Archive for the ‘scuba diving’ Category


We’re moving to our new domain!!!

July 9, 2009

So exciting, we have finally matured from a blog to a website! I feel so grown-up! Please don’t desert us, follow this link and we’ll continue where we left off…


Your help is needed now – the extreme condition of our oceans

June 18, 2009

You might have noticed something new on our sidebar. SocialVibe has created a way of helping good causes and charities, and we have chosen to support a project that is close to our hearts – the protection of our oceans.

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit, grassroots, environmental organisation dedicated to protection and enjoyment of our oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of surfers in Malibu, California, the organisation has grown exponentially.

So you see, surfers are not just beachbums!

Apart from being avid followers of the surfing life, why choose this particular project?

Well, this is something we’ve ranted about before – but did you know that there is a plastic soup in the middle of the Pacific Ocean –  known as the dead zone? Here’s a depressing, but important short video from StrangeDaysAction spelling out a few facts for us:

Marine scientist Captain Charles Moore of the Agalita Marine Research Foundation describes a dead zone, an oceanic desert, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean which he calls: Plastic Soup. This trashbin is a huge – I mean seriously HUGE – deep churning cesspool of plastic bits definitely bigger than the state of Texas, and, some say, even bigger, possibly, than AFRICA ! These plastic bits are ingested daily by marine life. And guess what? Who eats marine life? We do.

Scary stuff hmmm?

Captain Moore has measured 6 pounds of plastic for every 1 pound of plankton. He predicts that, unless we do something, in 30 years there will be 60 pounds of plastic particles for every pound of plankton.

And what eats plankton? Plankton is literally the food of life. It is vitally important in the food chain of all marine life.

And lest you are a bit casual about this topic and shrug your shoulders and say, “well, it’s only the Pacific. It’s not our problem, someone will be able to sort it out in due course…” Don’t be misled – there is a similar cesspool in the Atlantic.

Here’s a photograph from National Geographic of an open-air garbage dump which tarnishes the sapphire coast of Barrow, Alaska. Disgusting, isn’t it.

Photo: Open-air garbage dump along the coast of Barrow, Alaska

And why should we get personally involved? Well, if you windsurf, kitesurf, scuba dive, snorkel, surf, sail, kayak, freedive, deep water solo to name but a few – you should be concerned. It concerns you directly.

This problem is very nearly out of control. We seriously need to do something about it. And we need to do something NOW.

So click on the sidebar please!

Thank you.

And I’ll leave you on an equally miserable note. Here’s a video from seareport01 on the problem in the Pacific…

So come on guys, let’s do our bit to save our oceans…


There’s another world championship freediving competition coming up- this time it’s indoors

June 4, 2009

Denmark will be hosting the next big  freediving competition in August. It is worth remembering that this is an extreme sport on the fringe of mainstream sports, but with dedicated participants and supporters.

A really dedicated following because there is minimal sponsorship and divers do not recieve any funding. This means every dive, every competition is funded by their own hard work, dedication and love of the sport.

The indoor freediving world championships will be held in the town of Aarhus in Denmark from the 17th – 22nd August.

That means freedivers will be working their butts off (excuse the expression) to get there.


AIDA Germany has announced the following people as the official German Team:

  • Women: Barbara Jeschke, Ilka Michaelis, Anna v. Boetticher and Olga Martinez-Alvarez
  • Men: Martin Legat, Ulli Wulf and Sergio Martinez-Alvare

AIDA Canada is also on their way for selecting the pool championship team. It’s still small and has open spots:

Women: Jana Strain, Mandy-Rae Krack
Men: William Winram

Team New Zealand held a competition in mid-May to see who would be chosen to represent the country at the upcoming indoor world champs – they are still waiting on the selection to be confirmed, but in the meantime have come up with a novel idea to raise funds to help with the costs, and for $250.00 you can be the proud owner of this:


A swimming cap signed by 4 of the world’s top freedivers:

William Trubridge
William has broken freediving world records 7 times. His 2008 no 1 world rankings were in Constant weight without fins with -86m and Free Immersion with -108m, both of which were world records. On 10th April 2009 he did it again  bettering his own mark in the discipline CNF (Constant Weight No Fins) with a dive to 88 meters (288 feet) in 3’30”.

Dave Mullins
Dave has broken 4 freediving world records and set a spearfishing world record with biggest marlin. Last year he ranked world no 1 in dynamics without fins with 213m and constant weight with -108m. He also was 2nd in dynamics with his world record dive of 248m and 3rd in static apnea with a breath hold time of 8 minutes, 11s.

Kathryn McPhee
Kathryn set her first world record and was ranked 1st woman in 2008 in dynamics without fins with 151m. She also ranked no 2 in dynamics with 179m and statics with a breath hold time of 7 minutes 1s.

Guy Brew
Guy has the second biggest breath hold time ever in competition. He topped the 2008 world rankings with a huge static apnea of 8 minutes 31s.

There is an added incentive to winning the auction (ie: paying over $250). If you, too, would like to learn how to freedive and live anywhere in the vicinity of Wellington or could get to Denmark over those dates in August,  Kathryn McPhee will throw in a free one hour coaching session to suit your level.

Closes: Sat 6 Jun, 7:34 pm. This auction may auto-extend.

Please read the questions and answers for this auction.


Diving with sharks – an extreme pastime

June 1, 2009

This is something we do not recommend to all and sundry, but Michael Rutzen from South Africa, otherwise known as ‘Sharkman’, seems to get away with it. He has turned the art of scuba diving and snorkeling into a seriously extreme sport.

Rutzen eats, sleeps, breathes and dreams of sharks and is on a one-man crusade to prove that rather than being the crazed man-eater from “Jaws”, they are in fact sociable and approachable creatures – to anyone who understands their body language. brettlock screened this video for us.

He loves sharks. He has an empathy with them, an appreciation of the magnificent beast that they are, and he is keen to show everyone the other side to one of the world’s most fearsome creatures.

Michael Rutzen at Work.

He started out as a fisherman, but as tourism grew in his coastal region he became a boat skipper taking tourists out into the ocean to see Great White’s. It was at this point that he learned to love the fish.

He learned how to freedive with sharks from Andre Hartman and then learned how to adopt his posture and interpret the sharks behaviour to avoid being attacked.

Mike eventually opened up his own shark boat for cage diving. His company Shark Diving Unlimited has since become the world’s first to offer a PADI specialisation qualification on white sharks.

When asked exactly what it was he was trying to prove with his research and his shark cage diving business, Mike said: “I would like to get people out there and teach them a little bit about this animal if possible. Try to let them go away with a little bit of positive knowledge and respect for the sharks. If we can achieve that little thing, these animals will be here for a long time. Because all the animals on earth that died out, nobody knew about until they got into a book that says ‘extinct’, and these Sharks that have survived all these millions of years, they deserve to be here.”

He has appeared in his own television show for the Discovery Channel – called Sharkman. In the program he toured the world diving with different species of sharks and demonstrated their tonic immobility reflex (DiscoveryNetworks ).

He has dedicated his life to the study of sharks and the Great White in particular. The Great White is unanimously considered the most dangerous and fierce shark on the planet. Although there is proof that the Great White is dangerous and capable of deadly attacks on humans there isn’t a lot of evidence that they are man eaters as shown in the movie “Jaws”.

Michael has been working to dispel this ideology about the Great White.

He is, however, under no illusions that it is a dangerous and unpredictable creature and he takes no unneccessary risks. “There is only one proven fact about White Sharks, most probably all sharks but White Sharks in particular, and that is that they are highly unpredictable. You can get methods of doing something that usually works one way and then you get Sharks that prove you totally wrong, and that’s in every interaction you do with the animals. That’s the odds you take. Sometimes it works to your advantage and sometimes it’s very much to your disadvantage, like I have found out a few times when I was cut,” he says.

He is quick to caution anyone who thinks they can hop into the ocean to have a closer look at this great fish. He is a highly trained professional and doesn’t want anyone to get hurt trying to do what he does unless they have been trained and educated for years and know how to free dive properly with sharks. He does NOT recommend freediving with sharks for tourists or thrill seekers as “we cannot train our tourists fast enough to learn all there is to know.”

Please bear that in mind!


Seriously extreme diving – the High Diving record and the Deep Diving record

April 7, 2009

We stand corrected. We had previously said that Dana Kunze held the world high diving record at 172 ft (52.42 m). However, the world record is held by Oliver Favre who dived 177 ft (53.94 m)  into open water in 1987 in France.

He also holds the World Indoor High Dive record at 110 ft (33.52 m) at Earls Court 1997.

I cannot find any video on this spectacular dive and unbroken, to date, record, but here’s an entertaining video, posted by streetsailor , which makes it all look remarkably easy…

And for a dive of a different sort, Nuno Gomes, a South African scuba diver of Portuguese descent, is the current (2009) Deepest Dive world record holder – 318.25m or 1,044ft, that dive was documented on video – the “Beyond Blue” documentary, and here are the extracts from the film, with thanks to overseasmedia for posting it.

Look at that barrage of tanks on his back!

The total dive time was 12 hours and 20 minutes, but the descent only took 14 minutes!

Deep diving obviously has more consequences and dangers than basic open water diving.

The meaning of the term deep diving is a form of technical diving. It is defined by the level of the diver’s training, their equipment, breathing gas  and surface support.

The dangers are immense.

It is so dangerous and difficult that only eight (or possibly nine) persons are known to have ever dived below a depth of 800 feet (244 m) on self contained breathing apparatus recreationally.  That is fewer than the number of people who have walked on the surface of the moon!

Things that can go wrong:

Nitrogen narcosis, or the “narks” or “rapture of the deep”, starts with feelings of euphoria and over-confidence but then lead to numbness and memory impairment similar to alcohol intoxication.

Decompression sickness,  or the “bends”, is when the gas bubbles of nitrogen get caught in the joints on an ascent. Yet, the effects tend to be delayed until reaching the surface.

Bone degeneration  is caused by the bubbles forming inside the bones; most commonly the upper arm and the thighs.

Air embolism causes loss of consciousness  and speech and visual problems. This tends to be life threatening, but sometimes the symptoms resolve before the recompression chamber are needed.

All these are things that can go wrong when deep diving.

Amongst technical divers there are certain elite divers who participate in ultra-deep diving on SCUBA (using closed circuit rebreathers and heliox)  below 660 feet/200 metres.

Ultra-deep diving requires extraordinarily high levels of training, experience, fitness and surface support.

The Holy Grail of deep diving was the 1000 ft (304.8 m) mark, first achieved by John Bennett in 2001, and has only been achieved twice since.

Nuno Gomes and Pascal Bernabé have both achieved 1044 ft (318.25 m) and 1083 ft (330.09 m) respectively in 2008. However, the Guinness World Records  still recognises the 1,044 feet dive by Gomes  earlier in the same year as the current official world record, as Bernabé’s dive was not verified.


Pirates hijack scuba diving vessel in Seychelles

April 5, 2009

You may have heard of the pirates who have been operating in the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast in the Indian Ocean. Up until now they have been hijacking oil tankers and the like in the hopes of extracting a large ransom for return of the vessel and its cargo. It now seems as though these real life Jack Sparrows are spreading their wings and not only going further afield but also attacking vessels of a different nature.

News that a scuba diving ship operating from one of the world’s greatest diving locations in the Seychelles Islands has been seized is sending shock waves through the Seychelles tourist industry. The ‘Indian Ocean Explorer’ had just dropped her divers on Assumption Island when she was hijacked by the pirates and taken to Harardhare, a pirate stronghold north of Mogadishu.

The Seychelles coral archipelago offers some of the best diving in the world and its pristine white sand beaches attract thousands of tourists to the islands every year. The pirate attack which occurred last weekend and is the second such attack to happen in a month has forced the Seychelles government to deploy security vessels to the outer islands in the archipelago.

According to the International Maritime Bureau 130 vessels were attacked by Somali pirates last year. On Tuesday the Japanese navy joined US, Chinese and EU navies who are patrolling the shipping lanes which lead to the Suez Canal. They face a daunting task in trying to patrol over 400,000 square miles of ocean.

You can see from these videos below, the first from rutgergeeling, the second from KesandSarah, what the attraction is of scuba diving in the Seychelles – be it whale sharks, green turtles or incomparable visibilty – you will understand why this very serious problem has to be resolved.


State of Michigan behaving like an ostrich with delusionary policy

February 17, 2009

It seems to us that the State of Michigan is burying its head in the sand – just like an ostrich – over potentially important archeological artefacts which are buried in the mud of Lake Michigan.

We have learnt of an ongoing battle between the District Attorney’s office and one Steve Libert who believes he has discovered what would be the most important archeological find in the State’s history – none other than the Griffon which, carrying a crew of six, five to seven brass cannons and 6,000 pounds of beaver and buffalo pelts, sank shortly after departing from an island near Green Bay in 1679.

The discovery was made by Libert, an amateur scuba diving enthusiast, who for a long time searched for wrecks of ships that carried gold. An intelligence analyst with the Navy, the 55-year-old resident of Herndon, Va., near Washington was always intrigued by the long-lost Griffon, and so began reading the journals of an associate of Robert La Salle, the Frenchman, who is believed to have been one of the first Europeans to have sailed the Great Lakes and was at the time making exploratory voyages for the French crown. Libert  believed the Griffon had foundered somewhere off the coast of Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula.

Diving near Escanaba in 2001, Libert was swimming through water so murky that visibility was 3 inches. Nearly 100 feet below the surface, he bumped into a wooden pole protruding from the lake bottom.

“I had my hands out, like I was walking in the dark, when suddenly I hit this thing,” he said. “I couldn’t figure out what it was.”

He now believes the mussel-covered timber is the bow tip of the Griffon. He retrieved a thumb-sized sliver of the wood and conducted a carbon-dating test, which showed a 33 percent chance that it came from the 17th century.

Check out the tough diving conditions in Frogmanvideo of diving on a wreck in Lake Michigan.

If it wasn’t for Libert, the prized ship would have remained buried under three centuries of sand, silt and history,  said local divers. Its possible discovery could open a long-shuttered hatch to the earliest days of the European settlers, helping researchers learn what the times and people were like by providing a snapshot of the era.

The Griffon was just 40 to 60 feet long and crudely made on the banks of the Niagara River just above Niagara Falls. The twin-masted brigantine never finished its maiden voyage.

The Attorney General’s office said the law is there to protect the over 1500 shipwrecks in State waters from divers who would otherwise plunder the sites for profit.

Whilst we agree that these sites need to be protected from plunder surely this is a case for the State of Michigan to work with the local diving community for if  there is no resolution the site will remain unexplored and noone will be any the wiser of what might be there – come on you ostriches – get your head out of the sand – or should we say mud.

Now the French government has stepped into the fray claiming the site and supporting Libert in his quest.