X-Ray Mag #87

Feature articles in this issue with stand-alone pdfs

Ila France Porcher   Peter Symes

Fish feel pain, or don’t they? Despite a growing body of sound evidence that fish do indeed feel pain and are sentient beings capable of all the types of cognition found in the “higher” mammals, with the possible sole exception of the ability to imitate, a group of critics seems to systematically seek to discredit this research. But for what reasons? Ila France Porcher takes a closer look at the stakes involved.

Don Silcock   Don Silcock

One of the things I learned quickly when first writing for X-Ray Mag was that it is often the images there were not taken underwater that can make an article about a specific location really stand out. As was pointed out to me, one ornate ghost pipefish looks pretty much the same as another. As proud as you may be of the images from your last trip, are they that much different from those of the one before?

Brandi Mueller   Brandi Mueller

On a night dive in the Philippines several years ago, I had an opportunity to do a "fluoro" night dive. Atlantis Dive Resort rented blue underwater flashlights and yellow filter shields that went over divers' masks. Geared up, I set off into the night. The blue light was very dim and the dive was much darker than a normal night dive. After a few moments of wondering what exactly I was doing underwater in the blackness of night, my eyes started to adjust and the first fluorescent colors started to show up.

Rosemary E. Lunn  

On Saturday, 23 June 2018, a football team of boys in Thailand, aged 11 to 16, finished practice under the watchful eye of their 25-year-old coach, Ekkapol Chantawong. The group then cycled to and entered a popular tourist attraction, Tham Luang Cave. Some of the boys had never visited it before and were curious to know what it looked like. They explored the cave for about an hour before turning around and retraced their steps. They could not get out. At around 9:00 p.m., Sungwut Kummongkol, leader of the Mae Sai Rescue Unit Team, received a call that some of the children had disappeared. It prompted a search to begin.

Scott Bennett   Scott Bennett

Anchored at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southern Caribbean, Grenada, known as the "Island of Spice" due to its nutmeg and mace production, has long been on my radar. Being tropical and scenic with good diving and a short flight from home, how could one NOT be enticed? Alas, circumstance always seemed to intervene, making it a destination for "next year." But with a gap in my calendar before Christmas, I decided it was finally going to be "this year." The impending Canadian winter provided added incentive!

Edited by Gunild Symes   Kelly Clause

American artist Kelly Clause is a California native and avid scuba diver who creates elegant and sublime water color paintings of marine life, from giant humpbacks and sperm whales to curious sea lions and octopuses to fronds of graceful sea kelp. X-Ray Mag interviewed the artist to learn more about her artwork and perspectives on the underwater realm.

Rosemary E. Lunn   Rick Ayrton

“Crikey,” I thought, “one hundred years ago today that German U-boat was awfully close to the English coast.” I suddenly felt a bit vulnerable. World War I happened right here—just off the peaceful Dorset shore, not in some far-off French trench. A century ago today, I could well be on a sinking ship. Or dead.

Don Silcock   Don Silcock

The pursuit of unusual and compelling photo opportunities has led me on some interesting journeys over the last few years, but few come close to the raw excitement of photographing the American crocodiles of Mexico’s Banco Chinchorro! I have come to realise that photographing big and charismatic animals underwater actually borders on the addictive, because the more of those trips you do, the more encounters you hear about and the “must-do list” just keeps on growing. So it was when a conversation over an après-dive adult beverage led to the subject of in-water encounters with crocodiles.

Ila France Porcher  

Biologist Randall Arauz has worked for nearly 30 years for the protection of the marine life off the shores of Central America and his native Costa Rica.

Brandi Mueller   Brandi Mueller

I loved Saba before I arrived. Throughout my dive travels, I had occasionally heard about this mythical island of which not many knew. Tales of a small dormant volcanic island with healthy reefs, hiking trails crisscrossing its eight square kilometers, and excellent food. Those who had been there raved about the “Unspoiled Queen,” the name islanders and visitors had given the island, and it was added to my bucket list with a few stars next to it.

Lawson Wood   Shane Wasik

Over a number of years, the actions of fishermen and sea anglers have attracted the attention of marine scientists at the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory who quickly became aware of these fishers catching spurdogs in the Loch Etive area near Oban on the west coast of Scotland. These small sharks were always on a catch-and-release scheme, and the researchers thought that this little British shark deserved a bit more interest in order to discover what they were up to, trying to learn more about their habitat and habits, and why Loch Etive was so important to the Scottish population of these fascinating sharks.

Beth Watson   Beth Watson

Drone photography can really spice up a dive travel photographer’s portfolio. It adds another element, dimension and a unique perspective. Safety is a primary concern with drone photography. Preparation, precaution and planning is very important. Become quite familiar with the aircraft, software and controller before taking it to a travel destination.

Mike Ange  
Adding some realism to your training protocol also requires adding spontaneity, distraction and surprise. This is not as hard as it seems, but it can be dangerous for instructor and student if not well-controlled.

Mike Ange discuss methods of building a safer and more comfortable diver at the more advanced levels by preventing the diver from anticipating issues before they occur. While this may sound contradictory to the earlier articles in this series, in reality, it is taking those skills to the next level.

Simon Pridmore  

You are chatting with a diving friend and the conversation turns to mutual acquaintances. “Do you know Bob and Carol?” your friend asks. “Oh yes, good divers!” you reply. We will usually refer to someone as a good diver when they are not around. We will rarely say it to their face. And it is something that we all rather hope people say about us behind our backs. And of course, the politically correct response when someone says, “so-and-so is a good diver” is to nod sagely in agreement, rather than object. But what does it mean? What are the qualities that make someone a good diver?


Other articles and news in this edition