26 August, 2009

SCUBA Diving for "Oldies"

The following post was kindly provided by Anna whom I deeply admire for her extraordinary determination, commitment and adventurous spirit!! Anna is in her 70's but this does not seem to make the slightest difference. I had the honor and pleasure of diving with her in Tulamben (Bali) just over a year ago and I look forward to the next opportunity to dive with her again!


Earlier this year I gave a talk to a local Women’s Guild (women over 50) entitled SCUBA Diving for “Oldies”. Unsurprisingly the audience offered up no new trainees, but they are spreading the word among their children and grandchildren!
I started by describing the various types of diving and what fascinates me so much about the underwater world. Then, having taken along a full set of equipment, I explained each item in turn, getting them to pass it along so that they could all handle it. One strong lady was persuaded to be kitted up! Finally, I spoke about the illustrations I had brought: with no means of projecting photos or video, I had mounted pictures on 7 large cardboard sheets - each holding up to 10 photos - which were pinned on the wall. Each sheet had a different theme, e.g. Big Creatures, Tiny Beauties, Undersea Dangers, Coral Reef World. Some photos were my own, others were gratefully received from friends, and the remainder were from copyright-free websites.
Afterwards they said it was one of the best evenings they’d had all year !!

Anna Illingworth

25 June, 2009

The Dire Effects of Poor Waste Management on Land

My friend Reena has brought to my attention a case which has reaffirmed my dislike for seagulls. A new behaviour has been recorded with seagulls off the coast of Argentina which systematically feed off the back of migrating whales pecking into their blubber and flesh.
While the behaviour was first recorded some 30 years ago the seagulls attack seem to have escalated from 1% to 70% over that span of time.
Researchers believe that the increase in human waste on land has contributed to the exponential growth of seagulls population which in turn needs to look for additional sources of food.
A disturbing side effect of this is that with whale mothers and calves on their migratory route being the preferred target by seagulls, the adult whales are forced to spend 30% of their time to evade the pecking by the gulls. This has dire consequences as the mother whales, already tired and half starved due to their long journey have less time to feed themselves and tend to the young ones. This has resulted in an increasing number of dead whale calves which just adds up to the existing plight of these giant mammals of the oceans.
While I have never been much of a gulls friend it is interesting to see how, ultimately, their unusual and destructive behaviour is caused, ultimately, by yours dearly The Human Race.
So while scientists are debating if shooting the gulls may be a good way to solve the problem I say... start sorting out things on dry land first through better managed waste disposal along the coastal areas!

23 June, 2009

The Next Big One after SharkWater

Yes, there seems to be some "justice" in life. Just when I was beginning to think that mainly dark, aggressive-looking, misunderstood predators like sharks were the only victims of human commercial viciousness and arrogance on the one side and human total ignorance on the other I have to revise my stance.
Does anyone remember Flipper? Yeah!! Flipper the lovely, friendly and super smart dolphin. The sea version of Rin Tin Tin and Lessie and Skippy's intellects all mixed together! That one! Well, like sharks even these, some of the most intelligent and friendly species on earth, are coming under severe threat.
Today the WWF issued a damning report for Cambodia and Laos regarding the worrying drop in the numbers of the already rare Mekong Dolphins (Irrawaddy Dolphins) which populate a 190Km stretch of this world-famous river. Due to man made pollutant regularly dumped in the river, these fresh-water dolphins are being pushed to the brink of extinction with only 60 to 70 healthy individuals remaining.
While both Cambodia and Laos have been good in banning and monitoring illegal net fishing and have also been able to turn the dolphins into a very successful and lucrative tourist attraction, these governments have been unable to monitor and regulate the dumping of illegal pollutants into the river. Personal gains over the greater good prevailing once again.
I had just about finishing reading about the plight of the Irrawaddy Dolphins when I finally get the time to click on to a link sent across by my friend Mark from Hong Kong.
The title and the trailer of this new documentary movie have got all of the ingredients of any major Hollywood block-buster movie but with a difference... it's reality!
To me "The Cove" is set to become the next in line in this genre following the great success and relevance of the revolutionary "SharkWater".
I strongly suggest a visit to the site where one not only can learn about the movie but also join the cause, support and donate.
So, if Don Lino (The Mafioso Shark in Shark Tales by DreamWorks) is not quite your type yet..... Do it for Flipper!!!

Mixing Trimix - Trimix Part 2

The following post and any pictures used in this post originally appeared on DivingAnarchy.info.DivingAnarchy.info and Diaries of a Frog Man have recently entered into a post swapping agreement where posts which are deemed of relevance to the diving community are shared / swapped to further improve access and distribution to relevant content.

Part 1 of the trimix series appeared earlier on at:


Article by: Jim Cobb

Trimix consists of helium, oxygen and nitrogen. Nitrogen is free and pretty much all over the place. Helium and oxygen are available at your local gas supplier. What kind of helium does not matter, just ask for an analysis of the type you have access to, if it is 99.9 percent pure, it does not matter what the designation is.
The purpose of this web site is not to get into how to obtain O2 and He, there are too many regional differences to pigeon-hole this topic. Suffice to say, where there's a will, there's a way. A small tip: there are many uses for 02 and He which do not involve scuba diving, such as welding and medical use, and it would behoove you to approach your acquisition from this angle rather than stating outright "I wanna homebrew trimix, got any helium?".
An excellent reference on this topic is Vance Harlow's Oxygen Hackers Handbook. The OHH covers information on O2, tanks, laws, designations, etc. The recently released version 3 added info about how to procure helium and detailed info about O2 cleaning. This book is a must have, in my opinion.

O2 Cleaning

O2 cleaning your tanks seems kind of odd to me. After all, why would you want to breath anything out of dirty tanks? So you want to inspect your tanks on a frequent basis to make sure that your compressed air source is not blowing stuff into your tanks. If there is the slightest doubt, then it's time to break down your doubles and have a look. You don't have to be a certified tank inspector to unscrew your valve and drop a light into your tank. Dirt, grime and other contaminates can be visually spotted.
Cleaning your tanks simply means flushing them out with a degreaser like 409 or Simple Green and rinsing thoroughly with hot water. Rust has to be rolled or whipped out.
As far as O2 combustion is concerned: what I've learned over the years is that for a fire to take place you need 3 things: Fuel, Oxygen and Heat. If you remove any one of these three, you won't have a fire. It is almost impossible to remove all the fuel,which is what O2 cleaning is supposed to do. So lets remove the heat. When filling a tank with O2 you can generate heat by filling your tank too fast. To avoid this, fill your tank very sloooowly. You can do this by opening your valves slowly, using a restricted orifice or a needle valve.


To mix your gases you need some plumbing. The easiest thing to do is to purchase a pre-made whip from Northeast Scuba Suppy , Lloyd Baileys or any other source and save yourself the trouble of piecing one together. A whip consists of an adapter for the tank, a length of hose, a gauge and a scuba tank adapter with a bleed valve. Global Mfg. makes a pre-made whip, part number #45245. The gauge is not a super-accurate type, but combined with an O2 analysis system, it is good enough for our uses. To use an O2 whip on a helium bottle you need an adapter, as the valves are different. Again, you can get this from Bailey's. If you would like to build one yourself, here is a parts list

Fill 'Em Up!

The idea is to drain your tank empty, attach it to your He tank, fill it to the required pressure. Then hook up to your O2 tank and add that amount. Why do you add the helium first?
Simple, typically when mixing trimix you don't have that much O2. Even for a 20/20 trimix you're only squirting in about 100psi of O2. The needle on most of the analog pressure gauges that are sold out there on O2 whips does not move very well in the first 150 psi range or so. Yes, it may work on some gauges, but for the most part it doesn't move.
However, going from 700psi to 800psi is pretty much 100psi on any gauge. It's just the first 150psi or so where the gauge will probably stick. If you throw the He in first, then blow O2 on, the needle on the gauge should already be out of the "problem zone" and you won't put too much O2 in there.
Since you should already be adding some extra He any way to account for temperature (this is more of an issue when filling helium then gas compressibility, helium being a small molecule heats up REAL quick and you'll lose a lot more pressure from temperature drops then you will from compression), it's just the O2 portion that's the big concern. A fairly good rule of thumb is go a little high on the helium, a little low on the oxygen.
Also helium is more expensive than your oxygen, so it behooves you to get as much out of the He bottle as possible by gassing with it first.
Then test your mix with your 02 analyzer. When working with O2 it is a good idea to throw in a large safety margin. Too much O2 will kill you. Not enough, you hang a little bit longer. What would you rather do? Once you top off your tank with air, test it again.
When it comes time to top off your mix with air and you don't have a compressor, off you go to the local dive shop. It is recommended that you be up-front with your shop. Tell them you want to top off some mix, therefore it's important that they don't drain your tanks and that they have to fill to the pressure you entered into your mix program.
If they give you a hard time, politely let them know that you are more than willing to take your business elsewhere and spend your money at a shop which does not have idiots running it. I have found that if you are loyal to a dive shop, and spend a reasonable amount of dough there, they will pretty much let you do anything you want.
What is the required pressures? There are several mix programs available out there, and there are a couple on this site. There are also several mixing spreadsheets out there for cross-platform use.
Basically they give you the breakdown as to what partial pressure is needed for the mix. For example a dive to 140 with a pp02 of 1.4 and a equivalent nitrogen depth of 100 in a 3000psi tank you would add 377 psi of He. Next you need 317 psi of 02, so you would hook it up to your O2 tank and bring the total pressure up to 694 psi. Then top it off with air. The result is 27% 02, 13% He and 60.7% N2. Or what is referred to as a 27/13 mix.
Helium has a compressibility factor that you might want to consider. Typically you need to add 50-100psi more gas than the charts call for, and some mix programs compensate for this. So if you find your target PPO2 running a little high, this is probably what's going on.
Dealing With Low PPO2 Mixes by George Irvine
The 2 percent accuracy issue is not too bad when you are partial pressure mixing for middle readings, like 35%, for example. You have to double check the partial pressure and the reading, and the use of the gas is not a problem from either a toxicity or a decompression standpoint.
Where this gets tougher is mixing the real deep mixes, but then the partial pressure still applies and the totals are still valid. The PPO2 are low, so that the amount of O2 added is small. You can start to see where rebreathers, with their small air tanks, can become a problem. The smaller the volume of your mix, the harder to hit your PPO2 mark. A solution to the rebreather problem is to create your mix in a set of doubles and decant into the smaller flasks.
The big trick is to be sure you actually added the gases when mixing, and did not have a valve off while you THOUGHT you added 35 psi of oxygen, or some such number, when in fact you did not, and then the miniox reading, at such low PPO2 seems "acceptable."
A real good anal way of doing this procedure is what is needed to do it right. Bill Mee and I do it together, and we have a whole checklist to go through before disconnecting the tanks, and for the whole process.
Adding oxygen to a high helium mix can feel like you are adding it when you are not. Just pressurizing a big fill line for a small increment higher, even with a very accurate digital gauge, you can be fooled since you can hear the gas moving even when the tank is not in fact open to accept it - a real dangerous situation. You have to depressurize the line afterwards and note the tank change on the same gauge that the system was on to begin with , and you must do it quickly. There is no way the pressure has risen without the addition, even if the number is thrown off by the cooling - it can not decrease.
Little double checks like that, and then immediately throwing the analyzer on the result will give you some comfort. Then analyze the pure helium to be sure the reading is not offset. A lot of work, but you are always betting your life with this stuff.
-special thanks to the WKPP for help with this subject

Managing Your Gas Supply

A problem with partial pressure mixing is that you will have to turn in your 02 or He tank with quit a bit of gas left in it. For example if you need 20 cuft. of gas for your lowest mixture and you only have 19 in the tank, then you throw away 19 cuft. of 02 or He.
There are several ways to get around this:
Haskel pump- This is an air powered pump where 100psi of air is used to create 4000psi. Essentially a Haskel pump is a great big piston connected to a very small piston. You put air behind the big piston and it pushes the small one. The drawbacks of this unit is that it's very expensive.
Air compressor- If you have your own air compressor you can feed helium into the intake and let it pump it into your tanks. You can do this with oxygen, but your compressor must be specially prepared for this service, as compressors generate heat. A British method for pumping helium is to attach an old single stage regulator to the bottle, and hook the supply hose to the air compressor intake.
Cascade system- This is where you take several tanks and hook them up via a hose manifold. The idea with a cascade is you fill your tank with the lowest psi tank first then work your way up to the highest psi cylinder. Using this technique you can practically drain your cylinders before turning it in. You can extend your manifold to include the helium tanks if you wish, or you can manually move your whip from tank to tank without the manifold.

19 June, 2009


As per anticipated in an earlier post I got really annoyed when seeing yet another sensationalistic picture of a shark in the printed media (this time the Bangkok Post issue of 16th June 2009 - The Bangkok Post is the major English language daily in Thailand).
I took the trouble of writing in to express my views on how the media can and MUST start getting in line with the movement to change the image of sharks for good and, in the process, help saving sharks' very existence!!!
I am pleased to see that my letter was published today 19th June 2009 on page 8 - Post Bag - in the Bangkok Post.
Join the cause and put pressure on any media you come across perpetuating such false images of these wonderful animals which play such an important, yet little known, role in our lives!!

17 June, 2009

Saving Sharks will Start on Paper not in the Water!

Seeing yet another "voracious man-eater" type picture of a Great While shark in the Education section of the Bangkok Post this past Tuesday I felt compelled to write to the editor this morning:
I take my hat off to David Canavan's contribution to the plight of sharks in "Sharks and shark fin soup" which appeared in the Education insert in the BP edition of June 16, 2009.

Sadly, though, whomever selected the pictures to accompany the article, opted to totally undo David's good work and, in the process, further stigmatize and penalize this wonderful species in the eyes of the averagely ignorant reader, by publishing a fabricated, disturbing, blood-thirsty image of a Great White shark seemingly wanting to chew to pieces anything or anyone willing to sympathise with the cause!!

Firstly it is important for the average reader to know that while all David says in the article including the very low human fatalities attributable to sharks is absolutely true (more people die each year due to bee stings or falling coconuts!!), the Great White shark represented in the article has been coaxed in displaying such an aggressive behaviour by pouring plenty of fish blood in the water first and then by dragging and pulling away from it a bait (normally half a tuna fish) to induce surfacing and the "trade-mark" all-teeth display. By perpetuating this false and terrifying image which was originally started by the creators of the Hollywood block buster JAWS, the media is not doing any favor to the plight of sharks. While the eye-catching picture may surely serve the media purposes of attracting viewers, it perpetuates the deep fear and mistrust that humans have of sharks and promotes lack of interest and support to putting an end to commercial finning and mindless extermination of sharks.

Prominent individuals in the field in the region like Mr. Michael Aw, Director of Ocean Geographics, have started getting deeply involved in interacting with these formidable creatures at very close range and capture amazing pictures which portray them as they should been seen. Creatures that we should not fear and exterminate but respect and treasure.

Secondly, and finally, David's article perhaps misses the most important point which is about WHY the systematic extermination and extinction of sharks is wrong and, most importantly, very dangerous for human kind. The dramatic decrease in shark populations is creating catastrophic results in marine ecosystems across the globe. The loss of this apex predator is travelling down the food chain and is set to devastate the marine ecosystem and this will have dire consequences for us on dry land. Traditionally sharks have been feeding on the sick and the old fish playing their part in nature's plan for furthering and evolution of the strongest species and individual specimen. The disappearance of sharks means that sick, unhealthy fish is allowed to reproduce thus compromising the quality of stocks and contributing to both the loss of fish stocks due to disease and also poisoning one of the major sources of nourishment of human kind!!

Starting with members of the media we have the power and an obligation to get involved, change the perception the masses have of these wonderful predators and stop the mindless killing for their and our own good.

15 June, 2009

A Dive with a Difference in Hong Kong

The following post was kindly contributed by Ken Chan.
Ken Chan is a veteran diving instructor currently based in Hong Kong and one of the founding members of the Sandy Bottoms Divers Club. If you live in Hong Kong or if you are just passing by and have time for a dive or two you should definitely check them out:
As the boat leaves the pier, divers start setting up their gear.
The usual islands appear in sight, those with the more popular sites, but the boat keeps going.

Time for the briefing. It looks like an UN -meeting, with nationalities from all over the world represented.

We're some of the lucky ones and enter the water first. As we go down the line I get excited, like a kid on Christmas morning. Breath slooooowly, relax!

5, 10, 15 Metres, still see nothing but water. Computer shows 20 Metres, what is that dark shadow I can see? The viz seems to be around the 7 mtr.

Water is seeping into my mask, I'm smiling and grinning like that kid.

I clear my mask and then………….

There she is, Hong Kong's newest dive site, a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet !

No……. the next line doesn't read like "…and then I woke up……".
Members of the "Sandy Bottom Divers" club in Hong Kong are trying to get an abandoned cargo-plane sunk as an artificial dive wreck.
A beacon of hope for marine life, at the otherwise barren mud bottom.

Crazy? Probably. Impossible? Well, as Captain Picard once said "Things are only impossible until they are not". Though Hong Kong is not known for diving nor for it’s environmental friendly practices, this might just work.

The Hong Kong Underwater Association (HKUA) has already shown their support.
I hope that the international dive community share SBD-ers’ enthusiasm and show their support.

How? Visit www.sinkthe747.com and sign the petition There is also a link to a site you can sent ideas/suggestion and offers of help to….

08 April, 2009

Here is a Blog to be Watched!

For all of those out there who are intent and determined to make a difference in the race to save Sharks and with them vital elements of the very foundations of our living environment here is a blog and organization to be watched and followed.
Just click on the logo above!

What is Trimix?

The following post and any pictures used in this post originally appeared on DivingAnarchy.info.

DivingAnarchy.info and Diaries of a Frog Man have recently entered into a post swapping agreement where posts which are deemed of relevance to the diving community are shared / swapped to further improve access and distribution to relevant content.


Article by: Jim Cobb
Trimix is a combination of oxygen, helium and nitrogen. The idea behind trimix is to displace nitrogen with helium so that you can avoid the drawbacks of breathing high partial pressures of nitrogen.
Commercial divers omit nitrogen entirely for mid-range depths, using helium/oxygen mixtures called heliox. While certainly doable for tech divers, the logistics and costs are usually beyond most sport/tech divers capability.
For mixes in the deeper ranges, the required 02 content of your mix drops to the point that you can mix helium and air, called heliair, and not have to add 02.
To bring the advantages of replacing nitrogen with helium to every day sport/tech divers, it is advantageous to use partial pressure fills of oxygen and helium and then to top off with air.
The voodoo surrounding trimix
There is a misconception about trimix. Trimix is frequently promoted as the holy grail of scuba diving, so horrifyingly complex that you must take 4-8 levels of training before you can use it. In reality mixing a tank of trimix is no more complex than mixing a tank of nitrox.
What is complex and potentially dangerous is diving to extreme depths using multiple bottles of different mixes of gas, where choosing the wrong regulator can end your life in a hurry.
But it is possible to create a normoxic tank of trimix and treat it similar to air, without multiple mixes, bottles and other complexities, and enjoy the benefits of helium.
A fable about trimix is that you can't breath it on the surface. Generally speaking, the human body can handle lowered 02 percentages down to 16%. So, if you did a 17% mix, you can breath it as long as you want without fear of hypoxia. The breathability of a mix is solely dependant on it's 02 percentage, helium is complete inert and does not figure in.
Why use trimix?
The air we breath is composed of about 20.9% oxygen, 79.1% nitrogen and .033% carbon dioxide plus various inert trace gases. This is fine until we start breathing air under water. As we go deeper the partial pressures of these gases increase and we start suffering from their side effects.
Side effects of nitrogen include:
Narcosis- This is a mental function imparement which ranges from a mild euphoric feeling (60'-90'), slowing of mental activity (100'-130'), memory imparment and task fixation (140'-160') tingling in lips, legs and feet, severe drop in intellectual capacity (170'-200'), Voice reverberation, stupor and a sense of impending doom (200'+).
Bends- Nitrogen absorbed into tissues and fluids of the body reverting into gas bubbles.
Physiological- Damage to tissues leading to domino effects on immune system.
What about Nitrox?
Nitrox is an attempt to replace nitrogen with oxygen. Oxygen is metabolized by our bodies, so it is not absorbed into the tissue. Adding oxygen effectively reduces your nitrogen uptake, but there are some problems:
Side effects of oxygen include:
Central nervous system toxicity- CNS causes a seizure which can prove fatal while underwater. Partial pressures of over 1.6 can be extremely dangerous. 1.4 should be considered the maximum for a working dive, and it is reasonable to use 1.1 or 1.2 as your standard.
Inflammation of lung tissue from long term exposure- You can calculate your exposure to minimize this, but reports are coming in from the field of "lung burn out" caused by high levels of 02 which are well under the standard limits.
So why helium?
Helium is a non-toxic, colorless, odorless, tasteless, inert, lightweight and nonexplosive gas. To quote George Irvine head of the WKPP: "Helium is our friend".
Advantages of helium:
-Narcotic effects are nil.
-Due to its lower density, breathing resistance at depth is significantly reduced.
-Helium off-gasses rapidly and it does not enter slow tissues as readily as nitrogen.
Disadvantages of helium:
-Helium conducts heat 5 times faster than air.
-Hyperbaric arthralgia, an arthritic-like stiffness, can occur during descent with some divers.
Helium has been used for diving as far back as 1938. The first true test of heliox diving was the rescue of the submarine Squalus in 1939 in 240 fsw. Since then helium has been used in dives to more than 2000 fsw.
As helium is less dense than nitrogen, it enters and leaves the tissues faster than nitrogen. Paradoxically helium requires a little more decom time with short dives than air, but less decom time on long dives than air. The key to using helium is slow descents and slow ascents. Additional deep stops are required when ascending on helium mixes.
Due to helium's ability to leave tissues rapidly, having 2 or more stages, for example 50% nitrox and 100% O2, allows you to off-gas helium faster than you could nitrogen.
There is a situation which can occur in depths past 400ft. called High Pressure Neurological Syndrome (HPNS). This manifests itself with tremors, muscle twitching and coordination difficulties. Adding a small amount of nitrogen to your mix can alleviate these symptoms. But then, what are you doing down there, anyway?
Go ahead and use it!
Helium and diving were made for each other. You don't have to be a super tech diver to enjoy the benefits of helium. Breathing high partial pressures of Nitrogen is dangerous and hard on the body, so why do it? Replacing nitrogen with helium is a reasonable thing to do for single tank dives as shallow as 100'. What helium does for the 140-170 foot range (previously "deep air") is nothing short of miraculous. You remember the dive, you perform well under stress and you feel better after the dive.
Why you should not do deep air, click for the infamous AquaCorps Wah Wah article.
Deep air is dead! Long Live Trimix!

Nothing More Personal than a Wetsuit

The following post and any pictures used in this post originally appeared on DivingAnarchy.info.

DivingAnarchy.info and Diaries of a Frog Man have recently entered into a post swapping agreement where posts which are deemed of relevance to the diving community are shared / swapped to further improve access and distribution to relevant content.

When my partner started diving and got her OW certification we were looking into buying some personal scubagear.
At this stage we really didn’t know where diving would take her and how she would take on living but we knew that the purchase of a wetsuit would be a responsible expense as wetsuits are multi use items; swimming, snorkeling, surfing etc. A good wetsuit lasts a long way and diving in the winter in a bad fitting rental suit can put you off for a long time…

Two the most important things when it comes to wetsuits are warmth and fit. Warmth is determent by the thickness of the neoprene. Are you going swimming, snorkeling and diving in the tropics or will you go somewhere where the water is really cold? The other thing is the fit. If your wetsuit is to big it won’t keep you warm no matter what, so the right fit is essential.
To make the right purchase you need to understand how a wet suit works.
Wet suits are basically made from neoprene, which is a highly porous material that contains millions of tiny little bubbles. Neoprene uses the nitrogen bubbles to create a barrier of insulating gas between the water around you and your body. A thin layer of water enters this barrier and warms up by your body temperature. As you reach greater depths, the suit starts getting thinner as the bubbles compress. Your buoyancy becomes more negative and the exchange between water trapped between your skin and your wetsuit exchanges more easy with the water outside as the wetsuit becomes thinner and therefore loses some of the tight fit.

Water temperatures vary around the world. And they change with the seasons. It really depends on the location you choose as well as the time of the year. Your choice of wet suit will also depend on whether you are a man or a woman.
The difference between men and women wetsuits is the shape. In general women should get thicker and warmer wetsuits because a women body has more surface area than man and therefore cools down faster. And generally speaking it is always better to have a wetsuit that is warmer since if you are too warm you can let some cold water in by pulling your neck seal but if you are cold you will soon have to leave the water.
A two-piece wetsuit is likely to keep you warmer than a one-piece wet suit. A two-piece wet suit has the benefit of double insulation around the groin and chest area. However, double the insulation also leads to greater restriction in movement and greater buoyancy, which would require you to carry more weight.

After you’ve determent the right kind of suit, look for one that fits your body like a glove. Better a bit to tight than void area’s that fill up with water and work like bellows when moving.

I personally dive in a combination of wetsuits. In the winter I wear the combination of 2 Scubapro Everflex 3 mill tight fitting suits with a 2 mill hooded vest in between. During spring and fall I wear 1 Everflex with the hooded vest underneath and in the summer a single Everflex keeps me warm and comfortable during several dives a day.
When wearing the full winter combination the suits sit uncomfortably tight at the surface but while diving the neoprene gets squeezed, loses some of its tightness and the combo feels great.

06 April, 2009

Seraya Secrets - the Secret is Out!!

In October 2003, world renowned underwater photojournalist, underwater magazine and book author and multiple winner of international underwater photo contests over several years Michael Aw revisited Bali on an extended field trip to observe and photograph changes to Bali’s known dive sites and discover new ones. At the time, Scuba Seraya Resort was a small, modest affair and a mere 3 years into making. Little was known of the dive site ‘just in front’. Michael visited, and had this to say:
“Sometimes, unexpectedly, one will stumble upon a gold mine and, if you are shortsighted, and I mean literally, you may even miss the opportunity. It was timely for us to visit Patrick Schwarz, a Swiss expat who had set up a small dive resort some three kilometers from Tulamben Bay, 10 minutes away from his beach front property. On my first dive, I blew off 132 frames, equivalent to 3.6 rolls of film in just 30 minutes. This new hot spot of critters is without a doubt among the best in the world, matching sites in Lembeh Strait (North Sulawesi) and Papua New Guinea. During one afternoon dive I recorded 41 species of nudibranch and flatworms, beating a personal record of 28 off Nudi Falls at Lembeh Strait. Minuscule orange and yellow frog fish are not uncommon; but one with transparent polka dot dorsal fins is a species that has yet to be published in any identification book and is not known to Dr. Gerry Allen, one of the world’s best known ichthyologists.
Of course, there are the usual suspects – Ghost pipefish, Bobbitt worms, Boxer crabs, octopus, Ornamental squid, Sand divers, Frogfishes, Stonefish, Sand eels, Sand anemones, tons and tons of strange Crab’s shrimps, Flat worms and I was fascinated to photograph one of the most exquisite psychedelic colored Tiger shrimp (Phylognathia ceratophthalma).
I was so impressed with this new hot-spot, which we now call Seraya Secrets after Patrick Schwarz’s resort, that of course I stayed to continue diving there for the next three days, abruptly putting an end to the live-aboard trip and my intention to circumnavigate the island of Bali. I am sure news will travel fast through cyberspace and hundreds of macro enthusiasts will land on Patrick’s doorstep in a flash to discover the critters of Seraya Secrets.
As I have learnt, Bali remains predictable – the island oozes with enchanting culture, the people are the most charming within a fabric of diverse culture in a country of 230 million, and the sea predictably promises surprise after surprise”.
News did travel fast indeed – as predicted by Michael Aw. Today, Seraya Secrets is a must dive mark on most diver’s itineraries to Tulamben, besides the other Tulamben ‘classic’ dive sites. Seraya Secrets even got its own dive flag marker on newer Bali maps and is automatically mentioned in all trip reports and articles to the area. The secret’s out – Seraya Secrets is ‘no secret no more’.
Michael Aw continues to visit regularly and he holds a week long digital underwater photography workshop at Scuba Seraya Resort once a year. What better way than to learn from the pro’s whilst having one of the world’s richest macro grounds at your doorstep!
Patrick Schwarz is a Dive Instructor and owner and founder of the Scuba Seraya Resort at Tulamben on Bali’s north-east coast. He has lived in Tulamben and dived and learned to love the underwater realm around Bali Since 1997 patrick@scubaseraya.com http://www.scubaseraya.com/

03 April, 2009

Act Now! Help Bring Sharkwater to China!

It's really important that you help us bring the award-winning documentary Sharkwater to China.
China is the largest consumer and trader of shark fins in the world, fueling the growing demand for shark fin soup that is destroying our oceans within our lifetime. Most Chinese consumers don’t know that shark fin soup contains shark, because the translation literally means, "fish wing soup".
Shark populations have dropped more than 90% in 30 years, destroying the most important ecosystem for our own survival. Conservation isn't just saving species and ecosystems, it's saving humans.
This is a huge consumer awareness issue that we have the power to change. We urgently need your help to create a Chinese version of Sharkwater that will target an audience of over300 million people. We can change the world, with your help.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:Donate now to the non-profit foundation SAVE THE BLUE that is working with us and WildAid to bring Sharkwater to China & receive a special custom-made tribal shark pendant, shirt or bag!
Wear your special shark pendant with pride to engage people in making shark conservation an international priority! It’s cool to save sharks!
Act Now & Donate to bring Sharkwater to China.
Thanks for helping us save sharks,Rob Stewart and the Sharkwater Teamhttp://clicktrack.onlineemailmarketing.com/i8-8vatvhft-ljcvq-2v5x-75EA117A--.clk

14 March, 2009

Sink the 747 !!!

In this post the Frog Man asks Ken Chan of Sandy Bottom Divers in Hong Kong a few questions about the exciting project that he and a group of true diving enthusiasts got started recently.

Ken Chan is a veteran diving instructor currently based in Hong Kong and one of the founding members of the Sandy Bottoms Divers Club. If you live in Hong Kong or if you are just passing by and have time for a dive or two you should definitely check them out:

1) How did the "Sink-the-747" project started?

I read about a Jumbo Jet at CLK that the HKAA wanted to auction, they requested this with the courts. The plane's owner went bankrupt right after the plane got painted in it's colours in HK. The name, Ocean Airlines, somehow got me think of how it would be if it was IN the ocean.

2) What are the benefits for both the diving community and the general public in Hong Kong should this project succeed?

Benefits for the HK community would be:
- a new dive site
- ease the burden on the few dive sites there are in HK
- provide a beacon for marine life on the barren, trawled-out, mud bottom
- "fish spilling" out of the no "take zone" would be added value for fishermen
- a unique tourist attraction, only Jumbo Jet dive-wreck in the world
- do something useful with an unwanted item. A dive wreck might be "greener" than recycling it
- a project for the HK community to work on, since most of the resources will have to come from volunteers and donors.

3) What are the greatest challenges you and the rest of the team are facing?

Actually getting the plane, it is still unclear what it's faith will be. The HK trawlers' interests, gotta do a "public consultation" transportation to dive site raising the funds to buy it if the HKSAR doesn't donate it.

4) How can interested parties be of assistance?

For starters, there is a petition on the http://www.sinkthe747.com/ site where people can sign up (Not sure the status of it since I have not had the time to go online and check till now. will check after this email) to support this. A supporter has set up, and registered, the webset for free.
Donations/offers of manpower, skills and time to prepare the plane. Both individuals and companies alike are welcome.
Pledges of monetary donations, IN CASE WE CAN GET THE PLANE, would be good to show the Government that "the public" is supporting this.

5) Should this project be successful do you see the potential for other similar undertakings? What could be sunk next?

If this takes-off, pun not intended :-), it would be great to start "the bus-station". A dive site with a number of buses to dive on. After-all, sites with names like "airport", "landing-strip", "plane-wreck" etc can be found in many places. But a site called "the bus-station", heard of that?

6) How can the public keep up-to-date with the developments?

Check out our website, http://www.sinkthe747.com/ and our facebook site for latest developments and the public's comments.
The project has already attracted the attention of the local media which, in itself, is a testimony to the worthyness and potential viability of this project. An article by Peter Brieger and Dan Kadison appeared in the South China Morning Post on 01 March 2009.
Personally I am not only eager to help but also to eventually get to dive it!!!


I came across this "baby" Whale Shark of approximately 6 meters while diving at Richelieu Rock north of the Similans Islands (Andaman Sea) in Thailand. I jumped in the water unaware of what was beneath, on descent a mere 8 meters deep I turn and there it is cruising along. Absolutely breath-taking sight!!!!

Believe it or not, although classified as an endangered species, even these gentle giants have become the unwilling victims of shark finning.

Don't just look... Stop the Killing!

Tulamben - Where it All Began

The following post is being kindly contributed by Patrick Schwarz.
Patrick Schwarz is a Dive Instructor and owner and founder of the Scuba Seraya Resort at Tulamben on Bali’s north-east coast. He has lived in Tulamben and dived and learned to love the underwater realm around Bali Since 1997patrick@scubaseraya.com http://www.scubaseraya.com/
Tulamben – Where it all began

On an early February morning in 1944, SS Liberty was steaming to the north of the Lombok Strait on a west-north-westerly heading. She was carrying precious cargo of aircraft parts, including engines, rubber, railroad parts and other supplies destined for the Anzus troops, the alliance of Australian, New Zealand and U.S. forces that were doing battle in the region against the Japanese that then occupied most of south-east Asia. Captain and crew were unaware they had been followed thru the night by a Japanese sub- marine. She was hit by two torpedoes in the
early morning hours. They did so just above the waterline of the 120 m (400 ft) long cargo ship,
causing substantial damaged, but no lives were lost, and her sheer mass prevented her from
Built in 1919 in Kearning, New Jersey, Liberty had traveled the sea lanes of the Americas as a cargo ship. What was special about her is that, although of a very early vintage, she was propelled by efficient, sophisticated steam turbines instead of the more common piston and crank engines. Also, she is often misquoted as a Liberty Class ship, which she is not. Liberty was her given name. The Liberty Class ships came much later and were built during World War II in great numbers to deploy US soldiers and war supplies around the globe where America was militarily engaged. Those ships were urgently needed and thus built in a hurry in assembly-line fashion, where pre-fabricated box like portions were welded together shore-side. They were outfitted with classic piston and crank style steam engines.
SS Liberty was commissioned as a vessel to carry military cargo during the Pacific War and transferred across the Pacific to these waters. No changes or reinforcements were made;
only a gun each was raised on her bow and stern. Apart from that, she remained the cargo ship
as which she had been built, albeit under military command.
As she had remained afloat after the torpedo hits, two escorting destroyers, one Dutch, one American, took her under tow in an attempt to move her to Singaraja on Bali’s central north coast. Bali was still Dutch at that time, and Singaraja, its capital, had a marine port. The idea was
to salvage her cargo. But as this was February and the north-west monsoon prevailed, a severe
storm hit just as she was being towed westward along the coast. She started to take on water and inevitably sink. The captain decided to beach her; and she was set aground just to the west of a small hamlet that today is known as Tulamben.
And there she rested, upright. She was stripped of her cargo and propellers and just about everything else that could be humanely removed. Rumors have it that a PT5 fighter aircraft engine was discovered years later in a farming village shed near Lake Batur on Mount Agung.
In the 1960’s, long haul tourism was dominated by cruise ships. Companies such as American President Lines, United States Lines, P&O Orient lines etc. were advertising regular departures to the mystic, exotic, far away Orient. The introduction of civil jet aircraft, especially later models such as the Boeing 707, McDonnell-Douglas DC-8 and the British Aircraft VC-10 doubled the speed, endurance and capacity of long haul air travel and initiated a massive transformation
of and enormous growth in long haul tourism. Against this back-ground, Bali had established itself as a remote, mystical, paradisiacal, fabulously beautiful destination, known as The Island of the Gods.
On March 16, 1963, National Geographic Chief of News Service Windsor P. Booth and photographer Robert F. Sisson arrived on Bali on a field study of the island that was part of President Sukarno’s by then 18 year old Republic of Indonesia. “The day after I arrived”, writes
Wilson in an article that was issued in the National Geographic September 1963 issue, “Bali’s most sacred volcano, Gunung Agung, which islanders call the navel of the earth, exploded in my
face.” The eruption devastated north-eastern Bali’s district of Karangasem, where Tulamben is
located. More than 1,500 lives were lost, 85,000 people lost their homes, and the face of the north-east shore from Culik to Tejakula was changed forever. The dark, black lava rock outcrops
that form the backdrop to most of the Tulamben region’s dive sites were formed and molded then.
Multiple tremors and lava flows that lasted for weeks and even months pushed Liberty over her
side and into the sea, where she came to rest at a 45 degree angle, her port side just below the surface. And thus, one of the world’s most accessible and easily dived shipwrecks came to be. It
took a natural disaster of enormous proportions and unspeakable human suffering to initiate the
birth of what is today known as one of the worlds most famous dive destinations.
Recreational diving was still in its infancy at the time, and Tulamben quite inaccessible from Bali’s main urban centers; it would take several years before the north-east highway would be completed with Australian help. Divers started discovering ‘Liberty, the Wreck’ as she is affectionately known today, in earnest in the early 80’s. They mostly got there after an arduous journey from Denpasar with equipment and all to do two or three dives and journey back on the same day. It did not take long, however, until a young entrepreneurial Balinese, Dewa Nyoman Candra, sensed a niche market and set up a backpacker style hostel (or losmen as they are known in Indonesian). Dive Paradise Tulamben became the original Tulamben operator, and still is (a good one) today. With the growing popularity of the Liberty as a dive destination by itself, divers started exploring areas beyond her, especially to the east and the end of Tulamben bay that led to the discovery of the sites known as “Paradise Reef”, “Coral Garden” and the “Drop Off”, a sheer vertical wall dropping to more than 80m.
Whatever divers fancy – wreck diving, wall diving, macro, schooling fish, diversity and even occasional massive pelagics – Tulamben has it all.
Guests often ask me: “Don’t you ever get tired to dive the same site over and over again”? Since I came to Tulamben in 1996, I must have visited Liberty well over a thousand times – at daybreak, mid-mornings, noon-time, mid-afternoon and during the night – and every time I go
back in I go …Wow! The lady never fails to amaze me! And what is equally amazing is her sheer
resilience. During peak season (July – October), it is possible to find perhaps well over 100 divers on her at any given moment. At times one would see the entire wreck literally draped in a curtain of diver’s exhale bubbles. But come back just after day-break or a rainy day during the off season, and you’ll have the lady all for yourself and she will make you believe it is you who just discovered her.
The large numbers of visitors had as a result that many of the wreck’s inhabitants have become quite accustomed to divers and will let you approach real close. Probably no site in the world can match the Liberty in terms of underwater photographer’s ability to shoot totally up-close frontal fish portraits. The behavior of the intensely colored yellow-white-black striped Oriental Sweetlips that hang out in large numbers on top of the cargo hold gives them away as the first graduate class of The Tulamben Pisces Modeling School. Other permanent residents, such as a giant Barracuda, and an extended family of (24 on last count) Humphead Parrotfish that sleep on the Wreck and wander off every morning to roam Tulamben Bay, the Drop Off and areas beyond have made it into countless captions in dive magazines, websites and blogs viewed the world over. My personal favorite is a giant Grouper I nicknamed Halfface. His head is split down the middle in almost perfect symmetry into a dark brown half and an off white half sporting the classic Potato Grouper’s brown spots. This, combined with somewhat less than perfectly arranged dentistry that exposes needle-like sharp teeth on his lower jaw, give Halfface a grumpy, almost eerie appearance. But he is a shy fellow; he never shows when I visit with other divers in tow. During a solo dive one (very) early morning, however, while holding my breath and with an almost athletic effort in perfect buoyancy, trying not to move and maneuver with minute fin flicks from my heels, I was able to approach him face to face to almost nose-rubbing distance. I was fully aware that the fellow could have rearranged my face right there and then within a split second. But the ability to look him straight in the eyes up close and find that – yes indeed, fish do have a soul – was worth the risk.
Enough said. To really get to know the lady, there is only one way: come and visit her yourself. You too will be amazed!
All pictures in the post are by Marco Gorin whom retains the copy rights.

08 March, 2009

Divers threaten to boycott Sabah over shark finning

The following post and any pictures used in this post originally appeared on DivingAnarchy.info.

DivingAnarchy.info and Diaries of a Frog Man have recently entered into a post swapping agreement where posts which are deemed of relevance to the diving community are shared / swapped to further improve access and distribution to relevant content.


By Julia Chan

Sipadan conjures up an image of a serene, protected underwater world -- one of the world's top dive spots.

But just a half-hour boat ride away off Pulau Mabul, the blood of magnificent sharks, crudely finned and gutted by the boatload stains the sea red. Shark finning has been going on here for several years, and the stark contrast between Sipadan and Mabul has caused an uproar in the international diving community, with some threatening to boycott Sabah entirely.Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark's fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea.A diver said: "Why should we contribute to the decline of a beautiful area by supporting a place which does not protect its own resources?
"We strongly urge the resorts to lobby Sabah Parks to prohibit shark finning in the Ligitan island group area. "If the area is not protected, we will choose to dive in other areas of Southeast Asia where the marine life is protected with the money collected," the diver said. Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said shark finning was not illegal in Sabah. He said those with a valid fishing licence had the right to fish in the area, provided they didn't encroach on protected areas."This includes fishing for sharks," said Galid, adding that the only protected species of shark under current law was the whale shark.He said local and foreign fishermen were fishing in the territorial waters of Indonesia and the Philippines so they were out of the jurisdiction of the department."Sipadan and the waters around Sipadan are off limits to fishermen, and we will work with all enforcement agencies responsible to ensure no fishing is done in these waters," said Galid. Asked to comment, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said: "My ministry will relay our concern to the Fisheries Department and the Semporna district officer."We need to be sensitive to global views to protect our tourism. "A small mistake or inaction could have major repercussions for the industry."Nature lovers and the global conservation community are fast becoming an influential lobbying group who could hurt the state tourism industry if they decide to boycott Sabah in protest against such activities."

Partnering with DivingAnarchy.info

Diaries of a Frog Man has recently entered into a posts swapping understanding with DivingAnarchy.info . The arrangement will allow both sites to publish relevant posts previously published on either site.

Both Marius Art, Editor of DivingAnarchy.info and Marco Gorin, Editor of Diaries of a Frog Man believe the exchange can only be beneficial as it expands visibility and access of content relevant to the diving community.

The Indonesian Through-Flow

The following post is being kindly contributed by Patrick Schwarz.

Patrick Schwarz is a Dive Instructor and owner and founder of the Scuba Seraya Resort at Tulamben on Bali’s north-east coast. He has lived in Tulamben and dived and learned to love the underwater realm around Bali Since 1997
patrick@scubaseraya.com http://www.scubaseraya.com/

The Indonesian Through-Flow:

Ocean currents that rush thru the Indonesian Archipelago from the tropical Western Pacific into the South Indian Ocean To understand why the waters around Bali are so rich, one only has to look at the geography of the area.
We have all heard of the Wallace line – a bio-geographical border separating the Australian and Asian biospheres – that runs between the islands of Bali and Lombok thru a body of water known as the Lombok Strait. Tropical temperatures, run-offs of nutrient rich volcanic fresh water streams, steep shores dropping to great depths and endless sunshine filled days, enhancing photo-synthesis, are all contributing factors. But the single most important reason why the underwater realm of this area is so unique and biologically diverse is a phenomenon known as The Indonesian Through-Flow.
Have a look at the satellite picture below: To the north of the Lombok Strait, we find ourselves in the Pacific Ocean. To the south is the Indian Ocean. These are the two largest pools of warm water in the global oceans: the one of the Western Pacific, and the other of the Eastern Indian Ocean. The Thru-Flow is transferring warm, low salinity water from the Western Pacific to the Indian Ocean. Scientists believe that 100% of the volume of water exchanged between the two oceans is carried by the Indonesian Through-Flow.
Despite its origin in the Pacific, where surface temperatures are as warm as 29 degrees Celsius, the temperature in the Thru-Flow is a ‘cold’ 12 – 16 degrees.
This also suggests that a lot of deeper, colder Pacific water is being exchanged via this Thru-Flow. It also explains why diving at Nusa Penida, which is located at the centre of a funnel between Bali and Lombok through which the Thru-Flow travels at great speeds, is considered ‘cold water diving’ for the spoiled lot among us that is used to a balmy average of 29 degrees temperatures that prevail at most other dive sites. On a recent dive at Crystal Bay on the south side of the island of Penida (facing yet another small strait the breadth of a mere river between Penida and Ceningan islands) a quick check with my dive computer (whilst finding myself face to face with a 2 ½m Mola-Mola Oceanic Sunfish at 40m depth and in an increasing current) revealed an ambient water temperature of just 17 degrees Celsius. Similar drastic temperature drops are also noticed when diving at Gili Selang, Bali’s easternmost extremity, and the trenches off western Lombok’s Gili Trawangan Island.
In recent years, scientists at the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (http://www.csiro.au/) organization of Australia that primarily studies Ocean eddies that influence Australia’s weather patterns and marine ecologies, have been extensively engaged in the observation of the Indonesian Through-Flow, using the latest technology available in oceanographic monitoring equipment that has been deployed across the straits and passages of the Indonesian archipelago. Water entering the internal Indonesian seas via the Makassar Strait and Lifamola Passage originates in both, the North-Pacific and the South Pacific Oceans. It exits into the Indian Ocean primarily via the Lombok Strait, the Sape Strait that runs between Eastern Sumbawa and the island of Komodo, the Ombai Strait that separates the islands of Kalabati and Timor at Alor, and the Timor Strait separating the island of Timor and North Australia. The Indonesian Through-Flow consists primarily of North Pacific water flowing thru Makassar Strait in the upper 500m, while water below is mostly of South Pacific origin. Whilst rushing thru the Indonesian Archipelago, the Pacific Ocean waters are being mixed due to upwelling and interaction with surface waters before being ‘exported’ into the Indian Ocean. Moorings that were deployed in the Makassar Strait by CSIRO from 1996 to 1998 showed a southward flow of a mass of water equaling that of 90 Amazon Rivers! The outflow measured going thru the various passages varied from a low of less than 45 Amazon River ‘equals’ (when down welling Indian Ocean winds reversed the flow) to more than 250 Amazon River ‘equals’ during the month of August of the La Nina year of 1998. Most of the ‘exit’ thru the passages occurs in a surface layer from just below the surface to 300m depth.
When we look at the depth charts of the Lombok Strait, the enormous energies of this Indonesian Through-Flow phenomenon are reaffirmed. Where the Thru-Flow enters the strait, it is not only ‘squeezed’ by the funnel created by Bali’s eastern coast (with Gili Selang at its extremity) and Lombok’s south-western isthmus, but at the same time, the bottom rises abruptly. While the depth averages 1500m as it enters the strait, it ‘shallows’ to around 400m at its centre, just where the ‘squeeze’ between Bali and Lombok is the tightest and the 3 islands of Penida, Ceningan and Lembongan stand in its way, to immediately drop to 1500m again and into the Lombok Basin (3000m) just a few kilometers further south, and on to the Java Trench where the depth doubles once more (6000m) into the Indian Ocean. No wonder the currents around the Penida dive sites are often described as ‘ripping’, and that’s putting it mildly. I do not wish to shout the idea into the open; I love the natural beauty of the Penida area too much for that, as some of its dive sites there are considered by many – together with Komodo and Raja Empat – as probably the most exciting anywhere in the world. Yet the tidal energies that prevail in the area probably would be sufficient to supply most of Indonesia, if not a large part of Asia, with electrical power. It is at this junction – where the flow enters the Lombok Strait – that the long haul migrating pattern of Whale Sharks is determined. The majority of them journey through the Indonesian archipelago riding the Thru-Flow to join the South Equatorial Current and eventually show up in the Maldives, Madagascar, and the African East Coast and round the Cape of Good Hope. Yet some of them ‘don’t make it’ in that direction and instead head east or west to perhaps enter the Indian Ocean via the Sunda Strait which separates Java and Sumatra, past the Island of Krakatoa. Some might even continue heading further north and end up in the South China Sea and the Philippines and perhaps even the North Pacific again. Those heading east might enter the Indian Ocean via the Timor passage. Whether whale sharks decide to continue into the Indian Ocean or head West (those are the few we occasionally encounter in the Tulamben area) out of their own free will or whether they are being ushered say, by an eddy created by prevailing weather patterns such as when a down welling in the Indian Ocean reduces or even reverses the Indonesian Through-Flow, we just don’t know. We still have got so much to learn!
Even less is known about the migrating patterns of the Mola-Mola (Oceanic Sunfish). They are not pure filter feeders like the Whale Shark; besides zooplankton, they also eat fish, mollusks, jellyfish and crustaceans. Although one would assume that they follow similar patterns, there is a difference. Whale Sharks are mostly found in shallower, warmer surface waters. Mola- Mola, on the other hand, are found in or near cold currents only, with the deepest recorded sighting being that of a Mola-Mola feeding at a depth of 480m. The ‘season’ when we can see them around Penida Island is during the southeast Monsoon (June-November) when the currents run cold. My wild guess is that the Mola-Mola are being ‘catapulted’ by the Indonesian Through-Flow thru the Lombok Strait, and when the bottom rises around the islands and they find shelter from the current in an eddy that is cold enough for comfort, they stop so that banner fish (a reef fish variety) can clean them by picking parasites off their encrusted skins. No one knows where they move from here – whether they follow the Thru Flow into the Indian Ocean and onto long haul transoceanic voyages – or linger regionally. Intensive research into Mola-Mola has only just begun. The satellite signal emitting float from one specimen that had been tagged in October 2006 near Nusa Penida has re-surfaced 800 km to the east near Sapu island, off the main island of Sumbawa in January 2009. If this one particular fellow becomes part of a general migrating pattern that might evolve as more of these tags eventually re-surface from the deep, one would assume that they are regional rather than inter-oceanic travelers. Again, we still have got so much to learn!
As it enters the Indian Ocean, the Indonesian Thru-Flow feeds the South Equatorial Current, the dominant westward flow across the South Indian Ocean. A shallow component of the South Equatorial Current flows back eastwards towards Australia. There it feeds the south flowing Leeuwin Current, whose fresh supply of warm waters profoundly impacts Western Australia’s coastal climate. It appears that, thanks to the phenomenon called The Indonesian Through-Flow, not only do we have phenomenal dive sites in ‘this neck of the woods’, but bio-geographically unaware landlubbers across the Indonesian Archipelago and Western Australia have a lot more in common than most would think.

Photo credits

Trough Flow map : CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (www.csiro.au)

08 February, 2009

Thousand Islands not just a Salad Dressing!!

My friend Harvey has recently sent in a brief report and some pics about relaxing and diving in Pulau Seribu aka Thousand Islands in Indonesia.

I quote Harvey's comment: "It is not an outstanding diving area, but very beautiful both above and below the water.
It has a lot of colour, hard and soft corals, but nothing like the variety of fish species you can find in Tulamben.
The main difference is the awesome feeling of tranquility you get sitting on a desert island and just wading out to the reef right in front of you".

Pulau Seribu means a "Thousand Island" consisting of almost 128 small islands located in the Bay of Jakarta in the Java Sea. Most of these are inhabited and can be reach in about 1 - 2 hours from Marina Ancol by ferry or by chartered board. The surrounding reefs are home to a wide variety of fishes, making Pulau Seribu an ideal spot for diving, Snorkeling and fishing. Some of the islands is this group developed for tourism are Pulau Bidadari, Pulau Ayer, Sepa, Coconut, Pelangi, Bira, Pantara, Kul-kul and Pulau Putri. There are also cabins for tourists, besides golden beaches fringed with coconut palms. The surrounding waters are a paradise for skin divers.They are filled with a myriad of tropical fish, which live among the multicolored corals.

Updates from Scuba Seraya

The following is a recent update I received from Patrick Schwartz of Scuba Seraya in Tulamben - Bali
We are in the midst of the rainy season now. Most of the days we face 1 ½ meters wave action and visibility that truly reminds one of Bali – the thick part of Bali Coffee that is! That does not deter our current (and only) long term guests Karel Mestdagh and Sylvie De Burie from jumping back in several times a day and occasionally come back with pretty amazing stories that include – a real first at SSR and probably all of Tulamben – the sighting of dolphins at Deep Secrets.
Apart from that I decided – despite a terrible cash flow – to keep all staff on full employ and redeploy them to other duties, mostly in gardening and environs and renovations to have the resort in top shape by early April when – so I hope – bookings will pick up again.
We recently received a trip report from Judy Gandossi, a Canadian, who stayed at the resort with her family in December. I could not have described my resort better, and if all that Judy writes is true, then it appears that we have, after all, achieved something.
Go to the link below for her full report. You don’t have to read it all, but have a look anyway; it contains a lot of great pictures.
There are more reports from various guests; most notably a new article in the January issue of Ocean Geographic which is equally flattering, by Michael Aw, as well as Jorgen Rasmussen who won this years Underwater Journalist Award at the 35th ‘Festival Mondial De L’Image Sous Marine’ . Incidentally, Michael Aw walked away from this year’s event at Antibes with no less than 3 awards! We are now sorting such reports and will post links to them on our web site and we started work on our forum-like website http://www.serayasecret.com/ which should be coming online soon.
Do keep in touch!
Also do check out this series of tremendous shots taken by Michael Aw while diving in Tulamben!!