Blog | a New Life in the Sea

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Since 2008, this Blog has been a communications priority providing shorts, op-eds, and bramblings that communicate our evolution to ‘a new life in the sea’.

Browse recent posts to the right or navigate through our major themes below.

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Primary Themes from our Blog

don’t drink and drive; and don’t drug and dive

I am always amazed at the pace of progress, particularly in diving, where it seems a 10-20 year cycle is in play for better understanding new technologies, new techniques, and their implications on human factors. A recent article from the Divers Alert Network about pseudoephedrine and diving illustrates this point quite well… Rewind twenty years, and it was rather commonplace for an openwater dive instructor to suggest that over the counter decongestants were a suitable remedy for a student diver who was having difficulty equalizing in shallow water. Between the cold water in your ears, a tightly fitting hood, and the newly experienced effects of pressure, even in the shallows, equalization poses problems for many new divers. A little Sudafed, and you’re good to go, right? I was among those with equalization problems from the beginning. It was just a foreign concept, and I had some trouble making air...
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diving in the background

This week was one of those weeks – a marathon stretch of hard mud diving every day which equated to just shy of 30 hours underwater within a 5 day stretch, with one day including a 7 hour dive. I’ve had lots of weeks like this, for better or worse, and they always manage to bring forward some of the harsh realities of the trade, while leaving the glamour of diving hidden in the background. So, what the heck was I doing for 30 hours down there? Well, I was being part underwater engineer, part underwater carpenter, and part underwater trash man. We were tasked with installing several thousands of pounds of foam flotation to a new concrete floating dock to make it more level and sit just a wee bit higher. That meant lots of repetitive exercises in displacement, careful rigging, and attention paid to diver positioning so as to...
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the ups and downs of mooring work

Tis the season – water is still cold, brisk morning starts, and a glimpse of spring come afternoon – and the long days out on the water have kicked off. This time of year is a big focus on one thing…mooring work. What is mooring work? Well, for those landlubber readers, a mooring itself is the permanent anchor set out on the water where folks will tie up a boat that stays on the water for some period of time. Its anatomy consists of some type of heavy bottom tackle, most often a ‘mushroom’ anchor, though at time concrete blocks, or helical screws hydraulically driven into the bottom; a shot of heavy ‘bottom chain’, which rests on the bottom and rarely moves unless there is a major tide or storm; a shot of ‘top chain’ which is a lighter gauge than the bottom chain and as the name suggests, it...
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recollections from the bottom up

When the phone rings, it could be just about anything… I’ve answered calls that have resulted in gearing up and on a flight to Central America within 2 days, headed offshore on a rickety fishing boat within 2 hours, and asked to review a major construction project that is 2 years out. You never know what might come up next. The important thing is being ready to jump – always remaining in a state of readiness to say ‘yes’. The first time you say ‘no’, your name goes to the bottom of the pile and it could be quite some time before the phone rings again. So, that makes things interesting. While those of us living the life aquatic are always sculpting, crafting, and maneuvering for the next big project, it’s often the little stuff that keeps the doors open, keeps us proficient, and keeps us ready. When the phone...
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Leaving our Shores – the Baby Steps

Among the earliest of lessons taught in diving is recognizing and mitigating the pathway of stress leading to anxiety which can lead to panic. There are physical, physiological, and psychological factors that can impact this dangerous pathway; and so we are given the basic tool and skill sets to protect the human from these factors. As dive training progresses, so do the challenges in that the tools and skills become more complex, with demanding dives allowing for less and less margin for error. Over time, many of these tools and skills become ‘standardized’ and it becomes easier for the next guy or gal, while others continue trek forward with finding new limits of the tools and skills, and then adapting them for the next step. That is exploration, and is inherent in human nature. Thinking about exploration in this context – making progress – doesn’t have to be isolated to...
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the smells and the sounds of a day welding in the mud

As hard as the days can be, the entire experience of a days worth of diving in the mud is nothing short of value packed. And after a hard days work, the level of appreciation for having the opportunity is always elevated. This past week’s activities: wet welding. I’ve written about underwater welding a few times, but figure its worth elaborating upon a bit given that it’s fresh, and as I sit here to write I am still suffering in the aftermath. I’ll start by saying that welding is not my strong suit, but it is one of the things I enjoy the most about commercial diving. There are so many subtleties to the process in that it requires a very slow hand, patience, focus, grace and at the same time is incredibly harsh on the body. Here in inland diving territory, we call it ‘mud diving’ because in most...
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oh wait, we [divers] all need weight!

Among my numerous hobby ventures has been fabricating weight harnesses for divers. Having produced a batch recently, the topic is fresh on my mind, so I figured I would share some of the ins and outs of the design and my own philosophies on correct weighting for divers. For starters, we all need to wear weight to aid in our being properly ballasted for any given dive. Short of wearing nothing but a bathing suit in the tropics and probably avoiding the need for any substantial weight, each and every diver requires at least some adjustment to help us break the surface. From day 1, we learn about ideal trim and buoyancy, and that a conscientious diver should aim to be neutral in the water. This is the perfect case for learning, but in practice it is not always ideal. For a working diver in particular, it may be advantageous...
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Overpopulation Nation? We need a Sea Station!

Call it one of those quirky fateful twists – as I started up my truck this morning, the local radio was airing an interview with Frank Carini from EcoRI News (my favorite environmental watchdog) which was tackling the controversial subject of overpopulation. I haven’t written about this in some time, so figured that in the spirit of those fearful of what forthcoming environmental policy might look like, this would be as good a time as any to dive deep into the subject. At the surface, at face value, overpopulation is very real. Those of us who have been around for a quarter to a half a century have felt the pressure everyday – just think about something as simple as traffic. It is very obvious that there is more traffic today than there was even 10 years ago, and this has added to personal anxiety and stress, as well as...
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New Paper – A Little Fish with a Big Name, in NMEA

2016 was a big year for new publications, as we we’ve taken some time over the last couple of years to write-up the significant body of work that has been evolving. I’m pleased to share another paper, courtesy our collaboration with Anne Krauss from Cobbles Elementary School in Penfield, NY: Paper-NMEACurrent_Derilissus2016 Anne’s students at Cobbles have very generously embraced our fieldwork as the theme for various literacy studies. The new paper in National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) Current provides a case study of our 2011 discovery of the mesophotic clingfish, Derilissus lombardii, and its interpretation and utility for course instruction at Cobbles Elementary. The paper is structured to provide a resource guide for any educator wishing to incorporate this discovery into their classrooms. For more about D. lombardii, visit: a Little Fish with a Big Name There’s a few key points to understand regarding the context of the paper. First, in...
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Norway’s floating underwater traffic tunnels

Submerged megastructures are exactly what humanity needs to drive our aquatic evolution, and it’s great that some folks are thinking, and planning, that way. Recent news from Norway has revealed ambitious plans for submerged tunnels that allow traffic to cross its fjords, without an obtrusive bridge hopping from land. Now, it goes without saying that such a submerged structure is incredibly complicated to design, let alone install. On the design front, the structure itself must tolerate the stress that comes with pressure at depth, and must combat the aquatic elements – tidal surge, waves, currents, cold temperatures, and biofouling An ambitious new plan in Norway would install a series of “submerged floating bridges” to help travelers easily cross the nation’s many fjords. At present, the only way to travel across the bodies… Source: Norway to build world’s first floating underwater traffic tunnels Did I mention biofouling? Biofouling is essentially the...
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