X-Ray Mag #116

Feature articles in this issue with stand-alone pdfs

Simon Pridmore   Kyo Liu
Divers explore Broken Shipwreck. Photo by Kyo Liu

Near the urban city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan is the tiny picturesque coral island of Xiaoliuqiu—a section of uplifted ancient limestone reef. It is the only place in Taiwan where one can dive in warm water all year round. Simon Pridmore has the story.

Dr Michael Rothschild  
Photo source: Gustavo/stock.adobe.com

Many people suffer from ear problems during and after diving. Technical rebreather diver and underwater photographer Dr Michael Rothschild is an ear, nose and throat specialist in New York City. In this series, he walks us through some of the common causes of dive-related ear problems, and how to treat and prevent them.

Brandi Mueller   Brandi Mueller
Sunbathing marine lizard, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. Photo by Brandi Mueller

An enchanting and ecologically unique place, immortalized by Charles Darwin’s seminal work on evolutionary biology in 1859, the Galápagos Islands hold a revered spot as one of the truly magical locations of the world. During pandemic times, when stillness and quiet replaced the cacophony of tourists, it seemed even more captivating. Brandi Mueller reports.

Dr Simon Mitchell  
Divers at decostop. Photo by Peter Symes

Say you are in some far-flung location where it will take quite some time to get to any recompression chamber. What do you do if you get decompression sickness? Get back in the water and recompress?

Matthew Meier  
Mark Derrick. Photo courtesy of Dive Gear Express

“Treat customers the way you want to be treated” is a tenet of client relations for which many businesses strive but, sadly, not all achieve. This concept of customer service was the primary building block with which Mark Derrick developed Dive Gear Express (DGX) since its infancy in 2002. In light of the five-star independent Google reviews from 97 percent of DGX patrons, I would say they are on the right track. Matthew Meier has the interview.

Edited by G. Symes   Nate Wilson
Banggai Cardinalfish Shoal, 36in x 24in, watercolor by Nate Wilson

American artist Nate Wilson creates beautiful and enchanting watercolor paintings of marine life with great attention to the unique characteristics of each species. X-Ray Mag interviewed the artist to find out more about his artwork and creative perspectives.

X-Ray Mag Contributors   X-Ray Mag Contributors
Three large, female tiger sharks approaching the feeder, Tiger Beach, Bahamas. Photo by Matthew Meier

In underwater photography, "scale" can mean a couple of things: how big or small a thing is or the myriad of tiny plates on the skin of a fish. We asked our contributors what their favorite underwater photos were that showed scale. And playing on the pun, they came back with a creative mix of macro, wide-angle and close-up abstract images.

Jamie Watts and Malcolm Nobbs   Malcolm Nobbs and Andy Murch
Broadnose sevengill shark. Photo by Malcolm Nobbs

It certainly looks “prehistoric”—whatever that means. Cigar-shaped, blunt-snouted, with that slightly “sock-puppet-looking” smirk, the overall look of this big beastie is very much that of an ancestral shark, like some of the deep-water dogfishes, the sleeper sharks and others. Indeed, fossil remains similar to modern sevengills and sixgills are known from the Jurassic and perhaps much earlier. And the way this shark is built, as far as we can tell from an incomplete fossil record, is very much how the first sharks were put together. Jamie Watts and Malcolm Nobbs have the story.

Westley Oosthuizen   Westley Oosthuizen
Cyerce sp. sacoglossan sea slug, or butterfly sap-sucking slug, Green Island, Taitung, Taiwan. Photo by Westley Oosthuizen

Many divers, and especially macro underwater photographers, adore the lovely, colorful, and photogenic sea slugs found in the deep. We often call them nudibranchs, the “butterflies of the sea.” But not all sea slugs are nudibranchs. Have you ever heard of the sacoglossan? Underwater photographer Wesley Oosthuizen takes a closer look at a special sacoglossan species—the butterfly sap-sucking slug.

Simon Pridmore   Andrey Bizyukin, Larry Cohen and Olga Torrey
Tech diver on wreck. Photo by Olga Torrey

Once considered an extreme activity reserved only for a fringe set of explorers and adventurers, technical diving has grown in popularity since the ‘90s and has become mainstream. However, technical diving is not for everyone. Aside from an advanced skill set, it also requires a certain mindset. How do you know if you have got it? Simon Pridmore offers insights into what makes a good technical diver.

Pierre Constant   Pierre Constant
Dive guide Max with the mushroom stalactites in Cenote El Zapote. Photo: Pierre Constant

There is no doubt that Yucatán in Mexico is a fascinating region. Not only for its culture, its unique nature and wildlife or the archaeological sites of the ancient Maya, but for the simple fact that it is a cave diver’s paradise. Pierre Constant has the story.

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Other news published in this issue

Coral species from left to right: cauliflower coral (Pocillopora meandrina), lobe coral (Porites lobata), and finger coral (Porites compressa).

The Rock Islands harbour two lineages of thermally tolerant corals; one shows no consistent growth trade-off and occurs on several outer reefs.

The two cogs found in Varberg on the western coast of Sweden last spring were built in the middle of the 14th century and came from afar, new analyses show.

Guru Grand Prize Winner Jake Wilton

In December 2022, the winners of the third Underwater Tour Awards were announced. This prestigious international competition takes place annually, encouraging and inspiring the passion for underwater photography, while raising awareness of our fragile aquatic and marine ecosystems and their denizens.

The new liability requirement is already causing the cost of passenger vessel liability insurance to substantially increase, and threatening to put many operators throughout the industry out of business.

Jungle being cleared

Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, says that 70 percent of Section 5 of the Maya Train, which passes through cave-diving country, will be elevated by using cable-stayed bridges.

Research published in the journal Nature Sustainability shows a pathway toward full decarbonisation of US aviation fuel use by substituting conventional jet fuel with sustainably produced biofuels.

3D model still of 16th century ship found at Dungeness quarry

Very few English-built 16th-century vessels survive, making this a rare discovery from what was a fascinating period in the history of seafaring.

Necropsies of beached toothed whales show that older animals have brain changes similar to those seen in humans with Alzheimer's disease.

A deep-sea batfish

Ground-breaking research voyage in Australia’s newest marine park makes rare deep-sea discoveries

The new subspecies is smaller than the common bottlenose dolphin, and is found only in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Bycatch is a term used to refer to any species caught accidentally while fishing for other species. According to the FAO, there are few fisheries that don't catch sharks as bycatch, and some fisheries actually catch more sharks than their targeted species.

A small device has been used to significantly reduce shark and stingray bycatch in a tuna fishery, according to a study.

Sound reveals that blue whales (and their prey) are drawn to oceanic upwellings.

The steamship SS Pacific went down in November of 1875 with the loss of at least 325 passengers.

The wreck of the side-wheel passenger steamship SS Pacific has finally been located by a team of local divers and historians after having been missing for almost 150 years.

Indonesian lawmakers have passed a sweeping new criminal code, which also applies to foreign residents and tourists, which bans cohabitation before marriage and penalises sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail.

International dive community outraged at court ruling after a diver was found guilty of the involuntary homicide of his dive buddy.

Sperm whales in the Pacific Ocean exhibit human-like patterns of symbolic cultural identifiers, a study suggests.

A team from the Sea War Museum Jutland have located and filmed three unique and exceptionally well-preserved shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea. The ships are presumed to be over 300 years old and appear virtually untouched on the seabed.

HMS Regent

The British submarine HMS Regent sailed to patrol the southern Adriatic but was lost with all hands at some point in April 1943, most likely after striking a mine. 

The V-1302 John Mahn started out as a German fishing trawler before being converted into a patrol boat during the war. It was sunk close to the Belgian coast in 1942 by the British Royal Air Force, as part of the Channel Dash operation.

A new study analyzing the World War II shipwreck V-1302 John Mahn, which was sunk in 1942 in the Belgian part of the North Sea, shows that it is currently leaking toxic chemicals and heavy metals in the North Sea.

Tiger beach, Bahamas

Female tiger sharks that frequently visit Tiger Beach, a popular dive spot in the Bahamas, are larger and have higher hormone levels than other individuals of the same species that spend less time there, researchers find.

Lemon shark

Landmark decision limits or regulates the commercial trade in 54 shark species of the requiem family, including tiger, bull and blue sharks.

Sailfish hunting sardines in the open ocean off the coast of Mexico. Image courtesy of Rodrigo Friscione

Marine predators, such as tunas, billfishes and sharks, aggregate in anticyclonic, clockwise-rotating ocean eddies.

A manta ray near Isla de la Plata off the coast of Ecuador. Photo courtesy Fundacion Megafauna Marina del Ecuador.

Scientists have identified off the coast of Ecuador a distinct population of oceanic manta rays that is more than 10 times larger than any other known subpopulation of the species, Oregon State University reports.

DEMA Show 2022

DEMA Show 2022 was held in Orlando, Florida, USA, on 1-4 November. This show was the first regular edition in three years due to the pandemic, the effects of which were still felt.

Swedish maritime archaeologists have discovered the wreck of ship Äpplet (The Apple), the long-lost sister ship of the 17th-century warship Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage, the Swedish Museum of Wrecks has said.

Tuna use sharks as back scratchers.