St. Thomas, Nevada, a ghost town from the 1930s, has risen from its watery grave. St. Thomas was a Mormon settlement first established in 1865. Its location was where the Muddy River and Virgin River flowed into the Colorado River. A small farming community thrived in what is the middle of a desert due to the fertile soils deposited by the river and the flow of fresh water they provided. The town continued to grow as a railroad spur connected the town to cities in California and Utah. Gold miners in the surrounding mountains used it as a supply point. Life was great in the town until 1928. That was the year that the new Boulder Dam was approved. Residence were told they would have to leave but many did not really believe the government, the dam site was over 100 miles away and they were over 400 feet higher in elevation. It took ten years, but eventually the water behind the dam submerged the town.
RAID officially announced themselves as a full service training agency at UK Dive 2014 in October. During an interview at that show, RAID International’s Director of Diver Training Paul Toomer was quoted on the way they feel about the role of accreditation. He said: “At the moment, the training agencies consider themselves to be the focal point of the diving industry. I never believed, ever, they are. I believe that the focal point of the industry is the dive. That is why we go through the hurdle that we call certification.” Paul Toomer had over a decade of teaching rebreather and technical courses,before he was appointed International Director of Technical Training for SSI.
RAID started the first day at DEMA announcing a free diving program. Mike Wells the Freediving guru who wrote the world’s first ever globally accepted freediving program has teamed up with RAID as their International Director of Freediving. Wells says: “The program is entirely digital - the first such freediving program in the world. Secondly it is a whole new way to teach freediving; doing away with nonessential skills, the myths of old school freediving and stripping away the unnecessary romantisizing of freediving. We therefore have created a new program that fits a modern digital age and the modern tech savvy adventurer. This in turn creates a better learning experience and ultimately attracts far more people and produces far better freedivers”. The program was launched with World Series Freediving (WSF) and is also the first with a continuing education feature.
Underwater Robotics which includes ROVs also have its developers. One of these groups is found at OpenROV. Visiting the website gives you access to the software and design plans to build your own ROV. The site also has kits with all the parts you need, except the batteries, to build your own ROV with just common tools. The kit is $849. The design includes underwater lights and a camera. A 100 meter tether not only controls the motors for depth and directional control but provides a path back to the surface for the video feed.
A number of people have built these DIY projects and are using them for different purposes. A website called open explorer showcases some of the projects/expeditions currently underway using the OpenROV devices. A monitoring program of marine invasive species at the Madeira Archipelago, in Portugal is starting to use one of these ROVs to monitor harbors.
The discovery is amazing and the potential in the medical field wide spread. For Diving it has potential, still a great deal of development is needed. A number of writers who have expanded on the scientific material in general publications also do not understand diving very well. A number of online publication have even stated that the concept is in practice. A couple of magazines even had a photograph of a free diver saying they were testing the crystals.
So until the technical achievements that are needed occur, witches and wizards will still need gillyweed. In the magical world of Harry Potter, a handful of gullyweed allows an underwater stay of an hour. Muggles, non-magical folks, will still need scuba tanks. But for how much longer?
The Guinness judge was able to adjudicate the attempt. After Gabr returned to the surface and was examined by his team of doctors, the judge declared the record. While Gabr was dealing with a long deep dive with only a few support divers, Allen Sherrod was in about 10 meters of water in his world record attempt. He had with him, two support divers that were rotated every hour, visiting divers dropping in for a visit, live radio interviews, visits by mermaids and renewed his wedding vows. Sherrod's goal was to stay underwater for 55 hours. His record attempt was just 900 feet off shore on an artificial reef. Since you may have risen your eyebrows at the mermaid comment let me explain that first. Allen and his wife Barbara live in Weeki Wachee Florida. The park there is known for its springs and mermaid show. Allen is the director of underwater safety and his wife recently retired from the show where she was one of the mermaids.
The world record dive attempt was being held in conjunction with a mermaid convention. Before, during and after his dive, there were photo shoots with some of the mermaids. When he and his wife renewed their vows, her wedding party were all in tails, mermaid tails. Sherrod wore a full face mask fitted with an underwater speaker device of his design during the entire event. It was developed as a safety device at the mermaid show. On this dive it was also fitted with a cell phone device allowing him to give live updates to local radio stations. He wore a dry suit and used a side mount set up, which make it easier to swap out tanks with the help of his safety divers. Some problems with his dry suit leaking caused him to shorten his dive. While short of his 55 hour goal, Sherrod was able to stay under for 51 hours, 4 minutes and 28 seconds. As he did not have a judge on site, his evidence will need to be evaluated before officially being awarded the record.
There are number of projects that a scuba diver can get involved with as they enjoy their dive. Divers who have taken a photograph of a whale shark are encourage to provide a copy of the photograph and dive information to the Wildbook for Whale Shark website. That site maintains a photographic index of Whale sharks and the data is used to help track the worlds largest fish. You may even be able to match your photograph against a description in the data base and find out more about the whale shark you have seen. A similar shark project is being done at Stanford university. That project, shark pulse, is gathering images of all species of sharks for its database.
The iSeahorse project would love your help to record seahorse observations. An effort of Project Seahorse of the University of British Columbia, London Zoo, and others, the iSeahorse project is a program for recreational scuba divers. Divers are asked to report sightings of seahorses to their project. They currently have a iPhone/ iPad application to stream line the reporting and provide information on different seahorse species. The app will help you identify the species of seahorse and give you an overview of that species. They have also recently launched a PADI approved Seahorse Specialty Course that is now available in Thailand at three popular diving destinations: Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Tao. Over 30 instructors have been trained to teach the specialty course.
The scarcity of grouper and snapper are causing the price of those fish to rise in the market. Lion fish are said to have a delicate taste somewhat similar to groper, so many restaurants are adding Lion fish to the menu. Currently the demand is small, but private conservation groups and government agencies are out there educating people about eating the fish. If you are visiting one of the areas that has invasive Lion fish, take a bite out of the problem and order one for dinner.
On the opposition side of the world the Great Barrier Reef is in trouble. The Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site. When placed on the Heritage list the Great Barrier Reef 's citation called the reef the most beautiful place on earth both above and below the water. However, the UNESCO will vote in February whether to place the Great Barrier Reef on the endangered list. The UNESCO has 1007 World Heritage sites which include 28 sites that include reefs. Six of the sites including the Great Barrier Reef belonging to Australia. Of the 28 sites, only two are considered endangered, the Belize Reef system and East Rennell Solomon Islands.
Underwater treasure hunters have been around since the times of the first ships being lost, from salvage divers to seekers of sunken treasure. Mel Fisher, in his search for the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the Santa Margarita, and the 1715 Shipwreck Fleet is often credited with being a pioneer for bringing scientific methods and archaeological protocols to the scuba diver. Around the world, local and international laws now often require new shipwreck finds to be subject to evaluation using archaeological protocols. Some knowledge is helpful.
Marine Archaeology is an interesting field of study for many scientists. A marine archaeological “dig” can be an exciting adventure of a careful search to uncover the past. Many historical ship wrecks and sunken cities around the world are being carefully examined. While many a diver has dreamed and even succeed in finding a new wreck it is often very important to known what to do with the wreck after you find it. Generally, as scuba divers, we are often excluded from diving historical wrecks so as not to destroy historical artifacts and information. Marine Archeological as an avocation or a hobby has been difficult to pursue in the past as the professionals often did not want amateurs to interfere.
World War Two saw the “failed” projected renewed. The War Time Shipping Administration contracting five contractors to build 104 vessels. Some of these were powered ships but most were barges. These barges were very similar to the ships and were ocean going but had no means of propulsion and carried a crew of three. My fist concrete ship dive was on one of that 104, a B7-A2 type barge (375 foot long, 56 foot beam, 5,410gross tons, 22 built) located in 30 meters of water. I have not been able to positively identify the wreck but I am certain it is YON-146 an unnamed vessel sunk in July 1957. The second concrete wreck I dove was similar, the M/V WIT Concrete, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
After WWII, concrete boat building disappeared again. In the late 1960s and early 1970s they made a small comeback. This time as pleasure crafts. Boat building companies and hobbyist were creating ferrocement boats again. By the late 1970s the trend died away as cheaper easier to use materials came into being. There is a boat building website that has an interesting article in greater detail concerning some of the earliest usage of concrete ships. The article includes a photograph of the S.S. Selma under construction. The Selma, another of the WWI ships, is located off Galveston Texas and is the official flagship of the Texas “Army”.
New Dive Console Will Locate Your Buddy
Imagine being a dive leader on a drift dive and being able to know where all the divers are at just a glance at your dive console. A Swedish company by the name of Aqwary is making that a reality. Their pioneer product is to be the Smart Console a device that combines current scuba equipment technology and smart phone technology with a technique perfected in WWII hydrophones. Similar to many dive consoles on the market today, the Smart Console will give the diver his basic dive information: air pressure, depth, water temperature, compass and NDL. This device will display information on a 3.7 inch color screen similar to a smart phone. The Smart Console can hold dive data for hundreds of dives.
The device has a WIFI feature for above water communications. The WIFI feature will allow the diver to transfer the dive information to a computer or other WIFI device. The WIFI feature also allows the Smart Console to synch data to the Aqwary Cloud storage. The device is designed to be upgraded. New features will be added by apps, using the same method you find on smart phones. Because these are considered safety devices, upgrades and new apps can only be added from Aqwary. Today, Recreational divers have to rely on hand signals or writing messages on a slate to communicate underwater. While not planned as part of the initial release, the Smart Console will have an app for underwater communications similar to SMS on cell phones. The Smart Console does come equipped with apps for a compass, mapviewer, buddy watch and a no decompression dive computer. Additional apps such as an advance dive computer and the message component will be available shortly. A dive boat app is expected to be released also that has additional safety features including a recall function.
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