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Chris White // February 1, 2015

Why Touching Is Never Okay

Why Touching Is Never Okay

By Jessica Vyvyan-Robinson

 

Respecting the ocean is a huge part of being a responsible diver, as is the understanding that we are privileged visitors to the underwater world and should conduct ourselves accordingly.

Any good Divemaster’s briefing always includes a reminder not to touch, tease or take anything from the marine environment, and the mantra “take nothing but photos, leave nothing but bubbles” is one that every diver will have heard at some point. Respecting the ocean is a huge part of being a responsible diver, as is the understanding that we are privileged visitors to the underwater world and should conduct ourselves accordingly.

Touching underwater creatures and corals can not only harm them; doing so can harm us too. There are many animals in the ocean that can cause injury if alarmed, disturbed or aggravated, some of which we know about, and many more that we do not. From innocuous looking stinging hydroids to the beautiful but venomous lionfish, from shells equipped with deadly poison to all manner of stonefish, scorpionfish, sea snakes, urchins and jellyfish, marine inhabitants are better admired from a distance suitable for your health as well as theirs.
 
Contact with the reef itself can cause nasty wounds; many of us know from firsthand experience how long coral cuts take to heal, and how disproportionately painful even the slightest graze can be. The majority of shark bites among divers occur as a result of inappropriate behavior or reckless contact on the part of the diver. As divers, we are ambassadors for the ocean and all the creatures that live there. Particularly where threatened species like sharks are concerned, our ability to interact with them without incident is key in changing public perception of them and consequently promoting their conservation. If we follow the no-touching, -teasing or -taking rule, we can easily avoid most injuries caused by marine life.
 
As divers, we have the potential to do great good in the underwater world. Through our explorations, we raise awareness about the marine environment and the necessity to conserve it for future generations. Divers tend to be among the most committed and conscientious promoters for ocean preservation — it’s our dive sites that we’re fighting to protect. By refraining from touching the creatures and plants that make up that world, we ensure that our impact continues to be a positive one.

Chris White // January 7, 2015

10 Tips To Make Ear Clearing Easier

                         10 Tips To Make Ear Clearing Easier              

                                          
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As we descend on a dive, pressure from outside water exceeds the pressure in our middle ear. If left unattended, this pressure can cause not only pain but also damage to some of the small, delicate parts of the ear. The solution is to make sure we’re properly equalizing the pressure as we descend. This skill comes easier for some divers than for others, though, and if you sometimes struggle with equalization, try one or more of the following tips to make ear clearing easier.
 
Start before you hit the water
 
Before you even get wet, pre-pressurize your Eustachian tubes (the small tubes that run from your throat to your inner ear) by closing your mouth, pinching your nose, and attempting to blow out softly through your nose. This will slightly increase the pressure in your Eustachian tubes, making it easier to equalize as you descend. As with any equalization technique, go easy and don’t overdo it, as this may cause discomfort or damage.
 
Equalize early and often
The most common cause of problems during descent is that divers often wait too long before they start clearing their ears. If the pressure difference between the inside of the ear and the ambient pressure becomes too great, clearing becomes almost impossible. Don’t wait for the first signs of discomfort — start as soon as you begin your descent. And equalize often. Some people will need to clear their ears every few feet, while others can get away with doing it much less frequently. You need to find your own frequency, but there’s no harm in equalizing more frequently than you need to.
 
Feet first
If you have problems clearing your ears, maintain the upright position longer. By staying vertical, rather than leveling off into a horizontal position, the slight pressure difference between the air in your lungs and the air in your ears will help you equalize. In fact, studies have shown that some clearing techniques require 50 percent more force in a head-down position rather than in a head-up position.
 
Go slow
The faster you descend, the harder it will be to equalize. If you’re dropping like a rock, you’re probably over-weighted, but if you must inflate your BC slightly as you descend, do so to slow your rate. If you struggle with equalizing, slow your descent rate until you reach a point where you can adjust to the pressure a little at a time.
 
Look up
Looking up can help with clearing your ears, as doing so opens up the Eustachian tubes.
 
Swallow
Some people find that swallowing, maybe forcefully, can help clear their ears, sometimes on its own, other times in combination with other techniques.
 
Try a different technique
There are more ways to clear your ears than the traditional nose-pinch version, which is formally known as the Valsalva maneuver. Swallowing, as mentioned above, and also known as the Toynbee maneuver, is one alternative. The Edmond technique can be particularly helpful to those who have trouble equalizing, but it requires a bit of practice: tense up your soft palate (the rear part of the roof of your mouth) as well as your throat muscles, and push your jaw down and forward, then do a Valsalva. And my personal favorite is the Voluntary Tubular opening: tense up your soft palate and throat; then extend your jaw as if trying to stifle a yawn. This will push your Eustachian tubes open, allowing pressurized air to flow to them, equalizing the pressure.
 
Stop
Try making little stops along the way down. Sometimes, it can be quite a task load to manage your descent, keep an eye on your buddy and equalize. So make little stops by doing a few kicks with your fins (if you’re in the upright position, this will halt your descent) and do your equalization before continuing your descent.
 
Consider food allergies
Certain foods, such as nuts and dairy, can irritate the mucus membrane, causing it to generate more mucus, which can block the nasal passages. This can make equalization hard, or even impossible. If you suspect you may have food sensitivity, try to avoid the item for a few days before a dive and see if your equalization improves. Allergy tests will also help with a diagnosis.
 
Drink water
Dehydration can cause the mucus in our nasal passages to become thicker, making it more likely to block the passages, and with them, equalization. So make sure you’re well hydrated before a dive (for a number of reasons, but now you have one more).
 
Article By Thomas Gronfeldt
 
Chris White // November 23, 2014

8 Tips To Help You With Your Open Water Course

8 Tips To Help You With Your Open Water Course

 
Article from Scuba Diver Life

 

 
1. Listen to and watch your instructor. When he or she is demonstrating a skill, pay attention. They’re doing so for your benefit, and hopefully they have already mastered the skills themselves.
 
2.  Everything in your course has a purpose (even that damn snorkel), even if to begin with you don’t understand what the reason is. Your instructor should explain why you are required to do A, B and C. They are not asking you to do something for no reason.
 
3.  Relax — easy to say, not always easy to do. Nearly everyone has problems (sometimes major, sometimes minor) when they start off; it is almost expected.
 
4.  Don’t beat yourself over the head about something you’re not getting; your instructor will work with you until the perceived problem is no longer.
 
5.  Don’t worry if the student next to you seems to grasp the theory or water skills quicker than you do. It’s not a competition; people learn at different speeds. It doesn’t matter how quickly you complete a skill or piece of theory, all that matters is that you competently complete the course.
 
6. Never be afraid to ask questions. People often don’t ask questions or for another demonstration as they’re afraid of appearing stupid or slow-witted.
 
7. Don’t confuse the Open Water course with diving. Some people get halfway through the course and decide diving’s not for them. For most people, a dive equals a jump in the water, a look at the fish or wrecks, and getting out of the water. On most general dives we don’t remove our masks underwater, perform fin pivots, remove our regulators, and so on. The course is a means to an end, not the end itself, and will make you a more confident diver when the time comes to just jump in.
 
8. One last thing – enjoy it. Diving is essentially about fun; that’s why we call it recreational diving.

 

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