Two Types of Divers: Do You Pee in Your Wetsuit?

Posted: 8th January 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
Hey, it happens...

Hey, it happens…

There are two types of divers: Those that pee in their wetsuits and those that are liars.

Which are you?

Most divers don’t want to admit to this somewhat embarrassing behavior, but it’s hard to deny that simple logistics of coming up for a potty break simply do not make sense.

So, let’s bring this previously taboo subject to the forefront. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. Here are 3 reasons why you should not be embarrassed about peeing in your wetsuit.

1. Immersion diuresis – Immerse all or part of your body in water, and guess what happens? You will probably have to pee, even if you didn’t have the urge before getting into the water. Lower temperatures and water pressure cause the body to increase urine production, and as we all know, this will lead to the urge to hit the restroom. But when you’re all geared up and enjoying your dive, there are no restrooms to be had. You see? This is why divers pee in their wetsuits. That’s right. It’s science.

2. Warmth – Wetsuits work by trapping a small amount of water close to your body, which your body heats and then uses to keep warm. Peeing in your wetsuit adds warmth to the suit, if only in a localized area. In chilly waters, this can be a very welcome feeling. Is it gross? Well, yeah. But it provides warmth and relief that will allow you to get your mind off of “holding it” and on to the barracuda that just swam by you.

3. Convenience – It takes a while to gear up and get out into the water, right? Most dive boats don’t have bathrooms, so when you’re hitting the water, it has already been some time since your last bathroom break. Add to that your dive time and the amount of time it’ll take to get back to shore and you may be going quite a while without access to a toilet. Do you really want to tell your dive buddies that everyone has to cut their dive short because you have to get back to shore and use a restroom?

Of course, there are also some downsides to peeing in your wetsuit. The obvious one is that it is gross. As mentioned above, the wetsuit is designed to keep water close to your skin, and if you pee in that water, well, you get the gist. It also isn’t great for the suit itself. If you regularly pee in your wetsuit, you may find yourself going through suits more often than someone with more bladder control.

So, although there shouldn’t be any shame in peeing in your wetsuit, try to maintain some control. If you can hold it until you get back to shore, go ahead and do that. Your skin and your wetsuit will thank you.

Control your buoyancy

Control your buoyancy

Isn’t it funny that the one skill that a diver needs in order to be successful is also one that people struggle with most often? Buoyancy control takes time to master, but the time spent to practice and master this skill will pay off in spades.

Do you know where you stand in this journey? Can you improve your own buoyancy? Here are three signs that your buoyancy control may need some work:

1. You use your hands and/or feet to maintain your position – Some divers can get a little defensive about this point. “It’s called swimming,” is one comment I’ve heard from new divers more than once. But in reality, there is a time and a place for swimming. You should always be able to maintain your position with little to no movement. Think about it, if you have to use your arms and/or legs to remain in position in a tight spot near a coral reef, you could risk hurting yourself or the reef. Not to mention the fact that you will be using more oxygen than you need.

2. You rely on the BCD a little too much – Your natural breathing should play a large role in buoyancy control. If you aren’t using your breaths, though, you will be forced to rely on your buoyancy control device way too much. If you are changing the amount of air in your BCD too often, you run the risk of forcing uncontrolled ascents and descents, which can be a very dangerous thing. If you are ascending uncontrollably, you may experience decompression sickness. If you are descending too quickly, you may experience nitrogen narcosis. Buoyancy control is about more than just prolonging the dive and making it more enjoyable. It is also a matter of safety.

3. You run out of air faster than your dive buddies – If you dive with a group and you are always the one who needs to come up for air the fastest, that is a sign that you are not in control of your own buoyancy – or everyone in your group is a buoyancy control master and you are not. There are other reasons why you may run out of air quicker, but the most likely reason it would happen is a lack of buoyancy control.

If you are having trouble controlling your own buoyancy, don’t be too hard on yourself. This is a skill that can be difficult to master. The good news is that once you have the hang of it, almost nothing will hold you back from progressing in the sport and having the dives of your life.

5 Sea Creatures That are Not at All What They Seem

Posted: 26th December 2014 by admin in Scuba Diving

Have you ever known a large guy who people call “Tiny?” Sometimes nicknames aren’t the most accurate way to describe a person – or a fish for that matter. The marine life that made this list are in the same boat as the robust dude dubbed with such a misnomer. Their names are quite deceiving.

1. Starfish

No one can deny that this little guy is a star, but did you know that the starfish isn’t really a fish at all? The first starfish skeletons were found from the Cambrian period, which means that these echinoderms pre-date dinosaurs. That’s right; the starfish is one of the oldest forms of life on this planet.

2. Sea Gooseberry

Have you ever seen a gooseberry in real life? I can assure you that it is much tastier than this sea creature that bears the same name. They are distant cousins of the jellyfish, which we will get to in a moment, and are made up of mostly water with tiny, thin hairs that help them navigate through the water.

3. Jellyfish

No, this is not a fish made of jelly. It is, in fact, about as much jelly as it is fish. Actually, this is an invertebrate from the phylum Cnidaria. Fortunately, not all of the 10,000 types possess the power to sting. And that’s a good thing since they range greatly in size.

4. Spiny Dogfish

If only this shark could play fetch. Now, that would be something. And it isn’t exactly man’s best friend either. This is the only type of shark that possesses a venom that mildly toxic to humans. And man is not too kind to the dogfish either. They are commonly eaten, although you may have heard them called rock salmon (yet another misnomer).

seapineapple

5. Sea Pineapple

It is easy to see where this animal got its name. It clearly does resemble a pineapple, albeit a somewhat deformed version of one. People do eat the sea pineapple, but its taste is quite different from that of the fruit with the same name. It is quite the delicacy in some parts of Asia, but many have described its texture as being rather rubbery.

Do you have an irrational fear of anything? For you, it might be spiders or heights. For some other people, it’s sharks and whales. What makes this fear even more irrational is that many of the people who fear underwater creatures do not spend a great deal of time in the water.

Now, I’m not trying to belittle your fears. Many types of sharks and some spiders can do some serious harm to humans. This is an indisputable fact. However, under the right circumstances, humans can also do some serious harm to humans. And guess what? We are much more likely to be hurt or killed by another human than a shark or spider. But instead of redirecting our fears, let’s just take a look at why these underwater creatures who have gotten a bad rap are not as scary as you may think.

1. Sharks

Let’s just begin with the elephant in the room. We’ve all seen the movie Jaws. We know what the inside of a Great White’s mouth looks like. But did you know that your chances of being attacked by a shark are roughly 1 in 11.5 million? Your odds of being killed by a shark are even less. On the other hand, humans kill an average of 100 million sharks each year. Who should be afraid of who?

2. Orcas

Many people are afraid of these whales because of their nickname: Killer. But did you know that killer whales are actually related to dolphins? Most cetaceans are incapable of eating humans, so even if they wanted to, they would have no reason to attack a human. Another reason you shouldn’t be afraid of orcas? Well, when was the last time you saw one? You were probably sitting safely in a boat on a whale watching excursion or behind glass at SeaWorld. Humans and whales simply do not encounter one another in the wild very often.

3. Water Snakes

The movie Anaconda has given water snakes a bad name. But, anacondas live in tropical South America, so you probably don’t have to worry about an encounter. There are other snakes that live closer to home that you may be concerned about, but again, encounters with humans are extremely rare. For example, the venomous banded sea krait is quite possibly one of the most venomous snakes in the world, but they are so extremely docile that unprompted attacks almost never occur.

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.