Cristina Mittermeier: Commitment to Conservation

Photographer Cristina Mittermeier’s social media posts have insightful captions that reveal her deep commitment to ocean ecology issues. Telling stories that inspire, engage and ultimately motivate action, she wants to show what’s beautiful and special but also what may be in dire peril. Perhaps most significantly, she wants to show her audience an opportunity to act positively and to possibly attain a solution, using her photography to shine a light and make a difference.

The fluke of a humpback whale lifts above the sea in the warm glow of dusk off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Turning the Tide of Mangrove Loss

Mangroves live along subtropical and tropical coastlines. Their upper trunk, branches and leaves grow above the waterline, but an extensive network of roots remain mostly underwater. Dense patches or forests of mangroves are habitats for terrestrial, estuarine and marine species that include invertebrates, fish and many types of seabirds and waterfowl, and they provide shelter as well as feeding and breeding space for 174 marine megafauna species. Mangrove forests provide also protect coastlines against erosion and flooding and help mitigate climate change.

Mangroves near a river mouth along the Belize coast

Current Dives

Diving in currents can be exhilarating, but it can also be hazardous if you do not have the proper training or are unprepared. To get the most enjoyment, perform proper predive research and dive planning. Make sure you prepare physically and mentally and have the proper gear, training and experience. Divers often say that current dives are some of their most memorable and exhilarating dives.

Two divers are in the water, and one is deploying a red surface marker buoy attached to a reel.

Citizen Science

Researchers from the MigraMar consortium take volunteer divers on citizen science expeditions to tag and track pelagic sharks as they migrate through the Eastern Pacific. Scientists use the data to advocate for larger marine protected areas to save sharks from overfishing. Volunteers pay typical liveaboard prices to help researchers defray the high cost of these expeditions, and in return they get to see shark science and conservation up close.

Mauricio Hoyos takes a manta tissue sample off San Benedicto Island, Archipelago de Revillagigedo.

Heart Trouble in Tahiti

While on a trip to Tahiti, a 71-year-old experienced diver and competitive rower coughed up foamy blood after making three recreational dives on nitrox. He called DAN for advice and later saw a cardiologist, who diagnosed him with exercise-induced mitral valve prolapse. This diver recommends that divers continue to educate themselves, maintain their DAN membership and insurance coverage, go slowly if they haven’t dived in a while, be prepared and practice for emergencies.

Male and female diver in red and black wetsuits pose for a photo underwater before descending

Mooring Buoys

Mooring buoys minimize the impact on the environment and protect fragile coral animals and nonrenewable historical resources from anchor damage. Marine biologist John C. Halas developed the mooring buoy system we know today: an embedment anchor connected to an 18-inch round, white, floating buoy with blue reflective tape around the middle with a yellow polypropylene pick-up line. The mooring buoy system is one of the most visible accomplishments of NOAA’s efforts to provide resource protection while supporting the community’s access for the enjoyment of sanctuary resources.

Divers drill seafloor to install a mooring buoy system

Aqua Pool Noodle Exercises

Exercising in water can be a great way to mix up your routine. The water supports your body
and ensures low impact despite intense exercise. The effects of gravity are less profound in the water, so you can have an increased range of motion and move in different directions than on land without falling. Water also offers resistance that activates your core muscles for stability, which is beneficial when maneuvering during diving. An added benefit for divers is practicing comfort and control in the water.

A man performs the Aqua Warrior 3 exercise using a pool noodle in a swimming pool.

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.