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What's Happening at Discovery Diving

Get all the latest info from our Instructors and Staff on our SCUBA Classes, Charters, Equipment and Special Events.

Grouper relentlessly attacks diver’s catch

A diver in the Cayman Islands was swimming along the ocean floor holding a plastic baggie with a small lionfish he’d captured when out of nowhere he was confronted by an aggressive grouper that really wanted the lionfish.A wrestling match ensued and, well, guess who won?
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Creature of the Month is the Threespot Dascyllus

Creature of the Month is the Threespot Dascyllus

If you have dived in the Red Sea, Indian or Eastern Pacific Ocean, you will probably have seen shoals of these small black fish. They live on coral and rocky reefs at depths of 1 to 55 m.

Do not rely on the name for identification. When young, the threespot dascyllus does indeed have three white spots: one on each side and one on the forehead. Adult fish lose the forehead spot, the side spots become less distinct and the black colour of the fish becoming less intense.

Youngsters often live in large sea anemones, alongside the instantly recognisable Clownfish. Adults, though, leave the anemone to congregate in small groups around prominant rocks or coral outcrops.

The groups of adult Dascyllus trimaculatus comprise around 10 individuals with one male to several females. When approached by an intruder, the male assumes a higher defensive position, while the females rest betwen the tentacles of the anemone. During spawning the male dances to attract females. They deposit eggs on coral branches which are watched and guarded by the male until they hatch.

Dascyllus trimaculatus is part of a complex of four species that vary in geographical ranges and colour patterns. Of these D. trimaculatus is the most widely distributed,

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What the oceans do for us: medicine from the sea

What the oceans do for us: medicine from the sea

Humans are not infallible.  We get sick, we get injured.  Humans are a clever bunch though, and since prehistoric times we have used medicine to try and heal our ailments.  Medical science has made huge leaps and bounds, providing treatments and vaccinations, surgical procedures, and physical and psychological therapies that have allowed people to survive – and thrive – injuries and illnesses which would have once been fatal.  Medical science never stops evolving, learning and searching for more ways to keep us in tip-top condition.  That search includes delving beneath the ocean waves.  Here’s just a couple of examples of how medical science has been furthered by studying ocean creatures:

Taking away the pain with… venom?!
The humble snail.  Not the most exciting of creatures you would think.  Cone snails (Conus) are a genus of marine snails…marine snails that hunt.  Predating on worms, small fish and molluscs these slow-moving hunters are equipped with a toxic harpoon.  One speared, their prey is paralyzed and slowly but surely the cone snail can make its way over and feast.  It’s not all pain though, as a paper by Dr Fedosoc from the Russian Academy of Sciences and colleagues points out.  It seems that the toxins have another use too – the development of pain killers.

Just a word of warning if you do come across a cone snail.  They will have a go at humans too.  Most species will just sting you badly, but some can kill!

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Exploring the Ocean with the Okeanos Explorer

Exploring the Ocean with the Okeanos Explorer

The ocean is vast and has been greatly explored in the last decades. But there is still much to be discovered. With clear plans for 2015, NOAA’s research vessel – the Okeanos Explorer – has already begun its field season and is currently mapping in the Caribbean.

Last year saw two successful expeditions, one in the Gulf of Mexico, where biological diversity was the focus, and the other in the Atlantic, returning to the scene from the year before where they explored seamounts and submarine canyons in their own backyard.

This year the Okeanos is focusing its attention first on the Caribbean and later on the Pacific. Plans for the field season consist of two expeditions where high-resolution maps will be produced and new seafloor footage documented.

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Loggerhead turtles home in on nests magnetically

Loggerhead turtles home in on nests magnetically

Mother turtles find their way back to nesting beaches by looking for unique magnetic signatures along the coast, according to a new study published in Current Biology.

Loggerhead turtles, for example, leave the beach where they were born as hatchlings and traverse entire ocean basins before returning to nest, at regular intervals, on the same stretch of coastline as where they started. How the turtles accomplish this natal homing has remained an enduring mystery until now.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke, (CC by 2.0)

Several years ago, Kenneth Lohmann, the co-author of the new study, proposed that animals including sea turtles and salmon might imprint on magnetic fields early in life, but that idea has proven difficult to test in the open ocean. In the new study, Brothers and Lohmann took a different approach by studying changes in the behavior of nesting turtles over time.

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Top 10 Diving Books of 2014

Top 10 Diving Books of 2014

SCUBA Travel have released their annual list of the best-selling diving books and DVDs of the year.

For fourteen years SCUBA Travel have published the top ten list, and its contents remain remarkably constant. Coral Reef Fishes: Indo-Pacific and Caribbean by Lieske and Myers has, in its various editions, been continually in the list since its inception in 2001. Another longstanding entry (since 2003) is Dive Atlas of the World: An Illustrated Reference to the Best Sites by Jack Jackson.

Newcomer this year is UK Dive Guide: Diving Guide to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales by Patrick Shier. The first time a British dive site guide has made it.

All the books (and the single DVD featured) are either guides to dive sites or sealife indentification books. Diving novels, histories and memoirs have fallen out of favour.

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Humpback Whales Sing for their Supper

Humpback Whales Sing for their Supper

Whales may sing for their supper, a study in the open access journal Scientific Reports suggests.

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) work together whilst foraging on the bottom for food – but how do they co-ordinate their behaviour? Susan Parks of Syracuse University believes she may have the answer.

Her research group have been monitoring humpback whales for a decade.

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1, 2, 3 octopuses: Off Seattle coast, volunteer divers conduct an underwater census

1, 2, 3 octopuses: Off Seattle coast, volunteer divers conduct an underwater census

To check on the health of the giant Pacific octopus population in Puget Sound, an unusual census takes place every year. Volunteer divers, enlisted by the Seattle Aquarium, take to Washington's inland waters to look for their eight-tentacle neighbors.

THE BIGGEST IN THE WORLD

Weighing as much as 150 pounds with tentacles that can span up to 20 feet, the giant Pacific octopus lives up to its name. It's the biggest octopus in the world, and it calls the waters off Seattle home, part of its vast range over the Pacific Ocean.

"The Puget Sound offers good habitat, water temperature and an abundant food source for them," said Kathryn Kegel, a Seattle Aquarium biologist.

Known as one of the smartest creatures in the sea, the giant Pacific octopus leads a relatively short life, between three and five years. They are terminal maters, meaning once they mate, they die soon after.

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Drive and Dive: Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail

Drive and Dive: Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail

Let’s start with the biggest: the 888-foot USS Oriskany. Diving the world’s largest artifcial reef is all my buddy and I talk about on the drive from Orlando to Pensacola, Florida. So we’re a bit disappointed when we learn our frst dive will be on the rubbly remains of the 315-foot San Pablo.

As we soon find out, we should have been excited. “We have hundreds of dive sites, but until Oriskany no one knew about our diving,” says Capt. Douglas Hammock, at the helm of H2O Below as we pull away from the marina. “San Pablo is actually a great dive.”

When San Pablo exploded of Pensacola’s coast in 1944, locals conjured tales of espionage and foreign spies, and dubbed the wreck the “Russian Freighter.” But Franklin Price, a maritime archaeologist with the Florida Department of State, explains during our briefing what really happened to the ship. “It was a refrigerated cargo carrier that brought bananas up to Boston from Central America for years. It was torpedoed in 1942 at the dock in Puerto Limon in Costa Rica by a Nazi U-boat.” Franklin says that the ship was refoated and towed to the United States in 1944, and blown up during a top- secret government mission. The facts about San Pablo’s sinking were revealed only a few years ago, so the moniker Russian Freighter still persists among local divers.

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Color-morphing reef fish is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’

Color-morphing reef fish is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’

A new study has shown that the dottyback, a small predatory reef fish, can change the colour of its body to imitate a variety of other reef fish species, allowing the dottyback to sneak up undetected and eat their young.

The dottyback also uses its colour-changing abilities to hide from larger predators by colour-matching to the background of its habitat -- disappearing into the scenery.

The research, published today in the journal Current Biology, reveals a sophisticated new example of 'mimicry': disguising as a different species to gain evolutionary advantage.

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Parasite turns shrimp into voracious cannibals

Parasite turns shrimp into voracious cannibals
arasites can play an important role in driving cannibalism, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Leeds, Queen's University Belfast and Stellenbosch University in South Africa looked at cannibalism among freshwater shrimp in Northern Ireland.

They found a tiny parasite, Pleistophora mulleri, not only significantly increased cannibalism among the indigenous shrimp Gammarus duebeni celticus but made infected shrimp more voracious, taking much less time to consume their victims.

Dr Alison Dunn, Reader in Evolutionary Biology in the University of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: "Cannibalism is actually fairly common in nature. Our work is the first study to ask if cannibalism is affected by being parasitised."

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What’s a Heated Vest, and Should You Buy One?

In this story on Kona diving, our reporter envies the heated vests she sees fellow divers wearing, and how toasty they look while wearing them in those cool waters. Are these battery-powered vests worth spending up to $1000 on? John Bantin, our veteran dive gear tester, has tried on a few, and here are a couple of his picks sold in the U.S.
The Thermalution Compact Dive Series (70mm): “I first tried this out in the some-would-say balmy Caribbean waters of Grenada in the Caribbean. (Am I a man or a mouse? Squeak!) The undervest worked well under my wetsuit. It’s made of a Lycra-like fiber, and has a non-metallic heating panel built into the back. Two pockets take the twin battery-packs, the size of a cigarette case. They’re connected to the vest via cables with wet-connectors. Strangely, the designers have put the receiver unit for the wireless connection in the small of the back, so you wear the vest under your suit, and the controller straps onto a forearm. There are three progressive settings, and an LED indicator that goes from green through orange to red. To confirm that the receiver is working, it vibrates for a second, twice for the mid setting, and three times for the highest heat setting. It gives a single long vibration to confirm it’s shutting down -- it’s a bit like having a small mouse inside your suit with you.
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Luxury Submarine Adventure To Discover Roman Shipwrecks In Sicily: Deep Sea Thrills

The not-for-profit Aurora Trust Foundation has partnered with SubSea Explorers, a marine archeology expedition company and U-Boat Worx, a Dutch manufacturer of submersibles. They are offering a first-of-its-kind program for adventurous individuals to take part in an undersea archeological expedition off the coast of Sicily, not as a tourist, but as an exploration crew member working from inside a private submersible.

The program features eight 1-week missions, beginning June 20 and running through August 21. During each mission, the adventurers will be part of a 3-person crew using a state-of-the-art, air-conditioned submersible to view, document and photograph ancient Roman shipwrecks that sank 2,000 years ago.

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Lessons For Life: Pride and Glory

After experiencing an equipment malfunction at depth, was it bravado that prevented this diver from asking for help? 

The dive was going well. Randy and his buddy Tom had spent 20 minutes exploring the shipwreck. Though Tom had dived the wreck before, it was the first time Randy had dived it, and he was excited to get back to the surface. They were on the way back to the boat, about 40 feet from the surface, when Randy realized he was low on air. Randy remembered the discussions he and Tom had had about “idiots” running out of air and how irresponsible it was. Hoping he had enough air to make it back to the boat, he chose to keep quiet and not let Tom know he had a problem. 

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Sunken WWII battleship Musashi found in Philippines

Sunken WWII battleship Musashi found in Philippines

MANILA —

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan’s biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II.

Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others.

Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the battleship Musashi, found by his M/Y Octopus exploration vessel one kilometer deep on the floor of the Sibuyan Sea.

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On Nantucket, Surf’s Up, if You’re Part Penguin

On Nantucket, Surf’s Up, if You’re Part Penguin

How cold has it been on Nantucket? Chilly enough to freeze waves.

New York Times Feb 27, 2015 

Last Friday, Jonathan Nimerfroh, a photographer, arrived on the beach and saw an unusual sight: slow-moving waves of slush.

“I just noticed a really bizarre horizon,” said Mr. Nimerfroh, who is also a surfer. “The snow was up to my knees, getting to the water. I saw these crazy half-frozen waves. Usually on a summer day you can hear the waves crashing, but it was absolutely silent. It was like I had earplugs in my ears.”

It is not uncommon for the harbor to freeze, but even a fisherman he spoke with later said he had never seen anything quite like it.

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Diving Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach, Florida

Diving Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach, Florida

South Florida local divers refer it to it as simply, “the Bridge,” while those from further away call it by its proper name, the Blue Heron Bridge. Located in Riviera Beach, just outside of West Palm Beach, Florida, the Blue Heron Bridge is a diver’s dream.  Situated on the Intracoastal Waterway near the Lake Worth inlet, the diversity of life along with its easy access and affordability (the shore dive is free!) make it one of the most popular dive spots in Florida.  In fact, Sport Diver named it the best dive in North America in 2013!

Divers swarm every weekend to Phil Foster Park an hour before slack tide where the mantra is “in the water 30 minutes before and out 30 minutes after.” The approximate maximum depth at the site is less than 25 — yes, only 25 — feet, but rarely has shallow water been so rewarding! It’s not unusual for divers to get an hour to two-hour dive from a single tank, and the variety of what can be seen is endless: seahorses, starfish and hundreds of species of nudibranchs are counted among its residents.

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Pride of the Deep: 25 Best Wrecks in U.S. Waters

Interested in making any of these wreck dives?  Check out these local dive shops for more information:
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10 Reasons to Dive North Carolina's Outer Banks

1. A PLACE TO START

A popular wreck dive, the Indra sits in the sand at around 65 feet. Scuttled in 1992, the 330-foot former Navy landing ship makes a great introduction to the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

2. SEE THE LIGHT

 For those willing to climb hundreds of steps to the top, a series of some of America’s tallest lighthouses offers eye-popping vistas of the barrier islands. 

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World's First Successful Combat Submarine Uncovered

For the first time in over one hundred and fifty years, it is possible to actually see the submarine Hunley. Until recently, it was completely covered by an encrusted layer of sand, sediment and shells that built up slowly over time. For the past four months, Clemson University conservators have been conducting the delicate task of chiseling away this concretion.

On the evening of February 17, 1864, the H. L. Hunley became the world’s first successful combat submarine by sinking the USS Housatonic. After signaling to shore that the mission had been accomplished, the submarine and her crew of eight mysteriously vanished. Lost at sea for over a century, the Hunley was located in 1995 by Clive Cussler’s National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA). 

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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 6th 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 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.