Artificial reefs can benefit the ocean by creating new habitat for corals and reef fish. However, artificial reefs are only useful when they are done right. Fortunately, man-made reefs have come a long way since the disastrous tire reef of the 1970s. In fact, new ideas and technologies are making reef building easier and more effective than ever before.
• New Designs and Materials
A good artificial reef will be made from materials that are durable and attractive to coral larvae. Resource managers now recognize that certain materials are not suitable for reef building (i.e. rubber and rusty trains) while other materials can encourage coral growth. The Reef Ball Foundation uses a special concrete with a lower pH level and increased durability to encourage lasting artificial reefs. They also create structures with grainy surface textures and unique hole sizing to mimic what corals might find in nature.
What Is Your Pre-dive Ritual?
Shortly after becoming a diver, I developed a pre-dive ritual. It has been refined some over the years and there is flexibility depending on local conditions but it is not vastly different from what I learned in my open water course. While waiting for the dive brief, I do another visual inspection of my gear and make sure I have everything I need including weights or insuring that the weights are on-board the boat. After the site brief by the dive leader, my dive buddy and I review our individual plans. I find this is very important with an unknown dive buddy. I want to make sure that our activities are within comfort zones, are compatible and make modifications if necessary. It will include which one of us will be the lead diver when we start. Most boat dives will have you assemble your equipment on board. I do this as soon as possible. I always assemble my own equipment. I general keep half an eye on my dive buddy. You can learn a great deal about a diver as they assemble their gear. Once my gear is assembled, I do a clockwise inspection. I slowly open the value and listen for leaks and check the pressure gauge. I check my hoses for the pressure gauge and auto-inflation, them strap them into position. I inflate my BCD with short fills making sure the button is smooth in its operation. I over inflate the BCD and make sure that the values release. I check the operation of the dump value and the manual value. I then manually inflate the BCD again. As my computer is consul mounted, I check the self test of the computer and if diving Nitrox set the percentage. I check my left front pocket for my sea snips and make sure they are working before returning them to the pocket. I secure the cummerbund together. I test breath my two regulators and secure the hoses. I check my right pocket for a small flashlight and check its operation. I test my back dump valve and leave my BCD mostly inflated. Back at the top, I check my mask and then secure it with the regulator hose. I check my fins and the last step is to check my weights.
When my dive buddy is ready, I point out the configuration of my gear and discuss out of air procedures and hand signs. I show them how my octopus is secured and how to remove my integrated weights. Most of the time I will have them remove one set of weights. When finished I empty the BCD of air and close the value. We review their configured as well. When it is time to dive, we kit up and do a visual inspection of each other. We enter the water as a team. On most dive, We include in our dive plan a 5 meter safety stop at the beginning of the dive as well. It is a short stop, just long enough to insure nothing came loose and all of our hoses and gauges are streamlined.
Kozushima: A Volcanic Wonder for Macro Lovers
Three hours and forty-five minutes south of Tokyo is an island where some gods were said to have met to discuss how to share freshwater. Exactly what they said and how they decided to share the freshwater is not entirely clear but Kozushima, as the island is called, is famous for a lot more than this ancient legend. It's a tiny place formed by volcanic activity that bubbled up from the Pacific Ocean many moons ago. Today, with a population of fewer than 2,000, it's quiet and idyllic, its beautiful white sandy beaches and warm water drawingvisitors not just from Tokyo but also from other, more faraway, parts of Japan.
With an array of campsites and an outdoor hot spring right by the ocean, Kozushima is most popular among those who want to leave the big city and have a quiet peaceful holidaysunbathing, swimming, having a bath outdoors and enjoying a BBQ on the beach. But for the keen scuba diver, there are a lot of sites waiting to be explored. On the island are a couple of dive schools, one of which has a good number of foreign divers as well as Japanese and can therefore cater to non-Japanese speakers.
Pelagic Thresher Sharks
The Pelagic Thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus) is the smallest of three species of Thresher sharks, the Common Thresher and the Big Eye Thresher being the other two, all are listed as vulnerable on the INUC Red List. While the number of Thresher sharks are on the decline they still are a common species of shark to be caught by commercial fisherman and in many places are still sought after as a game fish. They are seldom seen by divers however. The three species are all technically pelagic, in that they generally live in deep water. The Common and the Big Eye are known to visit shallow areas to feed and will at times stay for a while before dipping back into the deep waters. Threshers will also breach, a trait common with dolphins and whales but not common with sharks. Generally they have no pattern to when they visit shallow waters, also Threshers are loners. They seldom travel with another of their species and are shy around divers. These are some of the reasons that Threshers are not as common a sight to divers.
The Pelagic Thresher lives in warm tropical waters and are migratory. They can be found in the tropical and semi-tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans including the Red Sea. Not as much is known about them as the other two species. The Pelagic Thresher seems to be the one that values its privacy the most. Individual sharks separate themselves from others with both horizontal and vertical distances. They seem to keep themselves at depths between 60 and 250 meters. While they are believed to be highly migratory, there has been no studies to conclude the range of individual sharks. Unlike other marine animals threshers migrate individually not in pods.
I was on the internet the other day searching for some information on dive watches and came up with a number of interesting comments on the web. Some of them made me wonder if I was really out of touch with diving, or do I just have a different viewpoint of “most” divers. My first shock was learning that I never owned a “serious” dive watch. A leading dive magazine had an article which included this quote, “a serious dive watch must be able to withstand 20 atm of pressure”. My first dive watch was a Citizen Hyper Aqualand that include a depth gauge and allowed the dive profile to be exported to my PC, but it was only rated for 100 meters or only 10 atm. I was very happy with the watch and never had any problems with it not being a “serious” dive watch. For myself, I am happy diving at less than 4atm, so the 20 atm of pressure threshold is not that important to me. Later in the article under a title of “For The Deep Diver”, they discussed a watch rated at 1,000 meters. To their credit they did mention that the diver would be crushed before the watch.
Another website told me what is the most popular watch for scuba divers and going to that company's website learned that the watch is “At home in the oceans, where it remains an indispensable instrument for every diver” the watch being described is the $8,000 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner. While a model of the submariner was available when I purchased my Aqualand, I never gave it any consideration. Another website had an article for the “5 Best Diving Watches”, the lowest price one was more expensive that the last new car I purchased and the most expensive was in the range of my house.
What could be better than to walk into the sea early in the morning with your dive gear and a picturesque view of Mount Fuji? At Osezaki on the northwest tip of the Izu Peninsula south of Tokyo, this is exactly what you'll get if the weather is good. Small and protected, this little bay is where divers from Tokyo go to get certified, get further training, or simply dive for fun. It faces out into Suruga Bay, one of the deepest bays in Japan at around 2,500m with around 1,000 kinds of fish. The view of Mount Fuji makes Osezaki Bay quite possibly the most scenic dive location in Japan.
Crowded with divers in the summer, the bay is wide with several dive shops, restaurants and inns lining the big sandy beach. It's also very sheltered and the sea is calm, which makes it ideal for training and a chance to put various skills into practice. After signing in and arranging their dives with one of the many dive shops, divers pick a spot on the beach, lay out some picnic sheets and set up their equipment before walking into the water. Once in, the underwater scenery begins with a stone grey pebbly and rocky bottom at the shoreline. When visibility is good, this part is not to be dismissed because even at 2-3m of water you can see up close the seaweed sticking to the rocks and an array of fish darting about below. The next feature is a pile of big rocks and concrete boulders, followed by a slight drop into sand, mud and muck to around 8m. From then on the bottom becomes sandy, muddy and mucky, spreading out towards the deeper depths. With no more drop offs, divers are free to swim out into the unknown. There's usually very little current, so diving conditions are normally not the least bit challenging but when it's crowded with divers stirring up the bottom or gathering around to photograph the next nudibranch, visibility can get pretty poor.
Diving in Galapagos is considered to be something of a pinnacle in the scuba diving world. Its a unique experience that every diver should experience.!
In RED MANGROVE ,we will take you to enjoy an underwater Adventure in the Galapagos Islands: Santa Cruz and Isabela in our original Red Mangrove style. With only a short navigation from island to island, you will experience the best of each. Without missing the amazing land excursions.
For novice to advanced divers.
Follow this link and learn all about our adventures.! : http://goo.gl/9rHnPX
Sao Miguel – is the largest out of 9 volcanic islands that form Azores archipelago. Located in the north Atlantic it’s about 900 miles west of the main land of Portugal and roughly 2500 miles to the shores of North America, which translates to only 4 hours of flight directly from Boston.It is very picturesque place and one can find lots of things to do.
Right from the beginning I would like to thank all members of "Espirito Azul" for assistance in making all dives an easy and pleasurable experience. There are two dive-shop all located within 20-30 yards from each other. They also all tacked in into one floor mini-mall, which wraps Marina de Villa Franca. Basically it's a boutique shop which runs 2 dives a day - in the morning and afternoon. Except for really long distances (then fiberglass boat is utilized), shop does all its dives off a large inflatable (good for 14-16 people). Carlos - the owner – is very knowledgeable and very easy to deal with.
One of the best places to dive in Azores, as I was told, is Dollabarat Reef, aka Formigas islets. It is about 42 miles from Sao Miguel and only 35 miles from Santa Maria. On this trip we did not go to the atolls, but an acquaintance of mine dove there in the same period of time and (not that I'm complaining) had somewhat better luck. Yet he also mentioned that water was a bit colder to maintain large amount of the plankton. That diminished presence of sardines, mackerel and other smaller fish which, in its turn, attracts greater hunters such as dolphins, tuna, whales and other large pelagic fish. So even he was able to see manta rays it was not the same experience than in previous years. The best time for diving around Formigas islands are mid July through September.
I had only 3 days available to dive at Sao Miguel. Such a short period, in my opinion, cannot give you comprehensive picture. And yet 4 dives that I was able to make went well and I would love to come back for more.
My SCUBA dive instructor Abraham briefed me on the hand symbols for the different types of things we might see while we were diving. This included the hand signs for 4 different types of sharks (White tip, black tip, hammerhead, and Galapagos shark). This gave me only a mild panic attack as the entire Jaws movie genre flashed by. Luckily for my pride, I was able to forget about this just long enough to jump into the water.
Shark spotting: Ten minutes later we are around 40 feet deep, swimming along the rocky outcropping and cliffs that form North Seymour island. As we kept peeking in hidden caves along the bottom it occurred to me that we were actually looking for sharks!
The first cave was empty, a couple of brightly colored fish swimming about. But lo and behold, it wasn’t long before we found sharks left and right. Prior to this trip, my stereotype of sharks is that they are solitary, lonely creatures… primordial killing machines that devour any little fish in sight. Quite to the contrary, the sharks seemed to be hanging out together, taking a mid-afternoon siesta in the comfort of their cave, with the company of some little fish looked completely at ease. Some of the little fish were actually exhibiting what I later learned is “cleaning” behavior – where they eat parasites off the back of the sharks. Each shark was about 4 feet long, not big enough to eat me (I reasoned), but certainly big enough to make a nice snack out of one of my fingers if it should wake up in a bad mood. However, when the sharks woke up, they simply meandered off into the deep blue sea, perhaps to find a more secluded nap spot for the rest of the afternoon. My heart rate returned to normal, but with adrenaline pumping, and ready to go looking for more.
Stayed in GBPT in Riviera Maya Mexico for a two week holiday with my girlfriend. I knew this was the time of year Whale Sharks are around Holbox, Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy and so I booked to swim with them. Not only did we see these in Mexico we saw a Flying Gurnard at our resort reef which was beautiful, we saw Southern Stingray and Green Sea Turtles at Akumal and also a great Barracuda which was enormous! The other thing I saw was what I think was a Lesser Electric Ray (Carribean Ray) also at our hotels reef. I definitley reccomend Mexico for its snorkelling and diving!
This is one of the ships that have been wrecked in Santa Maria bay. Santo Antão was a cargo ship 14 crew, built in 1957 in Lisbon. The ship had a length of 53.30 m (with maximum beam of 9.02 m, Draught 3.35 m at the bow and stern Draught 3.63m). Santo Antão was carrying goods between the various islands in the Cap Verde Archipelago. Sunk during a storm to hit a reef near the shore of the island of Sal in 8 January 1966. A short, 8 minutes boat ride from Riu Hotel bay with Scuba Caribe Diving Center. The dive with depths ranging 7 to 11metres, visibility is between 8 and 30 metres. For lovers photography, the extraordinary diversity of fauna, a sanctuary of porcupine fishes is truly impressive and makes this a mandatory dive.
This is the third of my trilogy. Of the three, this was the least memorable. To start with there is no jetty so the boat comes into the beach and you have to wade into the surf to about chest height with a mesh bag with your kit in and climb into the boat. This side of the channel (see my Cozumel report) the sea bed is at only about 12 m so good visibility and long dives (even I could last 55 minutes!). Primarily this is drift diving although one was a mix of coral reefs and drift. There is good fish life, primarily large shoals of grunts and snapper which will let you get very close indeed - to less that a metre. There are plenty of large moray eels of various species and we saw one eagle ray although that was rare for this time of year. There is also a large number of yellow rays (which look brown under water)which I think are limited to this location and that occasional large grey ones. We dived with Yucatek Divers, a Swiss owned operation, who can also organise cenotes diving (see my Tulum report and photo hopefully attached with me upside down) and would happily recommend them as they can also do you a deal with hotels if you dive with them. This is the most commercial part of the area and whilst there is almost limitless bars restaurants and shops, the salesmen that go with them aren't too bad but can get a bit tedious
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