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November is Manatee Awareness Month

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Help Make a Safer Place for Manatees

November is an annual celebration and a dedication to manatee conservation in Florida. As manatees seek warm water sites during the cooler winter season, residents, visitors, and the boating community are reminded to watch for manatees and help safeguard them as they freely move about Florida’s shallow, slow-moving rivers, bays, estuaries, and coastal water ecosystems.

Record watercraft mortality this year along with more than 180 manatees lost to red tide remain two of the greatest threats to the manatee population. Red tide acts as a neurotoxin in manatees, giving them seizures that can result in drowning without human intervention. Manatees may exhibit muscle twitches, lack of coordination, labored breathing, and an inability to maintain body orientation. If rescued in time, most manatees can recover, so report a sick manatee immediately to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Hotline at 1-888-404-3922, or send a text message or email to Tip@MyFWC.com. Use VHF Channel 16 on a marine radio.

In total, 703 manatees have died so far this year from January 1st through October 12th from all causes. Cold stress during the winter months takes a toll on the manatees as they are a subtropical species and cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Other causes of human-related mortalities includes ingestion of litter, fish hooks, and monofilament line; entanglement in crab trap lines, and being crushed and/or drowned in canal locks and flood control structures.

Many seasonal manatee zones in Florida come into effect in November, and boaters are urged to pay close attention to posted signage indicating slow or idle speeds. Waterway users should also keep their distance from migrating manatees or manatees congregated at warm-water sites during the winter to avoid possible harassment. Never separate a mother from her calf as calves depend on their mothers for up to two years. Check out the videos, tips, and resources for boaters at savethemanatee.org/boatertips.

The public can be actively engaged in manatee and habitat protection by obtaining the Club’s free waterway signage, boating banners and decals, waterway cards, and educational posters. The shoreline property signs warn boaters to slow down for manatees and feature the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s hotline number (1-888-404-3922) to report sick, injured, orphaned, or harassed manatees. The Club also produces family-friendly outdoor signs for state, municipal, and county parks, marinas, and other sites where human/manatee interactions are a problem. View the free public awareness resources at savethemanatee.org/freematerials. To obtain any of these materials, email education@savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646) and request these resources.

The public is also encouraged to visit Save the Manatee Club’s Blue Spring webcams at ManaTV.org to see manatees in real time once manatee season is underway or on archived video. The webcams have become popular with viewers across the globe and have allowed the Club to monitor manatee behavior for research and health-related conditions. The site also features researcher Wayne Hartley’s daily blog on manatees visiting the spring. Hartley is the Club’s Manatee Specialist and a former park ranger at Blue Spring State Park. He has been researching the Blue Spring manatees since 1978.

Another way to help is by joining the Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee® program. Each “adoptive parent” learns about the species by following the real, living manatee they’ve chosen through adoption materials and follow-up newsletters the Club provides. To learn more, visit the adoption page of the web site at savethemanatee.org/adopt.

Save the Manatee Club is an award-winning 501(c)(3) international nonprofit organization established in 1981 by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham. The Club’s mission is to protect manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations. To accomplish its mission, the Club works closely with federal, state, and local governments, the media, and the public, and supports policies that are based on the best scientific data available. The Club raises public awareness; educates; sponsors research, rescue, rehabilitation, and release efforts; supports land acquisition and aquatic habitat protection; advocates for improved on-the-water protection measures, and also supports education and conservation efforts in other countries.

Check out Save the Manatee Club’s website at savethemanatee.org for more information and other ways to get involved.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Introducing the Cinebags Dome Port Case CB74

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The CB74 Port Case is a heavy duty case to protect and carry your compact sized dome port. Designed to protect and transport 6″-8″ ports from Nauticam, Zen, Sea&Sea and similar sized ports.

The CB74 is made of a heavy duty tarpaulin fabric with padded sidewalls to protect your dome port in your dive luggage. The oversized zippers allow for quick easy access to the port pouch.

A mesh pouch is attached to flap can be used to store your spare port cover.


A small velcro pouch is located in the back compartment of the CB74 for small parts like spare o-rings, or o-ring grease.


The front of the CB74 has a neoprene carry handle to make transporting the port case a breeze. The opposite side has an area you can write your name and also label the pouch so it can be easily identified.

Features:

  • heavy duty tarpaulin fabric
  • padded sidewalls
  • oversized zippers
  • mesh pouch for accessories
  • mesh pouch to store port cover
  • neoperene carry handle

The CB74 Dome Port and other CineBags Underwater Products are available through the dedicated underwater dealer network. 

For more information visit the Cinebags website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

When is it a good day to dive?

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By Rick Peck

The standard answer is “It’s always a good day to dive.” The real question is: When is it a day we should not dive?

There are several factors that go into a decision for a dive day.

  • Weather
  • Waves
  • Tides (if applicable)
  • Physical condition
  • Mental condition
  • Water visibility

Weather

We would all like to dive in bright sunny conditions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. It is always a good idea to check the forecast before a dive day. The weather directly before a dive might be bright and sunny, but in some areas, thunderstorms roll in quickly. While it may be an interesting experience to see a lightning storm underwater with the strobe effect, we do have to come up sometime. A 30+ pound lightning rod strapped to your back makes for a very dangerous exit.

Wind is also a concern. Storms that roll in quickly can bring gust fronts that make for dangerous conditions. It could be flat and calm when you enter, and you may ascend after the dive into 5-6 foot chop with a dangerous exit onto the boat. Having a boat drop on your head or getting tangled in the ladder is not fun.

Waves and Tides

Shore diving in a coastal area makes waves a concern. Waves are generated by wind speed, duration and fetch. If there is a storm offshore you could be seeing big waves with very little wind in your area. Linked to the wave action is the tide. At some sites, waves tend to fizzle out at extreme high tide, making for easier entry and exits.

Tides can also affect your dive in an inlet. There is a popular dive site in my area that normally dives from a half-hour before high tide to a half-hour after high tide because of the current generated by the tidal change. The tidal currents can become so strong that an average diver can’t overcome them. The question is: does the tide change match the time you have available to dive? Your local dive shop should have recommendations on where and when is the best time to shore dive. As we learned in our Open Water class, local knowledge is the best.

Physical Condition

Are you healthy enough to dive? Do you have the physical conditioning to safely do the dive you are planning? Pushing your physical limits directly after a cold or allergy attack could lead to an ear injury or worse. If you have been sick, maybe you don’t have the energy reserves to rescue yourself or a buddy if required. The typical “Oh, I’ll be alright” could put not only you but your dive buddy at risk as well. Don’t let your ego write checks that your body can’t fulfill.

Mental Condition

You could compare diving to driving a car. We have all heard of distracted driving. If you are mentally upset or dealing with a great deal of stress, it might be prudent to evaluate whether it’s a good day to dive. Frustration and an urgency to get into the water to “relax” could mean you are skipping items on your buddy checks and self-checks. Unless you have the mental discipline to set these worries aside, it is probably better to dive another day.

Water Visibility

While there is a segment of the diving population that likes to “Muck Dive,” in general we prefer to see what is around us. One type of diving where visibility is important is drift diving. It is a two-fold problem, if you stay shallow enough to avoid obstructions, you can’t see anything. If you go deep enough to see the bottom, depending on the speed of the current, there is a possibility of being driven into a coral head or some other obstruction that you don’t see approaching. It is also much easier to become separated from your buddy. Remember to discuss and set a lost buddy protocol before the dive.

Summary

While it seems like all the stars and moon must align in order to safely dive, it’s really simple. Check the weather, check the tides (If applicable), do a self-assessment, and don’t be reluctant to cancel a dive if the conditions warrant it when you arrive at the dive site. A little planning and forethought will lead to a safe enjoyable dive. Always remember to dive within the limits of your training, conditioning, and skill set.


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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