DDC Blog

Extinction Threatens Quarter of Sharks and Rays

A quarter of sharks, rays and chimaeras are threatened with extinction, according to a new study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Large, shallow-water species are at most risk.

The group found that only 23 percent of these fish is listed as “least concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Of the 1,041 known species, 25 are listed as critically endangered, 43 are endangered, and 113 are vulnerable to extinction. This is the worst reported status for any major vertebrate group except for amphibians.

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Stealthy cuttlefish use electric cloaking

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish are renown for their tremendous camouflage capabilities – changing the color and texture of their skin to match their surroundings. They have another weapon in their hide and seek armory though – electric cloaking.

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Fish mucous cocoons: the mosquito nets of the sea

Bullethead Parrotfish, Chlorurus sordidusBullethead Parrotfish, Chlorurus sordidus

It is well known by SCUBA divers that many parrotfish and wrasse sleep soundly in mucous cocoons during the night. Until now the reason has not been known, but has been thought to be some sort of protection against predators. New research by scientists at the University of Queensland, Australia has found that the cocoons actually act as a kind of “mosquito net”.

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The fast and deadly Great Barracuda is Creature of the Month

Great barracuda, Sphyraena barracudaGreat barracuda, Sphyraena barracuda

The Great barracuda is amongst the top predators in their environment and use very highly developed smell and vision senses to locate their prey. When attacking, the barracuda will charge at fast speed (approximately 12 ms-1) and ram their target. They then unleash the power of their jaws which allows them to slice through their prey, even those larger than the barracuda itself. The jaw of the barracuda is formed in such a way that the upper and lower jaws form ‘rows’ of teeth. The top jaw has smaller serrated teeth on the outside and larger canines on the inside, and the teeth of the lower jaw fit between them when the mouth is shut. When the jaw closes this acts like scissors and slices through prey with ease.

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Blanket Octopus

The air around here is growing increasingly chilly and I think a nice, warm blanket to hide under is called for. All sorts of animals have lovely fur you can make one out of, but you have to do all the work yourself. Unacceptable! There is a very strange answer to this problem, so long as you can tolerate your blanket being soaking wet. The Blanket Octopus has come to tuck you in. I hope she's brought some hot chocolate along, too.

Blanket Octopus are 4 species of the genus Tremoctopus. They are found throughout the world's tropical and sub-tropical oceans, from the surface to moderate depths. I usually think of octopods crawling around on rocks and such but the Blanket Octopus is pelagic, living life out in the open ocean with no need for coasts or the sea floor at all.
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New camouflage mechanism fish use in the open ocean

The vast open ocean presents an especially challenging environment for its inhabitants since there is nowhere for them to hide. Yet, nature has found a remarkable way for fish to hide from their predators using camouflage techniques. In a study published in the current issue of Science, researchers from Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University and collaborators show that fish scales have evolved to not only reflect light, but to also scramble polarization. They identified the tissue structure that fish evolved to do this, which could be an analog to develop new materials to help hide objects in the water.

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3 Things to Never Buy if You Love the Ocean

Once you do your first ocean dive something inside of you changes. You form a connection to the ocean. You start to care about the sea and begin thinking about what you can do to protect it.

We all know some basic things that we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, for example, stop using single-use plastic and recycle as much as possible. But have you ever thought about sustainable shopping while travelling?

As ocean-loving scuba divers, we should not buy souvenirs from anyone exploiting ocean wildlife.

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6 Ways Scuba Divers Rule at Life

Being a scuba diver is awesome. You breathe underwater, identify fish and experience weightlessness on every vacation. You have designated yourself as an ocean activist, and you’re well on your way to achieving Master Scuba Diver. Being the scuba diver in your group of friends is a big responsibility, but you handle it with grace and ease.

Did you know that as a scuba diver, you’ve developed skills that also make you rule at life? It’s true!

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Scuba diving in children: Physiology, risks and recommendations

Published by R. Cilveti, B. Osona, J.A. Peña, L. Moreno, O. Asensio, en representación del Grupo de Técnicas de la Sociedad Española de Neumología Pediátrica (the Spanish Society of Pediatric Pulmonology)

 

Abstract

The increase in recreational scuba diving in recent years, including children, involves risks and the possibility of accidents. While legislation, conditions and risks of scuba diving are well documented in adults, scientific evidence in scuba diving by children and adolescents is sparse and isolated. Furthermore, existing guidelines and recommendations for adults cannot be transferred directly to children.

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Massive dolphin mural emerges at Tavernier Creek Marina

Massive dolphin mural emerges at Tavernier Creek Marina
In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, artist David Dunleavy, puts finishing touches on a huge mural entitled "Dolphin Rodeo" at an Islamorada, Fla., marina. The 252-foot-wide by 33-foot-high artwork features two dolphin, also known as mahi-mahi, that are popular ocean gamefish caught off the Florida Keys and other regions of the world. It took the New Jersey artist a month to paint his 62nd larger-than-life SeaLife Mural. Andy Newman AP
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Chile Creates Largest Marine Reserve in the Americas

Chile Creates Largest Marine Reserve in the Americas

Valparaiso, CHILE—The Chilean government on Monday announced that it has created the largest marine reserve in the Americas by protecting an area hundreds of miles off its coast roughly the size of Italy.

The new area, called the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park, constitutes about eight percent of the ocean areas worldwide that have been declared off-limits to fishing and governed by no-take protections, says Russell Moffitt, a conservation analyst with the Marine Conservation Institute in Seattle, Washington.

The Pac-Man-shaped marine protected area (MPA) encompasses roughly 115,000 square miles (297,000 square kilometers) of ocean around San Ambrosio and San Felix islands. Together, they're known as the Desventuradas (or Unfortunate in Spanish) Islands, which are part of the underwater Nazca Ridge, which runs southwest from Peru to Easter Island. 

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Hole-in-the-heart closure reduces risk of decompression sickness in divers

One in four people have an opening between the left and right chambers of the heart – called a Patent foramen ovale or PFO. Normally this is not a problem, a flap covers the opening and generally remains closed because of greater pressure in the left chamber than the right. In scuba divers though, it is a worry.

After and whilst ascending from a dive, nitrogen bubbles are formed in the blood of a diver’s veins and carried back to the heart. In a diver with a PFO, the bubbles can pass to the left chamber of the heart and be carried in the arteries back around the body. If they get into the tissues then the diver might get decompression sickness (the bends), even when diving within the normal decompression limits.

One of the treatments for a PFO is to close it using a catheter based procedure. A catheter is a flexible hollow tube which can be used to move a closure-device in place in the heart. In a study available this week in the journal, JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, doctors report that closing a PFO in this way completely eliminates arterial bubbles after a dive. This compares to a control group where after an 18 m dive 32% of them had bubbles in their arteries, and after a 50 m dive 88% exhibited arterial bubbles. No difference was found in the presence of bubbles in veins in either groups.

The dives were simulated in a hyperbaric chamber: 34 divers “dived” to 18 m for 80 min, and 13 divers to 50 m for 20 min.

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Removing top predators doesn’t help smaller reef fish

Removal of large predators through fishing has been suggested to help the populations of smaller fish.

An international team of scientists tested this assumption and found that no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) benefited all major groups – higher carnivores like sharks and groupers, benthic carnivores that live near the bottom like butterflyfishes, planktivores and herbivores. Their biomass was 40-200% greater where large predators were left alone compared to open-access areas where fishing took place.

Masked ButterflyfishMasked Butterflyfish by Tim Nicholson
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What to Look for in a 7 mm Wetsuit

What to Look for in a 7 mm Wetsuit

Zippers How well a zipper keeps out the cold depends on its seals. some use double — or even triple — overlapping smooth-skin with a long or inter- locking internal flap. Generally, a waterproof chest or shoulder zip will be drier — though more restrictive and harder to don and doff— than a nonwaterproof vertical rear zip.

Diving Style If you always wear a hood, consider a suit with one that’s attached. If you need maximum insulation, look at the thickest suits. If mobility is important, choose a suit that uses thinner materials in the arms and legs.

Seals Today’s suits come with more seal types than color choices – smooth-skin o-rings, double smooth-skin zippered cuffs, single smooth- skin cuffs, internal gaskets, etc. Personal preference and perfect fit are the keys to finding the best type of seal for your suit.

Materials Manufacturers often have proprietary names for their suit materials; you’ll find that one neoprene might be a little stretchier, or another is a bit denser. the bigger differences are in how the materials are used, and how the suits are shaped and put together.

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How to Care for Your Wetsuit

How to Care for Your Wetsuit

You've made a significant investment in buying a new wetsuit. Do you know how to take care of it? Follow our tips to extend the life of your suit.

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What Does A Baby Mola Look Like?

What Does A Baby Mola Look Like?

When it hatches, a Mola mola is the size of a pinhead but will grow to be the heaviest bony fish in the ocean—and the weirdest.

The weirdness begins with the eggs. A female Mola mola or ocean sunfish produces more eggs than any other vertebrate on earth.

One modest-sized female had an estimate 300 million eggs inside her.

At birth, the baby fish are protected by a star-shaped transparent covering that looks like someone put an alien head inside of a Christmas ornament—albeit a very small only a tenth of an inch across.

 

Even as a baby, the Mola mola has its parents’ surprised look with the wide eye and open mouth.

The baby will grow fast. Very fast. One individual in the Monterey Bay Aquarium gained 822 pounds in just 15 months (almost 2 pounds a day).

By the time it is an adolescent, the fish will have not tail fin, no ribs, a fused spine, and will swim by flapping its dorsal fin on the top and its anal fin on the bottom.

It will look like a giant swimming head.

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Mola Mola aka Giant Floating Heads

Mola Mola aka Giant Floating Heads

 The mola mola is a fish with many names. In English it is known as the ocean sunfish, in some languages it is known as a moon fish, and the German name Schwimmender Kopf, my personal favorite, translates to swimming head. A swimming fish head is exactly what these gargantuan creatures look like – flattish compressed disks, with dorsal and ventral fins, and a tiny tail. Not much is known about the mola mola, but here are a few facts I could scare up in my research about the fish I most want to dive with.  

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What does it take to escape the water? Plankton have clues

Their acrobatics often go unnoticed, but understanding them could help improve engineering processes, like oil refining and wastewater treatment, that rely on controlling the interaction of small particles with air-water interfaces.

Sunghwan Jung, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, has released a new study focused on the jumping behavior of copepods, small teardrop-shaped plankton near the bottom of the aquatic food chain that can sometimes vault out of the water to escape predators.

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Deep sea octopus broods eggs longer than any known animal – 4 years

Deep sea octopus broods eggs longer than any known animal – 4 years

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have observed a deep-sea octopus brooding its eggs for four and a half years – longer than any other known animal. Throughout this time, the mother kept the eggs clean and guarded them from predators.

Octopuses typically have a single reproductive period and then they die. Once a clutch of fertilized eggs has been produced, the mother protects and tends them until they hatch. In most shallow-water species this brooding period lasts between one and three months. Very little is known though about the maternal behaviour of deep-living species. In the cold, dark waters of the deep ocean, metabolic processes are often slower than their counterparts at shallower depths.

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Extinction Threatens Quarter of Sharks and Rays

Extinction Threatens Quarter of Sharks and Rays

A quarter of sharks, rays and chimaeras are threatened with extinction, according to a new study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Large, shallow-water species are at most risk.

The group found that only 23 percent of these fish is listed as “least concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Of the 1,041 known species, 25 are listed as critically endangered, 43 are endangered, and 113 are vulnerable to extinction. This is the worst reported status for any major vertebrate group except for amphibians.

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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.