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Girl Scout Creates Artificial Reef

reef ballPreviously, we reported on the Scuba Scouts, high school-aged kids who study, monitor, and work to preserve the ocean. Rebecca Shultz isn't a Scuba Scout -- she's a Girl Scout -- but she's certainly be doing her fair share of work! For the last year and a half, in fact, Schultz has been busy casting concrete molds to serve as artificial reefs in the Miami area. So far, she's created 30 molds, each of which weigh between 200 and 1500 pounds. (I guess Shultz casts one new reef ball about every 3 weeks.)

With the help of her marine biology teacher, Schultz applied for and received a $4,500 grant from the Reef Ball Foundation and another $2,500 grant from the Girl Scouts to complete the project. This weekend, she and some friends snorkeled near one of the reef balls, which was submerged on March 25. According to Schultz's partner, Veronica Lafranchise, the sites already have "some yellowtail, parrot fish and angel fish near the reef." As a result of her hard work, Schultz earned a "Gold Award," the Girl Scouts' highest award. She's also been named Divester's Hero of the Week.

[Via Dive News]

Club Narked to Deliver "Natural Intoxication"

vaultClub Narked is an alcohol and drug-free club with a top-secret location, due to open in the next 18 months. Claiming to intoxicate clubbers naturally "via Nitrogen Narcosis," the £5 million club will be nestled inside a converted bank vault. Once inside, clubbers will breathe compressed air in the pressurized vault, which will create "the safe high known as being 'narked'." Explaining that "complex reasoning decreases 33% and manual dexterity decreases 7.3%" when someone is narked, the owners maintain that this is a safe way to get trashed, because "once the pressure is returned to normal, the intoxication wears off," meaning it's safe to drive home. Or go get a drink at a real club. What do you think?

Personally, I don't like the idea of being locked inside a bank vault with a bunch of sweaty, trashed people. However, if you think it sounds cool, you can request Opening Night tickets on Narked's website.

[Thanks, Simon!]

Scuba Scouts

Scuba ScoutsIn 2001, the Scuba Scouts of Tampa Bay consisted only of Boy and Girl Scouts between the ages of 14-18 interested in pursuing careers involving marine sciences. Since then, however, the SCUBA Scouts have conducted over four years of coral reef monitoring on selected reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Florida Keys. Volunteers, including certified dive instructors, Univerity of South Florida scientific divers, and Fish and Wildlife biologists, advise them. The group meets regularly to discuss its work, and each monthly dive is planned by the scouts themselves. Ultimately, these students are not just learning to dive; they're learning how to explore the oceans. Wow, when I was a scout, our big thing ws building miniature race cars out of balsa wood. This is way cooler!

Collectively, the Scouts have logged hundreds of hours underwater taking pictures, running video, collecting scientific data, salvaging and transplanting coral -- even training with the Navy SEALS! Last year, they went on a 7-day liveaboard trip in the Florida Keys to monitor the reefs there. This summer, they're heading to Bimini to undertake similar work.

[Via Diving-News]

WKPP Details & Photos of Their Recent World Record Dive To "Q"

heading outAbout two weeks ago, we told you that the WKPP pushed the Wakulla Cave system, found a new tunnel (imaginatively named "Q"), and achieved a world record. Ultimately, the divers spent 7 hours at 260 feet and endured a 14-hour decompression. If you're the kind of diver who's interested in the details of the push, they've posted a "trip report" online.

For those Divester readers who aren't that interested in the technical details behind WKPP's endeavor, at least take the time to scroll through their image bank. Featuring both topside and underwater images, some of the pictures show divers wearing 6 full-sized tanks, 1 pony tank, and hauling 3 scooters a lot of gear.

[Via Scuba Geek]

"The Helldiver's Rodeo": Reviewed

Helldiver's RodeoThe easiest way to explain what this book is about is to read it's complete title: The Helldiver's Rodeo: A Deadly, Extreme, Scuba-Diving, Spear Fishing Adventure Amid the Offshore Oil-Platforms in the Murky Waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Whew, that's a mouthful. Written by Cuban-born Humberto Fontova, who emigrated to the US when he was a young boy, the book is an in-depth look at Helldivers -- highly-competitive men who helped shape rig-diving and spear fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. With its over-the-top stories and limitless machismo, think of Hunter S. Thompson crossed with that really annoying guy on the dive boat.

Filled with adventure, danger, and huge fish, the story is quick, easy, and entertaining. However, in my opinion, Fontova's lumbering writing style and endless braggadocio watered down what could have been a great book.

Continue reading "The Helldiver's Rodeo": Reviewed

Professional Association of Stupid Divers' T-shirts Available NOW!

PASD t-shirtJohn Moore runs Divebums, a San Diego-specific dive information website. Over the years, he's made marine-themed t-shirts and calendars. However, his most recent creations focus on the little known -- but increasingly popular -- specialty courses known as Stupid Diver and Advanced Stupid Diver. These courses, of course, are only offered through the dive instruction organization known as the Professional Association of Stupid Divers (PASD). Once you complete the certification requirements (which are, very, very easy to do), you can get your own t-shirt and proclaim to the world that you're a proud member of the Association of Stupid Divers!

[Thanks, Eric!]

Divers Break Record For Walking Underwater

20,000 stepsThis weekend, while David Blaine was submerged in Lincoln Center for his own gain, 6 Aussie divers were submerged in Australia's Chowder Bay for charity. In an event called 20,000 Steps Under The Sea, not only were the divers underwater, but they broke the World Record for walking underwater. I admit, this is kind of a weird record, but apparently 5 men and 1 woman trudged in shifts continuously for 48 hours. My guess: no fins.

The end result? The half-dozen divers walked over 60 miles -- in 300-foot increments, following a rope -- while wearing open-circuit scuba gear. Aside from the glory of having completed the task, they were trying to raise money for CareFlight, a rapid-response emergency helicopter and medical retrieval service that provides, among other things, emergency evacuation services for injured divers. The website doesn't indicate how much money the group raised, but I DO know one thing: as someone who has tried to walk underwater in the past, I know how amazingly difficult...and...slow...it...can...be. I'm sure that when they finished they were aching to break the world's record for longest sleep. That might be tough, though, as I believe my dog currently holds that title, which he attempts to re-break every day.

If you want to learn more about the event, check out the blog of Sven -- who was a support diver during the event -- visit Dive Oz's forums, or check out the photo set on Flickr. Looked fun.

Lost City of Atlantis: Underwater Photos of the Sundial

Foots sent me more photos recently. Evidently, a dive club visited The Lost City of Atlantis, and Foots took some pictures to commemorate the event. In his email to me, Foots indicated that one of his favorite parts of constructing the City is the fact that he gets to meet so many new and interesting people. Since we haven't met yet, I presume he means the divers in the pictures. Anyway, check out the pictures, and while you're looking at them, remember: Foots is building these sculptures all by himself!

Continue reading Lost City of Atlantis: Underwater Photos of the Sundial

The Divester Fivester: Coolest Dive Trips of the Summer

divingIf you're getting your summer dive trip planning going, and you can't quite figure out what you want to do this year, then you might want to take a look at the following list. I've scrounged for some of the most amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trips, and I've selected what I think are the five coolest dive trips of the summer. Three are organized, meaning you'd be with a group. Two are suggestions of cool trip ideas for the next few months. Check it out, and let us know if you have a better trip idea!

Continue reading The Divester Fivester: Coolest Dive Trips of the Summer

How Long Does It Take For A (Blank) To Decompose?

aluminum canTomorrow morning, I'm going on a reef sweep with the Palm Beach Hammerheads, a local dive club dedicated to maintaining and protecting the local beaches, reefs, and ocean. We're meeting at 7:30, and we'll be making two morning dives to clean the reefs of the debris that has been thrown, dropped, or swept into the ocean. I've never been on a reef sweep before, and I'm excited to participate. I'm also anxious to hit the water for a good cause! I'll try to take some pictures and post them this weekend.

In the spirit of cleaning the reefs, I have a short quiz for you. It tests your knowledge of how quickly (or slowly) various items decompose. See how much you know. Answers are posted below the jump.

  • An apple core:  

a. 14 days  

b. 30 days  

c. 60 days

  • Styrofoam cup:  

a. 35 years  

b. 50 years  

c. 100 years  

  • Aluminum can:  

a. 50 years  

b. 100 years  

c. 200 years 

  • Plastic bottle: 

a.  200 years

b.  300 years 

c.  450 years  

  • Monofilament fishing line: 

a. 350 years  

b. 600 years  

c. 750 years 

[Adapted from some material from Ocean Watch, who I met at OceanFest 2006!]

Continue reading How Long Does It Take For A (Blank) To Decompose?

OceanFest 2006, Reviewed

Yesterday, my wife and I drove down to Ft. Lauderdale. The reason? It was time for OceanFest 2006, the largest dive show in South Florida. Set right on the beach, the location is perfect: it really makes you want to jump in the water and go for a dive.

So how was OceanFest 2006? While it was awfully similar to last year's show, there were a lot of new vendors showcasing a lot of new things. Plus, the weather was great; the people staffing the booths were friendly and knowledgeable; and I learned about lots of great stuff. All in all, I'm glad I went, although I arrived too late to hear either Marty Snyderman or Sir Robert Marx . Grrrr.  On the other hand, I did get to sample a Dive Bar!

Continue reading OceanFest 2006, Reviewed

Earth Day is Tomorrow!

The EarthEarth Day is tomorrow. While it may be too late for you to organize your own Earth Day Event, there are plenty of other people who have already organized plenty of Earth Day-related activities for you to participate in. Here are some of the most interesting ideas that I've found:

  1. I'm organizing a Lake Worth Beach Clean-Up activity from 8 a.m. to noon.
  2. Friends of Virgin Islands National Park is sponsoring a beach and trail clean-up.
  3. Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida are offering a host of events -- from beach clean-ups to seminars in sustainable agriculture.
  4. The Movement of Caring for Our Environs plans to sow seeds, plant trees, create natural wells, organize seminars and workshops related to planting, and reforestation in Indonesia.
  5. LA's Sea Lab is offering a number of activities from sand sculpture contests, to beach clean-ups, to rescued sea creatures in touch tanks, to films about the marine environment.
  6. In Puerto Rico, the USDA is organizing a clean-up along the rivers and trails in El Portal Rainforest.
  7. Earth Day at Grand Central (New York City) is a festival featuring hundreds of exhibitors.
  8. In Costa Rica, the Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation is working with the local community and elementary school children to clean up a small town and the local beach where sea turtles nest.
  9. In Candaba, Philippines, residents will stage a Pambanga River Clean-Up.
  10. There are at least 10 education, beach and underwater clean-ups scheduled throughout Australia.

Get outside!

Underwater Easter Egg Hunts

bunny and eggsMost Easter egg hunts occur on land, of course. However, some communities organize underwater Easter egg hunts. Although I've never participated in an underwater Easter egg hunt, I think it sounds like a load of fun. For those of you who are interested in participating in one, check out these locations:

  • In Islamorada, Florida, the Chesapeake Resort is hosting its inaugural hunt Saturday at 1 pm. Certified divers and novices, age 10 and older, are invited to join the search.
  • In La Jolla, California, the San Diego Dive Club Underwater Easter Egg Hunt and Pancake Breakfast occurs from 8 am to noon on Saturday. 
  • Spencer Slate of Florida's Atlantis Dive Center is planning to host his annual enderwater egg hunt Sunday. Check-in is at 8 am. The event is free.
  • In Ginnie Springs, Florida, snorkelers ages 12 and older can compete for over 180 underwater eggs with total prizes valued at over $1,000.  Snorkelers should meet at Ginnie Spring deck for an 8 a.m. called start on Sunday.
  • Florence, Oregon's Sunset Sports has an event scheduled for April 28th. I guess they had a tough time reading their calendar. But hey -- better late than never!

    Do you know of any other hunts in your area?

Scott Davis To Present "Diving With The Great White Sharks of Isla de Guadalupe"

NCUPSLast month, the Northern California Underwater Photography Society (NCUPS) debuted "Dancing With the Demons," a film about the Humboldt Squid. This month, they're showcasing "Diving with the Great White Sharks of Isla de Guadalupe," a 60-minute presentation about cage diving with the Great White Sharks of Isla de Guadalupe.

Shark Naturalist -- National Geographic Society grantee, NAUI Master Diver, and PADI Dive Master -- Scott Davis of Great White Adventures (a company that looks incredible!) will present "Diving with the Great White Sharks" this Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. The venue is the New Vision United Methodist Church -- only ten minutes south of the San Francisco International Airport. Cost for first-time visitors is FREE.

How stinking cool will this be? Somebody videotape this and send me a clip!

If You Can't Dive A Reef...Why Knot Knit A Reef?

Crocheted_anemone_by_Margaret_WertheimGolly, it's knot often that I get to write about knitting on Divester. But today is my lucky day!

The Institute For Figuring has begun a project to crochet a coral reef, which they refer to as a "woolly celebration of the intersection of higher geometry and feminine handicraft, and a testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world." Wow, I wish I could write text as beautifully weird as that.

Anyway, according to the Institute, Dr. Daina Taimina, a mathematician at Cornell, discovered "hyperbolic crochet" techniques, and by combining loops, fringes, and curlicues -- not to mention experimenting with types of yarn, styles of stitch, and tightness of crochet -- the crocheters are able to create a "constantly surprising panoply of shapes." Whatever that means. All I know is, they've got a wild and wicked photo gallery of knitted creations that resemble coral. If their sharks look half as real as their coral creations, then I think they may be on to something.

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