Posted by Megan Denny at PADI
While tropical waters and coral reefs have their rightful place among must-visit dive spots, cold water destinations offer an amazing opportunity for divers, too. In fact, some of the world’s coolest climates have some of the most spectacular diving. Here’s what you need to know about planning your next dive trip to the brisk waters of New Zealand, Canada, or the U.K. and Ireland.
You’ll find a wide range of dive temperatures in New Zealand, from subtropical in the north to temperate in the south. You will need a passport and may need a visa to visit New Zealand, depending on your home country.
New Zealand is full of awesome dive sites, including Milford Sound, a fiord that has a freshwater layer on top of the seawater, which allows species typically seen in the deeps to live shallower. Look for black and red corals and spiny sea-dragons. Aramoana Mole is another great spot just a 30-minute drive from Dunedin, with beautiful marine life, exquisite sponge gardens and fascinating kelp forests – home to sea dragons.
Just a 40 minute ferry ride from West Vancouver, Canada you’ll find some of the most beautiful diving in the Pacific. The Sunshine Coast, named for the extra hours of sunshine they get each year, is an 80km / 50m emerald green wonderland.
Numerous islands and sheltered bays are home to shipwrecks, drift diving and Giant Pacific Octopus dens. Well-travelled divers will appreciate the Powell River Mermaid - a sister to the one found in Grand Cayman. Divers of all skill levels, and especially underwater photographers, will find something to write home about after a dive on The Sunshine Coast.
The waters that surround the United Kingdom and Ireland are bursting with opportunity for fearless cold water divers. Between the main land masses and hundreds of smaller islands, there are almost 24,000 kilometres/15,000 miles of coastline begging to be explored. With passport in hand, it’s easy to travel to one of the more than 270 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts located in the U.K. and Ireland.
The cool waters here are full of surprises, from tiny seahorses to gigantic basking sharks, but perhaps the biggest draw of braving the waters of the area is unparalleled access to many fantastic wrecks. With the area’s rich military history, you’ll be able to pick and choose the wrecks you’d like to discover. The Scapa Flow Historic Wreck Site is one of the best wreck locations to dive in the world.
There’s no need to be intimidated by cold water diving, especially if you have a quality dry suit to keep you warm. Learning how to dive with a dry suit gives you the key to longer dives and dive sites you wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit. Take the PADI Dry Suit Diver course to learn more.
Click any of the links in this post to read more detailed information on diving in New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, or dry suit diving in general. Visit scubaearth.com to view top-rated dive sites, photos and tips from other divers.
Last month I went on a liveaboard dive trip and saw my first hammerhead shark, followed by a barracuda tornado. I also saw some classic examples of scuba diving bad habits – from experienced divers no less!
Liveaboards typically attract hardcore divers, and the boat I chose was no exception. On average, the people on board had 300+ dives, but a few of these old salts made mistakes that even a brand new diver would consider a rookie move.
Bad Habit #1 – Skipping the buddy check
You ask your buddy, “You ready? Yeah? Let’s go diving.” Everything seems fine until you roll off the boat and discover you forgot your fins, your buddy’s tank is loose, or something even worse.
Forgoing a buddy check takes a shortcut on safety and increases the chance of having to solve a problem in the water. You can learn more about avoiding and adapting to problems in the PADI Rescue Diver course, but the best thing to do (as we teach during the Rescue course) is prevent problems before they begin with BWRAF .
Bad Habit #2 – Shooting fish butts
There were some very expensive camera rigs on board, but an expensive setup doesn’t guarantee good photos. Especially when the photographer doesn’t know underwater photo basics, or fails to practice good marine life etiquette.
I saw one diver with a top-of-the-line camera system taking a photo straight down over a coral head. I’m no photo pro, but I learned in the Digital Underwater Photography online course that shooting straight down on your subject tends to produce flat, uninteresting images. Perhaps it was an avant-garde shot.
I watched another diver race from one critter to the next – chasing off marine life as he went. The dive guides tried to counsel this diver, but he wouldn’t listen, “This is how I always dive” was his reply. I wondered how many pictures of fish butts he had… and how he ever found a dive buddy!
Bad Habit #3 – Not wearing the right exposure protection
Every time I show up at at a tropical dive destination, other divers laugh at me for wearing a 5mil wetsuit and a beanie cap in 28C/82F water. But by wearing the exposure protection that’s right for me, I never have to cut a dive short because I’m cold.
After a few years diving regularly in California I tried the PADI Drysuit Diver specialty and wondered, “why didn’t I do this sooner?” I imagine the cafe owners on Catalina Island wondered what ever happened to that girl who asked for cups of hot water to dump down her wetsuit.
#4 Wearing the incorrect amount of weight
Picture a brick, the kind used in home building. Imagine carrying it around with you all the time – taking it up stairs, trudging up a hill, etc. Having extra weight on board means your body has to work harder; your breathing will be heavier and so on.
When teaching the Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course, that brick weight is (on average) the amount I take off a diver’s weight belt. New divers often wear excess weight, and get used to carrying it around. But there’s a major downside – too much weight can lead to excess air consumption. The extra weight means the body has to work harder to push through the water, and on top of it many divers swim continuously to keep themselves buoyant. All that extra effort drains your tank faster than necessary.
Drop that brick and extend your dive time! Review your open water materials for how to do a buoyancy check, or ask your instructor about the Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course.
Bad Habit #5 – Neglecting gear service
Woe is the diver who pays half a month’s salary to go on the dive trip of a lifetime and has an equipment problem. When maintained properly, dive gear can last for years. Ask your local dive center about the Equipment Specialist course. You’ll get to know your gear and learn how to perform basic maintenance yourself. That said: some equipment service must be performed by a professional. Use the gear locker section of your ScubaEarthprofile to keep track of when your gear gets serviced.
You don’t need any super powers to be an ocean hero… in fact all you need is an innovative, results driven project. Entries are now open for this year’s Ocean Action Project, brought to you by our good friends at Project AWARE. The initiative is aimed to support a venture that needs some assistance to make a wave of difference.
If you have a project that is action-oriented and strategically addresses root causes of marine debris or shark and/or ray protection issues, now’s your chance to make your project a realty. Check out the winners from last year
Getting involved is easy:
1. Check out the guidelines and make sure your project is suitable to qualify
2. Fill in the application form and apply before October 31st
3. Ensure your project is competitive – once finalists are chosen voting will open for the public
If you know someone who is working on something special to save our marine environment then please invite them to apply. Stay tuned for some exciting action-oriented projects that you can vote for in November.
The next time you’re checking in for a dive, when other divers pull out their Advanced Open Water card or Deep Diver card, how’d you like to flash an Underwater Model certification card? If you’re looking for a unique scuba diving adventure, ask your PADI Instructor what distinctive specialties he or she teaches.
Individual PADI instructors can teach (with PADI’s approval) their own “distinctive” specialty courses. The course can be specific to an area such as Lava Tube Diver, or a particular line of work – Underwater Model, Helicopter Diver, etc.
If you have an inner marine biologist, consider taking one or more of Project AWARE’s distinctive specialties: Shark Conservation, Sea Turtle and/or Whale Shark Awareness. Read one diver’s experience earning his Manta Ray Distinctive Specialty.
If you’re working towards your Master Scuba Diver rating, distinctive specialties count toward the five you need for this prestigious rating. Learn more about becoming a PADI Master Scuba Diver.
PADI Instructors have developed some creative distinctive specialties over the years. Below are a few of our favorites from the archives. One of them in the list below is made up. Can you guess which one? Scroll down for the answer.
PADI’s Most Distinct Distinctive Specialties
Lava Tube Diver
Available Light Underwater Photo
Golf Ball Diver
Future Perfect Diver
Railroad Yard Diver
Sand Pit Diving
Underwater Game Player
Underwater Basket Weaving
Can you guess which of the specialties in the list above is one we made up? If you guessed Underwater Basket Weaving – nope, that one’s real! Read about a Boy Scout Troop’s recent underwater basket weaving adventure. The distinctive specialty that ISN’T real is:Underwater Rock Identification.
Throughout the year we share our favorite scuba diving videos from YouTube and Vimeo. Below are our favorites so far from 2013 (in no particular order). To follow our future picks, subscribe to our Scuba Diving Video of the Week Playlist on YouTube.
The videos above are a small sample of the great scuba diving videos we’ve seen this year. Check out thecomplete list of our video of the week picks to see a cenote sidemount video, a unique beach clean-up video, some great travel videos for Baja and the West Pacific and tons more. You can also subscribe to our Video of the Week playlist on YouTube.
Got a great scuba diving video? Share it on PADI’s Facebook page by posting it to our timeline. We look for videos that show an interesting perspective on the underwater world, have a professional look, and/or tell a great story. Another way to get our attention: a video with lots of likes from other PADI fans!
We all enjoy diving with our buddies, even the one that is always late or forgetting vital bits of kit. ScubaEarth enables us to share our dives and pictures with our buddies.
Finding your existing buddies is easy if they are registered on ScubaEarth (why not get them to sign up if they’re not!)
Simply Buddy Search
The quickest way to find your buddies is simple use the search box, just start typing and like Google it should give you a drop down list of options.
To many Trevors? Surely not. But just in case the name you are searching for is very popular then why not try out the Advanced Search function.
With Advanced Search you can perform much more detailed searches. Met someone on a dive trip but can’t remember their full name, but know they live in Berlin? No problem just do a search on Firstname and add Berlin to the city box and select Germany from the drop down.
Its a simple way of finding your dive Buddies on ScubaEarth.
Finding New Buddies
Looking for new dive buddies? The great thing about ScubaEarth is that you can not just log dives, but you can check out dive sites and divers who have logged dives there. Maybe its a your local dive spot, check it out on ScubaEarth and look for the Recent Diver box in the sidebar anyone who has logged a dive on the site recently will appear. Perfect to find new dive buddies and grow the scene in your local area.
What are you waiting for check out ScubaEarth now.
|This giant and elusive Pacific leatherback parked itself next to the Sanctuary Cruises whale watching vessel on June 16, 2013, within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and within its new critical habitat feeding area. Photo credit: Giancarlo Thomae/Sanctuary Cruises|
The leatherback sea turtle swims more than 6,500 miles to feed on jellies off the California coast, although it does not land on our beaches. This 100-million-year-old species outlived the dinosaurs but its population has declined by approximately 90 percent in the last 25 years.Weighing up to 2,000 pounds, leatherbacks are the largest turtles in the world. Learn more about leatherbacks.
Seaturtles.org manages the Leatherback Watch Program. Read their press release about the first sighting of the year.
Keep an eye out for leatherback sea turtles in our coastal waters and look forward to the annual Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day on October 15.
Austria’s storybook mountain scenery could make even the most outdoors-averse person want to get outside and maybe even spin around in a wildflower-dotted meadow. With the abundant high-altitude hiking opportunities in the country, it might come as a surprise that one of Austria’s most beautiful hiking spots is actually in – that’s right, in – a lake.
Or, at least it is for part of the year. Grüner See (Green Lake), located near the town of Tragoess in Styria , is nestled within the spectacular Hochschwab mountains, and its situation creates a unique phenomenon. During the winter, the lake is shallow, at a depth of only about one to two meters (three to six feet). But in the spring and summer, as the snow and ice melt and run down from the surrounding karst peaks, the lake fills with brilliant green water, to a depth of ten meters (30 feet) or more.
The walking paths and roads that are used for strolling and driving during the winter and fall become submerged, along with all the benches and nearby plants, providing a weird, wonderful and otherworldly experience for divers. It’s a great opportunity for divers of all levels to experience a truly unique phenomenon, as well as revel in the beauty of the area. While there’s not a lot of life beneath the lake’s surface, divers might see some trout and small crustaceans.
Responsible divers know how to respond to emergencies – just in case. Statistics show you’re more likely to give first aid to someone you know than a stranger. When minutes count, you’ll be the person to give the necessary aid to a family member, dive buddy or co-workers, before Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrive.
The Emergency First Response (EFR) Primary and Secondary Care course is an accredited CPR and First Aid program that helps divers advance their knowledge, providing the skills they need to potentially save a life. The course is not limited to scuba divers, and is available from your local PADI Dive Center or Instructor.
The course builds the confidence and skills needed to provide basic emergency care. You won’t just watch a video, you’ll get hands on practice with a CPR mannequin, simulate bandaging, role play an emergency scenario and other skills. Just as with your PADI scuba courses, you’ll get to practice each skill until you feel comfortable.
While the material taught in this course is serious, it’s taught in a positive, upbeat environment. Here’s what you’ll learn:
• BLS (Basic Life Support) CPR and rescue breathing at the layperson level
• AED (automated external defibrillator) use (optional)
• Preventing and caring for shock
• Spinal injury management
• Use of barriers to reduce disease transmission risk
• Basic first aid and first aid kit considerations
• A Care for Children course is also available.
After you complete the program, you’ll have the skills necessary to help others should it be necessary. By inviting friends or family members to sign up with you, those you care about the most will be better prepared in case of an unexpected emergency. Call us for our next Emergency First Response class.
A dog trees an octopus, fish dance in the sky like sparrows, a giant lionfish glides through the city – this is the vision of Creative Director Carlo Giordanetti. Check out his amazing video (which happens to be a one minute ad for Swatch’s Scuba Libre watch). It was too cool not to share.
By Lana Sorrell, EMT, and Nick Bird, M.D., MMM
Oxygen accounts for 21 percent of the air we breathe and is critical for our survival. When we inhale, oxygen enters alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs, where it crosses a thin membrane into the capillaries and binds to the hemoglobin of red blood cells. The blood then transports oxygen to the rest of the body. Administering oxygen is essential first aid for people experiencing symptoms of decompression illness (DCI). Dive-accident victims benefit from the use of oxygen in two fundamental ways. First, breathing pure oxygen speeds the washout or elimination of inert gas (i.e., nitrogen and, for trimix divers, helium). Second, areas of the body with reduced oxygen supplies due to compromised blood flow may receive enough oxygen to minimize or prevent tissue injury.
A helpful concept for better understanding the use of oxygen in diving and dive emergencies is partial pressure. The partial pressure of a gas is the fraction of that particular gas in a gas mix multiplied by the ambient pressure. At sea level — which is 1 atmosphere absolute (ATA) of pressure — the oxygen partial pressure (PO2) of air is 0.21 (21 percent oxygen x 1 ATA), and the PO2 of 100 percent oxygen is 1.0. At a depth of 66 feet (3 ATA), the PO2 of air is 0.63 (21 percent oxygen x 3 ATA), and the PO2 of 100 percent oxygen is 3.0. A PO2 that is either too low or too high can be dangerous to humans. Loss of consciousness due to hypoxia is likely at a PO2 below about 0.16. A PO2 in excess of about 1.5 puts a diver at risk of central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity, which can lead to convulsions and drowning.
Devices used to deliver oxygen include demand valves, nonrebreather masks (NRBs), bag-valve masks, manually triggered ventilators and nasal cannulas. A demand valve is similar to a second-stage scuba regulator in that it delivers gas only when the patient inhales. With a well-sealed mask, a demand valve can deliver about 95 percent oxygen. It is designed for conscious, alert patients whose respirations are strong enough to engage the flow of oxygen.
Nonrebreather masks provide a constant high flow of oxygen. The flow rate of an NRB is manually adjustable, and the rate is usually set between 10 and 15 liters per minute. A high flow rate does not necessarily equate to more effective treatment, however. To avoid wasting oxygen, set the flow rate just high enough to prevent the reservoir bag from collapsing fully when the patient inhales. Take care to ensure the mask maintains a good seal for as long as it’s used.
Bag-valve masks and manually triggered ventilators are used to administer positive-pressure ventilations of oxygen to people who are not breathing on their own. Caregivers accomplish this with a bag-valve mask by squeezing a gas reservoir bag and with a manually triggered ventilator by pressing a button that delivers a safe volume of gas.
Nasal cannulas consist of two small plastic prongs that fit into the nostrils and continuously blow oxygen. Inspired fractions of oxygen are elevated only minimally compared to breathing air, so this method of oxygen administration provides little therapeutic benefit to injured divers.
Callers often ask DAN® if they should administer oxygen to a diver who reported a rapid ascent but has no symptoms. There is no simple or one-size-fits-all answer to this. Factors to consider include the diver’s decompression stress (missed mandatory decompression, significantly deep or long dives or many dives in a series) as well as the true speed of the ascent and the distance to definitive medical care.
Giving people oxygen is not harmful, but providing it purely as a preventive measure raises difficult questions about how long to administer it, the goal of treatment and in what circumstances a medical evaluation is warranted. Consider the available supply, and recognize that by initiating oxygen administration you have acknowledged that an incident has or is likely to occur. The patient should not do any more diving that day and should be monitored for 24 hours. DAN is available for consultation in these situations.
Divers also ask DAN if they should set the flow rate lower than 10 to 15 liters per minute to make a limited supply of oxygen last longer. This is a reasonable question, but remember why oxygen therapy is used for divers: The goal is to create a partial pressure gradient to promote the elimination of inert gas (nitrogen). The way to achieve this goal is to deliver the highest concentration of oxygen possible. Therefore, the priority should be to administer oxygen at the maximum possible concentration until you transfer care or supplies run out.
From time to time DAN receives calls from concerned dive buddies who are hesitant to administer oxygen to a diver who might have experienced CNS oxygen toxicity at depth. However, once a diver is on the surface, there is no reason to withhold oxygen. Even if the symptoms noted at depth were actually the result of CNS toxicity, administering oxygen is still recommended, and it will not harm the diver.
Some people mistakenly believe that if a diver is breathing oxygen from a cylinder at surface pressure, air breaks should be used to prevent CNS oxygen toxicity. As well intentioned as that may be, no air breaks are necessary; oxygen should be provided without interruption. Air breaks are employed during some hyperbaric-chamber treatments to minimize the risk of CNS toxicity. However, such breaks are not necessary for divers treated at the surface because CNS toxicity is not a concern when the maximum PO2 is 1 ATA.
Breathing pure oxygen can irritate the lungs (pulmonary oxygen toxicity), but at sea level pulmonary toxicity (often manifested by chest discomfort or a burning sensation in the lungs) requires 12 to 16 hours of continuous therapy. While this timeline may be shortened when the PO2 is greater than 1, such symptoms are rare, and oxygen administration should not be withheld or arbitrarily stopped in an attempt to prevent symptoms that take many hours to present.
Emergency oxygen administration remains the cornerstone of treatment for acute DCI. By keeping your oxygen unit in good working order and practicing deployment and administration regularly, you will be prepared to provide effective care. Remember, the person in need may be you.
© Alert Diver — Fall 2012