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The issue with diving—­at least for this discussion­—is that as a diver descends in the water column, he or she has no option but to breathe compressed gas. Because of this, the inert gas contained in whatever is being breathed is stored in the diver’s body. This is sometimes called inert gas uptake.

At the end of a dive, on the way back to the surface, the process is reversed, the stored inert gas is released by the diver’s body. This is called inert gas elimination, or more simply, decompression. These two processes are part of every dive—even seemingly benign sport dives to shallow depths for short periods of time. Every dive really is a decompression dive.

When diving, tracking and understanding how to best manage inert gas uptake and decompression within safe limits, is second only to making sure one has something other than water to breathe. If we “get it wrong” and remain at depth too long, ascend too rapidly, breathe the wrong gas, or simply have a bad-luck day, we run a higher than usual risk of suffering decompression sickness (DCS). Getting bent, the colloquial term for DCS, is a collection of disorders caused by a portion of the inert gas stored in a diver’s body bubbling out of solution too rapidly. The consequences of being bent run the gamut from nausea, fatigue, mild joint pain and dizziness all the way through paralysis and death.

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Often referred to as slugs due to their evolutionary path, the grand designs of nudibranchs are as fascinating and varied as there are slugs themselves. Each one of them has evolved in a special manner to survive and reproduce in the many different and challenging habitats in which they are found. Cold water to warm water, benthic or pelagic and at every depth, nudibranchs occur globally and have even been found in brackish rivers.

Shooting photos of sea slugs is often the way many macro shooters start out. They shoot various finds from each dive, then look them up in a marine species identification book. This often results in a collection of basic ID photos. While this is a common path for an underwater photographer to take in learning the craft, it often sets one up for bad habits down the road. There eventually comes a time when shooters have the desire to take their images to a different level, but breaking the habit of shooting ID photos can often be a challenge. One of the things that has helped me to shoot more creative images of nudibranchs began with learning about them first.

Knowing the food source of a nudibranch is an elementary yet effective way for hunting nudibranchs. Tunicates and algae are a great place to start, followed by hydroids and so on. It also helps to know a little about the anatomy and biology of nudibranchs.

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Mollusks comprise a group of soft-bodied animals that includes snails, clams, and sea slugs. The most common characteristic of most mollusks is their shell. One of the largest groups, the snails, is renowned for their shells. Snails are univalves, which means they have one shell. And it is this shell that for many people is the epitome of the ocean. There is perhaps no other ocean treasure that displays more diversity and beauty than the shell. Conchology, the study and collection of shells is a popular hobby the world over. The bivalves, or two-shell mollusks include the clams, scallops, and oysters. It is the oyster that is responsible for producing the most coveted of the ocean's treasures - the pearl. Still other mollusks have lost their shells altogether. The octopus, the squid, and the sea slugs have evolved their own survival strategies to replace their protective armor. Indeed, it is due to the absence of a protective shell the octopus has evolved the largest and most complex brain of all the mollusks. Below is a listing of some of the most common mollusks found on the world's coral reefs.

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Beaked whales are members of the family Ziphiidae, the second largest family of cetaceans (which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises), however many of the 22 species of beaked whales are among the least known or understood mammals in the world. This lack of knowledge is highlighted by the fact that three new species of beaked whales have been discovered in just the last two decades.

To see beaked whales at sea is such a rare event that many researchers devoting their life to study cetaceans have never seen one. Living in deep waters, usually far offshore, these creatures spend some 92% of their time underwater, invisible to humans. Beaked whales break diving records, feeding at depths that can reach three kilometers and last up to 2 hours. After these diving feats, they rest, performing shorter and shallower dives with brief surfacing intervals. These behaviors, together with the fact that beaked whales live in small groups, are not usually attracted to boats, and do not perform aerial acrobatics as much as dolphins, mean that beaked whales are not easy to detect at sea. Moreover, many beaked whales have variable color patterns that may be shared by other ziphiid species, challenging the identification of beaked whales at the species level during sea encounters, when often only a short glimpse of their body is achieved.

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Quality dive accessories exist to make diving not only safer but also simpler and more enjoyable. Whether it's an easy-to-use signaling device to get your buddy's attention, a rugged cutting tool to get you out of a sticky situation or a bright light to illuminate a dark place, an effective accessory might be just what your gear bag is missing.
Less Is More
While a few handy accessories can enhance your dives, carrying too many may do the opposite. Looking like a Christmas tree underwater with countless shiny gadgets hanging from your BCD might make you a hit around the holiday season, but it will also make you work harder while swimming and limit how quickly you can reach what you need. More dangling gear also increases your risk of being entangled in loose line, nearby buddies or innocent marine life. Thoughtfully consider what tools or gadgets you'd like to take with you on each dive.
Cutting Devices

Few problems in diving can be as stressful and dangerous as underwater entanglement. Even when you're not in immediate danger, having a cutting device — or better yet, more than one — within easy reach will put your mind at ease and let you focus on having fun. Whether you use it to trim a few inches off your weight belt before you gear up or to free your buddy from some fishing line he swam through during the dive, a cutting device is one of the most important accessories you can have on hand.

Trauma shears and fully serrated knives can make quick work of thick lines and wire, while hook-shaped cutting devices are most useful for cutting thin lines with one hand. Corrosion resistance is an important factor when choosing a cutting tool, and devices made of titanium or high-quality stainless steel will generally last the longest. Any device that is simple, robust and easily accessed can be useful in an entanglement and will make dealing with problems that arise underwater minor annoyances rather than emergencies.
Attention-Getting Devices

Whether you need to let your buddy know you're running low on gas or you want to show her the elusive albino frogfish you just found, attention-getting devices such as tank
Among the most useful dive accessories are tools that can help you get your buddy’s attention, free yourself from an entanglement and illuminate dark places.
bangers and underwater maracas can be incredibly useful. These accessories come in a variety of forms, from elastic bands with hard rubber balls you use to strike your tank, to waterproof containers filled with metal beads that you shake.

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"Nobody understands the allure of the sea more than the U.S. Coast Guard, but we also see the tragic results when people underestimate the hazards. The adventure and thrill of diving are appealing to many, but the ocean is an unforgiving environment — and even less forgiving to those who recreate beneath the surface."
— Rear Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District

Recreational diving is by and large a safe activity, but when accidents occur the outcomes are often frightening and can be fatal. The beautiful blue world below can quickly become hostile for divers who lack adequate training, are in poor physical condition, use improperly maintained equipment or are otherwise unprepared.

Although the U.S. Coast Guard does not have regulatory authority over recreational diving as it does for recreational and commercial boating, Coast Guard search-and-rescue crews are frequently called on to assist when divers are lost or in trouble. In the aftermath of a dive injury or death, the Coast Guard marine casualty investigators work with other public health and safety organizations to identify what went wrong and evaluate how to prevent future accidents.

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Your scuba BC takes care of you underwater, playing a vital role in safe ascents and exploration. Make sure you take care of your BC by properly prepping it for a dive and cleaning it afterward. Here are a few maintenance tips from our Gear Editor for keeping your BC in tip-top shape for as long as possible.

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Robots the size of grapefruits are set to change the way scientists study the Earth's oceans, according to a new study.

Though space is often known as the "final frontier," the oceans of our home planet remain much of a mystery. Satellites have played a big role in that divide, as they explore the universe and send data back to scientists on Earth. But now, researchers have developed a kind of satellite for the oceans — autonomous miniature robots that can work as a swarm to explore oceans in a new way.

For their initial deployments, the Mini-Autonomous Underwater Explorers (M-AUEs) were able to record the 3D movements of the ocean's internal waves — a feat that traditional instruments cannot achieve. Study lead author Jules Jaffe, a research oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said current ocean measurements are akin to sticking a finger in a specific region of the water. [In Photos: The Wonders of the Deep Sea]

"We can move the finger around, but we're never in two places at the same time; so we basically have no sort of three-dimensional understanding of the ocean," Jaffe told Live Science. "By building this swarm of robots, we were in 16 places at the same time."

Each underwater robot is about the size and weight of a large grapefruit, Jaffe said. The bots are cylindrical and have an antenna on one end and measurement instrumentation on the other.

The swarm's first mission was to investigate how the ocean's internal waves moved. One of Jaffe's colleagues theorized that aspects of plankton's ecology is due to ocean currents pushing plankton together and pulling it back apart. However, scientists did not have the three-dimensional instrumentation capabilities to be able to verify those theories. Over the course of a few afternoons, Jaffe and his team deployed the M-AUEs in hopes of proving (or disproving) the theory.

"We could see this swarm of robots be pushed by currents, getting pushed together and then get pushed apart," Jaffe said. "It's almost like a breathing motion, but it occurred over several hours."

The theory was based on ocean physics, water density and internal wave dynamics, but the scientists had never seen the real-time movement of ocean water in 3D, Jaffe said.

And although their initial deployments were focused on the 3D mapping of internal wave dynamics, Jaffe said there are many other applications for the robot swarms.

For instance, with slightly different instrumentation, the robots could be deployed in an oil spill to help track the harmful toxins released. With underwater microphones, the swarm could also act as a giant ear, listening to whales and dolphins.

"We're not yet churning them out like a manufacturing facility, but we think we can answer a lot of questions about global ocean dynamics with what we have," Jaffe said of the couple of dozen robots the scientists have now. "And we are planning on a next generation, which hopefully would have more functionality and would maybe be even less expensive."

Details of the robot swarm were published online today (Jan. 24) in the journal Nature Communications.

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The Problem

Sharks are a vital component of our complex marine environment.  Without these apex predators, this ecosystem risks falling out of balance and may ultimately collapse.

Worldwide, fishing is pushing many species to the brink of extinction. This film examines Indonesia’s role as the number one shark fishing nation in the world.  In Tanjung Luar, rural Lombok’s biggest fish market, sharks are a targeted species, where despite worldwide trends shifting away from shark finning, the trade persists. However, as shark populations decline, fishermen are forced further afield every year to satisfy the hungry demand of the Chinese and world market for shark fin soup.

Shark fin soup, a cultural symbol of prosperity and good fortune, is traditionally served at Chinese New Year celebrations, banquets, and weddings.  WildAid says “For every Hong Kong wedding, 30 sharks must die”.  Hong Kong and Guangzhou are major hubs for the trade, and despite past reports of falling demand, as a consequence of large-scale public campaigns launched by environmentalists and animal rights advocates, recent surveys show a surprising amount of shark fin is still being consumed.

Wild Aid have a simple message “When the buying stops, the killing can too”.  The price of the life of a shark is getting cheaper by the year. The price of shark fins has fallen dramatically, but the fishing has not stopped.

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Posted by Megan Denny

While warm-water divers pack up their kit and hibernate for the winter, dry suit-certified divers enjoy great diving and fewer crowds. Here are five destinations for your (insulated) bucket list.

White Sea

Regarded as one of the top diving destinations in the world, The White Sea in Russia offers equal parts challenge and reward for divers with the right training. Water temps under the ice average -2 °C / 28 °F and there won’t be a post-dive drink in a coconut waiting for you when the dive is done.

But if you fancy dog-sledding, sleeping under the aurora borealis and exchanging smiles with a Beluga whale, clear your calendar for March. During summer months, you could see an orca whale, beluga whale, or Greenland shark.

Winter in the northern hemisphere is summertime in Antarctica. Set a course for the least-visited continent and you’ll be treated to sites few divers ever experience. In addition to the unique landscape (both topside and underwater), you’ll may encounter a curious leopard seal, or get dive-bombed by a penguin.

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Divers tend to be the friendly, welcoming sort. We’re always game to have an adventure and meet new people. But every now and again we throw down.

It usually goes something like this:

Diver 1: That’s great you got to snorkel with whale sharks. Did I tell you about the time I DOVE with one in the Philippines?

Diver 2: No, you didn’t, but I bet it was like the time I dove with a BABY HUMPBACK.

Diver 1: Sounds rather nice, a bit like the time I was in the Bahamas and a pod of dolphins SPELLED OUT MY NAME UNDERWATER.

You get the idea. One-upmanship is alive and well for some members of the diving community. Personally, I would be happy staring at a cuttlefish, or even a common housecat for two hours. But, if I wanted to “win” the game of I’ve-seen-something-cooler-than-you-have, I’d go ice diving.

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Dietary supplements are popular among health- and fitness-conscious people, including recreational divers. Divers often ask about the possible benefits and adverse effects of supplements, used for either general wellness or protection from certain diving injuries. Dietary supplements are clearly helpful to people with a chronic deficit of specific nutrients such as vitamin C (scurvy) or vitamin D (rickets), but effects of supplements in healthy people who eat a balanced diet are less obvious. The large number of supplements available today far exceeds our cumulative scientific capacity to study them all, and so use of supplements grows beyond evidence of their benefits.

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A reluctant winter clung to an early March morning while flakes of snow silently fell on eight fully suited divers as our open-skiff slowly motored across glassy-calm water to the first dive site. No one spoke a word.
Images by:
Barb Roy

I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of nature all around. Even through a light veil of surface fog, dark evergreens towered atop rocky shorelines of nearby islands, now bathed in the soft hues of dawn. Perched high above us in a tree, an eagle squawked with another as we passed, followed by the quiet gurgle of an otter entering the water.

“Five minutes out!” announced our dive guide, John de Boeck, owner of Browning Pass Hideaway on northern Vancouver Island. “Below rests the skeleton of the SS Themis wreck. Watch your depth and especially watch your bottom time because the currents really move around Croker Rock. While diving here, it’s possible you might see the ship’s bathtub, maybe the boilers, a few octos and watch out for immense wolf-eels!”
I rubbed my cold hands together and blew some warm air on them before donning drygloves and attaching them to my drysuit. As we prepared to enter the chilly water, John added the general site details and said, “Don’t worry, by now the wolf-eels have already eaten their breakfast…” Yes, I’ve grown accustom to John’s wit over the years. For someone who has been offering dive excursions since 1981, he knows the area eerily well.
Slipping beneath the surface through a forest of tall gently swaying kelp fronds proved to be as magnificent as the topside terrain. Life and color was everywhere. Black rockfish hovered mid-water, not in the least bit afraid of us. I am sure if the light was brighter, the ship’s remains would have been in full view 60ft (18m) below—the visibility was that good.
My husband, Wayne, wasted no time in locating his first wolf-eel. A few needle white teeth oddly protruded through huge rubbery lips. Muppets always come to mind when I see these comical characters up close. All around its den were piles of crumbled scallop, urchin and crab shells. This guy indeed had an appetite for seafood, a lot like Wayne…

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It is a warm clear day, and the Atlantic Ocean is like glass. As you drop into the water for a dive on North Carolina's famous U-352 wreck, you can see that the captain has hooked the wreck very near the stern. It is your plan to circumnavigate the entire structure and get that perfect photograph near the exposed bow torpedo tube. You descend to slightly below 100 feet, reach the structure and take off toward the bow. Unfortunately, you are only halfway, just approaching the conning tower, when your buddy signals that he is running low on air. Putting safety first, you return with him to the ascent line — cursing the lost opportunity and vowing to find a new buddy.

If you've ever experienced the disappointment of ending a dive too soon for lack of breathing gas or, worse, had to make a hurried ascent because you ran out of air, it may surprise you to learn that your predicament was entirely predictable. With a little planning and some basic calculations, you can estimate how much breathing gas you will need to complete a dive and then take steps to ensure an adequate supply. It's a process that technical divers live by and one that can also be applied to basic open-water diving.

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WASHINGTON – Today (Jan 6, 2017), the Obama administration formally denied all pending permits to conduct seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean. Seismic airgun blasting, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean’s surface, was originally proposed in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida.

This announcement follows several recent historic moves by the Obama administration to decrease America’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels, including the removal of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from the five year program (from 2017-2022) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf and the permanent protection of important areas of the Atlantic and Arctic from future offshore drilling.

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Image result for fish football

Cabrillo Marine Museum Chief Aquarist Lloyd Ellis knew he had a neat surprise coming when on January 3, 1990 San Pedro fisherman Greg Boy brought in a black five-gallon bucket and said "there's a strange fish frozen solid in this bucket." Lloyd knew that if a fisherman found the fish strange, it had to truly be strange. Over the next two days, as the ice in the bucket melted, it revealed a beautiful specimen of a football fish (Himantolophus sagamius). After searching the literature, staff found that this was the tenth and largest specimen ever recorded for the species.

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Leveling off at 60 feet, I meticulously scanned Browning Wall's carpeted ledges of pastel-pink soft corals, ghostly-white plumose anemones and big clumps of encrusting sulfur sponges. While stalking one of the Emerald Sea's more elusive critters, I marveled at the living tapestry of rainbow colors.

Stuffed into every nook and cranny of this precipitous drop off were sea anemones, feathery hydroids, deep-purple hydrocorals, spiny red urchins, rock scallops and lacy basket stars. Traveling slowly over a rock festooned with orange social tunicates were several flame-tipped nudibranchs and one Limacia cockerelli (formerly known as Laila cockerelli) nudibranch. Set apart from Browning's ubiquitous schools of widow and China rockfish, beautifully mottled red Irish lord sculpins had perched themselves on invertebrate-encrusted outcroppings, seemingly expecting the ocean's current to spoon-feed them their prey.

My quarry, a decorated warbonnet, peered out from behind some soft coral polyps. Skittish by nature, these eel-like fish were named after the prominent cirri crowning their skull, which resembles the feathers of a Plains Indian chief's war bonnet. Measuring about one foot in length, these bizarre-looking fish rival any to be found at many of the world's tropical diving hot spots in terms of vibrant coloration and exotic beauty. The water temperature was a balmy 49ºF, and I was adrift in underwater photographic bliss.

Browning Pass, a remote current-swept channel off Vancouver Island's Nigei Island, is one of British Columbia's diving jewels. There are numerous dive sites within this channel that feature a diverse assortment of subsea terrain and unusual marine life. John deBoeck, a local dive a operator who pioneered diving in Browning Pass, has proclaimed this waterway as having the best temperate diving in the known universe. It's hard not to agree; the constellation of sea life inhabiting Browning Pass is out of this world. Seasonal upwellings — the movement of deep, nutrient-rich ocean water to the surface, combined with extreme tidal movement — produce an enriched planktonic broth that supports a lush assortment of exotic marine life outstanding in variety and abundance. British Columbia harbors approximately 7,000 marine species, or roughly 4 percent of the world's total. Marine biodiversity experts believe this number could double once the province's subsea terrain is fully explored.

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Some sharks are named for their appearance like the blue shark, the hammerhead shark and the blacktip shark. Others are named for where they are found, like the Galapagos shark, the Japanese wobbegong and the Greenland shark. Then there are sharks that have the same name as fierce land animals like weasel sharks, houndsharks, the tiger shark and the infamous bull shark.

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They call her the goddess Yemaya, Ymoga (Mother of the Fishes), Iamanga, and Balianne. She traveled with them from Yoruba to distant lands, comforting them in the holds of the slave ships that took them far away from their homeland in Africa. Today she is also celebrated under many other names, including the virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception), Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), and Our Lady of Regla...to name but a few.

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Ready for some spooky ocean stories to tell before your next night dive? Today’s post includes tales of ghost ships and sailors’ superstitions. Heed these tales or find yourself in Davy Jones’ locker!  For those who dare to read on, we’ll share some of the world’s eeriest places to dive.

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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.