Need scuba gear, but have no Idea? Fear Not. Part 4: Regulators

Need scuba gear, but have no Idea?? Fear Not.

scuba gear

You regulators are an essential piece of Scuba Gear

Part 4: Regulators

Cost: €200-2000

Scuba Gear. What do I need a regulator for? What do they do?

Scuba gear regulators give us the air we need for scuba diving A regulator is the cool bit of gear that facilitates your breathing underwater. It converts the highly pressurized air from your cylinder directly, giving us breathable air at ambient pressure in just two stages. The first stage reduces the high tank pressure into intermediate pressure (from 200 bar to around 10-12 bar). The second stage (the bit you stick in your mouth) then reduces it again, from 10-12 bar to breathable pressure (ambient)

When divers talk about regulators they are usually referring to a complete set – a first stage, hoses, second stage, redundant second stage (octopus or alternate air source) and an instrument console containing, at the very minimum, an air gauge. All of these can be bought separately, but manufactures will usually preassemble elements that suit each other together to meet the requirements of the different diving environments worldwide. For example, the regs you need for warm, tropical diving are different to those that you would use in cold water. The great news is that over the years regulators have been perfected to the point that even the most budget reg will offer high performance. Be this as it may, it is always good to do a little homework before setting out to buy this vital piece of gear.

Scuba Gear Regulator Options:

  1.   First stages: There are 2 ways that your first stage can fit onto your scuba cylinder – DIN or A-clamp (yoke). The DIN system can handle higher working pressures of up to 300 bar and offers a more secure coupling to the cylinder as it traps the o-ring between the cylinder valve and the first stage. A-clamps are more common worldwide and can handle working pressures of up to 232 bar. Don’t worry if you are tempted by the DIN system but are worried that it won’t fit a cylinder while you are traveling – adaptors exist that can quickly convert a DIN reg to fit onto an a-clamp cylinder.

Another option for your first stage is the number of ports that it has. There are two types of port – the high pressure (HP) and the low pressure. You need both because your air gauge gives you an exact pressure reading from your tank – it lets you know how much air you have, and so it needs a high pressure hose from a high pressure port. The hoses that feed both you and your BCD require low pressure – as we will be breathing from here and don’t want to blow up like an angry pufferfish every time we take a breath or inflate our jacket. Some regulators have more ports than others – you will always need one high pressure port for your air gauge, but some divers want two. The second HP port can be utilized by a transducer – a cool little device that screws into the HP port of the first stage. It reads your cylinder pressure and then delivers this information directly to your dive computer in digital form. Pretty cool (although pretty costly)

Environmentally sealed first stages are for cold water diving. Cold water may interfere with the internal mechanical workings of your first stage making it prone to free-flowing. The environmental seal prevents the surrounding water from interacting with the internal mechanisms, allowing them to breathe smooth and easy in even the coldest of waters.

  1.   Second stage options are either balanced or unbalanced. Balanced second stages deliver consistent performance and flow rates regardless of depth. Unbalanced second stages will struggle to maintain a uniform performance at deeper depths.  Balanced regulators are more complicated than unbalanced ones and so cost a little more. Budget conscious divers beware, ease of breathing is a very, very good thing, but a decent compromise would be to take a balanced first stage with an unbalanced second stage. This combo delivers a good balance of performance at a reduced cost.

Second stages can also have an inhalation adjustment feature that alters the effort required to open the valve. These are great for deeper dives where you can turn the air “up” and breathe freely at depth and turn it “down” again before shallowing up (a comfortable resistance at depth may result in a freeflow at the surface.)

  1.   The Octopus or the redundant second stage is the most common type of alternate air source. Both the front cover of this second stage and the hose that connects it to the first stage are coloured a bright yellow, making it easily identifiable for an out of air emergency. The hose is generally longer than that of your primary one, allowing it to be donated to your buddy should they need it. The octopus doesn’t have to cost the earth either. Most people opt for one that is either the same model as their primary or a more basic option – with any luck, you won’t be using it that often.

Another form of a redundant second stage is one that combines an alternate air supply with the BCD’s inflator. The benefit of this choice is that you need one less LP port on your first stage and it is always readily available and easy to find. One disadvantage to this is that in the event of an emergency the donor diver needs to relinquish their primary second stage and switch to the alternate themselves. The hose for the primary is shorter too, meaning that both divers’ movements are rather restricted.

Scuba Gear. What am I looking for in a set of regulators?

  •         High performance: you want a reg that can deliver a high volume of air at depth, even under strenuous conditions with low tank pressure.
  •         Comfort: you want a mouth piece that sits comfortably in your mouth with hoses that are the right length for you.

Always test as many regulators as possible: breathing from a regulator in a dive store will tell you very little about what it is like to breathe with it underwater.

What do I use?

scuba gear

I adore my Aqualung Legend regulators. This piece of scuba gear has been my best friend for over 10 years now!

My favorite set of regulators are my Aqualung Legend LX. I bought them in 2005 and although I have bought a few more since then I always seem to go back to these. They breathe dry and true in any position and the wide exhaust tees minimize the bubble interference as I breathe out. Perfect in my book.

Whatever you choose, take your time. Talk with your local dive center. Ask your diving friends. Do a little homework to ensure that you find the perfect set of regulators for your budget. Dive as many as you can and read current review sites to get a feel for what’s out there. Once you have found your ‘new best friend’ then treat them well. If you service them annually, keep them out the sun and wash them after every dive then they will be your new best friend.

Beautiful.

 

Need Scuba Gear, but Have No Idea? Part 3: BCD’s (Buoyancy Control Device)

Need Scuba Gear, but Have No Idea?? Fear Not.

Scuba Gear

Scuba Gear: The BCD is an essential and personal piece of kit

Part 3: Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)

Cost: €200-1000

What do I need a BCD for? What do they do?

Scuba Gear: The BCD. Buoyancy control is one of the most essential skills that a diver must master. It not only gives you greater control, but also streamlines your body while diving and protects the delicate marine life. It is part of your life support system. It allows you to float at the surface by offsetting the weight of your gear and so should have adequate “lift” for you and the rest of your equipment. It is also what holds your tank on your back and secures all the hoses from your regulators. It is a vital bit of kit, and one that has many options to choose from.

Before you buy a BCD there are many things to think about. What style should you get? What accessories will you need (more metal D-rings or more pockets etc.)? Is it easy to operate? What kind of inflator/deflator do you want?

Scuba Gear. BCD Style

There are two main styles of BCD – the traditional “jacket” or the back inflated “wing”. The “jacket” has a bladder that wraps around you and is extremely comfortable to float at the surface with. The “wing” has its bladder behind you and can give you an excellent profile under the water. It does take a little getting used to however as it has a tendency to push you forward and makes floating comfortably at the surface a little more challenging.

There are also hybrid BCD’s which combine features from both the wing and jacket styles. There are even BCD’s for ladies. Most equipment manufacturers now produce BCD’s with ladies in mind. Specially designed, ladies BCD’s work to move the majority of the weight of your heavy equipment from your upper back to across the hips (where were are better suited to carry it). They may cost a little more, but are very comfortable and safer for your back too.

Travel BCD’s are also an option. Travel BCD’s are generally those that are lighter in weight and are less bulky to pack. They typically have fewer stainless steel D-rings and they’ll usually be made with in a lighter fabric. Many of them lack any kind of back-plate to reduce weight and make them easier to pack.

Scuba Gear. BCD Lift – How much do you Need?

Simply put, lift capacity is a measurement of how much weight the BCD can hold on the surface when the bladder is fully inflated. Lift has many factors that determine it, and is hugely complicated, so the following is a general guideline that you should look for when making your selection.

  •         Tropical Diving (with little or no wetsuit protection) = 8-12kg
  •         Recreational Diving (with a full wetsuit or dry suit) – 10-20kg
  •         Technical Diving (or diving under other demanding conditions) – 20-40kg

 

Scuba Gear: Weight integrated BCD

Weights are needed to offset the buoyancy in our bodies and wetsuit in order for us to actually get under the water.  Weight belts can be quite uncomfortable or even painful. The last decade has seen a huge rise in popularity of the integrated weight BCD. These have removable pockets to hold your required weight and are very comfortable. They have a quick release mechanism (the most important feature of a weight system) that allows you to dump your weight in the event of an emergency. Your weight system is a personal choice, but I think that being comfortable is ideal at all times – not only while scuba diving.

What am I looking for in my scuba gear?

Correct size and fit. Don’t try on a BCD without first thinking of the exposure protection that you will be wearing with it. If possible, test the size with your exposure protection on to give truer feel for the correct size. You want your BCD to fit snugly, but it shouldn’t squeeze you when it is inflated, inflate it all the way until the overflow valves vent while trying the BCD on. You should also be able to reach all the adjustment straps, hoses and inflator easily, for fluid motor muscle movements on every dive. You don’t want there to be any restrictions.

Another thing to look out for is the inflator itself. Does it have clearly distinguishable buttons for both the inflator and deflator? Look for ones that have two colours, one for each button, so you can avoid making a mistake.

Scuba Gear. What do I use?

I love my Aqualung Soul i3. It is a ladies BCD with the new inflator design (the Balanced Power Inflator or BPI) that moves the orientation of your inflator/deflator from the shoulder to where your left hand usually rests. It is fixed and does not move, unlike the floppy hose of traditional BCD’s. It is intuitive too – push the lever up to add air and push it down to release. It is filled with a soft gel too – so may back has a soft cushion between me and my cylinder.

Scuba Gear

Scuba Gear: Buy the best BCD that you can afford. With the right care it will last you for years.

My best bit of advice is to spend as much as you can afford on a BCD. With the right maintenance and annual servicing it will last years if not decades, so don’t buy the cheapest option. The BCD, along with regulators and dive computers, are the three bits of kit that I would never watch my pennies over. Choose the best one for you, take care of it and never forget to go through its workings with your dive buddy before EVERY dive. Always dive S.A.F.E. and be happy!

 

Need scuba gear, but have no Idea? Part 1: The Mask and Snorkel

Scuba Gear

Scuba Gear: The Mask and Snorkel are vital bit of kit, choose wisely!

Need scuba gear, but have no Idea? Part 1: The Mask and Snorkel. Scuba Gear choices are huge. It’s a big old blue world out there and if you are new to scuba diving then maybe you have started thinking about buying your own scuba gear. The amount of options out there are countless and it’s easy to get lost under a mountain of choices.  Don’t Panic! Between your instructor, dive center and this series of blogs, you will be educated and confident to make the right decisions for your life underwater.

When buying scuba gear it can be helpful to break it into 2 phases:

  1. The basics: needed for your scuba classes (masks, fins, wetsuits etc.)
  2. The major pieces of life support which you are allowed to buy after you become a certified diver. (Regulators, BCDs dive computers etc.)

The following blog entry is the first of many. This series will give you all the information that is required when making an educated purchase.

Scuba Gear Part 1: The Mask

Cost: €20-€200

Scuba masks have evolved since the times of the old James Bond movies. Gone are the single pane oval shaped masks, and they have been replaced with a huge variety of shapes for every face. Find yours!

Scuba Gear: Why do we need a mask: What does it do?

A mask is an essential piece of scuba gear. If you want to see the underwater world clearly. Our eyes need air to focus: opening your eyes underwater without one gives us a fuzzy unsharp view of all the glorious things to see. For this reason, the mask is considered as one of the ABC’s of scuba gear; it is one of the first things a new diver buys and gets the most use of (after all – its small enough to pack into even the smallest carry-on bag.)

What 6 things should I look for when selecting the perfect mask?

As with all scuba Gear, Fit is essential. Do not look at the price tag. Let your face decide!

  1.   Place the mask skirt on your face, but without the strap. It should fit without gaps. Make sure there isn’t any hair trapped under skirt of the mask.
  2.   Try this again with a regulator mouthpiece in your mouth. Does it still fit without any gaps?
  3.   Look forward and inhale gently. The mask should now seal onto your face and should stay there without having to hold it.
  4.   Try this again with a regulator mouthpiece in your mouth. Does it still make a seal?
  5.   Now you can place the strap around your head. Does it feel comfortable? Your nose should not touch the end of the nose pocket and it should also feel comfortable on your upper lip. If it doesn’t feel comfortable then select a softer material for the skirt: Liquid skin latex is a great option.
  6.   Lastly – try a regulator again. Can you reach the nose pocket easily for equalizing?  If so then this mask is the right one for your face.

There are also options for increased field of vision – some have additional panes above or below the main lens are completely up to the diver. There is also colour to consider, and masks come in an ever increasing variety of colours, but please note that colour should be the last thing that you consider. Fit is of primary importance for comfortable dives in full high definition vision.

 

Scuba Gear Part 2: The Snorkel

Cost: €10-€50

What it does:

The snorkel allows you to breathe with your face in the water and without using your tank air. It is a hollow tube that attaches to the left side of your scuba mask. In theory it is a very simple piece of kit – but technological advances have made even this piece a little daunting when selecting the right one for you.

What am i looking for?

As with all scuba gear, comfortable fit is what you’re looking for in a snorkel. It should fit nicely in your mouth and you shouldn’t feel like your mouth is being overly stretched. It should breathe dry and easy.

Modern snorkels have purge valves near the mouthpiece to make clearing easier, and some have features that boast extra dry use. Both are great, but as you add features the overall drag of your snorkel will increase and may distract you when you go underwater completely for you scuba dive. If you are only planning on using a snorkel while diving then you can happily be content with the most basic snorkel. If you plan on using it for snorkeling alone then maybe you should think of a modern one with all the bells and whistles.

Scuba Gear: Mask and Snorkel Combos

When buying scuba gear a combination set is also an option. Some retailers offer better prices on mask and snorkels together. As long as you get to try on both using the advice from this blog and they tick all the boxes then go for it. This is where colour can be matched and make you look like the true Diving Diva that you are when under the water.

Above all being safe and comfortable is the best thing for your peace of mind while scuba diving. Having your own scuba gear means that you are dedicated to your diving and most dive centers will give you a discount for every piece that you already own. A good investment will always give you the most return – so start with the basics and enjoy yourselves!!

One happy diver in her new scuba gear

One happy diver in her new scuba gear

Come back next week for more scuba gear top tips when buying a set of fins……

Ciao for now!

Need scuba gear, but have no Idea? Fear Not. Part 2: Fins

Fins

Scuba Gear : Fins (not flippers!)

Need scuba gear, but have no Idea? Fear Not.

Part 2: Fins (not flippers!)

Cost: €30-200

Scuba gear: Why do I need fins for? What do they do?

Fins allow our powerful leg muscles to propel us through the water extremely efficiently. Without fins it is extremely difficult to move in water as it is 800 more dense than air. The best advice that I can offer you is not to choose the cheapest option here – leg cramps, muscle fatigue and a thoroughly unenjoyable dives are just some of the risks.

What am I looking for?

Open heel fin

Scuba Gear: Rigid fins lead to lowered energy expenditures over a longer distance

Scuba Gear Fins: Efficient or flexible?

As with most scuba gear, comfort and a good fit are paramount. Efficiency is also a good thing to look out for – as more efficient fins lead to lowered energy expenditures over a longer distance. More meters per kick is a good thing, especially in areas of high current. High efficiency fins however use a stiffer material and are often larger and heavier – meaning those of us who are slightly smaller in size often opt for a more flexible fin blade. Flexibility vs efficiency is a debate best resolved by your own body and preferences.

Stiff, efficient fins are better for frog kicking. They are good for more advanced propulsion techniques such as helicopter kicks or finning backwards. More flexible fins are perfect for the flutter kick and are perfect for those who are new to diving, smaller in size or for areas of low current.

fin pocket fin

Scuba Gear: Full foot fins perfect for warmer waters and boat diving

Scuba Gear Fins: Full foot or Open Heel?

Full foot fins do not require a separate boot and are perfect for warmer waters. They are also perfect for boat diving when you do not have to walk over any rugged terrain to enter the water. In Cyprus most dives are shore dives and you often walk over rocks that have been roasted in the 45 °C sun – so open heel fins with separate boots are best here. Open heel fins are also perfect for children as the heel strap simply slips over the boots and do not need to be replaced every time they grow. They can also be used by multiple family members (as long as not diving together of course).

 

Scuba Gear Fins: What do I use?

scuba pro nova

Scuba Gear: I love my very flexible Scubapro Sea Wing Nova fins

I am 160cm (5ft,4 inches) and I do the majority of my diving in the Mediterranean so I choose the very flexible Scubapro ‘Sea Wing Nova’ while diving at home. They are open healed and I love them. They are perfect for Cyprus where there is very little current for most of the year. However, I do take a more rigid fin when traveling (if I can I take both) so I can keep up with the big stuff like sharks and mantas.

So if you are slowly building up your scuba gear closet then congratulations! Investment in your passion usually means that you will continue it for years to come. Fins are perfect for keeping you in the water, they are big enough to take up a decent amount of space among your clothes and are a constant reminder to get in the water to  keep your fins wet and happy!!

 

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Marine Parks in Cyprus

Marine Parks in Cyprus

Marine Parks In Cyprus

Marine Parks In Cyprus Will Only Regenerate Fish Stocks if they are Enforced by the Authorities

Marine parks in Cyprus are becoming an integral part of the effort to increase fish stocks in the Mediterranean Sea.  This is great news; fish stocks have been rapidly declining over the last two decades as the human demand for seafood steadily increases. Stocks are so worryingly low due to overfishing that there is a risk that fish populations will suffer a reduced ability to reproduce if no action is taken. Meta-analysis of 9 species of fish by Greek Scientists in 2014 will be  used as the key species indicative to fish populations as a whole. These species include cod, red mullet, anchovy and sardines.

 

The plan to tackle this problem started two years ago in 2013.  Funded by the Cyprus Dive Centre Association, the Department of Fisheries and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, four  large fishing vessels and a multitude of reef poles will be installed around the Cypriot coastline, creating a total of 5 Marine parks over 12 square kilometers. Three artificial reefs in the form of purposefully sunk wrecks have already taken place. The Liberty, Nemesis III and Kyrenia wrecks are all happy at the bottom of the sea already. Fish and other aquatic species are already colonizing them. They are  all beautiful dives and are all at Scuba Monkey’s doorstep, so why don’t you book onto the next trip and see for yourselves?

 

Fishing bans will be enforced by the fishery department and local law enforcement. This sounds good on paper, but myself and the majority of dive centers in cyprus believe that 12 square kilometers of protected waters will not be sufficient for fish stocks to regenerate. An island-wide fishing ban is hoped for. Fishermen will not be happy, but surely fish stocks for the future have to be considered. Is it not better to ban fishing completely for a while, allowing fish to repopulate this corner of the Mediterranean that we call home? I think so. Whether the Cypriot fisheries department will take further action is hoped for.

 

Another problem of marine parks is the enforcement side. Will local law enforcement actually actively penalize those found fishing? Will these penalties be harsh enough to successfully deter fishermen? I live in Agias Triada,  my apartment is on the coast and I am inside the supposed marine park.  Every morning I have coffee on my balcony and every morning I see fishermen on the rocks and fishing boats on the water. The marine police have an office less than a nautical mile away.  I have never seen a police boat enforcing the fishing ban. This is worrying to say the least.

 

Marine parks only work if they are enforced. On one hand the positive side is that marine parks are being set out.  This means the Cypriots are making a move in the right direction. It marks a much needed paradigm shift in at least the minds of the local people. With a little brute force and a lot of cash penalties the re-population of fish stocks is an achievable goal. This would benefit not only the aquatic life,  but the nation’s economy too.  Cyprus offers one of the longest diving seasons of Europe.  Our seas never drop below 16 degrees Celsius and the visibility is fantastic due to the lack of plankton in the Med. The Cyprus Tourism organisation’s dream of creating a diving destination of excellence would be more achievable if there was more to see under the surface.  I am dubious but hopeful that over time the 5 marine parks will improve our dive sites and give us more to see.  The tourists, divers and fish are all crossing their fingers and fins in the hope that the marine parks will be policed and protected.

Marine Parks in Cyprus

One of the Signs Placed on the Coastline clearly Displays the Marine Parks in Cyprus. Now Fishermen Need to Respect Them and Police Need to Enforce Them

 

 

Spotting Sea Turtles in Cyprus

Sea Turtles in Cyprus

 

Turtles

Turtles are gorgeous creatures; large yet graceful, slow yet fast . Photo Credit: Royce Hatch

In this month of September we Scuba Monkeys have been enjoying the beautiful sightings of turtles on the majority of our dives. They are gorgeous creatures; large yet graceful, slow yet fast when they want to be. Turtles in the Mediterranean are slightly different to those found in the Atlantic. Their populations were established quite recently in the big scheme of things – just after the last glacial period – and the somewhat closed system of the Med means that they have evolved with small differences compared to other turtles in other oceans.

 

So why do we see so many in the month of September? Quite simply, it is because it is nesting season and they are all making their way to their favorite nesting areas. I wanted to share my passion for turtles in this week’s blog. I hope you love them as much as i do!

 

 

 

Turtles

Nesting distribution of green turtles in the Mediterranean.

The two most common species found in the Mediterranean Sea are the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) and the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Both species may be found in the Mediterranean, but each choose to nest in different regions.  Loggerhead Turtles nest on beaches all over the Mediterranean Basin, but the Green turtle is much more selective. 99% of them nest in Turkey and Cyprus. This narrow geographical region has been experiencing higher and higher levels of tourism over the last 20 years. Tourism is  continually increasing from year to year, posing higher and higher threats to their precious nesting beaches.

 

The green turtle is on the critically endangered list according to the International World Conservation Union and their protection is urgent. So what are the largest threats to the green turtle? What can we do to help?

 

 

Threats To Green Turtles:

 

Low hatch rate:

Green turtles take 30 years to reach maturity. 30 years before they are ready to breed. Only females will come ashore to lay eggs, generally in the area where they were born. They nest several times during a nesting season every 2-4 years over the course of their lifetime. Egg incubation, emergence of eggs and the descent of hatchlings to the sea are all declining, meaning that less and less turtles reach breeding age. This is a big problem.

 

Tourism:

The impact of tourism is astounding. It affects so many areas of the green turtle’s’ life cycle that it is hardly surprising that their numbers are declining so dramatically.

  • Turtles

    Stationary lights confuse turtles

    Stationary lights confuse hatchlings, mistaking them for the moon they often miss the water and head towards a streetlight instead.

 

 

 

 

  • Moving Lights: Scare females away
  • Sunbeds: These form physical barriers on the beach that block hatchlings from being able to successfully navigate to the sea.
  • Nest collapse: People walk over the nest chambers causing them to collapse.
  • Turtles

    Watersports Scare turtles

    Watersports: Collisions are often fatal, and at the very least scare turtles away from the beaches they are  desperately heading for

 

 

 

  • Turtles

    Tourists driving on turtle beaches are the surest way to collapse any nests there

    Driving on beaches: Quad bikes and buggies are everywhere, they are a “must have’ for most tourists in Cyprus and the off road thrill  is encouraged. Tourists driving on turtle beaches are the surest way to collapse any nests there,  and at the very least terrify any females wishing to lay eggs there.

 

 

 

 

Pollution

Turtles

Don’t make turtles eat your rubbish – Put it in the bin!

The Mediterranean Sea is mostly a closed one. Pollutants rapidly build up and affect the ecosystem. The list of domestic waste is seemingly endless. 1-3 tonnes of waste per mile of coastline was estimated after a French beach cleanup in 1997. Cyprus is no different. the amount of waste that I observe in the oceans is increasing at an alarming rate. Plastic bags resemble jellyfish – the juvenile turtles favorite snack – and these are lethal for them to ingest. Be AWARE and make every dive a “Dive Against Debris” by picking up rubbish while you dive. The turtles with thank you!

 

 

 

 

Natural Habitat Changes

Turtles

Turtles feel the effects of beach erosion

The world’s shape and form is continuously evolving. Coastlines change; the slope and angle of beaches are always in a state of transition. This is natural in the big scheme of things and there is little to do. Global warming however has an interesting affect on green turtles. As reptiles, they rely on the temperature of the sand in which the eggs incubate to determine the gender of the hatchling in a nest. Typically, the eggs in the lower, cooler, part of the nest will become males, while the eggs in the upper, warmer, part of the nest will become females. With increasing nest temperatures, scientists predict that there will be more female than male hatchlings, creating a significant threat to genetic diversity

 

 

 

Fishing:

Turtles

Green turtles often get caught in nets and then drown as they are unable to get to the surface to breathe

Bycatch is when one species is caught by a fisherman unintentionally. Green turtles often get caught in nets and then drown as they are unable to get to the surface to breathe. Fishery laws state that any turtle that is found alive in a net should be returned to the sea. An average of 500 turtles are caught in nets in  Turkey and Cyprus alone. 90% are alive when they are caught….but i know from first hand experience that most Cypriot  fisherman hate turtles, they “destroy their precious nets” and so they are in the habit of killing them before throwing them overboard. It is heartbreaking. It is totally unnecessary. It makes me emotional just to write this.  

500 turtles as bycatch is a huge number. Studies have shown that 339-369 green turtles nest every year in Cyprus. The lowest number of nests recorded was 135 and the highest was 461 (Margaritoulis et al., 2003).It’s estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood.Sea turtle hatchlings eat a variety of prey including things like molluscs and crustaceans, hydrozoans, sargassum seaweed, jellyfish, and fish eggs. Unfortunately, hatchlings also mistake garbage and objects like tar balls as food and ingest them.

 

Turtles: Nesting beaches in Cyprus

 

  1. Lara Bay
  2. Toxefra Bay
  3. Agia Napa (until 1977) Tourism made nesting impossible
  4. Karpaz Peninsula

 

What can you do to help?

The Society of Protection of Turtles (SPOT) in North Cyprus is a non-profit organisation. They have been dedicated to the protection of sea turtles in Cyprus and Turkey since 1992. They help sea turtle populations increase their numbers through education, protection and hands on help from staff and volunteers.

 

Turtles

SPOT staff and volunteers help increase the number of surviving adults for the future

 

Left to their own devices, only 1 sea turtle hatchling out of a 1000 eggs will actually make it from their nest to the sea, and then they need 30 years to get to breeding age themselves. SPOT staff and volunteers help increase the number of surviving adults for the future in a number of ways:

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Nest Screening: Nests will be relocated to a safer area if they are at risk from beach erosion
  2. Monitoring nests at night
  3. Measuring turtles,  geo-tagging and data trackers attached to some
  4. Nest temperature monitoring
  5. Nests protected from predators (dogs etc:)
  6. Educating tourists and locals
  7. Working with the fisheries departments
  8. Hatchling release: This is a big public event. Participants can name and release a single hatchling into the world to help it on its way.

 

It is hoped that these measures will protect future numbers of sea turtles in Cyprus. You can visit the center yourself and join in, every hand and  mind that is touched will benefit this species’ survival. Every turtle makes our sea richer, every hatchling released stands a better chance to return to the same beach to lay its own eggs one day. You never know – if you take your child to the SPOT center this holiday, the turtle they release could be the turtle that lays its eggs for your grandchildren to release in 30 years time.

 

Wouldn’t that be special?

 

Underwater Photography: Tips and Tricks

Underwater Photography: Tips and Tricks

 

Underwater photography

The PADI Underwater Photography Course is for you if you are addicted to scuba and addicted to taking photographs.

Scuba diving is beautiful and so it is only natural to want to capture this beauty with a camera. Underwater photography is similar to photography on land – but there are some differences. You need to know and understand these differences in order to get the most out of taking photographs beneath the waves. The PADI Underwater Photography Course is for you if you are addicted to scuba and addicted to taking photographs.

Before you get started however, make sure that your scuba diving skills are up to scratch. Buoyancy control is paramount to being able to take photos safely underwater. Dont worry if they are not however – the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Speciality Course will take care of everything and you photos will be that much sharper because of it.

 

 

 

Important Underwater Photography Facts

 

Underwater Photography

Underwater Photography: How depth determines colour

Water absorbs light in the order of the spectrum. Red is the first to go, then orange, yellow, green and so on. Scuba divers can add a strobe (external flash) to counteract this effect.

Water also reduces contrast and sharpness. Photos should be taken within a meter of the subject (the closer the better)

Sunlight steals colour: Always make sure you have the sun behind you.

 

 


 

Underwater Photography Definitions

 

  • Strobe or flash: A source of full spectrum light (essential for UW Photographs)
  • Internal Flash: The flash that come with most cameras. Dont be surprised if you experience “backscatter” on most of your shots.
  • Underwater Housing: This keeps your camera dry and usable underwater
  • O-ring – a rubber ring that creates a waterproof seal.
  • Wide angle: Gives you a large field of vision
  • Ambient Light: The available surrounding light. This diminishes the deeper you go
  • Backscatter:  specks, spots or blotches that appear in your underwater photos due to light from your flash reflecting off particles, sand or plankton in the water.This looks like dust on the lense, but it’s not, it is just particles in the water. Use a strobe instead.
  • White Balance:  A setting on cameras telling the camera’s processor how to interpret the pixel values it records when taking a photograph.

     

    Underwater Photography

    Read your Camera’s Manual

    Advice for first time Underwater Photographers

  • Use a flash for anything further than 1 meter. Set it to forced flash and not on the default auto flash setting. This will add colour to your shots, otherwise they will all look a little too blue.
  • Use Macro mode for anything close up (2-60cm) , or your shots will be mostly out of focus.
  • Use auto-white balance when using an internal flash, this again reduces the blue tinge from your images. If you are not using the flash then learn the manual white balance settings for your particular make of camera. Read Your manual!
  • Try to fill the frame: get as close as you can at eye level with your subject.  The closer you are, the better your color, contrast and sharpness will be

 

  • Try using the half focus option to cut down focusing problems. Simply press the shutter button half way, allowing the camera to focus before pressing it fully to take your shot.

 

Until you have more practice concentrate on 2 types of underwater shot:

 

  1. Close-up shots in macro mode, forced flash, auto-white balance, spot-focus, with the subject no more than 5-6 centimeters  away
  2. Scenic shots a couple of meters away, macro mode off, flash off, custom white balance in shallow, sunny water


Need more tips and tricks?


Sign up today for your PADI Underwater Photography Course!

Scuba Diver Training: Your Official PADI Identification Photograph

Scuba Diver Training: Your Official PADI Identification Photograph

Scuba Diver Training

P.I.C = Your Positive Identification Card Displays Your Official PADI Photo

Scuba diver training is fun. You learn new skills that gives you access to 70% of this planet that was previously inaccessible to you. Its challenging and rewarding, but in order to become a certified diver you have to pose for your official PADI identification photograph for your PIC (positive identification card).

Why am I writing about taking a photograph I hear you ask? It’s no big deal – Facebook and Instagram are full of them. Why is a diving photograph so different?

Thats what i thought. At least, that is what I thought before I became a PADI instructor.

At the end of your scuba diver training, after all the knowledge has been absorbed, the skills mastered and the open water dives are complete – we get to fill in your PIC online information. A photograph is mandatory and the application is sent to PADI directly for processing. I ask guests to stand in front of a white wall and take a head and shoulders shot.  Perhaps it is the era that has evolved due to social media such as Facebook – but this process takes longer and longer.

Why?

Because each guest wants the photo taken again and again.

Scuba Diver Training

Countless guests wants their photo taken again and again.

“Please Please take another one!”

“My hair looks like I’ve been electrocuted!”

“My tan is uneven!

These are but a few pleadings that I hear after scuba diver training is complete – on certification days. I oblige everyone – I edit out small blemishes with Photoshop, I want my students to be happy.

Is this necessary? Maybe not, but the customer is always right.

Scuba diving training  is fun. It is a sport. It is an activity where we are outside most of the

time, either in the sun or underwater with a mask attached to our faces. The mask strap sits just above the ears and goes round the head. The salt water combined with this strap moves our hair around and it may even get tangled a few times. It may also leave a tan line on your forehead and under your nose ( i have a permanent mask mark)! It makes us look like a scuba diver. It makes us look like we are athletic people who do crazy fun activities and not a perfect model for an Hawaiian Tropic sun lotion advert.

 

Scuba Diver Training

Why should our identification not show this joy as well as hair that is a little out of place?

After our scuba diver training we are thrilled to have completed our course. Why should our identification not show this joy as well as hair that is a little out of place? “Diving hair” is not perfect. “diving hair” looks a bit out of disheveled. “Diving hair” is awesome. Wear it with pride! Smile your biggest smile and let the joy of scuba diving shine through your eyes and into the camera lens. It shows how much fun you have had. It shows your success. It shows you in your evolved form as a PADI Scuba Diver!!

 

 

 

Scuba Diver Training

Your P.I.C Photo should show the fun of Scuba Diver Training. It is not a selfie!