Exploring the World’s Most Dangerous Dive Sites

Posted: 30th October 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving

Deep WaterIf the thrill-seeker in you emerged at the first sight of this title, proceed with caution. Even master divers can run into trouble diving at one of these dangerous locations. If you do plan one of these dangerous dives, please be sure to do your homework. Find out what makes them so dangerous and how people have run into trouble in the past, so you may be able to avoid the same fate.

1. Jacob’s Well, Wimberly, Texas

Part of the danger of this site is that it seems so harmless. You may even see little kids swimming at its surface. It’s a fairly popular swimming hole – and it’s not really dangerous until you don scuba gear and start exploring. As you pass the first and second entryways, you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. Sure, there are a few tight passageways, but it’s not until you get into the third chamber that things start getting hairy. It’s easy to kick up the gravel here and destroy your visibility. That, combined with the tight space of this passageway can spell disaster for a diver. There’s also a passageway that appears to be an exit, but it is no such thing. Unfortunately, many divers have been confused by this and at least 8 have lost their lives in Jacob’s Well.

2. Temple of Doom, Tulum, Mexico

This is a popular dive site, but don’t let that fool you. It has certainly earned its name. This network of caverns and tight passageways is easy to get lost in, and that can lead to trouble for even the most experienced divers. Diving is a sport on the clock. You simply must be at the surface before you run out of air. It’s very easy to become disoriented and lose your way in Cenote Esqueleto, also known as the Temple of Doom.

3. Samaesan Hole, Samae San Islands, Thailand

When you hear about a dangerous dive site, you probably expect caverns and wrecks. You may even expect strong currents (which this site also has). But you’re probably not too worried about unexploded bombs. Unless you’ve been to Samaesan Hole. This dangerous site gets its reputation from a strong current – it’s not uncommon for divers to unknowingly surface miles from their submersion point – and the fact that this is a former military explosives dumping ground. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the fact that it is deep. A whopping 280 feet, in fact. Indeed, this is a dive for very experienced divers who know how to proceed with caution.

3 Must-See Cold Water Diving Destinations

Posted: 23rd October 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
Silfra, Iceland

Silfra, Iceland

There is a distinct chill in the air and many of us tropical-water divers are already starting to plan warm-water getaways, but should we turn our backs on diving just because it’s a little chilly in most of the world? Heck, no! Let’s go cold water diving!

If you haven’t tried cold water diving, it’s an experience to behold. There are some obvious differences, such as gear you’ll need, between warm and cold water dives. If you’re new to this, you may want to take a PADI course on the subject, just to be sure you get the most out of your experience – and stay comfortable along the way.

British Columbia, Canada

Visiting Vancouver? You’ll find some of the most stunning dive spots in the Pacific just about a 40 minute ferry ride from West Vancouver. This emerald-green wonderland is dubbed the Sunshine Coast because they get more sunlight each year than any other destination.

Here you’ll find wreck dives, great spots for drift diving and –get this– Giant Pacific Octopus dens. There’s truly something for everyone. Water temps will vary based on the air temperature, but in the winter, you can expect averages in the mid 40s Fahrenheit.

Silfra, Iceland

The scenery in this popular dive spot will blow your mind. Because of the Silfra fissure, a crack between North America and Europe, you’ll likely feel like you’re coasting along the surface of another planet. This is one of the only dive locations in the world where you can dive right in the crack of where two continental plates meet. It’s a very cool experience! And visibility is great – upwards of 100 meters! But be prepared for the cold. You’ll be swimming in glacial water that is filtered through porous underground lava and it stays between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Here’s another cool fact about this location: You can drink the water at any time. It’s about as pristine as water can possibly get, so enjoy!

New Zealand

The temps in this area definitely fluctuate, going from subtropical in the north to quite temperate in the south. But there are some amazing spots to visit here, including Milford Sound, and Aramoana Mole – where you are likely to encounter seemingly mystical things like sponge gardens, kelp forests and sea dragons. In the Milford Sound, you’ll dive in a fiord with a freshwater layer on top of seawater. Because of this unique combination, you may encounter species that would typically only be seen in the deep sea.

Are you pumped for some cold water diving? Get your passport and drysuit ready and get to it. :)

3 Reasons to Learn How to Dive

Posted: 16th October 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
A Whole New World... Under Water

A Whole New World… Under Water

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably also an underwater sports enthusiast, if not a scuba diver. But you probably have a friend or two that just doesn’t get it. It’s not that they don’t want to understand, but there’s nothing quite like learning to take your first breaths under water. Until you do that, it’s difficult to “get” the addiction.

So this is a post for those who don’t get it. Maybe you’re curious or on the fence. But here are 5 undeniable reasons to learn how to scuba dive.

1. Explore Another World!

When you were younger, did you want to become an astronaut and explore the vast solar system? Well, now you have your chance. Diving doesn’t quite require the years of schooling and specialized training that becoming an astronaut demands, but you do get to explore another world nonetheless. When you’re under the water, you’re in a completely different atmosphere and surrounded by things you would certainly not see every day. We can definitely draw some comparisons to wearing scuba gear and diving and donning a spacesuit and stepping onto the surface of the moon. Dramatic? Maybe. But reserve your judgment until after your first real dive.

2. Become Part of an Exclusive Club

Part of becoming a diver is learning how to use all of the equipment. If you’re a techy kind of person, this alone may be enough to give you goosebumps. But there’s something else that gives all this gear its appeal. When you know how to use everything properly and have learned all of the hand signals, you start feeling like you’ve joined an exclusive club. Divers don’t necessarily have a secret handshake, but we do have a great deal of cool hand signals that no one else would understand.

3. There are Sharks Under Water

Does that seem like a reason not to dive? Based on what we’ve seen in movies and media, it’s only natural to be afraid of sharks. But talk to an avid diver and you’ll find that he has more respect for these majestic creatures than most. Truthfully, shark attacks are rare. Shark sightings can even be rare, depending on where you’re diving. And although the experience may send chills down your spine, many divers would love to be able to see a shark on a dive (from a safe distance, of course). Before you enter any situation where you could potentially encounter a shark, learn more about this beautiful species and what to do if you come face to face with one. A little knowledge will likely keep you and the shark safe.

Although these are three rather compelling reasons to go diving, it’s important to note that scuba diving isn’t for everyone. The changes in pressure can really take a toll on the body, so it’s important that your heart is healthy enough to endure the sport. Also, if you tend to have panic attacks in new and unknown situations, that should be a consideration for you. People have been known to overcome such attacks and become great divers, but the alternative is scary. Evaluate your own personal situation to determine whether you should learn to scuba dive.

How to Safely Coexist with Ocean Life

Posted: 9th October 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
Curious sea lion

Curious sea lion

More or less, we as humans know how to coexist with land animals. Although not every person follows the rules, we can usually keep our distance without too much trouble and let the other animal live peacefully without any interruption from us.

When under water, the same concepts apply. However, it can sometimes be a little more difficult to avoid ocean life. When you think about it, we are truly in their territory. Sharks, whales, dolphins, fish and sea lions were born to swim. We were born to walk and breathe oxygen.

But for the most part, if we leave them alone, they will afford us the same courtesy.

Until they don’t.

Of course, we’ve all heard about shark attacks, but they are few and far between. Close encounters with wildlife are much more common – as we’ve seen on YouTube.

Below is an example of a close encounter with an animal that most of us consider friendly: The sea lion. They are normally very calm creatures, but it’s important to remember that they are wild animals nonetheless. They can become aggressive and territorial, especially when mating or when their offspring are involved.

Sea Lion Attacks Diver

This isn’t a cutesy example of a cub jumping into a canoe. This is danger.

And it’s not a shark.

One of the most important lessons we can learn is that we can be harmed by many creatures; not just the ones that are labeled as aggressive. Yes, it’s unlikely. But how does that knowledge help you when you’re the one who is under attack. It’s usually better to lean towards the side of caution and admire all creatures from a safe distance.

Always avoid invading any creatures personal space. If a dolphin, turtle or sea lion seem curiously interested your presence, it’s best to remain calm and assess the situation. If you’re sure there are no signs of aggression, it’s probably okay to sit tight and let that animal explore. Avoid making sudden movements that may appear threatening. Because again, even if you think the animal is harmless, most will respond in some way when they feel that they may be in danger.

And one more tip before we leave you. This one should be obvious, but we have seen too many examples to not mention it. If you happen to be spearfishing, NEVER feed your prey to a shark or anything else. Some spearfishers believe they are doing good by giving sharks the “taste” for lionfish, but the practice is really just training them to associate your spear with mealtime. It creates a very dangerous situation for yourself and other divers. Be safe out there, folks. 

Are Your Diving Habits Damaging the Coral Reefs?

Posted: 2nd October 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving

coralreefAs avid divers, we all understand the importance of protecting coral reefs. Most of us want to keep the underwater world as pristine and untouched as we possibly can. But there is a chance that some of us may be doing damage without even realizing it.

Ask yourself the following questions about your diving habits to determine whether you are safely avoiding, and thus protecting, coral reefs.

1. Are you following all of the rules?

If you were given guidelines on a specific dive, including where to swim and where to avoid, do you follow them. Always? These rules aren’t arbitrary, and there may be things you don’t know. Especially when visibility is low, it’s important to follow all guidelines to the letter or you could risk harming the environment you so desperately want to protect.

2. Did you study your dive?

Many divers will learn everything there is to know about the wildlife they may see at a specific location – because it’s exciting! But it’s also good to know which components of the reef are most vulnerable and where they may be located, so you can be sure to steer clear.

3. Have you ever touched a coral reef? Be honest…

This one seems obvious, but we know how tempting it can be to reach out and grab some beautiful coral. It’s important to avoid that temptation at all costs. If you think you’ll have trouble with is one (or if you’ve ever been a little too “touchy feely” in the past), take off your gloves. It’s not as appealing to touch these rough surfaces with bare wet hands, so the temptation will most likely be gone.

4. Are you extra cautious around coral?

If you’re not being cautious, it can be surprisingly easy to kick the reef as your making your way to another location. It’s also easy to stir up sediment while you’re in the area of some coral. This will naturally destroy your visibility and could cause you to bump into the reef. Not only is this bad news for your wetsuit, but it’s also terrible for the reefs and the delicate ocean ecosystem. Be as careful as you possibly can.

5. Do you always keep tabs on your equipment?

Not everyone thinks of this one, but it’s one of the easiest ways to damage coral reefs during a dive. Dangling equipment can be dangerous! It’s not enough to keep your hands off of the stuff, you also have to keep equipment like pressure gauges from banging against and possibly breaking the coral.

If you want to get actively involved in protecting the coral reefs, there are many organizations that you can contact. You may donate, volunteer or do a combination of both. Consider getting involved with NOOA’s Conservation Program or the coral reef conservation project at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

And of course, be sure that your diving habits are not contributing to coral reef destruction.

Is There a Min or Max Age for Scuba Diving?

Posted: 25th September 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
Oldest Scuba Diver

Oldest Scuba Diver

How old is too old for scuba diving? Is there such thing? What about kids? Can they safely dive?

These are questions we get asked all the time, and usually the answer boils down to health, readiness and personal preference.

Let’s first take a look at the youngins. :)

Youngest Scuba Divers

Kids as young as eight can enroll in the PADI Bubblemaker class, which clearly is as fun as it sounds. This gives kids a chance to blow bubbles under water and learn to use scuba gear at the same time. It’s a great way for your children to become familiar with the scuba equipment in a safe and fun setting. There’s no pressure to become a master diver. It’s all about fun and learning some very basic skills. It’s so much fun that many parents arrange Bubblemaking parties for their little ones. As part of the experience, the kids receive a beach towel, logbook, certificate, temporary tattoo, decal and a water toy.

If you feel that your child can handle a little more responsibility at this age, you may consider enrolling him or her in the PADI Seal Team. This is more of an intensive two-part class that will teach basic skills

Before enrolling your child in either class, it’s important that he or she is comfortable in the water. Scuba gear can be intimidating to little ones, especially if they haven’t spent much time in the water.

Oldest Scuba Divers

Norman Lancefield is the one of the world’s oldest known scuba divers, and he has a great outlook on life.

“I’m 90. Why should I be afraid,” he has been quoted as saying.

Although we can definitely see the logic here, there are some things to consider if you’re thinking of diving at an advanced age. Actually, there are some things to consider about your health if you’re thinking of diving at any age.

Heart attacks and irregular heart rhythms are the leading cause of scuba-related deaths in people above 40 years of age. But you don’t have to be over 40 to suffer from heart troubles. Colin Callanan was a seemingly healthy, fit 29-year old scuba diver. No one could have expected that he wouldn’t survive his April 2013 dive. Colin had a rare undiagnosed heart condition that led to his untimely death. Scuba diving is a very dangerous activity for those with heart conditions because cardiac function undergoes significant changes during a dive. This could put stress on any healthy heart and spell disaster for someone with an underlying condition.

This doesn’t mean you should stay out of the water after 40, of course. But it should serve as a reminder to have regular checkups and keep tabs on your heart health. It’s important whether you plan to dive or not.

Semi-Essential Cold Water Diving Gear

Posted: 18th September 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
Cold Water Diving

Cold Water Diving

Summer has all but faded and there is a distinct chill in the night air – a clear signal that fall is coming. Although that signal may be a depressing one for some of us, cold water divers are just warming up (so to speak).

If you’re new to cold water diving, you may have a thing or two to learn. It’s always a good idea to take a course if you’re unsure. But if you’ve done it once or twice before, you’ll know about the basics. You’ll know that you’ll need a drysuit, hood and gloves in addition to your regular dive gear. Those are some of the essentials. But there are some other things you may not have considered. The following cold-water diving gear may just make your dive more comfortable.

Storage Bins

Cold dives are notoriously messy, which can be hard on your precious gear. Storage bins can help keep your gear protected from the elements when not in use, and they can also help keep you organized. Organization is a real time saver, and less time spent freezing is always appreciated!

Mesh Bags

Not only can mesh bags keep your gear bag organized, but they are also great for keeping small items from rolling around in your bag. Keep all the small stuff together in a bag and you’ll find it in an instant.

Croc-LikeSlip-On Shoes

Okay, so you don’t have to don Crocs, unless you want to, but plastic shoes really come in handy on cold water dives. Have you ever messed up a pair of dive socks walking back from a dive? Oftentimes, the socks make it difficult to put your regular shoes on, so divers just end up ruining their socks. Try on a pair of plastic slip-on shoes with your dive socks in the store to ensure you have the right fit.

Canteen of Hot Water

This isn’t for drinking, unless you’re especially parched. Hot water comes in handy for thawing frozen gear and pouring on your hands when you need to increase blood flow. If you’re looking for something to warm you up from the inside, bring another canteen of hot cocoa or tea. Why not treat yourself a little?

Warm Hat and Gloves

We know you’ll pack all of the gear you’ll need under water, but don’t forget how cold you’ll be when you come back up. Bring a dry snug fitting hat that will keep heat from escaping through your head. Also, you’ll need your hands to remain nimble in order to pack and unpack your gear, so invest in a thin yet warm pair of glovesto put on after you emerge from the water. 

3 Tips for a Safe Night Dive

Posted: 11th September 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
Night Diving: A whole new world

Night Diving: A whole new world

Do you remember your first night dive? Maybe it hasn’t happened yet. If you think you’re ready, try visiting your favorite dive spot at night. It’ll be like a whole new world. During daylight, you may be able to simply look around and do a quick scan of your environment. Obviously, this isn’t a luxury you have at night. In the dark, your focus is much narrower. But this only forces you to take it a little slower and appreciate the moment and the beauty that sits directly in front of you. Just be sure to grab a good dive light and a good backup and follow these three tips.

Stay in shallow waters

Maybe you handle a deep dive at night, but is there a reason for it? Much of the splendor of a night dive is experienced in shallow waters. In contrast to daytime dives when the sunlight steals the color from everything you see, colors on night dives can be extremely vivid. And don’t worry. Your dive light is designed to illuminate a path without stealing any of its light spectrum.

Night begins earlier under water

You don’t have to go out at midnight to experience a night dive. Even when the sun is just setting, it’s plenty dark under the waves. In theory, this should keep you safer also. There’s a greater chance that you and your buddy will be able to find help if you need it at twilight than at midnight.

Two lights light up the night

Most night divers (the smart ones) bring at least two lights to ensure that they will never truly be left in the dark. The primary light is always larger and brighter, but the backup light should be bright enough to illuminate your path should you need to rely on it to get back to the shore or boat. Backup lights are often called pocket lights because they are so small. Be sure that both are secured to your gear, so you don’t lose one. If you don’t have a method to secure these lights, invest in a lanyard or tie.

Review hand signals before the dive!

This may seem like overkill for two experienced divers, but remember that it is much more difficult to see your buddy in the dark. Know what it looks like when he is signaling for trouble or that she’s okay. ALWAYS illuminate your hands when signaling during a night dive. The alternative is for your buddy to shine his light at you, which is very unsafe. Be smart about signaling. If you get separated from your buddy, position yourself vertically and shine your light outward as you turn in a full circle. This will shine your light over a broad area, and there’s a greater chance that your buddy (or a boat crew) will see you. 

How to Choose the Right Scuba Lessons in Your Area

Posted: 4th September 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving

Scuba Instructor

Scuba Lessons in Landlocked States

Did you think you need an ocean to learn how to scuba dive? Lakes, rivers and even pools work just as well, if not better, to learn the basics. Why? The wildlife, flora and fauna that we will soon love so much only serves as a distraction when you’re trying to learn how breathe underwater for the first time.

Choosing the Right Course for You

If you’re complete diving newb, there isn’t much of a choice to make. You have to learn how to breathe under water and properly use your diving equipment. But if you’ve passed that stage, you may have some options. Think about what type of diving you’ll do most often. This may be driven by passion or location. If you’re going to be doing some deep diving, it’s always a good idea to have specialized training for this – and a great deal of diving experience under your belt. Wreck diving presents some unique challenges and situations that you should also train for. It’s all about your preferences. And remember, you don’t have to choose just one. You only have to choose one at a time!

Qualifying a Scuba Instructor

Your scuba instructor should be a PADI-certified master dive instructor. This will insure that he or she has the proper training to teach you everything you’ll need to know about diving. Scuba diving is a fun activity, for certain, but it can be extremely dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Make no mistake about it. This is life and death that we’re talking about here, so don’t make this choice lightly. Ask to see your instructor’s credentials and talk to him or her to see if you feel comfortable. Everyone learns differently, and if you’re not comfortable with your instructor’s teaching style, you may want to move on to the next.

The Pros and Cons of Solo Diving

Posted: 25th August 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
Solo Diving: Yay or Nay?

Solo Diving: Yay or Nay?

Recently, we polled our Facebook audience to find out where they stood on solo dives. We probably all know at least one person who dives solo, and if you don’t, that person may be you. But is it a good idea? Is it safe? The responses were somewhat overwhelming, and they were almost split down the middle.

The most interesting thing to us in the Prime Scuba office was that the answers were so passionate on both sides. Those in favor of solo diving seemed to think it was the absolute best way to dive. Those against solo diving were adamant that there’s nothing more foolish and unsafe than diving without a partner.

There were a few that recognized that it could be okay for someone with enough experience, but most commenters had a position one way or another.

Here’s a look at some of your responses in the “Pro Solo Dive” camp:

Only way I dive!! I got a set of balls and accept the risk. %@*& babysitting! -Mike G.

I feel safer by my self. – Richard H.

Solo is the only way i can dive, no dive buddy. – Christoper B.

Since I did a majority of my diving off a boat I was never really alone but I did do a lot of diving without a buddy… I spent too many dives as an instructor babysitting that when I did not have my wife or students I wanted to do what I wanted at my own pace….. -Brent L.

Of course -Jaime C.

 Absolutely. It’s usually the way I dive. Know your limits, and redundancy helps. Plus, I don’t have to worry about paying attention to someone else. – Nicholas A.

A few comments on the side of caution:

If you have the training and the safety gear. The most important thing I have learned in dive training is “know you limits”. – Kevin S.

I agree with Kevin. If you are certified in solo diving, have the right equipment and know your limits, nothing wrong with it. – Mike E.

As long as you don’t push the limits it’s ok Jeremy C.

I don’t hunt in a group so always solo – Jake K.

The best dives I do are solo. But know your limits. -Mike B.

These commenters seem to be in the “Con Solo Dive” camp:

For me…never – Carrie W.

No way -Rob M.

Big no -Michael M.

 I have done it many times but it’s dependent on the situation. No over head environs and not in ‘lost fishing gear’ places. I have lost diving buds to both. It’s a decision best left to experienced divers. Not being arrogant here but I have been diving since age 14 and easily have 1000 dual dives. Gone solo less than 50. Babysitting? Bull$ hit! Bad attitude and bad choice most of the time. If you think you are scuba joe…. Usually you isn’t. Take a pard if you can. -David C.

There are many things that can go wrong on a dive so better to have another pair of hands and air. If alone at least have someway of communicating so you can get help. -Karen S.

No way to many things could go wrong !!! -Eric B.

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