South Africa’s Gordon’s Bay, Philippine’s Southeast Bohol, Norway’s Lofoten, Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Underwater comms, The Future of Diving, Task Fixation, Gear Reviews, Sea Lions. Wrecks, Sharks, Whales…
Main features in this issue include:
Recently, while visiting a photo exhibit, I overheard those familiar magic words, “Wow! Lucky shot!” coming from a couple standing next to me. This immediately caused me to fade away, drifting into my dream state, while contemplating that statement.
Luck and chance encounters play heavily into our underwater encounters especially as new divers. As we continue to dive, we also continue to gain experience and knowledge of our new oceanic surroundings, becoming more comfortable and curious.
Former contestant on the Discovery Channel’s reality series Naked and Afraid, wildlife biologist and HECS Aquatic Ambassador Forrest Galante has recently completed a wildlife documentary about diving with American crocodiles.
Are large reptile dives the new adrenalin dive? With the explosion of big animal dives, such as shark and whale dives, one would think that alligators and crocodiles are the next big thing, but Galante is quick to caution people about the future of these dives.
Gordon’s Bay is a sleepy seaside village in South Africa, nestled in the northeastern corner of False Bay, where the majestic Hottentots Holland mountain range dips its toes into the ocean. A quick 50-minute drive from Cape Town, Gordon’s Bay is surrounded by mountains and natural vegetation and the vibrant beauty of the countryside is mirrored beneath the waves.
Most of the dive sites run parallel to the rugged coastline that stretches along the eastern coast of False Bay. The many dive sites offer something for every diver—from shallow reefs and kelp forests to deeper, craggy reefs with incredible topography.
Lofoten in northern Norway is renowned for spectacular scenery and stunning natural beauty—and it doesn’t stop at the surface! Clear water, huge kelp forests with lots of marine life, great wreck diving and anemone-covered walls which rival any tropical coral reef… What more could you ask for?
Lofoten is one of those annoying places where you can get in the water pretty much anywhere and still have a good dive. This makes it more important than ever to have good, local support, because good isn’t good enough up here—you want to get to the really amazing and spectacular dive spots!
In 1977, a year after I got certified, Soundwave Systems launched the “Wetphone,” a voice-activated underwater communications device that promised to revolutionize sports diving, making it a “silent world” no more. I added it to my wish list along with a Watergill At-Pac, the forerunner of modern-day wings, and an SAS drysuit. Soundwave filed for bankruptcy a few years later.
Today—nearly 40 years later—communication systems have become standard kit for commercial, military, law enforcement, public safety, aquarium and scientific divers and videographers, but they remain a niche product for recreational and technical divers.
Mexico has much to offer the traveling diver. The Yucatán Peninsula and Cozumel Island are close to each other and are a perfect combination for a dive trip. While Cozumel has the largest reef in the northern hemisphere, the Yucatán Peninsula has some of the best cavern and cave diving in the world, many of which are found in the Riviera Maya district located on the coast.
To explore both the mainland and the island, you can fly into Cancun. From there, it is a 65km (41mi) drive to Playa del Carmen. From here, you can take a 45-minute ferry over to Cozumel.
Serious underwater photographers travel with large cameras in huge housings. They also need different lenses, ports, lighting and other accessories. As housings for small point-and-shoot cameras became accessible, underwater photography became very popular. In the past, these cameras had many limitations. Small sensor size and slow auto-focus were drawbacks.
This compact camera is only 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 inches and weighs 10.55oz. The camera has a large 1-inch CMOS sensor that produces a huge 20.1-megapixel image. Because of the processor, image quality is outstanding and low light performance is excellent, with low noise levels.
An avid diver since 2009, American artist Shayna Leib creates stunning glass sculptures that capture the dynamic movement and sublime beauty of wind and wave action upon water and reef life. X-Ray Mag interviewed the artist to find out more about her artwork and perspectives.
"Artists see and experience the world differently. And with their work, they lend the audience their eyes. I can think of nothing more important in the world than expanding one’s reality and seeing things from another perspective."
— Shayna Leib
When divers on a technical dives becomes task-fixated, critical cues that warn divers that their broader attention is needed can be missed. Psychologist and technical diver, Matt Jevon, discusses the effects and dangers of flow and task fixation in diving.
Recently, while working my day job, I was at Heathrow Airport in London for three days to work with a group of very talented executives who ran a successful multinational company.
Keep an eye out for these behavior cues to make sure you are in place for the best interactions on your next sea lion dive.
Diving with sea lions is the ocean equivalent to playing with a friendly dog at the park. The pinnipeds are full of energy… or lazily dozing off in the sun. They will bark, swim around in speedy arcs, play with toys, and even perform acrobatic moves that make you think it’s a private show.
At the end of my article in the previous issue, I referred to the fact that developing technologies, expanding markets and customers with different backgrounds and expectations have presented diver training agencies with challenges as well as opportunities. One major challenge has been to adapt training programmes to a changing world, while endeavouring to maintain the structures and paradigms that have been in place for over 50 years.
— This is the second piece in a two-part article, adapted from a chapter in my book, Scuba Professional – Insights into Sport Diver Training and Operations.
Tap, tap, tap! Our dive guide was rapping on his tank with such enthusiasm that I knew he had found something truly special. I had been searching in the muck for over an hour in hopes of finding octopus, but so far, had come up empty. As I swam over to where he was hovering, you could see the broad smile on his face as he pointed to his slate.
I had never seen a blue-ringed octopus before, and as I tried to control my excitement and ready my camera, the guide pointed with his reef stick at a lump in the sand.
The sinking of USS LST 349, which was heading to Naples from Anzio, Italy, occurred in February 1944. It happened during a severe storm, in which turbulent seas pushed the ship against the cliffs at Punta Papa on Ponza Island. Even though the people of Ponza made a great effort in the rescue operations, the death toll was heavy.
The tank landing ship (also called LST or Landing Ship, Tank) used by the United States during WWII, had a flat bottom, a length of about 97m and a width of around 15m. The LST 349 was launched in Virginia on 7 February 1943.