Main features in this issue include:
What do you do when it all runs out?
In the last Scuba Confidential column, I took a long, hard look at the buddy system and solo diving. Whatever you may feel about the issues, there are definite benefits—both tangible and intangible—to diving with someone else. We are human beings, after all.
The Atlantic bluefin tuna is one of the largest and fastest fish in the ocean. They are incredible swimmers. With bodies shaped like torpedoes, they are practically built for speed. Some species of tuna can swim as fast as 69kph (43mph). They are exceptional predators from the moment they are born, and they can live up to 40 years.
The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) belongs to the Scombridae family. They are magnificent and impressive wild animals. They live in both the western and eastern sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and during springtime, migrate to the Mediterranean Sea to spawn.
Talent plus personality. That’s how clients and colleagues explain 35-year-old Becky Kagan Schott’s rapid ascent in the male-dominated, niche-filled world of underwater cinematography. “There are only a handful of people you can call if you need someone to dive to 350 feet, shoot and be creative,” explains Evan Kovacs, director of underwater photography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab.
Colleague, British underwater cameraman Rich Stevenson said that her skilled and energetic “let’s do this” attitude is the icing on the cake.
There are other areas of the world with well-preserved shipwrecks, but the Great Lakes has the monopoly on sheer mass, variety and relative ease of access. Very few known dive-able wrecks are much more than a few hours boat ride from a decent restaurant, a chain hotel or a decent-sized town. Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, is a notable exception, but most wreck dive sites in the Great Lakes do not demand an expedition set up to reach.
I had lived in North America for a few years before I gave the Great Lakes much thought.
My first dive in the Great Lakes was 20 years ago. I remember descending into dark green water and limited visibility. My joke for years was, “Do you know why they call it Lake Erie? Because it’s just that—it’s Erie.” Soon after that, I moved to Florida with my family and forgot all about the Great Lakes because I had warm, tropical reefs in my backyard. Fast-forward to five years ago and I had my next experience diving in Lake Superior.
I was then fortunate enough to work on a documentary in Lake Huron where we located and explored several new wrecks. I was amazed by how blue and clear the water was.
The year is 1880, and you are working on a wooden schooner, one of the most dangerous jobs during the time. It is late November and it is the last run of the season. The ship is overloaded with coal and the seas start to pick up. It is now dark and the icy waves are crashing over the sides, and all you can do is work to keep the ship afloat. Ice is now forming on the rigging, and out of the fog, the bow of another ship suddenly appears.
In 2011, I was fortunate to work on Project Shiphunt, a documentary film for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Sony. We spent a few weeks in the small town of Alpena, Michigan searching for shipwrecks.
“I’ve heard of Malawi… Isn’t that where Madonna adopted one of her babies from?” queried one of my clients before my departure for Africa. I winced, but at least she had heard of it. Up to that point, all responses to my intent of visiting the small African nation consisted of confused looks or furrowed brows.
For some reason, many people attach an unwarranted stigma to Africa. Whenever there is trouble somewhere, be it political strife or Ebola, many assume the entire continent is hazardous by geographic association. However, as African nations go, Malawi remains refreshingly innocuous.
Hollywood is attributed with recognizing the natural beauty of Tioman Island in the 1950s as an exotic tropical paradise. Having seen one of the films as a child, it created an impression of a place I would like to visit someday. I never imagined it would set the stage for my first experience of diving in Malaysia. Tioman delivered on an enchanting dream.
Malaysia is an independent country comprised of 13 states, represented as the stripes in the current flag, and three territories. Locals refer to the states as individual countries and think of Malaysia more like the United Kingdom.
Greek diving is back on the menu. X-RAY MAG’s Peter Symes asks Avgerinos Vrazopoulos, the director of Scuba Hellas—the Greek diving marketing group—for insights into the development of new dive locations and trip packages for international divers.
X-RAY MAG: You are taking on the seemingly gargantuan task of positioning Greece as a diving destination, somewhat anew, even though Greece has always had a recreational dive industry.
A new style of shark dive has been developed by Jim Abernethy, of Scuba Adventures in Florida. In a dramatic demonstration that “shark huggers” are right, all his guests do with the sharks now is to stroke them! Jim was the pioneer who first demonstrated the peaceful way that sharks will interact with divers, especially when their curiosity has been aroused through the offer of a snack.
These days, Jim offers his guests the opportunity to learn how to befriend a wild shark during their visit to Tiger Beach.
Pelagic black water diving is not for the novice underwater videographer. Without visual references, routine tasks, even for an experienced diver, must be constantly on the conscious mind. Add a camera to the mix and the task loading easily becomes too much. However, with a little preparation, you can set yourself up to capture some amazing video on a world-class dive.
Master your buoyancy, you must
The UK recreational and technical diving industry is continuing to lobby against a forced change to a proposed ISO cylinder testing standard.
Historically the UK cylinder testing regime for scuba tanks used to be every two years (visual) and every four years (hydraulic)—the cylinder is visually tested when it is hydraulically tested.
Learning skills from some instructors might be a waste of time. Skills are the foundation of safe and enjoyable diving and the building blocks of all diving certifications. The comment here is not that learning skills is a waste of time, but that if you learn them from the wrong instructor, you may have to re-learn them completely for the skills to be of any use.
Until you get into deep trimix or cave diving training, there is little emphasis in diving qualifications on anything other than meeting performance-based skill standards.
Yoshi Hirata is a Japanese photographer and marine biologist based in the Philippines. His father was an artist and a painter, so Hirata learned to see a lot of different angles of truths from him. He also studied nature where he also found a variety of truths in ecology, but at the same time, he said, his heart sought beauty.
“Every year, I come up with a concept of study and art as a project for myself. Luckily, I have never lost my passion and interest in nature. I have been diving for over 44 years, logging some 26,000 dives already, but still I dive every day.