Dive with whales in the Dominican Republic

Dive with whales in the Dominican Republic

Scuba diving is an incomparable joy to virtually anyone who has adopted the hobby. And most divers will tell you that any dive is a good one. But truthfully, every diver hopes for an eventful dive. That is, one where there are interesting things to see. For some divers, those interesting things may include coral reefs, vegetation and wrecks. But every diver hopes to encounter various species of marine life whenever they submerge.

For the best chance at seeing marine life, plan your next dives in one of these spots.

1. Cocos Island, Costa Rica

If it’s sharks you’re after, sharks you will find around Cocos Island. Silky sharks, whale sharks and schools of hammerheads abound. But sharks aren’t all you’ll see (they have to have a food source, don’t they?). The Equatorial Countercurrent delivers a wide array of marine life. Here, you’ll also find Pacific manta rays, schools of jacks and many other marine animals. Pro Tip: Hammerheads tend to congregate near the pinnacles at Dirty Rock and Dos Amigos. If you want to dive with hammerheads, these are the spots for you. If the thought fills you with fright, well, you should probably avoid Cocos Island altogether.

2. Barbados

Sea turtles are common, but they are also among the most interesting animals you’ll find under water. And Barbados is one of the best places for you to find them. In fact, Barbados is home to both the hawksbill and leatherback turtle species. Both were once found on the endangered species list, but they are now thriving.

3. Silver Bank, Dominican Republic

The dives at Silver Bank are not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for it, there’s nothing like diving with a humpback whale. Imagine feeling dwarfed and humbled as you stare down 40 feet of this majestic creature. The Silver Bank seems to be home to more of these cetaceans than you’ll find anywhere else, so although a sighting is not guaranteed, you’ll have a better chance to dive with a whale here than virtually anywhere else in the world. Plan your dive between late January through early April to increase your odds.

 

5 Things Every Scuba Diver Should Know

Posted: 14th June 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving

ThemoreyouknowWhen you start scuba diving, you’ll embark on your first dives armed with the skills you’ve learned in your certification course and a little common sense (we hope). But there are a few other things that every diver should know. Here are six things we’d like to share with new divers. Can you think of more?

DON’T touch!!

We’re sure you would have heard this one from your scuba instructor, but it’s so important that it bears repeating. Do not touch the coral reef. Not only could it break your skin, but it can also cause more damage than you can imagine. If you damage coral in just one small spot, that small spot will become susceptible to parasites and further damage, so your little jab could turn into a major issue that continues spreading long after you’ve left the dive boat. Also, avoid temptation to touch marine life. We are there to observe, not to interfere.

Buoyancy takes practice

Don’t think you’re an expert just because you had a good first dive. There are a lot of things that affect your buoyancy, and you could find yourself in a world of trouble if you get too arrogant and stop learning. Your BCD should only be used to compensate for depth changes.

Think of your fins as your feet

You can’t feel the end of your fins like you can feel your toes, but you have to be just as conscious about where they are kicking. You don’t want to end up kicking another diver, marine animal or coral reef. Mastering this skill will also keep you from having to replace your fins as often.

Stay within your comfort zone (or just outside of it)

When you know what you’re doing, it’s okay to stray a bit from your comfort zone. After all, that’s how we advance. But when you’re a new diver and just getting the hang of using your regulator, stay in shallow water. Don’t feel pressured to dive deeper just because other people are or because you are allowed to. There will be plenty of time for exploring the underwater world after you have your bearings.

Take care of your gear

Your gear will last a lot longer if you take good care of it, so be sure to have it maintenanced regularly. Most scuba shops will service and repair your gear for a fee, which is well worthwhile, so check with your local shop to see if they can help keep your gear in good shape. It’s not all about money, either. Your gear is your life support, so you want to be sure it’s working properly at all times.

Scuba Addict Cartoon (courtesy of Scuba Diver Life)

Scuba Addict Cartoon (courtesy of Scuba Diver Life)

Last year around this time, we shared a list of our top 10 signs you’re addicted to scuba diving. Some of the signs were tongue-in-cheek, but we think all of them were relatable. If you haven’t seen that post yet, you’ve GOT to check it out. Let us know how you rate. 10 out of 10? Now, it’s time to see if you are really a certifiable addict with 5 more signs that you’re addicted to scuba diving.

1. You go on vacation to a tropical island and return without a tan

Your non diver friends think you’re just very conscious of UV exposure, but your dive buddies know that you’re not getting a tan because you spend all of your time well beneath the surface of the water. Sure, there’s some light there, but not enough to scorch your skin. Better for you!

2. You forget to hold your breath underwater when swimming

You’re so used to relying on your underwater breathing apparatus that you’ve all but forgotten how to hold your breath under water. You do it before you submerge your head, right??

3. You have fallen asleep with your dive booties still on

This may or may not have happened while you were still on the dive boat, all tuckered out from another amazing dive. But we know your buddies didn’t let you forget it, so neither will we. If this happened to you, you are officially a scuba addict.

4. Your picture appears on marine life identification charts

When tourists line up for their snorkeling excursions and are reviewing the “literature,” they may be surprised to see your smiling mug between the Dorado and the Wahoo. And why not? You spend about as much time down there as those guys do. You deserve your time in the spotlight too!

5. You’re in your 20s and your skin is permanently wrinkled

Yep, you’ve spent so much time under water that you look like someone’s grandpa – and you’re barely out of college. It’s okay with you, though. You wear each and every wrinkle with pride!

Have we missed any signs for the scuba addicted? If you know of anyone who may need scuba divers anonymous, please feel free to forward this post. There is no cure for scuba addiction, but it’s good to know where you stand! The best thing you can do is find a support group (also known as a dive association).

coralScuba diving is more than just a favorite pastime for many divers. It is life. But could a threat be looming that would strip you of your ability to don your scuba gear and escape from the world?

It’s true. Scuba diving is already banned in some places.

In an effort to preserve coral reefs, Thailand has banned scuba diving from areas that have experienced damage. But are scuba divers getting a bad rap for the damage or are we really to blame? Let’s explore.

Current State of Our Reefs

At least 27 percent of the world’s coral reefs have been damaged or destroyed (according to the World Resources Institute). If we continue damaging reefs the way we have, that number will increase to 60 percent by the year 2030.

Coral reefs are like underwater rainforests. They are complex ecosystems that are home to a variety of sea life, from bacteria to fish. In fact, 25 percent of marine species use coral reefs as a safe haven. Just imagine the domino effect that would take place if we were to lose 60 percent of our coral reefs. We would certainly see many more species of fish and other marine animals on the endangered list in years to come.

How Scuba Diving Impacts Our Coral Reefs

We know that divers can damage the reefs by hitting up against them during a dive. They can also damage their skin, but that’s another story. But there’s more to this story than just an accidental brush here and there. Let’s explore the ways scuba diving impacts our coral reefs.

Dive Boats – If the driver doesn’t know what he’s doing, he can easily scrape against coral with his boat, but the pressure from a high-speed boat can also do damage to the coral reef. Only experienced drivers should get anywhere near a coral reef, and even drivers with experience should stay as far away as possible.

Damaging Divers – Whether accidental or on purpose, divers touch the coral reef. But you may think that a small hit here and there can’t possibly do the kind of damage we’re discussing. What you probably don’t know is that once coral is damaged, it becomes more susceptible to parasites and disease. So, even if a diver damages a small part of the reef, the damage can easily spread to a much larger portion.

So what about banning diving??

Dive bans are likely to continue in areas that have experienced a great deal of damage, but the hobby itself will remain safe. Just be extra careful to avoid coral on your dives to help preserve your ability to dive there again.

Watch out for these 3 common reasons for scuba diving fatalities

Watch out for these 3 common reasons for scuba diving fatalities

Every year, about 100 people die while scuba diving. These numbers aren’t staggering considering how many people dive, but that fact is not comforting to the families of those who have met their end during a dive. Be safe and take every precaution to avoid these three common scuba diving accidents.

A pre-existing disease

If you know you have a health condition that could impact diving safety, be sure your disease is well managed before you dive. Heart disease is one common preexisting condition that could cause serious problems, even death, for a diver. If you are overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, lung issues or high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about your plans to dive. Even if you seem healthy, be sure to go for your regular physical checkups if you plan to scuba dive. Just because a condition or disease remains undiagnosed does not mean you are safe.

Poor buoyancy control

Buoyancy control is so important. It can mean the difference between a fun and stressful dive, but it can also mean the difference between life and death. When you first start diving, you will need a lot of help in this area (this is why certifications and courses come highly recommended for new divers). Just recognize that you have a lot to learn and rely on your diving instructor to teach you the best techniques to control buoyancy. The worst thing you can do is to assume you know everything. Buoyancy issues can quickly cause a diver to submerge too far too fast and not have enough air to get back to the surface.

Violent water movement

This is an issue that all divers must look out for, but drift divers are especially vulnerable. Fast currents and violent water movement can make it difficult for anyone in the water, but they can cause a drift diver to drift too far from the boat and put themselves in grave danger. Always check the weather before you dive and avoid going out if conditions are poor – even if it’s the last day of your vacation.

4 Scuba Myths That Keep People from Diving

Posted: 21st May 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
Would you let these myth s keep you from diving?

Would you let these myth s keep you from diving?

Have you been dying to get a friend to try scuba diving? I know. You’ve tried just about everything from bribery to blackmail, but she just won’t budge. If only you could get to the root of why she is so against donning a wetsuit and taking the plunge. Well, wonder no more. We have the answer. These ridiculous scuba myths are the reason most people will not try diving.

1. You’re going to get eaten by a shark

Hey, it’s possible. But EXTREMELY unlikely. Sharks do not cause nearly as many fatalities as people think. In the entire year of 2014, there were only 72 unprovoked shark attacks in the world. And although you may think scuba diving will increase your odds of being attacked, only about one diver a year for the past 200 years has been attacked by a shark. Add to that the fact that you can decrease your odds of encountering a shark by diving in areas with few shark sightings and you’ll probably never even see a shark.

2. Water pressure will cause your tank to explode

If you’ve heard of a tank exploding, it’s because it was faulty, not because of water pressure. Tank explosions are even more rare than shark attacks, so it shouldn’t be a reason for you (or your friend) to stay out of the water.

3. It’s too complicated!

Just like anything else worth doing, scuba diving takes some time and effort to learn. So does driving a car, but that didn’t stop you from doing it! Actually, the learning process can be both fun and exhilarating. And it’s okay if you find it a little scary. You’ll find that most worthwhile is just out of comfort zone.

4. It’s too expensive

Depending on your disposable income level, this could be true – but most people are just using this one as an excuse. We as humans were not built to breathe under water (sigh), so we need some help. That help comes in the form of gear, and that gear can get a little pricey. However, there are plenty of money-saving options. Look for off-season sales, discounted rates at scuba shops and always take good care of the gear you do purchase to ensure you get the most out of your money. When you’re just starting out, we always recommend renting as much gear as you can. There is no sense in making a huge investment if you aren’t sure you’ll love diving.

 

 

How to find the BEST gift for a diver

How to find the BEST gift for a diver

Here’s the best tip for buying a gift for ANYONE. Don’t wait until the last minute. That’s why we’re posting this today instead of waiting until the gift giving season. Another reason is because there’s never a bad time to give a gift. Whether it’s for your mom on mother’s day or for your honey just to let him know you care… people love to give and receive.

You might think it would be easy to buy a great gift for a diver – you know, with all the gear we need – but it can be a challenge. That’s probably why so many people end up getting gift certificates. And don’t get me wrong. Gift certificates are great. But if that’s what you always get for the diver in your life, it can get a little boring. So, here are some of our best tips for buying an awesome gift for the scuba diver in your life.

1. Go diving with him or her!

If you want to know what he needs, there is no better way than to go on a dive together. This way, you don’t have to try to bring things up in conversation naturally. Your dive buddy will probably voluntarily tell you what she needs. Not because she wants you to buy it, but because that is when she is recognizing that her gear needs to be replaced. Nod politely and make a mental note. This is your super gift!

2. Play it safe

Maybe diving with your buddy isn’t an option. That’s okay. There are a few things that most divers could use, regardless of what they already have. Consider buying a redundant air system (backup air supply) to keep your diver safe at all times. Not only does this gift show that you care about his hobby, but it shows you care about his life in general. Dive gloves are almost always welcome. Even if she has a few pairs, these are likely to get torn eventually. If you want to get fancy, try gifting a set of webbed gloves. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, consider a backup regulator. This may be something he or she has, so proceed with caution. Wetsuit cleaners and underwater photography accessories also work well for most divers.

3. Get creative

If you aren’t comfortable buying gear for the diver in your life, play it safe and look for something a little more creative. Funny, sweet or kitschy gifts are usually welcomed by most divers. Consider getting scuba diving themed jewelry, mugs or t-shirts. These are also great add ons for a bigger gift.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Great Whites

Posted: 30th April 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
You don't really know me...

You don’t really know me…

Great whites are probably the most feared type of shark, but that probably has a lot to do with misinformation and cinematography. Jaws did a grave disservice to these majestic giants. Sure, they are capable of massive destruction, but they aren’t the ruthless beasts most people fear them to be. We aren’t even on their menu. That’s why, when great whites do attack humans, the attacks are often not fatal. Like dogs, they feel with their mouths. Once they realize they have bitten something that isn’t food, they will usually release.

1. The Great White Shark isn’t the biggest shark

The largest great white shark ever recorded was caught off the coast of Cojimar, Cuba. It measured 21 feet and weighed about 7k pounds. Most great whites are between 15 and 20 feet and weigh about 5k pounds. But they still aren’t the largest shark in the ocean. Whale sharks are even larger.

2. He’s a versatile swimmer

Great white sharks can swim all the way up to the surface, but they can also dive down to 820 feet. They prefer warm, salty coastal seas, so you’ll usually find them along the coasts of Australia, South Africa and California. But great whites can be found in virtually any ocean – the polar seas are an exception.

3. Great white babies are weird

One man’s weird is another shark’s normal, right? While they are in their mother’s womb, great white shark babies (called pups) swallow their own teeth. I guess we do some weird things in the womb too. Experts speculate that they do this to reuse calcium and other minerals. And once they are born, they are on their own. They receive no parental care and are left to fend for themselves.

4. They have a sixth sense!

Instead of the typical five that we’re used to, sharks have six senses. They are capable of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing, but they also are capable of electro-reception. This is something they have in common with dolphins. It’s what helps them feel the electric fields around them.

5. Great whites are incredibly sarcastic

Do you have a friend who rolls her eyes at everything. Well, she has a lot in common with the great white. But great whites do it for a different reason. Since they don’t have eyelids, they roll their eyes back to protect them. Okay, so it’s not sarcasm, but itsn’t funny to think of it that way.

5 Ways to Avoid Being a Scuba Jerk

Posted: 23rd April 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving

annoyingdiverDo you remember that guy on your last dive? You know, the one that won’t let you forget him! Sometimes it’s good to be memorable. Other times, it’s better to fall in line. I guess it depends on what you are being remembered for. It’s great to be remembered for your kindness or ability, but you don’t want to be remembered for being the obnoxious jerk on the boat.

Here’s how you can avoid being a scuba jerk:

1. Don’t brag about your certifications

For the most part, we all have them. Education is great and extremely helpful in the right situations, but there are some people who collect certifications as if they are badges of honor. A Dry Suit Diver certification isn’t going to do much for you if you never dive in cold water. Just sayin. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t become certified, if that’s what you want. But don’t do it for brownie points with other divers. Bragging about your certifications can come off as extremely obnoxious. Bragging in itself can be a little annoying, but don’t be afraid to swap stories with fellow divers. The key is to spend about as much time listening as you do talking. Their stories matter too!

2. Get organized

We’ve all encountered the disorganized diver who spews all of his gear all over the boat in order to get himself ready. Hellooo! You aren’t the only one here. Actually, this reeks of inexperience. Get yourself together and other divers will be more likely to respect you.

3. Don’t forget to shower!

You’ve been guilty of this one before, haven’t you? When you’re on vacation and planning to spend the entire next day in water, it’s easy to justify skipping a shower. Sometimes, this works out just fine. It depends on the person and what you have planned for the previous day. If you go on a five mile hike the day before, go ahead and take that shower. Dive boats tend to get crowded and you don’t want to offend the people that are crammed up against you on either side.

4. Don’t dilly dally

Everyone should be able to move at their own pace. You shouldn’t have to feel rushed to keep up with the crowd before a dive. But if you happen to know that you need a little extra time, start the process a little earlier. No one really wants to rush you, but I can guarantee that your fellow divers don’t want to be bobbing around in the ocean as you are still gearing up. It’s a good way to make enemies.

5. Use fresh water sparingly

You aren’t the only one on the boat. And even though you are surrounded by water, no one will be drinking from the ocean. Be sure not to be a water hog!

3 Ways to Save Money on Scuba Gear

Posted: 16th April 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
How to save on scuba gear

How to save on scuba gear

Avid divers know that diving is not a cheap hobby. Heck, we could be runners or tennis players – but no. We’ve chosen our passion… and it involves a lot of gear! But that doesn’t mean you have to buy everything all at once. And it doesn’t mean you have to buy at full price either.

A note about renting – If you’re a new diver and unsure about how often your gear will get play, renting may be the best option for you. At least for now. You may want to buy your own wetsuit (people pee in those things) and a few other pieces of gear, but you can get away with renting other stuff as needed. This will not work out to be cheaper if you dive often, but if you dive once a year, it may make sense. This way, you also don’t have to worry about maintaining your gear all year.

1. Buy off season

If you live in a tropical area, there may not really be an off season. You can maybe look for sales in the rainy or hurricane season, but try not to complain too hard about not being able to take advantage of off-season sales. You get to dive all the time! Consider yourself lucky. For the rest of us, start looking for discounts in fall and early winter. By the middle of winter, most scuba shops will have unloaded any excess inventory and will only be keeping stock for people who are planning scuba vacations. You aren’t as likely to find a deal in February as you are in November.

2. Buy in bulk

Some scuba shops, including our own, offer discounts for making larger purchases. If you are in a position to buy a lot of gear at once, ask for a quote on the package. We’re so willing to do this that we even make it easy for you to create a bulk order and get a quote online. Not everyone does this, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.

3. Make your current gear last

The absolute best way to save money on new gear is to take care of your old stuff. Scuba gear needs regular maintenance to ensure it’s in good working order. Poorly maintained gear can burn out faster and cost you more money, but the larger danger is that it could malfunction while you’re under water. We offer a maintenance and repair service at our shop, and so do most scuba shops. Feel free to come to us if you’re in the Middletown, NY, area. If you live elsewhere, just check with your local scuba store.