Today is World Oceans Day. Yet another reminder of the importance of protecting our oceans and its incredible inhabitants. How are you celebrating?
My roommate, big wave surfer Polly Ralda, and I are lucky enough to live on Oahu and enjoy being in the ocean each and every day. It’s our daily medicine. We owe so much to the ocean and believe it’s our responsibility as athletes to protect our playgrounds. This summer, the visibility has been crystal clear, so we wanted to share its beauty with you via our GoPro.
We were pleasantly surprised on our last freediving adventure when this majestic dolphin pod surrounded us off the Hawaiian Islands. They were swimming for as far as we could see, bunched up in groups displaying the various families and dolphin couples. We couldn’t help but listen to their peaceful singing while underwater, which you can listen to in the raw video. Let’s just say it was one of the best days of our lives…
Following this special experience, we are more motivated than ever to save our seas and fight for its many species that are depending on us to use our voice to stand up for them, and change our habits to stop polluting their home. We hope the sentiment is contagious.
Let us know what you’re doing to celebrate #WorldOceansDay by hashtagging a video on Instagram.
Italian Freediver Alessia Zecchini has set a new World Record in Freediving by completing a Constant Weight (CWT) dive to 102m in three minutes and :30 seconds.
Alessia’s new world record was finally set during Day Six of the Vertical Blue 2017 freediving competition at Deans Blue Hole in the Bahamas. Zecchini had previously only garnered red cards at her inaugural Vertical Blue, one red card for a failed record attempt at free-immersion, and then two failed WR attempts of this otherwise vexing CWT dive to 102 meters.
It seems the weather was also in agreement that today was the day for a new World Record from Alessia.
“The cold wind and rain stopped at the exact moment Alessia was on the platform, and then sun came out and birds started chirping!” stated Francesca Koe, DeeperBlue.com Editor-at-Large and Vertical Blue’s Chief of Media.
The previous female world record in CWT was held by the late Natalia Molchanova who set the record back in 2011.
Freediver Forrest Simon owes a lot to his greatest passion, both competitively and recreationally. In this video, he dives much deeper into the analysis of freediving and its health benefits on the conscious mind – its ability to open a new door of fresh perspective, removing you totally from the stresses above water. Sounds a lot like a guided meditation. The more we learn about health and wellness, the more value one places on mindfulness and slowing down our over-stressed and anxious brains. It seems that for Forrest, freediving may be the key to fully living in the present moment and harnessing inner peace.
Forrest chose a career as a PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer so that he could spread his love for the sport with others and help grow the freedive community. For Simon, it’s not just about teaching people to hold their breath and dive to a certain depth; it’s about sharing the enlightenment he discovered through freediving, and passing that power of transformation on to someone on a similar life journey.
“Most importantly is having the ability to teach someone how to really change themselves. It’s about teaching them to tap into a part of themselves that they’ve never been in touch with – that they don’t know exists.”
By Shannon Marie Quirk of theinertia
“My PADI helps me challenge myself and explore my limits.” – Forrest Simon, PADI AmbassaDiver and PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer
Forrest Simon pursued his greatest passion, freediving, both competitively and recreationally. He chose a career as a PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer so that he can spread his love for the sport with others and help grow the freedive community. Freediving has been integral in defining who he is today. For Forrest, it’s not just about teaching people to hold their breath and dive to a certain depth; it’s about sharing the enlightenment he discovered through freediving, and passing that power of transformation on to someone on a similar life journey.
There is a saying that there are two types of underwater photographer, those who have had a camera housing flood already and those who haven’t had a camera housing flood….yet. Camera floods do happen but there is always a reason for it and usually it comes down to a lack of proper preparation. Packing your camera should not be a case of simply putting it in the housing and closing it shut. Proper camera packing takes time and patience but when you return from your dives with great images and your camera in tact it will all be worth it!
Here are our top tips for making sure that your camera stays safe (and dry) during your dives:
Invest in the best possible housing for your camera. Buy the specific housing for your camera make and model. “One size fits all” housings may be cheaper but they can cost you more in the long-run if they leak because they don’t fit correctly.
Choose where you pack your camera carefully. Avoid dusty or sandy areas and position yourself away from any fans, wind or drafts. Make sure that you have adequate lighting – a bright desk lamp is perfect.
Have everything you need close to hand before you start. If you have to stop half way through to grab something, your open housing may attract dust or fibre while you are gone. Essential tools include; an o-ring remover, tissue, silicone grease and a micro-fibre or lint free cloth.
Wash your hands before you start and if you have long hair, tie it back out of the way. It’s true that a single human hair trapped in your housing CAN cause a leak!
Start by opening your housing and removing the o-ring with an o-ring remover or other blunt tool – a credit card works well. Never use a knife, scissors or sharp object as this may damage the o-ring.
Put the o-ring to one side on a clean, shiny surface, or if you’re working on a wooden bench place it on a plastic bag. Clean the “seat”, this is the ledge where the o-ring sits and it is often forgotten. Wipe around the seat and then follow up by running your finger tip around it to feel for any remaining gritty particles. Angle the housing under the light to check for any hairs or strands of fibre and remove them.
Hold a tissue between your fingers and run the o-ring through it to remove any old grease, sand or grit particles or other foreign matter. Next slide the o-ring through your pinched thumb and forefinger and feel for smoothness – if you feel anything gritty repeat the cleaning process. Make a final check under the light for any fibres before applying a small amount of silicone grease and smoothing it all around the o-ring.
Carefully replace the o-ring and once again angle the housing, with the o-ring in place, under the light to check for any foreign matter. Once you’re content that the housing is clean, place the camera in.
In some housings there’s a space below where the camera sits and the base of the housing which is an ideal spot to place either a sachet of silica gel or a very carefully folded tissue. Silica gel will absorb any moisture, not just from leaks, but also from condensation due to temperature changes. If you decide to use tissue or a gel sachet in the housing be sure it doesn’t interfere with button functions, the seal of the housing or fit of the camera in the housing. In the event of a small leak the tissue will also absorb moisture and hopefully buy you enough time to get out of the water.
Make a final check and close the housing. When you do this, make sure that any lanyards or strings which attach the diffuser are well out of the way.
Bubble check! Hold your packed camera underwater – a wash tank is ideal for this – and check for any bubbles which indicate a problem with the seal of the housing. It’s better to discover a problem now than when you are at 20 meters underwater!
Remember that after diving care is just as important as pre-dive packing. I can’t stress this enough. Rinse your housing thoroughly and if possible, air dry it. While rinsing the housing, depress and release each of the buttons several times to push out any salt water trapped beneath them. Gently lubricate the o-ring before carefully folding it in to a figure of 8 shape and storing in the housing.
When preparing to make a dive with your camera make sure you plan ahead so you have enough time to go through these steps slowly and carefully. Rushing to pack your camera makes you likely to miss a step or miss a hair or sand particle which could spell the end of your camera.
Take care of your camera housing by cleaning it and packing it carefully and it will take care of your camera!
The Islands in the Stream have an eclectic history from the Rat Pack to rum running, but recent notoriety has been all about the great hammerhead shark. Divers from across the globe trek to Bimini’s crystal clear waters to swim with these magnificent creatures. Social media timelines, magazine covers and episodes on Shark Week all feature this IUCN Red List ‘endangered species.’ I am very lucky because this shark diving hot spot happens to be in my backyard.
Bimini is a very sharky place, but as the winter months bring cooler water, the hammerheads move onto the shallow sand banks of the west side of South Bimini. The pristine waters and shallow depth create aquarium-like conditions, ideal for diving or freediving. I have dived with sharks all over the world, but nothing compares to slipping beneath the surface with these sharks.
Fear and fascination alike, attract us to sharks – their power and grace intrigue us, as they move in and out of the depths. For many, the great hammerhead elicits fear because of its size and the odd shaped head (cephalofoil) for which it is named. The shape and size of the head provide an evolutionary advantage, creating more surface area for electroreceptors called the Ampullae of Lorenzini and positioning the eyes for maximum field of view. The overlap from what the sharks can see from their left and right eyes is three times higher than sharks with the traditional pointed snout (i.e lemon and blacktips).
The mouth, most often displayed agape, is open to allow water to move in and over the gills, which is the method of breathing, called ram ventilation, great hammerheads uses. Other sharks, like nurse sharks, can buccal pump, using their mouth muscles to draw the water in, while tiger sharks can switch between the two methods.
While I love scuba diving with these sharks, I also enjoy a quiet moment on the sand bottom on a single breath of air. The sharks circle around and come extremely close. They are bold, but not aggressive. It’s a moment to dance as we move up and down the water column, surfacing only long enough to collect another breath for another escape into their salty world.
Diving down and swimming next to an animal 6-7 feet longer than I am, is truly remarkable and there really is nothing like it. I especially love looking into their eyes; not an empty black space people describe, but a curious and intelligent soul. A moment in the water can truly change the way people feel about them. Fear and nervousness are replaced by awe. It also catalyzes a better understanding and a level of respect, something these animals deserve.
There is no place else in the world like Bimini for encounters with great hammerheads and if swimming with them is on your Bucket List, this is the place!
Time to grab my mask and fins (and very warm wetsuit) and head out for the next shark adventure!
Werner started diving and fishing as a child with her father on Maui.
“What attracted me to free diving was that I felt like I could fly, I could go down and visit the fish but the minute I wanted to return to the surface I could take off and I loved that feeling,” she said.
The movement is growing in Australia and a number of free diving schools have been set up.
For Melbourne-based Marlon Quinn, the feeling of serenity under the water propelled him to turn away from a corporate IT career and start a free diving business.
“Life’s fast these days and getting that little bit of time out where time stops is what people are really drawn back to and magnetised by,” he said.
“I think people are just connecting with the fact that you can let go and discover the environment in your own way.”
Free diving is a water sport that requires an immense amount of concentration and physical prowess. Think scuba diving – but without all the equipment. No oxygen tanks, no weight belt – just you, your lungs, and the marine life. There are many physical benefits to the sport, including toning your muscles and strengthening your lungs, but some of the greatest experiences in free diving are conquering the challenges you face and the unique underwater view.
Relieves stress– Ore-diving techniques is very much like yoga, as it puts you in a calm and relaxed mood while still working your body. For the few moments that free divers are underwater they are relieved of all other stress factors. If you’re free diving in the ocean, being surrounded by sea creatures is not only a beautiful sight to behold but also an eye-opening experience. In fact, a 2013 found that free divers had reduced levels of stressand anxiety when compared to non-athletes.
Brings you closer to marine life- Free diving is one of the best activities to partake in when exploring marine life. With free diving, you’re able explore the underwater world without all the extra weight of carrying an oxygen tube and other heavy gear as it is with scuba diving. Because you don’t carry the excess of gear, marine life are more likely to even swim with you, giving you a closer experience to nature.
Boosts adrenaline – If you’re an adventure-seeker, you will definitely get your fix in free diving. In fact, one study has shown that free divers have increase levels of adrenalineeven after free diving, giving providing them with a feel-good rush.
Improves focus- Free diving is an activity which requires extreme concentration. Diving underwater without any breathing equipment requires divers to be finely attuned to their external surroundings and the internal state of their body. Externally, divers must know how far from the surface they are as well as the marine life surrounding them, while internally, the diver must be aware of his or her limits including when they feel they are running out of oxygen. A slip in attention may be fatal for free divers so it essential that free divers are immersed wholeheartedly in the art of free diving.
Therapeutic for the joints – Studies have shown that spending time in and underwater can relieve pressure on the joints and even increase range of motion due to hydrostatic pressure counteracting the usual pressure the body encounters during high impact activities.
Strengthen your lungs – Naturally, just as it is with cardio workouts, the more you work your lungs, the stronger they become. In the case with free diving, conditioning your lungs with pre-diving exercise techniques in the short term and long term breathing exercises increases your lungs’ oxygen capacity. This way, you can hold in more air for a longer time.
Strengthen muscles – Underwater diving requires the body must contract all its muscles in order to maintain buoyancy, change depth, and even tread water. As you dive deeper into the water, your body will encounter greater water pressure and resistance, thus forcing your body to work harder to get to your desired destination.
Boost endurance – The constant movement of your muscles in free diving not only tones your muscles, but also boosts your endurance. Free divers are not merely doing a limited number of sets and repetitions, but are frequently engaging there muscles and exceeding their limits to meet new goals.
Teaches discipline – Free diving is not a sport most people can just jump into. In fact, abiding by free diving techniques, including maintaining proper form and knowing your body’s limits, are essential. Not only must you focus on your body and your surroundings, but you must constantly apply and abide by these rules to ensure a safe and proper dive.
Pushes you to your limits – Though it is essential to maintain proper discipline in free diving, slowly but surely you will build the confidence and capacity to beat personal records in how long you can hold your breath as well as how deep underwater you go. Breaking personal bests only boost your need to set and achieve more goals.