Act Now to Combat Climate Change

In the six years Neha Mani has been diving, she has seen a notable difference in coral reef vitality as a result of climate change. Coral skeletons on the powdery sand of the seafloor haunt the living coral with their cautionary tale. Numerous factors contribute to coral bleaching, but we know it is an extension of our changing climate. The steps we take to protect the reefs have broader benefits beyond just the coral. Through our conscious efforts to protect our oceans, we can hopefully pave a path to environmental recovery.

A female diver swims by an underwater shipwreck.

Old Habits Die Hard

Make it your standard practice to gently and completely turn on your air. If you’re an instructor, consider not teaching students the quarter-turn back. Dive operations should instruct their staff not to perform the quarter-turn-back practice on customers’ cylinders. Confusing the direction of a handwheel does not happen only to new or inexperienced divers. There have been anecdotal reports of divemasters on busy boats accidentally turning off customers’ cylinders and then performing only a quarter-turn on.

A diver underwater gives an out of air signal by putting his hand across his throat.

Central California Photo Gallery

View Andy and Allison Salmon’s bonus photo gallery that accompanies their feature on diving Central California.

a close-up photo of a coralline sculpin

Save a Diver, Save Yourself

Divers can’t save themselves unless they understand what’s happening and how to evaluate the problem, keep breathing and act. It sounds simple, but the rescue diver course helped me solidify my safety and survival skills. I may not remember every detail, but one item still stands out for me as invaluable for a new diver: Any dive can be stopped at any time, for any reason, without question. To that I would add “and without embarrassment.” That advice would eventually save me.

Divers geared up make their way from the shore to the water.

Getting Centered

With the COVID-19 pandemic curbing international travel, divers can still choose to dive locally. Andy and Allison Sallmon take us along on their road trip to Central California dive sites, where we can discover macro subjects in Morro Bay and bountiful marine life at the well-protected sites at Carmel and Monterey Bay. From a variety of nudibranchs and anemones to giant kelp, playful California sea lions and topside whale-watching tours to excite even the most skeptical divers, Central California offers many opportunities to discover plentiful treasures.

The ethereal view of California’s Big Sur coastline features rugged cliffs, rock islets and secluded, sandy beaches.

La Paz Photo Gallery

After reading Tanya Burnett’s feature about La Paz, see more of her amazing images in this photo gallery.

blenny

Undercover Crabs

Most decorator crabs belong to one of eight families in the superfamily Majoidea, commonly referred to as spider crabs. About 75 percent of the group’s more than 1,100 global species mask their presence by wearing disguises made from living organisms scissored from the landscape. They commonly hijack seaweeds, sponges, tunicates, bryozoans and hydroids. The crabs manipulate the purloined pieces of attire with their mouths before attaching them to one of the many fishhook-shaped bristles arranged in rows on the carapace, rostrum, walking legs and claw arms, depending on the species.

A decorator crab is perched among red hydroids.

La Paz

La Paz, on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, has always been connected to the sea, from its indigenous pre-Columbian people and a history of sea explorers, pearl divers and fishers to a modern destination attracting ocean-inspired tourists to interact with the abundant marine treasures of this region. The sweeping views of the ocean, the cry of seabirds and the plentiful masts and rigging of sailboats in the harbor all chorus the same message: If you seek adventure on and in the water, you have arrived.

A diver is astounded by the sheer size of the school of bigeye jacks at Cabo Pulmo.

Cylinder Safety

Users must operate cylinders within design parameters, such as filling only to the rated service pressure and having cylinders inspected by formally trained and qualified technicians and requalified by a reputable, recognized test facility. More than 90 percent of ruptures occur during filling, so diligent inspection during this process is critical. Cylinders should operate safely throughout their entire service lives if users adhere to design and operating conditions.

Young man in blue shirt fills scuba cylinders.

Sentinels for the Seas

The U.S. currently has 14 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments, and each has its own unique story. In preserving these irreplaceable resources, the sanctuaries protect who we are at our base — our soul as a nation. They reaffirm us and connect us to our incredible heritage. Sanctuary protections also have a ripple effect on ocean conservation. America’s marine sanctuaries can serve as sentinels for the wider seas, showcasing how we can move toward protecting enough habitat to ensure the ocean’s future and our own.

Fish blanket the lush undersea gardens of colorful sponges, sea anemones, sea stars, sea cucumbers, snails and crabs.