Sunday, March 27, 2011

Great Lake Shipwrecks

The Great Lakes as seen from space. The Great ...Image via Wikipedia

There has been much discussion lately about the digital revolution at the turn of the present millennium. Changes in the last century, however were probably far more dramatic to a person born in the middle of the 19th century than what we are seeing today. A person growing and living on the shore of one of the Great Lakes would have witnessed many dramatic revolutions in technology as economic conditions in transportation forced rapid changes in the types of ships and cargo plying the lakes.

In the short span of about fifty years, sail would evolve into steam, steel replace wood, and lighting would become electrified, replacing the oil lamp. As ground transportation developed as an alternative to lake travel, passenger steamers would be transformed into the bulk carriers still traveling the lakes today.

The years just before and just after 1900 were a very busy time for shipping on the Great Lakes. Heavy traffic mixed with fog, cavalier captains, and late fall and early summer gales made the sailing or steaming on these lakes the most hazardous on earth. Thousands of ships have blown ashore, foundered, exploded, burned, or collided during the last 150 years. The last major shipwreck, the Edmund Fitzgerald, occurred in the 1970’s off Whitefish Point, in Lake Superior.

Many of these wrecks have been found, and are dove each summer by scuba divers skilled in the art of Great Lakes diving. Each shipwreck is a window into the technology, customs, and craft from the era in which it was built. No two shipwrecks or ships are exactly alike.

Most of the wrecks lie within underwater preserves, and are buoyed. All shipwrecks are now protected, so no artifact collecting is allowed. Information on where to dive these wrecks is available from the various states and provinces around the lakes. Continuing research leads to more discoveries every year and, because of the ban on artifact collecting, these wrecks tend to be the most interesting to dive. All have a story to tell.

thanks to Great Lakes Underwater!!!!

Kathy Dowsett
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Tidal wetlands of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, USA.Image via Wikipedia

The Estuary: where fresh and saltwater mix

Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water — a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater.

Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Many animals rely on estuaries for food, places to breed, and migration stopovers.

Human communities also rely on estuaries for food, recreation, jobs, and coastal protection. Of the 32 largest cities in the world, 22 are located on estuaries!

Estuaries are delicate ecosystems. Congress created the National Estuarine Research Reserve System to protect more than one million acres of estuarine land and water. These estuarine reserves provide essential habitat for wildlife, offer educational opportunities for students, and serve as living laboratories for scientists.

Estuaries are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, so there is a great diversity of animals and plants that live there

Estuaries - areas where fresh and saltwater mix - are made up of many different types of habitats. These habitats can include oyster reefs, coral reefs, rocky shores, submerged aquatic vegetation, marshes, and mangroves. There are also different animals that live in each of these different habitats. Fish, shellfish, and migratory birds are just a few of the animals that can live in an estuary.

For example, there are several habitats that make up the Chesapeake Bay. There are oyster reefs where oysters, mud crabs, and small fish may be found. Also in the Chesapeake Bay, there is submerged aquatic vegetation where seahorses, blue crabs, and other fish live. Finally, there is open water where sea turtles or rays can be found.

Changing conditions are a necessary part of healthy, functioning estuaries

Estuaries are tidally driven. Tides flush the system and provide nutrients to keep food webs functional. By doing this, tides create constantly changing conditions of exposure to air or increased levels of water in an estuarine environment. Because of tides, the water levels in an estuary are going up and down several times a day.

Estuarine organisms can adapt quite well to these changing conditions in estuaries. For example, fish or crabs are mobile and can move as needed throughout the day to adjust to changes in the estuary.

In addition, weather patterns, seasonal cycles, and climate change also affect and can change conditions in estuaries.

Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System, or NERRS, is a partnership between NOAA and coastal states to study and protect vital coastal and estuarine resources

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 28 areas representing different biogeographic regions of the United States. The reserves are protected for long-term research, water quality monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship. Each reserve is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency or university, with input from local partners. NOAA provides funding, national guidance, and technical assistance.

Reserve staff work with local communities and regional groups to address natural resource management issues, such as non-point source pollution, habitat restoration, and invasive species. Through integrated research and education, the reserves help communities develop strategies to deal successfully with their coastal resource issues.
Reserves provide adult audiences with training on estuarine issues of concern in their local communities. They also offer field classes for K-12 students and support teachers through professional development programs in marine education.

Thanks to National Ocean Service

Kathy Dowsett
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Precautions When Diving Historic Wrecks

Diving Pensacola 2009, wreck divingImage by divemasterking2000 via Flickr

For some divers, nothing is more exciting and thrilling than exploring a historic wreck. Wreck diving is among the most popular types of diving, but it is not without its risks. There is even a specific type of training that you can undergo in order to successful dive a wreck. If you are planning on visiting a location that has a lot of wrecks to dive, then the information below can alert you to the precautions you will need to take when diving historic wrecks.

Follow the Law

The first precaution you should always take before wreck diving is making sure that you understand the laws surrounding diving near or at a particular wreck site. Some wrecks are protected by laws and you are not permitted to legally dive there without the right permit or permission. Some wreck sites are specifically designated to be sites of interest and these are historic places that are protected by the law. You also need to understand the salvage law as it pertains to the wrecks you will be diving and how artifacts gathered should be handled.

Diving Safely Around Historic Wrecks

Not only do you need to observe safety measures to protect yourself when wreck diving, but you also need to take safety measure to protect the wreck itself so that it is not destroyed or damaged by your diving. Using a dive table is an essential part of diving wrecks and will tell you the correct length of the dive according to the current water depth.

Another safety aspect to keep in mind when wreck diving is the amount of silt and rust particles that can be in the water surrounding a wreck site and that can affect your visibility in the water. Proper training can help you learn how to maneuver through this situation safely.

Other important things to keep in mind safety wise while you dive a wreck. Are the possible loose sections of the wreck that you could run into, sharp edges that you can get caught on and also possibly becoming trapped in the unstable wreckage. If you decide to dive a wreck, it is especially important that you always go with at least a buddy if not in a group.

Things you should consider bringing with you on a wreck dive include a good underwater light or lamp and a knife. The best precaution to take when wreck diving is to remember to look around and be aware of your surroundings at all times, but not to touch anything. This will still allow you to experience the thrill of diving a historic wreck without the danger or structural damage that touching and moving the wreckage could cause.

If you are considering taking up wreck diving, then there are a lot of precautions and legal guidelines you need to understand before undergoing your first dive. Even after you understand all safety precautions; it is still a good idea to gain some additional training in diving wrecks to be better prepared for all possible aspects of this type of dive.

thanks to DiveTime for this article

Kathy Dowsett
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Rescue Specialists

Danish navy rescue swimmers from a danish insp...Image via Wikipedia

Extensive training and a dedication to saving lives and relieving suffering are keys to being a rescue specialist.

When many people think of Coast Guard, they think of high profile jobs like the rescue specialists.

You can find rescue specialists aboard Coast Guard vessels and at shore-based stations, and unless you're in need of their services, you might not be able to tell them from other crew members. There are about 70 active rescue specialists in the Pacific Region, most of them coming from the ranks of the deck crews.

There is a reason for this. "Deck crews are the constant. They are found among all units," said Bob Ayres, Coast Guard Rescue Specialist Coordinator. "We need this capability on all vessels." To become a rescue specialist, crew members must undergo some intense training.

Rescue specialists are trained and certified to Medic A standards. This means they are capable of performing first aid to the level of St. John Ambulance Advanced Level II, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). "Our rescue specialists are trained to a national standard similar to Industrial First Aid," said Bob."Plus they have an additional week of training, authorized by Health Canada, which includes the use of nitrous oxide, advanced hypothermia treatment, and spinal immobilization skills."

But what good would these skills be if the rescue specialists couldn't reach people in need? "That's why they also undergo a week of advanced training in the operation of rigid hull inflatable fast rescue craft," Bob said. "This includes trials in heavy seas and under all sorts of adverse conditions, with attention to concepts of scene assessment, risk management and leadership."

Adverse conditions are part of the job for rescue specialists, and Coast Guard prepares them through training and by encouraging versatility. "We try to encourage our people not to be too rigid in their thinking,' Bob said. "It's never like a textbook out there. They have to be flexible."

In addition to the first aid knowledge, rescue specialists maintain the rescue and first aid equipment on board Coast Guard vessels' stations. A optional component of the Rescue Specialist Program is the training of ocean rescue swimmers to provide assistance to people in the water. Rescue specialist training can involve physically rigorous tasks.

They perform fire fighting and damage control duties, and they conduct triage and disaster scene management at the site of major marine disasters. They assess diving related injuries and perform field treatment. Finally, the rescue specialists communicate with other professionals involved in the rescue to make sure they have full understanding of the extent of the victim’s injuries, and in some cases perform medical acts on a physician's order.

"One standard we have is to not turn a casualty over to a lower level of training," said Bob. "In fact, we often assist BC Ambulance in medical evacuations of injured people in remote areas."

What is the major injury rescue specialists face?

"Without a doubt-hypothermia," said Bob. "Due to the cold waters on our coast we have adapted specialized equipment, including inhalation re-warming units, known as the Res-Q-Air, to stabilize and begin warming in the field" Not every specialist goes on a rescue every day. In fact, some specialists may go on rescues only a few times a year.

The station-based rescuers may go out more frequently," said Bob, "but when patrolling vessel out in rough seas gets a call it is often a more dangerous rescue."

All rescue specialists provide regular first aid to their co-workers on board, a vessel. Nobody wants to meet one of these Coast Guard members under working conditions. That could mean, of course that you require rescue. But if it ever happens be confident the person rescuing you is a true, dedicated specialist.

Thanks to NICK NILSEN and Shorelines

Kathy Dowsett
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cold water dive heats up enthusiasm for scuba

Fraser Debney didn’t get cold feet for winter diving when his alternate air source froze open in the St. Lawrence River, forcing him to abort a Boxing Day dive at Cardinal Ontario. On January 2, he was back at it in the same river, this time at Morrisburg, exploring the lost villages that were submerged during the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway almost 60 years ago.

He was down 58 minutes with six other divers, visiting the submerged Lock 23, the houses and foundations left behind on the river bottom and the old Highway 2, now covered in silt but easily identified because no seaweeds grow along its ribbon-like path.

There were no equipment problems this time. Fraser had upgraded to a more environmentally sealed primary regulator designed for colder water temperatures than his former one. He said a lot of dive gear is designed for southern climates and while some will say it is cold-water ready, “cold to California is different than cold water in Canada.”

But the piece of equipment Fraser really was interested in testing was his dive suit. Unlike the other six divers, who wore dry suits (preferred for cold water because of their warmth), he was wearing a wetsuit. Beneath it, he wore a fine thermal type of underwear. It got wet, but it stayed warm in that layer between his body and the wetsuit.

Before they entered the water, a couple of his diving mates joked that he was making them feel cold, just seeing him in a wetsuit on a winter dive.

“One of the divers is a doctor and at the end of the dive he said he was absolutely amazed I did the entire dive,” said Fraser. “He was watching me under water.”
He felt cold for two or three minutes when he first got into the water but quickly got used to it. But cold water (its temperature that day was 30 degrees Fahrenheit) has the benefit of clarity. There was a lot to see.

“Some of the old locks were big ones. The railings were still there where people walked on the top of them. This one was 35 feet down but in some of the areas they were deeper, dredged out for bigger ships.”

The buildings from the old original power stations had been taken away but a lot of the machinery was still under water.

Earlier, on the Boxing Day dive, which involved four divers, two of them experienced similar freeze-up problems to Fraser’s, but not as quickly. They got to see some of the underwater sights at Cardinal. There, the attraction was the wreck of the Conestoga, a freighter carrying a cargo of wheat that burned and sank in the 1920s.

The dive site was chosen for its “large safety factor” (shallow water and the current is not strong). This is why the Conestoga wreck is the location of many training dives.

Now that he has determined his equipment can withstand cold water temperatures, Fraser may expand his winter diving experiences even further. He is contemplating taking an ice diving course.

Kathy Dowsett
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Teens dive into an undersea world

ST. THOMAS - Three years ago, eight teenagers could barely swim. On Saturday, they donned scuba gear and dropped below the surface of Brewers Bay for the first time.

The students - mostly members of the Savan Boys Club - learned to swim, then snorkel, before they moved on to scuba diving thanks to One Swim Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the skills and awareness of the aquatic environment for young Virgin Islanders.

On Saturday, the students surrounded scuba tanks and learned to assemble the gear that would provide their underwater life support.

They listened attentively to master trainer Joey Smith, soaking up his instruction before putting it to use.

Smith spoke with pride about the 40 students who have taken part in the program in the past three years. Many of them have learned to swim, with some continuing to snorkeling, skin diving and scuba programs.

It didn't cost the students a cent.

Smith said the program shows how much students can learn from a very small investment in money.

The program operates on about $4,000 each year, he said, and relies heavily upon donated time and equipment.

"Every kid on the island should be able to swim and know about the aquatic environment," Smith said. "Once they understand what is there, it's like a whole energy shift."

Smith said that, after entering the program, his students are very self-motivated. He spoke with pride about the way his students work as a team, educating and helping one another.

Before earning the chance to learn to scuba dive, the students passed rigorous standards in swimming. They also learn about marine biology and CPR.

Smith said the classes, which are held every Saturday at Brewers Bay, could be expanded but that a lack of funding restricts the possible growth of the program.

He said that One Swim is different from many other programs because it is year-round.

"I think that's special," Smith said. "The students learn that through your own personal effort, it's how you're going to succeed in life."

Savan Boys Club President Dorsey Chinnery and board member Melvin Norman worked with some of the students at the beach Sunday. They said the swimming program has made an impact on the students.

"I think it's a big help for them," Norman said. "Once you learn to do something it gives you confidence.

Smith said two students of the swimming program have already landed jobs in the marine industry that would have previously been unavailable to them.

He said at this time, the program needs more help to reach more students. Smith thanked Coki Beach Dive Club, Underwater Safaris and Admirality Dive Shop for lending gear and support.

"We want more people to come into the swimming program," he said. "For a little money, we get a lot of bang for our buck."

Anyone interested in contributing to the program, either with donations of time, money, swim, scuba or snorkel gear, can contact One Swim at 998-0477.

Thanks to Virgin Island Daily News

Kathy Dowsett

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Yukon shipwreck yields Gold Rush tunes

An early 1930s portable wind-up phonograph fro...Image via Wikipedia

Archeologists have found new clues about the music early Klondike stampeders were listening to during the Yukon Gold Rush, thanks to recordings found aboard a 110-year-old shipwreck.

The three records and a gramophone were discovered last summer in the A.J. Goddard, a stern wheeler that sank in Lake Laberge, north of Whitehorse, in October 1901.

"It's the coolest find on the Goddard, absolutely," Lindsey Thomas, a Texas-based archeology graduate student who has been heading up research on the ship, told CBC News.

"To find a record player — it really gives insight to how they were operating throughout their daily lives, and it taught me the importance of music during the period."

Minstrel songs popular

Thomas said the three recordings, including Rendezvous Waltz and a rare 1896 minstrel recording of Ma Onliest One, were previously unknown to Gold Rush-era music experts.

"These are three new songs that we now know people were listening to during the Gold Rush, and they were playing it," she said. "Ma Onliest One was the disc that was attached to the gramophone."

Thomas said minstrel songs were popular at the time because they were "easy for the miners and for the people up there to perform."

"It became popular in the 1820s, but they were able to put on shows and pass the time amongst themselves as they were stuck in cabins over the winter," she said.
3 crew members drowned

The A.J. Goddard transported miners and supplies along the Yukon River until Oct. 22, 1901, when it vanished in Lake Laberge during a storm. Three crew members drowned in the storm, while two survived.

A team of archeologists that included Thomas, the U.S. Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the Yukon Transportation Museum announced in 2009 that they had found the stern wheeler, mostly intact, at the bottom of Lake Laberge.

Researchers also found many of the ship's contents preserved in the shipwreck, including crew members' clothes and tools, the records and the gramophone.

"Even though these are really quite early records, they were mass-produced, essentially, and they were commercial. So, of course, we will look at getting copies," said Val Monahan, a conservator with the Yukon government's Tourism and Culture Department.

National Geographic News dubbed the A.J. Goddard as its top archeological find of 2009. The Yukon government has designated the shipwreck a historic site.

Thanks to the CBC for this posting

Kathy Dowsett

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Historic Warm Mineral Springs Opens Its Waters to Divers for the First Time in 20+ Years

warm mineral springsImage by emilychang via Flickr

Situated just South of Sarasota, Florida, a cultural resource with tremendous historical and cultural value, Warm Mineral Springs has a history that extends back more than 10,000 years. Archeological finds at the site have demonstrated its importance to the Aborigines populating what is now Florida that far back, or longer. In the Colonial period of European history, legend has it that the Spring was a sought after site by explorers to include Ponce De Leon. There is significant evidence that suggests that this was indeed the legendary Fountain of Youth that Ponce De Leon was seeking when he was mortally wounded just a few miles from the site in a battle with the Calusa Indians. As early as the 1930’s, the site was a popular modern tourist attraction with tourists to include a United States president seeking out the famed healing waters of the Spring for bathing. Indeed fossils including a number of Paleo-Indian remains indicate that the spring has been attracting human interest for well over 10,000 years. Over the last 500 years, the site has been the focus of much conflict and political intrigue. Ponce De Leon lost his life trying to find it and in the twentieth century a number of controversial activities such as using the Spring as a dumping site and controversial management of the cultural artifacts have been constant in the Springs history. ControversyCol Royal's Discoveries rewrote North American history but his methods were controversial at best grew to a fevered pitch in the late 1950's when retired Air Force Colonel William Royal recovered human remains from the site that he dated at 10,000 plus years old. The academic community continued to skoff at Royal's claim until the 1970's when the Archeologist for the State of Florida located additional skeletal material from the site that were also dated to the same era. Today, the Spring’s new owners want to turn over a new leaf in the management and preservation of this valuable resource for Southwest Florida.

Plans have been underway now for some time to obtain a realistic look at what lies below the water’s surfaces, and what steps need to be taken to preserve both the ecological and archeological assets that lie there. They also desire to educate the public about this valuable resource and its history. To accomplish this goal will require countless hours of dive time, historical research, and analysis. Every journey begins with a first step and the first real steps in decades were taken on September 18, 2010, when a team of ten volunteer divers made their first orientation dives into the site. Ultimately, this team will help to restore and preserve the assets that lie below. The research into this site has been abandoned for more than 20 years when the last academic projects pulled out in the midst of controversy and continuing intrigue. Since that time, just a few exceptions the Spring’s waters have only been open to the swimmers and waders that inhabit the top few feet of the 76m deep spring.

The Spring is one of the very few salt water thermal springs in North America. The deep-water vents enter into the basin at around 76 m / 250 ft bringing mineral laden salt water with a temperature of around 98º f / 37ºc. These waters are believed to come from at least 3,000 feet below the surface and some of the research completed at the Spring seems to validate that the waters contain healing properties. The same properties that led Ponce De Leon to label the Spring, “The Fountain of Youth”, as legend has it. The Spring basin also has some fresh water vents flowing much cooler water and which when blended with the hot water lowers the Spring’s temperature to a comfortable 87 º F / 31ºc, providing a pleasant warm water swimming experience for the thousands of tourists that flock here every year. The warm water also contains no dissolved oxygen below a depth of about 15 feet /5 meters, which explains the spring’s unique ability to preserve ancient artifacts. To date the site has revealed the remains of North American camels, giant sloths, saber tooth cats, a number of humans and a variety of pre-historic plants.

Thanks to Seaduction and Mike Angie

Kathy Dowsett

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Best Diving Practices

Scuba diving in Elba island, ItalyImage via Wikipedia

As soon as man enters the deep blue sea, there is a change of everything. Walking is no longer our way of getting around. We float in style. Our access to unlimited oxygen is cut down to a tank-full. Instead of shopping for fish, some fish shop for us. Scuba diving is fun. But it’s only fun when you come out of the water the same way you came in. Below are few points on some diving practices that are advised to those who respect themselves as divers and respect the places that they dive in.

Secure the obvious

Aqua-man, if you’re reading this: stay away! Everyone else is subject to the need of diving equipment. Diving shops can be tricky. If you’re new to scuba diving, try not to enter one on your own. If you have a friend who is an experienced diver, ask him/her to direct you to a competent diving shop that will not only sell to you your needs, but also cares for them.

When you’ve got enough equipment to survive a tsunami, go look for a good diving location. Ask yourself questions like, “What do I wanna see?” and “How do I get there?” How do you answer these questions? Do you literally have go beach hopping just so you can find a good diving spot? If your answer is yes, then my friend Google would be greatly insulted. I just said, “Google.” You’ll know what to do.

When in-depth

Now you’re in the water, and you feel like a scuba diving Boy Scout. You’ve got everything you need. Does this mean that you’re good for the day? Not quite. You need a sane and experienced “diving buddy”. If you’re going out with a group of friends that has been diving for awhile, then make sure you stick with them the entire time you dive.

But if you’re diving with a group of people you don’t know, it is crucial to find a dive buddy who will take care of you and knows what you don’t. Remember the movie, ‘Open Water’? Those two were not only diving buddies, but a couple. And they still ended up stranded alone in the ocean.

Creature Feature

Ah, yes- the ocean life. It is full of creatures big and small. Some are endangered, and some are dangerous. We need to take care of some of them, and we need to take care of ourselves from some of them. Observe all you want, but remember to keep you distance. Those who choose to take photos, choose your models carefully. A great white shark may be sensitive to flashes.

And yes, if I must say this, I’ll only say this once. Don’t feed them fishes. At first, it may sound safe and fun, but when you upgrade from bread crumbs to a Happy Meal, things may get ugly. If the unkind, bloodthirsty ones happened to notice that small “num-nums” keep popping out of you, they might get the idea that you’re a refrigerator.

Enjoy collecting memories, but make sure there’s still room for common sense.

Thanks to Sean of Expedition Fleet

Kathy Dowsett
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shark Attack in Mexico My Story of Survival

My Story by Nicole Moore

Okay….I know everyone wants to know the real story since the media has made a debacle of the entire incident, AKA Nicole Ross. After waking up and hearing about the media reports, I now understand why so many people were freaking out after reading the media’s account of how the story unfolded. So here is the general scoop straight from “shark bait’s” mouth…

I was away in Cancun with a group of friends. On January 31st, I had just finished playing a game of beach volleyball when I went into the water to rinse off. A couple of Sea-Doers off in the distance were yelling at me in Spanish and waving me to shore. I was only waist high in the water so I couldn’t understand how I could be in their way or why they were so mad but turned to head into shore anyway. That is when I felt a bump and the sharks teeth sinking into my left leg. As my blood started to turn the water around me red, I knew what had happened the minute it happened. Everyone asks how I felt at that moment and the answer is scared sh*#less but what I thought was that sharks like blood and that I had to get out of the water so I continued heading to shore. Before I knew it, a shark, (same or a different one I don’t know) bit down on my left arm and it wouldn’t let me go. The shark was pulling me so with my right hand I grabbed it’s nose and pulled my left hand out. The Sea-Doers were close by but unable to grab hold of me, I just kept thinking of my children, and just kept inching towards shore. Eventually one of the Sea-Doers was able to grab my right hand and pulled me up onto the shore. People were buzzing around me, speaking only Spanish but unfortunately I don’t speak Spanish so I laid on the beach feeling completely helpless aware of injuries and the severity of them. Fortunately, two young nurses identified themselves asking me my name and telling me that they can help. I told them my name and that my leg needed a tourniquet. Selflessly a man applied pressure to my leg while someone else was able to place a tourniquet. I then told the nurse that my arm was bleeding badly and needed a tourniquet too. I believe that swimsuit strings were used to control the bleeding and that this was the single greatest contributor to me reaching the hospital alive. I lost a tremendous amount of blood and because so many people offered help to me, I am here to tell my story and grateful to so many people that I will never even know. Even though I was attacked by I shark I consider myself to be extremely lucky.

Follow Nicoles' Blog and keep abreast of her recovery

Kathy Dowsett
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Responsible Reef Practices While Snorkeling

Practices that you can do to help sustain the Great Barrier Reef for generations to come

• Practice at first over sand patches and away from the coral:

• Get comfortable with buoyancy control and fining techniques.

• Be mindful of where your fins are to avoid accidentally hitting the reef or stirring up sand.

Snorkel carefully near the Reef:

• Move slowly and deliberately in the water, relax and take your time – to remain horizontal in the water, and refrain from standing up.

• Do not snorkel into areas where the water is less than one metre deep.

• Do not touch the walls of semi-confined areas (for example, small swim throughs and overhangs), never squeeze through a small area.

• Use rest stations or other flotation aids (for example, float lines, swimming noodles, and flotation vests) if you need to rest while snorkeling.

• Do not lean on, hold onto, or touch any part of the reef or moving animals when taking underwater photographs.

• Be mindful of all marine life:

• Avoid making sudden or loud noises underwater.

• Avoid chasing or attempting to ride or grab free-swimming animals (such as turtles, whales, and sea snakes). Avoid blocking their path or making them change direction.

• Do not touching or relocating any animals or plants.

• Stay more than one metre away from giant clams.

• Do not feed the fish.

• Do not collect any shells or ‘souvenirs’.

Thanks to New Horizon

Kathy Dowsett

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Ice Diving Experience

This is an awesome video about ice diving in Antarctica!!!! Enjoy!!!!!

Interested in Ice Diving?

Arctic Kingdom Marine Expeditions Inc.
3335 Yonge St., Suite 402
Toronto ON M4N 2M1 Canada

+1 (416) 322-7066
(888) 737-6818
+1 (416) 887-0529

+44 203 393 7727
+49 308 967 79101

Kathy Dowsett
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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A gallon of garbage found in the belly of a dead whale

Plastic food bags and pouches.Image via Wikipedia

A youthful Gray Whale was found recently washed up on a shore in West Seattle. The 37-foot mammal had some unusual contents found in its stomach; more than 20 plastic bags, a pair of sweat pants, hand towels, surgical gloves, pieces of plastic, duct tape, and a golf ball.

This is not the first time human-produced debris has been found in the belly of a whale. Although, according to the Cascadia Research Collective (CRC), “this appeared to be a larger quantity than had ever been found previously.”

50 gallons of mostly undigested content was found in the stomach of the whale. The majority of this was algae, but between 1-2% of the stomach content was garbage. Examination of the whale concluded that its death was most likely not caused by the garbage. Regardless, CRC points out, “It did clearly indicate that the whale had been attempting to feed in industrial waters and therefore exposed to debris and contaminants present on the bottom in these areas.”

Dozens of whales turn up dead on the beaches of the Puget Sound every year. This number is haunting because many of these whales are dying from starvation. The lack of food may be the reason why this particular whale decided to feed in industrial waters around the Seattle area.

Gray whales are filter feeders; which means they suck in sediment in shallow waters and filter the contents to strain out the small organisms that live there. This process used to leave Gray Whales with a few rocks and some sediment left over in their stomach. However now these whales are now trying to filter plastics, rubber, and whatever else is making up the garbage in our oceans.

Industrial waters are not the only human-caused problem aquatic wildlife have to deal with. Mass amounts of trash in our oceans have led to things like the great Pacific Ocean garbage patch. Here, strong ocean currents have collected a large congregation of trash and created, what some would consider to be, a “trash island”. Descriptions of this collection of garbage range from a couple hundred miles across to the size of France.

Ocean pollution leads to a crippling cycle amongst the food chain. When the prey of larger marine species consumes the trash, so do their predators. This non-nutritional snack also kills off large portions of the food source; leading to starvation throughout the ecosystem.

Plastics are potentially the biggest concern when considering the threat of garbage on aquatic life. This is because plastics will never biodegrade. They simply break up into smaller pieces and get filtered through the ecosystem. Sea turtles have been known to mistake plastic bags for their main source of food; jellyfish.

While plastic bags pose a major problem, it’s the plastic resin pellets that seem to be causing the most disruption. These industrial-use granules are typically shipped half-way around the world before they can be melted in commercial-grade plastic. Considering their size, many get discarded along the way and end up washing to the sea with other plastics. Sea birds and fish alike mistake them for food and eat them, sometimes feeding them to their offspring and unintentionally killing them. They will eventually photo degrade, but as they do they leach toxic chemicals like bis phenol A into the water.

What can we do as consumers to help stop the spread of garbage pollution? The first thing we should focus on is recycling our plastics and investing more of our money into biodegradable materials.

According to Holly Bamford, director of NOAA's Marine Debris Program, "We need to turn off the taps at the source. We need to educate people on the proper disposal of things that do not break up, like plastics," she says. "Opportunities for recycling have to increase, but, you know, some people buy three bottles of water a day. As a society, we have to get better at reusing what we buy."

Thanks to Green Answers

Kathy Dowsett

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