Whats on your Scuba to do list?

to do listBeing in landlocked Colorado can really limit our scuba plans and our scuba to do list.  Getting to some of our “to dive” places is definitely problematic.  But our scuba to do list doesn’t have to be all about exotic dive locales.  So, how about a few suggestions of fun things to keep you in the scuba mood as we wait for the snow to melt and we can board those flights to the islands.

Project Aware and Coral Reef specialties Why these?  Well, first the book is only 115 pages and it is free.  Ok so there is so much more to these than that as a few of our new divers from last month said to me, there is so much information in this book.  Such tidbits like if you take all of the coral reefs in the world and gathered them in one spot, they would take up the geographical space of the state of Nevada. Even if you don’t actually earn the specialty, the book is well worth the read.

Take a specialty or any continuing education course.  Maybe one that is out of your comfort zone such as underwater navigation.  By expanding our knowledge we will become better and more competent divers and have fun at the same time. If you are a rescue diver, put hone up on rescue skills on your to scuba to do list. Even as an instructor, I have a few specialties on my list that I want to add to my resume.

Dive some place different either virtually or maybe someplace like the Denver Aquarium. Diving with the sharks at the Denver Aquarium, while more like a sit and watch the sharks, it still keeps you blowing those bubbles. Even a pool dive in our shop pool will help you keep the scuba blues at bay this winter.

As you can see your scuba to do list for the winter can be as simple or as crazy as you want to make it.ok

What is on your scuba bucket list

scuba bucket listLast night I went home and asked Donna what is on her scuba bucket list.  The answers didn’t really surprise me. But a few of the critters did. When you read any scuba magazine and you will discover many different places and critters that are on our scuba bucket list. But let’s take a look at what is on our scuba bucket list Among the destinations on our scuba bucket list are (in no special order) Wakatobi, Palau, Raj Ampat, Yap, Chuuk Lagoon, the Red Sea and Cuba. Our bucket list does have a more South Pacific feel to it than some others, but on the list of places to go to again and again would be Little Cayman, Bonaire and Belize especially Turneffe and Lighthouse Atolls. How about some scuba bucket critters?  Whale sharks and Hammerheads would definitely top our list, so maybe a trip to the Galapagos or Cocos Islands is in order and should be added to the scuba bucket list.  Mandarin fish and leafy sea dragons and definitely on our list as is many different nudibranchs and yes even the great white cage dive. What else is on our scuba bucket list?  Discovering a pirate ship would be cool and there are many historical wrecks that we would love to have the opportunity to dive.  There is the sardine run off of South Africa as well as some entry-level tech dives that we would love the chance to see.  The scuba bucket list even has a few classes that we would like to take and even teach. There are so many different places and critters on our entire scuba bucket list that it is hard to imagine ever completing the list. Some such as Cuba, maybe shouldn’t be on our list, but I have always wanted to go to Cuba to explore. Afterall, Cuba at one time was a playground and is so close to us. So what is on your scuba bucket list? scuba joe

More fun facts about Coral Reefs

coral reefsIn our last post we looked at the Rain Forest of the Ocean, the Coral Reefs. I even had the opportunity to introduce some fun facts about coral reefs in my last scuba class, which was a lot of fun and really help bring to the students why buoyancy is so important.

So, some more fun facts about coral reefs

They are home to nearly 1/3 of all know fish species. On your next dive on the coral reef, take a moment and try to count all the fish you see and that is only such a small fraction of what is out there in the ocean.

The Atlantic Ocean only holds about 8% of all the world’s coral reefs with about 70 different coral and 500 fish species.  But the Indo-Pacific holds 92% of all the coral reefs with over 700 coral and 4000 fish species.  That right there makes me want to go to the Pacific to dive more and more. Imagine all the new creatures just waiting to be discovered.  Of all of the 107 known coral families only 8 are found in both oceans.

Scientist and drug companies have found that coral reefs contain many bio-medical compounds including antibiotics, anti-cancer and anti-HIV agents.

aquatic worldCoral Reefs protect over 1/6th of the world’s coast line. In fact if not for coral reefs a lot of the low Caribbean Islands that we all enjoy easy travel to would not exist.  In the Maldives around Male, the natural reef had to be replaced to protect the island.  The cost of that project was approximately $10,000 per square yard.  While the cost to protect the coral reefs is less than $1 per square yard per year.

Coral Reefs are in danger.  In 1998, the World Resource Institute estimated that 58% of the coral reefs were at risk.  The coral reefs in South and South East Asia, the Caribbean and East Africa are at the greatest risk; while in places such as the Philippines, Jamaica and Indonesia the majority of the reef is already seriously damaged and dead.  In 2000, researchers found that 11% of the world’s coral reefs were damaged beyond recovery and by 2004 almost 20% of the coral reefs were dead, partly due to rising temperatures.  Some are even forecasting that in the next 30 to 50 years that most of the world’s coral reefs could be gone

scuba joe

Coral Reefs, the Rain Forest of the Ocean

coral reefsAh, the beautiful coral reefs of the tropical islands that we love to visit and explore and all the little fun coral reefcreatures that call them home.  As a diver we know how fragile and beautiful coral reefs are, after all most places that we go to visit them are now protected areas.  We are told from the first day in our open water scuba class not to touch

Much like the rainforest that many activists are working to safe and conserve our version, the coral reefs are a warehouse of amazing biodiversity and is very complex eco system supporting a wide array of creatures. In fact, coral reefs are the habitat and nursery grounds for over 25% of all know marine life.  Home to over a quarter of all marine species in only 110,000 square miles of basically the size of the state of Nevada. Our coral reefs are the foundation of life in the ocean, allowing bacteria and algae to coat the sandy bottom or vacant spots in the reef and providing food for the mollusks, crustaceans, sea cucumbers and others.

But, coral reefs are more that home and birthing grounds to the creatures that live there.  They also, protect islands and coastal communities from wave damage and erosion.  Coral reefs and mangroves will absorb up to 90% of the energy from waves as they race towards the beach.  But, coral reefs can also start with a little help from us.  The placement of wrecks and even the oil rigs out in the gulf are homes to coral and marine life.

But, coral reefs grow best in water ranging from 64 to 86 degrees and they grow slow.  Branching corals such as the staghorn andcoral reefs elkhorn only grow horizontally at a rate of approximately 4 inches per year.  Vertical growth varies as well and can be as slow as fractions of an inch a year. One poorly placed fin tip can wipe out a decade or more of growth. And as ocean temps rise the growth rate of our coral reefs can slow and even kill them.

You can learn how to help protect or coral reefs in a Peak Performance Buoyancy clinic or class.



Our Aquatic World, some fun facts

aquatic world

Take a look at a globe, what do you see? A lot of blue that defines earth as an aquatic world. We know that water makes up over 70% of the surface of the earth, but the aquatic world that we live on is so much more special and amazing than we think.  There are 2 different types of water that make up our aquatic world, so let’s take a little look at both.

When we are out fishing or diving in our fresh water lakes and rivers we assume that they make up a large part of the aquatic world, after all just look how big the Great Lakes are and the Nile River and the Mississippi River, they are huge; but all the fresh water in the world is less than the amount of water in the Indian Ocean basin. Just a scant 3% of all the water on this aquatic world is fresh with right at 75% of that frozen in polar ice caps and another 20% of all fresh water is in ground water.

aquatic worldThere are 2 primary fresh water ecosystems. Lentic which are inland depressions with standing water formed by glacial erosion and depositions, rock and debris that block streams or earth movement that caused land to sink and flood. These systems are influenced by temperature which cause biological stratification and are divided into 4 zones.  The second major system is the Lotic ecosystem that are the running waters of our rivers and streams.  These environments are subject to constant change and demand a continuous supply of nutrients from land based sources.

The second source of water on our aquatic world is the oceans.  When we look at the globe and all that blue we see different names and we think that there are different oceans.  Actually it is all one big ocean, the names come from a time when we didn’t know much about the world and they are also  an easy way to label different regions of the ocean.

There are also 2 zones in the ocean, the aphotic zone that is the zone of perpetual darkness and the photic zone or the zone whereaquatic world light can reach. As divers we also think that the ocean is a generally warm place but the average temp is a chilly 38 degrees and the temp ranges from 32 degrees to a balmy 98 in the Persian Gulf. The average depth of our ocean is approximately 2.4 miles and the world’s longest mountain range is found running from the Arctic Ocean through the Atlantic and past African and Asia to the Pacific and the west coast of North America, a little over 10,000 miles.

With the Pacific Ocean alone being 25% larger than all land masses it is easy to see what an important  role the aquatic world place in our day-to-day being.

Happy diving! and feel free to leave a comment

scuba joe

What is Project Aware?

Project aware is an organization that is dedicated to protecting and conserving our underwater resources and environments by project awarepartnering with divers and others that love the water.  Through educational programs, advocacy (see shark fining ban) and other programs Project Aware is working to protect the underwater world on a global basis.

A very lofty goal and as divers we are the natural ambassadors and eyes to help protect our aquatic world. There are many ways a diver can help protect the marine life and environment such as taking a Project Aware course, participating in conservation activities such as clean ups of your favorite dive site, data collection and coral reef monitoring. We can also help by making sure that the dive shops that we spend our travel dollars with use mooring buoys or practice “drift diving” or “live boating” and not anchors.  For example in St. Lucia they practice “live boating”, that is they do not anchor and the boat captain follows the diver’s bubbles or float and picks them up at the end of the dive.  This ensures that their anchors do not land on and destroy the fragile reef below. Most dive operators are using mooring buoys, but not all and not at all dive sites.  One time on a liveaboard on our last dive of the week, they tossed an anchor into what they assumed was a sandy bottom only to come within a foot of a small coral head that was home to a cleaning station with a dozen or so Arrow crabs and other little creatures.

As divers we can also help by educating ourselves with the Project Aware Peak Performance Buoyancy course. By streamlining our equipment so our gauges are not dangling and banging into the reef. Practice responsible behavior while diving on wrecks and taking underwater pictures by not touching the reef either with our hands or fins.

Project Aware has a nice handout that list 10 ways a diver can protect the underwater environment

  1. Dive carefully to protect the fragile aquatic ecosystem
  2. Be aware of your body and equipment placement when diving
  3. Keep your skills sharp through continuing education programs
  4. Consider how your interactions affect aquatic life
  5. Understand and respect underwater life
  6. Be an ecotourist
  7. Respect underwater cultural heritage
  8. Report environmental disturbances
  9. Be a role model for other divers and non divers when interacting with the environment
  10. Get involved in local environmental activities and issues

To learn more about Project Aware visit their web site and here is another 10 ways divers can protect the ocean

scuba joe

What are the sources of Pollution?

thWhat do you think of when you hear the word pollution? Green house gases? Oil Spills? Plastics? All of the above?  Well, you are all right.

But the question posed is actually from our IDC program last week and is found in the Project Aware specialty.  So what are the sources of pollution? Well, from page 5-1 (62 really) in our Project Aware manual ,  which is a free download ,we find that the 4 major sources of pollution are

  1. Agricultural and industrial runoff
  2. Propellants, hydrocarbons and biocides
  3. Maritime accidents or ships dumping bilge water, ballast water and garbage and pollution
  4. Industrial, municipal or agricultural waste dumping and dredge spoil.

pollutionNumbers 2 and 3 of major sources of pollution are rather easy to understand and when we think about it even the industrial sources of pollution we can see in our mind, picturing a smokestack right now.  The one that makes us think is agricultural.  But, if we think of all the chemicals and other sources such as the machinery needed to run a modern agricultural operation, we can gain a sense of understanding of the pollution sources.

It is estimated that every year dump over 20 billion tons of pollution into or water sources, with the majority winding up in the ocean either from direct runoff from coastal operations to pollution being absorb into the atmosphere and then raining on us.  And once they reach the sea, the pollution gets sent to all corners of the world.  The hydrocarbons that were discovered in the waters surround Antarctica almost assuredly didn’t come from there. After all on all of the drains in the streets of Grand Junction say that they dump to the rivers.

For more information, download the book and sign up for a Project Aware Specialty class 220px-Runoff




Spotting the smallest creatures in an Anemone

How did you see that little creature in that Anemone? I mean that small thing was what maybe an inch? You hear this type of conversation on every dive boat. Maybe having two awesome spotters, one with a magnifying glass, helps when trying to get pictures of the smallest creatures in the aquatic world, but there is more to it than that.

The more we dive the more we see. Simple, right? Think about your own diving. When you first ventured into the underwater anemoneworld you saw the dive master, your dive buddy and the biggest of fishes and creatures.  You may be squat anemone shrimpnoticed some of the bigger corals and formations. Most of the time on those first few dives you didn’t see the anemones and other smaller things.

But, as you dove during the week or years you started to notice smaller things such as the anemone and other smaller animals. And you got a closer look at them. As you got some closer looks you were going slower over the reef and not covering as much ground.  You may have even been part of a conversation that went something like this, “Did you see that big eel under that rock?” and you reply “No, I didn’t”, because you were looking at the smaller things, such as the Arrow Crab in the anemone and forgot to look up.

Then you find that happy balance of going slow and spotting the small things and looking out for the big creatures, but the truly tiny are still hard to find. You ask how to find them and all your dive masters just sort of shrug and say you just get lucky when you see them.  Well, it is a bit easier than that. Let’s take a look at our anemone.

The anemone is a simple creature that has tentacles that give off a little deadly sting to any fish that gets to close so it can eat. But, if we know that inside the anemone we just might find say a cleaner shrimp or crab we can get closer and carefully look deep insideanemone crab or even on the edges of the anemone and then we start to see the smallest creatures.  It is not just Nemo that protects and cleans the anemone, but little crabs and shrimps are also protected by the anemone and they in turn help the anemone stay clean and healthy.

You can learn more about the smallest creatures and their relationships with their host in a PADI Fish Id class or Project Aware class.


Happy diving

scuba joe

What is your Scuba Dream?

Some might think I am living my or even their scuba dream, after all not to many people get to go visit far away islands and take scuba dreampeople diving and as Colton said to me “get paid to do this”. And as you read this post I am walking along the beach in Cozumel, so maybe I am living the scuba dream (you can follow our adventure here).  I recently read an article about a 75 year old lady that is chasing her scuba dream and that got me to thinking, what is your scuba dream?

My first scuba dream was actually just to get through the open water class.  Honest, I just wanted to survive it and then I wanted my tank to last long enough that I wasn’t the first one back on the boat or at least long enough so I wouldn’t get the evil eye from my dive buddy.  From there my scuba dream morphed into maybe owning a little dive hut on the beach somewhere, wait maybe that is still my scuba dream with a side stop at Joe’s Scuba Shack.

From exploring and discovering new and exotic locals to discovering the underwater world in your own back yard.  Your scuba dream awaits you. Head off to the islands to find your fortune or maybe help develop and teach future generations of divers.  Maybe your scuba dream is like Instructor Jeff’s and that is to see and travel the world and scuba is how he decided to do it. Or maybe your scuba dream is to earn as many “merit badges” or specialties that you can.

Regardless of your scuba dream, whether you dream of owning your own shop or even teaching in the islands or maybe you dreamDigital Camera of finding sunken treasure or maybe you just want to go diving, as the lady in the UK proves you are never too old to chase it.

So tell us what is your scuba dream?  Share yours with us either in the comments below or send me email and I will share your stories in a future post.

What is the PADI Seal Team?

Need something to keep your young fish, er child busy during that long break from school? The PADI Seal Team is calling you! What is the PADI Seal Team? It is a fun filled action packed adventure for your aspiring young divers (ages 8 and up).

padi seal teamWhat will your child learn in the PADI Seal Team?  They learn all the basics of scuba.  How to assemble their own scuba gear, how to clear and recover regulators and even how to clear their mask of water.  They will get to share the beginning discovery of the underwater world in the safe confines of the swimming pool.

PADI Seal Team members begin by accomplishing the first 5 Aqua Missions.

  • Aqua Mission 1- Learning about the gear and hand signals.  Underwater breathing and swimming along with equalizing and learning to monitor their air supply.
  • Aqua Mission 2- Learning to clear their regulator and to always breathe and never hold their breath while diving and mask equalization.
  • Aqua Mission 3- Buoyancy, how to control their buoyancy and float and slowly descend along with mask clearing and alternate air source use.
  • Aqua Mission 4- Regulator recovery and clearing, fin pivots and hovering (more buoyancy)
  • Aqua Mission 5- Snorkeling and skin diving

After these 5 Aqua Missions, your young diver is a member of the PADI Seal Team and they are ready to continue their adventurespadi seal team with a Buoyancy mission where we will swim through a buoyancy course of hoops.  And what young PADI Seal team member doesn’t love to play with a camera and take pictures of their fellow seals.  As you can see, the PADI Seal team offers your young aspiring diver the opportunity to explore more than just the bottom of a pool. Other Aqua Missions can include Search and Recovery, where they will hunt for lost treasure or navigation where they will learn to follow a compass and explore the underwater world.

The underwater world is awaiting your PADI Seal team member


For more information you can contact the dive shop or Tina Ross at GJ Parks and Rec