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Where once the prawn cocktail was a staple of the restaurant starter menu, calamari has now become a diner’s favourite. Stewed, fried, in salad or dried with coconut milk, squid has spread its tentacles across the menu of many high street restaurant chains.

Its rise in popularity has led the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) to increase the number of squid ratings in the latest version of its sustainable seafood advice.

Squid from Japan gets the green light but you should treat calamari from other fisheries with caution.

Squid stocks are thought to be as much affected by environmental pressures as fishing pressure, but fisheries still need to be well managed. Landings of squid worldwide have been increasing in recent years, and the MCS says that despite squids’ high growth rates, short lifespan and other favourable fishery characteristics, some precautionary management is needed.

Japanese flying squid gets a score of a 2 which means it’s on our ‘Fish to Eat’ list’, says Bernadette Clarke, MCS Good Fish Guide Manager. “This is generally due to the highly selective and low impact fishing method known as jigging used in the fishery and the fact that stock assessment has been carried out. There’s also a low vulnerability score for the species, and management measures are applied in the fishery.

Homboldt squid jigged in the East Central Pacific is not as sustainable and should be eaten only very, very occasionally.

This species is one of the most heavily fished squid species in the world and because fisheries occur on the high seas and are accessed by several countries their management is complicated by the occurrence of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing.

Squid are caught using light attraction from glow in the dark jigs to high wattage surface lights. It’s still not clear why squid are attracted to the lights, but the light pollution from large-scale industrial squid fisheries is such that the glow from a single fishing fleet can apparently be seen from space

MCS says its advice is to choose squid from fisheries using low impact methods like small-scale jigging. “There’s one such fishery in Sennen Cove, Cornwall, where fishermen go out in small punts and fish for squid using jigs, “ says Bernadette Clarke. “Fisheries in UK waters tend to be small, seasonal and non-targeted.”

Squid – Good to Eat?

Argentine short fin squid, Illex argentinus

Argentine shortfin squid is a short-lived and fast growing species, yet it is a very valuable predator and prey for a wide range of species including: fishes, seabirds, sharks and marine mammals. The fishery is the second largest squid fishery in the world with catches ranging between 500,000 and a million tonnes. The vast majority of the catch is taken by large (over 50m) jigging vessels from several countries. As a result, coordinated international management is needed to manage the fishery sustainably, but this has been lacking since an international agreement between the Falkland Islands and Argentina broke down in 2005. This has led to overfishing in recent years.

This squid is likely to have significant environmental issues associated with its production – avoid.

Atlantic or European Squid, Loligo vulgaris, Loligo forbesi

Depending on how and where it’s caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. This is fine to eat when caught by small, local fisheries.

Japanese flying Squid, Todarodes pacificus

This is sustainabily caught and fine to eat. They are caught in the Northwest Pacific – East China Sea, Yellow Sea, Bo Hai Sea, Korea Bay – using jigs.

Homboldt or Jumbo Squid, Dosidicus gigas

Depending on how and where it’s caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Check individual options to make the best choice.

Indian Squid, Loligo duvauceli

This squid is caught at sea by pelagic trawl. Sustainability is yet to be assessed.

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One of the most prevalent beliefs in recreational diving is that nitrox is used to dive deeper and stay longer. The reality is nitrox is a relatively shallow-water gas that can be used to extend bottom time at moderate depths, but can become toxic at deeper depths. As Divers Alert Network states:

"Today, nitrox mixes are readily available and prepared across a range of concentrations. It has a lot to offer divers, but it isn't magic; rather, it's a useful tool that provides benefits if used correctly. When diving according to air tables or using the air setting on a dive computer, nitrox can reduce decompression stress on a diver. When used with an equivalent air depth, this safety margin is lost, but bottom time can be extended.

"Nitrox is becoming more popular and accessible to recreational divers all the time, but it is not something to be taken lightly. It requires special training to be used properly and safely, so before you dive with it, be sure to get the necessary training and gain the appropriate certification."

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Lionfish are one of the most spectacular fish you can encounter on your dives – and one of the fish that you need to treat with respect and maintain your distance… you don’t want to get stung by one.

The name lionfish does not just relate to their similarity in appearance to a lion with a wonderful mane, but also from their hunting tactics.  The lionfish has enormous pectoral fins and this, together with it’s colorful stripes makes it an imposing underwater predator.  Innocent prey is sought out and surrounded by the pack who then pounce when there is no escape.

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Fishermen and divers can access a new, online interactive guide to learn more about the 64 artificial reefs in North Carolina.  These underwater sites enhance fisheries that the coastal economy and culture rely on.  Now, local scientists are involved in ongoing research to determine the best way to maximize fish production at artificial reefs.

The coast of North Carolina is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, where hundreds of ships have run aground or sunk to the depths of the sea.  Can you imagine also that old train cars, aircraft, demolished bridges and construction waste lay on the ocean floor?  It’s not a dump site.  These manmade structures make up a collection of artificial reefs that serve as important habitat for fish and invertebrates.  Divers are drawn to these sites where colorful sponges and coral grow on the repurposed material.  Anglers frequent these fish oasis because of the variety and abundance of sea life they attract.

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Who here isn’t familiar with that warm and wonderful sensation you get just a second after urinating in your wetsuit. That magical moment when you forget about the cold water around you and everything feels pleasant and fuzzy…

Probably only half of you will admit knowing that feeling, since the diving world is divided in two: Those who pee in their wetsuit with pride and those who will never admit doing it, or just never tried. Which half are you on?

Avoiding heart explosion

Let start with this – You pee in your wetsuit because you have no choice! This is backed up by very good physiological reasons. When our body is immersed in water, the blood volume increases. Luckily, our body has mechanisms to balance that out and keep our blood volume normal, so more blood will flow towards our kidneys and by releasing more liquid from the body, the blood volume will remain normal!

To make a long story short – you pee to prevent your heart from exploding. That reason alone is enough for me… But let’s continue anyway 

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A first look at two WWII Battle of the Atlantic shipwrecks

August 22, 2016 July 15, 1942. America had been in World War II for less than a year, but the fight was coming to the nation’s shores. That day, off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the German U-boat U-576 sank the Nicaraguan-flagged freighter SS Bluefields. But it came at a steep price – the merchant ship convoy and its U.S. military escorts fought back, sinking the U-boat within minutes as U.S. Navy air cover bombed the sub while the merchant ship Unicoi attacked it with its deck gun.

The freighter SS Bluefields was sunk by the German submarine U-576 in July 1942. The wrecks of the two ships were discovered in 2014 off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, only 240 yards apart.

NOAA and its partners will visit what remains of the two ships, documenting World War II’s “Battle of the Atlantic,” which pitted U-boats of the German navy against combined Canadian, British, and American forces defending Allied merchant ships.

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A recent study found that 90 percent of seabirds have eaten plastic, and a lot of that plastic comes from the rings that hold together six-packs of beer, soda and other beverages. The marine life that lives in the oceans ingest plastics, too. These toxic plastics harm the health of our sea life, often killing them.

Saltwater Brewery in Florida created a six-pack ring that feeds animals instead of killing them. Many six-pack rings from beer end up in the ocean, so the brewery took barley and wheat remnants from the brewing process and turned them into an edible, compostable, biodegradable product that holds together a six-pack but doesn't harm birds or sea life if it ends up in the ocean. It's also strong enough to handle the weight of a six-pack.

This is the first time a 100 percent edible and biodegradable packaging has been implemented in the beer industry. The manufacturing cost of the edible six-pack ring raises the price of the beer, but the narrator of the video points out that if most breweries implemented this safe and sustainable product, the cost would be competitive with the plastic six-pack rings. Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved.

Why has no one thought of this before? In addition to being impressed by this product, I'm wondering how quickly I can put together a business plan, get funding and partner with Saltwater Brewery to open up a plant that can produce edible six-pack rings for all breweries.

I bet there's money to be made from this smart, responsible idea.

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Sharks never cease to captivate our imaginations. Strange, scary, beautiful, powerful, unique, special ... the long list of descriptors would dwarf a whale shark! Sharks have had hundreds of millions of years to evolve and dominate the sea as perfectly honed predators. The more we study them, the more surprises they reveal. Here are just a few fascinating facts about sharks around the world.

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An emergency ascent is the response of last resort to an adverse event or perceived threat during a dive. Divers are trained in standard emergency ascent procedures that, when performed successfully, mitigate the dangers. However, few people practice these skills, and when called to perform them in a crisis, a diver may be at risk for serious injury or even death.

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Pulau Weh, Indonesia by Charlotte Boan
Our small wooden vessel rocked gently on the water, revealing little of the wild currents sweeping over the coral reefs below. On the signal of our experienced dive guide Arun, we rolled off the boat and descended into the cobalt ocean.

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Vertigo is the feeling that the world around you is moving, spinning or tilting while you are remaining essentially still. Vertigo can be a result of a number of ailments, ranging from an infection in the inner ear to chronic problems such as Meniere’s disease.

Vertigo is not uncommon among divers, and your experience with it occurring when you are at significant depth is fairly typical. Diving physics tells us that the greatest pressure changes occur closer to the surface, but as the diver descends, equalizing the pressure in the middle ear is still very important. Divers generally continue to descend even when having difculty with equalizing. Plus, the middle ears need to equalize during ascent as well.

You are experiencing alternobaric vertigo, which is caused by unequal pressures between your middle-ear compartments. The pressure diference does not have to be very great. The inequality is communicated to the inner ear organs, resulting in vertigo. Divers can also experience nausea and vomiting. Vertigo is usually more common while a diver ascends. Not only are the symptoms uncomfortable, but they also can lead to catastrophic problems for the diver. Vertigo can also occur when diving with a hood if one side of the hood seals over the ear tighter than the other.

Prevention of vertigo during diving requires careful, gradual and continuous equalization of the pressures within the middle ear throughout the dive.

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Ann and Bill were really getting into scuba diving. It was everything they had imagined it would be, and more. They were diving at a local quarry, and conditions were good overall. When they reached the platform 60 feet down, Ann noticed Bill was having trouble with his weight belt and moved in to help him out. She didn’t expect it to be a problem. Fighting with the belt and his gear, Bill twisted to one side and knocked Ann’s regulator from her mouth. Things went downhill from there.

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The health benefits of scuba diving and the transferable skills gained from this sport make it one of the best alternative medicine therapies around.

As part of my role as a Miss Scuba United Kingdom finalist, I recently took my first flipper steps into the underwater world at Deep Blue Scuba diving club, Edinburgh, Scotland where I successfully completed Discover Scuba.

During the dive, I was amazed at how therapeutic this underwater sport is and how being underwater enhances teamwork and communication skills.

The underwater environment is proven to provide food for the soul where the body and mind is submersed into a state of calmness and wellbeing. The ocean has long been portrayed as a healing force – the cure of saltwater for cuts and wounds as well as the hypnotic and dream like trance of the waves in feeling at peace with the world. It provides an opportunity to “wash away the pain” and “feel replenished”. This is part of what makes scuba diving effective as a rehabilitation aid in support programmes for people with mental and physical disabilities as promoted by the highly admirable work of the charity Deptherapy.

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I have known since my first days as a diver that people under stress are fighting panic and tend to make wrong choices. In an emergency, divers need a limited number of survival responses. The main danger with Scuba is no air. We need to get gas quickly, either from a buddy or the surface. Simple.

Rebreathers though can be quite complex as the manufacturer attempts to make them ‘hands-off’ or ‘fool proof’. As divers, we are taught to develop muscle memory so when a problem occurs we choose the correct response. With some rebreathers we are offered too many choices – which one do we select when we are stressed? Have we practiced all the drills since completing our training. Remember that we are often in deco so can’t just free ascend to the surface.

Within the Tech Dive community there is a mantra that too many gadgets equals too many points of potential failure. This does not seem to apply to rebreathers. My first CCR gave me a huge number of options depending on the problem I was presented with. Each one of those options had to go into the memory bank, and individual muscle memories had to be developed. My chest seemed to be covered in hoses, counter-lungs and fittings of various descriptions. To make matters worse, I had to learn drills for all these mechanical and electronic gadgets.

We are told during CCR training that we have more time to sort out a CCR problem than we do a Scuba problem. Usually a catastrophic failure on Scuba results in a sudden massive loss of air. Being out of air is easily recognized as there are masses of noisy bubbles and we inhale water, or nothing at all. Some CCR failures are insidious and develop over time, while others lead to unconsciousness very quickly. So what can we do about it?

The logical thing would be to simplify the rebreather operation and reduce the points of potential failure. ‘Simple’ is less likely to go wrong, particularly if it allows us to bail out.

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Sharks: A Key Part of Ocean Ecosystems

As one of the top predators of the oceans, sharks play an important role in the food web and help ensure balance in the ocean’s ecosystem. As demand and exploitation rates for some shark species and shark products (i.e., fins) have increased, concern has steadily grown regarding the status of many shark stocks and the insustainability in global fisheries. 

Relative to other marine fish, sharks are characterized by relatively slow growth, late sexual maturity, and a small number of young per brood. These biological factors leave many species of sharks vulnerable to overfishing. Fishermen catch sharks in directed fisheries and also as bycatch in other non-directed fisheries. Many shark species have been over-exploited because their fins are highly valued for shark fin soup. 

Globally there is a general lack of data reporting on the catch of sharks, particularly species-specific data. For these reasons, sharks present an array of issues and challenges for fisheries conservation and management both domestically and internationally. Despite the challenges, NOAA Fisheries is committed to achieving sustainable management of sharks. 

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Since Pacific lionfish were first detected off the coast of Florida three decades ago, they have spread around the Caribbean, gobbling up everything that fits in their mouths and reproducing at a phenomenal rate. Scientists have shown that soon after they descend upon a reef, there is a sharp fall in the number of small fish, notably the herbivores on which coral depends for survival. “They’re eating their way through the reefs like a plague of locusts,” said Mark Hixon, a lionfish specialist at the University of Hawaii. It is by far the most destructive invasive species ever recorded at sea, and the blight is believed to have started with aquarium fish released off the Florida Atlantic coast in the mid-1980s.

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We’ve all seen it in the movies. The main character splashes into the water, a cool looking mouthpiece gripped in their teeth, and they proceed to escape, do battle, or otherwise enjoy the benefits of a scuba system without the requisite scuba gear. To say that it’s a dream for divers to be less encumbered when underwater is an understatement. There is a whole minimalist sub-culture in recreational diving, dedicated to minimalizing the amount of gear they need to safely dive. So what’s brought all this on? The Triton Artificial Gill.

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Rebreathers could make an ocean explorer’s ultimate fantasies come true. Recirculating the same air again and again might sound like science fiction, but compared against traditional scuba equipment, rebreathers allow divers to go deeper, stay under longer, and get closer to wildlife. It’s everything a diver would want. So why haven’t they outright replaced scuba gear in the underwater swimming industry?

The same factors that hold back every other emerging technology: they’re still too expensive and too unsteady.

This is in spite of the fact that the technology on which rebreathers are based actually dates back to the 19th century. Today, dozens of manufacturers offer different styles of rebreathers to suit divers’ needs, and the systems keep getting cheaper, safer, and more reliable. There’s no doubt rebreather diving’s popularity is trending upward.

Yet, it’s still a fringe element on the scuba scene. While popular for technical diving, underwater videography, and military applications, rebreathers are still not part of standard training for the vast majority of divers. What gives?

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Travel to the secluded Korean islands of Jeiu and Udo, and you might see a strange sight. Every morning, thousands of women take to the sea surrounding the islands to hunt for seaweed, abalones, sea urchins, and octopuses. These women, called the haenyo, or Korean Mermaids, dive up to 65 feet for their prizes, using no equipment other than goggles and wetsuits. They make these dives several times a day. And almost all of them are over the age of 60.

MARK JOSEPH STERN
 
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This "vertical cave" is a paradise for divers and photographers—and it might explain the fall of Mayan civilization.

Belize's Lighthouse Reef contains something of an anomaly: After all, when we see sinkholes on the news, they're usually disastrous and frightening, swallowing up Australian campgrounds and Florida used car lots with abandon. But let's not forget the fun, chill kind of sinkhole: the underwater kind! The Great Blue Hole of Belize, for example, is not just the most obviously named place in the world (tied for #1 with Australia's Great Sandy Desert). It's also a bucket list destination for just about every scuba diver on the planet.

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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.

ECARA Event

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.