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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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Northern Galapagos Islands home to world's largest shark biomass

Worldwide, overfishing has reduced the biomass of most sharks and other large predatory fishes by more than 90 percent -- even in remote areas. The findings detailed by CDRS and National Geographic Society researchers in PeerJ are significant because the presence of these top predators indicates a healthy marine ecosystem. Moreover, the data amassed over two years of rigorous research will add to a growing body of literature about the role of top predators in marine ecosystems.

"The islands of Darwin and Wolf are jewels in the crown of the Galapagos because of the sheer abundance of sharks and other top predators," said Pelayo Salinas de Leon, the paper's lead author and senior marine ecologist at CDRS.

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Deputy State Archaeologist Billy Ray Morris says he is passionate about the world under the sea.

He has been diving since he was 10-years-old, and enjoys seeing others dive, too.

Morris says that his experiences turning underwater sites into archaeological parks has been wildly successful.

He has worked on underwater dive parks in both Bermuda and Florida, and now he has hopes of bringing one to North Carolina.

North Carolina does not have a dive park, so he would like to establish the first one in Kure Beach where the Condor, an iron hull that sank on it's maiden run in 1964.

“By turning Condor into a park such as that, with mooring buoys, setting up dive slates that people can get their hands on, they can look at one of the best preserved Blockade Runners in the world,” said Morris. “This is something I am truly passionate about.”

There are hoops to jump through, and a way to go about getting permission to construct an underwater dive park, and that’s what Morris is working on now.

“I am updating our site maps, locating where we want to put the mooring buoys, and creating the map that will go on the slate,” said Morris, “I am also starting the process of talking with the coast guard and other regulatory agencies we need to deal with. I also hope to talk to local diving shops.”

Morris believes that by creating an underwater dive park where the Condor is, it will prevent boats from dropping their anchor into the wreckage, and possibly losing it. With the park, they would be able to hook up to buoys on site, and spend the day.

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While a human diver is constrained by pesky things like air and pressure when doing underwater research or excavations, a robot can stay underwater for much longer, collecting samples in hostile underwater environments.

OceanOne was tested at the archeological site of the shipwreck La Luneoff the coast of France. La Lune, a flagship that sank in the Mediterranean in 1664. It lies under 300 feet of water, far beyond the reach of recreational SCUBA divers, who limit themselves to 130 feet.

Unlike submarines, which have limited ability to take delicate samples, and have tools that require extensive training to use, OceanOne is controlled by haptic joysticks, letting its operators feel the lightness or heaviness of whatever object it's holding, thus giving researchers a much more hands-on feel.

“You can feel exactly what the robot is doing,” Oussama Khatib, leader of the OceanOne project, said. “It’s almost like you are there; with the sense of touch you create a new dimension of perception.”

While its first test was on a shipwreck, the initial inspiration for OceanOne was to create something that would allow researchers explore the extraordinarily deep (and relatively unstudied) coral reefs of the Red Sea.

Other researchers are working on similar technology, like robot hands that can be attached to submersibles. And robots already have a place in underwater exploration, discovering monsters and shipwrecks. There are a few smaller ocean-going drones also in the works but none that have the light tough of OceanOne.

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Protection of our marine life needs more than marine protected areas, we need to make it resilient

Our oceans and coasts are changing rapidly due to human impacts. But our very existence depends on the resources and functions that their biodiversity and productive habitats provide. Learning to manage the habitats and biodiversity within our oceans and coasts is one of the greatest challenges of this century.

Management of our coasts typically takes the approach of establishing Marine Protected Areas, controlling fishing, or regulating industrial activity. But in the face of the increasing threat of climate change we need to take measures that increase the resilience of our oceans and coasts to ensure they survive into the future (Ecological resilience is "the capacity of an ecosystem to absorb repeated disturbances or shocks and adapt to change without fundamentally switching to an alternative stable state").

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Recent news reports about scuba divers off San Diego being menaced by large numbers of Humboldt's or jumbo squid have raised the ire of University of Rhode Island biologist Brad Seibel. As a leading expert on the species who has dived with them several times, he calls the reports "alarmist" and says the squid's man-eating reputation is seriously overblown.

For years Seibel has heard stories claiming that Humboldt squid will devour a dog in minutes and could kill or maim unsuspecting divers.

"Private dive companies in Mexico play up this myth by insisting that their customers wear body armor or dive in cages while diving in waters where the squid are found. Many also encourage the squid's aggressive behavior by chumming the waters. I didn't believe the hype, but there was still some doubt in my mind, so I was a little nervous getting into the water with them for the first time," Seibel said.

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As you go about your day-to-day activities, tiny bubbles of nitrogen come and go inside your tissues. This is not a problem unless you happen to experience large changes in ambient pressure, such as those encountered by scuba divers and astronauts. During large, fast pressure drops, these bubbles can grow and lead to decompression sickness, popularly known as "the bends."

A study in the Journal of Chemical Physics, which is published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), may provide a physical basis for the existence of these bubbles, and could be useful in understanding decompression sickness.

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There's a reason so many divers are obsessed with wreck diving! Shipwrecks are mysterious and exciting, and encountering one on the ocean floor lends a diver an almost indefineable sense of discovery. Shipwrecks can be beautiful and horrifying at the same time, and wreck diving  is often a very evocative and emotional experience. If you feel that it's time to add a new dimension to your diving, to try something a bit more challenging, and wreck diving might be just what you are looking for.

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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.