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HYDRA Project Lauched: Underwater Scooters to Help Research

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The sea and its resources to love and protect, and the man, with his innate desire to explore the depths with increasingly advanced technologies, but also with the limitations imposed by physics and physiology. This is how HYDRA originated, a new and ambitious research project created by DAN Europe and SUEX, in collaboration with the Portofino Marine Protected Area Consortium. A memorandum of understanding was signed last August 3rd in Santa Margherita. For the first time, in fact, the use of DPVs (Diver Propulsion Vehicles, also called underwater scooters) has been allowed inside a Marine Protected Area (MPA) for scientific purposes.


With the use of underwater scooters the diver is able to reach new and exciting places, expanding the range of his explorations,” says Ivo Calabrese, marketing manager at SUEX, a leading company in the production of DPVs. These vehicles also have the advantage of reducing physical effort whilst diving, with potential positive effects on the diver’s health.

In order to better understand these mechanisms, a specific research protocol has been developed. “Scientific studies in this field are practically non-existent,” says Massimo Pieri, researcher at DAN Europe, an international medical organisation dedicated to the health and safety of divers. “Our aim is to investigate the physiological effects of DPV use, especially focusing on post-dive bubbles, pulmonary stress and alteration of body fluids“, Mr. Pieri continues. The protocol includes clinical tests, as well as pre and post dive diagnostic examinations, such as cardiac and pulmonary echocardiography, and infrared thermal imaging.


Collaboration with the Portofino Marine Protected Area Consortium was a key element. The MPA Director, Mr. Giorgio Fanciulli, signed the memorandum of understanding and issued an official authorisation, allowing the study activities to be carried out inside the Marine Protected Area. In fact, involvement of the Portofino MPA in the HYDRA Project is not limited to the strict diving regulations. Long, multiple dives, covering an extended area, offer a unique opportunity to observe and monitor the surrounding marine environment.

The HYDRA team consists of 14 selected and highly qualified divers. All of them are experienced dive instructors or trainers, and received specific training to collect data. They will be allowed to enter and dive in zones B and C, at a defined speed and strictly respecting the protocol. Four dive sites have been selected: Testa Leone, Altare, Secca Gonzatti and Mohawk Deer.

It is an integrated, cross-research project that brings different elements together: medical research, technological development, all this respecting the surrounding environment,” declares Laura Marroni, Vice President of DAN Europe.

The first research and monitoring data will start to be collected in the next few days. The investigation will continue until the end of 2018.

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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