Turtle Bay Dive Resort Blog

6 Secret Tips For Buoyancy Control

Posted by Ericka Villa on Sun, May 01, 2016 @ 09:39 PM

Buoyancy control is one of the fundamental skills that we learn as scuba diver. Usually the most interesting of sea creatures are found hidden in reef systems and having control of your buoyancy is not only safer for the marine environment, it is safer for you and your dive team. Buoyancy control can help you to get the most out of your dive, minimize your air consumption and can help you to most importantly, have fun throughout your dive. There are 6 contributing factors that affect buoyancy control these include, body positioning, what type of wetsuit you are wearing, the amount of lead weights you are wearing, the amount of air in your BCD (buoyancy control device), depth and how you control your breathing. With so many factors affecting your buoyancy it can be difficult for new divers to perfect this skill, however practice makes perfect and once you know what works for you, your issues with buoyancy will become a thing of the past.

There is always one person on your dive who hasn’t yet perfected this skill and who can sometimes ruin the dive for themselves and others so, here are 6 secret tips to help your buoyancy control and to prevent you from being that person.

6. Understand The Concept Of Boyle’s Law

When training to become an open water diver, Boyle’s law is drummed into us from the very beginning. It is important that you do not forget this, once you leave the classroom. This law of physics can directly relate to divers and states that ‘the pressure and volume of a gas have an inverse relationship, if the pressure surrounding a gas increases, the volume of the gas decreases and visa versa’. In relation to divers, this means that the air within your BCD, wetsuit, tank or lungs decreases as we descend and as we ascend, the volume of air increases the closer we get to the surface, this is why as divers, we are taught never to hold our breathe as this can result in some serious damage. This is an extremely important concept to understand for buoyancy as it shows that our breath control and equipment can directly affect our buoyancy. Remember however, that this law only applies if the temperature of the gas remains the same.

5. Improve Your Body Positioning

Perfecting your body positioning can be one of the hardest things a diver has to do when controlling their buoyancy underwater. It is important to remember that if your head is higher than your feet, as soon as you kick your fins this will generally send you upwards and if your head is lower than your feet, the kick of your fins will send you downwards. When you begin to travel upwards or downwards a divers initial response is to rectify this by either increasing the amount of air in their BCD or dumping the air from their BCD, which will in turn affect your balance and will prevent you from achieving neutral buoyancy. Your weights will also affect your buoyancy so in order to perfect your body position, once you are under the water, achieve neutral buoyancy, place your body in a horizontal position and see if your legs go down or up. If they sink, then adjust your weight belt. It is common that women find that their legs float when diving however; this can easily be sorted with some ankle weights.

4. Make Sure You Are Weighted Correctly

Having the incorrect amount of weight is so common and is an issue that most divers will have at one time or another. It is particularly common in new students, as they haven’t yet had the necessary experience to experiment with different weights. It is normal that instructors will overweight their students in order to prevent them from having uncontrolled ascents and to help them remain on the seabed to practice skills. However, as a result of this, divers go through their entire diving career believing that this is the correct weight for them. If a diver is over weighted, they will compensate by inflating their BCD when they feel like they are sinking and deflate their BCD when they feel that they are floating. Not only does this excess air in the BCD create drag but it can also be extremely time consuming and frustrating to constantly be altering the amount of air in their BCD. Being over weighted can ruin a dive. However, buoyancy control can be easily achieved if a diver uses minimal weights and therefore does not need to inflate their BCD throughout the dive.

3. Control Your Breathing

Using your lungs to ascend and descend is one of the most difficult lessons to learn as a trainee scuba diver. As a student the initial thought would be to inflate your BCD and ascend, however, remembering Boyle’s law, this is a big NO-NO. By playing around with your BCD, this can lead to issues with buoyancy and can put a diver in a dangerous position. The key is to use your breath to help you ascend or descend. Your lungs act like flotation or deflation devices, breathing in will help you to come up to the surface and breathing out will help you go down. Throughout your dive, you must ensure that your breathing is smooth and controlled, as any alternative will affect your buoyancy and balance under the water. If you feel that you are having an issue with your buoyancy, always adjust your breathing before jumping straight to adding air into your BCD. I know it is hard if you are a new diver, however try to relax under the water; this will help your buoyancy immensely.

2. DO NOT Use Your Hands

Using your hands can definitely affect your buoyancy, it can totally throw you off balance and can not only affect you, but also can be extremely annoying to your buddy or dive team. Using your hands to control your buoyancy or to help you change direction can be counteractive to finding neutral buoyancy. In addition, some divers use their arms when changing direction and this can not only waste energy, but can also affect air consumption. A number of accidents can happen when a diver uses their arms, not only can they cause damage to the surrounding underwater environment, but they can also cause some damage to fellow divers, such as accidentally pulling out their mask or pulling out their regulator. Flailing the arms to help you throughout your dive will also prevent you from learning how to do it correctly.

1. Log Your Dives And What Equipment You Were Using

Logging your dives is not only used to help you capture and remember all the amazing experiences you have had over the course of your diving career, it can also be essential when choosing what equipment works for you. It is important to always log how many weights you have used, what wetsuit or exposure suit you have used as well as the various conditions you came up against. By doing this, you will have a better chance of not experiencing any buoyancy issues when you go on your next dive. Instead of relying on your instructor or dive masters estimation, all you need to do is refer to your previous dives and adjust accordingly. Taking responsibility for your buoyancy is a great way to help you learn and increase your confidence under the water.

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Tags: diving tips, scuba diving, diving, dive gear care, Moalboal, scuba

5 Common Mistakes That Scuba Divers Make And How To Avoid Them

Posted by Ericka Villa on Sun, May 01, 2016 @ 09:32 PM

As humans, we try to be the best we can be and Scuba Divers are no exception. However, sometimes we forget things or let emotions get the better of us, which can lead to mistakes under the water. It’s normal, we have all done it at least once in our diving careers, humans are not perfect however, knowing how to prevent these issues from happening is a good start. Remember that practice makes perfect, here are 5 common mistakes that divers and new divers make and how to avoid them…

No Buoyancy Checks

If you haven’t dived for a while, it is so common to jump into the water and get swept up by your feelings of excitement and thoughts of what you might see on your dive, that you forget to conduct a buoyancy check. There are so many factors, which can affect your buoyancy. Such as putting on weight, losing weight, what kind of wet suit you are wearing, what water are you diving in fresh water or salt water, are you using the same BCD you always use or are you renting one? If any one of these points mentioned above has changed, then you may be over-weighted or under-weighted throughout your dive, which in itself can ruin your diving experience. If you are weighted incorrectly, then this can cause you to exert excess energy throughout your dive, increase your air consumption and in the worst-case scenario, cause you to have an uncontrolled ascent. The majority of marine life injuries usually occur when a diver accidentally comes into contact with them, due to lack of buoyancy control. Remember that correct buoyancy control starts with the correct weighting and that is essential if we are to ensure our safety and the safety of the marine life surrounding us.

Do Not Maintain Gear Properly

When scuba diving, a diver is entering an environment that naturally, they should not be in. Your dive gear is your lifeline throughout a dive, so it should be treated like one. The way you can ensure that your dive gear remains at its optimum efficiency is by:

  • Rinsing your gear properly after your dives and cleaning it properly before storing it away.
  • Make sure that your kit has fully air dried in a shaded area before storing it away.
  • Ensure that your gear is stored in a dust free environment, which is dust and dirt free.
  • Check your equipment regularly for any holes, breakages or cracks.

Do Not Create a Proper Dive Plan

If you are diving with a DM (Dive Master) or a guide it is a common mistake to place all of your trust in that one person. Some divers, who are diving with a guide, don’t listen to the pre-dive briefing, as they believe that no matter what happens, the guide will take care of them. In my opinion, this is dangerous and bad diving practice as divers should be responsible for themselves. Dive plans are there for a reason, they are to prepare you, prevent and manage any dive accidents that can occur. If you are diving with a guide, make sure that you listen to them throughout their briefing. Be aware of various landmarks and currents, this will not only help you to remain safe throughout your dive, but it will also help you to become a better diver.

If you are not diving with a guide, you must NEVER ‘dive in and figure it out later’. Before you even get on a dive boat you should know the following:

  • What location are you going to?
  • What are the currents like at the dive site?
  • Do the currents change?
  • What kind of marine life is found at this dive site?
  • Depths of the site
  • Exit and entry points
  • Is there boat traffic?
  • Are there any environmental concerns?
  • Surfacing Technique

Before leaving for your dive, make sure to tell someone on-land where you are going and when you expect to be back. That way, someone knows that you are out there. Finally, make sure that you and your buddy are on the same wavelength. Make sure that you have discussed back-up plans if your situation changes. Always establish your maximum depth, maximum bottom time as well as minimum air supply to finish your dive.

Diving Beyond Your Limits

Once you are a diver, you will want to develop your skills and progress. When diving you will never be short of things to learn. No diving experience is alike. However, when you are fledgling diver on a dive boat, with a lot of experienced divers, it is pretty hard to say no. However, by saying yes, this can lead you into uncharted territory, which you are not prepared for and can be extremely dangerous. It is important to remember that you are only qualified to dive in the conditions in which you have a certification. If at any point before or during your dive, you begin to feel uncomfortable in any way, you have the ability to end it there and then. Remember that YOU are in control of your own safety. Starting to explore new places is a good way to gain experience before undertaking your next diving qualification. If you are particularly interested in wreck diving or cave diving, make sure to take proper training before entering a wreck or a cave as these new environments present new dangers. In addition, first aid training or emergency first response training is always a good idea when diving, as you never know when it might save you or your buddies life.

Over Loading Yourself

With all the amazing sites and magnificent marine life to take in, many scuba divers feel the need to over load themselves with expensive cameras, lighting equipment and filters, however scuba divers already have a lot to concentrate on and by adding more, this can be dangerous for a new diver. Try to avoid doing too much when you first start out as a diver. Gain as much experiences in as many diving environments as you can before taking your photography gear with you. Practice makes perfect and once you have practiced and feel comfortable in the water and remembering everything becomes second nature to you, then you are ready to take photos. Whilst your buoyancy control is off and you are racing through your air, whipping out the camera equipment will be not only detrimental to you and your group, but also to your surrounding environment.

Do you have any tips or stories about common mistakes when scuba diving?  Please share in the comments below.

 

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Tags: diving tips, diving

10 Easy Ways to Protect the Ocean 365 Days a Year

Posted by Ericka Villa on Sun, May 01, 2016 @ 09:22 PM
Posted by Sarah Wormald

As divers, we are ambassadors for the underwater environment with a shared responsibility to help protect the ocean and its inhabitants. Whether you’re a regular diver or someone who dives once or twice a year on holiday, there are easy ways that you can help protect the ocean 365 days a year.

Here are some helpful tips to enable you to care for what you love all year round!

1. Be careful with what products you use at home

protect the ocean - sunscreen

Some items that you may think are irrelevant to our oceans can have a huge effect. Below are some examples of items that can have a negative impact on our oceans’ health.

• Personal Hygiene and Cosmetic Products
• Sunscreen
• Lawn chemicals

2. Be careful what you buy

There are many “luxury” products made from endangered marine species. Say “No” to buying items that are made from red coral, turtle or nautilus shells – these beautiful marine species need our help! If you want to buy a souvenir from your holiday why not look at other options such as wood carvings, handicrafts, textiles or artwork?

3. Pick up trash as you dive

Dive Against Debris Bag

On your next dive, take a mesh bag with you and take a giant stride for Dive Against Debris! You can use the Project Aware website to help you plan a clean-up dive with your dive buddies. If you don’t have time to organise an event don’t feel defeated, you can still help by cleaning up as you go. If you see any trash, pick it up. However, whilst we want to do a clean sweep of the ocean be careful of items such as fishing lines wrapped around coral. If you can’t remove items without damaging the coral it’s better just to trim off what you can with your dive knife and leave what you can’t remove without causing damage.

4. Minimise plastic usage and have ‘No plastic’ days

Think about it – how many of your dives have involved seeing plastic bags? These are often ingested by marine species such as turtles that mistake them for jellyfish. Invest in an eco-bag and keep it handy when you make a trip to the store.

5. If seafood is in your diet, only choose sustainable sources

One World One Ocean Know Your Seafood

 

For obvious reasons, many divers and ocean lovers choose not to eat fish. While this is a personal preference, if fish is a part of your diet be sure to choose fish which is from sustainable resources.

6. A picture says a thousand words

You don’t need to be an amazing underwater photographer, you don’t need strobes, you don’t need anything more than a point and shoot camera. Before you pick up that candy wrapper from the reef, take a picture of it to post on social media later. The more awareness of where trash ends up, the better.

7. Be an investigator and a recycler

recycling

Find out where your daily household trash is going and if it’s not being processed in an environmentally friendly way, look into other alternatives. You can also be smart about recycling. Can you use it again? Can it be used for another purpose? If you have to use plastic, try to recycle it. It’s better for the environment and can save you money!

 

8. Consider local waste disposal and infrastructure

As divers we are sometimes lucky enough to visit some far flung and remote destinations. Take into account that developing countries often don’t have the same infrastructure for waste disposal that we enjoy at home. Bring back your empty toiletry bottles to dispose of at home and if you must use non-rechargeable batteries bring them back for proper disposal to prevent mercury and toxins finding their way into our oceans.

9. Take only photos, leave only bubbles

PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course

When we dive we are privileged enough to see some amazing creatures that most “other” people only get to see in magazines or on the television. Make sure you enjoy them as much as you can – watch them, observe and appreciate them in their natural environment but don’t get too close. If our aim is to protect the ocean and its inhabitants, don’t touch, remove things or interfere in their natural habitat.  

10. Spread the word and lead by example

No matter where you are diving or who you are diving with, if you see a someone picking up trash, give them positive feedback whether verbally, via their company’s web site, social media or TripAdvisor – it will encourage the person to do it again! Remember that even the smallest things count and the power of word of mouth can never be underestimated. Do what you can from the above, share it with your buddies, post your accomplishments on social media and get more people to help protect the ocean!

Inspired? Get involved now. Download handy tips, resources and tools from Project AWARE.

Be the change YOU want to see in OUR Oceans. We all have a part to play and Project AWARE is a great way to get started.

 

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Tags: diving tips, diving, scuba

5 Tips for Shore Diving

Posted by Ericka Villa on Sun, May 01, 2016 @ 09:09 PM

 

Posted by John Kinsella

shore-dive-australia

Consider this scene: Steps from a resort I remember well, across a small crescent of hot white sand, still tropical water gently laps. Less than 10 metres/ 33 feet out, the bottom gives way to a sheer coral-festooned wall, which plummets into the abyss some 600 metres/2000 feet below. Sounds nice, right?

While shore diving isn’t always this easy, it’s often just as rewarding. Here are a few things to make your next shore dive a bit easier.

Make sure you can get out before you get in.

While often not a major issue, this is particularly relevant on rocky shores in tidal regions. On a falling tide, that handy ledge you hopped off could well be a fair bit “higher” than when you entered. On surf beaches, especially steeply sloping ones, surf can build significantly as the tide rises. Don’t anguish over it, but make sure of your exit and have a contingency plan before committing.

Plan ahead to keep the work level low.

The most tiring part of many shore dives is simply getting to the entry point with all your gear. In often makes sense to walk directly from where you kit up to the water’s edge in full gear. In this case, make sure you’re in sync with your buddy so there’s no hanging around. Sometimes it’s easier to set up your scuba unit and bring it and your weight belt to the entry area before you suit up. Always take your time, or take a rest, so you’re nice and relaxed before you get in.

diver-shallow

Think about how and when you’ll put on and take off your fins.

Wading out to waist deep water is ideal when conditions allow. You can let the water support you as you slip your fins on or use your buddy’s shoulder for support.

Take a transit.

To easily find your way back, line up a couple of obvious landmarks on your way out. You need a couple, one far behind the other, to make sure of your position along the shoreline. A distinctive tree close to shore and a church spire farther away are an ideal example. When these are inline, you know you are directly offshore of your entry/exit point.

Stay down as long as possible.

On a gradually sloping shoreline, it’s often possible (and fun) to stay on the bottom until you are in water less than a metre/three feet deep and take your fins off there. Swim on the surface if boat traffic or other water users make this a bad idea. Use your buddy to help you get to your feet and vice versa. If there’s any doubt about getting up, stay down, keep your fins on and crawl out of the water on all fours. While it’s a bit ungainly, it works well.

shore-divers-exit

The next time you find yourself faced with a short trek across the beach to a coral reef in warm tropical water, take a moment to consider how these ideas can make your life a bit easier. They might also be handy when things get a bit more challenging.

Ready for your next shore dive? Check out

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Tags: diving tips, scuba diving Cebu, Diving the Philippines, diving, Sardine City, Moalboal, scuba

Your Guide to Scuba Gear Maintenance

Posted by Ericka Villa on Fri, Apr 08, 2016 @ 10:50 AM

By Lorena Espin

 

We all know that replacing dive equipment is not cheap, but if properly cleaned, stored and packed, your gear can serve you well for many years. Here’s our guide for maintaining your scuba gear to keep it in top shape.

Keeping your scuba equipment in good working order is a topic often discussed. Although it can seem arduous, it’s well worth it financially to care for your gear diligently. Following are a few easy tips when it comes to scuba gear maintenance.

Mask

How to clean:

Here’s a little bit of preventative knowledge: Bacteria in saliva will make itself right at home in the skirt of your mask, so no more spitting to de-fog. Baby shampoo is cheap; it does the trick; it makes your mask smell sweet; and it is kind to your eyes.

Post-dive mask care is as easy as soaking it in fresh, warm water to dissolve the salt. If you want to give your mask a good scrub, use a toothbrush and keep your oily fingers out of it.

How to store:

Towel dry your mask well. Water, like saliva, is very chummy with bacteria and bad odors. Once your mask is completely dry, store in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. If you’re not storing it in the original box, angle it upward to avoid scratching the lenses. If your mask has a clear skirt, keep it away from your other gear, as the black pigments will discolor it.

How to travel:

Although your mask is durable, you do need to protect the lenses from scratching. If you want to leave that space-occupying case at home when traveling, wrap your mask in some clothes before packing it. If it’s an expensive prescription mask, pack it with your carry on.

Wetsuit

How to clean:

Let it soak in warm water for a few minutes. Knead the neoprene to clean those often-missed areas and then thoroughly rinse the suit. And remember, because people tend to forget: Your wetsuit has an inside too, so turn it inside out and repeat. After the last dive of your trip, soak your suit in a bit of diluted cleaner, such as a mild dish detergent. And please, for the love of your suit, keep it away from the washing machine and dryer.

How to store:

Keep it away from sunlight in a cool, dry place. Hanging it by the shoulders will make it lose its shape, so instead fold it over a non-wire hanger with the zippers open. Once dry, turn it inside out because, remember: two sides. You can leave your wetsuit to hang there and call it stored — it would not appreciate being crammed into a drawer, anyway.

How to travel:

Once completely dry, your wetsuit will not be too picky about how you pack it; you can even use it as padding for some of your other dive equipment. At your travel destination, don’t be so aggressive when getting in and out of your wetsuit. Be good to the seams and the zippers and they’ll last longer.

BCD

How to clean:

Soak it in a tank of fresh water and clean the outside, and don’t forget: your BCD has an inside too. So fill the BCD with water and orally inflate it to help the water swoosh around inside. You can drain it through the mouthpiece by holding it upside down, squeezing it and depressing the deflator. Repeat this action until you’ve rid your BCD of any salty residue, because if salt crystals form, they can stab your poor BCD from the inside. But here’s some good news about salt water: it helps protect against fungus and mold, so the more you dive in salt water, the better.

How to store:

Get rid of any wet air, the same way that you drained your BCD when you cleaned it. Before hanging it somewhere cool, dry and out of direct sunlight, orally inflate the BC to prevent the sides from sticking to each other. Hang it with the hose facing down so those last droplets can find their way out. If you want to be extra nice, rub a light coat of wax onto the zippers. As for storing, your BCD is happy to stay right there until you take it on the next dive.

How to travel:

Make sure your BCD is dry before packing it; you don’t need to take mold on your vacation with you. Fold the sides in tightly, and pack it first. Your BCD won’t mind acting as a pad for the rest of your gear, as long as you keep it away from anything that can puncture it.

Regulator

How to clean:

Keeping your reg clean begins with gear assembly. Before securing your first stage onto the tank, release a little bit of air. With that puff of air, any debris that might have been in the tank will be released as well. Post-dive, dry the dust cap before replacing it. Then soak the regulator for a few minutes in fresh water and rinse, making sure not to purge the second stage, as you do not want any water creeping into the hoses. To feel certain, you can secure the reg onto a tank and purge it before storing. Using a bit of anti-bacterial cleaner on your mouthpiece is worthwhile as well.

How to Store:

Keep it in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. Sensing a pattern? Keep your reg with your BCD; regulators like to hang too. If you want your regulator to look extra fresh, before storing it, spray some silicone conditioner onto a rag and wipe it down. You’ll have the shiniest reg around.

How to travel:

There are padded bags designed especially for regulator travel, but it’ll hold up just fine if you wrap it in some clothes before packing it. If you can spare the space, put it in your carry-on.

Fins

How to clean:

These guys aren’t too fussy. As long as you soak them in fresh water and rinse away the salt, they’ll keep their flexibility and they’ll keep smelling okay. If you’re feeling particularly giving, spray silicone conditioner on the rubber parts.

How to store:

Cool. Dry. Place. No sunlight. Do not stack them up against a wall; this will make them lose their shape and fins are useless without their shape. Lie them down vertically or hang them by their strap. Bonus points if you store them with an insert.

How to travel:

Make sure your bag is big enough for your fins. Pack them in the sides, making sure they don’t bend (see above paragraph about fins maintaining their shape) Your fins can help you be thrifty with your baggage real estate; pack items like socks into the feet openings.

So from now on, no excuses when it comes to scuba gear maintenance. If you didn’t before, now you know how to easily clean, store, and pack your dive gear. And all that money you don’t have to spend on replacing it? Properly pack those bags for another dive trip.

 

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Tags: diving tips, Diving the Philippines, Philippine dive resort, diving, dive resort cebu, scuba masks, Moalboal, cebu dive resort, scuba gear

Top Tips for Environmentally Conscious Divers

Posted by Ericka Villa on Mon, Apr 04, 2016 @ 08:46 PM

 

By Samantha Craven

Signs of environmental damage are everywhere underwater: scars from dynamite fishing, ghost nets, and anchor damage are common in some areas, not to mention the distinct lack of sharks or the broader effects of a warming planet. Becoming environmentally conscious divers is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about these issues, not only among divers, but also among your non-diving friends. First, we must acknowledge that diving itself carries risks for the environment. The impacts of the diving industry are not nearly as grave as some of the issues listed above, but with over one million newly certified divers each year, the industry is growing fast. Fortunately, most divers are already predisposed to care about the underwater environment, and through initiatives like Green Fins and many more, there is lots of guidance out there to help us practice sustainable tourism. Here are a few of the best tips for environmentally conscious divers.

Environmentally conscious divers practice good buoyancy

We’re reminded to practice good buoyancy time and time again, but few of us actively work on improving our skills. Good positioning in the water means reducing the risk of accidental damage to the reef, and removes your instinct to hold on to something. While one errant fin kick, or one diver grabbing couple of pieces of coral may seem innocuous, once you tally the number of divers in each group and the number of groups that visit the site in a day, a week, a month, or a year, it starts to add up. One study in St. Lucia (Barker & Roberts 2004) found that a single diver contacts the reef, on average, 24 times per hour. Most of these contacts are accidental, and the diver is often unaware, but if just 30 divers are on that site in an hour, over 700 contacts could be made. Proper buoyancy and an awareness of your body’s location in the water column are one key to becoming environmentally conscious divers. 

Choose responsible operators

All dive shops are not equal. For some, cheap and cheerful diving is the bottom line; others go that extra mile to ensure their operations have a minimal impact on the reef. If divers want this to be the norm, we’ve got to show demand for sustainable, eco-conscious businesses by choosing operators that raise awareness for ocean conservation through both their actions and words. A few good resources for finding environmentally conscious dive shops are the Project AWARE 100% AWARE partners page, the Green Fins member listing, and the Blue Star operators listing, featuring Florida Keys dive shops that have committed to coral reef conservation through responsible tourism. The Longitude 181 Ambassador centers also promote international guidelines for the responsible diver. 

Don’t feed the fish

A seemingly innocuous, maybe even “helpful’ practice,” especially in Southeast Asia is fish feeding, usually with pieces of bread. While it may seem harmless on the surface, this can have serious ecological implications. Provisioning (feeding) makes for an easy meal for fish, but unfortunately they become reliant on the practice. Apart from the lack of nutritional value in bread, this act leads them to forgo their natural food source, throwing the finely balanced food web out of whack. Damselfish commonly take advantage of fish feeding, but their main diet is meant to be the algae that competes with coral for space and light. Without pressure from the grazers, a reef can shift from a coral- to an algae-dominated state.

Go au naturel

Gloves are a source of contention among divers, and many dive shops in the tropics now have a no-gloves policy. The issue here lies with the false sense of security that the extra layer of neoprene gives a diver. If your hands feel protected, you are far more likely to touch the reef without thinking. If you’re worried about hydroids on a mooring line where you descend, take one glove to hold on to the line and keep in in your pocket until you ascend.

Watch your waste

Cigarette butts, candy wrappers, drink sachets, plastic bottles, masking tape on tanks — these are all easily blown off a dive boat. The more conscious dive shops will have ashtrays and trashcans with lids to prevent that happening. If there isn’t one, bring these items back to land and find a trashcan. The No. 1 item collected worldwide during the International Coastal Clean Up for many consecutive years has been cigarette butts. In 2014 alone, over two million cigarette butts were collected.

Tip your eco-friendly guide

If you usually tip your dive guide (and you should), use this opportunity to encourage positive traits like environmentally focused dive briefings and correction of damaging behaviors underwater. Most dives guides are quite aware of the need to protect reefs, not only for the sake of the reef, but also for their own future — after all, a reef in bad health isn’t going to attract divers. However, the age-old belief that “the customer is always right” can mean that guides are reluctant to correct bad diver behavior or focus too heavily on environmental concerns. Compliment them if they do and they are more likely to prevent others from damaging their reefs.

Refuse reef fish

It’s becoming clear that the best way to help protect the ocean on an individual level is to leave seafood off your plate entirely. With overfishing listed as one of the biggest threats to reefs globally, absolutely avoid unsustainable options like grouper, parrotfish or snapper. Think about the last time you saw an adult grouper that wasn’t in a well-monitored, effective Marine Protected Area. Supply will always try to meet demand, and as a consumer, you have the power to determine what is supplied to you. If you must eat seafood, please choose a sustainable option, and, if the restaurant can’t ensure that its fish is sustainable, don’t eat it.

Be a sustainable shopper

Buying souvenirs? Avoid shells and other ocean products. The mollusks that make those shells have vital roles in marine ecosystems, like grazing algae to prevent overgrowth on reefs. And when broken down, these shells replenish sand and maintain the chemical balance in the ocean that we’re altering through ocean acidification. The international trade in seashells is huge, and each time you decide not to be part of that, you make a difference. Again, demand drives supply.

Be careful with that sunscreen

Although slathering on that sunscreen is no doubt important when it comes to protecting your skin from the suns rays, you may inadvertently be doing the reef some damage. The common sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone has been shown to kill coral, as well as cause coral bleaching, and although one diver putting on sunscreen may not be a big deal, it becomes one when we extrapolate the numbers, as with touching the reef. There are a number of less-damaging sunscreens on the market that don’t contain oxybenzone; by choosing one, you can protect both your skin and the reef.

Never think that as just one person, your actions are inconsequential: the small decisions you make on each dive can make a real difference. We are in a prime position to see what’s going on in the world’s oceans, and by becoming environmentally conscious divers we can work on every dive to make sure that healthier reefs are in all our futures. 

Green Fins is an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and The Reef-World Foundationinternationally recognized environmental standards for the diving and snorkeling tourism industry. You can find Green Fins members in Malaysia, the Maldives, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. 

 

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Tags: diving tips, diving, Coral, scuba

Five Essential Knots Every Diver Should Know

Posted by Ericka Villa on Mon, Apr 04, 2016 @ 08:42 PM

By Hélène Reynaud

When it comes to diving, the uses for knots are numerous. Here we’ll explain a few essential knots that every diver should know.

Ever had to attach a lift bag to an object during your dive training? Perhaps you’re just looking for somewhere to secure your hammock for a good nap after your dives. There are many practical applications when it comes to knot-tying and diving, not to mention that these skills can also be useful in everyday life. In diving, knots can help attach a load to an anchor, secure a surface marker or dock a boat. Categories of knots include hitches, stoppers, end loops or bends, to name just a few. Here’s a short list of five knots every diver should know.

Bowline

knot series : bowline bend

This is one of the easiest knots to learn, and it’s useful when it comes to securing a line around a fixed point or ring, or to create a loop at the end of a line. It can take a bit of practice to master and there are also a few ways to tie it. One of the best things about a bowline is that it cannot be undone when there is a load on the end of it, but it can be easily untied once the load is removed. Secured properly, it is a very strong knot for various purposes.

Figure 8

 

figure 8

Often use to stop a line from sliding (a stopper knot), a figure 8 knot is very easy to tie and untie. Once tied, it looks like an eight, hence the name. It has several more complex variations like the double figure 8, which can be used for tethering an object like your pencil to your dive slate.

 

Sheet Bend

Sheet Bend Knot isolated on white dbackground

This knot is used to tie two ropes or lines together, which makes it very useful in everyday life, not only when diving or boating. It can, for example, be used to extend an existing line. It works with ropes of different sizes as well, and stronger versions exist such as the double sheet-bend knot.

Square Knot (Reef Knot)

The square knot, also known as the reef knot, also allows two lines to be tied together very easily. To explain it simply, it is often compared to tying shoelaces. This knot itself is not the most resilient, but it is the base upon which to build a number of stronger knots, such as a granny knot or a surgical knot.

Double Half Hitch

knot series : round turn and two half hitch

Tying a few half hitches is the perfect way to tie a knot around an object, such as a torch to your BCD. To secure the load further there are endless variations of the half hitch or combination of several half hitches.

When it comes to tying knots, these are just a few of the basics. You’ll find plenty of tutorial videos online with detailed instructions. Let us know which knots you use most as a diver!

 

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Tags: diving tips, diving, scuba

Scuba Diving and Exercise Timing

Posted by Ericka Villa on Mon, Apr 04, 2016 @ 08:37 PM

 By Thomas Gronfeldt

Reduce your risk of decompression illness by timing your exercise properly.

Most, if not all, scuba-diving manuals urge divers to stay physically fit as part of their readiness for diving. Being a fit diver helps reduce your gas consumption during a dive, helps you fight against a current, lets you dive longer with less physical strain, and reduces your risk of decompression illness (DCI).

With all the advantages of physical exercise, many divers do seek to boost their physical fitness levels through training. However, while it is important that you do exercise, when you exercise in relation to your diving may be equally important. If diving is your priority, you’ll want to schedule your fitness routine to accommodate your scuba diving, especially if you’re planning an active vacation, where you’ll be participating in other physical activities as well, such as hiking, biking or kayaking.

For the purpose of this article, “exercise” is defined as a physical activity that exceeds the exerciser’s current capacity, in order to trigger a response in the body that improves physical fitness. This is what is known as progressive overload. While scuba diving may require a diver to undertake some physical strain, such as carrying tanks to a boat, it’s typically not intense enough workout, nor a long enough workout to trigger progressive overload.

Performing strenuous exercise right before scuba diving, however, may result in dehydration and muscle fatigue, which can be problematic when you’re underwater. As for the increased risk of DCI posed by exercise before scuba diving, the picture is a bit muddled. Some studies have shown a potential increase in risk of DCI, especially if the exercise is quite challenging and includes a lot of muscular activity, as found in strength training, or impacts heavily on the joints, such as running and other cardio. Other studies seem to indicate that exercise right around 24 hours before scuba diving might have some preventative effect on the risk of DCI. However, this effect is largely unproven. In any case, it is wisest to avoid strenuous exercise 24 hours before diving, and this is also what the Divers Alert Network (DAN)  recommends.

As for exercise after diving, the statistics are a little more clear-cut. Studies have shown an increase in the presence of microbubbles in test subjects’ bloodstreams after intense exercise, which are indicators, though no guarantee, for risk of DCI. We already know that a diver who is physically fatigued during a dive is at an increased risk of DCI; hence the dive-table recommendation for calculating the dive as being longer and more challenging than it actually is. It’s only natural to assume that this same calculation, to some extent, also comes into play after diving, and so follows the recommendation to avoid physical strain after a deep dive.

In short, while there haven’t been any reported cases of DCI that have, without a doubt, been caused by exercise after diving, the general recommendation is to avoid hard exercise for 24 hours before to 24 hours after scuba diving, especially when doing long, deep, or repetitive dives. For the vacation diver, this is usually possible, and is a perfect excuse for a siesta. For the occasional diver, this is hardly a huge issue, either, as a workout schedule can easily be made to accommodate weekend diving. Dive professionals, however, will want to be careful — physical fitness is important, but tailoring your workout around your diving is important, too.

 

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Tags: diving tips, Scuba Diving Gear, scuba diving lessons, diving, scuba

How To Prepare A New Regulator For Diving

Posted by Ericka Villa on Mon, Apr 04, 2016 @ 08:15 PM

BY ROGER ROY 

 

Diver and Sea Lion Underwater Photo California

Shutterstock

Make sure your reg is ready to go for your next dive.

1. Check the first stage to make sure all ports have plugs that are screwed 
in tight. Inspect the second stage for a tight casing cover and exhaust tee, and make sure the mouthpiece is secured with a clamp or zip-tie. Some divers take this opportunity to gently wash the mouthpiece in warm, slightly soapy water.

2. Mount the first
 stage on a tank, then install the primary second stage and octopus to the low-pressure ports on the right side that offer the best hose routing. Do the same with the BC and drysuit inflator hoses on the left side, while connecting your SPG/console to the most convenient high-pressure port.

3. With all hoses tightened, slowly turn on the tank valve. Depress the purge button, work the user controls, and breathe through both the primary second stage and octopus to make sure everything functions properly.

4. Visually inspect all regulator hoses to ensure there are no crack, 
and make sure there are no holes or tears in the mouthpiece or cracks in the second-stage housing.

5. Disconnect the regulator from the tank, replace the dust cover, inhale forcefully and hold a vacuum. The reg should let in either a small trickle of air or no air at all.

 

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Tags: diving, scuba

Tañon Strait: Whales, Dolphins and Dugongs

Posted by Ericka Villa on Fri, Apr 01, 2016 @ 02:56 PM
 
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Tañon Strait is one of the most important habitats for dolphins and whales in the Philippines. Of the 27 dolphins and whales found nationwide, 14 species have been observed in Tañon Strait. From the highflying spinner dolphin to the shy dwarf sperm whale, Tañon Strait has a bit of everything. Like other mammals, dolphins and whales nurse their young and breathe air, making them very special animals in the ocean. There are many endearing marine mammals in Tañon Strait; this is just a small sample of some of the interesting species that can be found here.
 

Tañon Strait Protected Seascape is the largest marine protected area in the Philippines, and the third largest park, nearly as extensive as the two largest terrestrial natural parks in the Northern Sierra Madre and Samar Island which protect the Philippine Eagle and other wonders. Tañon Strait is their marine counterpart, with an area of 5,182 km2 , more than three times the area of the Tubbataha National Park. The Strait is extremely narrow (27 km), long (160 km) and deep (500 m). At its widest, the Strait is only 27 km, and narrowest near the south at a mere 5 km. The deep waters which attract dolphins, whales, sharks and manta rays extend down from the surface a distance roughly half a kilometer. In Cebu City, this is equivalent to a jeepney ride between the Basilica del Santo Nino and Fort San Pedro. In Dumaguete, this is equivalent to a walk between the Dumaguete Cathedral and Silliman University.

The Tañon Strait has a coastline of 450 km. Colorful bangkas grace blue waters teeming with fish, and thatched roof nipa huts shelter families of farmers and fisherfolk all along the shorelines of Negros and Cebu. Tañon Strait was declared a protected seascape in 1998, in honor of the 14 species of whales and dolphins which live within this special place. Several of the Philippines’ most ancient and endangered animals have also been sighted here, including the dugong and the chambered nautilus. Many marine animals seek safe passage through Tañon Strait to travel between the Visayan Sea in the north and the Bohol Sea in the south. It is a migratory route for whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) and other giants. Coral reefs and their colorful fish residents, various species of whales and dolphins, seagrass meadows beneath nearshore waters, and diverse fisheries all can be found within this narrow corridor. Tañon Strait is also one of the Philippines’ major fishing grounds, a source of food and income for many residents in Negros and Cebu. The large dalupapa or diamond back squid (Thysanoteuthis rhombus) is frequently caught in these waters along with several other smaller species of squid. Abundant schools of sardines are commonplace, particularly off the coast of Pescador Island. Tuna species can be found along the length of the Strait but tend to be found in higher densities in the southern portion. Fishing is a traditional form of livelihood for many residents, and an important part of the cultural heritage of the region. Large commercial vessels also seek shelter here, relying on ports within Tañon Strait to resupply for their journeys to the Sulu Sea and beyond.

However, the beauty and bounty of Tañon Strait are under threat from destructive and illegal fishing. Fisheries across the Philippines have declined severely in our lifetimes, with fisherfolk catching roughly 90 percent less for the same amount of effort as they did in the 1950s. In Tañon Strait, signs of this overfishing include the extremely small sizes of fish typically sold in the market and the use of fishing nets with relatively small mesh. We must act now to protect the seascape from destructive fishing, illegal commercial fishing and pollution. It’s not too late for strong leadership, accountability and effective enforcement to stop these threats and ensure the resources of Tañon Strait continue to sustain future generations for many years to come.

 

Source: http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/love_letter_final_singlepages_with_bleeds_editedsh.compressed_1.pdf

 

Tags: diving, travel, scuba, boating