X-Ray Mag #109

Rico Besserdich
84 spreads (double pages)
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Feature articles in this issue with stand-alone pdfs

Rico Besserdich   Rico Besserdich
Surgeonfish, Red Sea, photo by Rico Besserdich

If you have been diving the same area with your camera for a long time, shooting the same animals and scenes again and again, sooner or later the question “What more is there?” might arise in your creative mind. It starts as a mild breeze and can end up a storm.

Michael Mason   Courtesy of Michael Mason , and Peter Symes
Photo courtesy of Michael Mason

Human factors is about making it easier to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing. Therefore, for divemasters, human factors is about making it easier for them and their divers to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing.

Lorenzo Moscia   Lorenzo Moscia
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Giorgia Monti   Lorenzo Moscia
Partically bleached coral in the Mediterranean Sea, Cape Carbonara, Sardinia. Photo by Lorenzo Moscia

Climate change is increasing the crisis of our seas, already under pressure due to several human activities. Rising temperatures are affecting and changing the underwater environment all over the world. The Mediterranean Sea, unfortunately, is no different from other seas. A group of specialists, coordinated by Greenpeace Italy, are monitoring the situation in the waters around Italy. Lorenzo Moscia reports.

Don Silcock   Courtesy of Edi Fromenwilen , and Don Silcock
Edi Frommenwilder. Photo courtesy of Edi Frommenwilder

Back in 1992, very little was known about Raja Ampat in the Indonesian province of what was then known as Irian Jaya. Edi Frommenwiler had heard rumours about how scenic it was, so he studied the area charts and suspected that with so many islands, there must be some great places to explore underwater. He decided to go there in September that year—a trip which would foster his appreciation for this amazing jewel of an area and build a liveaboard dive boat to explore it. Don Silcock interviewed the adventurer to learn more about his pioneering endeavours.

Phil Pfeiffer   Brian Ekey , Gordon Hutchinson , Carter Warden
Gray Quarry, Tennesee, USA. Photo by Gordon Hutchinson

Avid diver and professor of computing Dr. Phil Pfeiffer gives an account of how the love of diving, persistence, US$100,000, and a homebrew aerator turned an abandoned quarry in the US state of Tennessee into a thriving dive site for a region that lacked one—and had lost prospective divers for want of a site.

Claudia Weber-Gebert   Claudia Weber-Gebert
Maar lake in Volcanic Eifel, Germany. Photo by Claudia Weber-Gebert

What is the origin of the unique lakes in the Volcanic Eifel region of Germany? In short, they were created from an explosion of water vapour when lava from a hot spot under the region met with groundwater thousands of years ago. The explosion created a round funnel, or crater, with earthen walls, which was later filled with rainwater. That is why the water is really clear and has rather good visibility. Author and underwater photographer Claudia Weber-Gebert gives us a glimpse into this beautiful underwater world and her new book about these special lakes.

X-Ray Mag Contributors   X-Ray Mag Contributors
Cassiopea jellyfish, Dumaguette, Philippines. Photo by John A. Ares

We asked our contributors what their favorite images of color contrasts were, and they sent back photos and stories revealing the diversity of color contrasts found under the waves. From brilliant sponges and corals against deep blue waters in Raja Ampat, Papua New Guinea, Bonaire and the Red Sea to contrasting primary colors of marine life in Socorro, Fiji and Cuba, from vivid hues of macro life in Indonesia, the Maldives and the Philippines to contrasting pinks and greens on wrecks in San Diego and New Jersey, X-Ray Mag contributors share their favorite images from near and far.

Pierre Constant  
Nudibranch, Pemba, Tanzania. Photo by Pierre Constant

Pemba Island is part of the Zanzibar Archipelago in Tanzania. Pierre Constant shares his adventure there, which took him through lush emerald forests, home to the Zanzibar leopard and rare endemic species of monkeys, a reserve with Seychelles tortoise, as well as diverse dive sites with a delightful variety of corals and marine species, and ample opportunities for underwater photography.

Interview by Peter Symes   Rico Besserdich
No. 2, photo by Rico Besserdich

Rico Besserdich is a widely published German artist, lecturer, photography instructor, writer, adjudicator and professional underwater photographer living in Turkey. His work has appeared in over 300 magazine and book publications around the world and has been translated into nine different languages. A CMAS/IAC Instructor Trainer with 5,000+ logged dives, he gives presentations at various photography-related events, universities and dive shows in Europe and has displayed his work in several fine art photography exhibitions.

Lelle Malmström   Tomas Forssander
Under the “warm neck” collar of the drysuit, one can see the Quick Neck ring. Photo by Tomas Forssander

Lelle Malmström puts a drysuit neck seal through its paces by jumping of a 10m diving board to test if it holds tight.

Andrea "Murdock" Alpini   Andrea "Murdock" Alpini
Photo by Andrea Murdock Alpini

Freedom! That was the feeling I had in June 2020 when I left my home to go on a trip alone. Caves, abandoned mines, alpine lakes and a few wrecks were in my plan for a great adventure.

Andrea Murdock Alpini   Andrea Murdock Alpini , Al Giddings , Bruno Vailati
Stefano Carletti, Andrea Doria wreck, 1968. Photo courtesy of Bruno Vailati

Stefano Carletti—adventurer, scuba diver, aviator and fisherman. He is a teller of sea tales and a searcher of hidden treasures on the seabed. He is a man who is a mirror of Europe, the “blue continent”—sometimes tempestuous, other times, crystal-clear and peaceful. Carletti’s life has been an extraordinary tailor-made adventure sewn by a life at sea, narrated by books and articles, which still fascinate audiences even today, as in the past. In this interview, Andrea Murdock Alpini gains more insight into the man behind the myth.

Simon Pridmore   Kyo Liu
Diver with barracuda.

Readers of my Scuba books often say how useful they find the stories I tell to illustrate key messages. The stories are all true. I wish I could say I made them up, but I am not that creative. Fortunately, life tends to be able to conjure up real situations that are far more instructive than those I could ever invent.

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Other news published in this issue

Shadowfin soldierfish (Myripristis adusta). Growl and grunt sounds have been associated with soldierfish

Soundscapes are a crucial measure of how well a reef is thriving.

Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis)

Passed during the last legislative session in the US state of Hawaii, Act 51 (House Bill 533) makes it illegal for anyone to knowingly capture, entangle, or kill any species of shark in Hawaiian waters.

Combined MBES and laser data depicting SS Richard Montgomery. © Crown copyright

SS Richard Montgomery has been languishing at the bottom of the Thames Estuary in Kent for 77 years with a cargo of 1,400 tonnes of bombs in the forward holds. A team of bomb disposal experts have now been tasked with making the wreck safe.

The Matterhorn, a hydrothermal vent of Pescadero basin displaying an abundance of red tube worms and white microbial mats.

A multidisciplinary team of scientists from Mexico and the U.S. discovered new hydrothermal vents and six possible new animal species during a 33-day expedition off the coast of La Paz on Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor.

Underwater photographers who bring their professional-grade camera equipment and housings into Mexico are at risk of being charged Mexican sales tax (19%) on the value of their personal equipment when passing through customs. The underlying policy is obscure, appears to be arbitrarily applied, and Cabo San Lucas, where the bulk of Mexican liveaboards berth, seems to be the most affected point of entry.

Sperm whale. Photo by Eric Cheng

A team of researchers is using artificial intelligence focused on processing written and spoken human language to contextualize and translate the communication of sperm whales. The team hopes to be able to communicate with sperm whales in just five years.

Dermal denticles of a lemon shark viewed through a scanning electron microscope.

Fish have been spotted rubbing themselves against sharks. A recent study gives a possible reason for this behaviour.

Courtesy of the Marine Megafauna Foundation

Scientists from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) have placed satellite tags on the bottlenose wedgefish and bowmouth guitarfish, two species of critically endangered wedgefish.

To further our understanding of the marine environment, Ocean Sanctuaries, encourages and supports citizen science projects that empower local divers to gather marine data under scientific mentorship.

Divers visiting the artificial reef HMCS Yukon, which was sunk in 2000, are encouraged to photograph invertebrates that are attached to the vessel (such as anemones and sea fans), as well as any vertebrates (that is, fish) seen on their dives.