DAN Member Profile: Whatever It Takes

For DAN member Brian Kakuk, cave diving was originally an outlet for exploration. The mapping, discovery and pushing the limits of physiology were stimulating, but as he began working with scientists he realized that exploration was just the first step in a scientific investigation. He provides research support for scientific discoveries in the underwater caves of the Bahamas and safety and marine support for the movie industry. His Bahamas Caves Research Foundation supports exploration, research and conservation efforts.

Researchers use a flashlight to view an underground cave filled with water.

Diving After a Stroke

Carefully weigh your return to diving, and assess the risk versus reward. No studies are available that address if the areas of your brain damaged by your stroke will be more susceptible to decompression illness. If you decide to dive, seek a detailed ongoing assessment and approval from your physician. This process should include a neurological evaluation that includes the strength and weakness of major muscle groups and the degree of cerebral injury as well as an assessment and comparison of the left side and right side of your body.

Man walking with a cane after a stroke

DAN Dispatch: DAN Studies Diving After COVID-19

DAN’s study about the long-term health implications of a COVID-19 infection for divers — including both scuba and breath-hold to encompass divers and watersports players — will use up to nine online surveys over the next five years to collect information from up to 1,000 adult divers who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection. By evaluating divers’ experiences as they return to the water following COVID-19, DAN researchers hope to provide the dive community with comprehensive guidance about what to expect after recovery.

Hands wearing medical gloves use a syringe to get a dose of vaccine from a vial with the COVID-19 molecule in the background.

Practice What You Preach

All diving has risks. To mitigate them, we must always pay attention to the details. The predive safety check is of utmost importance to help avoid a dive accident. The key elements are for each buddy to check the other’s BCD, weights, releases and air, and then give a final check and decisive OK. I could have avoided the entire incident had I adhered to my predive safety check and not gotten distracted, and I should have performed the safety check again before getting in the water.

A diver with camera gear photographs a manta ray.

Travel Smarter: DAN Offers New Travel Insurance Programs

With travel to become more available soon, DAN’s newly released travel insurance offerings enable you to stay in control of your adventure. Our new trip and annual programs are backed by DAN’s 40 years of experience and expertise and offer protections for a wide range of travel-related situations. You can purchase an annual plan to cover all your travel for a year or a trip plan to cover a single trip. The available options ensure there’s a plan that’s right for your needs.

A diver is in the water at the surface at dusk as a liveaboard waits nearby.

Physics, Biophysics and Decompression Sickness

Jens-Christian Meiners, Ph.D., a professor of physics and biophysics at the University of Michigan, focuses his laboratory’s research on mechanics of biological systems, primarily the dynamical properties of DNA and DNA–protein complexes. Meiners and his team are currently working on tissue mechanics and tissue damage through gas bubbles in the spinal cord, or spinal cord decompression sickness (DCS), which won him the 2019 DAN/R.W. “Bill” Hamilton Memorial Dive Medicine Research Grant.

man diving in cave using a reel

Program Spotlight: DAN Presents 2021 Webinar Series

The 2021 DAN Live webinar series will help promote a culture of safety and spark community connections online. Presented by DAN experts from our research, risk mitigation, medicine, training and insurance teams, the new DAN Live series will cover various topics, including fill station safety, ear barotrauma, DAN research updates, the latest information about COVID-19 and diving, and more. Sessions will occur on the third Thursday of each month.

A tablet screen shows the landing page for the DAN webinar series.

Environmental Considerations for Disinfection

Divers, dive operators and dive professionals must continue to practice good hygiene and disinfection of scuba equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Disinfectant products kill microorganisms. When discharged into the environment, they can continue to kill or cause harm until they break down. Disinfecting scuba equipment that contacts the eyes, nose and mouth should be routine for all dive operators. Know the composition of the products you use, and be aware of the potential impacts of disposal.

A man sprays disinfectant on boat surfaces

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.