December 08, 2012

10 New Rules of Scuba Diving

Recreational diving is still a relatively young sport. Created in the 1950s, it gained acceptance in the '60s and '70s, boomed in the '80s and took great technological leaps in the '90s. So there's a good chance that not everything you learned in your open-water class still applies. New research and equipment have made diving safer and more enjoyable than ever—if you know the new rules.

1. Reverse Dive Profiles Are OK
 New Rule: It is permissible to dive deeper on your second dive than on your first, and to dive deeper on the later part of a dive than on the early part.

Old Rule: Until this year, all divers have been taught to go to their greatest planned depth early in the dive and then gradually work upward in a regular "stair-step" pattern. Similarly, they've been told to make the deepest dive of the day the first one. The rationale was that the shallower depths later provided decompression for the preceding greater depths.

Reason for the Change: Dive computers. Because computers can track your depth and time constantly and are pretty good at math, it's possible to know your nitrogen exposure accurately regardless of your profile. Tables, by contrast, can account for only your greatest depth, and this crude approximation of nitrogen exposure still mandates a conservative approach.

Exceptions to the Rule: Obviously, divers using only tables must still follow the old rules. And even when using a computer it's still smart to dive deeper first. Ascending profiles give you more bottom time and a greater margin of safety against DCS.

2. Lower Minimum Age
New Rule: The Recreational Scuba Training Council, which sets many industry standards, dropped its minimum age requirement for junior certification near the end of 1999. As a result, PADI, SDI, SSI and NASDS (which has merged with SSI) have dropped their minimum age requirements for junior certification to 10. SSI has a pool-only "Scuba Ranger" program for 8- to 12-year-olds. NAUI and YMCA are retaining the age-12 minimum, at least for now.

Old Rule: Minimum age for junior certification was 12. (Junior certification requires supervision by a fully certified adult.)

Reason for the Change: To promote the sport. Lots of baby-boomer divers have kids, and the growing popularity of resort diving meant a market for family dive vacations. "The future of diving will be determined by kids," says Bret Gilliam, president of SDI, the first agency to lower the age. "It's a great step forward to recognize the family unit as key to our sport's growth."

Exceptions to the Rule: It's still up to the instructor to decide whether a child is mature enough to dive. Being 10 does not create a right to be certified. 

The new junior certifications typically have various restrictions. In PADI, kids are limited to 20 feet in confined water first, then 40 feet in open water. Juniors must be accompanied by an agency-affiliated instructor, a certified parent or another certified adult. Check specific agencies for their rules.
3. Universal Referrals
New Rule: Getting certified? Beginning in 1998, you could take classroom and pool sessions in your hometown from an instructor with Agency "A," then fly to warm water for open-water sessions under an instructor with Agency "B"—as long as the agencies had agreements to recognize each other's standards and instructors. This means you can choose from many more warm-water resorts for your open-water sessions.

Old Rule: Classroom, pool work and open-water dives all had to be with the same training agency. If you wanted to do the open-water dives in the tropics, you had to pick a resort with an instructor affiliated with the same agency.

Reason for the Change: Customer convenience. Smaller agencies with few instructors in place at resorts found it necessary to band together to offer greater options—especially when certification standards are virtually identical.

Exceptions to the Rule: PADI. According to PADI, it issues 70 percent of all certifications. The agency still requires that all phases of your training be with PADI instructors.

4. Slower Ascent Rate
New Rule: Ascend no faster than 30 feet per minute—one foot every two seconds.

Old Rule: The usual rate was 60 feet per minute until the U.S. Navy adopted the 30-foot-per-minute rate in 1996 and training agencies followed suit.

Reason for the Change: Research. Navy studies found that a 30-foot-per-minute rate resulted in fewer cases of DCS than the older 60-foot-per-minute rate. A slow ascent is really a rolling decompression stop, allowing your body to flush out and exhale dissolved nitrogen before it forms bubbles.

Exceptions to the Rule: The 30-foot-per-minute rate may not always be practical for the whole ascent, especially when you are deep and low on air or approaching hypothermia. In that case a faster rate, up to 60 feet per minute, is acceptable, but for the final 60 feet of your ascent, you should slow to 30 feet per minute.
5. The Safety Stop
New Rule: Make a safety stop at the end of dives. That means you should pause at about 15 feet for a minimum of three to five minutes before your final ascent to the surface. Some experts recommend safety stops as long as 10 to 15 minutes under certain conditions.

Old Rule: Make a what? Safety stops were not taught prior to the mid-1980s.

Reason for the Change: More research. The new rule recognizes that all dives are decompression dives, and that DCS can and does occur even when you've stayed within so-called "no-decompression limits." Studies clearly show that pausing at about 15 feet allows you to offgas nitrogen before ascending through the zone of greatest pressure change, near the surface. Nitrogen that hasn't been eliminated can bubble out of tissues rapidly during the last part of the ascent, causing DCS.

There are other safety reasons for the stop. The air in your BC and the bubbles in your wetsuit also expand rapidly during the last 15 feet and may cause you to become significantly positive without realizing it. Stopping gives you a chance to adjust your buoyancy so you don't lose control of your ascent. Safety stops also allow you to survey surface conditions and boat traffic before surfacing.

Exceptions to the Rule: You needn't stay at exactly 15 feet, especially if you're elbowing a crowd of other divers. Anywhere between 10 and 20 feet is fine. And although three to five minutes is a good minimum, longer, deeper dives call for longer safety stops.

6. Neutrally Buoyant Ascents
New Rule: Become neutrally buoyant before beginning your ascent and maintain neutral buoyancy throughout.

Old Rule: Dump all air so you are negative before beginning your ascent and fin upward against negative buoyancy.

Reason for the Change: The old rule was designed to prevent runaway ascents. But Navy studies revealed that the strain of finning hard while ascending sometimes causes divers to hold their breath. Also, it can lead to air trapping in the lungs. Both present embolism risks. The change also reflects greater confidence in modern BCs, particularly their dump valves.

Exceptions to the Rule: In an ascent from very shallow depths, say 30 feet or less, it's OK to fin up against slight negative buoyancy. The risk of losing control because of rapid buoyancy changes in your BC and exposure suit, and the low stress in finning such a short distance, makes this the better bet.
7. No More Buddy Breathing
New Rule: In a no-air emergency, depend on a redundant system or your buddy's octopus, or make an independent emergency ascent. Do not attempt to "buddy breathe" from a single regulator unless you and your buddy have practiced it.

Old Rule:Before octos, ponies and devices like the "Spare Air" were common, divers were taught to pass one regulator back and forth while making a slow ascent.

Reason for the Change: Safety. Experience showed that unless both buddies had practiced buddy breathing and were skilled at it, the attempt was likely to injure both divers, not just one.

Typically, buddy breathing divers become so absorbed in passing the regulator that they neglect to control their buoyancy, and a too-rapid ascent with embolism could result. Or the diver who has passed the regulator holds his breath instead of exhaling slowly, also an embolism risk.

If you are out of air and neither you nor your buddy has a backup system, your best move is to make an emergency swimming ascent: swimming to the surface while keeping your throat open by slowly exhaling.
8. The Buddy System
Every training agency is emphatic on the need to always dive with a buddy. Yet solo diving has long been common, particularly among underwater photographers. Experience, and incomplete statistics, don't indicate that solo diving is more dangerous than buddy diving, and some divers argue that solo diving is actually safer.
9. The Snorkel
Most of us were taught that a snorkel is mandatory gear on every dive, just like a pair of fins. But increasingly, divers are leaving the snorkel in the gear bag much of the time.

Why? They've come to the conclusion that a snorkel, when attached to your mask, is more often a hazard than a help. The long tube—dangling from its midpoint so the hook-like gizmos at the ends can wander around—is pretty effective at catching kelp, fishing line and camera straps. And, given the importance of your mask, your mask strap is about the worst place to mount it or anything else.

Many divers now save the snorkel for special occasions, like a long surface swim from their entry point to the dive site, and carry it in a pocket or strapped to their body.
10. The Dive Computer
The dive computer is probably the most important safety advance in the sport. Much more important than a snorkel, and arguably more important than an octopus, a dive computer may well be considered mandatory equipment before long. SDI already incorporates dive computers into student training from the outset. "Virtually all divers now use dive computers to make diving safer and more enjoyable. Why not establish that practice from the beginning?" says CEO Bret Gilliam. "Dive tables have simply been supplanted by advances in technology."

6 Secrets of Buoyancy Control

Fotografía hecha en Playa del Carmen, México, ...
On one hand, divemasters constantly urge us to look for the detail in the reef, the small critters like the blennies and the cleaner shrimp which may be no more than an inch long. That implies getting really "up close and personal" with the reef.

On the other hand, the same divemasters constantly warn us, "Don't touch anything!" And there's the problem: It's fairly easy to get close without touching, by swimming forward gently. But backing up again without hammering the reef with your fins, your knees or your elbows can be difficult.

The close-up view is just another of life's many situations that are easier to get into than out of. Nevertheless, skilled underwater photographers (and skilled sightseers too) are able, time and again, to get their masks within inches of a delicate soft coral and retreat without doing harm. What's the secret?

There are many tricks, but pinpoint buoyancy control is the fundamental skill. Precise control of your buoyancy is what enables you to hover completely motionless, then back out of the area without using your hands at all.

You can back out by simply ascending if you've approached from above, with your head well below your fins. And you can ascend without adding air to your BC by controlling your breathing. In fact, you'll improve your buoyancy control by using your BC less, not more.

At first glance, buoyancy control looks like a simple matter of balancing the downward force of your ballast weights against the upward force of your BC inflation. When the two cancel out, you're neutral and can hover in the water. Since the weight on your belt doesn't change after you enter the water, it seems as though you have only one variable to contend with: the upward thrust of your BC. It sounds easy, so why isn't it?

In fact, pinpoint buoyancy control requires getting at least six things right. There's good news, though: Once you get all six variables dialed in, it's easy.

The six factors that affect your buoyancy are your ballast weight and your BC inflation, of course, and also your trim, your exposure suit buoyancy, your depth and your breath control. Your ballast weight and your trim are the only two factors that, once you've selected them, stay put. All the others are variables, changing during the dive along with time or depth or both. Some you can control, some you can't. Buoyancy control isn't as easy as it looks.
Ballast Weight
The ballast weight you carry doesn't change during a dive, but it's often the biggest problem. Many if not most divers are overweighted, carrying more lead than they need. That makes buoyancy control more difficult because every extra pound of lead has to be balanced with an extra pound of buoyancy. To displace a pound of water and balance the pound of lead requires an air bubble in the BC of about one pint in volume.

But because an air bubble expands and contracts with depth changes, you have to be constantly adding or subtracting air from the bubble to keep its volume at one pint. Five extra pounds, which is not uncommon, means a five-pint bubble that grows and shrinks five times as much with depth changes and needs five times as much adjustment in order for you to maintain neutral buoyancy. So extra lead means extra thrust up or down when you change depth, and requires extra fiddling with your BC valve controls. Sometimes it means nearly constant fiddling.

Most dive instructors agree that overweighting is a common problem, and a few admit that it's their fault. The instructor is worried about embolizing his students, and he overweights his students for the same reason your dad put training wheels on your first bike. Like the training wheels, the extra weight has to come off before you can graduate from the novice stage. Unfortunately, once you complete your checkout dives, your dive instructor typically moves on to other students. You have to take off the training wheels yourself.

The first step is to just do it--take off two pounds before your next dive. Can't get below the surface? Before you reach for the lead again, make sure you really need it. Getting below the surface, especially on the first dive of the day, can be surprisingly difficult and can trick you into carrying more lead than you really need. Here are a few tips:

Be patient. The plush lining of a dry wetsuit can trap a surprising amount of air, and therefore buoyancy, in its fibers, and it takes a minute or so to get fully wet.

Reach up. Hold the inflator hose over your head and stretch it upward a little so its attachment point to your BC is highest. At the same time, says Linda Van Velson, a PADI course director, "dip your right shoulder and squeeze the BC against your chest with your right arm." This maneuver encourages the last few bubbles to find the exit.

Rock backward a little. Many BCs trap a bubble of air just behind your head. Rocking backward as if you are in a La-Z-Boy recliner moves the exhaust hose over the bubble and lets it escape.

Relax. Many of us move our hands and feet more than we realize, especially at the beginning of the dive. It's nerves: Without realizing it, your body is trying to climb out of the water. That generates upward thrust, making you seem lighter than you are. To counteract that, hold your right arm still at your side (your left is holding up your exhaust hose), extend your legs and point your fins straight down so they have the least resistance to sinking.

Exhale. Another manifestation of nervousness is a tendency to hold your breath, and a lungful of air adds as much as 10 pounds of buoyancy. Exhale and hold it until you start sinking, then take shallow inhales until you get below five feet.

Force it. Another option is to use your body weight to generate some downward momentum by lifting part of it out of the water, then letting it fall back. Lying on your face, jackknife your upper body downward, then lift one leg, then another, out of the water. The weight of your legs will drive you downward, and once your fins are in the water you can kick down.

What's the ideal amount of weight? With a nearly empty tank, say 500 psi, with lungs half full and with no air in your BC, you should be close to neutral at the surface--floating with the water at eye level, for example--and only slightly negative at your 15-foot safety stop. Some divers will be even lighter than that, so they're neutral at 15 feet. That makes them slightly positive as they ascend to the surface, but they can counter that by holding less air in their lungs and taking only shallow breaths. With a full tank, you should be about five pounds heavier, the weight of the other 2,500 psi of air. There are sometimes reasons to be heavier. When there is a lot of surge, some extra lead helps you stay glued to the bottom, for example. But in general, buoyancy control is easiest with the minimum amount of ballast weight.

Once you get close to the right amount of lead, you can fine-tune it at your safety stop when your tank is nearly empty and you don't have much else to do for three minutes anyway. Here's one way:
  • Carry your smallest weight, one or two pounds, loose in a pocket or clipped to a D-ring so you can take it off easily.
  • When you reach your safety stop with 500 psi left, hand it to your buddy temporarily or put it on the bottom if the water is shallow.
  • Now, try to get neutral again. Remember to keep your hands and fins as still as possible. Do the test next to the mooring rope for security if you want, but remember you can always overcome a pound or so of positive buoyancy by exhaling and kicking downward. When you're making adjustments so small, there's no reason to fear an uncontrolled ascent. If you can stay neutral at 15 feet without that small weight you took off, you don't need it, and your next dive will be easier without it.
  • Now retrieve your weight from your buddy and do the same favor for him.

The next variable to worry about is your trim--the position your body takes in the water when you're neutral and still. This matters for buoyancy because if your fins are lower than your body, kicking to go forward will also make you go up. It will seem that you've suddenly become buoyant, so you'll vent air from your BC. Then, when you stop kicking, you'll be too heavy and you'll sink.

In order for your kicking not to disrupt your buoyancy, your body needs to be trimmed so your legs are nearly horizontal and your fins push you only forward. Here's how to check your trim:

Once you are exactly neutral, hold your body absolutely still with your legs stretched out behind you. If your legs sink, you should move a little weight from your waist to a point higher on your body.
Tank Weight
Your scuba cylinder gets lighter as you dive and use up the air in it. The 80 cubic feet of air pumped into your full tank weighs almost exactly six pounds, and when you breathe it down to 500 psi, you've used up five pounds of that air, so the tank weighs five pounds less. That's a buoyancy shift that has to be countered by venting five pounds of buoyancy from your BC. And that explains why you have to start the dive five pounds heavy--so you have five pounds of buoyancy in your BC to lose and be neutral at the safety stop.

Fortunately, this weight loss and buoyancy gain is gradual. If a tank can last you 60 minutes, it gains only one pound in 10 minutes and you hardly notice it. Also, the tank's buoyancy gain is affected by depth only in the sense that you use up air faster when you are deeper. Because the tank is rigid, its buoyancy does not change immediately just by going 20 feet deeper or shallower.

So you will have to adjust for the tank's buoyancy change, but it won't take you by surprise. You probably won't notice any change until nearly halfway through the dive.

Incidentally, it's not true, as many divers believe, that you can escape this buoyancy gain by using a steel tank. Steel tanks are typically less buoyant than aluminum to begin with so they may end the dive slightly negative while an aluminum tank is positive. But 80 cubic feet of air weighs just as much in either tank, and the buoyancy gain when you use it up is just as much. Using a steel tank allows you to take a few pounds of weight off your belt, but you have to carry some or all of it in the tank itself, which is typically heavier.
Exposure Suit
Wetsuits float. There's no escaping the fact, because the same thing that makes neoprene warm makes it buoyant: the gas trapped in thousands of tiny bubbles. Their buoyancy (and warmth) varies, but, in general, a new men's wetsuit has two to three pounds of buoyancy for every millimeter of thickness. So a thin tropical suit might have less than two pounds of buoyancy at the surface while a thick cold-water suit might have 20 pounds or more.

It's tempting to minimize the neoprene to make buoyancy control easier. Some tropical divers wear no neoprene at all. But that might be a bad bet, because getting cold is fatiguing and increases your risk of decompression sickness.

The buoyancy of your wetsuit won't change noticeably from one dive to the next, but over time it does lose buoyancy because the thousands of tiny bubbles in the neoprene lose their resiliency and collapse or fill with water. At that point, the wetsuit has less buoyancy and less insulation than when new.

The good news here is that if you don't change depth, your wetsuit's buoyancy doesn't change either. Once you have your buoyancy dialed in for a given depth, you can forget it. More good news: The very thin wetsuit you'd wear in the tropics has so little buoyancy to begin with that you can pretty much ignore any changes with depth.
Whatever the surface buoyancy of your wetsuit, it will change dramatically with depth. Because pressure flattens those thousands of gas bubbles, your wetsuit gets thinner and displaces less water. In effect, it gets heavier. The change is not linear. You lose half of your surface buoyancy in the first 33 feet of your descent and a third in the next 33 feet. Below 66 feet, there's only one-sixth of the original buoyancy left to lose no matter how deep you go. The single larger bubble in your BC behaves the same way.

Buoyancy changes fastest in the first few feet below the surface--three times as fast at one foot as at 60 feet. That's why it's often hard to get submerged, but once you're down five feet or so, you seem to get heavier and sink easily.

Unlike the buoyancy change in your tank, this buoyancy shift is immediate and goes in both directions. When you ascend, you get back the buoyancy of your wetsuit and your BC instantly. So you have to be alert to buoyancy changes whenever you change depth, and especially when you ascend.
Breath Control
Your lungs are a natural buoyancy compensator with about 10 pounds of buoyant lift. A normal, resting breath expands your lungs by about one pint, giving you one pound more buoyancy. Breathing in and out, your buoyancy fluctuates within a range of about one pound. But you can place that one-pound fluctuation almost anywhere in the total 10-pound range. You can breathe from nearly full lungs and cycle between eight and nine pounds of buoyancy, for example, or you can breathe with nearly empty lungs and cycle between two and three pounds. So as long as you are nearly neutral with a half-breath, you can rise or fall at will just by controlling your lungs.
Putting It Together
Once you get your ballast weight and trim dialed in, you've come a long way toward perfect buoyancy control. Now you can fine-tune your BC inflation to compensate for the very predictable changes due to breathing down your tank and changing depth and use only breath control to drop gently down to that cleaner shrimp, hover inches above it as long as you want and lift away from it harmlessly. The divemaster will applaud.

December 05, 2012

Tips for Wreck Diving

Shipwrecks evoke feelings of nostalgia and awe in divers, but until you’ve dived one, it’s difficult to imagine. Here we take you step-by-step through the techniques you need for successful wreck diving.

#1 Be Prepared
Some wrecks are advanced dives, and dive operators will often make sure you're comfortable with deep dives and less-than-perfect conditions before they'll sign you up. An advanced-open-water certification or a logbook showing a recent history of similar dives will usually get you an OK. Some operators may require you to do a shallow-water reef trip as a checkout dive before allowing you to join an advanced wreck charter.  Whether the wreck is a fairly shallow and easy dive or a deeper, more advanced dive, pay attention to the dive briefing to make sure you understand the dive plan, find out about conditions on the wreck, etc. Discuss the dive plan with your buddy.

#2 Get In and Down
On deeper wrecks, dive operators sometimes use a combination of lines to get you from the stern of the dive boat to the deck of the shipwreck. A trail line has one end tied to the stern of the dive boat with about 50 feet of line tossed out behind the boat and a float attached to the other end. The current will carry the float out behind the boat so divers will have a line to hold onto when they jump in. A tag runs from the stern of the boat to the mooring line. There are two setup variations. The more common variation runs along the water's surface. The second, often used in rough conditions, is a weighted descent line on the stern of the dive boat with the tag line also attached to the weight and running to the mooring underwater. If a mooring line is used by the dive boat operator, use it. Hold it with one hand (if permitted, wearing gloves is a good idea). Stay with your buddy and go hand-over-hand down the mooring until you get to the wreck.

#3 Explore the Wreck
Take note of your starting point. This is where you’ll want to end your dive. If there’s current, determine its direction once you're on the wreck. You can actually use the current as a tool in many cases by turning your dive up current from your exit point. Also, stay close to the wreck – it’s a safety precaution, but it’s also the best place to see the macro creatures that have set up housekeeping on the superstructure.

#4 Photograph the Wreck
It usually takes a wide-angle lens to photograph an entire wreck. A strobe is also very important. While some ships are shallow enough to shoot in available light, with or without filters, and other wrecks might be captured with an available-light “establishing shot” from a distance to show the general profile of the vessel, the photos taken on deck should be lit by strobe.

#4 Make Your Ascent
Two factors should limit your wreck dives: the no decompression limit and your available air supply. Manage both using the rule of thirds. You should use a third of your available time limit or air — whichever comes first — to swim away from your exit point, a third to return to the exit point and a third for delays or emergencies. Once you make it back to your starting point, use any remaining time to explore around the mooring, keeping the mooring line clearly in sight until it's time to go up.

#5 Back to the Boat
Once you've completed your safety stop, surface and use the tag line to move to the dive boat's stern, or just let the current take you to the trail line. Once you grab the trail line, continue down current so you're out of the exit area, inflate your BC and wait for your turn to exit.

Please note:
Do not enter a shipwreck unless you have been properly trained in technical, full-penetration wreck diving. If you want to get started on this training, try an introductory wreck diving course. Look for an instructor experienced with the wrecks you will want to dive on, and try to take the course with the buddy you will dive with. Details between courses will vary, but they typically run two or three days, including three or four dives. Subjects include navigating outside a wreck and making a survey, pros and cons of artifact collecting, identifying and dealing with hazards, using lights, communicating with buddies and usually, at the end of the course, making a short penetration of the wreck. The tips here apply to diving on the external parts of sunken vessels. (

Diving Tips: Underwater Navigation

Do you often find yourself getting off track when making your way back to the boat or beach after your dive? Underwater navigation can seem difficult at first, but if you want to make getting back to the boat or beach as easy as getting in, follow these five helpful tips.

1. Get briefed.
Underwater navigation starts before you even get in the water. If you're not diving with a local operator, get a thorough site description — and a map, if possible — from a local dive shop or other divers. If you're diving with an operator, pay close attention to the divemaster's briefing. These briefings offer important information about the dive site's features, depth range and currents, which will help you and your buddy to create a dive plan. Be sure to discuss your profile and the time or air pressure at which you'll turn around, and then come up with a basic route.

2. Follow a leader.
Before you enter the water, one diver should be tapped as leader. There's no reason for both divers in a buddy pair to attempt to navigate on a dive. If you're leading, focus on your predetermined path. The diver not leading should monitor time, depth and distance.

3. Begin from the start. 
 When diving from a boat, enter the water and either surface swim to the mooring or anchor line and descend there. Or you can drop down behind the boat and swim underwater to the mooring or anchor. Always start your dive at the spot where the boat connects to the bottom. When diving from the beach, surface swim past the surf zone to the place you plan to begin your descent.

4. Find natural reference points.
 As soon as your head goes underwater, note natural references like sand patches, rock formations, pillar corals or brain corals or whatever. By making mental notes of natural features, you'll be able to use those markers to find your way back.

5. Time your dive.
While diving, swim away from your starting point for a predetermined length of time, and then when you turn around to head in, you should swim roughly the same length of time back the opposite direction. If there's current, head into it on the way out, so the return trip won't take as much time as the way out. Be sure to watch your air consumption. It's helpful to follow the rule of thirds: Use one-third of your air on the way out, one-third on the way back and leave one-third for exploring near the boat and making a safety stop.

December 04, 2012

2012 Top 100 Readers' Choice Awards

It stands to reason that the best underwater photo ops — whether you’re looking for macro weirdness, big animals or colorful reefs — are where the best diving is. A top-five vote-getter in seven of the 15 categories, Indonesia is indisputably one of the best ­destinations in the world. It’s not tough to imagine why: With more than 13,000 islands, Indonesia has an incredible diversity of photo opportunities for pro shooters and those just getting the bug: great macro in Lembeh Strait, breathtaking reefs in Raja Ampat, big animals in Manado, and even knock-your-fins-off rusted metal like Bali’s Liberty wreck.

2012 Top 100 Readers' Choice Awards - Pasific and Indian Ocean Region

Best Destination Overall (diving, topside adventure, nightlife, etc.)
1. Hawaii
2. Indonesia
3. TIE: Philippines and Thailand
5. Galapagos

Best Destination Overall For Diving
1. TIE: Philippines and Malaysia
3. Galapagos
4. Indonesia
5. French Polynesia

Best Marine Life
1. TIE: Maldives and Malaysia
3. Philippines
4. Thailand
5. Indonesia

Healthiest Marine Environment
1. TIE: Australia and Galapagos
3. Micronesia
4. Philippines
5. Malaysia

Best Big Animals
1. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
2. Galapagos
3. Maldives
4. French Polynesia
5. Hawaii

Best Macro
1. Indonesia
2. Philippines
3. Papua New Guinea
4. Malaysia
5. Micronesia

Best Wreck Diving
1. Truk, Micronesia
2. Oahu, Hawaii
3. Palau
4. Red Sea (Egypt)
5. Philippines

Best Wall Diving
1. Palau
2. Malaysia
3. Thailand
4. French Polynesia
5. Red Sea (Egypt)

Best Shore Diving
1. Red Sea (Egypt)
2. Philippines
3. Hawaii
4. Papua New Guinea
5. Indonesia

Best Beginner Diving
1. Maui, Hawaii
2. Red Sea (Egypt)
3. TIE: Australia, French Polynesia and Hawaii

Best Advanced Diving
1. Papua New Guinea
2. Galapagos
3. French Polynesia
4. Maldives
5. Indonesia

Best Underwater Photography
1. Indonesia
2. Maldives
3. Malaysia
4. Papua New Guinea
5. Thailand

Best Visibility
1. TIE: Maldives and Red Sea (Egypt)
3. French Polynesia
4. Thailand
5. Micronesia

Best Value
1. Malaysia
2. TIE: Australia and Thailand
4. Galapagos
5. Hawaii

Best Snorkeling
1. Australia
2. Malaysia
3. Red Sea (Egypt)
4. Thailand
5. Hawaii (Big Island)


Diving Tips: Saving Air

Do you breathe your tank down faster than your buddy? Here are 5 diving tips to help conserve your oxygen and extend your bottom time.

1. Fix the small leaks
Even a tiny stream of bubbles from an O-ring or an inflator swivel adds up over 40 minutes, and may be a sign of more serious trouble ahead anyway. A mask that doesn't seal is another kind of leak in that you have to constantly blow air into it to clear out the water. It's also a source of stress, which needlessly elevates your breathing rate and thereby reduces your breathing efficiency. Does your octo free-flow easily? That can dump a lot of air quickly. Detune it or mount it carefully so the mouthpiece points downward.

2. Dive More
Inexperienced divers are famous for burning through their air supply at a furious rate, so one of the best diving tips for saving air is to simply dive more often. You may not be a new diver, but unless you dive almost every week it's still an unnatural activity. By diving more, your body will get used to the idea, and you'll breathe less.

3. Swim Slowly
The energy cost of speed is even more than you might think:  Swim half as fast as you do now, and you'll use less air.

4. Stay Shallow
Because your regulator has to deliver air at the same pressure as the water, a lungful at 33 feet (two atmospheres) takes twice as much out of your tank as does the same breath at the surface. At 99 feet (four atmospheres) it takes twice as much as at 33 feet. There's absolutely nothing you can do about that except to avoid being deeper than you have to be. If you're making a transit over an uninteresting sand flat to get to the edge of the drop-off, do it at 15 feet instead of at 40 feet, and you'll save air.

5. Minimize the Lead
If you're overweighted, you have to put more air into your BC to float it and be neutral. The inflated BC is larger and requires more energy and oxygen to push it through the water. An extra eight pounds of lead means your BC is one gallon bigger when inflated enough to make you neutral. 


Diver Down Flag

You must have seen this little flag. In each boat diving is definitely attached flag. Now the picture is actually installed in the central office or at the dive services workers diving uniforms. If you are a fan of rock music Van Halen, in 1982 this band uses this logo on the cover of their album titled Diver Down.

What is the diving flag? Here's the explanation:

A diver down flag, or scuba flag, is a flag used on the water to indicate that there is a diver below. In North America it is conventionally red with a white stripe from the upper left corner to the lower right corner. Internationally, the code flag alfa/alpha, which is white and blue, is used to signal that the vessel has a diver down and other vessels should keep well clear at slow speed.

The purpose of the flags is to notify to any other boats to steer clear for the safety of the diver and to avert the possibility of a collision with the dive boat which may be unable maneuver out of the way.
The use of the red and white flag, which was designed and introduced in 1956 by Navy veteran Denzel James Dockery, is required by law or regulation in many US states and Canada, as well in several other countries in the world (e.g. Italy). Usually the regulations require divers to display the flag and to stay within a specified distance of it when they are near the surface. As well there is often a larger zone around the flag where no boats are allowed to pass. Some states also prohibit the display of this flag when there is no diver in water. It can be placed on a boat or on a surface marker buoy.

Signal flag ALFA/ALPHA
As a code signal the International maritime signal flags A (letter ALFA/ALPHA) has the meaning of "I have a diver down; keep well clear at slow speed", used to indicate the presence of a diver in the water, and is more commonly employed in Europe and the British Commonwealth, including countries such as United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and Kenya. It is also used by Russian Navy for the same purpose.

A rigid replica of the 'A' flag is required to be displayed by any vessel engaged in diving operations, when restricted in her ability to maneuver, if the size of the vessel makes it impractical to display the shapes and lights required by the International Rules for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (IRPCS) Rule 27.Although the presence of the 'A' flag may afford some protection for divers in the vicinity of the vessel displaying the flag, the intention of the rigid replica required by IRPCS Rule 27 (e) is to warn other vessels of the danger of collision. This marks a distinction between the 'A' flag and the red and white diver down flag
Other Use
Today the red and white flag is so strictly associated with scuba diving that it is also used to indicate a place where there are services for divers, for example stores selling or renting diving equipment or scuba service stations. It may be seen on the windows or bumpers of cars belonging to divers.

December 02, 2012

Undewater Statues, A New Attraction in Nusa Dua

Nusa Dua has a new attraction for tourists who want to snorkel or dive, with the addition of Balinese statues beneath the waves. This activity is part of a project to establish an underwater cultural park which is expected to be completed next year.
In recent months, the statues have been gradually installed at a depth of 11 meters, about 500 meters from the beach Samuh, Nusa Dua. Earlier this week, 28 more sculptures are installed in the same area with eight divers by boat navigation.
The statue, installed a statue of Balinese Kecak dancers including performances (traditional dance), and Rama and Sita, a character from the epic Ramayana. There will be 37 Kecak dancers, with each structure depicting two dancers. Pariama Hutasoit, director of Nusa Dua Reef Foundation, who initiated the project, said the underwater cultural park will consist of a total of 74 structures that form a single unit. This project spent Rp 650 million (U.S. $ 67,620) a berasar from donations donors.
The sculptures are made from a substance that allows the transplanted corals growing on the statue. The sculptures will serve as an underwater reef, a submerged man-made construction to serve as a platform, similar to a biological surface mounted transplanted corals. Besides coral transplantation, there will be a new coral growing on it,
For years, coral reefs in Nusa Dua has been threatened by coastal development is great, as well as destructive fishing and human activities. Hundreds of pieces of rock have been moved to the Nusa Dua area since 2009, partly the result of a breeding program in the island attack and other parts of the reef that naturally disconnected and taken from the area surrounding the submarine.
After a series of coral transplantation program, there has been good progress in restoring the reef, as shown by the new growth on artificial reef structures placed under water two years ago. Establishment of underwater cultural park is expected to restore the area and is expected to become an icon of the pro-environmental tourism, water serves to promote the image of Nusa Dua.
Two-acre park was built as part of 1,600 acres designated a marine conservation area in Nusa Dua. Featuring Balinese dancers and characters from Balinese mythology, the park is a local realization of the concept called nyegara-mountain (mountains and sea concept), Tri Hita Karana (Balinese concept of environmental sustainability) and Kertih Sad (six actions to achieve happiness and prosperity), combined with marine conservation.
May the new reef can grow well and stay awake sustainability.