Sunday, December 26, 2010

Scuba Diving Travel - What You Should Pack

WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 07:  ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Coming up with your packing list for your next big dive trip (or maybe even not so big) can be a big challenge. Whenever pulling together scuba diving travel plans, this is far and away the biggest question I get. What should you pack? Do you rent or bring your own gear? The answers to these questions are largely dependent on a few factors not the least of which is your own personal preference. Here's some overall suggestions.

Definitely bring:

* Certification card
* Dive log
* mask
* snorkel
* sunscreen
* swimsuit
* DAN card (this diver's insurance is an absolute MUST...don't leave home without it)
* safety equipment (ie. float, safety sausage, whistle, etc)
* basic mesh bag
* water shoes/flip flops
* seasickness medicine
* Possibly bring (in priority order):
* fins
* wetsuit or dive skin
* dive computer/watch
* regulator
* BC
* weight belts
* dive knife
* gear bag

Don't even think about bring your own tank that is much too much weight and hassle. Besides in this day and age of charging for every bag that is just a waste of a checked bag.

I strongly recommend if you are planning on bringing more of your gear besides the skin diving basics that you invest wisely in a good gear bag or suitcase. Personally, when my husband and I go on our scuba vacations we put all our gear, BCs, wetsuits, fins, etc in one Samsonite suitcase. This is the hard cover suitcase that the old commercial had the huge gorilla jumping on. Yep, that's our dive suitcase. Then we take our regulators, masks, and computers in our carry on bags. Finally, we throw two matching mesh gear back packs on top of all our gear before closing the suitcase. That way when we arrive we not only have our gear safe and sound but we also have the ability to break it up in two smaller bags so we can haul our own stuff. Now we don't always take all our own stuff but we do go through the hassle if we are traveling somewhere close or we know we can store our gear at the shop throughout our vacation, or we are not certain that the rental gear will be plentiful (ie. it's a really remote place where electricity is sketchy let alone reliable dive gear).

Waterproof all your gear---you have invested a lot in your gear---protect it!!!

Wherever you go, just take the extra time up front to make sure you have what you need for a great and fun scuba diving travel adventure. Have fun!

Thanks to Patti Gomes and Enzine Articles

Kathy Dowsett
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Underwater Riches: Sunken Treasures Around The World

From via Wikipedia

It would take over 400 years to excavate all of the wrecked ships currently unclaimed on the oceans floors. But just think of all the treasure you might find.

Flor de la Mar – Sumatra, Malaysia

Among the richest shipwrecks never recovered, the 16th Century Portuguese vessel, Flor De La Mar was lost around 1511 in a storm off the northern coast of Sumatra. Containing the stolen treasures of the Melaka kingdom in modern day Malaysia, the Flor de la Mar’s cargo, including 60 tons of gold remains undiscovered despite lying in some of the best diving waters of the world.

Merchant Royal – Dartmouth, UK

Britain’s largest unrecovered treasure haul lies just 21 miles (34 km) from Land’s End in Cornwall. The Merchant Royal, returning to England with a cargo of Spanish treasure sank in bad weather on 23 September 1641, containing 500 bars of gold, silver and precious stones. Bring a dry suit and a torch.

San Jose – Baru Peninsula, Colombia

In 1708, during the War of Spanish Succession, English Commodore, Charles Wagner captured and sank Spanish treasure ship, The San Jose in less than 1000 feet (305 metres) of crystal blue water, between the Isla del Tesoro (known as treasure island) and Baru Peninsula. The San Jose’s cargo is estimated today at a value of more than $1 billion.

Nuestra Senora de Atocha – Key West, Florida, USA

In 1985, Florida treasure hunter Mel Fischer hit the mother lode when, after 16 years of dedicated hunting, he located the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha about 35 miles (56 km) off the coast of Key West, Florida. Carrying a haul that included over 40 tonnes of silver and gold, 100,000 Spanish coins and Columbian emeralds, Fischer’s family now run diving holidays around the Atocha where artefacts continue to be uncovered.

HMS Victory – English Channel, UK

In 2009 US company Odyssey Marine Exploration announced that it had discovered the predecessor of Lord Nelson’s Victory, sunk in 1744, on a group of rocks known as The Casquets near to the Channel Islands. Thought to contain 100,000 gold coins, a legal row continues as to ownership of the haul.

Notre Dame de la Deliverance – Key West, Florida, USA

In November 1755 Spanish Galleon Notre Dame de la Deliverance left Havana with treasures collected from mines in Mexico, Peru and Colombia. A day later the ship was caught in a hurricane and sank with almost all hands, 40 miles from Florida’s Key West. Containing an estimated $2 billion in lost gold and silver, the site of the Deliverance was allegedly discovered in 2003 but has yet to be raised.

USS San Jacinto – Abacos, Bahamas

The waters off the island of Abacos in the Bahama’s combine some of the world’s best diving, plus an estimated 500 wrecks to discover and explore. Perhaps most interesting of the discovered wrecks in this area is the USS San Jacinto, an experimental civil war era gunship, among the first to be powered by steam, that sank off Chub Rocks in 1865.

Hoi An Junk – Da Nang Peninsula, Vietnam

During the 1990s a junk was discovered which sank in over 260 feet (79 metres) of water, 14 miles (22.5 km) from the Da Nang peninsula in Vietnam. Appearing to be of Thai origin, its spectacular cargo of blue and white and polychrome ceramics, painted with human figures, landscapes, fish, birds, and mythological animals, dates to Vietnam’s Golden Age of the mid-15th century.

Thanks to Sabotage Times

Kathy Dowsett
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scuba Diving Travel Insurance

Cueva TainaImage by Bolivar Sanchez via Flickr

Scuba diving is a form of simple but heart touching fun. It offers a great thrilling. But the fact is that one must be aware of the danger of the Scuba diving. Because of the fear and danger it has one must pay some attention and it requires some extra precaution to be taken. There are some others form of diving. We all know about the cavern or cave diving where one enters an underwater cave or cavern and in these areas there are a number of rough coral and rocks. If you don’t pay your attention there is the real possibility of getting cut. It is obvious that if the cut is severe enough then you may need will for stitches or possibly, a hospital stay.It will cause a great misery ans it is really unwanted. This may be very serious if anyone get injured in foreign countries. Because there is no one to help you. There may be a lack of hospital insurance and allowances may be very high.What can a person do at that stage? They must need a Scuba Diving travel insurance and it will help them to pay the fees and other cost very easily. Otherwise one may have to pay out of their own pocket.Their insurance will ensure their safety and will minimize the cost of accidents and dangers. One may think that his insurance money now is making a lot of benefit for them. Scuba diving travel insurance is not very much different from other travel insurance plans.It gives all the benefits to the clients at time of danger. Divers get injured most of the time and there are number of fatal accident every year.The insurance provides solid safety for the divers. Scuba diving insurance policies are made specially for the divers.Most of the divers take this insurance seriously.It is a great advantage for anything that is unexpected and that is to be faced.It is a matter of realism and the understanding that any hobby may bring a little bit of risk and injury as well.Many other form of sports have the same insurance policies.In most of the cases it act like a future deposit. It is a smarter way to face anything that is dangerous to health.You can have a simple policy for you.The best thing is to choose such policy that is easier to maintain.All you need is your prediction and vast vision.You have to be very realistic and always should be very careful about your ambitions.Hope,you will get a easier insurance plan that is best for you for Scuba diving and enjoy the Scuba diving with a free mind.

Thanks to Ronty Jhodes and the Dive Site Network

Kathy Dowsett
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rough coral

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What is Decompression Sickness / Decompression Illness?

This surfacing diver must enter a recompressio...Image via Wikipedia

Decompression Sickness (DCS) (also known as: The Bends, Diver's Disease, Caisson Disease)are the symptoms which occur after a rapid decrease in pressure, normally caused by an uncontrolled or emergency ascent while diving. Decompression Illness (DCI) is the medical term for which both DCS and lung expansion injury are clumped under, because the medical treatment for both are identical.

During deep or long dives, inert gases (Nitrogen, sometimes Helium) become absorbed into the body's tissues at higher than normal concentrations. As the diver ascends to the surface, these gases leave the solution and form "micro-bubbles" in the bloodstream which can be exhaled safely through the lungs if the ascent is slow enough. If the ascent is uncontrolled or too fast these micro-bubbles can be occur within tissues and organs, which can potential be fatal.

The occurrence of Decompression Sickness is also affected by secondary factors such as; fatigue, dehydration, vigorous exercise (before, during or after the dive), cold, age, illness, injuries, alcohol consumption (before or after dive) and being overweight.

Because DCS stems from bubbles within the bloodstream it is possible that different areas of the body will be affected and therefore the symptoms will be different. It is very important you can identify the symptoms of Decompression Sickness, both for yourself and dive buddies. In all cases, the symptoms of DCS can occur anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours post diving.

DCS Type: The Bends

The bends is when bubbles form within the joints, which accounts for approximately 60-70% of all cases of DCS and is referred to as DCS I.

Symptoms of The Bends can include:

* A localized "deep" pain within the limbs of the body (most commonly in the shoulder)
* Pain can be aggravated by active or passive movement of the limb
* The pain may be reduced by bending the limb to a specific position

DCS Type: Neurological
Neurological DCS is when bubbles form within the brain, spinal cord or nervous system, which accounts for approximately 10-15% of all cases of DCS and is referred to as DCS II.

Symptoms of neurological DCS can include:

* Headache (Common)
* Visual disturbances, spots in field of vision, double vision tunnel vision or blurry vision(Common)
* Confusion
* Memory loss
* Unexplainable extreme fatigue or behavior change
* Seizures, dizziness, vertigo or nausea
* Vomiting
* Unconsciousness
* Abnormal sensations such as burning, tingling, stinging around lower chest / back
* Symptoms may work from feet up, bringing weakness in limbs / fatigue
* Abdominal / Chest pain
* Urinary or fecal incontinence
* General muscle weakness and twitching

DCS Type: The Chokes
The Chokes is when bubbles form within the lungs, which accounts for approximately less than 2% of DCS cases.

Symptoms of The Chokes can include:

* A deep burning chest pain under the sternum
* A dry and constant cough
* Shortness of breath
* Pain is worsened by breathing

DCS Type: Skin Bends

The Skin Bends is when bubbles form within the body's upper tissue, which accounts for approximately less than 10-15% of DCS cases.

Symptoms of The Skin Bends can include:

* Itching which most commonly occurs around the ears, face, neck, arms and upper torso
* Sensation of insects crawling on skin
* Mottled or marbled skin around shoulders, upper chest, abdomen with itching
* Swelling of the skin with tiny scar-like skin depressions

All of these symptoms generally come on gradually and persist, though they can be intermittent. Symptoms may occur together or individually. Regardless of the severity of the symptoms, all cases of DCS should be considered serious.

As discussed earlier, lung over expansion injuries and DCS can produce very similar symptoms, even though they are the result of two different actions (holding breath and exceeding ascension rates or safe depth/time). The first aid and treatment for both is identical so there is no need to distinguish between the two. If a diver is suspected to be suffering from Decompression Illness, Responding quickly will greatly reduce the chances of long term injury.
Treatment for divers suffering from DCI:

* End the dive immediately
* If the diver is conscious and responding, lay them on their back and administer oxygen
* If the diver is unresponsive and breathing, lay them left side down, head supported and breathing oxygen
* A diver who is not breathing will require CPR
* Contact local emergency medical care (emergency diver care such as DAN if available)
* Monitor the diver and prevent shock if necessary

While DCS is serious, if treated quickly it is rarely fatal. It is likely dive emergency services will arrange immediate transport to a re-compression chamber, this is normally achieved with specialist low-altitude flights.

Avoiding Decompression Sickness (DCS)

While Decompression Sickness is not fully understood and not an exact science, there are steps you can take to minimise your chances of getting DCS.

* Always make sure you dive well within the limits of your dive table and dive computer
* When you plan your dives, carry out the deepest dives first, then shallower dives
* Make sure your ascent rate never exceeds 18m/60ft per minute
* Always carry out your 5 minute safety stop, even when you are on a no decompression dive
* Dives which require a decompression stop and dives without a 16 hour surface interval give a higher chance of DCS
* Avoid flying 24 hours before or after diving

Above all, plan your dive and dive your plan - safe diving all!

Thanks to Scuba for this article

Kathy Dowsett
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What happens in a shark attack?

Great white shark. Photo by Terry Goss, copyri...Image via Wikipedia

We've all seen Jaws, but believe it or not most shark attacks don't end up with swimmers being dragged around in circles so that they look like they're being sucked down a plughole.

In fact there are three main types of unprovoked shark attack, and the experience and chances of survival vary dramatically depending on the behavior and intentions of the shark.

Here is a breakdown of what each one consists of.

Hit-and-run attacks

More often than not sharks will "attack" humans out of curiosity having mistaken them for a seal or other more common form of prey.

These attacks occur in shallow waters and surfing spots. The shark will usually give the swimmer or surfer a single bite before retreating and will often not return, having realized the human is bigger than, or different to, its normal prey.

Sneak attacks

As the name indicates, this attack happens without warning. Unlike hit-and-run attacks, sneak attacks are thought to be the result of feeding or aggression rather than mistaken identity.

The attacks usually happen in deeper waters and will usually involve a number of bites or injuries, often proving fatal.

Bump-and-bite attacks

Similar to sneak attacks, these usually take place in open sea and will tend to involve multiple bites because the shark's intention is to attack the victim, rather than simply investigate.

The difference is in the shark's behavior. Rather than pouncing unexpectedly, the shark will repeatedly circle the victim and bump into them in a sign of aggression before actually attacking them.

Thanks to ::: Florida Museum of Natural History and Nick Collins of the Telegraph

Kathy Dowsett

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Deepsea Habitats

Aquarius underwater laboratory on Conch Reef, ...Image via Wikipedia

Scientific divers that use SCUBA diving to conduct their research do have limitations that can inhibit their productivity underwater. Limiting factors such as, diving depth, gas mixtures and supply, weather, and decompression obligations can have a significant impact on the amount of time a scientist will actually have to conduct their research underwater. Saturation diving, a technique developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1950s, has proven to be useful to several scientists to extend their work time. Saturation diving works on the premise that if a diver's tissues are in equilibrium with the surrounding water, then the decompression time will not change for the length of time spent underwater. This "saturation" process takes approximately 24 hours and means that the diver needs to remain at the same depth.

The revolutionary development of undersea habitats (also known as undersea laboratories) has made "saturation" diving a reality for scientific divers. An undersea habitat is a pressurized facility that provides a living space for small teams of divers on the ocean floor that extends the depth ranges and time at depth for the divers.Aquarius resides in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, at a depth of 63 feet Divers can either undergo compression and decompression at depth in the undersea habitat or in a surface chamber.

Undersea HabitatsNURP provides the ability to live and work beneath the waves in the Aquarius undersea laboratory (right), the only undersea habitat in the world devoted to science. The habitat, owned by NOAA and operated by the Southeastern & Gulf of Mexico center, is located three miles off Key Largo in 20 m (64 ft) at the base of a coral reef within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, an ideal site for studying the health of sensitive coastal ecosystems. The habitat accommodates four scientists and two technicians for missions averaging ten days. Aquarius successfully supported 80 missions between 1993 and 2003.
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Thanks to Deep Sea Waters

Kathy Dowsett