Diver Education random stuff

Careful what you pick up while diving

Millions of unexploded bombs lie in waters off US coast.

Just found an interesting article on Fox News about millions of unexploded bombs off the US Coast. Apparently Texas has the most close to shore, then Louisiana. Considering there’s quite a few places to go diving off Texas, including the Flower Gardens and the oil rigs, it’s good to know that there is some strange and potentially dangerous stuff out there.

So next time you’re out diving and see something interesting on the sea floor, be careful before you pick it up as a souvenir. It may be a bomb….

Here’s the article:

destinations Diver Education oil spill

Scuba in the Gulf of Mexico?

Scuba Shops still operating?

jimmyLast night while BBQing, we were flicking through channels and we saw the Jimmy Buffett free concert in Gulf Shores, AL. It made us wonder, as we looked at the overhead shots of 35,000 people on white sands, how badly are tourist dependent stores being affected? Are local SCUBA stores still operating? Are they able to navigate past the oil and still go diving? Is there anything out there to see? If the water has been closed to fishermen, how about Scuba Divers?

So, I’m going to set up a new page just for the Gulf area. If you are a Scuba Store or Scuba Diver in the Gulf Coast, anywhere from Port Isabel near South Padre Island, TX, up through Galveston, Mobile AL, Pensacola, Tampa and down to Key West, FL, let me know where you are and if you are still running trips into the Gulf.

Anyone who contacts me, I’ll put your information up on the Gulf Coast Diving page to let people know that they can still call you and arrange a trip. If you’re still operating, we don’t want you to lose money because people are just assuming you’re closed!

Use the Contact Page, let us know your website if you have one, phone number, if you’re still doing trips into the gulf, what kind of boats you have, what kind of diving you do, nitrox, liveaboard, night diving, etc and any other information that might be important for Scuba Divers to know.

If you own a Scuba Store, tell us if you sell Scuba gear and diving equipment, wetsuits, scuba masks, if you fill tanks with nitrox, etc.

Faith Hill has just confirmed that she will also be doing a concert in Gulf Shores, AL, so if you’re in the Gulf, let us know where you are so that we can tell people to take their Scuba Gear with them, or get some new diving equipment from you when they’re headed to the concert.

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Donating to the Gulf cleanup

dead sharkIt’s been a while now since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the gulf of Mexico. Oil is spewing out at an alarming rate and we are starting to see the effects on marine life.

Birds, crab and turtles are coming ashore covered in oil,  while sharks and dolphins are being found washed up dead in large numbers. I know most people are afraid of sharks, but I respect them for their position at the top of the food chain in the ocean, and images like this one make me tear up.

Gulf Oil Spill

They’re still not letting civilians volunteer to help clean up the coast. It’s just too dangerous with how toxic the oil is. Obama says he’s going to make BP pay for the cleanup. Meanwhile, they’re not letting people who are willing to help to help.

There are ways that those of us who can’t make it down to the coast to volunteer or who don’t have boats to donate to the effort can pitch in. There are plenty of organizations who are accepting donations so that they can go do something to help the wildlife in the meantime.

I’ve put a badge on my sidebar where you can donate money to the Emerald CoastKeeper. They’re based in Pensacola, Florida. They are the protectors of the coast between the Alabama/Florida border across to Panama City beach. Easily some of the most beautiful coastline in the entire US.

Even if we feel helpless in this whole situation, we can at least donate something to someone who can do something about protecting our shoreline and our wildlife. Join me in making a difference.

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Gulf Coast Oil Spill

My husband Matt and I belong to a Jeep Club in San Antonio. They had arranged a trip to Corpus Christ and Port Aransas last weekend. We had been so slammed during the week, we thought about not going on the ride, since it was a 6am start and we wouldn’t get back till late that night. Then however, we thought about the oil spill in the Gulf and how it hadn’t reached Corpus Christi or Port Arthur yet and we should go down and enjoy the beach while it was still clean.

So we got up at 6am and headed to the meeting point on the SE side of town. We met up with another 5 jeeps and headed south. When we got to Corpus, we met up with the local Corpus Christi chapter. So we now had about 10 jeeps cruising up and down the beach.

We set up some easy ups and everyone sat and relaxed for a bit after the drive. The weather was perfect. It wasn’t brutally hot, there was a pleasant breeze, and the water was a balmy 86 degrees. Everyone took advantage of the crystal clear water, while discussing the possible effects of the oil spill hitting the coast line.

We saw little four wheelers going up and down the beach with turtle flags on there. Matt actually saw a large sea turtle swim next to him while he was out in the water. It’s currently turtle season, and the four wheelers were a sea patrol dedicated to making sure that when the turtle beach themselves that they don’t get run over by people like us driving up and down the beach.

I’m really hoping the spill doesn’t make it to the Texas coast. When I first moved to Texas 10 years ago, there was lots of oil on the beach. They actually had cleaning stations where they provided alcohol to wipe your feet before going back to your car. I had a pair of beautiful shoes ruined by the oil. There’s been a real effort to clean up the gulf and keep it clean. Scuba Divers even use the oil platforms to dive on. I can’t imagine the effect of the oil spill on the Scuba industry. With so many places to dive in the gulf, from the artificial reefs off the coast of Pensacola in Florida down to the Oil Rigs and Hammerhead dives off South Padre Island. In between the two are many Scuba shops and dive centers who’s livelihood is going to be severely affected by the spill. Then there’s the affect to the marine life.

Sure, there’s a small amount of oil leaking naturally in the gulf all the time. But nothing of this magnitude. From the abundance of wildlife on the Texas Flower Gardens to the manatees off Central Florida, the impact of the spill is going to be huge. If you live near the beach, go enjoy it while you can. Once Hurricane season starts, there’s no guessing where the oil will end up.

There are several civilian efforts to help clean up the coast. If you’d like to get involve with the cleanup, check out some of these places.

If you have a better list of volunteer opportunities, please reply below so that we can share the word.

Dive Show Diver Education

Bay Area Dive Show

This weekend for all of you in California is the Bay Area Dive Show.

I wish we could make it out to California. The Bay Area Dive Show is run by the same folks who run the Texas Dive Show. It should be a great weekend. We saw some fantastic vendors in Dallas. The Bay Area Dive Show is in Santa Clara, and should be awesome. My favourite artist, Pascal Lecocq is going to to be there with his art work. My other San Antonio local friends and fellow expats, About Australia Diving will also be there. Make sure you stop by and say G’day for me.

The Bay Area Dive Show is a great way to go out and meet some other dive industry professionals face to face, learn about some dive resorts that you might want to visit, and check out some of the new scuba equipment on the market.

If you’re near Santa Clara this weekend, head on over and check out the Bay Area Dive Show. It should be a blast.

April 30 & May 1, 2010
Santa Clara Convention Center
Exhibit Hours: Friday from 5 PM til 8 PM Saturday from 9 AM til 5 PM

Diver Education Forum

Earth Day

It’s Earth Day today! While it’s rainy in San Antonio, I wish I could be out enjoying Earth Day by doing some diving somewhere pretty, enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer us.

Make sure you think about the Earth today. Go recylce something, pick up some trash, or educate a friend about the largest part of Earth, the Oceans. If we mess them up, we mess up the whole planet.

Don’t forget to use the forums and discuss what you’re doing today for Earth Day.

destinations Diver Education

Diver Down or Signal Flag Alpha?

Since I’m headed to Australia soon, I was thinking about the differences in Diving between the US and Australia. The biggest difference, is probably in the Flags used by divers. I always thought most people recognized the Red and White Diver Down flag. However, after doing a shore dive off Magnetic Island on one of my trips home, where some British Backpackers tried to kill me with their jetski by doing doughnuts around our dive flag, I worked out that perhaps it wasn’t as universal as I thought.

Alpha Dive Flag
Signal Flag Alpha
Diver Down Flag
Diver Down Flag

Turns out in countries like Australia, the Signal Flag Alpha is the more recognized flag. At least out in the open water. It’s a Universal Maritime flag that means that a vessel has limited maneuverability due to a diver in the water.  Of course, this probably doesn’t help a couple of British backpackers who have rented a jetski for the day. They probably wouldn’t have recognized either flag, since all one needs to rent a jetski is a land drivers license. Maybe when operators rent Jetskis, they  should be required to inform renters of Dive flags, to avoid potential accidents. Next time you go diving, check out which flags are being used locally. Even in Australia, it seems Dive Operators that cater to International Tourists use the Diver Down flag. It’s on their shop window, on their T-shirts, painted on their boats. But they may still fly the Signal Flag Alpha while out diving. In the US, most people only use the Diver Down flag.

There’s nothing that says you can’t use both. So next time you’re out diving, feel free to use both flags. Then, whether you’re dealing with locals or tourists, hopefully they’ll recognize one of them, and steer clear of you.