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
scubainstructor

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.

What’s your opinion? Join the conversation on our Facebook page: 

bucketlistThe sad fact of life is that many of us were born to dive, but forced to work. It’s okay. Not everyone can dive for a living (sigh). But how about diving for a cause? Not all of us can pick up and take off work for a few weeks to a few months, but doesn’t it sound like a perfect retirement plan? Helping preserve our oceans while exploring a foreign tropical paradise? Yes, please!

Here are three scuba volunteer opportunities you may want to consider.

Global Vision International

This is first on the list because GVI is one of the world’s top-ranked volunteer organizations, offering volunteer opportunities for experience and non-experienced divers alike. As a volunteer, you may help preserve the coral reef or monitor fish, turtles and sharks. If you can spare five weeks (up to several months!) living in a tropical location, experiencing local culture and diving eight to 10 times per week, this opportunity is for you!

 

Sadly, though, most of us who are “forced to work” can’t take off five weeks at a time. Still, this is a great opportunity for the bucket list and those who are retired.

Frontier

This highly-professional non-profit volunteer organization has been around for about 20 years, and it’s one of the few that also offer professional-level certifications in Tropical Habitat Conservation and Management, TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and PADI dive training all in ONE trip! Dive the waters of Fiji, Greece, Madagascar and Tanzania as part of a vital conservation program.

Coral Cay Conservation

If you have your heart set on diving the Philippines or Tobago, we certainly don’t blame you. But your volunteer organization of choice should probably be Coral Cay Conservation. These projects will allow you to be involved in coral and fish monitoring. Like the other organizations, CCC will certify new and experienced divers, so it’s also an opportunity to step up your diving game. Join for anywhere from four to 20 weeks working hands-on in the field. 

#1 Tip for Wreck Divers: Your Answers

Posted: 2nd August 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving

wreckdiveWe often post things that are on our minds or in the news. Sometimes, we’ll even post tips from expert divers. But we forget the best answer source out there, the true experts, our customers. Our customers are beginners, dive masters, guides and trainers, so why not rely on their expert opinions.

Of course, as with anything, you will thoroughly research each issue and make the decision that’s best for you. But to get that ball rolling, we’re going to share our customers’ best advice.

Our question: Let’s hear from our wreck divers! What’s your #1 safety tip?

Your answers:

Unless you’re very experienced and with the right gear, don’t go beyond where natural light it starts to dim.”

This is great advice, and it works for many wrecks, but as another commenter pointed out, there are some wrecks where the natural light is always dim. That doesn’t make this comment any less relevant, though. As mentioned above, “with the right gear,” you can go beyond dim light. If it’s always dim, you always need a good dive light and a backup light.

Know your entry and exit points.”

Again, great advice. There is great danger in getting lost in a wreck. You may want to secure a line to help guide your way from the entry to the exit, especially if it’s your first time diving in a particular wreck.

Stay with in your limits”

True. And to this, we’d like to add one thing. In order to know that you’re within your own limits, you’ll need to research the wreck before diving it. There are nuances to wreck diving that you’ll need to get down before you dive an advanced wreck, so even if you’re an advanced diver, it’s probably best to start with a beginner-level wreck. You can advance quickly from there, but it’s better to err on the side of caution than to find yourself on a wreck dive that’s more advanced than you were expecting.

Do you have anything to add to the conversation? Feel free to leave a comment here or join the conversation already in progress on our Facebook page. 

3 Places You Can Dive with Crocodiles

Posted: 31st July 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
Crocodile Dive

Crocodile Dive

Nearly a year ago now, Anderson Cooper dove into a dark cave to swim with crocodiles. He had nothing more than a camera and a rod for protection (and his scuba gear, of course). Most people thought he was mad. It wasn’t for preservation or the betterment of the species. One could say it was for ratings (probably at least somewhat true), and others may say it’s to promote awareness.

Many divers and even some swimmers have had a close encounter with a shark, but it’s rare that someone would get up close and personal with a croc.

And truthfully, crocodiles are amazing creatures. They are among the closest thing we have to dinosaurs that walk the earth today. These large aquatic reptiles are actually quite shy. They don’t want to be seen by people, and they go to great lengths to maintain their privacy. At least, that is true for the American crocodile. Nile and Australian crocs are known to be a little more aggressive.

If, like Anderson Cooper, you’d like to dive with crocodiles, you can. Here are a few places that offer crocodile diving excursions.

Cango Ranch, South Africa

Here you can get up close and personal with a crocodile or two while maintaining relative safety. But before you book your flight, there are a few things you should know. These are Nile Crocodiles, which are known to be highly aggressive, and they view humans as prey. At Cango Ranch, you’ll dive in a cage that was specifically designed to withstand the immense power of this crocodile’s jaws. This dive is not for the faint of heart.

Crocosaurus Cove Darwin

This Australian dive spot features some of the largest saltwater crocodiles on the planet. This is a controlled dive in an aquarium setting, but it is nonetheless an experience of a lifetime. Each dive includes a 15-minute session in a clear enclosure with one of these massive reptiles. While in the tube, croc handlers will feed the crocs, so you can get an up close and personal view of these prehistoric-looking creatures.

Solo Diving With Crocs

This is the most dangerous and is definitely not recommended, especially for those who have never worked with crocodiles, but there are locations where you could don your scuba gear and hop into the water with some crocs. Botswana’s Okavango Delta is a popular spot, but do keep in mind that these are Nile Crocodiles and the are very dangerous.

5 of the Wackiest Scuba Diving Records

Posted: 24th July 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving

 

Underwater Ironing

Underwater Ironing

Have you ever browsed through the pages of a Guinness Book? Sure, there are some outstanding achievements to be seen, but there are also some pretty wacky ones. Records that leave you wondering why anyone would even do such things, never mind record them for the world to see.

But some people just want to make their mark in whatever way possible. Scuba diving is no exception, and the world of scuba certainly has some head-turning records. And hey, if you’re not fit or motivated enough to train for any of the more serious records, you may want to consider going for something off the wall. Maybe you can buck one of the current record holders, or maybe these will just give you the inspiration you need to start your own!

So without any further ado, let’s take a look at 5 of the silliest records in scuba diving!

1. Underwater Ironing – Why let that pile of shirts waiting to be ironed keep you from diving when you can just bring them and iron under water. If you wan to break this record, you’ll need at least 72 of your closest dive buddies to come along and iron with you. If that sounds ridiculous, imagine floating up to the scene!

2. Live Under Water – An Australian marine biologist once spent 13 days living under water in a 6-foot capsule. His bicycle riding produced electricity and he urinated on algae to provide air. Does that sound appealing to you? It’ll take a lot of planning and an enormous amount of discipline, but it’s only 14 days of your life, right?

3. Start a Business Under the Sea – Port Vila in Vanuatu is the world’s first and only underwater post office. It’s only open for an hour or two each day, and its primary purpose is to mail waterproof postcards from tourists back home to their friends and family. This record would be the most difficult to break, but if you get the urge, you can always just visit.

4. Underwater Cosmetology? – If you want to break the record for cutting hair under water (yes, there is one), you’ll have to cut 34 people’s hair in one hour. It was a stylist who shattered this record, so be forewarned. The previous record was 11 haircuts in 60 minutes.

5. Underwater Dining – This one sounds easy, right? Well, to beat this record, you’ll have to gather 500 of your closest friends to dine along with you. During this record-breaking dive, guests were served a three-course meal while they were weighted with an 18lb belt. Right now you’re probably wondering how people even eat under water. Well, they all had to take lessons beforehand. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Are Lionfish Just Misunderstood?

Posted: 17th July 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving
Shark vs. Lionfish

Shark vs. Lionfish

Most divers know that lionfish are an invasive species. In the Western Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, they are also trespassers. They aren’t native to these areas, but they have come and they are taking over. They are voracious predators and have been known to reduce populations of small fish, lobsters and shrimp by about 80% after establishing their territory.

So, suffice it to say that there are reasons why lionfish hunting competitions exist.

But there may be some things you don’t know about these pesky predators that may help give you a new understanding. We’re not saying to let them take over our oceans, but even in a battle, it helps to know your enemy.

1. Lionfish aren’t poisonous.

They are venomous, and yes, there’s a difference. Venom must be injected into the target in order to cause damage, while poison simply needs to be released and absorbed or ingested. If you are stung by a lionfish, you WILL feel it. The venom causes a great deal of localized pain, but it isn’t deadly to an otherwise healthy person. On the other hand, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to lionfish venom, and this can cause a series of potentially deadly reactions. So, do be careful out there.

Lionfish aren’t poisonous to eat either.

2. Lionfish aren’t terribly aggressive.

If you’re diving and happen to see someone swim for cover when a lionfish approaches, it’s probably because he or she had an unfortunate encounter and felt the pain of a lionfish’s venom. It’s not a likely scenario, though, so there’s no need to be overly cautious. Most stings usually occur when the hunter is removing the lionfish from its spear. As you could imagine, the lionfish puts up quite a fight to get free. For the most part, they just mosey along and don’t seem to notice the humans in the water. Maybe they are too focused on their shrimp and lobster dinner.

3. Other predators WILL eat lionfish

…But usually only when they’re alread dead. Because of its spiny, venomous spikes, most predators will steer clear of lionfish, but that doesn’t mean they are completely off limits. Other predators will always eat dead lionfish. A word of caution on this note, though. Some well-intentioned divers have been known to feed other predatory fish from their spears. They are likely doing it to give other predators “the taste” for lionfish. Or, maybe they’re just doing it for fun. Either way, it’s a bad idea. This type of behavior teaches larger predators, such as sharks and barracudas, that it’s feeding time when they see a diver with a spear. And no diver wants to be at the other end of a 3ft spear facing a hungry shark or barracuda looking for food. It’s dangerous for everyone involved.

Seahorses

Seahorses

Everyone has their own favorite animal. It may be a turtle, a porpoise or a lionfish (wait… scratch that last one), but there’s one that stands out above the rest in its pure uniqueness. The seahorse is unlike anything else you’ve ever known. Let’s get to know this interesting creature a little better.

What seahorses lack in size, they make up for in appetite.

The seahorse is incredibly tiny, but it eats constantly. We know a few people like that too! They don’t have teeth or stomachs, so food passes through them very quickly. What does this mean for their diet? Instead of the standard three square meals a day, they need 30! That’s about 3,000 brine shrimp every day.

Seahorses aren’t strong swimmers.

Yeah, they live under water, but they simply can’t swim well. As you can see, they have an unusual shape to their bodies that isn’t very hydrodynamic, and they are forced to use a small fin on their backs to propel themselves in a forward motion. When it’s time to change direction, they use a small fin on the back of their heads. Now their awkward movements are probably making a little more sense to you.

Seahorses have eyes in the back of their heads.

Okay, not literally, but they can look backwards and forwards at the same time. Unlike us, their eyes work independently of one another, so they can look backwards with one eye and forward with the other at the same time. It’s quite helpful and it’s one of their only defenses. While they are constantly eating, they can also be on the lookout for predators.

It’s true what they say about seahorse men.

They give birth. The female transfers her eggs to the male while breeding and he fertilizes them in his pouch. Germination takes about 4 weeks, and then the little seahorse babies are born. But don’t think this is easy business. “Labor” can take up to 12 hours, depending on the species, and seahorses lay between one hundred and fifteen hundred eggs.

It’s all about love with seahorses.

Well, we have no evidence that they feel love, but we do know that they mate for life. They go on dates too! Every day, a couple will engage in a courtship display that can last up to an hour. They swim, frolic and change colors together to solidify their bond. Now isn’t that sweet?