently been taught to shoot terrorists attacking military vessels. Their coastal compound was breached during the storm, sweeping them out to sea. But those who have studied the controversial use of dolphins in the US defence programme claim it is vital they are caught quickly.

Leo Sheridan, 72, a respected accident investigator who has worked for government and industry, said he had received intelligence from sources close to the US government’s marine fisheries service confirming dolphins had escaped.

‘My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,’ he said. ‘The darts are designed to put the target to sleep so they can be interrogated later, but what happens if the victim is not found for hours?’

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But not by astronauts or space tourists. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey are using satellite images to detect and count southern right whales (Eubalaena australis).

In recent years there have been over 420 deaths of these whales in their nursery grounds at Península Valdés in Argentina. (Out of a population last estimated at 2577 whales.) Most of the dead were calves. This number of deaths suggests that the right whale population, and its ecosystem, may be less healthy and robust than previously thought. The whales at Península Valdés comprise the largest single population and the high mortality rate has raised fresh concern for the future of the species.

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The underwater world is an all-encompassing sensory experience. A new diver's brain is occupied with processing the feeling of weightlessness, the visual stimulation of the underwater world, and the completely unnatural idea of breathing underwater. As a diver gains experience, he becomes accustomed to these new sensations, and can focus on his skills and techniques. This is a completely normal progression, and divers who find themselves doing silly or illogical things on their first few dives shouldn't stress.

It takes time and experience to become comfortable enough in the underwater world to perform complex tasks, or even to think clearly and logically. For divers who are ready to take their diving to the next level, I can offer some simple advice to improve mental control and clarity of thought underwater.

1. Do Only One Thing at a Time

This is simple (even obvious) advice, but it is worth stating. When scuba diving, do only one task at a time, and pay attention to what you are doing.

When a diver tries to do too many things at once, he can rarely do anything proficiently. This is known in the dive industry as task loading. Compare this to texting and driving. A driver who is attempting to simultaneously send a text message and manage a vehicle is likely to lose control of himself. Similarly, a diver who is struggling to establish buoyancy and clear a bit of water from his mask at the same time, will likely end up at the surface or on the seafloor. Take the time to perform the most important tasks first, such as establishing buoyancy, and then focus on the more minor tasks -- reading a pressure gauge or clearing a mask

Tasks may seem urgent but they rarely are. As long as you are breathing and somewhere near neutrally buoyant, you have time to perform any other tasks one at a time, calmly, and correctly.

2. Be Methodical and Systematic

The best divers use methodical steps to systematically perform complex tasks. This requires thinking through complicated skills such as sharing air or recovering a lost regulator and breaking these skills into steps that can performed on at a time.

Using regulator recovery as an example, a diver should not hurriedly attempt to grasp a lost regulator. Instead he should acknowledge the problem, "My regulator is lost!" and then methodically work his way through the steps he has established for recovering the offending piece of dive gear. "The first step," he thinks, "is leaning to the right. The next step is touching my tank. After that, I will sweep my arm in a wide loop to the right." Breaking skills into easy steps and methodically running through the steps one at time is usually much more efficient than hurriedly attempting to reach the end goal. Divers who rush a skill or emergency procedure are likely to make mistakes that must be corrected, ultimately wasting time, energy, and breathing gas.

3. Train Yourself to Be Observant

A new diver tends to be primarily focused on himself - his breathing, his buoyancy, his experience. This is normal, not narcissistic. However, a diver who has mastered his fundamental diving skills such as buoyancy and trim should strive to shift his attention outwards and train himself to be observant, and to accept feedback from his environment, equipment, and dive buddies.

An observant diver will accept feedback from his environment. He will notice when his fin brushes the reef or if a pressure gauge bounces against a piece of coral. A diver who takes the feedback and uses it by changing his kicking technique, readjusting his position, or stowing his pressure gauge will learn better control of himself and his equipment. And of course, a diver who is in control of himself will be more comfortable and ultimately enjoy his dives more. The key is to pay attention to what is happening, and to learn from it.

"Often, taking the time to slow down, notice, identify, think through, and then solve a problem can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a serious situation."

A thinking diver will also learn to observe his buddies and will learn from their behavior and their reactions. A buddy who normally swims directly next to the diver, but suddenly is out of place or lagging behind may have a problem, or may have found something very interesting to look at. A buddy who is breathing heavily, swimming quickly, or acting erratically may be narced or frightened. An observant diver can help his buddy by identify problems with gear, such as leaks or danglies, and notifying or assisting his buddy when necessary. This can solve small issues before they become big problems, and lead to safer diving.

4. Never Panic

If divers have completed proper pre-dive check, are using proper breathing gas management, and have good buddy skills, there is rarely a reason to panic underwater, even when a problem presents itself. Even in an out-of-air situation, a diver should be close enough to his buddy to share air and make a safe ascent. The worst thing a diver can do is react to a problem without thinking it through. Use the advice above, slow down, think step by step, use methodical and systematic skills to solve problems calmly, and be observant. Often, taking the time to slow down, notice, identify, think through, and then solve a problem can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a serious situation. If you ever are in a stressful situation, remember, as long as there is an air supply, you are okay.

Training yourself to slow down, think, systematically perform skills, and be observant takes conscious effort, but it is worth it! You awareness, safety and enjoyment of dives will improve as you learn to use your brain underwater. 

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Posted by on in Wrecks

The underwater world is an all-encompassing sensory experience. A new diver's brain is occupied with processing the feeling of weightlessness, the visual stimulation of the underwater world, and the completely unnatural idea of breathing underwater. As a diver gains experience, he becomes accustomed to these new sensations, and can focus on his skills and techniques. This is a completely normal progression, and divers who find themselves doing silly or illogical things on their first few dives shouldn't stress.

It takes time and experience to become comfortable enough in the underwater world to perform complex tasks, or even to think clearly and logically. For divers who are ready to take their diving to the next level, I can offer some simple advice to improve mental control and clarity of thought underwater.

1. Do Only One Thing at a Time

This is simple (even obvious) advice, but it is worth stating. When scuba diving, do only one task at a time, and pay attention to what you are doing.

When a diver tries to do too many things at once, he can rarely do anything proficiently. This is known in the dive industry as task loading. Compare this to texting and driving. A driver who is attempting to simultaneously send a text message and manage a vehicle is likely to lose control of himself. Similarly, a diver who is struggling to establish buoyancy and clear a bit of water from his mask at the same time, will likely end up at the surface or on the seafloor. Take the time to perform the most important tasks first, such as establishing buoyancy, and then focus on the more minor tasks -- reading a pressure gauge or clearing a mask

Tasks may seem urgent but they rarely are. As long as you are breathing and somewhere near neutrally buoyant, you have time to perform any other tasks one at a time, calmly, and correctly.

2. Be Methodical and Systematic

The best divers use methodical steps to systematically perform complex tasks. This requires thinking through complicated skills such as sharing air or recovering a lost regulator and breaking these skills into steps that can performed on at a time.

Using regulator recovery as an example, a diver should not hurriedly attempt to grasp a lost regulator. Instead he should acknowledge the problem, "My regulator is lost!" and then methodically work his way through the steps he has established for recovering the offending piece of dive gear. "The first step," he thinks, "is leaning to the right. The next step is touching my tank. After that, I will sweep my arm in a wide loop to the right." Breaking skills into easy steps and methodically running through the steps one at time is usually much more efficient than hurriedly attempting to reach the end goal. Divers who rush a skill or emergency procedure are likely to make mistakes that must be corrected, ultimately wasting time, energy, and breathing gas.

3. Train Yourself to Be Observant

A new diver tends to be primarily focused on himself - his breathing, his buoyancy, his experience. This is normal, not narcissistic. However, a diver who has mastered his fundamental diving skills such as buoyancy and trim should strive to shift his attention outwards and train himself to be observant, and to accept feedback from his environment, equipment, and dive buddies.

An observant diver will accept feedback from his environment. He will notice when his fin brushes the reef or if a pressure gauge bounces against a piece of coral. A diver who takes the feedback and uses it by changing his kicking technique, readjusting his position, or stowing his pressure gauge will learn better control of himself and his equipment. And of course, a diver who is in control of himself will be more comfortable and ultimately enjoy his dives more. The key is to pay attention to what is happening, and to learn from it.

"Often, taking the time to slow down, notice, identify, think through, and then solve a problem can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a serious situation."

A thinking diver will also learn to observe his buddies and will learn from their behavior and their reactions. A buddy who normally swims directly next to the diver, but suddenly is out of place or lagging behind may have a problem, or may have found something very interesting to look at. A buddy who is breathing heavily, swimming quickly, or acting erratically may be narced or frightened. An observant diver can help his buddy by identify problems with gear, such as leaks or danglies, and notifying or assisting his buddy when necessary. This can solve small issues before they become big problems, and lead to safer diving.

4. Never Panic

If divers have completed proper pre-dive check, are using proper breathing gas management, and have good buddy skills, there is rarely a reason to panic underwater, even when a problem presents itself. Even in an out-of-air situation, a diver should be close enough to his buddy to share air and make a safe ascent. The worst thing a diver can do is react to a problem without thinking it through. Use the advice above, slow down, think step by step, use methodical and systematic skills to solve problems calmly, and be observant. Often, taking the time to slow down, notice, identify, think through, and then solve a problem can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a serious situation. If you ever are in a stressful situation, remember, as long as there is an air supply, you are okay.

Training yourself to slow down, think, systematically perform skills, and be observant takes conscious effort, but it is worth it! You awareness, safety and enjoyment of dives will improve as you learn to use your brain underwater. 

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Posted by on in Wrecks

Most Caribbean coral reefs may disappear in the next 20 years, if something isn’t done, a new report warns.

Caribbean corals have declined by more than 50% since the 1970s. But the good news is that the trend can be reversed. Restoring parrotfish populations and improving other management strategies, such as protection from overfishing and excessive coastal pollution, could help the reefs recover and make them more resilient to future climate change impacts. So says the report, Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012, which is the result of the work of 90 experts over the course of three years. It contains the analysis of more than 35,000 surveys conducted at 90 Caribbean locations since 1970, including studies of corals, seaweeds, grazing sea urchins and fish.

The main problem faced by the reefs is the loss of grazers, like parrotfish in the region. Climate change, which has long been blamed for coral degradation does pose a serious threat by making oceans more acidic and causing coral bleaching, but the report shows that the loss of parrotfish and sea urchins has, in fact, been the key driver of coral decline in the Caribbean.

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Posted by on in Wrecks

Sea Urchins at Risk

According to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, nanoparticles commonly used in sunscreens are making sea urchin embryos more vulnerable to toxins,

Researchers from the University of California showed that Zinc Oxide Nanomaterial (ZnO) made developing sea urchin embryos more sensitive to other chemicals, blocking transporters that would otherwise defend them by pumping toxins out of cells.

Nanozinc oxide is used as an additive not only in sunscreens but in toothpastes and beauty products as well. Another nanoparticle commonly used in sunscreen is titanium dioxide (TiO2).

Nanomaterials are tiny chemical substances, which are about 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

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Shipwrecks feel magical. Lying silently in the deep, these alluring vessels attract the attention of scuba divers around the world. Sometimes eerie, always intriguing, wrecks allow divers to interact with moments from history. Unfortunately, wreck diving has many risks that might not be apparent to untrained divers. Learning to manage these risks is one of the main reasons that rigorous training is required to dive shipwrecks safely.

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A cartwheeling spider, a bird-like dinosaur and a fish that wriggles around on the sea floor to create a circular nesting site are among the species identified as the Top 10 New Species for 2015. Two animals -- a frog that gives birth to tadpoles and a wasp that uses dead ants to protect its nest -- are unusual because of their parenting practices. Also on the list are an animal that might surpass the new species distinction to be an entirely new phylum, a 9-inch walking stick and a photogenic sea slug. Rounding out the top 10 are a coral plant described as endangered almost as soon as it was discovered and a red-and-green plant used during Christmas celebrations in Mexico.
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With measured precision remotely operated vehicles D2 and Seirios are lowered into the deep blue waters of the Caribbean. Ready for the unknown, they begin the descent through the water column to the seafloor hundreds of meters below.

February 18 marked the beginning of NOAA’s first expedition for this year – Océano Profundo: Caribbean Trenches and Seamounts – with the express purpose of exploring little to unknown regions around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (For more information visit my previous article Exploring the Ocean with the Okeanos Explorer or visit OceanExplorer.noaa.gov). The expedition was divided into three parts where one and two consisted of 24 hour mapping with the Okeanos’ multibeam sonar around the EEZ of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The third leg, just recently concluded, scheduled 20 dives with D2 and Seirios in order to capture visual footage and explore deep water habitats. During this leg days on the Okeanos were full, exploring by day and mapping at night.

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With the help of the Catlin Seaview Survey, Google has added more underwater locations to its “Street View“.

Google put the first marine images up in September 2012, with dives in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii. Now it covers 16 more countries, including the Galapagos, Monaco, Bermuda and Mexico. It really is a fantastic way to gauge potential dive sites before visiting a country. And it isn’t just for fun. The seaview survey will make ocean change plainly visible for all to see.

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Posted by on in Wrecks

Cold fins, warm heart? Strange but true, scientists say.

In a discovery that defies conventional biology, a big fish that lives deep in the Pacific Ocean has been found to be warm blooded, like humans, other mammals and birds.

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that unlike other fish, opah generate heat as they swim and distribute the warmth throughout their entire disc-shaped bodies by special blood vessels. Special "counter-current heat exchangers" in their gills minimize heat loss, allowing the deepwater predators to keep their bodies several degrees above the water temperature 250 feet down.

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North America

best diving destinations channel islands

 

Diving Channel Islands, California

Rich reefs, kelp forests, and sea lions off the coast of Southern California 

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Posted by on in Wrecks
By MarEx 2015-05-06 19:00:28

On May 7, 1915, the Cunard liner Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, causing the deaths of 1,195 passengers and crew.

Thomas Snowden was a 30-year-old third-class passenger on board. He was British but was living in the United States and he wrote this a few weeks after the sinking:

 â€œGod forbid I ever pass through such an experience again. I have not recovered from the shock yet. I have consulted a physician and he said that it will probably be a long time before I can wipe from my memory those terrible hours among the dead and dying men, women and children.

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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 Roundup

eventsiconAn exciting partnership between Discovery Diving, NOAA, and Carteret Community College.

Treasure Hunt

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

ECARA Event

2013Join us March 7, 2015 at the Bryant Student Center, Carteret Community College, Morehead City 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.