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Sport Diver USA - April May 2018

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WILL ARCTIC
ICE DISAPPEAR
COMPLETELY BY
MID-CENTURY?
NEAR PERFECT:
HOW TO SHOOT
CLOSE-FOCUS
WIDE ANGLE
SHARKNADO
AND MORE
IN FRENCH
POLYNESIA
WHAT IT’S LIKE
TO SAVE SEA
CREATURES
FROM NETS
P 46
P 26
P 64
P 24
SCUBA
D
I
V
I
N
G
TESTED:
24 NEW
MASKS
P 35
American
saltwater
crocodile
(Crocodylus
acutus) at La
Boca de Piedra
Chiquita
CHOMPING
GROUNDS
E X P LO R I N G C U BA’S D I V E R S E
M A R I N E H A B I TAT S BY L I V E A B OA R D
P 54
SCUBADIVING.COM
APRIL 2018
Thank You
Bahamas Aggressor
Belize Aggressor III
Cayman Aggressor IV
Galapagos Aggressor III
Kona Aggressor II
Maldives Aggressor II
hank you Scuba Diving readers for selecting us #1 in the Reader’s Choice Awards.
Since 1984, making every dive, every meal and every moment special is the mission
of Aggressor Fleet staff. Come aboard one of our worldwide yachts. We have a
liveaboard vacation suited to your travel budget and lust for adventure!
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· Maldives · Oman · Palau · Raja Ampat · Red Sea · Roatan · hailand · Tiger Beach · Turks & Caicos ·
for making Aggressor Fleet #1
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See More Specials and Celebrity Cruises online
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info@aggressor.com · www.aggressor.com
09
ASCEND
An emerging
artist offers
tips for aspiring
photographers;
spreading the
gospel of coral
conservation; stop
sucking — discarded plastic straws
are polluting our
oceans around
the globe.
21
TRAIN
How to tackle
marine debris on
your next dive —
and when to leave
it to the pros; tips
for adding depth
to your photos
with close-focus
wide-angle shots;
lack of fitness
spells disaster for
an aging diver.
The network of pristine
habitats in Cuba’s Gardens
of the Queen supports a
variety of shark species,
including silvertips.
46
54
ON THIN ICE
PUZZLE PERFECT
Will Arctic sea ice — and the animals that depend on
it — become extinct by midcentury? Explorer and
photographer Jill Heinerth documents the impact of
human activity on this fragile ecosystem.
Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen is a flourishing marine
habitat with crocs, sharks, groupers and more — and
citizen scientists can see it all aboard M/V Oceans for
Youth, where they grab a snorkel and explore.
63
TRAVEL
Legions of sharks,
ripping currents,
and fields of hard
corals are the
rewards for divers
aboard French
Polynesia Master;
catch the bug at
these destinations
perfect for new
divers; discover
the magic of diving
Florida’s inland
hot spots.
COVER An American salt water crocodile cozies up to the camera in Cuba. Photo by Scot t Johnson
4 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
RON WATKINS
35
SCUBALAB
Our team of test
divers dishes
out eye-opening
results on 24 new
masks — find out
which took home
the Testers Choice
and Best Buy
honors.
Where the wild things are.
What weird and wonderful things await you when you dive
The Florida Keys & Key West? With the only living coral
reef in North America and thousands of different species
of marine life, everything you can imagine.
fla-keys.com/diving
Conch Republic Divers, Islamorada
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Oceanfront cottage style
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Located next to deep-water
marina. Spacious guest rooms.
Restaurant on-site.
866-733-8554 or 305-451-2121
holidayinn.com/keylargofl
Hall’s Diving Center & Career
Institute, Marathon
Silent World Dive Center, Key Largo
Dive Key West, Inc.
No Crowds! No Rush! Wreck,
Tec Specialist Diving & Training
you won’t go wrong.
305-451-3252
silentworld.com
Full-service dive center.
Dive packages available.
Dive the Vandenberg.
800-426-0707 or 305-296-3823
divekeywest.com
History of Diving Museum,
Islamorada
Key Largo Bay Marriott
Beach Resort
Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort,
Key Largo
Find your key to paradise
featuring endless blue skies,
fishing, diving and more.
855-410-3911
keylargobaymarriott.com
Waterfront rooms, pool, beach,
scuba/snorkel instr. & boat charters.
3nts/2dive pkg from $345 ppdo.
305-451-3595 or 800-426-6729
amoray.com
Beautiful Wreck and Reef diving.
Lessons for starters and Career
Training for professionals. Great fun
at Hall’s. Come see us.
800-331-4255 or 305-743-5929
hallsdiving.com
Visit “Man’s Quest to Explore Under
the Sea”. Enjoy featured exhibits &
events!
305-664-9737
divingmuseum.org
t
T A L K
PATRICIA WUEST joined Scuba Diving
in October 1992 and has served as assistant, managing and senior editor. A
diver for more than 25 years, she was
named editor-in-chief in 2013.
scubadiving.com ∂ edit@scubadiving.com
EDITORIAL
Editor-in-Chief Patricia Wuest
Deputy Editor Mary Frances Emmons
Managing Editor Andy Zunz
ScubaLab Director Roger Roy
Assistant Editor Robby Myers
Copy Chief Cindy Martin
A WORLD OF
DIFFERENCE
This Earth Day, do something positive for the planet
CONTRIBUTORS
Brandon Cole, Eric Douglas, Brent Durand, Jill Heinerth,
Kurt Lieber, Eric Michael, Brooke Morton, Erin Quigley,
Steve Sanford, Melissa Smith, Terry Ward
ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Art Director Monica Alberta
Staff Photographer Jon Whittle
A
pril 22 will be my 49th Earth Day. In 1970, as a 16-year-old high school
sophomore, I had no idea that the very first Earth Day would be history-making.
Though a number of important legislative initiatives were passed in the U.S. in the
’70s, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species
Act, the environmental movement was largely a grass-roots one. At my high school
in New Jersey, a group of us formed the Willingboro Environmental Action League.
We spent weekends running a recycling program. Our Saturday “Trash Bashes”
were a huge success; eventually our township had to assume control.
Our staff is committed to promoting conservation efforts, especially in our
oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. On page 46, you’ll find a report by underwater
explorer, cave diver and filmmaker Jill Heinerth, who is documenting the impact
global warming is having on Arctic ice. As Earth Day 2018 approaches, we at Scuba
Diving hope to encourage divers to make a difference. As conservationist Jane
Goodall said: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the
world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what
kind of difference you want to make.”
DIGITAL
Digital Editor Becca Hurley
SALES
Group Publisher Glenn Sandridge
glenn.sandridge@bonniercorp.com
Associate Publisher Jeff Mondle
760-419-5898; jeff.mondle@bonniercorp.com
Associate Publisher David Benz
850-261-1355; david.benz@bonniercorp.com
Territory Manager Linda Sue Dingel
407-913-4945; lindasue.dingel@bonniercorp.com
Detroit Advertising Director Jeff Roberge
Advertising Sales Manager Lauren Brown
407-571-4914; lauren.brown@bonniercorp.com
Editorial Director Shawn Bean
Creative Director Dave Weaver
Group Marketing Director Haley Bischof
Senior Marketing Manager Kelly Sheldon
Marketing Coordinator Annie Darby
Public Relations Manager Evily Giannopoulos
Production Director Rina Viray Murray
Associate Production Director Kelly Weekley
Production Manager Stephanie Northcutt
BY PATRICIA WUEST
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
3
Chairman Tomas Franzén
Head of Business Area, Magazines Lars Dahmén
Chief Executive Officer Eric Zinczenko
Chief Financial Officer Joachim Jaginder
Chief Operating Officer David Ritchie
Chief Marketing Officer Elizabeth Burnham Murphy
Chief Digital Revenue Officer Sean Holzman
VP, Integrated Sales John Graney
VP, Digital Operations David Butler
VP, Public Relations Perri Dorset
General Counsel Jeremy Thompson
FOLLOWING
ScubaLab Director Roger Roy focuses on ascent
control during a BC test at Blue Grotto in Williston,
Florida. See more behind-the-scenes photos and
results at scubadiving.com.
All contents copyright 2018 Bonnier Corporation. No use may be
made of materials contained herein without express written
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Scuba Diving (ISSN 1553-7919) is published 10 times per year (J/F, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, S/O, Nov and Dec) by Bonnier Corp., 460 N. Orlando Ave., Suite 200, Winter Park, FL 32789. Vol. 27, No. 3, Apr 2018. Periodicals postage paid in Winter Park, FL, and additional offices. Subscription
rate for one year (10 issues): U.S. $21.97; Canada $30.97; all other foreign countries, $39.97. U.S. funds only. Contents copyright 2018 by Bonnier Corp. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Scuba Diving, P.O. 6364, Harlan, IA 51593-1864. CANADA POST: Publications Mail Agreement Number:
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6 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
JOHN MICHAEL BULLOCK
PICTURE PERFECT
OUT OF
THE BLUE:
DISCOVER
THE WORLD
BELOW
a
10
PHOTOGRAPHER
SPOTLIGHT
16
BABY-MAKING
MACHINES
18
IT SUCKS
TO SUCK
JILLIAN MITCHELL/ALAMY
“
Stretching more than 1,400 miles, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the
planet and home to 1,600-plus species of fishes, 133 types of elasmobranchs, and more than
30 varieties of cetaceans. The reef and its residents are under serious attack, as illustrated by
the 2017 film Chasing Coral, which documented coral-bleaching events in real time.
Not everyone
is going to be
stoked on coral
like I am, but I
do know that
every person
has something
in the natural
world they
really connect
to and odds are
that it’s under
anthropogenic
pressure.”
SEA HERO:
ZACK RAGO
PAGE 13
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 9
a
ASCE N D
competitions are hugely subjective, so
don’t get disappointed if your work is not
recognized at first. Simultaneously, be
brutally honest with yourself when selecting images for a contest. Your image
should be creatively executed, technically correct, and should not require too
much post-processing. A moment that
has a sentimental attachment to it does
not necessarily make for a great entry.
Q Where is your favorite place to take
underwater photos?
A I have photographed the amazing reefs
of Raja Ampat, muck critters in Sulawesi, turtles at Sipadan, the volcanos in the
Andaman Islands, whales and shipwrecks
off Sri Lanka, mantas in the Maldives,
kelp forests in Norway and California, and
more. I think different places are known
for different things, and I am fascinated
by all of it. I have been diving for 22 years
now and am head over heels in love with
the sea. Having said that, the runs of sardines off South Africa and salmon off the
northwestern coast of North America are
at the top of my wish list of destinations
I would like to dive and photograph. For
this, I am still deciding whether to rob a
bank or sell a kidney.
A G E 37 L O C AT I O N India O C C U PAT I O N Photographer; PADI IDC Staff Instructor; Founding Partner at EARTH
CoLab L AT E S T A C H I E V E M E N T First Place, Macro, 2015 “Through Your Lens” Photo Contest
Q What is your shooting specialty?
A I don’t have a specialty, but I strive to
create expressive over/under images.
Diving is still in its infancy in India.
Most of the people in this country
have little knowledge of our maritime
history or heritage. In the education
and conservation work that I do, the
images that seem to have a great impact
are the over/under images — they
provide a unique view of both worlds
that many people rarely experience as
connected entities.
Q What advice would you give to
photographers entering contests?
A Nowadays social-media feeds are increasingly flooded with images. While it’s
great to take inspiration from other people’s work, don’t become overwhelmed by
it. Be your own greatest competitor and
strive simply to better yourself. Imaging
GET THE PICTURE? We’re constantly amazed by the work of photographers like Umeed Mistry who enter our annual “Through Your Lens” contest
— many of whom become regular contributors to this magazine. Our 2018 contest, which will appear in a special September/October photography
issue, offers prizes including cash, exotic liveaboard trips, and top-quality photo and dive gear to winners in four categories: Wide-Angle, Macro,
Conceptual and Compact Camera. Enter up to five images for free through May 31 at scubadiving.com/photocontest.
10 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
UMEED MISTRY
EMERGING ARTIST:
UMEED MISTRY
Q Who has been your greatest influence
as a photographer?
A I started looking at underwater images
in 1996, when I first fell in love with diving.
At that time, the few photographers who
stood out were David Doubilet, Howard
Hall and Bill Curtsinger. I devoured every
bit of content that I could find in magazines and books. I recall a couple of
instances where I wrote hopeful emails
to David Doubilet and his team asking for
a job or an internship, even if it meant just
carrying camera and scuba gear. While I
did not receive a response to any of those
emails, Doubilet has been a constant in
shaping my perception of underwater
photography. While many phenomenal
photographers have emerged since, I
can safely say that his images had the
greatest impact on that teenager who
was beginning to explore the oceans of
the world.
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NEED TO KNOW
DIVE SEASON:
year-round
WATER TEMPERATURE:
74-86˚ F
TRAVEL TIP: The souks
Oman Aggressor
Choose among four different itineraries in the rich seas surrounding
this exotic destination
can be wonderfully
addictive for shoppers
keen to scoop up deals
on pottery, frankincense, clothing and
more. Shipping back
to the States can be
unreliable, so if possible, tuck an empty
duffel bag inside your
suitcase so you can
travel home with delicate buys protected in
the suitcase, and dirty
clothes in the duffel.
B y B rooke Mo r to n
iving in Oman packs a wealth of biodiversity thanks to greater than 204
square miles of reefs influenced by the convergence of three bodies of water: the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian
Sea, each rich in its own unique marine life.
To fully explore this abundance, the
Oman Aggressor divides its time between
four separate itineraries, each originating
from a diferent port.
The Daymaniyat Islands can be found
off the country’s northern coast. Together, these nine islands are perhaps Oman’s
best-known destinations for divers. Think
healthy reefs with thick shoals of fish, dens
of moray eels and troops of cuttlefish, as
well as stingrays, leopard sharks and more.
Plus, these islands are home to hawksbill
and green sea turtles. This area also supports a wide diversity of macro life.
The Musandam Peninsula, the northernmost point of the United Arab Emirates, elbows into a narrowing passage between the
Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Here,
Top to bottom: Oman Aggressor; a honeycomb moray eel peeks out from its den; the
spacious salon. The luxury yacht also boasts
a hot tub and well-appointed staterooms.
the underwater terrain is as sheer and dramatic as the desert fjords above. This habitat creates a deep-water sanctuary that regularly welcomes whale sharks.
In the Hallaniyat Islands, of the southeastern coast, tourism is still relatively new.
The diving highlights are big, starting with
a resident pod of humpback whales. Add to
that manta rays, sperm whales and huge
pods of dolphins in these waters.
The last itinerary ofers a taste of both
the Daymaniyat and Hallaniyat Islands.
Regardless of which itinerary you choose,
you can expect not only untouched reefs,
but also that feeling of remote wilderness,
of escaping the crowds entirely for an experience all your own in this up-and-coming
destination.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 11
AGGRESSOR
D
Seiko is an oficial partner of
PADI and Project AWARE.
O C C U PAT I O N
Scientist and
ocean advocate
DIVING SINCE
2010
C E R T I F I C AT I O N
LEVEL
PADI Rescue Diver
WORDS TO LIVE BY
“The imagination
of nature is far, far
greater than the
imagination of man.”
—Richard Feynman
Sea Hero
ZACK RAGO
This coral buff shares his love for the ocean with the next generation
COURTESY MICHAEL ORI
NC
O
ATION INNOVAT
I ON
ERV
I ON
Q: You are now working on Chasing
Coral’s “impact campaign” — what
does that entail and what’s the goal?
A: Our goal right now is to expand the
global footprint of Chasing Coral, and
wake up the world to what’s happening
below the waves. Through our impact
campaign, communities are able to
leverage the film to jump-start conversation and inspire sustainable action on a
local level. We’ve had over 1,000 screenings in more than 70 countries, and that’s
just the beginning.
We’re also doing grass-roots work
in a handful of locations that we see as
a tipping point for renewable energy.
In my role doing youth outreach, I’ve
had the opportunity to work with thousands of students, most recently in the
Charleston County School District in
South Carolina, which has been especially
rewarding. Having an impact on our youth
and empowering them to participate in
projects that are bigger than themselves
is really special.
NS
LORAT
Q: Coral is a little bit — or a lot — harder
to excite people about than moredynamic threatened species such as
sharks and whales; what is the most
successful way to motivate people to
get involved?
A: I do a lot of outreach with kids, and
more often than not, I find myself talking
about dolphins and sharks just as much
as I talk about corals. I am a believer in
being Socratic with students and adults
alike. Not everyone is going to be stoked
on coral like I am, but what I do know for
sure is that every person has something
in the natural world they really connect to
and odds are that it is under some form
of anthropogenic pressure. Rather than
push my own agenda on why they should
save the corals, I find it more effective to
talk about what interests them. Whether
you love corals, dolphins or even elephants, the passion behind that is what
inspires us to take action, and I think that
is happening more now than ever before.
EXP
little bit of luck goes a long way —
and Zack Rago is a testament to
that. A gig working in the background
on time-lapse camera systems turned
into a supporting role in the documentary Chasing Coral for this self-proclaimed
coral nerd who was “never supposed to
be on camera.” Since the film’s debut,
Rago has worked tirelessly to spread
the word about ocean conservation with
the next generation and anyone who will
listen around the world, among several
other conservation-focused projects.
EDUCATIO
A
People of action, devoted to
protecting the planet’s oceans
and marine life through
conservation, technology or
by simply helping others. If
you spot a Sea Hero, join Scuba
Diving, Seiko and the 2018
Sea Heroes program by nominating him or her at
scubadiving .com/seaheroes
ASCE N D
a
Q: What is the goal of the Great Barrier
Reef Legacy’s “super coral” team of
coral hunters?
A: The team GBR Legacy put together
— made up of some of the best minds
in marine science, educators, tourism professionals and communicators
— were some of the first eyes on the
far northern stretch of the GBR since
back-to-back bleaching events. Among
everyone on board, there was research
covering everything from the genetics
and metabolomics of corals to health and
diversity assessments of the reef from
both underwater and aerial teams.
Perhaps most important is the
platform that GBR Legacy has created to
give the public access to the expeditions
with complete transparency into the
work being done and the findings along
the way. By crafting a team of people
from varied backgrounds, they ensured
the science could be communicated
back to the public in a meaningful and digestible way. I can’t say enough about the
power and importance of the project and
how well it was executed by GBR Legacy.
Rago might be keen
on corals, but he
encourages people
to find a part of the
natural world they
connect with and
take action to help
protect it.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge
you’ve faced in your work in marine
conservation?
A: From a technical standpoint, the
biggest challenge is finding creative
solutions with limited resources when
dealing with underwater technology. It’s
a constant battle that all divers know too
well. Then there is the emotional challenge. I really, really love corals and coral
reefs. They have been my great escape
for most of my life, and so much of what
I have worked on is oriented around their
death and degradation.
That has taken its toll on me from time
to time, and there are moments where it
can be really hard. However, it is also that
emotion that continues to drive me to do
the best I can. A high school student recently said to me, “Maybe following your
passion is following your heartbreak.” I
couldn’t agree more.
Each Sea Hero featured in Scuba Diving receives a Seiko Prospex Automatic SRPC07 watch worth
$525. In March 2019, judges will select the Sea Hero of the Year, who will receive a $5,000 cash
award from Seiko to further his or her work. scubadiving.com/seaheroes
Behold! It’s BIGGER Down Here!
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SEA DRAGON
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allstarliveaboards.com/aquacat
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Photo: David Benz ©
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seadragonbahamas@hotmail.com
allstarliveaboards.com/blackbeards
800-327-9600
The Islands Of
The Bahamas.
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ACROPORA PALMATA
(ELKHORN CORAL)
Q Acropora
palmata is the king
of all Caribbean
corals. It grows
into thick, robust
branches and is the
most important
reef-building species in the Caribbean. The common
name for this coral
is the elkhorn coral
because the wide
branches resemble
an impressive rack
of elk antlers.
MEET
NICOLE HELGASON,
CORAL SPOTTER
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP: ETHAN DANIELS/ALAMY; NICOLE HELGASON; COURTESY NICOLE HELGASON; OPPOSITE: COURTESY JEFF ORLOWSKI
Humans protect what we love, so let’s get to know our corals
a bit better, shall we?
BY MARY FRANCES EMMONS
very year is the year of the reef for Nicole
Helgason. A dive instructor for 10 years
and a coral enthusiast, Helgason noticed that
“divers pay very little attention to coral diversity.” She founded reefdivers.io and started writing
about coral to help divers better appreciate its
amazing diversity.
When 2018 was designated the International
Year of the Reef — shining a spotlight on the myriad
threats to coral reefs everywhere — we decided it
was time to get to know our corals better. Starting this month, Helgason will share her passion for
coral — and learning — in the pages of Scuba Diving
magazine.
From Helgason you’ll learn to identify the corals
you see on every dive. “Once you start spotting
corals, your perception of the underwater landscape
evolves,” Helgason says. “The term ‘coral reefs’ is too
broad. A French angel is always a French angel, but
not corals. The same coral can look totally different
in a different environment.”
We hope our new Coral Spotter column will help
you understand and appreciate those differences
and, as Helgason says, be inspired to “see the reef
with new eyes.”
E
“Once
you start
spotting
corals, your
perception
of the
underwater
landscape
evolves.”
Q Mature branches
of elkhorn coral
provide complex
habitat and hiding
spots for juvenile
fishes, crustaceans
and other marine
life. In adult colonies, each branch
can be a foot wide
and several feet
long. However,
like all corals, no
two colonies are
the same.
Q When elkhorn
coral is healthy and
several colonies are
growing together,
their size helps to
buffer coastlines
from storms and
waves. Elkhorn corals love the sunlight
and grow in shallow
environments
either close to
shore or at the top
of a reef crest.
Q Acropora
palmata was once
a dominant species
in the Caribbean,
but unfortunately
there has been a
90 to 95 percent
reduction in abundance since 1980.
This coral is now
listed as critically
endangered on the
IUCN Red List.
Several restoration
projects around the
Caribbean are now
focusing on growing
Acropora palmata
fragments and
collecting elkhorn
coral spawn for
coral-restoration
efforts.
Q If you are trying
to identify corals,
Acropora palmata
is the best place to
start. This species
has a one-of-akind appearance
unlike anything else
in the Caribbean.
Colonies are golden
yellow to dark
brown and grow to
an impressive size.
I’ve even found a
few colonies up to
20 feet wide.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 15
ASCE N D
a
EXPECTANT FATHER
SULAWESI, INDONESIA
I visited this pair of Pontoh’s
pygmy seahorses — which
grow to about half an inch in
length — every day while performing doctoral research on
these fascinating fishes. The
female in the foreground is
courting her heavily pregnant
male partner. Daily courtship
dances help the pair synchronize their reproductive clocks.
The day after I took this image, he gave birth. Thanks to
their synchronization, the female had already prepared a
new clutch of eggs to transfer
into his brood pouch, allowing
them to produce as many babies as possible during their
short lives.
BY DR. RICHARD SMITH
16 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 17
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
6,000,000
C
E
S
500,000,000
A
Number of straws
discarded daily in
the U.S.
Straws removed in
beach cleanups in
the past 25 years
62,252
Length in miles of
straws discarded
daily in the U.S.
90
Estimated percentage of seabirds,
whales, dolphins
and turtles that have
ingested plastics
THE LAST STRAW
500,000,000 straws are discarded daily in the U.S. — isn’t it time to just say no?
What are the three dirtiest words in ocean conservation? “Single-use plastic.” There’s no better — or more absurd — example than the humble straw, which in the past 20 years has become ubiquitous in the U.S., appearing in nearly every drink
served in nearly every restaurant, to the tune of 500,000,000 pieces of plastic added to our trash problem daily. Straws
are among the most frequent items collected at coastal cleanups worldwide, part of the 80 percent of marine debris that
originates on land, most of which is plastic. Straws don’t biodegrade; they break down into microplastics that often are
ingested by marine life. How can you help? It’s simple: Just say, “No straw, please” wherever you order drinks, and encourage your favorite watering holes to offer straws only on request, and to use biodegradable straws when they do. Reusable
straws are also a good alternative. To #StopSucking and learn more, visit strawlessocean.org and thelastplasticstraw.org.
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
18 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
STRAWS: ISTOCKPHOTO
N
D
a
The Islands of Hawaii
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TIPS TO
IMPROVE
YOUR
SAFETY,
SKILLS AND
BOTTOM
TIME
t
26
GET CLOSE TO
SHOOT WIDE
28
THE MISSING
LINK
32
HOW SHOULD
I EQUALIZE?
MARCO GARGIULO
“
Trash, or habitat? Wherever debris makes its way to the sea, from the muck
beds of Indonesia’s Lembeh Strait to a marina in Sorrento, Italy (above),
that can be a tough call. Learning to distinguish the difference is part of
becoming an ace underwater trash collector. Learn more on page 22.
For every
minute a
person is in
cardiac arrest,
their chance of
survival drops.
After about
10 minutes,
the chance
that person will
regain a pulse
is just about
nonexistent.”
LESSONS FOR LIFE
PAGE 30
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 21
t
DI V E
HACKS
TRA I N
ERIC MICHAEL is a former
editor-in-chief of both Scuba Diving
and Sport Diver magazines, a veteran
ScubaLab test-team diver, and author
of Dive Hacks since 2015.
EVERY DAY IS TRASH DAY
Learn how your training can include fighting marine debris
BY ERIC MICHAEL
ur oceans are getting trashed. The
growing plague of marine debris affects all things oceanic, from your local
shore dive to the most remote coral atoll,
along with everything living in it. Thanks
to decades of unsustainable consumption and reckless disposal of man-made
materials — especially plastics and abandoned fishing nets and equipment — we
are facing a dark future. According to a
2016 report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum,
there will be more plastic in the world’s
oceans than fish (by weight) by 2050. As
divers, however, we are on the front line
of a building battle for recovery.
O
22 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
“Our ocean is under siege by trash
generating a wide range of environmental,
economic, health and sociocultural
impacts, not to mention threatening
marine life through entanglement,
suffocation and ingestion,” says Domino
Albert of Project AWARE, which started its
Dive Against Debris campaign in 2011 to
activate divers in a global marine-debris
removal-and-survey effort. “Divers are
uniquely positioned to take action against
marine debris, as they are the first to see
the devastating effects underwater and
have the skills to remove it.”
“A recent United Nations Environment
Programme report included a staggering
Divers use a net bag to pick up trash off Palm
Beach, Florida; the horrifying consequences of
marine debris (opposite, bottom left).
statistic: Eight million tons of plastics
enter the oceans every year, but only
5 percent of it stays at the surface, which
means 95 percent of it is underwater,”
says Kurt Lieber, founder and executive
director of Ocean Defenders Alliance, a
marine conservation organization focused on removing abandoned and lost
“ghost” fishing gear. “As conscientious
divers, we need to remove as much of
this debris as possible, even if it is one
piece at a time — because that single
piece could save an animal’s life.”
“There are an estimated 6 million
certified divers worldwide, so if every
one of us decides to make a small effort and pick up a piece of garbage from
the sea bottom, the multiplied effect
will be huge,” says Edgardo Ochoa, the
marine safety officer for Conservation
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT: CARLOS VILLOCH; JON WHITTLE; COURTESY INNOVATIVE SCUBA CONCEPTS; COURTESY DIVE RITE. OPPOSITE:
MICHAEL PATRICK O’NEILL/OCEANWIDEIMAGES.COM
International who established a national
program in Panama that trains divers to
remove ghost fishing nets. “However, it’s
more important not to litter in the first
place, and for divers to be active and
vocal ocean ambassadors.”
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT
With firsthand knowledge of marine
debris, divers can play an integral role
in fighting the tide of trash destroying
precious environments. But we need to
temper our judgment to intensify our impact, decrease our potential for further
damage, and increase our own safety.
“Marine debris is defined as any
persistent manufactured or processed
solid material that is discarded, disposed
of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment,” Albert says. “Not sure
what you’ve collected? Is it the remains
of a plastic bag or is it a food wrapper?
The Dive Against Debris survey tool kit
includes a marine-debris identification
guide that will help you accurately record
and report your data.”
“Most anything human-made is debris;
however, there are some considerations
for debris that is already covered,
absorbed, or used by marine life,” says
Lieber, whose efforts earned him Scuba
Diving magazine’s Sea Hero of the Year
award in 2015. “If an object is encrusted
with benthic life such as mussels, gorgonians or corals, and you feel that removing the item would do more harm than
good, leave it alone. The toxins released
by plastics can have a devastating effect
on the animals that come in close contact
with it, including altering their DNA, or deforming highly sensitive eggs and young
fish. Also, avoid sites that have historical
or cultural significance, as well as sites
that are beyond the dive teams’ skill set.”
When marine animals have made a
home in pieces of debris, it can be a tough
call. “Sometimes it’s worth a short-term
disturbance to remove potentially harmful marine debris; other times it might be
better to leave the item in the ocean,” Albert says. “Safety should be considered
before removing sharp, hazardous and
heavy items, plus local laws may apply.”
As conscientious divers, we
need to remove as much of
this debris as possible, even
if it is one piece at a time —
because that single piece
could save an animal’s life.
TRAINING BEFORE TRASH
Many appropriate marine-debris removals are simple. Even a newly certified
diver can pick up a plastic bag from the
bottom and stuff it in a BC pocket for topside disposal. However, only divers with
advanced training and experience should
attempt to clear larger items, such as
lobster traps or fishing nets.
“Being able to maintain your trim and
position in the water column with solid
buoyancy as you are working on a task
is really important — if you are bouncing
up and down, you can impact the very
IN THE BAG
Tools to help you get
the dirty jobs done right
MARES XR CERAMIC
LINE CUTTER
$60 ceramic, $80 titanium;
mares.com
Available with rust-resistant ceramic
or titanium blades, the XR can make
quick work of most any entanglement or
debris-removal scenario.
I N N O VAT I V E S C U B A C O N C E P T S
WIRE HANDLE MESH BAG
$20; innovativescuba.com
Rigid metal handles and a smart hinge
keep this tough mesh bag open, and
make it easy to close securely. It features
a D-ring for secure stowage.
D I V E R I T E 75 - P O U N D L I F T B A G
$89; diverite.com
This low-profile bag has a smart
trapezoidal shape that moves more air to
the top of the bag. It features an internal
dump valve activated by a pull cord to
help divers control ascent.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 23
animals you are trying to save,” Lieber
says. “Knowing how to safely fill and deploy a lift bag is essential. Before you get
to a site, take time to adjust your gear to
be as horizontal in the water as possible.”
“Any diver participating in net removal
should be trained at minimum as an
advanced diver and on the use of searchand-recovery gear and techniques,” says
Ochoa. “Before the actual dive operation,
practice using lift bags, cutting devices,
ropes and lines in a controlled situation.”
RECOVERY LOVES COMPANY
Getting organized, either on your own or
with conservation agencies, is the first
step. Joining forces with other divers will
not only increase the effectiveness of
your efforts, it will also intensify your satisfaction and enjoyment. But divers first
need to decide to get involved to become
a part of the solution.
“It’s sad and frustrating to be on a
remote island and find a plastic bottle or
an abandoned fishing line,” Ochoa says.
“We are the source of the problem, but
What It’s Like
TO RELEASE AN ANIMAL
TRAPPED IN DEBRIS
BY KURT LIEBER, FOUNDER OF OCEAN DEFENDERS ALLIANCE
Habitat or a death trap? Sometimes it’s a
judgment call for divers wanting to help
marine life impacted by debris.
we’re also the solution, so we recognize
the power of the diving community to
influence change and document what
remains for the larger public, for whom
out of sight often means out of mind,”
says Albert. “Divers are uniquely positioned to take action against trash,
fins on and off, through marine-debris
removal and leading community action.”
“One of the most fulfilling aspects of
volunteering is that you become more
acutely aware of the issues you are addressing,” Lieber says. “Removing trash
from our marine environment gets it into
landfills, where it can be better managed
to make sure it is either recycled or contained in an area that won’t allow it to do
more environmental damage.”
24 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
’ve been fascinated by marine life since I
was a tadpole. In the ’60s, I lived on Lake
Erie, swimming every summer in waters
9 miles from the Cuyahoga River, which
famously caught fire and burned for three
days in 1969. Every time I went out, I
would swim through schools of fish in distress, with lesions on their skin, gasping
for oxygen. Ever since, I’ve done all I can to
make our waters safer for animals.
In 1999 I came across an abandoned
lobster trap that had seven lobsters in it.
My dive partners and I released them all to
live another day. When we got back to the
boat, everyone was elated. That was my
first experience with how it feels to help
wildlife in danger. It made me want to do it
again, on a regular basis. I started Ocean
Defenders Alliance (oceandefenders.org)
in 2000 to get like-minded folks to volunteer their time to remove man-made
I
debris that can harm or kill wildlife.
A few years later, we were removing
a huge net off a California wreck; it was
nylon, and would have been there another
650 years if left in place. As we were attaching our lift bags, we could see several
species of rockfish escaping. Most rockfish are on the endangered list — many
can live to around 100 years, and some to
the ripe old age of 200.
Living that long means that these fish
can procreate for a long time. That fine
day, we released about 12 rockfish. Again,
a feeling of elation came over the entire
crew. We have removed a lot of material
from the sea over the years: 300 traps,
26,000 pounds of net, 38,000 feet of trap
lines, and 33,000 pounds of debris. But
you just can’t top being part of a team
that allowed a dozen fish to live up to
another 200 years!
MICHAEL PATRICK O’NEILL/OCEANWIDEIMAGES.COM; ILLUSTRATION: STEVEN P. HUGHES
DI V E
HACKS
TRA I N
t
DIVE DEEPER
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I MAG I N G
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BRENT DURAND is a professional
underwater photographer, writer
and workshop leader. View his
images on social media or at
brentdurand.com.
GET CLOSE TO
SHOOT WIDE
Emphasize your subject by using close-focus wide-angle compositions
BY BRENT DURAND
omposition is everything in photography: It’s the difference between a snapshot
and a captivating image. A good wide-angle composition will catch the viewer’s
attention and slowly lead his or her eye around the frame.
C
Close-focus wide-angle — CFWA for
short — is a composition technique that
requires holding the camera very close
to the subject, making it appear larger
and with more emphasis in the frame.
This subject is the anchor of the image
— the most compelling foreground element that initially engages the viewer.
When combined with an interesting midground and background — a school of
fish, perhaps — the result is an interesting image with depth. Keep the following
tips in mind to create stunning shots.
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26 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
CLOSE-FOCUS WIDE-ANGLE TIPS
1 Locate composition-friendly areas of
the reef. The best locations are ledges
and the tops of reef structures where you
can easily hover with your camera and
see not only the subject but also a middle
and even background area.
Effective composition helps the gorgonian
and hydrocoral stand out in this shot from
California’s Catalina Island.
2 Find a compelling subject. Ideally this
subject is recognizable, with interesting
texture, pattern and shape. Stay away
from dark colors that won’t have pop.
are using a single light source, this should
be placed above the housing port at 11 or
1 o’clock, to create a hint of shadow on
the front of the subject.
3 Use a small aperture (a high F-stop
number). This creates more depth of
field, which is required since the subject
is so close to the camera port. If you’re
shooting in manual, you will likely need
to increase ISO and lower shutter speed
slightly to account for the loss of light.
5 Shoot at an upward angle. This results
in a lighter-blue water color and a more
energetic image.
4 Bring your strobes or lights in close to
your housing port. If the strobes are too
wide, the light will miss the center of the
frame where the subject is located. If you
EXPERT TIP: Don’t see a great background? Ask your dive buddy to swim into
the composition and model for you. It
helps if you’ve discussed dive-modeling
signals prior to the dive.
CFWA compositions are challenging, but
the rewards are immersive reefscapes.
PHOTO GEAR BAG
Editor’s picks for wide-angle
wet lenses
NAUTICAM N100 WIDE-ANGLE
CONVERSION PORT
$3,950; nauticam.com
Advanced shooters will be interested
in the versatility of this new wet lens.
The N100 is designed to be used on a
28mm full-frame lens and replaces a
traditional dome port. Initial reviews
praise the sharp image quality.
Reservations:
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Use Code: BON18
Dive Fish Relax
FANTASEA UWL-09F
WIDE-ANGLE LENS
FROM TOP: COURTESY NAUTICAM; COURTESY FANTASEA; COURTESY IKELITE. OPPOSITE: BRENT DURAND
$800; fantasea .com
This wide-angle wet lens delivers a
wide perspective and great image
quality for 28mm lenses, and has
zero minimum-focus distance —
perfect for close-focus wide-angle.
IKELITE W-30 WIDE-ANGLE
WET LENS
$475; ikelite.com
The W-30 expands your field of view
while providing 0.59x magnification — perfect for shooting big
reefscapes and wrecks.
NOTE: These wet lenses attach to the
outside of the housing and can be added
and/or removed while underwater.
JOIN OCEANA AND NINA DOBREV
TO HELP SAVE SHARKS
Help at www.oceana.org/savesharks
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 27
I MAG I N G
TRA I N
t
THE FILE COULD NOT BE FOUND
Fig. 2
THE MISSING LINK
How to relink missing or offline files in Lightroom
BY ERIN QUIGLEY
28 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
Fig. 1
aplenty. Remember: Your photos are
never stored in Lightroom. Lightroom
links to the originals based on their lastknown name and location. Changing that
behind Lightroom’s back breaks the links.
ARE YOU MISSING FILES?
1 Offline Drives will have the volume
name and the small rectangular icon to
the left of the name grayed out.
2 Missing Folders are grayed out, with a
question mark on the folder icon.
3 Missing Photos display an exclamation
point or a smart-preview icon in the upper
right corner of the thumbnail, depending
on whether a smart preview was built for
that image.
4 In the Develop module, the sliders are
unavailable. You can edit a missing photo
only if you’ve built a smart preview.
5 In the Library module, go to Library>Find
All Missing Photos. This will generate a
collection called Missing Photographs
in the Catalog panel. (Do this weekly as
ordinary housekeeping — it’s easier to fix
if not too much time has passed.)
TROUBLESHOOTING
Don’t freak out. Evaluate the cause and
extent of the issue, and get going on a
fix — soon. Organizational snafus snowball if left untended. It’s also important
ERIN QUIGLEY
don’t know a single Lightroom user (me
included) who hasn’t noticed alarming exclamation-point or question-mark
icons sullying their Lightroom Library.
The warnings mean that Lightroom
can’t locate the files at their last-known
location, which is typically the result of
using the Finder (Mac) or Explorer (PC)
to move, rename or delete files instead of
using the Lightroom interface to accomplish the same tasks. It can also mean
that the external or network drive housing the files is unplugged or has had its
drive letter changed (PC).
I often equate Lightroom with a
marriage: If all the action happens in plain
view of Lightroom, everyone’s happy.
But if you cheat on Lightroom by using
software outside Lightroom’s interface,
you can bet there’ll be question marks
I
to approach the fix in a specific order. If
you start trying to relink individual photos before relinking missing drives and
folders, you’ll make the job much harder.
1 Are drives offline?
Look in the Folders panel. Is the drive
offline and grayed out? If no, skip to step
2. If yes, remedy the issue. Is the drive
disconnected or turned off? Has the drive
name (Mac) or drive letter (PC) changed?
If yes, change it back using Finder (Mac),
or Computer Management (PC).
Fig. 3
2 Are folders missing?
Are there missing, grayed-out folders in
the Folders panel? If no, skip to Step 5. If
yes, remedy the issue. If you deleted folders, restore them from the Trash/Recycle
Bin or from a backup. If you moved or renamed folders, move/rename them back
using Finder/Explorer, or move to Steps 3
and 4 to relink to new location/name.
3 Is an entire folder hierarchy missing?
Look in the Folders panel. If an entire
folder hierarchy is missing — both
“parent” and “child” subfolders — then
Command-click or right-click on the
parent and select “Find Missing Folder”
from the ensuing contextual menu. Navigate to the desired parent and select it.
As long as the names and structure of
the subfolders haven’t changed, everything gets relinked at once. If only single
folders are missing, move to Step 4.
4 Are just single folders missing?
Command-click or right-click on it and
select Find Missing Folder from the ensuing contextual menu. Navigate to the
targeted folder and select it. Lightroom
will update, the folder will come online,
and question marks will vanish.
5 Are individual images missing?
If the answer is yes, then either move/
rename the photos to their original state
using Finder/Explorer, or relink Lightroom
to their new name/location. If you’re having trouble tracking, use Mac Spotlight or
Windows Search to search for file names.
To relink Lightroom to a missing photo,
click on the exclamation point in the
upper right corner of the image thumbnail. Lightroom displays the last-known
location of the photo. Click Locate, and
navigate to the targeted photo.
If you moved but did not rename the
photos, tick the “Find nearby missing
photos” check box to locate other missing images in the same folder. If the
images have been renamed, each photo
has to be relinked individually.
Fig. 4
ERIN QUIGLEY is an Adobe ACEcertified consultant and awardwinning shooter. Goaskerin.com
provides tutorials and instruction
for underwater photographers.
Live in the Moment.
±ĬƋXĜüå{ųåŸĜÚåĺƋØIåýƋĜĬĬƵåĬĬرĺÚ±ŸŸƖĜĬĬĀŸĘĘŅŸƋØ{åƋåųaĜĬĬåųØ
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See more at saltlife.com
t
LESSONS
FOR
LIFE
TRA I N
ERIC DOUGLAS has been a dive
instructor, medic, and author on
scuba safety and adventure. Visit
his website at booksbyeric.com.
Knowing — and addressing — your risk factors is
doubly critical for divers
BY ERIC DOUGLAS
lenn loved to dive with his son — it
made everything about the sport
perfect. Conditions on this day, however,
were making things a bit less than ideal.
Now that they were back on the surface,
the waves were high and getting worse.
Glenn wasn’t looking forward to exiting
through the surf zone; to make matters
worse, he just couldn’t catch his breath.
G
30 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
THE DIVER
Glenn was 49, with 25 lifetime dives and
a basic open-water certification. He had
learned to dive on the beaches near his
home, and most of his few dives had been
made at that same site. He was in moderate health with no diagnosed problems,
although his doctor warned that he needed to lose weight and get more exercise.
THE DIVE
Glenn and Todd arrived at the shore early
that morning. Conditions were moderate,
but both men knew that getting through
the surf zone in full gear was tricky. After
that, things would settle down and they
could have a nice dive. After making their
entry, they swam on the surface, pulling
a float-and-dive-flag combination with
them until they were far enough out to
begin the dive. Before he submerged,
Glenn felt uncomfortable and was
breathing hard, so he held onto the float
ILLUSTRATION: CARLO GIAMBARRESI
FIT FOR LIFE
Glenn’s son Todd was 17 and had just
learned to dive that year. The younger
diver had completed 10 dives, all with his
father. He had a basic open-water-diver
certification as well.
for a few minutes to catch his breath
before submerging.
Underwater, Glenn felt fine. They completed a dive with a maximum depth of
80 feet for 40 minutes and then made a
safety stop at 15 feet for three minutes
before they returned to the surface.
THE ACCIDENT
The two divers surfaced to find the wind
had picked up, making the waves a bit
stronger. As soon as they headed for their
exit point, Glenn found himself in trouble
again. He complained to his son that his
gear felt tight and he couldn’t breathe, so
Todd towed his father toward the beach.
When they got to the surf zone, Glenn
lost consciousness. Todd secured his father to the float and exited the water by
himself so he could ditch his gear and get
help. Once he cleared the surf, Todd got
the attention of other divers on the beach,
and two of them ran to his aid. They all
re-entered the water to rescue Glenn.
The divers stripped Glenn out of his
gear and pulled him onto shore. They immediately began resuscitation efforts,
but Glenn never regained consciousness.
ANALYSIS
This accident is less about mistakes
made during the dive than it is about a
question facing nearly all divers: Are you
healthy and fit enough to dive?
The autopsy indicated that Glenn had
undiagnosed severe blockages in his
arteries, which led to his heart being
enlarged, a condition called cardiomegaly. The cause of death was declared
drowning, secondary to a cardiac event.
In short, Glenn had a heart attack in the
water and then drowned. Approximately
one-third of fatal dive accidents are
cardiac events in the water where the
diver drowns, or rescuers are unable to
resuscitate the diver back on the boat.
This Lessons for Life has a personal
element. In 2016, I had a heart attack —
although not in the water — and ended
up having open-heart surgery because
of blockages in the arteries that supply blood to my heart muscle. I wrote a
series of articles for scubadiving.com
about my situation and the process of
recovery that it took to get me back in
the water. I interviewed Dr. James Caruso
about exactly what had happened to me,
and why it was such a problem for divers.
“Essentially it is a plumbing problem,”
Carusoexplained.“Atherosclerotic-plaque
buildup is predominantly a combination
of cholesterol buildup on the inside of
the blood vessels, along with injury to
the lining of these blood vessels. There
are several risk factors that accelerate
this plaque formation such as cigarette
smoking; elevated serum lipid levels such
as high cholesterol and high triglycerides;
high blood pressure; genetics; increasing
age up to a point; and male gender.
“The heart’s response to high blood
pressure is to get bigger, like any other muscle pushing against resistance. A
larger heart needs more oxygen, and the
blood has to flow to more tissue. This can
be problematic if there is coronary-artery
disease restricting blood flow.” This most
likely explains Glenn’s enlarged heart.
“Divers are at no greater risk for
“The fact that we have an
aging population means
there are many middleaged males participating in
diving, and that is the group
at greatest risk.”
coronary artery disease than the average
person,” Caruso says. “The fact that we
have a somewhat aging diving population
means that there are many middle-aged
males participating in recreational diving,
and that is the group at greatest risk. The
other problem is that diving frequently
takes place in somewhat isolated locations, far from the high-level medical care
required to get a person through a potentially fatal ischemic cardiac event. You are
much more likely to survive a heart attack
if immediate resuscitation efforts, particularly defibrillation, are employed.”
I’ve been writing and teaching about
the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on dive boats since 2003.
Many liveaboards have opted to purchase them, and even some day boats
have too. Learning CPR is a great skill for
divers, and it is absolutely important as
a first step to save the life of someone in
cardiac arrest, but it isn’t a magic bullet.
For every minute a person is in cardiac arrest, their chance of survival drops
by approximately 10 percent — even with
CPR. After about 10 minutes, the chance
that person will regain a pulse is just
about nonexistent. When you consider
the possible delay in providing care when
bringing an unconscious diver to the surface and getting his gear off to get him in
the boat, the window is very, very small.
Having an AED, and a crew trained to use
it, is vitally important.
Eventually, Glenn likely would have had
a heart attack on land, but the additional
stress of the dive pushed his heart over
the limit. The delay in getting him out
of the water and beginning care made
it nearly impossible that he would have
survived the situation.
On a more practical level, Todd’s
inexperience with dive rescues delayed
getting Glenn to emergency care. The
divers were diving in relatively cold water, so they were both carrying a large
amount of lead to offset heavy wetsuits.
Glenn’s weights were never dropped from
the integrated BCD he was wearing. Had
Todd dropped Glenn’s weights, he could
have made Glenn positively buoyant on
the surface. Removing Glenn’s scuba unit
would have made it much easier for him to
tow Glenn on the surface and through the
surf zone. It is possible that getting Glenn
to the beach faster would have increased
his chances of surviving the incident.
Ditching his weights would have
allowed Glenn to float higher in the water,
lessening the chances that he aspirated
water and drowned. The odds that Glenn
would have survived this incident even
with a perfect rescue are low, but they
would have been higher than they were.
LESSONS FOR LIFE
Q Get in shape for diving. Reduce risk factors
such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure
and high cholesterol. Exercise regularly.
Q If you have any of those risk factors, see
your doctor and receive a complete physical.
If warranted, you should seek a stress test to
make sure your heart is healthy enough for
diving.
Q Remember, you can return to diving after
receiving stents in your heart or even after
open-heart surgery, but you can’t keep diving
if you are dead.
Q Get trained in emergency-care techniques
and have the necessary equipment on hand to
administer basic life support in an emergency.
Q Become a rescue diver.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 31
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL SECTION
ASK
DA N
TRA I N
t
ASK DAN
How should I equalize?
WHY EQUALIZE?
Before covering the ways you can
equalize, it’s important to understand
why. Almost every diver receives an
introduction to the concept in their
open-water course, but it’s easy to miss
the finer details when you’re focused on
learning to dive for the first time.
From the time you begin your descent,
the water pressure pushing in on your
ears will increase by about one-tenth of
an atmosphere for every 3 feet of sea
water (FSW) that you descend. An eardrum rupture can occur with as little as
one- to two-thirds of an atmosphere of
pressure difference, and you’ll reach that
in the first 10 feet of your descent.
At 6 FSW, that pressure is 20 percent greater than surface pressure —
your eardrums are now stretched to their
limits. At 10 FSW, if you have not already
sustained an injury, the pressure differential will cause fluid and blood to be
drawn from the surrounding tissues and
fill the middle ear, causing a condition
called middle-ear barotrauma.
Descending farther can exacerbate
the condition and cause further injury.
To counteract these effects, you must
equalize your ears, or allow air into your
middle ear so the pressure in the middle
ear matches the ambient pressure of the
surrounding water.
BY DIVERS ALERT NETWORK
HOW SHOULD I EQUALIZE?
Equalization is not difficult, and there are
several methods you can try to determine what works best for your body.
After a decade-long layoff from scuba
diving, I’m planning to take a refresher
course and get back in the water. But
I’ve noticed that when I swim in the pool
and snorkel on vacation, I tend to feel
discomfort and pain in my ears. Why do
I feel pressure in my ears and how can I
relieve it underwater? Is this normal
or something that could keep me from
enjoying the sport? I remember the
basic maneuver taught in my open-water
class, but are there alternatives in case
that doesn’t work?
ar equalization is one of the most
important skills for all new divers to
master, but the skill involves only a few
absolutes. All divers should understand
why they must equalize, do it early and
often, and use the most comfortable
method for their particular situation.
Beyond that, equalization methods and
VOLUNTARY TUBAL OPENING
As you descend, water pressure increases on
your ears — if you don’t equalize the space
in your ears, serious injury can occur.
E
32 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
routines become a matter of personal
preference. However you decide to do
it, proper equalization begins before
you ever enter the water. Are you equalizing your ears in the safest and most
effective way possible?
Voluntary tubal opening is the hardest
of the equalization methods to master,
but it allows you to equalize constantly
without the use of your hands, and involves low risk of ear injury through
vigorous equalization.
To perform, tense the muscles of
your soft palate (the tissue at the back
of the roof of your mouth) and throat while
you push your jaw forward and down,
like you would as you begin to yawn. This
will pull your eustachian tubes open and
allow your middle ear to equalize.
THE TOYNBEE MANEUVER
The Toynbee maneuver involves pinching
your nostrils closed and swallowing. The
act of swallowing opens your eustachian
tubes, and the movement of your tongue
compresses air against the tubes and
into your middle-ear cavity. This method
can be a little tricky to learn but has the
added benefit of making it more difficult
to cause an ear injury by attempting to
equalize too hard.
THE VALSALVA MANEUVER
The Valsalva maneuver is the most
commonly used method of equalization and the easiest to use improperly.
The maneuver is performed by pinching
your nostrils closed and gently blowing
through your nose. It relies on the
force of your equalization to open your
eustachian tubes, rather than the use
of muscles, and it might not work if your
eustachian tubes are already squeezed
closed by a pressure differential.
If performed with too much force, the
maneuver can increase sinus pressure
inappropriately and cause ear injuries.
The maneuver is both effective and
safe to use if you remember not to blow
too hard or equalize for more than five
seconds at a time.
DIVE CONFIDENTLY.
ALWAYS HAVE DAN
WITH YOU.
For more information on ears and diving,
visit dan.org/health.
KEEPING YOUR EARS HAPPY
Clean ears are happy ears, but there are
almost as many wrong ways to clean
your ears as there are right.
QAvoid cotton-tipped swabs at all costs
— and remember that current advice
suggests that nothing “smaller than your
elbow” should ever go in your ear.
QA small amount of ear wax is necessary
for the health of your ear, so it’s important to not clean your ears too frequently.
QTry washing your ears occasionally
with a bulb syringe, warm soapy water
and a hydrogen peroxide solution when
you shower.
QA hair dryer can be useful if you have
a hard time getting water out of your
ears. Lift the ear upward and back to
straighten the ear canal and then blow
warm, dry air into the ear canal for five
minutes.
QIf you are prone to ear issues, try using
a mixture of half white vinegar and half
rubbing alcohol to clean and dry the ear
canal after a day of diving.
QOtherwise, keep your ears warm and
dry, and keep your fingers and cotton
swabs away from them — your ears will
thank you.
You dive. You explore. You take
risks others would never consider.
And you do it confidently knowing
DAN is with you.
DAN membership benefits include:
$100,000 Emergency Evacuation
Coverage
Access to the World’s Leading
Dive Accident Insurance
Emergency Medical Assistance,
Including DAN’s 24-Hour
Emergency Hotline
Dive Safety Resources
Alert Diver Magazine
Plus, your DAN Membership helps
support vital dive research and education to improve
dive safety for both you and divers like you worldwide.
Explore with DAN
@diversalertnetwork
Renew Today:
DAN.org/MEMBERSHIP
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 33
HEADTO-HEAD
TESTING
FACE-OFF
We tested 24 single- and dual-lens dive masks for comfort,
field of view and adjustability
s
Ease and security
of adjustments
How simple and
effective were the
buckles and strap
adjustments?
Were they easy to
adjust? Did they
stay in place once
adjusted? Did the
strap stay where
it was placed?
TUSA
M3001 FREEDOM TRI-QUEST
ROGER ROY
has been a diver for
more than 35 years
and ScubaLab director since 2013.
Before that he was
a reporter for the
Orlando Sentinel
newspaper for 28
years, in positions
including foreign
correspondent and
investigations editor. He first learned
to dive while working as a firefighter
to join the department's search and
rescue team.
HOW WE SCORE
The bar graphs
with each review
show the mask’s
combined testdiver scores for
overall comfort
and for field of
view.
The scoring is:
1=poor
2=fair
3=good
4=very good
5=excellent
PRICE $89 CONTACT tusa.com
The Tri-Quest’s supple skirt earned high marks for
comfort and dryness, and its buckles scored similarly well for ease and precision of strap adjustments.
But where this mask really excels is in its panoramic
field of view, made possible by the domed windows
on the sides. Despite the mask’s size, its crystalclear lens makes you forget it’s even there. It needs
a good blast to clear, but nothing unreasonable considering its volume. For remarkable comfort, solid
all-around performance and an eye-opening field of
view, the Freedom Tri-Quest is our Testers Choice.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
EXCELLENT
Overall comfort
in the water
Was the skirt
comfortable and
soft on the face?
Did the frame or
other components
rub on the face?
Was the nose
pocket comfortable when pinching your nose?
Field of view
Both horizontally
and vertically, to
what degree did
the mask frame
or skirt block your
view? Relative
to other masks
Cont'd on pg. 37 >>
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 35
SINGLE LENS
HOW WE TEST
ScubaLab test
divers evaluated
and scored masks
on the following
factors:
S C U B A L A B
s
AQUA LUNG
REVEAL X1
PRICE $89 CONTACT aqualung.com
Bright, contrasting candy-colored frames make the
X1 an eye-catching mask. It scored well for comfort, and its super-soft skirt allows it to fit a wide
range of faces. It has a good field of view, but some
testers found that more of the mask’s frame was in
view than they would like. One tester went as far to
say it was “like looking through a porthole.” Test divers loved the mask’s buckles, each of which feature a
single, easy-to-find quick-release button that makes
adjusting the strap a smooth and simple operation.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
EXCELLENT
POOR
SINGLE LENS
$58.41 CONTACT beuchat-diving.com
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
DEEP SEE
PROFILE PLUS
PRICE $89.95 CONTACT An authorized Aqua Lung/Deep See dealer
The Profile Plus comes with an HD lens that blocks
UV rays and reduces glare, which came in handy during our sunny day of shallow diving in crystal-clear
viz. The mask features large seals that were very effective at keeping water out and, except in the case
of some narrower faces, impressed testers with a
comfortable, dry fit. The easily operated quick releases allow you to quickly and securely adjust the
strap. The mask is more difficult to clear than its size
would suggest, a trade-off for the deeper-set seals.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
36 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
EXCELLENT
EXCELLENT
INDIGO INDUSTRIES
P R OVA N TAG E
PRICE $69.95 CONTACT indigo-industries.com
The ProVantage’s skirt is angled at the forehead and
under the nose; divers found it made a good seal that
was both dry and comfortable. However, some testers found that the frame put a slight bit of pressure
against the bridge of their nose. Where this mask really shines is its smooth, secure strap adjustment.
The mask earned the highest score in its category
thanks to its finely tuned quick releases that made
freeing the strap a cinch. The ProVantage provides a
nice field of view and is easy to clear for its size.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
EXCELLENT
$66 CONTACT mares.com
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
>> Cont'd from pg. 35
in the same category, what was
your perception of
the mask’s overall
field of view?
Dryness
How effectively
did the mask’s seal
and strap system
keep out water?
Mask volume
How easy was
it to completely
clear the mask
after intentionally
flooding it? Did
the nose-pocket
size and shape
allow you to easily
pinch your nose
to equalize?
Divers were asked
to rate each
mask’s resistance
to fogging during
the dives, which
were conducted
in 72-degree
water with air
temps from the
upper 40s to
low 60s. Divers
provided written
comments about
their experience
using each mask
and, at the test’s
conclusion,
selected their
favorite masks in
each category.
When a mask
did not fit a diver
well enough to
complete the
test, the diver was
asked to describe
why (skirt too
wide, mask too
small, etc.).
Each mask’s
construction
details — including frame, strap
and buckles —
were evaluated
for ruggedness
and design details
and, where
applicable, disassembled to gauge
ease of swapping
straps or lenses.
EXCELLENT
TE ST TE AM
FROM LEFT: CHRISTOPHER HUGHES, DOMINIQUE
HUGHES, ANDY ZUNZ, BECCA HURLEY, TOM WUEST,
ROBBY MYERS, ROGER ROY, MARY FRANCES
EMMONS, JOHN CONLEY, PATRICIA WUEST
TEST DIVES WERE CONDUCTED AT ALEXANDER
SPRINGS RECREATION AREA IN ALTOONA, FLORIDA.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 37
S C U B A L A B
s
OMS
TAT TO O
PRICE $99 CONTACT omsdive.com
The Tattoo took the top score for ease of clearing and
equalizing in its category, even though it also had
one of the largest fields of view in the test. In fact,
it ranked highly in every category. Its 3D-contoured
strap and quick-release buckles made it easy to
achieve a secure fit. Some testers reported leaks,
but overall, divers found it “delightfully dry,” and were
impressed with the comfort of the mask skirt and
seal. The Tattoo is available with two different-size
skirts to accommodate a range of faces.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
EXCELLENT
POOR
SINGLE LENS
scubapro.com
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
SHERWOOD SCUBA
SCOPE
PRICE $115 CONTACT sherwoodscuba.com
The Scope was nearly the most expensive mask in
our test, but it comes with a level of comfort that
didn’t go unnoticed. Divers found that the elastic mask strap was able to snugly hold the mask to
their face without unnecessary pressure. The frosted skirt (also available in black) is soft and comfortable, although those with smaller faces experienced
the best fit. The Scope’s wide lens helped it tie for the
top score for field of view. Many testers chose it as a
favorite, and one noted, “Loved it, I’d buy this.”
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
38 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
EXCELLENT
EXCELLENT
TUSA
M1003 FREEDOM ELITE
PRICE $80 CONTACT tusa.com
Testers found the Freedom Elite to be an exceptionally comfortable mask and bone dry. The skirt is made
of varying thicknesses of silicone to reduce leakage
in key areas, and features dimples near the forehead
and cheekbones to increase the skirt’s softness and
flexibility. One tester describes it as a “soft, sure fit
that hugs your face nicely.” The mask isn’t the easiest to clear but scored well considering its size. Despite its large volume, divers found the field of view
to be narrower than the frame would suggest.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
EXCELLENT
$89.95 CONTACT zeagle.com
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
EXCELLENT
POOR
SKIRTING THE ISSUE
To the old standards of black or
clear mask skirts,
you can now
add nearly every
shade of the rainbow. Some of the
masks here are
available in more
than a dozen
colors, including
orange, lime
green and purple.
Leaving aside
the aesthetics
of nontraditional
colors (a contentious issue among
divers we know),
the type of skirt
— transparent
or opaque, black
or white — can
make a big difference in your vision
and perception.
What works best
can depend on
dive and light
conditions as
well as personal
preference.
Skirts of clear
silicone — transparent or frosted
— can extend
peripheral vision
(especially for
motion, the first
thing your eye
picks up) and let
in maximum light.
That can be a plus
for divers who
prefer an open,
airy feeling and
maximum peripheral vision. But it
can be too much
in bright sun and
shallow, clear water, where glare or
reflection off the
lens can reduce
your vision.
Black or dark
skirts are preferred by some
divers because
they reduce glare
to a minimum
(one reason
many photographers prefer
them). But some
divers find their
view too dark or
restrictive, even
claustrophobic.
A compromise
option might be
white or lightly
colored skirts,
which cut glare
by blocking light
from the sides
but still give a
brighter view.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 39
S C U B A L A B
s
AKONA
BREEZE
PRICE $35 CONTACT akona.com
The beefy frame on the Breeze gives it a boxy look
and limits field of view a bit. But the streamlined skirt
keeps the mask’s volume surprisingly small, making
it easy to clear. The buckles swivel up and down —
though not side to side — and are secure, earning a
very good score. Despite its low price (less than half
the average price in our test), the Breeze was rated
very good overall. For its modest price and what one
tester described as “solid performance and comfort,” the Breeze is our Best Buy for dual-lens masks.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
EXCELLENT
DUAL LENS
CONTACT aqualung.com
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
BY ANY STRETCH
Some new dive masks look
like they’ve just come from
the ski slopes, with wide
elastic straps replacing the
traditional silicone. Increasingly, masks offer user-replaceable options of silicone
or elastic (including the
Zeagle Scope and Scubapro
Zoom EVO in our test).
One difference with an
elastic strap is the buckles
usually take a little fussing
around to get them where
you want. But elastic straps
also are stretchier than
40 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
silicone, so you can adjust
the buckles once and leave
them where they are.
Elastic straps typically
don’t have split sections at
the back to help them stay in
place the way silicone ones
do. Instead they use thin
beads of silicone embedded on the strap where it
contacts the head to keep
from sliding around. Some
also have loops for holding
snorkels (like the Sherwood
Scuba Scope at right), since
not all standard keepers will
fit the wider elastic straps.
Depending on the buckle
system, elastic straps can
be less likely to tangle in hair,
and some find they hold a
mask in place with less pressure than silicone. If you shop
for an elastic-strap mask,
EXCELLENT
look for buckles that stay
put and sit comfortably on
your head, and check that
the strap doesn’t rub on your
ears, since elastic usually
offers less up-and-down
adjustment in the strap.
CRESSI
CALIBRO
PRICE $94.95; $104.95 (w/ HD lens) CONTACT cressi.com
The Calibro’s standout feature is the “fog-stop” system — a soft extension of the skirt that blocks moist
air from reaching the lenses (the pocket is open at
the bottom so it doesn’t interfere with clearing).
The design’s effectiveness depended on fit — divers
whose faces worked best with the Calibro’s slightly
narrow fit found it most effective; one tester called
it “exceptionally fog-free.” The buckles attach via
strong, pliable rubber tabs that let them move freely,
helping the mask earn a very good score for comfort.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
EXCELLENT
POOR
DEEP SEE
$89.95 CONTACT An authorized Aqua Lung/Deep See dealer
The “Ice” refers to the lens coating designed to block
UV rays and reduce glare. The effect was apparent
The Horizon formed a dry seal on most divers very
well, although we’re not entirely sure why. We susmuch in the midpoint top to bottom and side to side
among the masks here — that helped it fit a wide variety of faces well. Whatever the reason, the Horizon
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
INDIGO INDUSTRIES
PROVISION
PRICE $69.95 CONTACT indigo-industries.com
The Provision’s skirt has a pronounced taper toward
the edge, designed to reduce irritation. That feather
edge earned the Provision a tying top score in its
category for comfort. Helping with both comfort
and fit was the strap attachment, which mounts the
buckles on silicone tabs on the skirt just behind the
frame, where they pull the skirt snug without pressing the frame onto the face. The very intuitive and
sure-operating buckles were also a winner, tying the
top scores in the test for ease of adjustment.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
EXCELLENT
EXCELLENT
S C U B A L A B
s
MARES
SEALHOUETTE
PRICE $65 CONTACT mares.com
Among the smaller masks in our test, the Sealhouette has a tiny internal volume, and that won praise
from test divers who gave it one of the higher scores
for ease of clearing. The mask’s small size and extremely close-fitting frame surprised some with its
wide field of view, though it was a little too snug for
a few test divers. For those it fit, it was rated very
good for dryness. The buckle release buttons, made
of soft rubber, were easy to find and pinch, though
some divers found them a little sticky in operation.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
EXCELLENT
POOR
$99.95 CONTACT oceanicworldwide.com
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
SCUBAPRO
ZOOM EVO
PRICE $79 CONTACT scubapro.com
With very good scores for comfort, adjustability,
dryness and ease of clearing, this was among the favorites of more than one test diver. Unfortunately for
the Zoom EVO, we didn’t score on ease of changing
lenses, since its design offers the simplest no-tools
lens swap we’ve seen. There’s also a huge range of
corrective lenses available in 0.5 diopter increments,
from -1.5 to -8.0 and from +1.5 to +4.0, plus bifocal
lenses from +1.0 to +3.0, making the Zoom EVO
appealing for those who need help with their lookers.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
42 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
EXCELLENT
EXCELLENT
SHERWOOD SCUBA
TA R GA
PRICE $70 CONTACT sherwoodscuba.com
With a noticeably soft skirt, the Targa was rated very
good for comfort, particularly among divers with
narrower faces. The buckles attach to long silicone
tabs on the skirt, offering a comfortably secure fit,
and release by squeezing buttons at top and bottom. While modest in size, the Targa’s lenses offer a
good view, especially downward, although some divers fround the frames blocked the horizontal view a
bit. In our bright-sun test dives, the Targa’s frosted
skirt did a nice job of letting in light without the glare.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
EXCELLENT
CONTACT tilos.com
name and look) had us expecting a Spartan experience from the Avengia. But it ended up near the
piece lets the lenses wrap around for a very good
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
EXCELLENT
POOR
HARD
INSURANCE
The best way to protect your
mask is to put it in its case
when it’s not on your face.
Most boxes that come with
masks provide adequate protection, but some go a step
further. For example, Indigo
Industries’ rugged mask box
features secure latches that
hold it closed. And Zeagle’s
box has a mask-hugging
shape that prevents the
cargo from rattling around.
THE BROAD
VIEW
Really big
lenses, like the
jumbo front
screen with
side windows
on the Tusa
Freedom TriQuest at right,
or the Zeagle
Scope Dual at
left, are one element of providing a mask
with the widest possible
field of view.
But just as
important is
a skirt design
and shape
that bring the
lenses as close
to the face
as possible.
That’s because
field of view is
affected not
just by lens
size, but also
their proximity
to your eyes.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 43
S C U B A L A B
s
TUSA
M-211 FREEDOM ONE
PRICE $89 CONTACT tusa.com
Masks seem like simple gear until you look closely at
their design, as the Freedom One shows. Its skirt has
tiny dimples at the temples and cheeks, designed to
soften the skirt for better skin contact. Beneath the
cheeks, small ridges in the skirt stiffen it to maintain
its shape at depth, and the rear sections of the strap
are contoured to match the shape of the head. That
attention to detail helped the Freedom One earn
near the top scores in its category for comfort, and
find itself on the favorites list of multiple test divers.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
EXCELLENT
POOR
DUAL LENS
CONTACT xsscuba.com
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
EXCELLENT
POOR
ZEAGLE
TESTERS
SCOPE DUAL
PRICE $99.95 CONTACT zeagle.com
2
Those jumbo peepers — nearly 3½ inches high — give
the Scope Dual a startled-alien look, but they earned
top score for field of view. The view benefits from a
tight-fitting skirt overmolded onto the frame (lenses
are removable and available in correctives). Choose
an elastic or silicone strap; the latter has single-button buckles that operate flawlessly. With top scores
for comfort, adjustability and ease of clearing, and
selected as a favorite by more test divers than any
mask, the Scope Dual is our Testers Choice.
COMFORT
EXCELLENT
POOR
FIELD OF VIEW
POOR
44 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
EXCELLENT
0
1
8
FIRST
LOOK
AT NEW
GEAR
BY
ROBBY MYERS
g
IST SPORTS
K-22 LINE CUTTER
PRICE $40 CONTACT istsports.com
This line cutter features two
sharp, rustproof ceramic blades
that can cut through just about
everything. The small blade
openings draw in line as you pull,
for quick and easy cuts. They
also allow divers to safely slice
line without fearing an accidental injury, which is beneficial
when mobility and visibility are
reduced in an entanglement.
The tool’s hook-and-loop nylon
sheath features both vertical
and horizontal mounting options
for harnesses, BCs and weight
belts up to 2 inches wide.
SEALIFE
SEA DRAGON
MINI 900
PRICE $79.95 (batteries not included)
CONTACT sealife-cameras.com
Power, size and simplicity make
the Mini 900 attractive as a primary or backup option. This LED
light produces 900 lumens in a
14-degree long-distance beam.
The body is machined from
anodized aluminum, features a
single button with fi ve operating
modes and is depth-rated to 330
feet. It can run for 120 minutes
at full power on a rechargeable
18650 Li-ion 3400mAh battery
or 60 minutes using two singleuse CR123 lithium batteries.
GEAR AID
SEA BUFF
ROBBY MYERS is the
assistant gear editor
and a ScubaLab testteam diver. He has
been diving since 2014.
New masks often have silicone
residue on the lens left over from
the manufacturing process. Until
it is cleaned off, this residue will
cause a mask to fog like crazy,
no matter how much defog you
lather on. Sea Buff is a specially
designed formula that can be
used to quickly scrub away the
residue on a new mask and prepare it for diving without harming or scratching the lens. It can
also be used as a slate cleaner.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 45
FROM TOP: BILL DOSTER (2); JON WHITTLE
PRICE $4.50 CONTACT gearaid.com
80%
OF THE ICE AT THE WINTER MAXIMUM IN MARCH 2017 WAS THIN AND ONLY A YEAR OLD.
IN THE 1980S, FIRST-YEAR ICE MADE UP 55 PERCENT OF THE WINTER MAXIMUM.
ON
TH I N
ICE
Sea ice in the Arctic is an endangered species, and the rapidly warming world we live in
has been triggered by our activities. Can we slow the melt?
STORY A N D
PHOTOGRAPHS BY
SEDNAEPIC.COM/JILL HEINERTH
JILL HEINERTH
46 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 47
We’ve left the refrigerator door
wide open in our planetary kitchen
— the food-generating, climateregulating heart of Earth. How we
respond in the next few years will
determine our fate.
The reflective frozen skin of sea ice
covering the Arctic Ocean is now set at
defrost, increasingly exposing the dark
open ocean beneath. With the sea absorbing the sun’s energy — instead of
ice reflecting it back into space — the
Arctic region is warming twice as fast as
the rest of the planet. As Nathan Kurtz of
NASA’s Goddard’s Space Flight Center in
Maryland puts it: “When we lose the reflecting cover of the Arctic Ocean, we
lose a mechanism to cool the planet.”
When you board a dive boat in the tropics, a changing Arctic landscape might
seem of little consequence, but according to Tim Gallaudet, acting administrator
of NOAA, “What happens in the Arctic
doesn’t stay in the Arctic; it affects the
rest of the planet.” Food-web disruptions,
loss of permafrost, resource speculation
and sovereignty disputes indelibly alter
the complexion of an otherwise pristine
sanctuary. The next time your local dive
boat is canceled due to sea conditions,
think of this: Research proves that changes in Arctic sea ice and temperatures
alter the jet stream, which drives worldwide weather patterns. What happens in
the Arctic will come back to haunt us.
THE LAND
My Inuit guide, Kevin Enook, revs his snowmobile and pulls taut the thick rope that
leads back to the traditional wooden
qamutik sled, piled high with my technical
dive gear and cameras. The irony of
hauling advanced, state-of-the-art digital
equipment using technology developed
thousands of years ago is not lost on me.
Enook’s wisdom defies his age; he
is the product of a life outdoors, spent
learning from his elders. His Oakley sunglasses cover a white, raccoonlike mask
across his mahogany skin. Under the
glasses, his dark eyes spot subtle changes on the horizon. We lurch forward,
spraying a rooster tail of slush the way
a boat creates a wake. Enook weaves
skillfully across the melting white landscape. His life and that of his people
48 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
25%
IS THE ESTIMATED CONTRIBUTION OF SEA-ICE ALGAE — A “PRIMARY PRODUCER” — IN THE ARCTIC
FOOD CHAIN. ALMOST ALL LIFE ON EARTH RELIES DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY ON PRIMARY PRODUCERS.
Clockwise, from left: Lion’s mane jellyfish
(Cyanea capillata) are a cold-water species
that cannot tolerate warm waters. The tentacles of the longest-known one measured 120
feet — longer than a blue whale; Inuit guide
Kevin Enook; the author pauses for a selfie.
ARCTIC GLOSSARY
Due to wind, current and temperature fluctuations, sea ice is
dynamic, with a wide variety of
ice types and features. Here are a
few key terms:
Arctic sea ice — the seasonally
fluctuating frozen ocean surface
Ice sheet — a permanent layer of
ice covering a large area of land
Ice shelf — a floating mass of ice
permanently attached to land
Iceberg — a sizable floating
remnant of ice detached from
a glacier or ice sheet that has
drifted out to sea
Drift (pack) ice — an area of pieces of floating ice driven together
into a nearly continuous mass
rely on understanding the ice. Fall
through it, and you die.
Enook finds it hard to believe that my
dive buddy Nathalie Lasselin and I want
to dive deep beneath the frozen surface, more than 430 miles north of the
Arctic Circle.
We are chasing the fleeting remains of
icebergs that calved from Greenland’s ice
sheet approximately one year ago. After
crossing the Davis Strait, these colossal summits of ice get frozen into pack
ice for the winter before being set free
to drift down the coasts of Baffin Island,
Labrador and Newfoundland. In the past,
a few rogue chunks have made it as far
as Bermuda, but most dissolve into the
sea before leaving Canadian waters.
We surf across a frighteningly wide
break in the ice and resume our race toward a silvery pinnacle on the horizon. I
am in awe of the majesty of the snowcovered peaks. Their glaciers descend to
touch the sea ice that the Inuit call “the
Land.” I feel the connection of people,
snow and mountains; the Arctic is like
one harmonious organism.
Arriving at our destination, we note a
Fast ice — floating ice connected
to a shoreline
New ice — recently frozen seawater that is not yet solid ice; it
may consist of frazil ice (soft ice
suspended in water), slush or
shuga (spongy white ice lumps)
Young ice — ranges in thickness
from 3.9 inches to 12 inches
First-year sea ice — thicker
than young ice but has no more
than one year of growth
Old sea ice — ice that has survived at least one melting season
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 49
13.4%
IS THE RATE AT WHICH ARCTIC SEA ICE IS DECLINING PER DECADE, COMPARED TO THE
1981 -2010 AVERAGE; THAT’S AN AREA LOSS MORE THAN 2.5 TIMES THE SIZE OF TEXAS.
Clockwise from top: The edge of the ice floe at
Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary on the
final afternoon, just before the ice broke up
for the season. Seventy-four species of Arctic
birds thrive here, including the largest colony
of breeding Canadian snow geese in the High
Arctic; a seal’s breathing hole; a beroe comb
jelly with its iridescent cilia — this species was
first described in scientific literature in 1780.
50 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
small strip of open water on the edge of
the iceberg offering just enough space
for us to slip beneath the surface. A seal
pops up to breathe and then quickly disappears again. Under the bright sun and
a cobalt-blue sky, fresh water spills down
the sheer face of the iceberg in streaming rivulets that furrow the surface in
vertical channels.
Enook threads a titanium ice screw into the hard surface a few feet back from
the midnight-blue hole. He prepares a line
that will connect us and knocks away the
unstable edges where he will stand.
“I’ll dry your boots while you are gone,”
he says as he removes the damp insoles
from my heavy winter boots. His thoughtful gesture to lay the insoles in the warm
sun reflects his character as much as his
commitment to safety. He knows how
important it is to keep everyone on the
team warm and dry.
Settling into the water, a band of slurry
first obscures my vision. I drop through a
slushy halocline of mixing salt and fresh
water and get my first look. Long runners of algae waft in the current, held
fast to the undersurface of ice. It’s a
good sign, since alga and other nutrients locked within the ice will feed the
zooplankton that stabilizes the bottom
of the Arctic food web. Bottom dwellers
such as anemones, sponges and halibut
will, in turn, feed other fish and marine
mammals like belugas, narwhal or bowhead whales. But I also notice that Enook
stands on perilously thin ice. And as the
remaining ice disappears, so will his
people, and the entire Arctic.
“I remember when the ice was 8 to
10 feet thick,” he tells me. “But now it is
thin and doesn’t stay very long.”
The subsurface of the iceberg is dimpled and fluted, carved by the undersea
currents that now pull my rope taut. I’m
connected to Enook like a fish on a line.
Falling down the frozen facade, I observe
layers of time that could date this ice
back 10,000 or more years. Some seams
are hauntingly transparent, while others
are packed tight with small white air bubbles that now fizz as they dissolve. Deeper, I reach a colorful carpet of orange kelp
that hides a miniature garden of crustaceans and Cnidaria. I look upward to see
Nathalie descend on a silvery thread of
bubbles. She kicks hard to pull her line
toward me in the strong current. We both
realize that we are privileged to experience this fragile kingdom. By morning,
this ice-floe edge will break away, and
our dive site will drift out to sea. We are
the first and last to document this place.
RUSSIA
Average Ice
1981-2010
ALASKA
March 2017
Sea Ice
CANADA
GREENLAND
BAFFIN
ISLAND
RUSSIA
Average Ice
1981-2010
ALASKA
Sept. 2017
Sea Ice
CANADA
GREENLAND
BAFFIN
ISLAND
ARCTIC ON THE EDGE
Both maximum (top) and minimum sea-ice levels are in decline.
According to the National Snow
and Ice Data Center, the March
2017 maximum is the lowest in
the 38-year satellite record. In
September, the minimum was
the eighth lowest. The orange
lines show the 1981 to 2010 average extent for the same months.
The 1981 to 2010 average provides a consistent baseline for
year-to-year comparisons of seaice extent. The NSIDC provides
monthly updates at nsidc.org.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 51
algae
diatoms
copepods
Arctic cod
ringed seals
polar bears
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Producers, predators, scavengers
and parasites are all part of the
Arctic food web. A polar bear
depends on sea ice to travel to
hunt its favorite meal of ringed
seal. The seals eat Arctic cod,
which feed on algae and other
tiny organisms. Scientists don’t
know enough about the ecosystem to predict the future for
these animals, but they say climate change might be happening
too rapidly for adaptation.
52 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
Communities of sea-ice algae are found on all
parts of sea ice, including its underside. Algae
make their way into the ice from the ocean
during the formation of slushy “frazil” ice —
the first stage of sea ice — bringing with it all
manner of microbial life.
When NOAA presented its annual Arctic
Report Card in 2017, the findings were
dire. Arctic seawater is getting warmer,
and sea ice is melting at the fastest pace
observed in at least 1,500 years. Using
shells, sediments, ice cores, tree rings
and fossils as climate evidence, NOAA reports that the Arctic is transforming at a
rate “far beyond what’s occurred in the
region for millennia.”
In March 2017, maximum levels of winter sea ice were the smallest ever recorded, and nearly 80 percent of that ice was
thin and only a year old. Just 30 years ago,
almost half of the Arctic sea-ice cover
was made up of thick, multiyear ice. The
report adds that these substantial changes coincide with measurable increases in
carbon-dioxide levels in our atmosphere.
This year’s minimum sea-ice coverage,
measured each September, was in bad
shape too. Sea-surface temperatures in
August 2017 were more than 7 degrees
Fahrenheit higher than the average in
the Barents and Chukchi seas. Plankton
blooms were increasing, and fisheries in
the Bering Sea were in trouble.
Scientists assert that an ice-free Arctic
Ocean will arrive within decades, and some
say as early as 2020. What will happen to
the people and animals of the Land?
Enook knows that the hunting season
on the Land will be shorter than last
year’s. His eyes sweep the horizon, taking
it all in. “We can’t change it,” he says. “We
will adapt — we have no choice.”
Jill Heinerth was awarded the prestigious Polar
Medal by Canada’s governor general in 2017. Read
more about Heinerth’s “Arctic on the Edge” project
sponsored by the Royal Canadian Geographical
Society at intotheplanet.com/arctic.
90%
IS THE PERCENTAGE OF CARBON THAT SEA-ICE ALGAE PROVIDE TO ORGANISMS THAT LIVE IN
THE INTERFACE BETWEEN WATER AND ICE.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 53
FROM LEFT: SCOTT JOHNSON; BRANDON COLE
PUZZLE
PERFECT
54 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
BY MELISSA SMITH
THE MYSTERIOUS CIRCLE OF LIFE IN THE OCEANS PLAYS OUT IN DAILY
PROFUSION IN CUBA’S GARDENS OF THE QUEEN, WITH INTERLOCKING
HEALTHY HABITATS SUPPORTING THE SUCCESS OF ALL. THANKS TO
DECADES OF PROTECTION, SCIENTISTS, DIVERS AND SNORKELERS CAN
GET A GLIMPSE OF THE CARIBBEAN AS IT WAS HALF A CENTURY AGO.
From left: Curious
American saltwater
crocodiles greet
divers at La Boca
de Piedra Chiquita;
mangrove trees
form critical habitats for marine life.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 55
I ROUND
THE REEF
CREST AND
STOP IN
MY FINS,
STRUCK BY
A WAVE OF
EMOTION.
This is it: The ocean is alive. There is still thriving reef in this corner of
the world — and I am witnessing it. I bob on the surface, taking it in: The
golden arms of endangered Acropora palmata coral reach toward the sun,
creating shelter for tiny fairy basslets and massive cubera snapper. Queen
triggerfish float over the reef, and a wall of blue tang casts a shadow on a
resting nurse shark. It’s like nothing I have seen underwater.
“Toot, toot!” I hear someone calling through a snorkel and snap out of my
dreamy float. It’s one of the only human sounds we hear in Cuba’s Jardines
de la Reina, or Gardens of the Queen, and it means someone has found
something. “Toot, toot, moray eel!” “Toot, toot, shark!” “Toot, toot, eagle
ray!” We each choose what seems most enticing and fin over, cameras
ready, to lay eyes on yet another rare species. Or, in some cases, to see
in-water a unique feature of a habitat we have learned about this week.
On M/V Oceans for Youth, the objective is to explore, learn about and
help protect the ecosystem of the Gardens. Daily snorkels double as
environmental surveys, with participants collecting data at each site,
supplemented by presentations on the mangroves, reef flats and sections
of reef that make up the ecosystem. Husband-and-wife team Fabián Pina
Amargós and Tamara Figueredo Martín, professors at the University of
Havana’s Center for Marine Research, are our leaders. They help us see how
the puzzle pieces fit together as we visit four to six snorkel or dive sites per
day, thoroughly touring each habitat and figuring out how they all connect.
The Gardens of the Queen, 60 miles south of mainland Cuba, is the largest
marine reserve in the Caribbean; it represents a 50-year baseline for the
area. It was declared a national park in 1996, and has enjoyed high levels of
protection and strategic marine-resource management ever since.
56 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
1
2
4
3
PIECE BY PIECE
The stages of life in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen play
out in distinct yet interdependent habitats.
1
3
MANGROVES
Mangroves act as a nursery for most tropical and
subtropical species. Fish
start life among the hanging roots, migrating to
shallow reefs, and then
deep reefs as they mature.
To have many of the most
popular species of fish,
such as rainbow parrotfish
and goliath grouper, you
must have mangroves for
juveniles to colonize.
SHALLOW REEFS
As fish mature, they move
to shallow reefs to hunt
and reproduce. The species found on these reefs
are too big to take refuge
in the murky hideaways of
the mangroves, but not big
enough for deep reefs.
DEEP REEFS
This is where adult species
spend most of their lives,
enjoying diverse geological
formations for shelter and
ample sources of food.
At these depths, branching corals give way to pillar
corals and sponges.
2
REEF FLATS
Sea-grass beds are the
restaurants of the ocean.
There are two types of
grasses: manatee and turtle, named after the beds’
most frequent patrons.
Sea-grass beds provide
canopylike shelter for small
fish, crustaceans and other
invertebrates. But the high
volume of small organisms
often attracts bigger predators looking for a meal.
Many species make a daily
migration from sea grass
to reefs.
ALL TOGETHER NOW
Not all species make
migrations from one
habitat to the next. Some,
such as stingrays and lobsters, can be seen at all
sizes in all parts of the
ecosystem. Others have areas they like best, such as
eels, which prefer to snake
through holes in primarily
the shallow and deep reefs.
Silvertip sharks explore near
the water’s surface in Cuba’s
Gardens of the Queen.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 57
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT: RON WATKINS; NOAM KORTLER (2); BRANDON COLE; SCOTT JOHNSON
4
Rumors of the last, largest unspoiled spot in the
Caribbean had lured my shipmates and me to this
corner of the blue. “I want to see waters like my
grandfather saw growing up in Fort Lauderdale,”
says Sherry Adams, a Florida native. “He used to tell
stories of the clearest water, thousands upon thousands of fish, and even seahorses. You can’t see that
there now. But maybe here you can.”
We would. And it would be magical.
From left: A shrimp
peeks out of its
home inside a pink
vase sponge at the
dive site Snapper
Head; huge pillar
corals are part of
the draw off Cuba.
MANGROVES
I’m not a snorkeler; I’m a diver. Floating just never
did it for me. But as we drop into our next site — a
narrow channel bordered by red mangroves — it’s
evident that scuba is not the best method of exploration for all parts of the Gardens. My bubbles surely
would have unsettled delicate microcommunities
of vital algae, small crustaceans and nudibranchs
sheltered on suspended mangrove roots.
Fifty percent of Cuba’s coastline is thick with mangroves; aquatic species make up 5 percent of forests
countrywide. Across the world, the rate of shoreline
mangrove loss is greater than that of rainforests.
Cuba has forbidden clearing of mangroves, and its
care in protecting these species is apparent in walls of
silversides so thick, I can’t see my buddy 3 feet away.
The presence of key species such as juvenile rainbow parrotfish and goliath grouper is a good indicator
of mangrove health. We each pick a species to monitor for the week and keep a rough tab on how many
we’ve seen, on a scale from “none” to “abundant.”
58 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
LIFELONG
LEARNING
M/V Oceans for
Youth offers two
programs: Classroom
at Sea for students
and EcoExploration
for adults. Both
programs last seven
nights and include
snorkeling through
a variety of habitats,
land excursions, and
four optional dives.
Each night, Pina calls for our counts at dinner.
“Wayne?” “Few hawksbill turtles,” he says between
sips of Cuban rum. “Robert?” “I didn’t see any eels.”
Robert is the most eager of all of us, but he has the
hardest time spotting the elusive morays. “Laura?”
“Abundant blue tang!” Laura’s blue tang are always
abundant. I count invasive lionfish, and am the only
one who gets a cheer when I report low numbers.
By collecting this data, Pina and Figueredo can
assess how well current management is working. The
Gardens of the Queen National Park uses adaptive
management strategies, meaning that if something
appears off — such as a certain species decreasing,
or a specific area seeming negatively impacted by humans — the park will take action, often immediately,
to rectify the situation. To identify environmental imbalances, scientists must continually conduct surveys
and revisit sites to compare for changes. Having
each Oceans for Youth guest collect data allows for
monitoring more species over long periods of time.
Periodically, Pina and Figueredo publish scientific
papers about data collection and management assessments in the Gardens so scientists and resource
managers worldwide can look at the information and
see how they can apply it.
REEF FLATS
From the nurseries, we venture to where the
inhabitants of the Gardens spend their time off
the reefs: sea-grass beds, channels and solution
holes, nutrient-rich hot spots created when porous
NEED TO
KNOW
WHEN TO GO
The Gardens of the
Queen offers unique
opportunities yearround, from sea-turtle nesting in July to
whale-shark sightings in November.
DIVE CONDITIONS
Water temps range
from 82 to 78 degrees F. A 1 mm full
wetsuit or skin is
mandatory for sun
protection. Viz from
20 feet in murky
channels to 100-plus
feet elsewhere.
layers of limestone on the seafloor erode.
Drifts through channels long and short intersect
our exploration. We play among eelgrass under the
watchful eye of barracuda. The channels range from
5 to 30 feet deep and act as passageways for all
species, from hawksbill turtles and reef sharks to
cushion stars and schools of metallic baitfish.
At a site called Snapper City, thousands of snapper
whirl through the shallow water. The attractant is the
giant solution hole in the middle of the site. Down in
the hole, more snapper buzz — until like a rocket a goliath grouper lunges up, startling snorkelers and fish
near the top. We pop our heads up, laughing about our
chance encounter and the unpredictable biodiveristy
of the Gardens.
FROM TOP LEFT: SCOTT JOHNSON; BRANDON COLE
SHALLOW REEFS
“Have you ever seen a jawfish?” guide Noel Lopez
Fernandez asks. “There’s one here — I’ll show you.”
Lopez, who has logged more than 8,000 dives in the
Gardens, jumps in and immediately finds the hole. I
dive down for a better look. The jawfish ducks in before peeking out at me; I hold out as long as my lungs
will let me, hoping to see eggs. No cigar. I come up for
air wishing I had on a tank.
Just past the jawfish hole is the reef crest, which
separates the reef-flat zone from the fore reef — the
shallow and the deep. Hogfish, grouper and massive
coral heads freckle the white sandy seafloor. Reef
crests, we learn, cut wave energy by 85 percent,
which helps protect the Gardens naturally.
THE BOAT
M/V Oceans for Youth
(oceansforyouth
.org) is a 100-foot
vessel with a 22-foot
beam. It has a large
dive/snorkel deck
with freshwater
showers, fully
equipped galley,
salon, sun deck and
four marine heads.
It carries up to
24 passengers and
a crew of eight.
PRICE TAG
Runs $3,520 per
person, excluding
ground transport and
port/conservation
fees; includes daily
snorkel excursions,
four optional scuba
dives, accommodations and meals.
Passengers of legal
age may bring adult
beverages. Group
discounts available
for nonprofit and
education groups.
I hear the familiar “Toot, toot!” as Pina calls us.
Together we round the crest to see what many of our
lessons have centered on: highly endangered elkhorn
coral. I see the first golden stalk, branching 3 feet
tall just under the surface. An astounding number of
fish surround just this one piece of coral. As we drift,
more and more elkhorn come into view. After hearing
for days about its importance, we are elated to finally
see how apparent this importance is.
There’s an abundance of life around Acropora
palmata that isn’t so distinct across the rows of sea
fans, sponges and other corals. Long-spined sea urchins, the protectors of the reef, cover the base of
the stalks and the surrounding seafloor. A rainbowcolored cast of characters creates a kaleidoscope
reflected off the surface of the water. And we’d
thought the rest of the Gardens were impressive.
DEEP REEFS
At last, we hear those three little words: dive, dive,
dive. Peering over the skiff, I see fins. As promised,
the silkies are here. We drop down on four swirling
sharks spiraling in to check us out. Descending past
them, we hover over a reef 40 feet below the surface. Nassau grouper and cubera snapper swim in
every direction, but we’re entranced by schools of
titanium-clad Atlantic tarpon and friendly green sea
turtles.
Seeing the final piece of our puzzle, it’s clear: If
any of these habitats is disturbed, the ecosystem
is disrupted. If mangroves are cleared, juvenile fish
won’t have food and shelter. If deep reefs are overfished, predators might move inshore, disrupting
shallow reefs.
On our last afternoon in the water, everyone is
slow to get back on the skiff. We toss our gear back
on board and float for just a little longer.
The week hit a crescendo among thousands of
snapper, schools of silky sharks, and stalks of elkhorn coral taller than a 10-year-old.
But it’s not only in these places that we’ve been
awestruck by Cuba’s underwater world. It’s also in
the delicate mangrove tunicates growing on roots,
the conch tracks crisscrossing otherwise-spotless seafloor, and macro critters hiding out in thick
patches of halimeda algae. And it’s in knowing the
science and management that has kept this area as
it always has been.
Conversation fades as we look around, taking in
the beauty of the Gardens one last time. I can’t help
but feel a wave of emotion wash over me once again
as I revel in the inescapable feeling that I’m in the
most special place in the world.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 59
%PPTLSXSWF]&VEH,SPPERHEX%RWI'LEWXERIX6IWSVXMR7X0YGME
My Ultimate Dive Buddy
A fathers ultimate dream comes true at Kids Sea Camp.
Eric Michael
GIVE THEM A WEEK THEY
WILL REMEMBER FOREVER
By Eric Michael
“My kid’s a diver!”
Shouting these words from a
mountaintop has been a dream for
11 long years.The day my daughter,
Hailey, was born, I began fantasizing
about sharing with her my deep
passion for the ocean. I couldn’t
imagine a better dive buddy —
swimming along, hand in hand,
discovering the secrets of the sea.
Through her toddler years, some
dads in my circle of friends lamented
that their adventurous pastimes
would have to take a backseat
to parenting.“What a cop out,” I
thought.
The plan was simple: Make travel
and diving irresistible to her. I
started early, with each bedtime
story focused on fantastical sea
creatures, miraculous mermaids and
803 - 419 - 2556
amazing underwater adventures.
As she grew, we watched every
kid friendly dive-related movie I
GSYPH½RH7SSRWLI[EWREQMRK
marine life and swimming in the
ocean became second nature.When
I spoke to her third-grade class on
career day about being editor of
Sport Diver magazine, I watched
her beam with pride.The plan was
working, albeit far too slow for
my impatient heart.Then Kids Sea
Camp (KSC) changed everything.
Our introduction to Kids Sea
Camp a unique family dive vacation
that combined everything an ocean
loving family could ask for, was at
Cobalt Coast
Resort in
the Cayman
Islands. Hailey
was then 4 years-
W W W. FA M I LY D I V E R S . C O M
old. KSC offered world-class diving
for adults, kids-tailored activities for
OMHWEKI4%(-GIVXM½GEXMSRW
and specialty courses.They also
provide daily educational, cultural
and social events for all. KSC’s
SASY program was the perfect
indoctrination into the dive life for
Hailey.
Being around diving kids, hearing
their stories and making new friends
from around the world fanned her
WTEVOSJMRXIVIWXMRXSE¾EQI-X
didn’t hurt that KSC founder and
patron saint of family diving, Margo
Peyton, made it a point to spend
personal time in the ocean with
Hailey.
Thanks to Margo’s irresistible
enthusiasm for training the next
generation of divers, once timid
,EMPI]KEMRIHIRSYKLGSR½HIRGI
with Kids Sea Camp to give it a try.
A few years later,
we returned to Kids
Sea Camp at Buddy
Dive Resort on
Bonaire, where
8-year-old Hailey
joined the PADI Seal Team program.
The mini scuba rig gave her the
experience of a diver, by breathing
through a regulator. She completed
all 5 aqua missions, and I enjoyed
Q]½VWXHMZI[MXLLIVYRHIVXLI
dock.What a breakthrough!
When she was 10, ready to
become a Junior Open Water Diver,
we booked KSC’s Thanksgiving
week at Anse Chastanet St.
Lucia.
This exquisite and
secluded luxury
resort has on site
PADI 5 star dive operation, Scuba
St. Lucia was perfect for the entire
family.The time was right for Hailey
to join the dive tribe.
I’ve always believed that
anticipation is one of the best things
about travel.Adding a life changing
IZIRXPMOI,EMPI]´WGIVXM½GEXMSRSRP]
MRXIRWM½IHXLEXNS]
Months before our trip we began
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OMXXV]MRKSR[IXWYMXW½XXIWXMRK
XLI7GYFETVSQEWOWERH½RWEPP
provided by KSC.
A few weeks before takeoff, we
dove into the PADI E-Learning
materials, and watching her absorb
the physics of diving and safety
protocols was as much a learning
experience for me as it was for her.
When the venerable dive table
came into play, I broke out in a cold
sweat.Thankfully, Hailey helped me
remember my fundamentals and
she passed with ease.
Arriving at Anse Chastanet is a
rejuvenation. Surrounded by 600
acres of thriving rainforest, the
intimate 49-room resort spills
down a lush mountainside to a
pristine volcanic beach embracing
a crystalline bay that shelters a rich
marine reserve.
*VEKVERXXVSTMGEP¾S[IVWEHSVR
trees, tables and the staff.The
view across the bay from our
room, framing the island’s famed
twin peaks, Gros and Petit Piton,
EKEMRWXXLI'EVMFFIERWYRWIXHI½IW
description.
This experience would surely set
Hailey’s dive trip expectations to
impossibly high levels.Then again,
that’s what Kids Sea Camp is all
about.
One of my favorite things about
Kids Sea Camp is the relaxed, family
vibe. Strangers don’t stay that way
for long, especially the children.
Friendships form instantly when
]SY´VIHMZMRKLIEH½VWXMRXSRI[
adventures together.
Plus, there are lizards to chase,
beaches to comb, stars to count
and cannonballs to launch off the
top deck of the dive boat.
When training begins, the kids slip
into a blissful routine of discovery,
both underwater and inside
themselves.
Through 30 years of organizing
group travel events across the
globe, Margo has created a very
rare and valuable culture in the
world of diving. She is building a
tribe of like-minded families from
different walks of life who share a
common love for the ocean — and
kinship.
Traveling to exotic locales with
children and grandparents in tow
can pose many challenges. Kids
803 - 419 - 2556
Sea Camp makes it simple, safe
and sanguine.There’s a reason why
we consistently meet families on
their third, sixth and even eighth
KSC adventure. Bonding is an
understatement.
Relationships born here endure
for years.The experience is just that
powerful.
On this trip, we invited my
mother-in-law, Marsha, a newly
GIVXM½IHHMZIVLIVWIPJXSNSMRYW8LI
possibility of a three-generation
dive could not be missed.
So, as Hailey was completing her
½REPGSR½RIH[EXIVHMZIYRHIVXLI
careful guidance of Scuba St. Lucia’s
instructors, we achieved the trifecta.
Set loose on the house reef after
her required skills were performed,
parents, grandparents, brothers and
WMWXIVWNSMRIHJSVXLIMV½VWXHMZI
together.
Holding Hailey’s tiny hand as we
toured the reef was euphoric. She
led the way, pointing out colorful
VIIJ½WLERHLMHHIRGVMXXIVW[LMPI
Marsha and I followed, enraptured
by the experience.
Near the end of the dive, Hailey
and I shared a moment alone
kneeling in the sand, practicing
W W W. FA M I LY D I V E R S . C O M
signals. I am not ashamed to admit
that I shed a few manly tears of
joy looking into my daughter’s
[MHII\GMXIHI]IW-½REPP]LEHQ]
ultimate dive buddy.
My long-awaited fantasy had
become a reality. But there was
one unexpected and equally
wonderful side effect. Heather,
my wife of more than 26 years,
has long suffered an unrealistic
fear of marine life. Despite being
a competitive swimmer and
water polo player in her youth.
Nothing proved more powerful
than watching her own daughter
become a diver.
(YVMRK,EMPI]´W½REPSTIR[EXIV
check out dive, on which parents
join, Heather followed the group
on snorkel.When we surfaced, the
most surprising words came out of
her mouth,“I’m ready to try scuba
diving.” To my good fortune, Margo
was within earshot. Hugs ensued.
(And a few more manly tears.)
Guess who’s getting
GIVXM½IHEX/MHW7IE'EQT
next year?
FAMILY DIVE
ADVENTURES
Invite your friends
Help friends and family discover how easy it can be to get
certified, and start enjoying your adventures together.
scubadivingintro.com
Brought to you by The Cayman Islands
THE
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SPOTS
FOR SAVVY
DIVERS
t
64
FRENCH
POLYNESIA’S
FINEST
68
BEGINNER’S
LUCK
74
A GRAND
BAHAMA SLAM
BECKY KAGAN SCHOTT
“
With its source of life welling up from the Floridan aquifer, landlocked Ginnie Springs — and the
rest of Florida’s freshwater springs — is free from the temperamental changes that come with
open-ocean diving. Divers enjoy consistent 72-degree water and crystal-clear viz for adventure,
training or pure leisure. Learn more on page 70.
There are at
least 50 gray
reef sharks,
maybe 100 —
possibly twice
that. Accurate
counting
would require
dispassionate
detachment.
Impossible.”
BEYOND THE
BUNGALOWS
PAGE 64
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 63
LIVEAB OARD
T RAV E L
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BEYOND THE BUNGALOWS
Forget the postcards of windswept beaches — French Polynesia Master delivers
the Tuamotus’ true charm with legions of sharks and current-packed thrills
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRANDON COLE
y vision of the South
Pacific paradise is a bit
different. I view the stereotypical charms — an exotically named remote island,
caressed by heady breezes
and surrounded by warm,
azure waters with palm trees
leaning over pristine beaches, etc., etc. — as mere window dressing for the really
good stuff beneath those
sapphire seas: sharks. Lots
of them. Like the swarm of
sleek, gunmetal-gray bodies
circling me now.
In Fakarava’s south pass,
M
64 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
I’m 70 feet down and lucky
witness to a full-on sharknado.
There are at least 50 gray reef
sharks, maybe 100 — possibly
twice that. Accurate counting
would require dispassionate
detachment. Impossible. I’m
intimately engaged, euphoric,
all senses overloaded. I cannot see them all, but I feel their
presence all around me, perfect predators on patrol. Their
piercing stares bore right
through me. Their dusky fins
slice effortlessly through the
same current threatening to
tear me from my perch. I so
envy the sharks’ mastery of
their realm, the competence
and confidence with which
they swagger about.
A CERTAIN
JE NE SAIS QUOI
The new French Polynesia
Master brought me to this
shark Shangri-La. For years
we’ve been waiting for a
world-class liveaboard to unlock the treasures of the Tuamotu Archipelago. It’s finally
here. Launched in late 2016,
this 140-foot-long steel ship
was purpose-built to the
5 REASONS TO
DIVE FRENCH
POLYNESIA MASTER
BOTTOM LEFT: COURTESY MASTER LIVEABOARDS
1 More Dives, More Variety
There’s no more-convenient
way to dive the best
Tuamotu atolls. French
Polynesia Master visits up
to five atolls, offering three
to four dives daily.
2 Fantastic Crew The dive
team works tirelessly to
deliver remarkable wildlife
sightings. They know how
to time the tricky tides, drift
the passes, and navigate the
reefs to give guests a blend
of safe excitement, unforgettable encounters and
optimal photo ops.
3 Familiar Faces Since so
many divers have been on
other Master liveaboards
and Siren Fleet yachts —
parent company Worldwide
Dive and Sail’s fleet has 10
boats serving the world’s
top dive destinations —
chances are good you’ll
meet up with old buddies
while making new ones.
4 Luxe Lodging Most Tuamotu land-based dive ops
are rather Spartan. Treat
yourself to spotlessly clean
rooms, air conditioning,
Wi-Fi satellite internet,
24-hour power and more.
5 Five-Star Food I was not
alone in claiming this the
best food I’ve ever been
served on a liveaboard.
Indonesian chef Andre
worked some magic into his
creative, varied menu.
F OR MORE , GO T O
S C UB A DI V ING.C OM/
L I V E A B O A RD S
From top: Soldierfish explore
French Polynesia’s reefs
en masse; reef mantas are a
common sight in this region.
highest standards of safety
and comfort. Twenty-five of
us from across the globe have
assembled for this 10-night
cruise in the Tuamotus scattered 200-plus miles northeast of more-touristy Tahiti.
With exclamations of
“Unforgettable!” “Très magnifique!” and “A conveyor
belt of carnivores!” all 25 of
us vote to repeat the Sharkarama experience. Serge, dive
operations director on board
French Polynesia Master, is
happy to oblige. This time we
start outside Tumakohua (the
local name for Fakarava’s
south pass), descending
90 feet overtop cascading
sheets of coral. Waves of
bluestripe snapper and thousands upon thousands of
paddletail snapper are reason enough to make the dive.
But knowing there’s so much
more inside the channel, we
move on to ride the incoming
current from one observatory
to the next, hunkering down
in reef hollows to marvel at
parading walls of sharks.
Farther into the pass
we photograph a curious
Napoleon wrasse, then slide
alongside a healthy, sloping
garden abloom with cauliflower-shaped hard corals in
dreamy pastel hues. Twentyodd cute blacktip reef sharks
are next, followed by throngs
of goatfish. Then we veer
right, accelerating through
a shallow coral canyon on an
exhilarating high-speed drift.
We finish inside the calm lagoon where our Zodiac awaits
to ferry us back to the mothership. Fakarava, a UNESCO
Biosphere Reserve, is a mustdo-before-you-die dive.
ATOLL LOTTA FUN
Toau Atoll proves there’s much
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 65
LIVEAB OARD
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A trip to French Polynesia is sure to deliver at least three things: high-speed rides aboard incoming tides in one of the region’s many channels;
idyllic views of overwater bungalows at spots such as Tetamanu Village; and encounters with dozens of gray reef sharks, among other species.
66 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
COURTESY MASTER LIVEABOARDS
NEED TO K NOW
more worth experiencing
before I clock out for good. A
6:30 a.m. splash under gauzy,
peach clouds starts spectacularly when my buddy, Barry,
and I back-roll off the inflatable to see two mantas leisurely winging over the reef
outside Fakatahuna Pass.
After second breakfast, when
the tide finally switches to
incoming, our guide, Marc, a
gregarious, swarthy Frenchman with decades of experience, expertly shepherds us
through Otugi Pass in surreal
150-foot visibility. He knows
just where to find respite from
the strengthening current,
allowing us to relax and sharkwatch one moment, and
sidle up close to sheltering
soldierfish the next.
“Each site on each atoll has
highlights,” Marc enthuses
during our impromptu slide
show in the ship’s salon while
the boat repositions. GoPro
footage of mantas, photos of
tiger sharks, and macro shots
of a flirtatious nudibranch
doing its skirt-lifting routine showcase what could
be a week’s worth of sightings but instead represents
only today’s dives. French
Polynesia Master’s islandhopping itinerary through
the Tuamotus means we’ve
barely scratched the surface. Exploring the top five
atolls from our floating hotel
is a huge advantage over
land-based diving operations.
Apataki has no such option.
Liveaboard is the only way
to dive this atoll. The only
crowds here are seen underwater in Tehere Pass, where
guide Christophe shows
us thick schools of bluestreak fusiliers, surgeons and
When to Go French Polynesia
is superb year-round. Abundant
schooling fish, pretty tropicals,
turtles, mantas and most
sharks (gray reefs, reef blacktips, whitetips, silvertips, etc.)
are encountered throughout
the year in the Tuamotus. Great
hammerhead sharks are most
commonly seen in Rangiroa’s
Tiputa Pass between December
and March. Some divers target
June and July full moons with
the hope of witnessing the
grouper-spawning aggregations
off Fakarava. November through
April is considered summer, with
warm (84 degrees Fahrenheit
on average), humid weather and
regular rain showers. Winter
(May through October) is slightly
cooler, drier and windier.
Traveling Tips Most North
American travelers fly to Tahiti’s
Papeete airport (PPT) on an
eight-hour flight from LAX. Arrive
a day or two early to overcome jet
lag, let delayed baggage catch
up, and do a dive at White Valley. What better way to find your
shark groove than with lemons,
gray reefs, whitetips, and maybe
even a tiger shark or two?
Dive Conditions Visibility is
generally excellent (75 to 150
feet) on outer reefs, and inside
passes during incoming tides.
Clarity decreases during outgoing
tides. Ocean temperatures range
from 78 degrees in winter to 84
in summer. Most people use
3 mm wetsuits. Dive-site profiles
on French Polynesia Master are
generally between 50 and 100
feet deep. Nitrox gas is strongly
recommended. Many dives are
conducted as drifts into atoll
passes during incoming current.
Bring an SMB.
Operator French Polynesia
Master (masterliveaboards.com)
is a new 140-foot-long liveaboard
yacht with a 33-foot beam, custom designed and equipped for
safe diving in comfort. Twentyone professional crew pamper
25 guests, maintaining a 5-to-1
diver-to-guide ratio underwater.
Thirteen cabins on three decks
boast contemporary styling and
are fully equipped with air conditioning, a private bathroom,
an entertainment system, and a
personal safe.
Price Tag Seven-night Tuamotu
cruises in 2018 are $4,525 per
person for shared accommodations in standard cabins, $4,850
in premium. Ten-night cruises
are priced at $6,250 and $6,575.
Marine park and port fees ($70
and $90), rental gear, alcoholic
beverages and nitrox ($100 and
$150) are extra.
With four decks, the 140-foot-long French Polynesia Master offers
ample room for its 25 guests to kick back and relax — including a large
indoor lounge and separate camera station.
emperors, and squadrons of
— you guessed it — the sharky
kind. We’ll take this company
any day.
On kidney-shaped Kauehi
Atoll, my group of five jostles
with three dozen gray reef
sharks in Arikitamirio Pass’
shark pool, a depression on
the seabed perhaps 200 feet
across. We’re also favored
with dogtooth and yellowfin
tunas, grouper, and schooling
bonito. The next group of five
— French Polynesia Master
staggers dive teams to give
guests elbowroom — has
even more gray reefers,
whitetips, nurse sharks, and
a 10-foot-long tiger. Later,
riding the outgoing current,
we tour Kauehi’s outer
fringing reef. I shoot macro
portraits of flame angelfish,
raccoon butterflyfish, sailfin
tangs and amorous surgeonfish chasing each other in the
moody pre-dusk light.
SAVE THE BEST
FOR LAST
We’re up with the sun. Barry
and I join a handful of other
keeners — coffees and cameras in hand. From up on the
yacht’s fourth deck, we gaze
toward turbulent waters,
the mascaret, or tidal bore.
Waves dance chaotically with
swirling, surging currents in
Rangiroa Atoll’s legendary
Tiputa Pass. I bet I’m not
alone in wondering just what’s
in store for us today.
Could it possibly top the
hawksbill turtle, oblivious
to the paparazzi as it happily munched on coral rubble?
Or the resident barracuda
school? Will gray reef sharks
stack up in the deep again?
Will the eagle ray visit again?
The silvertips? Those playful
bottlenose dolphins that interacted with my shipmates
above while I, oblivious to the
world, focused on the bulletproof turtle? And what
about that magnificent great
hammerhead shark that stole
our collective breath when
it imperiously charged by
the group? Yesterday’s dives
were epic. Can today live up to
all that?
“Dolphins!” The exclamation breaks my reverie. Sure
enough, there are dolphins
jumping in the pass, surfing
the waves. I smile, now
certain that my South Pacific
paradise awaits below.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 67
READERS
CHOICE
T RAV E L
t
READERS
CHOICE
REGIONAL
WINNERS
NORTH AMERICA
1. Florida
2. California
3. Washington
PACIFIC AND INDIAN
1. Hawaii
2. GBR/Queensland
3. Philippines
4. Thailand
5. Fiji
CARIBBEAN/ATLANTIC
1. Bonaire
2. Cayman Islands
3. Bahamas
4. Roatan
5. USVI
What is
Readers Choice?
More than 3,000
Scuba Diving readers rate their experiences in our annual
survey, scoring destinations in a variety
of categories. Winners are selected via
averaged scores.
Explore a dozen
more Readers
Choice categories
at scubadiving.com/
readerschoice.
READERS CHOICE:
BEST BEGINNER DIVING
Florida, Bonaire and Hawaii provide swimming-pool-like conditions in
waters rich with marine-life wows
BY BROOKE MORTON
T
here’s something about that first real dive trip that just can’t be
topped — the underwater world takes its hold on you and never
lets go. For those who want to stick with the sport, it helps to get certified or fine-tune skills in a destination where the rewards — big critters, fascinating macro life, lush reefs — outweigh the hurdles, which
are hopefully few. Warm water, zero-to-mild currents and stellar visibility sweeten the deal. These locales deliver on all this and more.
68 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
FLORIDA
RAINBOWS AND SEA COWS A 90-minute
drive north of Tampa brings you to the
town of Crystal River, home to a collection
of springs where manatees gather every
winter, creating an opportunity for inwater viewing that was named a Readers
Choice Best Big-Animal Dive. In this same
area lies Rainbow River, a swift-moving
dive that’s a fun rush amid bluegill fish,
alligator garfish, turtles and sea grass.
And, at 20 feet deep, even snorkelers can
stay on the surface without feeling far
from the group.
SHALLOW GOALS The reefs in the Florida
Keys all start at 30 feet or shallower,
Clockwise, from left: Snapper buzz about Key
Largo’s Molasses Reef; a yellowline arrow
crab enjoys Bonaire’s lively reef; manta rays
feed at night off the Kona coast.
CLEAR-HEADED The Gulf Stream sweeps
the reefs of Florida, from Key West to Jupiter, clean of debris. For new divers, there’s
a comfort in diving amid good visibility, allowing for a view of the bottom upon entry,
or of the mooring line toward dive’s end.
BONAIRE
IN DA HOUSE In Bonaire, house reefs come
standard. Steps from Buddy Dive Resort’s
welcome desk, newbies can ease down a
ladder or jump from the dock, swim less
than a minute, and dive with frogfish, seahorses and more, all at around 15 feet.
THE SHALLOW END Bonaire’s dive sites are
located on the leeward side of the island,
so large waves aren’t a part of the entry
process. Even better, 57 of the 85 named
sites are shore entry, allowing newbies to
ease their way in along a gradual slope.
COMMUNITY OF EXPERTS Nearly everyone
on Bonaire is there for scuba. Should your
inflator valve give you trouble while gearing up, the next folks arriving can likely help
out. And, come happy hour, talk often leads
to buoyancy and best practices.
HAWAII
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP: TANYA G. BURNETT;
REINHARD DIRSCHERL; JENNIFER PENNER
making for an all-inclusive destination
where families or groups of friends with
varying experience can enjoy a site such
as Key Largo’s Molasses Reef all together. Throughout the Keys, the payoffs are
shallow, including 25-foot-deep Sombrero
Reef off Marathon and Eastern Dry Rocks
at 35 feet off Key West.
TUNNEL VISION
The challenge of keeping neutral
buoyancy while swimming through the
lava-formed tunnels and arches at sites
such as Tunnels Reef and First Cathedral
READERS
CHOICE
WINNERS
The best operators,
resorts and liveaboards to get you
this experience
in these destinations, as chosen by
readers.
BEST DIVE RESORTS
Buddy Dive Resort
Bonaire
buddydive.com
Divi Flamingo
Beach Resort
& Casino
Bonaire
diviresorts.com
BEST DIVE OPERATORS
Buddy Dive
Bonaire
buddydive.com
Ocean Divers
Key Largo
Florida Keys
oceandivers.com
Horizon Divers
Key Largo
Florida Keys
horizondivers.com
Dive Oahu
Hawaii
diveoahu.com
Jack's Diving Locker
Hawaii Island
jacksdivinglocker
.com
Kona Honu Divers
Hawaii Island
konahonudivers
.com
Dive Maui
Hawaii
goscubadivemaui
.com
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winners chosen?
Each year, readers
vote for their
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resorts and liveaboards, which are
chosen by popular
vote and ranked
by category.
is fun for any diver, and has the bonus of
boosting a newbie’s skill set quickly.
NIGHT BRIGHT
Few moments pack more wow underwater than the manta night dive of
Kona, and it’s a nighttime experience
open-water divers can have thanks to
the site’s depth of 38 feet.
WELL-VERSED
Because Hawaii calls to families and
couples, dive instructors frequently
work with new divers or those whose
skills need polishing. The dive crews
here certify open-water divers and offer
refresher courses regularly.
SHORE THING The east coast is shore-dive
friendly, including the perennial favorite
Blue Heron Bridge, named a Readers
Choice best shore dive. Drop in to
experience nudibranchs, seahorses, flying gurnards, and more that create the
weirdest and most colorful community in
the state, second only to the Halloween
celebrants of Key West.
S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 69
t
NEED TO KNOW
T RAV E L
When to Go Year-round; manatees are present in springs November to March.
DI VE
Dive Conditions Count on clear water and a
constant 72-degree temp in Florida’s freshwater springs and spring-fed rivers.
DR I V E
A N D
Operators Blue Grotto (divebluegrotto.com),
$44 per day; Devil’s Den (devilsden.com),
$38 per day; Ginnie Springs (ginniespringsout
doors.com), $30 per day, $22 cave divers;
National Speleological Society-Cave Diving
Section (nsscds.org)
100-foot-deep U-shaped traverse with
a guide line brings you up close to embedded fossil remains. At Devil’s Den,
the bowl is enclosed except for a “blowhole” — settlers spying “smoke” on cool
mornings coined the name — forming a
cavern 120 feet across. Fantastical rock
formations and a surprising number of
fish entertain divers and snorkelers.
Each spring is easily explored in a single
dive; have lunch between at Williston’s
Los Avinas Mexican restaurant.
BY MARY FRANCES EMMONS
T
urns out you can dive in Orlando —
at Epcot’s DiveQuest, in Walt Disney
World’s 5.7-million-gallon aquarium. But
why stop there? If you’re in the area —
and more than 60 million visitors are every year — there are eye-popping natural
wonders not far from the House of Mouse.
IF YOU HAVE ONE DAY
Head north about two hours on I-75
through horse country — Triple Crown
winner Affirmed was bred here — to Blue
Grotto and Devil’s Den on U.S. Highway 27
in tiny Williston, population 2,760.
Blue Grotto is an 80-foot-wide cavern
with an open bowl about 55 feet deep. A
70 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
Above: Red tannins in Santa Fe River waft like
smoke into the blue waters of Ginnie Springs.
Fort White
High Springs
41
Williston
75
27
Dunnellon
Crystal River
Orlando
IF YOU HAVE THREE DAYS
Many of Florida’s springs, caves and
caverns are connected underground, a
mystical world knowable only to the chosen few: certified cave divers. Take your
first step with a Cavern Diver or Intro to
Cave course, offered by independent instructors at many springs. Each generally
takes three to four days to complete, and
includes an introduction to the cave environment and basic procedures; find
an instructor at National Speleological
Society-Cave Diving Section.
JILL HEINERTH
ORLANDO
Not all of the wonders that make central Florida the most magical
place on Earth are man-made
IF YOU HAVE TWO DAYS
An hour north of Williston, on the Santa
Fe River outside High Springs, is Ginnie
Springs, perhaps Florida’s most famous
inland training ground. It’s popular with
cave divers, who revel in 30,000 feet
of passages. High Springs’ 1895 opera
house now operates as the Great Outdoors, a steak-and-seafood restaurant
with live music on the patio.
In winter, snorkel with Florida’s gentle
manatees at Three Sisters or Homosassa
springs near Crystal River, about 90 minutes south of High Springs. Open-air grill
Blue Gator, on the Withlacoochee River in nearby Dunnellon, is your chance to
try fried gator. In summer, float down the
Ichetucknee River starting at Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Fort White, a
half-hour north of Ginnie Springs.
THIS
LIFE JACKET.
1
USCG
APPROVED
SLIM, LIGHT
WEIGHT
DESIGN FOR
2 COMFORT
3
ADJUSTABLE
FOR SAFE FIT
4
INFLATABLE
AND HIGHL
VISIBLE
AFFORDABLE:
PRICES START
5 UNDER $100
84
%
OF FATAL
DROWNING
VICTIMS
REPORTED AS
NOT WEARING
A LIFE JACKET
ƥƞƚƫƧƦƨƫƞƚƛƨƮƭƬƚƟƞƛƨƚƭƢƧƠƩƫƚƜƭƢƜƞƬƚƭ
boatingmag.com/boatingsafety
m
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®
• Includes all meals,
beverages and transfers
• Free Nitrox
• Tech diving available
• Nine spacious suites
Dive Deals
Cozumel
DIVE WITH MARTIN SCUBA
Dive your computer limits!
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72 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
Contact: LINDA SUE DINGEL
lindasue.dingel@bonniercorp.com
DIVE WITH MARTIN SCUBA C
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S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M APRIL 2018 / 73
THE SUGAR WRECK
The sweet treats on this wreck include clouds of curious gobies, angelfish,
schooling snapper, wrasse, grunts and
parrotfish. This sailing ship grounded
and sank in just 20 feet of water while
transporting a load of sugar.
t
PERFECT
10
T RAV E L
5
PORT LUCAYA
MARKETPLACE
Raise a cocktail or tip back a frosty Sands
beer with Bahamians and tourists at the
clutch of colorful restaurants and shops
at Port Lucaya. There’s a local vibe here
in the evenings, after the cruise-ship
passengers have sailed on. Bring your
best haggling skills to the straw market
to purchase a handmade hat or bag.
6
EDGE OF THE LEDGE
Ogle the continental shelf where it
drops off into the blue at this dive site
in about 100 feet of water. While finning
your way along the ledge, you might spot
eagle rays, mantas and hammerheads.
7
BY TERRY WARD
SHARK JUNCTION
The Bahamas is known for shark diving, and the original shark encounter is
this feeding dive with UNEXSO at a site
called Shark Junction. Watch scores of
Caribbean reef sharks swirl around you in
about 40 feet of water as chain-mail-clad
feeders lure the predators with snacks.
1
FISH FRY AT OUTRIGGERS
SMITH’S POINT
Calypso and soca music fill the air
every Wednesday evening at the weekly
alfresco fish fry organized by the
Outriggers Beach Club at Smith’s Point
Beach. Bring your post-dive appetite
to feast on Bahamian favorites such
as peas and rice, broiled lobster, baked
mac-and-cheese and grilled conch.
2
DIVERS GUIDE
TIGER BEACH
For an even bigger rush, visit Tiger
Beach — one of the only places in the
world with dedicated tiger shark dives.
You’ll be armed with a safety bar to settle
in on the sandy bottom (at about 30 feet)
among the striped beauties, some up to
12 feet long. Hammerheads and lemon
sharks often show up for the party too.
3
LUCAYAN NATIONAL PARK
The island’s topside beauty stars
during 90-minute kayaking tours with
Grand Bahama Nature Tours in the stunning Lucayan National Park, home to one
of the largest underwater-cave systems
in the world. You’ll stop to explore a
cavern that’s home to two of the island’s
famous inland blue holes.
4
AVERAGE WATER TEMP From 75 to 88 degrees F WHAT TO WEAR 3 mm in summer,
5 mm in winter AVERAGE VIZ From 80 to 100 feet WHEN TO GO Year-round (hurricane season is
June through November) CONTACT Bahamas Aggressor, UNEXSO
74 / APRIL 2018 S C U B A D I V I N G . C O M
BEN’S CAVE
A dive into this otherworldly cavern
— found in a Lucayan National Park blue
hole — offers a view into how the Bahamas looked long before any cruise ships
called in. Follow your dive guide down
through the halocline to see ancient stalactites and stalagmites and fossilized
shells in the cave’s trapped-in-time maw.
9
GOLD ROCK BEACH
In an archipelago known for
beautiful beaches, this sublime strip of
sand across from the Lucayan caverns is
near the top of the Bahamian beach heap.
Stroll nature trails and boardwalks that
lead to the turquoise water.
10
TERRY WARD got certified in
Florida’s springs for a college course,
and has since dived everywhere from
Halmahera, Indonesia, to Norway’s
icy Svalbard archipelago.
MAP ILLUSTRATION: STUART HILL
GRAND BAHAMA
Come for all of Grand Bahama’s wild underwater life, then decompress
with incredible kayaking and a grilled conch feast with the locals
THEO’S WRECK
The clear waters of the Bahamas
makes it all the more impressive as you
approach this 238-foot freighter lying in
100 feet of water. Its stern dangles dramatically out over the continental shelf,
while sponges and black corals pave a
thick crust across its skeleton. Hovering
at the bow and peering way down to the
ocean floor below is pure wonder.
8
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