Diving Okinawa in Japan; Exploring sinkholes in Madagascar; Diving the San Juan Islands of Washington State; Expedition to the Alexander Hamilton in Iceland; Are Rebreathers the Future of Diving; Expedition to Ressel Cave; Disabled diving in Russia's Star City; Interview with Tom Ingram; Nancy Tilles portfolio; Scuba Confidential with Simon Pridmore; Plus news and discoveries, equipment and training news, books and media, underwater photo and video equipment, turtle news, shark tales, whale tales and much more...
Main features in this issue include:
A rebreather dive begins before you enter the water. You strap on the machine, put on your mask, or pinch your nose, and “pre-breathe” the unit for five minutes while monitoring the sensors and heads-up display (HUD) for any signs of trouble. It’s usually one of the last checklist items to complete before commencing the dive depending on the rebreather.
It’s the silence that first catches the attention, as you descend in the water column. There are no noisy bubbles. You can hear the soft whisper and rhythm of your own breathing and almost detect the beat of your heart. You relax and slow down.
Jim Abernethy, owner and operator of Scuba Adventures, was the dive operator who showed all of the others that sharks are peaceful animals who want nothing to do with humans as a food source.
He spends most of his time with wild sharks during dives from his liveaboard ship, The Shear Water, at remote sites in the vicinity of the Bahamas, and is on land for only about 40 days a year.
In order to show people the true nature of sharks on his dives, Jim specifically targeted those with the worst reputations. He was the first eco-tourism guide operator to do so.
Stretching west and north of the Isalo Ranges, the Mahafaly Plateau runs like a dragon’s tongue to the very tip of Madagascar’s southwest coast. This is a remote country in the Great South, where numerous historical shipwrecks have lain below the waves since the 16th century.
The Mahafaly Plateau has been affected by post-Eocene tectonic movements with a northwest-southeast distension, which tops an older tectonic event on the underlying substrate. Seismic activity is a common occurrence there.
Nancy Tilles is an award-winning artist based in Florida who works in traditional oils, but captures on canvas a timeless vibrancy and immediacy in her underwater scenes, which highlight the diversity of marine life found on reefs but also their fragile nature. X-RAY MAG caught up with the artist to find out more about her work and artistic process, gaining insight into her experience of the underwater world.
"Art inspires us in every way and encourages us to be inventive. Art can bring people to destinations and creates cultural excitement."
— Nancy Tilles
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about your background and how you developed your artistic process.
Okinawa—simply saying the name has so many connotations. The island itself is huge, and yet it’s an oceanic island far from the Asian continent. It takes two and half hours to fly from Hong Kong, the closest point on mainland China, to get here.
Japan has a plethora of Pacific Ocean islands that are unknown to the world. There are three main sets of islands south of Kyushu: the Nansei Islands, the Sakishima Islands and the Yaeyama Islands.
Years of preparation finally paid off on 3 August 2013 when the first Belgian cave diving team reached deeper territory in Ressel Cave in Lot, France. This underwater cave—located in the heart of French cave diving paradise—is known to be one of the more engaging, difficult and technical cave dives. The expedition was an exploratory dive of several hours, with all its complications in logistics and difficulties.
There were intense preparations, including materials testing conducted by a few members of the Flemisch cave exploration group, Science Explorers, and the diving club, Technical Diving Antwerp.In addition to myself, our dive expedition team included Ronny Breeur, Sannie Versweyfelt, Kenny and Ang
Every now and then I get an assignment close to home, which means my dive buddy and I can usually load up the car with dive and photography gear, and maybe a kayak or two, and head out for a full weekend of adventurous exploring. If the location is exceptional, like an assignment to dive in Washington State’s San Juan Islands, we often allocate several days to experience all that’s available.
This would be great if we wanted to do some shore diving, since the ferries haul automobiles, but boat diving was on our agenda. To accommodate, we hooked up with a group of divers leaving from Anacortes on the dive charter boat, Lu Jac’s Quest, run by Phil Jensen.
So… you have your new photo equipment. Cool... now what? Should we just jump in the water with it?
Now, go and ask a completely new underwater photographer about how they have planned to actually carry out their first photo dive, and they usually have not even considered it. For that reason alone, many first photo dives are rarely successful.
In late April 2013, a dele-gation of 16 people from IAHD Adriatic – International Association for Handicapped Divers visited Moscow in Russia to become the first disabled divers to dive in the Hydro Lab of the Russian cosmonaut testing facility located in Star City.
— We did it!
The delegation to Star City included Slovenians Damjan Pek-lar (CMAS Instructor), Barbara Slaček and Aleš Povse-Yoda, as well as Croatians Zoran Vlah—who gets around in a wheelchair in everyday life—and Peter Maj-cen who is on crutches.
The month of November sees the return of the international dive industry trade convention, the DEMA Show, to Orlando, Florida, USA. In a peek-behind-the-scenes conversation with Tom Ingram, Executive Director of DEMA (Diving Equipment and Marketing Association), Rosemary Lunn’s interview reveals an engaged, enthusiastic diver who is passionate about our industry and the business of diving.
"I usually try to dive if I am travelling—it gives me a sense of what the local dive operators are doing to teach their students and keep their customers active, and I consider myself fairly flexible with regard to how and where the dive is conducted.
For the first article in this series, I have chosen to get up on my soapbox with a little constructive (I hope) rant about an area where I think the dive industry is failing itself and its customers.
I say this because I have met a number of folk recently who have told me that they tried diving once and found that “it wasn’t for them”. Let’s examine that statement more closely.