3 Awesomely Artificial Wreck Dives

Posted: 10th April 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
Bond, James Bond

Bond, James Bond

If you’re anything like me, you’re not a fan of artificial. You want the real deal… every time. And especially when it comes to wreck dives. Part of the fun of wreck diving is in the story. Every real wreck has a story, and although you usually know it before exploring, you still uncover bits and pieces as you make your way through the dive. It’s part of the experience.

But even after having said all that, there are a few artificial wrecks that are worth exploring. After all, these are still authentic sunken ships… just minus all the tragedy. As artificial as they are, they are also a little less macabre – for what that’s worth.

USS Oriskany – Pensacola, Florida

Of course this is number one on the list. It is one of the largest artificial wreck dives in the world. You’ll find the USS Oriskany off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, teeming with tropical fish, dolphins, sharks and other interesting residents. The USS Oriskany does have a history, though it doesn’t involve an accidental submersion. This ship endured both the Korean and Vietnam wars and collected 12 battle stars in the process. It is quite an honor to be in the presence of this artificially sunken treasure.

James Bond Wrecks – Nassau, Bahamas

If you’re going to go artificial, why not keep it as Hollywood as possible. Did you know that you can explore the wrecks involved in the James Bond Movies, Never Say Die and Thunderball? It’s akin to visiting the set of your favorite movie in Los Angeles – except you have to don scuba gear to catch a glimpse of these relics. You can actually explore the interior of the wreck called Tears of Allah, but will have to admire the older Vulcan Bomber from more of a distance. Still, after having been submerged for more than 30 years, this wreck comes alive with coral sponges, seafans and fish. You’ll find both wrecks off the coast of the Bahamas.

HMCS Yukon – Mission Beach, California

Want to bask in some culture during your next dive? Visit the HMCS Yukon and take a look at the world’s first underwater art gallery. This Canadian Mackenzie Class destroyer was sunk just 15 years ago off the cost of Mission Beach, California. It is a great dive for those who are new to wreck diving, and it also contains some more challenging areas in its 366-foot long physique.

 

 

5 Best Scuba Diving Movies of All Time

Posted: 2nd April 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
Scuba movies rock!

Scuba movies rock!

Everyone has their list of favorite movies, and I am no exception. Of course, there are many more scuba diving movies than the ones on this list, but in my opinion, these are the best. I’ll even tell you why. If your list is different than mine, please share! Maybe I’ve missed some of your favorite movies. And maybe, just maybe, they will bump out one these to become my favorites (but they have to be pretty darn special to do that!).

1. Sphere

What do you get when you take an all-star cast, put them in wetsuits and drop them into water (to hunt aliens!)? Pure awesomeness. This one is a bit of a cult classic, and it’s not for everyone, but I thought it was rather funny, if sometimes unintentionally. Of course, it would have been better if Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson and Liev Schreiber actually filmed scenes in the ocean instead of in a water tank, but we can’t win them all.

2. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

If we can’t laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at? This side-splitting scuba comedy stars the hilarious Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum. And here’s a fun fact about the movie that we can all be happy about. Bill Murray, taking his role very seriously, became a certified diver before production began.

3. Thunderball

Most James Bond movies have at least one diving scene, so but Thunderball is a cut above the rest. First, it’s Sean Connery as Bond, so there’s that. But then he takes it to the next level by diving with sharks. Although I was dying to be impressed with Connery’s bravery and skill, I found out soon after watching the movie that he was diving through clear plastic tubes that separated him from the sharks. Sigh. And sometimes, it wasn’t even him in the water. It was his stunt double. Still, the movie does get points for underwater coolness.

4. The Frogmen

I guess I’m a sucker for nostalgia. As a scuba diver, I’ve always loved looking through the history of diving gear and practices. We’ve come a long way in a short time. The Frogmen is a movie about the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams that were deployed during World War II. And even back then, it was authentic. The film was produced with the support and direction of the U.S. Navy.

5. Men of Honor

Robert DeNiro and Cuba Gooding Jr star in this fictional story inspired by the life of Carl Brashear, the first African American Master Diver to serve in the U.S. Navy. It is a dramatic and touching story of Brashear’s drive to overcome the racism of the 40s and achieve his goal of becoming an operational diver in the Navy.

Hey, if birdwatching is a sport, what’s wrong with a little fishwatching. There are some amazing species out there that are just begging to be seen and photographed. And although they are not all technically fish, if you ask me, they are much more interesting than any bird. So, go ahead and start your bucket list of fish to view in the wild (no pet shops or aquariums, please). Here are five really interesting species to get you started. There are so many more out there, so don’t feel the need to stop with just five.

 

Harlequin Shrimp

Harlequin Shrimp

1. Harlequin Shrimp

This little showman is quite the picky eater. Harlequin shrimp will only dine on echinoderms, with their favorites being starfish and some urchins. You’ll find this species of saltwater shrimp hanging around the coral reefs of the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans.

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

2. Flamboyant Cuttlefish

This cuttlefish’s name makes it sound jolly, but don’t let that fool you! The flamboyant cuttlefish is highly toxic. You’ll find this species in the Indo-Pacific waters off the coast of northern Australia, southern New Guinea, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Peackock mantis shrimp

Peackock mantis shrimp

3. Peacock Mantis Shrimp

When you think of shrimp, you probably think of dinner. But the two on these list will have you reconsidering. The peacock mantis shrimp, looking like something out of Alice in Wonderland, is truly a sight to behold. Like its close cousin, the Harlequin Shrimp, the Peacock Mantis is native to the Indo-Pacific.

Brain Coral

Brain Coral

4. Brain Coral

It’s obvious where this coral gets its name. It looks like a brain. Sometimes, it’s even round and brain-shaped. Go ahead and take some flash photography, but don’t get too close. It is coral, after all. You’re most likely to find Brain Coral in the Red Sea.

Giant Clam

Giant Clam

5. Giant Clam

Although it is beautiful, this one may be the most difficult to check off of your list. It is one of the most endangered clam species. The Giant Clam is native to the shallow coral reefs of the South Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The Hagfish's Alter Ego

The Hagfish’s Alter Ego

We all have our own unique defense mechanisms, and marine animals are no exception. But while yours may be to curl up into a ball and wait for danger to pass, most marine mammals have a more interesting response.

Take Slimer for example. Okay, so its name isn’t really Slimer, but you’ll understand why I have given that nickname to this organism when you hear how it reacts to being scared. Yup, it’s a lot like the ectoplasm-filled creature from the Ghostbuster movies in that it oozes a slimy substance at predators. When this slime mixes with water, as it will inevitably do, it expands to up to 5 gallons! The slime doesn’t hurt, sting or poison, but it certainly does distract from the Hagfish (Slimer’s real name). And it can get caught up in a fish’s gills and choke them.

So, although it sounds like it might be an experience of a lifetime, you may not want to mess with the hagfish. Here are three more marine animals to avoid angering.

Let me at 'em... I'll splat 'em!

Let me at ‘em… I’ll splat ‘em!

Boxer Crab

This cute little guy kind of reminds me of the chicken hawk from Foghorn Leghorn. He’s small and cute, but this little guy has some real moxy! When a threat is near, the Boxer Crab waves sea anemones around from its claws. They look sweet and fluffy, but they have a strong sting. It’s a win-win situation for both organisms because the Boxer Crab gains an impressive defensive move and the sea anemones get gain some mobility that they wouldn’t have otherwise had, which helps them find more food.

takes "playing dead" to a whole new level!

takes “playing dead” to a whole new level!

Sea Cucumber

Much like other marine animals, the sea cucumber releases a poisonous toxin when it is threatened. But SOME Sea Cucumbers up the ante buy secreting some of their internal organs out of their butts. It’s not going to hurt you or the predator, but it tricks most into thinking that the cuke is dead. After the danger passes, the Sea Cucumber regenerates its organs and goes about its business.

It's electric... boogie woogie woogie!

It’s electric… boogie woogie woogie!

Electric Rays

As you probably guessed, electric rays produce powerful electric shocks that can be used to stun prey or attack predators. The voltage isn’t enough to kill a human, but depending on how well-rested and “charged” the ray is, it may pack a serious punch. Depending on the Electric Ray and the situation, anywhere from 50 to 220 volts can be emitted.

3 Scrumptious Lionfish Dinner Recipes

Posted: 12th February 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
Lionfishdinner

Winner, Winner, Lionfish Dinner ;)

It isn’t exactly Chilean Sea Bass, but many people like the taste of Lionfish, and there is also a sense of satisfaction that comes along with digesting this horribly invasive species. It’s for the greater good of the ocean, yah know?

Lionfish is a delicate whitefish that readily accepts the flavors it is cooked alongside. It is flaky and firmer than halibut. Some foodies place it somewhere between grouper and mahi mahi. So, now that you know what to expect from this fiesty predator, let’s explore some of the best ways to prepare lionfish.

1. Tempura Lionfish

Ingredients:

Lionfish meat

Salt

Ginger

Rice vinegar

Garlic

Favorite tempura batter

Mirin

Preparation:

Prepare the fish by lightly washing and patting dry. Prepare the marinade which includes a mixture of fresh ginger, garlic, mirin, salt and rice vinegar. Marinate as per your time allowance but up to 1 day. Make tempura batter (as per your favorite recipe)

Cooking:

Heat oil. Dredge fillet in flour and dip in batter. Fry until lightly golden.

Serve with your favorite oriental sauce.

Source: http://www.lionfishhunters.org/Recipes.html

 

2. Castaway’s Wreck Diver-style Lionfish

Ingredients:

42 ounces lionfish fillets, patted dry

flour (for coating)

5 cloves garlic, diced

2½ cups chopped tomatoes

5 tsp. capers

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

2 T. chopped fresh basil

parsley or kale for garnish

lemon wedge for garnish

Preparation:

Dredge fillets in flour to lightly dust. Place in sauté pan with small amount of hot butter over medium heat. Cook first side, careful not to burn.

Turn over fish when golden, and reduce heat while adding garlic, tomatoes, capers, white wine and lemon juice. Cover to hold steam in and cook until fish is fork-tender. Add basil and serve immediately. Garnish with sprig of parsley or kale and lemon wedge.

Source: National Geographic: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/07/10/lionfish-gotta-eat-em-to-beat-em/

 

3. Blackened Lionfish

Ingredients:

4 fillets lionfish

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 tablespoons butter, cubed

Preparation:

Preheat a grill or grill pan . Place 2 lionfish fillets each into the center of two 10-by-10-inch aluminum foil squares. Combine the garlic salt, oregano , paprika , cayenne and black pepper in a small bowl, and then coat both sides of the fillets with the spice mix. Top the fillets with the butter cubes, and then tightly wrap the foil squares to form 2 pockets. Place the pockets on the grill and cook until the fish is tender and flakey, about 6 minutes.

Source: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/blackened-lionfish-with-creamy-potato-salad.html

3 Gross Things Every SCUBA Does

Posted: 5th February 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
You spit in your mask, don't you?

You spit in your mask, don’t you?

When you first started diving, you probably thought about all of the shiny new gear and vast open water. But did you think of all of the disgusting things you would be doing? Probably not. And by now, they probably come as second nature, so you don’t even realize how gross they are – until you start discussing them with a non-diver. Well, don’t worry. We won’t be the ones to tell your friends that you do each and every thing on this list. But if they are reading this –trust us– the cat is out of the bag. :)

1. Spit in your mask

We know you slather saliva in the same mask that you put on your face. Just inches from your eyes is a layer of drying saliva. You’re disgusting. But then again, so are we. The truth is that spitting in your mask keeps it clear, and it is one of the most important things you can do before you submerge. Spitting in your mask is an issue of safety and overall enjoyment (things can get hairy under the water when your visibility is impaired). Here’s why spitting in your mask works: The pocket of air between your face and the mask’s lens gets very humid and causes condensation to form. You could purchase an anti-fog solution to keep the condensation at bay, or you could just spit in your mask.

2. Pee in your wetsuit

Were you expecting an underwater port-a-potty? Diving is an adventure that does not stop for bathroom breaks. Many dive boats do not even have restrooms, so by the time you are geared up and ready to rock, you may already have to pee. The good news is that peeing in your wetsuit can also help keep you warm in chilly temperatures. If you are still grossed out by the notion of urinating on yourself (this one does take some getting used to), be sure to clean and thoroughly dry your wetsuit between dives.

3. Become a mucus monster

This is one disgusting side effect of diving that simply cannot be avoided. When you dive, your mucus production increases. Do not be surprised by the slime that oozes out of your nose and mouth when you submerge. A dive may not be the best way to make a good impression on a first date, but this phenomenon is perfectly normal. Just rinse out in the water before you get back on the boat and you should be fine.

5 Types of Divers to Avoid (Like the Plague)

Posted: 29th January 2015 by admin in Scuba Diving
Do you know this guy?

Do you know this guy?

Most of us get spoiled by diving with our trusted dive buddies. But when we venture out with a larger group, we run the risk of encountering the worst kind of divers out there. If you have known anyone like the divers on this list, you know how crucial it is to avoid diving with them at all costs – or you may pay with your sanity. And as a PSA, if you think you may be one of these divers, it’s time for some serious dive reform. Ask your friends if you fall into any of these categories (just to be safe).

1. The Underwater Bandit

You know the rules. Leave the ocean as you found it (or better); Take with you nothing but pictures. The underwater bandit does not think these rules apply to him. He is usually a new diver looking to take some souvenirs home to show off to his non-diving friends, but he may also be the ultimate underwater menace who damages coral reefs or grabs a fish for a selfie.

2. The Know-It-All

Whether on land or at sea, no one likes a know-it-all. But this diver doesn’t seem to care. He just wants credit for knowing all the basics and a heaping pile of useless information. And it doesn’t even matter if he’s right. He will tell you he is, and that is all you need to know. This annoying dive personality is likely to speak over other divers, or worse, the dive instructor while they are trying to communicate something important.

3. The Nervous Nellie

The only type of diver worse than a know-it-all is a nervous Nellie. You almost want to feel bad for these divers, but it’s difficult to feel pity when you are relying on them to be your dive buddy. Panicking underwater is extremely dangerous for the diver himself and for others in the group.

4. The Lone Ranger

This diver is also a know-it-all, but not all know-it-all’s are Lone Rangers. The Lone Ranger has his own set of ideas in mind for the dive and does not consider anyone else. As far as he is concerned, he is on this dive alone. If this sounds like you, don’t bother diving with a buddy or group. It is extremely disrespectful and could be dangers to other divers if you leave them in the lurch.

5. The Perpetual Novice

Some divers are just more serious than others. They dive more often and try to get as much experience under their dive belts as possible. They also take things like buoyancy control very seriously. Other divers are happy to dive on rare occasions and are unwilling to invest the time and energy to master techniques that all divers should know. This type of diver will bring you down. They are unable to dive as long as experienced divers and they are more likely to be a liability than a help.

4 Reasons to Wear Dive Gloves

Posted: 22nd January 2015 by admin in Basic Dive Gear
For your protection

For your protection

There is one thing that no scuba diver can deny. You need a lot of gear to be able to make yourself at home under water. And unfortunately, that gear can get expensive. If you’re diving on a budget, you’re probably looking to cut unnecessary items off of your list. In truth, unless you are planning some cold-water dives, you can probably get away without dive gloves if you are careful. But before you make the tough call, let’s explore some of the ways dive gloves.

1. Keep your hands warm!

Doesn’t it seem like your hands and feet get cold before any other part of your body? That’s because they do! Your body is designed to keep your internal organs from freezing, and your hands and feet simply aren’t important enough to rate a good layer of protection. That’s why, even in relatively warm water, some divers’ hands can become very uncomfortable with prolonged exposure. Dive gloves will help ensure that your hands stay about as warm as the rest of your body. Just be sure to choose the right gloves for the water temperature of your dive.

2. Protection from sharp objects

You know you are not supposed to touch the coral reef. The rule is in place for your protection and to protect our oceans. But even an accidental brush of unprotected skin against the reef can cause serious damage. Keeping your distance is always a good idea, but coral reefs are not the only sharp underwater objects to avoid. Wrecks are filled with sharp edges, and even a spiny fish could rip your flesh if you aren’t careful. Dive gloves are not a coat of armour, but they will offer some protection to minimize the damage.

3. Protection from stings

Ideally, you will want to keep a safe distance from all marine life, but sometimes, this simply isn’t possible. We all know how quickly a bloom of jellyfish can sneak up on us, and that is never a fun experience. The rest of your body will be covered, but without dive gloves, your hands will be left exposed and prone to getting stung. Lionfish are another species that often sting divers.

4. Look like a pro ;)

Most divers who know what they’re doing will wear dive gloves. Maybe not on every dive, but they definitely will have a pair at-the-ready in their gear bags. If you want to look like you know what you’re doing down there, you should own the right gear and know when to use it.

If you have any questions about which gloves to buy, check out our diving gloves buying guide or feel free to give us a call.

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.