Turtle Bay Dive Resort Blog

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

Five Tips for Buying Your First Set of Dive Gear

Posted by Ericka Villa on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 @ 02:47 PM

Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/03/13/five-tips-for-buying-your-first-set-of-dive-gear/

Buying your first set of dive gear can be a daunting task for newly qualified divers: with countless gear reviews, buddy recommendations and magazine articles celebrating the latest “must-have” piece of equipment, it’s hard to separate what’s important from what’s not. Here are our top tips to help you pick what’s right for you.

What sort of diving do you want to do?

This will have a huge influence on your gear selection. Ask yourself where you’ll be diving: mostly in tropical waters, or are you planning to explore more temperate underwater environments such as California or Southern Australia? Maybe you’re heading to the cold waters of the North Sea? You should also consider how much use you expect your equipment to get. Will you be taking it only on a two-week vacation every year or on weekly forays to your local dive sites? Depending on your answers, a lightweight travel BCD might be the right choice for you as opposed to its heavy-duty Cordura equivalent, designed to withstand the rigors of guiding and assisting divers.

Should you buy all at once or piece by piece?

Buying your first set of dive gear doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. Most divers will buy equipment piece by piece as they become more enamored with the sport, and doing so also allows you to find out what sort of equipment and what brands you like. A mask and snorkel are typical first buys and many dive schools require trainees to have their own even for their Open Water course. So, how about the rest? Buying a complete equipment package at once is often more cost-effective than making individual purchases, but this may limit your options, especially if you want to combine equipment from more than one brand. For those with limited budgets, buying piece by piece is often the only option. If you’re replacing gear, a complete kit change can also have a big impact on your diving. Acquiring equipment piece by piece can help make the transition easier.

What is the most important piece of gear to own?

While it would be great to be able to afford all of your equipment at once, realistically, most divers have to prioritize. As mentioned before, a well-fitting mask can make or break a dive. This is even more important if you require prescription lenses. Fins are also a relatively low-cost investment, and one that’s worthwhile for the right fit. If you’re diving with any frequency, you’ll probably want to buy open-heel fins and booties, even if you’ll be in mostly tropical waters, as these will provide you with an easier finning experience. Try a few types of fins out via rental equipment first if possible to see what you like. The first pricey purchase on most peoples’ list is a dive computer. Some dive schools do rent them, but it’s far better to have your own to keep track of your personal dive profiles as well as exposure to nitrogen and oxygen.

Following that, priorities depend on the amount of diving you do and the environment you’re diving in. For cold-water divers, a drysuit is often next on the list, while those in tropical waters will typically buy a wetsuit.

Where is the best place for buying your first set of dive gear?

Online shopping is just as popular among divers as with everybody else, but there some drawbacks. While a product may look great on screen, trying it on in a shop simply gives you a better idea of whether that BCD fits correctly, those regulators are breathing easily, or that wetsuit is as snug and comfortable as it looked online. And, by buying your gear in a brick-and-mortar store, you’ve got the experience of the dive shop to back you up, as the employees are usually quite familiar with all the gear they sell and will be able to give you personal advice, as well as aftercare once you purchase. So, although a shop may not be able to offer the same discounts as its online counterparts, it’s usually the way to go when it comes to that initial equipment purchase.

If you want the best of both worlds, consider visiting a dive exhibition. They often combine competitive deals with an opportunity to try out equipment by several manufacturers, and there’s often a pool to test your potential purchases in almost-real conditions.

Is buying second-hand gear a good idea?

Buying used equipment can be an excellent option. Some dive schools change all of their equipment every one to two years, offering beginner divers great deals as well as the advantage of already being familiar with the gear. In places where numerous divers train as Divemasters or Instructors there is usually a steady supply and lively trade of second-hand gear that was often bought only weeks before the sale.

Auction websites such as eBay are another good source of second-hand gear, but take care if you go this route as you won’t know the history of anything you buy. For safety’s sake, you should have any secondhand gear you purchase serviced right after you buy it and before you use it.

All in all, it pays to do your research before parting with your money. Create a realistic list of items you want to buy in order of priority depending on your style of diving. Ask your instructors or other divers you trust for guidance and a no-nonsense opinion. And don’t forget – if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

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Tags: diving tips, diving, dive resort cebu, scuba masks, cebu adventure, scuba gear, scuba

The Healthy Heart Workout for Divers

Posted by Ericka Villa on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 @ 09:47 PM

By Gretchen M. Ashton

The stresses of the underwater environment and use of scuba equipment can reduce a diver’s breathing capacity by as much as 40 percent of that on the surface. What’s the best way for divers to stay heart healthy and maintain even breath?

Research demonstrates that breathing through the mouth rather than the nose adds to the stresses placed upon a diver, because the diver already has to work harder at simply breathing through a regulator. This is called the “work of breathing.” When we add the additional physical stress of breathing gases, psychological stresses, i.e., feeling of shortness of breath or breathlessness, appear as well. Cold temperatures also increase the energy costs associated with oxygen utilization throughout the body. Respiratory limitations of divers at depth may require increased respiratory rates. Finding a healthy heart workout for divers is key to alleviating these stressors.

On land, the limiting factor to the amount of work that a body can do is usually the cardiovascular system or the heart. Underwater, the limiting factor is probably the respiratory system, so divers who maintain a good level of cardiorespiratory fitness reduce the risks associated with scuba diving and improve overall diving performance. The purpose of cardiorespiratory fitness is to maintain and improve the efficiency of the heart, lungs and vascular system. Cardiorespiratory fitness is achieved through aerobic exercise.

A Healthy Heart Workout for Divers

Based on a review of reported medical conditions by scuba divers, heart disease, cardiovascular illness and high blood pressure are the most prevalent health concerns. The good news is that aerobic exercise helps to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and may help repair the damage from smoking.

It’s easy to understand why aerobic exercise is a necessary fitness component for scuba divers. Positive results of an aerobic program, such as easier execution of daily activities, are apparent within weeks. However, the benefits of aerobic exercise diminish dramatically in as little as two weeks of inactivity. The best results are achieved when aerobic exercise is performed consistently as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Aerobic exercise is any activity that creates and utilizes greater oxygen demand by moving primarily the large muscles of the body, repeatedly and rhythmically, at a particular intensity beyond the usual activity of rest or relaxation. Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, jogging, running, swimming, rowing, cycling, jumping rope, aerobics classes and dancing. Aerobic exercise may be performed outdoors almost anywhere; fitness centers and gyms provide plenty of equipment such as treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals and exercise bikes as well.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week for at least 30 minutes for a total of 150 minutes; or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week for additional health benefits. For lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, the AHA recommends an average of 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity three or four times per week. As divers, our sport may not be aerobic, but participating in a healthy heart workout will help keep us fit both on land and underwater.

 

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Tags: diving tips, diving, diving gear

Would You Snorkel With the Oslob Whale Sharks?

Posted by Ericka Villa on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 @ 01:25 PM

By Shelley Collett

Oslob, Philippines is a well-known spot for a whale-shark encounter, but it’s not without controversy. Is the shark feeding there a good thing, or a bad thing?

A decade or so ago, whale sharks gathered by the hundreds in the area around Oslob, Philippines, feeding on tiny shrimp that came to the surface and close to shore in the moonlight. Fishermen also caught these same shrimp and thus competed with the sharks for their catch. Hearing about these sharks, some fishermen from Bohol came into the area and slaughtered whale sharks by the hundreds for their meat and fins. Only in the last couple of years have the sharks begun to return, albeit in smaller numbers.

Eventually, the local fishermen realized they could feed the sharks the shrimp from their catch and the sharks would hang out in the area, which brought tourists to the area to see the sharks during feeding. And so the now well-known whale-shark encounter in Oslob began, but it’s not without controversy. Would you snorkel with the Oslob whale sharks?

A Snorkel With the Oslob Whale Sharks

Area residents have greatly benefited from the income and the sharks are fed something from their normal diet, but the shark feeding in Oslob has garnered a fair amount of controversy. We had read some pretty horrendous things about the practice there, so we decided to go and see for ourselves.  What we found was that the reports we’d read were much exaggerated and in some cases, outright lies. Despite the fact that things aren’t as bad as has been reported, I still have mixed feelings about the activities. Read on to decide for yourself.

When we first got there I was struck by the number of rules involved, all of them useful. Before even purchasing our tickets, we were given an orientation.

  • No touching the sharks. If the shark appears to be on a collision course with you, move out of the way.
  • No feeding the sharks. The fishermen will do that and they feed them small shrimp that are part of their normal diet.
  • No chasing the sharks. If the shark decides to leave, then it shouldn’t be chased down. It should be allowed to leave unhindered.
  • Keep 4 meters (12 feet) between you and the shark.
  • No sunscreen. The sharks filter feed and thus suck in massive quantities of water. That water shouldn’t be full of sunscreen.
  • No propeller boats allowed in the area. They could damage the sharks.

After we bought our tickets, we were paddled out to the shark area and allowed to get into the water with or without fins, mask and snorkel. We were given an hour with the sharks, but only because we paid extra — regular tickets only give you 30 minutes of swim time.

It was moderately busy while we were there, and even though it wasn’t packed, it was somewhat crowded. However, I didn’t notice that so much once we were in the water with the sharks. We were free to swim wherever we wanted, provided that we obeyed the aforementioned rules. And that’s exactly what we did — swim from shark to shark, watch all that was going on, and try to get some decent pics. The sharks primarily stayed at the surface, close to the boats that were feeding them. They seemed fairly oblivious to our presence and only reacted if they were accidentally touched.

So — is the Oslob shark-feed a good thing, or a bad thing? Personally, I think it’s a mixture of both. I can see a few potential problems resulting from these sharks seeing boats and people as a source of food.  While the boats operating around this activity are paddle boats only, the sharks could possibly approach propeller boats expecting to be fed by them too. This is speculation since that hasn’t been known to happen, but it is still a possible concern.

On the positive side, on our snorkel with the Oslob whale sharks, what we observed was a far cry from the horrors we’d seen spelled out in other articles over the last couple of years. All-in-all, it was a peaceful experience that allowed a number of people the opportunity to see these gentle giants firsthand, and to gain a new respect for them. While I would prefer to see the sharks without baiting, many people don’t have the opportunity to do so, and this experience offers them an inexpensive way to see these majestic sharks up close. And as long as the sharks are a source of income for locals, they’re worth far more alive than dead, and not seen as competition for a limited food source.  My hope is that perhaps a few participants in this activity come away with a new respect for protecting ocean critters, sharks in particular. As for the controversy, you must decide for yourself whether or not you’d snorkel with the Oslob whale sharks — after all, that’s why we went.

 

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Tags: whale shark, whale sharks at Oslob, diving with whale sharks, diving with sharks

Avoiding Dry Mouth When Diving

Posted by Ericka Villa on Mon, Mar 07, 2016 @ 10:57 AM

Most scuba divers have experienced dry mouth; for some it’s common and for everyone it’s unpleasant. What’s the best way to avoid this unwelcome side effect of scuba diving?

Suffering from a dry mouth when diving is primarily the result of mouth-breathing dry, compressed air; water vapor, which usually moisturizes our breath, is removed when air is compressed into scuba cylinders. Divers using full-face masks get a reprieve because they can breathe through both the nose and the mouth. As a result, the air inside the mask is a bit warmer, but still dry and compressed. Some claim that breathing nitrox prevents dry mouth, but the air is still cold and dry. Rebreather divers have the biggest advantage since the chemical reaction that removes the carbon dioxide from the diver’s exhaled breath warms and humidifies the air.

How to prevent dry mouth when diving

Beyond the characteristics and distinctions between diving equipment, proper hydration is the first step in preventing dry mouth when diving. This may be an easy solution for most divers, as good hydration is already one of the best practices for diving. The challenge when it comes to preventing dry mouth is to be well hydrated not only while diving but also days in advance. As a reminder, ample fluids are needed to replace fluid loss from breathing dry gases and immersion diuresis. Fluids are also necessary to support bodily functions that help regulate body temperature, prevent decompression sickness, fatigue and narcosis. On diving days, begin early in the day by drinking at least ½-liter of cold water two to three hours before diving and continue to drink one liter per hour throughout the day and during diving activities. Other ways to reduce fluid loss and help prevent dry mouth are to avoid caffeine from coffee and sodas, limit alcohol and marijuana, and avoid smoking and diving.

The most popular, simple solutions for relief from dry mouth include sucking on hard candies, chewing gum, eating fresh fruit (especially citrus) between dives, drinking fluids underwater, and rinsing the mouth with water or over-the-counter remedies and mouth sprays. Some of the most interesting home remedies are rinsing the mouth with coconut oil or water and pepper, such as cayenne and placing mint toothpaste on the regulator mouth piece. More involved but preferred by some divers are moisture-replenishment systems that integrate with hoses and regulator systems, which have built-in moisture-retention design. Maintaining a good level of physical fitness helps divers develop steady, relaxed breathing patterns that may reduce the frequency of inhaling and exhaling through the mouth, which result in increased loss of fluids and contribute to dry mouth.

Medical causes for dry mouth

Dry mouth, or xerostomia (zeer-o-STOE-me-uh) is often a side effect of medications or damage to the salivary glands from illness or treatments such as radiation therapy for cancer. Dry mouth is commonly associated with diabetes, which is prevalent in the diving community. It is also a precursor to bacterial, viral and fungal infections. If dry mouth persists it is important to follow up with a physician to determine the reason and resolve it before it leads to other conditions, such as tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath or loss of taste and appetite. Solutions for these causes of dry mouth may focus more on stimulating the salivary glands. Saliva helps neutralize acids, limit bacterial growth, rinse away food, and aids in swallowing and digestion. Using CPAP machines and exercising with the mouth open can also cause dry mouth, so make a conscious effort to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth to help prevent dry mouth when exercising.

 

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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/03/01/avoiding-dry-mouth-when-diving/

By: Gretchen M. Ashton

Tags: diving tips, scuba diving, scuba