DDC Blog

Porbeagle Shark

The Porbeagle Shark, also called Lamna nasus, comes from the family of Lamnidae sharks. It is mostly found in cold and temperate waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. This is a species of the mackerel shark and is a close relative of the salmon shark. The Porbeagle can reach over 8 feet (2.5 meters) in length and can gain a weight of 135 kilograms or 298 pounds. They are normally white at the bottom and grey on top giving it some nice camouflage for hunting. When looking at the shark from above, it is difficult to locate because of the grey color against the sea bed. Looking upwards, the white color blends with the ocean surface.

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Where Do Basking Sharks Go In the Winter?

Shark scientists have questioned basking shark migration for decades, since an article in 1954 proposed that basking sharks, which were hardly seen once cold weather hit, hibernated on the ocean bottom during the winter. A tagging study released in 2009 finally revealed that basking sharks head south in the winter, further than scientists ever dreamed.

The basking sharks that spend their summers in the western North Atlantic are not seen in that area once the weather cools. It was once thought that these sharks might spend their winters on the ocean bottom, in a state similar to hibernation.

Scientists finally got a handle on this question in a study published in 2009 online in Current Biology. Researchers from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and their colleagues fitted 25 sharks off of Cape Cod with tags that recorded depth, temperature and light levels. The sharks swam on their way, and by wintertime, the scientists were surprised to find them crossing the equator - some even went all the way to Brazil.

While in these southern latitudes, the sharks spent their time in deep water, ranging from about 650 to 3200 feet deep. Once there, the sharks remained for weeks to months at a time.

Eastern North Atlantic Basking Sharks
Studies on basking sharks in the UK have been less conclusive, but the Shark Trust reports that the sharks are active all year and during the winter, they migrate to deeper waters offshore and also shed and re-grow their gill rakers.

In a study published in 2008, a female shark was tagged for 88 days (July-September 2007) and swam from the UK to Newfoundland, Canada.

Other Basking Shark Mysteries
Even though the mystery of where Western North Atlantic basking sharks go during the winter has been solved, we still don't know why. Gregory Skomal, the lead scientist in the study, said that it doesn't seem to make sense for the sharks to travel that far south, as suitable temperatures and feeding conditions can be found closer, such as off of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.


One reason might be to mate and give birth. This is a question that may take awhile to answer, as nobody has ever seen a pregnant basking shark, or even seen a baby basking shark.

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Top 5 Winter Diving Hotspots

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.

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Six Reasons Why You Should Dive In The Winter (in Sydney!)

Sydney diving is not just a summer hobby. I LOVE diving in the winter, even though I’m an unashamed wimp when it comes to cold! I’m going to share my favourite things about winter diving, as well as some hints on keeping warm.

1. The visibility is better

During the winter, there are less algal blooms because the water is cooler. The prevailing winds and currents in winter also push cool clear water close to the coast. These factors result in more days of clear blue water in winter to give your dives that extra ‘wow’ factor.

2. Port Jackson season

The Port Jackson shark is endemic to temperate Australia, and during the winter months they come up from deeper waters into the shallows to mate and lay eggs. Unlike many sharks, they do not need to swim to breath. They have the ability to pump water through their gills whilst stationary so can frequently be seen resting on the sand.

Shelly Beach is a great place to spot these sharks during the winter, you can often see multiple individuals on each dive, and get close enough for some fantastic photos.

3. The Giant Cuttlefish

This species of cuttlefish (Sepia apama) is found only in temperate Australia. Winter is their mating season and this is when they are at their largest, up to 1.2 metres, and most feisty. They can be very interactive towards divers. Many a diver has had their torch, camera or dive computer ‘felt up’ by a cuttlefish, as they seem to be attracted to our shiny objects.

The surprising thing about the giant cuttlefish is that they only live 1-2 years, so their rate of growth is even more impressive given such a short lifespan. They die shortly after mating and laying eggs, so you’ll see them looking like ‘zombie’ cuttlefish towards the end of the winter. They can be spotted on both shore and boat dives and they like to hide in rocky overhangs or caves.

4. Humpback whales

During June and July, migrating humpbacks pass through Sydney on their way to warm tropical waters. This means that if you join us on one of our boat dives in the harbour, your surface interval is likely to double as whale-watching time. Humpbacks may be seen breaching, tail slapping and frolicking at the surface, and particularly curious individuals have even been known to approach and inspect dive boats.  During your dives, listen out for the enchanting song of the humpback as it can travel 40km through the water.

5. You’ll have the beach to yourself

As much as I love the warmth of summer… I do NOT miss trying to find a parking space at my dive site! In winter the beaches and dive sites are quieter. You have the joy or arriving at your favourite shore dive site and having your pick of the parking spaces. You can walk over the beach without weaving around sunbathers or sandcastles, and often have a whole dive site to yourself.

6. Night dives

There must be some benefit to the shorter days, and the fact it’s already dark outside when you leave work. Short days mean you don’t have to wait for it to get dark to go on a night dive! Manly has fantastic ‘muck diving’ sites where all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures come out at night, including the blue-lined octopus and pyjama squid which can only be seen in temperate Australia. During the darker winter evenings they will be out hunting that little bit earlier. Ask us about upcoming night dives!

How to Stay Warm:

Thermal Protection – A semi-dry suit of 6.5mm or more is best for the winter, combined with a Sharkskin vest or long-sleeved top underneath for extra insulation. Since a large percentage of body heat is lost through the head during dives – hoods make a massive difference. Wearing wetsuit gloves will also reduce the chill factor.

Surface Intervals – If you are doing multiple dives, especially if you’re out on a boat, make sure you have a good windproof jacket to put on for the whole surface interval, as well as a warm beanie hat. Prepare a thermos of hot tea or soup to have after the dive to raise your body temp.

Dry Suit Diving – If you are prone to cold, or want to extend your dives, then dry suit is the way to go.  I always wear a dry suit in winter and with good undergarments, I don’t feel the cold at all. The other great thing about a dry suit is that after your dive you can literally step out of it and straight into the café for breakfast without having to dry yourself off! Ask us about trying a dry suit and enrol in a Dry Suit Specialty Course to prepare for the cooler months.

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Key Largo - A legacy of marine conservation

Spring Break 1978 was one of the singular events that shaped my life. I was living in Colorado, perfectly happy with my Rocky Mountain high, and working in a photo lab to make a living. I had stayed in touch with a swim-team buddy from high school who was living in Key Largo, Fla. He worked as a treasure diver, and back then divers could still find booty and artifacts on the wrecks of the Spanish galleons that ran aground off the Upper Keys in 1733. I took a dive holiday to Key Largo that year, found I really enjoyed the diving and started thinking that I could make a living there. Lots of tourists were diving John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and I thought if I were to open a little shop to rent underwater cameras and process E-6 slide film, maybe I could get by and enjoy the lifestyle for a year or two.

I moved to Key Largo in November of that year. It certainly never occurred to me then that this little island would be where I would meet my wife, where we would raise our daughter and where I would still be a member of the dive community four decades later. Some things have changed over the years, but the diving that enticed me — and makes Key Largo one of the world's most popular dive destinations — remains constant.

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Traveling Light

For most people, dive trips are about relaxing and enjoying yourself. While you can bring all your dive gear with you when you travel, this can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful.

Dive equipment can be rather heavy, bulky and inconvenient for airline travel. While innovations in materials and design have led to lighter and more packable gear, some products may not be as comfortable, durable or easy to use as standard gear.

At popular dive destinations around the world, much of the available rental gear is adequate. Although it is best to practice with your equipment and confirm comfort and fit before travel, this isn't always possible and may not be necessary for every piece of dive gear. Just make sure you are capable and comfortable with your equipment before you dive. Some gear, however, you'll definitely want to bring with you from home. Here are some considerations for traveling with various pieces of dive equipment.

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The North Carolina Outer Banks l584-l958


by David Stick
DIAMOND CITY
p. l84-l94
Though it would be difficult to find visual evidences of it there today, one of the largest communities on the Outer Banks in the latter part of the last century was Diamond City, which was located a short distance west of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, just beyond The Drain.


People had been living in that vicinity since the early days of Banks settlement, but the life of Diamond City itself was a short one, with a strange and unhappy ending. It was not until about l885 that this community of several hundred persons acquired a name, yet in less than twenty years the name was about all that was left of it, for the people had moved, and when they moved they took Diamond City with them--except for the name, that is, and the little family graveyards where the houses used to stand.
The written records in the story of Diamond City begin as early as l723. On September 2 of that year two Carolinians, brothers- in-law Enoch Ward and John Shackleford, signed an agreement for the equal division of some 7,000 acres of Banks land they had acquired jointly. Their original holdings extended from Beaufort Inlet, around Cape Lookout, and up the Banks to Drum Inlet, an entire Banks island some twenty-five miles in length. In the division, Ward agreed to take the eastern half, the part known as Core Banks; Shackleford took the western half, from Cape Lookout to Beaufort Inlet.

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The North Carolina Outer Banks l584-l958

by David Stick
DIAMOND CITY

Though it would be difficult to find visual evidences of it there today, one of the largest communities on the Outer Banks in the latter part of the last century was Diamond City, which was located a short distance west of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, just beyond The Drain.


People had been living in that vicinity since the early days of Banks settlement, but the life of Diamond City itself was a short one, with a strange and unhappy ending. It was not until about l885 that this community of several hundred persons acquired a name, yet in less than twenty years the name was about all that was left of it, for the people had moved, and when they moved they took Diamond City with them--except for the name, that is, and the little family graveyards where the houses used to stand.
The written records in the story of Diamond City begin as early as l723. On September 2 of that year two Carolinians, brothers- in-law Enoch Ward and John Shackleford, signed an agreement for the equal division of some 7,000 acres of Banks land they had acquired jointly. Their original holdings extended from Beaufort Inlet, around Cape Lookout, and up the Banks to Drum Inlet, an entire Banks island some twenty-five miles in length. In the division, Ward agreed to take the eastern half, the part known as Core Banks; Shackleford took the western half, from Cape Lookout to Beaufort Inlet.

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The Most Dangerous SCUBA Dives in the World

What could be more thrilling than diving deep into the ocean among sea creatures and exploring sections of the earth few have seen before?

Well, if you ask some professional divers, there are dives even more thrilling than those with marine life or those that reach the depths of the ocean. There are dives with an added element of danger and mystery so compelling, many will risk their lives for a chance at the challenge.

From New Jersey to Australia, sinkholes, major underwater cave systems and even a military explosives dumping ground await those who dare to dive. Many have attempted these excursions and, sadly, some didn’t make it back alive. These are the most dangerous SCUBA dives in the world.

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New Underwater Discovery Gives The Great Barrier Reef A Run For Its Money

Looks like one of the world’s most famous natural wonders has some pretty impressive competition.

Researchers in Australia announced the discovery of a coral reef with such diverse and thriving marine life, it rivals that of the Great Barrier Reef.

Using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), an underwater video camera and virtual reality goggles, researchers uncovered a stunning deep-sea world of hard and soft coral, colorful sponge gardens and massive coral fans — all teeming with fish and marine invertebrates.

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The Christmas Tree Ship

On a drizzly, overcast day in late October 1971, Milwaukee scuba diver Gordon Kent Bellrichard was surveying with sonar the bottom of Lake Michigan's west coastal waters off of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Bellrichard was searching for the Vernon, a 177-foot, 700-ton steamer that had sunk with only one survivor in a storm in October 1887.

Local fishermen described an area to Bellrichard where their nets had snagged on previous occasions as a potential site to search. His sonar made a promising contact, and he descended to what appeared to be a well-preserved shipwreck resting in an upright position on the lake bed in 172 feet of water.

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Top 10 Dives: Best Diving in the World

We've been publishing the list of the world's top dives since 2000 and until last year the SS Yongala consistently topped the list. Now though, the Yongala has been forced into third position. She's still my favourite dive site though.

The list is fairly evenly balanced between Northern and Southern hemispheres, the South winning by 6 entries to 4. It is also a 6:4 ratio in Reefs versus Wrecks.

We know it's difficult to choose your favourite dive sites, and we ask you to choose just two! Do you prefer wrecks, sealife, caverns, drift dives, underwater scenary, big stuff - some of each?

Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Wall of coral where sharks come cruising by and barracuda surround you. You are guaranteed to see big stuff here and lots of it. Occasional strong currents blast over an underwater prairie that's home to white tips, turtles, grouper, jacks, bumphead parrotfish and of course the barracuda that give it its name.


Blue Corner Wall, Palau, Micronesia
An upwelling means this splendid wall dive is favoured by pelagics. Expect to see sharks, barracuda, eagle rays, Napoleon wrasse, snappers, jacks...if you can tear your eyes away from the fish the wall hosts thick coral with morays, nudibranchs and mantis shrimps being just a few of the attractions.

The Yongala, Australia
The Yongala is a shipwreck off the coast of Queensland. Full of life you may see manta rays, sea snakes, octopuses, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, clouds of fish and spectacular coral.
The Yongala sank during a cyclone in 1911 killing 122 people, a racehorse called Moonshine and a red Lincolnshire bull. She had no telegraph facilities and so could not be warned of the weather ahead. In 1981 the Yongala was given official protection under the Historic Shipwrecks Act. The ship is 90 km southeast of Townsville, 10 km away form Cape Bowling Green. 109 meters long, the bow points north and the ship lists to starboard.


Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
A large wreck which needs several dives to do it justice. A British vessel, the Thistlegorm (Blue Thistle) was attacked from the air and sunk in 1941 whilst carrying a cargo of war supplies: rifles, motor bikes, train carriages, trucks. Currents can be strong, and in different directions at the surface and at the wreck.
Motor Bikes on the Thistlegorm
Motorbikes inside the Thistlegorm by Tim Nicholson


Shark and Yolanda Reef, Egyptian Red Sea
Three dives in one: anemone city, shark reef with its spectacular drop off and the wreck of the Yolanda. Currents make this good for drift dives and for pelagic fish. A popular dive starts at Anemone City before drifting to Shark Reef and its drop off. Finish up on the wreck of the Yolanda with its cargo of toilets.


Manta Ray Night Dive, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Underwater lights placed on the ocean floor attract infinite amounts of plankton, which in turn attract the huge, yet beautiful manta rays of Kona Hawaii. The rays get so close to you, that you often have to move to avoid them accidentally hitting you. An amazingly wonderful and unforgettable time with one of the most beautiful animals in the world.


Great Blue Hole, Belize
Very deep, wide, hole outlined by coral reef and inhabited by sharks. Is there another sight like it? 30 m visibility coming over the bathwater warm reef of vibrant colors, descending into a cool, deep blue hole where the water begins to waver and shimmer as you enter the transition from salt to fresh water at about 15 m. Watching the enormous tuna and other pelagics dive into the hole to clean themselves as you briefly remove your octopus to taste the fresh water. Then descending another 25 m to explore the stalagtites and stalagmites of ancient caverns.


Navy Pier, Western Australia
Extending 300 m from shore, the T-shaped structure is 300 m wide, including two outlying "dolphins" (platforms for larger ships to tie up to). Although a very defined and somewhat compact site, you could spend 5 days diving there and not be bored, particularly at night. On any dive there are lots of nudibranchs and flatworms, eels, woebegone and white tipped sharks, octopuses, lion and scorpion fish, stargazers, and the usual smaller finned friends. Sometimes you'll come across absolutely huge rays dozing in the sand.


President Coolidge, Vanuatu
The SS President Coolidge off Santo, northern Vanuatu, was a WW2 luxury ocean liner. She was commandeered by the US navy and fitted out as a naval ship. Unfortunately, she was sank by one of America's own mines. The engine room and one of the dining rooms are at about 47 m, the promenade deck is around 33 m, the mosaic lined swimming pool about 50 m. It's a fabulous dive. The wreck is fully protected by law and both it and the surrounding seabed has been designated a Marine Reserve.


Richelieu Rock, Thailand
A horse shoe of rocky pinnacles, just breaks the surface at low tide. Famous for whale shark sightings, but also great for big schools of pelagic fish such as jacks, barracuda and batfish. Mantas are also seen, and it is a superb spot for Macro photography with such creatures as ghost pipefish, harlequin shrimp, frogfish and seahorses. Currents can be strong. Needs several dives to see the whole area."

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Vote Now: People's Choice H.E.R.O.

The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has launched voting for the People's Choice Award in its H.E.R.O. Awards campaign.

The finalists for the 2017 H.E.R.O. Awards are all exceptional individuals and organizations from around the world who go above and beyond in maritime search and rescue (SAR).

To vote - just visit the Facebook page and 'like' the original 'story' of the finalist chosen.

The finalist whose original 'story' on the IMRF Facebook page has the most 'likes' at 1700hrs UTC on Thursday, November 2, 2017 will be awarded the People's Choice H.E.R.O. Award at the presentation ceremony, which takes place that evening.

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World War II: Ultra — The Misunderstood Allied Secret Weapon

The full contribution of intelligence to the winning of World War II is clear only now, nearly sixty years after that conflict. Over the intervening decades it has been discovered that throughout the war the intelligence services of the Western powers (particularly the British) intercepted, broke, and read significant portions of the German military’s top-secret message traffic. That cryptographic intelligence, disseminated to Allied commanders under the code name Ultra, played a significant role in the effort to defeat the Germans and achieve an Allied victory.

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5 Valuable Tips On How You Can Become an Exceptional Diver

 

An experienced diver can pick up bad habits as easy as a new diver, in fact, bad habits picked up early are hard to change. Even without knowing their background you can pick out the exceptional divers while still out of the water. Often you can also tell which "experienced" divers might be a concern.

Exceptional divers have exceptional skills

Experience in itself does not make a great diver

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Here is Why You Should Never Touch Marine Life

Did you ever touch marine life while diving? Be honest...

We are sensuous creatures, we rely on our senses, most animals do after all. Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. We garner information about our surroundings this way. We are also a tactile species.

Our hands have evolved to manipulate objects; opposing thumbs distinguish us from our nearest living relatives. In short, we touch and change our world almost instinctively, just look at a baby and how it grabs things.

So when someone says “Don’t touch marine life” it does go somewhat against our inbuilt desire to do the opposite. That person be it your Mother, Father or Divemaster or Mother-of-all-Divemasters, who does utter those words, is not however doing it just to hear their own voice.

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Survey Reveals Top 10 Dive Sites in Europe

Europe boasts some world class dive sites, with great visibility and masses of underwater life. In a recent poll of SCUBA Travel readers, these were voted the ten best dive sites in Europe. Disagree? Then cast your vote.

Diving the Booroo
The Zenobia, Cyprus
The pristine wreck of a huge ferry. Lying on its port side, the wreck starts at about 15 m and descends to 42 m. Fabulous dive. Possibly the best shipwreck dive in the world in recreational depths. 20 m plus visibility and some great swim-throughs. Needs several dives to see anything like all of it.

Blue Hole, Gozo
A beautiful sharp drop off into the blue hole with what seems like limitless visibility and literally feels like you are on the very edge of the world. A most extraordinary dive.

Cirkewwa, Malta
Features the wreck of the Rozi MV as well as stunning underwater topography. Visibility is very good and there iss ea life in abundance: barracuda, morays, octopus, cuttlefish and even dolphins.

Booroo, Isle of Man
The Burroo, with its extremely diverse and plentiful marine life offers a truly magnificent dive. In fact, in areas exposed to the fast flowing current, it is something of a challenge to find a single square centimetre of bare bedrock, so abundant is the life here.

Blockship Tabarka, Scapa Flow, Scotland
This shallow 18 m dive is a real beauty. One of the block ships scuttled to prevent submarine attack during WW2. Covered in life, a beautiful place. Worth the trip and the one of surprises of Scapa. anemones

Diamond Rocks, Kilkee, Ireland
Claimed to by on a par with the famous Yongala. It is a cold water dive off Ireland’s west coast. The bay is fairly sheltered and is teaming with life. The terrain is full of rocks and gullies and the water is really clear.

Eddystone Reef, England
12 miles off Plymouth, England. The reef is from 8 to 60 m. Encrusted with jewel anemones and with the remains of ancient wrecks, including a large 17th century anchor. Stunning.

Secca della Columbara, Italy
BarracudaOne of the best dives in the Mediterranean. It features a steep, beautifully-decorated, wall; large shoal of barracuda; grouper; giant amberjacks and a wreck. The wreck is a 74 m ship which was carrying slabs of marble. It sank in 2005 and rests at 20 m in two parts.

Fanore, Ireland
Shore dive in crystal clear Atlantic water with abundant fish.

Chios island, Greece
Small undersea caves and paths between impressive rocks, colourful reefs and vertical walls.

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Does diving with sharks and rays affect their behavior?

Shark and ray tourism generates thousands of millions of dollars globally each year and, says WWF, it is growing substantially. Florida alone generates more than $221 million in revenue per year.

Businesses around the world provide a variety of activities that allow people to get close to sharks and rays, ranging from boat-based spotting to guided snorkelling, cage viewing experiences and scuba diving. If current trends continue, the numbers of shark related tourism could more than double over the next twenty years. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for the sharks?

Research published this month by American scientists finds that scuba divers can repeatedly interact with reef sharks without affecting the behaviour of the shark in the long term. Well-regulated shark diving tourism can be accomplished without undermining conservation goals.

The researchers – Darcy Bradley, Yannis Papastamatiou and Jennifer Caselle – didn’t detect differences in reef shark abundance or behaviour between heavily dived and un-dived locations. There were no differences in shark residency patterns at dived and undived sites in a year with substantial diving activity, and a year without any diving, either.

So, how can divers and dive operators ensure that they dive with sharks responsibly? The WWF, Project Aware and the Manta Trust have produced a Guide to shark and ray tourism.
Guide to Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism

Advice from the Guide to Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism to Dive Operators

Operate a code of conduct to reduce pollution from vessels, discarded waste and plastics, physical and chemical damage such as boat strikes, breaking off coral and damage from sunscreen.
Avoid touching the animals or altering their habitat which could ultimately damage the resources upon which the tourism businesses are based.
Think several times before feeding or “provisioning” sharks. Provisioning may lead to animals ‘begging’ from tourists, and becoming aggressive if they aren’t satisfied.
Proactively support conservation of the habitats and species on which your business depends. Marine protected areas (MPAs), which limit or restrict activities that affect marine life within a defined area, are one widely adopted conservation tool. In Palau, shark diving within the MPA is popular because the white tip and grey reef sharks are predictable, relatively numerous, and spend most of their lives in the one area.
Customers want the best experience they can get, so it’s important staff training goes beyond safety and customer service. Staff should receive a comprehensive induction into the business; and this should be followed by regular training and updates on the latest science, management practices, conservation and regulatory issues.
Use eco-accreditation, such as that from Green Fins,

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GoPro Do’s and Don’ts

Today, divers need no longer be intimidated by the price and size of the GoPro underwater video cameras. There are three types of new videographers: divers who are happy with their footage, divers who are so dismayed at their footage that they leave the GoPro in the closet, and divers who investigate ways to get better footage by reading, asking questions and perhaps even taking a class.

For the last group, there are a few simple things a diver can do to vastly improve the quality of their GoPro footage. Unfortunately, spending more money is one of these things.

Filters

If you look at the GoPro cameras on the dive boats, you will notice that there are often divers who haven’t spent the extra money on a filter. Don’t be one of them! GoPro makes very affordable filters, which are well made, simple and effective, that will improve the quality of your footage by taking out the cyan color typical of underwater images.

There are two basic colors of filters: red (orange) and magenta. The red filter will cut out some of the blue from your footage, and the magenta filter will cut out the green. Choose the appropriate filter for your diving environment.

Camera rig

Be aware that the GoPro "Dive Housing’" uses a different size filter to the GoPro "Standard Housing". The ten-dollar filters that fit inside the GoPro are problematic and should be avoided. They will distort your images and won’t allow you to take the filter off for surface shots. Unless you like a heavy orange or magenta tint in your shots, taking the filter off is a good idea if you are shooting scenes above the surface, such as divers entering the water.

As we know, the GoPro is a tiny camera. One thing many divers don't know, however, is that there is an inverse relationship between the size of an underwater camera rig and its inherent steadiness in the water. The bigger a housing is, the steadier it will be. Shooting with the GoPro by itself, unmounted, makes it extremely difficult to get steady footage. Mounting a GoPro on something will help a diver get a steadier shot. There are a variety of mounts available from GoPro. I personally recommend the Jaws Flexclamp as part of your arsenal.
There are several brands of telescopic poles which also help greatly with the task of holding the GoPro steady. A tray for the camera housing and two lights are the optimal setup. The lights and the arms that hold them will help steady the camera.

Video lights

Buying a video light may be a daunting purchase as lights usually cost more than the GoPro camera itself. Abundant lighting is vital for the GoPro. We see jaw-dropping films of skiers and skydivers and expect the same for our underwater shoots, but the water actually cuts out more light than most of us realize. Our eyes adjust to the darker underwater environment and the GoPro can automatically adjust its iris to a certain extent. This enables it to operate well in shallow depths when the water is clear and the sun is shining.
Beyond these conditions, the GoPro will try to automatically amplify the video signal, giving the footage a grainy look. Of course, the color will diminish with every increment of depth. So, if you are diving on an overcast day without sunlight, take a video light.

Skills

Shooting techniques need to be practiced. A diver with excellent buoyancy is halfway there. I find that cave divers make good videographers as they have been trained to lie still in the water column without moving. Quite a few dive instructors have taken my GoPro course and I usually just have to work on their camera hold, camera movement and framing, with some fin kick modifications to iron out the bumpiness. The steadiest shots come when a diver keeps their limbs stationary. In a wreck, this can be achieved by making contact with a part of the wreck. In general, don’t flap your hands and fins around while shooting.

Etiquette and safety

Good diver behavior and etiquette seems to have gone out the window with the proliferation of the GoPro. New videographers tend to concentrate on the wrong things, or they just have their priorities backwards. Safety should always be the first consideration. If the diver does not know how much gas they have left, their depth or what is happening around them, then they should not even be recording. It only takes a few seconds to check on these things and it could save a piece of coral, soothe an angry buddy or it could even save a life.

The main thing to remember is that the shot is of secondary importance to everything else, and that includes other divers’ enjoyment. Quite often, I find that I would get a better shot of a critter if I wait until everyone has moved off. Finding your own critters gives you first dibs on shooting, which is ideal. However, other divers will like you more if you step aside and let them take a look in a timely manner.
Another behavior that the GoPro seems to encourage is that of divers charging toward marine life in attempts to film them before they swim off. This almost always results in the critters fleeing in the opposite direction; thus, it is always more productive to approach them calmly and slowly.

Settings

Read up on GoPro settings. Don’t just go with the default factory settings. It is best to choose an appropriate resolution and stick to it. Changing your resolution can be confusing when it comes to editing as software compatibility varies; research is required to understand what is going on, as well as the pros and cons for each resolution. The Superview setting causes some distortion at the sides of the frame; this is not a bad thing for many types of shots, but some experimentation will show you the effect that this resolution has on subjects moving in and out of the frame.

Frame rates, on the other hand, can be altered to great effect for different conditions. A lower frame rate can really help in lower light situations. The higher frame rates offered on the GoPro are very useful when it is time to slow down footage in the editing process; twenty-four frames per second can yield good results underwater. The Protune setting is turned off by default. When people come to me with their new GoPro, I will usually turn Protune on for them. Simply put: Protune intensifies the footage and makes it more robust and hence easier for color correction.

Get used to the buttons before going on a dive. Take time to play with the GoPro on dry land. Learning the timing of button-presses will help you avoid the accidental switching of modes during a dive. Try to develop some muscle memory so you are not distracted by the camera functions when underwater.

In short, the GoPro is an amazing little camera. It is capable of shooting incredible footage if handled the right way.

Dr Pete Bucknell is an underwater filmmaker, a cave diver, a music professor and a public speaker. His publication, The Underwater GoPro Book, has introduced divers to methods of getting the most out of their cameras, and following better and safer practices for shooting video while diving. He conducts workshops at dive conventions and events, and instructs in New York City.

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Shark Diving: Tips on Photographing Sharks

There are a few places in the world where one can see sharks quite close naturally (without divers changing the natural environment with food), such as the sardine run in South Africa where huge bait balls attract sharks. Being in the right time and place for large migration events like the hammerheads that pass through the Galapagos is another opportunity, and then there is the super lucky dive where a curious shark comes close. But mostly, sharks do not like us. We are big and loud (all those noisy bubbles), and when they see or hear us, they swim away. Sharks have a sensory organ called a lateral line system that allows them to sense movement and vibration in water. We must sound like a freight train to sharks, and they know we are there long before we ever see them, so we often do not see them.

Enter the shark dive, where bait is used to lure sharks to a specific spot and divers can enjoy the spectacle.* Sometimes, the sharks are actually fed by a trained dive guide, sometimes a bucket of bait is opened at the end of the dive, or sometimes the sharks are not fed at all but a container of bait is used to keep curious sharks nearby. For photographers and videographers, these dives are amazing opportunities to get close to sharks, and here are some tips to get the best photos.

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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.