Diving with tiger sharks in the Bahamas; San Salvador Island; Ancient remains in Kyrgyzstan's Lake Issyk-Kul; Iceland's hydrothermal vents at Stýrtan; Malpelo Island; Wreck diving on the HMS Warrior II; Dive safety decisions; PFO & diving; Poseidon's CEO Jonas Brandt profile; Cave diving in China's Du'an county; Scuba Confidential on the perfect breath; A case for unsweetened tea; GoPro's pros & cons; Amy Genser portfolio; Plus news and discoveries, equipment and training news, books and media, underwater photo and video equipment, shark tales, whale tales and much more..
Main features in this issue include:
American artist Amy Genser works wonders with paper, transforming it into vibrant liquid images and cellular studies reminescent of forms found in coral reef colonies and aquatic environments. A Connecticut native, Genser grew up by the sea, which greatly inspired and influenced her works of art. We caught up with the artist to gain an insight into her mesmerizing, textural pieces.
"I love everything about the ocean. It is perfectly imperfect—the colors, patterns, layers, light, sounds, compositions, changes, life and energy."
— Amy Genser
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about yourself, your background and how you became an artist.
Many people are scared witless by sharks, but I love them. I scuba dive and freedive with them whenever I can.
Ever since I started diving, I’ve been an elasmobranch fan. On my open water qualifying dives, I saw sand tiger sharks on every dive. On the deep dive for my advanced open water, I apparently shared it with 12 mantas and swam with a whale shark on the way back.
A fifty-minute flight southeast from the bustle, cruise ships and tourist-centric Nassau, lies the sleepy island of San Salvador. Twelve miles long and five miles wide, she is the tip of an underwater mountain rising from 5,000 metres below (15,000 feet) surrounded by picture-postcard, crystal-clear, blue seas.
Now home to 1,200 Bahamians, "San Sal" has a past as colourful as her long sandy beaches are white. The native Lucayan Indians who had settled there around the 6th century AD called her "Guanahani".
In October 2011, Pierre-Eric Deseigne traveled to South Central China and dived the underwater caves of Da’un county for the first time. On his return to the cave system there three years later, Deseigne reflected upon the impact of the historic discovery of these underwater caves.
It was during my long decompression stops, after a deep exploration dive in Daxing spring in Du’an county in China, that I remembered my first dive there, three years earlier. At that time, I could never have imagined all the things that would happen over the next few years.
I felt apprehensive heading out to Tiger Beach where I was supposed to enter open water in the presence of some big, wild apex predators, without any protection other than holding up my camera as a shield in case I was singled out as a snack.
The trip started off on a somewhat chaotic note. The marina in West Palm Beach, our point of embarkation, was temporarily undergoing construction making the vessel, Dolphin Dream, difficult to locate.
How you can improve your performance and safety by understanding why we make good (and bad) decisions.
There is a significant body of evidence which shows that divers involved in diving incidents often make poor decisions—sounds obvious, doesn’t it? So if it is so obvious, why do we continue to make them?
Samuel H. 'Doc' Gruber began studying sharks in 1961, perhaps before any other scientist had done full-time research on a live shark. During his long career, he founded the Bimini Biological Field Station (Shark Lab), the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)—a United Nations organisation based in Switzerland—and the American Elasmobranch Society.
For Gruber, the study of sharks was more than a profession—it was a calling. He grew up in love with the sea from the earliest age and was already avidly collecting seashells and swimming at the age of three.
The GoPro has changed the underwater video game forever. This handy camera seems easy to use but a quick browse of YouTube underwater videos tells the real story: Ninety percent of such GoPro videos are wobbly, blue, poorly-framed and badly-lit video footage. Fortunately, with a few simple steps, a diver can greatly improve the quality of their GoPro images.
Today, divers need no longer be intimidated by the price and size of the GoPro underwater video cameras.
During the two world wars, many private vessels were confiscated by the British Royal Navy. These luxury yachts were often employed during dangerous missions, which did not always end well.
The HMS Warrior II, once formerly named "Goizeko Izarra", was built in 1904 in Troon, Scotland, as a luxury steam yacht for a private owner. The ship was 284 feet (84 meters) long, an extraordinary size for this type of ship.
The CEO of Poseidon discusses his move from the automotive industry to diving, big data, the role of automation, safety and the future of rebreather diving.
"I want to give divers the time to think before they act, based on the huge task load under water. But primarily it is the underwater experience that is the key for future innovation."
— Jonas Brandt
The first account I heard of diving in Lake Issyk-Kul was an expedition many years ago headed by Academician Orbeli and comprised of a group of volunteers using ISA-M 48 oxygen rebreathers to explore the shallow waters along the coast.
The main reason for diving Malpelo Island is the sharks. The area is known for large schools of hammerheads, silky sharks, Galapagos and whitetip sharks. In the winter there is a population of sand tigers, and in late summer and fall, whale sharks call these waters their home. Other large pelagics can also be viewed. Tuna, jacks and eagle rays are not uncommon, with the occasional manta ray making an appearance.
The reason for all of this large life is an abundance of food being brought in by strong ocean currents. So diving conditions are not easy. Currents could be very strong and visibility clouded by all the nutrients in the water. But this is the price to pay for hanging out with the big boys.
It is estimated that approximately seven million divers are active worldwide and 500,000 new divers are training annually . Moreover, professional divers actively carry out diving operations for the purposes of commercial, scientific or military diving. The underwater environment is unique and any exposure to it presents a number of stresses to the human system.
The human body makes physiological responses to adapt to the environmental changes. Moreover, diving equipment, training, knowledge and skills also minimize stresses and increase safety while diving.
The waters of the Eyjafjordur Fjord were still and calm. There was a sharp crispness to the air and snow covered the hills lining the shore. Except for the gentle lapping of water against the sides of our inflatable dive boat, the world around us was silent. To the north we could see heavy gray clouds hanging low to the horizon, the first signs of an approaching storm undoubtedly born in the Arctic wilderness just a few miles away.
In 1997, divers Erlendur Bogason and his friend Árni Halldósson discovered an amazing hydrothermal vent in the dark waters off the shores of Hjalteyri, a small fishing village located near the town of Akureyri.
Thoughts on diving and hydration
I am an expat Brit, so it may probably come as no surprise to tell you that I enjoy a cup of tea. A few shots of strong espresso in a bowl of hot milk is my morning drink, but tea is on the menu for most of the rest of the day.
Confronted by a genie in a lamp and three wishes, many new divers would ask for a magic spell to make their air last longer on a dive. The good news is that you don’t actually need a genie in a lamp—the key to better air consumption is not a secret at all.
Divers usually find that their breathing rate drops as they become more experienced, simply as a consequence of their becoming more relaxed and comfortable in the water.