Calling the Dive

Calling a dive is not as easy as just giving the thumbs-up signal. There are steps to follow after the signal to cancel a dive. The dive briefing should cover these procedures, and the greater the dive’s potential risk, the more attention to detail the procedures and briefing should have to make calling the dive happen as safely as possible.

diver in the ocean with a surface signaling buoy

Air and a Spare

No matter which alternate air source you choose, learn to calculate your air consumption and regularly practice emergency procedures. There are many ways to configure each type of redundant breathing-gas supply, but make sure your setup matches your training, gear arrangement and dive objectives. If a naysayer thinks your equipment choice is unnecessary, let them know that the difference between a fatal accident and an embarrassing incident could come down to a breath or two. Any redundancy is better than none.

Galápagos

The seven days in the Galápagos went by too quickly, and I was ready to come back before I had even left. The Galápagos National Park and the tour operators greatly respect the destination, and conservation is their primary goal. Even with all the protections in place, the fishing industry, climate change and ocean health pressure the archipelago. Every tourist dollar that goes into the Galápagos adds persuasive emphasis that this is a place that deserves ongoing and stringent protection.

The Blue Desert Conundrum

Where we encounter marine megafauna, we see only a tiny slice of their habitats and lives, which rarely includes feeding. These animals may travel thousands of feet vertically or migrate a few thousand miles horizontally to meet their nutritional needs. Some of them — sperm whales, for example — must do both: descend to depths of up to a mile or more to feast on aggregations of squid and roam across large swaths of the Pacific to avoid depleting their food resources in any one area.

Tonga’s Gentle Giants

Humpback whales feed in polar waters during the summer and then migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed during winter. Various locations offer seasonal whale-watching, but swimming with them is legal in only a few places — Tonga is one of them. Every year its warm and sheltered waters provide a nursery for the whales, which gather there between July and October after a long migration from Antarctica.

On a Mission

There’s a big difference between casual, submerged sightseeing — happy-snapping pictures of whatever you run across while blowing bubbles — and diving dedicated to carefully searching select sites, sometimes during a particular season or time of day, to find and photograph predefined species. It’s possible to luck out while wandering about, but success more often […]

sixgill shark in the Salish Sea

Bringing Shipwrecks to Life

Photogrammetry is the process of collecting a series of still images or videos of an object, such as a shipwreck, and then loading those images into software that can triangulate the photographed points to create a 3D model. Plenty of real-world applications can use this technology, including architecture, engineering, forensics, archaeology, mapping and video games. Becky Kagan Schott enjoys seeing wrecks come to life in a way that a single photo could never accomplish.

Celebrating Seagrass

The benefits of protecting seagrass cannot be overstated. Seagrass purifies the water, helps protect against coastal erosion, helps sustain small-scale fisheries that support communities, and increases fish populations and biodiversity. It sequesters much more carbon per area than terrestrial forests and reduces ocean acidification. Healthy seagrass means a healthier ocean.

bonnethead shark amid seagrass

Seeking an Octopus in the Wild

Octopuses hole up in small dens, are quite excellent at camouflage and are most active at night, so not all divers have seen one on a dive. But biologist Matthew Birk, who studies octopuses, felt that never having seen one in the wild was a blemish on his career and sought to remedy the situation on a trip to Santa Catalina Island off Southern California.

Shore Thing

Aside from allowing me to avoid that sunrise alarm, shore diving offers other freedoms as well: the last-minute choice of a dive site, the ability to do a two-hour dive without worrying a boat crew and the liberty to add a dive to my day if conditions allow. As an added benefit, beach diving can be quite economical compared with boat diving. And some of the most incredible sites in the world are most easily dived from the beach

divers learning shore diving basics along rocky coastline