Dipping into chilly waters off Matthews Beach in Lake Washington, Seattle for its 18th year is the Polar Bear Plunge: an opportunity for locals and visitors to ring in the New Year while testing their determination. Slated for January 1, 2020 at noon, the event builds on previous festivities, offering fun, games, prize, and more with a community-oriented flavor.
Article by John Tapley; photos courtesy Janet Wilson
The Polar Bear Plunge is hosted by the Meadowbrook Pool, one
of eight pools within Seattle and under the umbrella of Parks and Recreation,
and a mainstay of the Emerald City since 1975. The plunge has been a Seattle
tradition since its inaugural event in 2003, as Janet Wilson, Aquatic Center
Coordinator at Meadowbrook Pool, explains:
“A neighbor came to the pool and said she had been going to Mercer Island with friends and jumping off someone’s dock. It occurred to her she lived close to Matthews Beach in Lake Washington, and wouldn’t it be fun to have a neighborhood gathering? She came and approached me about doing it for the community. It was a person just saying, ‘This would be a fun community event. Would Parks and Recreation be interested?”
Matthews Beach has been the venue of choice since year one, largely because of its easy accessibility and viewing.
“One of the things that’s nice about Matthews Beach is that
it’s on a bus line and is accessible from the Burke-Gilman Trail, and there’s
quite a bit of parking,” says Wilson. “It’s a pretty dense neighborhood and is
accessible from all areas of the city. It has a cove shape, making a natural
spot for people to have nice viewing points on the lawn. A lot of people come
with family and friends: a support group, bringing blankets and towels.”
Prior to the park plunge, guests can enjoy community
activities such as games, photos, props, and music, and purchase t-shirts and
sweatshirts cherishing the event. Warm refreshments will be available,
including hot chocolate and marshmallows, coffee, and, curiously, warm tang.
“We tell people that’s the beverage of choice by polar
bears,” laughs Wilson. “We also have big chubby marshmallows, which we tell
people are polar bear vitamins. It’s being silly and making it fun.”
Daring participants who brave the chilly waters up to their
necks can receive a commemorative badge of courage, emboldened with the year of
the event: a collectable for repeat polar bear plungers.
Beyond the fun and local revelry, the Polar Bear Plunge
urges safety and caution to prevent accidents and conditions such as
hypothermia. Participants are asked to stay in the waters no more than 15
minutes, abstain from alcohol, and change into dry clothes immediately
afterwards. Changing rooms and hot showers will be available.
Parties interested in ringing in the New Year with the
Emerald City community can register at 10 a.m. prior to the event’s launch.
For more information, including tips to stay safe during the festivities, visit parkways.seattle.gov.
Returning to Washington DC early next year is the DC Dive
Show: a weekend celebration of all things aquatic. Slated for February 22 and
23, the convention offers a wide range of activities, events, and displays that
spark the imagination and sate that hunger for the sea.
By John Tapley
The DC Dive Show will feature a bevy of presentations
headlined by luminaries in scuba diving, maritime history, travel and
adventure, and other relevant subjects. Exhibitors representing dive
manufacturing and retail, travel, environmental and social groups, will be
available throughout the weekend; as of this writing, 52 exhibitors have signed
up for the show. Show visitors will also be able to participate in raffles and
a silent auction. Money raised from the auction will go toward Dive Hope: a
fundraiser operated by show organization US Dive Shows, which garners donations
for breast cancer patients.
As with last year’s DC Dive Show, 2020’s event will take place
at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, located in the heart of the
city. This venue was selected for its centered location, easy access and
parking, and closeness to DC’s most prolific locales. DC Dive Show is managed
by US Dive Shows, which has operated successful scuba diving and adventure
travel expos throughout the United States.
The show floor plan has been designed with four large
screens that will showcase short videos donated by industry media producers,
including Behind the Mask and Brent Durand. Featured in the eastern section of
the show room will be “Treasure Island”: an aptly named section that showcases
aquatic imagery donated by artists as well as artifacts recovered from
historically important Atlantic Coast shipwrecks by acclaimed wreck expert Gene
“We’re using two ballrooms this year that are surrounded by
classrooms, so it makes it real easy,” says show organizer and US Dive Shows
head Brian Miller. “Our exhibit floor is all carpeted and it’s a very nice
facility – it’s beautiful.”
The DC Dive Show opens on Saturday, February 22 with a focus
on seminars and presentations that cover a wide range of topics. Participants
can dip into history with presentations on ancient Greek wrecks, Great Lakes
finds, and World War II-era discoveries in the Solomon Islands; travel
alongside presenters to exotic destinations such as the Caribbean, Fiji, and
the Arctic; and take in environmentally focused subjects such as shark
As the evening begins to settle in, local dive clubs will
hold their February meetings throughout seven specified seminar rooms. Later,
from 7 to 11, the DC Dive Show will feature a Caribbean-styled Saturday night
social, in timing with Carnival. The social will be managed by members of The
Underwater Adventure Society, and will include food, accessories like Mardi
Gras beads, and Carnival-themed amusements.
Sunday, February 23 will mark DC Dive Show’s workshop day,
which will include its own variety of presentations with a hands-on approach.
Workshops slated for Sunday include a four-part program on citizen scientists,
sustainable travel, Spot a Shark, coral restoration, a rebreather demonstration
by Jill Heinerth, health and aging as a diver, and an ocean pollution portrait,
which will cover water pollution throughout the world. A wreck diving workshop
will cover shipwrecks in a variety of destinations such as the Mediterranean,
Atlantic, and the Great Lakes, and will be headlined by seasoned scuba diver
and maritime historian Erik Petkovic.
According to Petkovic, who has attended shows managed by US
Dive Shows, the DC Dive Show fills a much-needed niche in the region.
“It’s really the only dive show that’s in the mid-Atlantic
states; there’s some small ones, but the bigger, well known dive shows are in the
northeast or down south in Florida,” he says. “It’s nice to have a local one in
the DMV: DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Brian made a smart move when he moved the
[Baltimore show] to DC. Everyone likes DC and there’s a lot of other stuff to
do besides the dive show.”
“It’s a great location,” he adds. “The venue is superb. It’s
easy to navigate to, easy to get to the hotels, and easy to go anywhere else in
the city. It has a great feel to it. In previous years, it was one day: an in
and out on Friday or Saturday. There’s been so much demand for it, it’s
effectively been doubled.”
Tickets for next year’s DC Dive Show cost $25 for two-day general admission and $15 for Sunday only. Parties who order tickets in advance online can save $5 and get a free raffle ticket. For more details on the DC Dive Show, including a comprehensive list of seminars and workshops, as well as lodging and travel accommodations, visit dcdiveshow.com.
Registration is now open for NAUI Worldwide’s exhibitor-sponsored workshops and seminars at DEMA Show in Orlando, Florida! Qualified dive industry professionals looking for training opportunities in First Aid Instruction and Training or Course Director and Instructor Trainer Requalification can now register online or by phone.
Are you interested in teaching and administering First Aid courses to your students? Or, have you met all the prerequisites to become a First Aid Instructor Trainer in the NAUI First Aid – Powered by DAN curriculum? NAUI is offering two, two-day workshops: First Aid Instructor Workshop (FAIW) and First Aid Instructor Trainer Workshop (FAITW). Both will be held on Nov. 16-17 at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room W206B of the Orange County Convention Center at 9800 International Drive.
Due to pre-requisite requirements, on-site registration will not be available for the FAIW and FAITWs. Completion of the online Instructor Modules is required prior to attending. The deadline to register for both workshops is three weeks prior to event date.
NAUI members are encouraged to register for the NAUI Instructor Trainer/Course Director/Course Director Trainer Requalification Workshop being held on Tuesday, Nov. 12 in room W206A. Completion of this periodic training is required to maintain these designations. Instructors who successfully complete this workshop will be requalified at their current designation through Dec. 31, 2022.
For full details, access NAUI’s DEMA Show Program at: https:/www.naui.org/media/2304/dema-special- section_2019.pdf
Interested individuals should direct questions to the NAUI Training Department at email@example.com or by calling NAUI Headquarters at +1 813-628-6284. Additional FAIW, FAITW, and IT/CD/CDT Workshops will be held throughout 2020 with updates posted to www.naui.org/events/.
ACT NOW AND REGISTER TODAY! Stay tuned to the NAUI Events Page for the latest details on NAUI and exhibitor-sponsored seminars, show-related activities and news, NAUI Member Reception, and otherinformation as the DEMA Show approaches.
In recognition of the world’s climate changing, particularly
how these changes affect oceans and polar ice caps, the DC Dive Show will focus
on polar regions during its featured presentation. Scheduled for Saturday,
February 22, 2020 at 2pm EST, the exploratory showcase will feature two of
scuba diving’s most prolific polar explorers, who have explored the region for
many years: Jill Heinerth, who was the first diver to cave dive within an
iceberg; and Amos Nachoum, the first to photograph polar bears from underwater.
The DCDiveShow is dedicated to the promotion of scuba diving
retail in the Mid-Atlantic. At this show we take local divers on adventures to
the Polar Regions, the Caribbean, the South Pacific and the local diving areas
of the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes.
The Mid-Atlantic diving reaches up into the Great Lakes and
St. Lawrence River shipwrecks, Rhode Island shark diving, Civil War artifact
diving in rivers and bays. The New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and
North Carolina “Shipwreck Alley” has more than 5,000 shipwrecks off the coast.
Speakers will tell stories about their scuba diving and
travel adventures from around the world. For example, Amos and Jill will be
sharing adventures of the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctica. Others
will share experiences diving on the many shipwrecks of the region and still
others will share stories of pirates, sharks, the environment and even the food
culture of the Caribbean.
On Sunday, these presentations expand into workshops on
rebreathers, diving medicine, the environment, researching the National
Archives for shipwreck information, and more. DCDiveShow offers something for
The show will feature equipment specialist and retail and
training experts from the local area as well as liveaboard boat operators and
resort representatives from around the world. Non-divers attending the Show
will receive coupons for a FREE Discover Diving experience.
The DCDiveShow takes place at the Walter E. Washington (DC) Convention Center on February 22 and 23, 2020. For more information, visit DCDiveShow.com or contact organizer Brian Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org (or (410) 458-0260) after October 14, 2019.
With Halloween quickly approaching, scuba divers are raring
and ready for one of their most favorite, and uniquely eccentric, fall
activities: underwater pumpkin carving. Using deft skill and precision, aquatic
devotees showcase their creativity in their favorite environment: the gourds
gluttonous with gooey guts are given ghoulish, garish, or goodly grins; and
beyond these typical depictions, pumpkin artisans have merged their passion for
the undersea world with the craft with orangey dioramas displaying sea life.
Throughout October, water-related organizations the world over facilitate
freaky and fun fall festivities fit for family and friends.
Article by John Tapley
For Mystic Aquarium, located in Stonington, Connecticut,
entertaining children and families is the core of underwater pumpkin carving.
This year’s Sea Scare event, scheduled for October 26 and 27, is a celebration
of the season and the sea. During Sea Scare, visitors can watch the aquarium’s
dive team carve pumpkins within an expansive coral exhibit replete with
tropical fish; a friendly costume contest rounds out the event.
“We get a lot of interaction with kids anytime we’re in an exhibit or cleaning
or having these other events,” explains Sharon Teel, Mystic Aquarium dive
safety officer. “We get close to the glass and we have this cool skeleton
costume the diver wears. It’s a huge photo op for the parents. We end up being
in so many pictures.”
A 501(c)3 non-profit in operation since 1973, Mystic
Aquarium’s overall mission is, per PR coordinator Stevi Bramich, “to inspire
people to care for and protect the ocean planet through education,
conservation, and research.”
Three time zones away, Seattle’s Marker Buoy Dive Club has
hosted an annual pumpkin carving contest for decades, with 2019’s event taking
place at Alki Beach Park on October 26.
“It’s an unusual activity,” says Fritz Merkel, Marker Buoy
Dive Club webmaster. “It’s something completely different from what you’d do
while diving. In our carve, you can draw on the pumpkin, but it cannot be
otherwise altered until it’s at 10 feet at depth.”
One of the oldest dive clubs in the United States, Marker
Buoy Dive Club has been in operation since the early ‘60s. The club is over 200
members strong and highlights Puget Sound as a diving destination while hosting
and participating in community engagements.
Carving a pumpkin while maintaining the demands of scuba
diving is not a simple undertaking. Pumpkins are known to be floaty vegetables
and keeping them sedentary can be a challenge.
“Handling the pumpkin is the hardest part,” says Teel.
“Everything else is pretty normal for the dive routine. What we do ahead of
time is hallow out the pumpkin then… get a bit of weight in there to help it to
stop floating up towards the surface. Then we’ll draw whatever we need to carve
out ahead of time… keeping it looking like it’s cool and not too crazy.”
“You have to get a floaty pumpkin down to 10 feet before you
can open it, get the air out of it, and start carving,” says Merkel, referring
to the Marker Buoy carving contest. “It requires some skill. We’ve had people
completely fail with that portion: if you could imagine trying to sink a
basketball by hand. You have to have an assortment of carving tools depending
on how elaborate you want to be, and then you have to pull that whole thing off
with a buddy underwater within an hour, then get the whole mass back intact.”
On September 15, scuba divers, friends, and family will
gather at Woahink Lake in Florence, Oregon for a day of fun, food, and
fundraising: the Dive for a Cure event, organized by Eugene Skin Divers Supply
of Eugene, Oregon. Now in its 12th year, the day has become a
hallmark for scuba diving events in the central Oregon region – it’s ultimate
purpose to garner funds for breast cancer research.
By John Tapley; photos courtesy Dive for a Cure
As in previous years, the all-day charity will be hosted at Woahink
Lake in Dunes City, Oregon. Dive for a Cure 2019 will provide a bevy of
activities for participants of all ages. Key to the event for divers is the
underwater poker run and while topside events include: the OctoToss, a fin
race, a silent auction, speaking engagements, and other inclusive activities.
Refreshments will be served at a family BBQ and will include hamburgers and
garden burgers, hotdogs, chips, salads, beverages, and desserts.
“It’s a state park so we can make reservations and use the
area,” says event organization and Eugene Skin Divers Supply co-owner Diana
Hollingshead. “It’s very close to Eugene – about 50 miles away – and the lake
is easy to dive in: a nice, controlled environment for divers of all levels.”
Founded in 2008 by Diana and husband Michael, Dive for a
Cure serves as the largest grassroots fundraiser for the OHSU Knight Cancer
Institute, which researches and treats breast cancer. To date, Dive for a Cure
has raised over one million dollars in funds to the institute, and has helped
share the message of breast cancer prevention and treatment.
Last month, Dive for a Cure worked with a longstanding local
partner, Fast Track Car Wash, for a weeklong fundraising event wherein 50
percent of proceeds went to the cause. Fast Track Car Wash has been involved
with the charity for the past seven years.
Dive for a Cure is operated by volunteers who gift their
time to the cause, and sponsors who finance the event through pledges and
donate items to the silent auction. Event organizers are looking forward to
next year, and encourage dive shops and organizations to participate.
This year’s Dive for a Cure is sponsored by leading
companies in the scuba diving industry, including AquaLung, DUI, USIA, PADI,
SCUBAPRO, Huish Outdoors, TUSA, Blue Green Expeditions, Deep Blue Adventures,
and Big Blue Lights.
If previous’ years are a meter, Dive for a Cure 2019 will
prove to be another successful event; Dive for a Cure 2018 enjoyed over 250
attendees. As of this writing, over 200 have registered.
“There’s still time to sign up,” says Hollingshead. “We have
people coming from across the country again – the East Coast, California, the
Seattle area – and everyone is welcome: family events; lunch provided. Even if
people don’t want to dive, the silent auction is huge.”
For more details on Dive for a Cure, including sponsorship, volunteer, and donation information, and to sign up, visit www.diveforacure.org.
October is a month that bridges the residual warmth from September and the chilly conditions brought on by November. For many scuba divers, depending on locality, it marks the end of the busy dive season: transitioning into winter before the electrified energy of diving returns full swing in spring. Florida, with its consistently balmy and warm temperatures, both above and in the waters, is a lauded destination during these colder months. REEF Fest 2019 invites visitors of all ages to celebrate all things ocean from October 17 to 20, opening warm, watery worlds within southern Florida.
Managed by the Reef Environment Education Foundation (REEF), REEF Fest is a four-day exploration of marine environments and conditions throughout the Florida Keys. REEF Fest recognizes and honors successful education and marine conservation programs and initiatives, and includes a bevy of activities and events, including, according to its website, “educational seminars, social gatherings, diving and eco-adventures along side some of the most prestigious names in diving and marine conservation.”
“One of the goals is to get REEF members and other ocean enthusiasts physically down to the Keys to participate in diving, snorkeling, and kayaking… to really appreciate the beauty of the Keys’ marine environment,” says REEF Trips Program and Communications Manager Amy Lee, “and hopefully get people engaged in our program and learn ways they can make a difference for conservation.”
“Individual empowerment. Spreading the message of what we do and why it’s important,” she continues. “And continued engagement with our members. Even though we are based in Key Largo, we have members from all over the world. A lot of them have not physically been to ourheadquarters… we try to offer an individualized level of communication… like a big family.”
REEF Fest celebrates the hard work and dedication of ocean stewards and scientists, along with the Keys community, which has made these effortspossible. A social event will be presented each day of the festivities, allowing guests and presenters a venue to mingle and discuss pertinent topics concerning the ocean environment.
On Thursday, 17 REEF Fest will provide a sunset picnic, located at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo, with a welcome message and opening seminar to follow inside the center’s auditorium. The next evening features an open house at REEF HQ where celebrants can tour the building, enjoy the Native Plants Trail, and experience the Interpretive Center; complimentary appetizers and local beer and wine complement the occasion.
The festival’s premiere social event, the For the Love of the Sea Banquet, starts Saturday evening next to Quiescence Diving Services, and offers a variety of appetizer, entrée, and beverage choices, live music, and a silent auction that benefits REEF’s marine conservation mission: an experience enhanced by the iconic southern Florida sunset. Each ticket for the banquet costs $70. Lastly, REEF 2019 will come to a close with a farewell brunch late morning on Sunday, 20: the final opportunity to meet and mingle before next year’s festival.
Throughout the opening day, visitors will interact with REEF experts who will impart valuable teaching tools through three workshops: Lionfish Collecting and Handling Workshop, by Alli Candelmo, Ph.D., “Tropical Western Atlantic
Fish ID for Beginner Surveyors”, presented by REEF Outreach Coordinator Janna Nichols, and“Tropical Western Atlantic Fish ID for Intermediate/ Advanced Surveyors”, taught by Lee.
Cementing the festival’s focus on reef and ocean environment conservation will be a series of engaging seminars hosted by luminaries in oceanography, scuba diving, marine biology, and other related subjects.
REEF Fest’s opening evening features “The Future for Sea Turtles on a Warming Planet”, presented by Selina Heppel, Ph.D., Professor at Oregon State University.
Friday afternoon, visitors can enjoy presentations “The Power of Marine Citizen Science”, headlined by Ben Holt, Ph.D and Director of the Rock Pool Project; and “Reef Fish Behavior, 2nd Edition: Twenty joy-filled years in the making” by REEF trustees and co-founders Ned and Anna DeLoach.
REEF Fest’s seminar series concludes on Saturday afternoon with “Blooms of Blue-green Algae in South Florida: Ecological causes and human health consequences” by Larry Brand, Ph.D. Professor of Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami;
“Lionfish and Nassau Grouper: A tale of two fish and how stakeholder collaboration leads to conservation success” by Alli Candelmo, Ph.D. and REEF Director of Science and REEF Invasive Species Program Manager, and Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D.; and “Marine Heatwaves: What 5,000 citizen scientists can tell us about 85,000 beached birds”, presented by Julia Parrish, COASST Executive Director and Ph.D. Professor of the University of Washington.
Scuba divers interested in experiencing REEF’s mission up close and personal can join up with participating dive charters in the Upper Keys on Friday, October 18 and Saturday 19. Each expedition will include a REEF representative who will provide and cover fish identification materials. REEF Fest dive partners this year include Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort, Horizon Divers, Quiescence Diving Services, and Key Dives. On both days, Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort will offer opportunities for snorkelers; Florida Bay Outfitters Kayak Tour will provide three-hour guided kayak eco-tours with a focus on wading birds and nearshore marine life. Parties interested inthese events should register with REEF directly. REEF Fest has been a mainstay program since its inaugural event in 2013, which coincided with REEF’s 25th anniversary.
“That event went so well that starting in 2015, we decided to make it an annual thing, [and] it was the first time we called it REEF Fest,” says Lee. “It’s been held annually since 2015, and something particularly exciting is this year’s event is the first year we have a title sponsor. We’re happy to have the support of Capital Bank Foundation.”
All REEF Fest events are open to the public thoughpre-registration is requested. For more details on REEF Fest, including registration and banquet tickets, visit www.reef.org/reeffest.
On Saturday, July 13 and Sunday 14, Shark Con will return to the Florida Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, Florida for its sixth consecutive year: promoting shark conservation, demystifying stigmas surrounding the animals, and hosting an entertaining weekend for visitors of all stripes.
Article by John Tapley; photos courtesy Shark Con
Shark Con 2019 offers a bevy of shark-themed amusements and
educational opportunities, packed into just two days. Visitors can engage with
over 15 exhibits, ranging from movie memorabilia to interactive aquarium
displays; from mermaid encounters to marine rescue missions.
The living sharks museum exhibit is a two-part display,
which features shark fossils and teeth (including some from gone but not
forgotten species) and several props and pieces from Jaws, including the
movie’s iconic “Beach Closed” sign and a prosthetic head from one of the film’s
Shark Con celebrants will dive alongside (and through the
eyes of) sharks and witness their day-to-day lives in simulated, virtual
reality environments provided by three separate groups: Discovery’s Shark Week,
Florida Aquarium, and Sharks4Kids. Each VR experience shows a unique outlook on
sharks, providing a variety of perspectives and angles.
Submersible watercraft hit the center stage through the Sea
Breacher exhibit with a special vessel decorated like a shark. The submersible
spectacle also promotes Shark Allies and their mission to promote legislation
benefitting sharks and their natural environments.
In addition to the VR exhibit, Florida Aquarium will present
a large swath of shark info, ranging from megalodon teeth, trivia games, and
Discovery’s Shark Week exhibit will highlight shoots and
details on the popular program, and will include show stars Joe Romeiro and Dr.
Neil Hammerschlag. Dr. Hammerschalg’s University of Miami Shark Research
and Conservation Program team will be in attendance, and booth visitors should
be on the lookout for giveaways.
A shark tooth sand dig, courtesy SeaWorld, is
designed for adolescents and will let young marine biologists and
paleontologists dig for discoveries and allow them to return home with a
souvenir. At a separate exhibit, kids can also enjoy a 22-foot shark slide,
bolting through a large, toothy grin, and a Spongebob-themed obstacle course.
Shark Con encourages non-divers young and old
to adopt scuba diving and expand their horizons. The Go Dive Now Pool unveils
the world of scuba through a safe, confined experience within a 30-foot,
15,000-gallon pool; a whole assortment of the latest scuba diving gear will be
available, and the pool will be operated by a staff of professional instructors
and dive leaders from nearby dive centers. The Go Dive Now Pool experience is
open to visitors 10 and older.
“For me, it’s one of the most important
things to have there,” says Steward. “As an avid scuba diver, to me, the
easiest way to get people interested and passionate about the oceans is to get
them underwater and diving. It’s hard to appreciate and want to protect
something that you’ve never really experienced – more so than watching it on
TV. Scuba diving has always been an integral part of the show.”
The Ocean’s Daughter Conservation Alliance
exhibit will highlight facts and figures on the world’s oceans, presented by Marcelline
(French for “Defender of the Seas”) Mermaids. The alliance raises money for
ocean conservation and education to local communities, making a partnership
with Shark Con a natural fit.
Marine mammals are the closest related sea creatures to
humans and rescuing them from peril is a critical part of many ocean-driven
organizations. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium will present a display and
demonstrations highlighting marine mammal rescue operations, including the
Mote Marine Aquarium and Laboratory
representatives will present all sorts of artifacts and fossils while answering
questions at the booth. An aquarium and touch tank for kids rounds out the
Throughout Shark Con, visitors can participate in a treasure hunt activity centered on the show’s partnerships with over 20 conservation organizations, which include Sharks4Kids, Shark Allies, Shark Angels, Fins Attached, SCUBAnauts International, Wildlife Voice, Sea Shephard and The Shark Conservation Fund.
“We put together a treasure map that has the points of the non-profit conservation groups with we work with. The person has to go to that booth, complete whatever activity they’re asking to do – trivia, how to dig plastic out of the ocean, beach cleanups – and once they do that, they get a stamp. Once they’ve collected all the stamps, they can bring them back to the front, turn in their treasure map, and get a treasure: all sort of things from Save the Sharks bracelets to Shark Con stickers and magnets.”
Eckerd College’s Shark Conservation Center
will explore the inner workings of sharks through dissection exhibits, using
the same specimens used in the classroom.
Similarly, the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission will provide a tactile experience with a touch tank and
aquarium, and also present the biology of sharks through dissected examples.
New to Shark Con 2019 will be the
Zephyrhills® Water Adventures exhibit, which teaches the importance of water
conservation and how run off affects aquatic environments.
“I think it looks really interesting,” says
Steward. “It’s a large exhibit that goes into a lot of depth. A lot of times
people, especially those living on the coast, don’t realize the things we do
and how they affect the oceans, estuaries, and even the water we drink.”
both days (generally running at the first of each hour), guest speakers and
presenters will share their work in solidifying shark conservation; Q&A
opportunities will follow each presentation. OCEARCH will present recent
accomplishments in its mission to promote shark conservation; and on Saturday
at 5:30 p.m., will host an exclusive, after-hours VIP presentation, where the
team will expound on the organization’s origins, including a panel discussion
and photo opportunities. The Saturday night presentation will require a
separate ticket cost beyond general admission.
Movie and cartoon buffs will want to keep an
eye on key presentations during the weekend shark celebration.
fanatics will sink their teeth into presentations with film legend Joseph M.
Alves, Steven Spielberg’s assistant director and designer of the titular shark;
actress Susan Backlinie, who played the monster’s first victim; and
actor Jeffrey Voorhees. Adding to the jawesome panel will be the director of Jaws
documentary The Shark is Still Working, Erik Hollander, and author
Michael A. Smith who wrote Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel.
Ghostbuster and King Poseidon
Ernie Hudson will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film Shark
Attack alongside a film writer and director Bob Misiorowski. Olympic Gold
Medalist Kurt Angle, who appeared in the shlocky Sharknado 2: The Second One,
will be in attendance during Saturday.
(or those young at heart) will want to meet with two personalities from the
iconic cartoon that features a sponge living in a pineapple under the sea.
Spongebob Squarepants voice performers Rodger Bumpass (Squidward
Tentacles) and Lori Alan (Pearl Krabbs) will be available to
sign autographs, take photos, and share their talents: even recording voice
mail messages for convention goers.
would be complete without vendors, and Shark Con will feature representatives
from ocean-themed organizations and companies. Local dive shops will showcase
dive gear, classes, and trips; artists will sell their works.
“You name it! If
it’s ocean-themed and there’s something to sell, we have it there!” Steward
exclaims. “I go out and vet them, so we have [vendors] that are selling
positive things and most of them end up contributing to ocean conservation and
working with different groups. If you want something shark related, then
there’s somebody there selling it.”
with a Cause
Ultimately, these engaging, interactive pursuits serve shark
conservation and advocacy, which has been the core purpose of Shark Con since
its inaugural event in 2013; and that message of community and public outreach
continues to flourish each year.
“My inspiration was to see how we could reach more people
when it came to conservation efforts: saving sharks from becoming endangered
and eventually extinct. How could we do that and create a community that didn’t
just include professionals but enthusiasts and [everyday] people as well. I
took the idea of a Comic Con aspect to bring in a new audience of people [whose
interaction with] the water maybe only watching Sharknado or Shark Week.
They can come in, have a fun time seeing the stars, and also stay for the
scientist presentations: learning the difference between reality and the
This distinction between fiction and real life is immensely important:
while sharks are fearsome, mighty creatures, they’re a far cry from the
bloodthirsty, vindictive killers often seen on the silver screen.
“It’s important because no one is going to want to protect
something they think is out to get them, and that’s what’s portrayed in the
media – and don’t get me wrong, one of the things that got me into marine
biology was seeing Jaws as a little kid. Knowing that fiction and
reality are two different things, and teaching them the important role sharks
play as apex predators (and maintaining the ocean’s) health is so important.
Removing an apex predator from an ecosystem is the beginning of the end.”
With a handful of
days until launch, Shark Con is shaping to be one of 2019’s most engaging ocean
and conservation events in the U.S. With a wide variety of exhibits, events,
and activities for guests of all interests, the convention carries a might that
reflects the animal it protects.
For more details on Shark Con 2019, including a comprehensive list of vendors and speaker schedules, go to www.shark-con.com.
Ask ten people why they love BTS and you will get twenty, thirty or forty answers! BTS is scheduled after the Long Island Divers Association Film Festival and the Boston Sea Rovers, consequently we divers are now maximally pumped, primed, stoked and ready for action – which intensifies the anticipation for Beneath The Sea!
Article and photos by Gary Lehman
We walk into BTS full of ideas of what we are going to see,
do and accomplish…
We are going to rub shoulders with stars in the
constellation of characters and titans of diving!
Enjoy the Fish’n’Famous and Tech Wreck parties, the
Diver of the Year Banquet, and the Film Festival!
We will admire the sea life posters (this year
all those magical manatees!) created by children
Support the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital,
and knowing that the love of the marine environment is taking hold amongst those
children who are being cured of their medical problems
Advance the sport via Marine Careers, and
protect our marine environment thru Ocean Pals
We are going to attend intensive educational workshops,
and skill-build for the new diving year
We will attend some fascinating lectures on all
those subjects most near and dear to our diving lives, presented by subject
matter experts who are passionate about their field — and equally passionate
about sharing their knowledge and know-how
And all the new gear that we are going to check
out, and blow through our slush funds (so our spouses don’t know what we spent)
We are excited about seeing all our friends
again sharing what we love together
We are going to tell everyone about our great Club,
and how we have fun and great diving
We are going to check out those exotic warm blue
water dive destinations – and the frozen ones – and, the ones right here in the
northeast and mid-Atlantic!
We are going to swing by our favorite scuba gear
vendors and check out what is new
And… we are going to have some serious
decompression time with friends from diving and new friends whom we have just made
But there’s more too… Every
person from The Scuba Sports Club (and for that matter all BTS attendees) have different experiences, because we attend
different presentations and might be here or there — when ‘something else’ is
happening elsewhere… Some planning certainly helps structure the days at BTS
but inevitably, things come up and our schedules get changed up. And that is
fine. The important thing is to be in
the moment while at BTS, and be open to the opportunities, exhibits, and people
we meet there. We all have different
“take-aways” from BTS, and that is welcome.
Here are a couple of items,
groups, products, and services which just
happened to catch my eye through sheer serendipity… and coincidence of time
and place… (We would love to give a shout out to everyone and everything we
encountered and all the animated conversations and findings, but it is just not
possible to do so in a newsletter!)
The Handicapped Scuba Diving Alliance had their booth close to The
Scuba Sports Club’s booth, and we know that the folks who run those programs
are the best people on the Earth. The
team describes with great passion how the kids’ faces light up with a beaming
burst of sunshine smile – even from just putting their faces in the water and
breathing through the regulator. Suddenly, they are Jacques Cousteau (in the
pool), freed from the constraints of gravity and soaring weightlessly! Of course, there is special training required.
Of course, many precautions are required to assist the handicapped while scuba
diving, even in the pool. Let us remember our special needs kids (autism,
cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome…), and our disabled neighbors, and the wounded veterans
who are served by the Handicapped Scuba Diving Alliance – and let us support
their work. This is the highest calling
we can have. Contact Stew@HSANJSCUBA.com and http://hsanjscuba.com/ for more
information. And may Providence look over all those who are
in need, and all those who provide the loving kindness and care.
Marine Education Center – Harbor Island, Mamaroneck! I used to go flounder fishing there in the
late 60’s, right off the docks. Sometimes the water would explode with froth
from the menhaden (moss bunker, a bait fish) when attacked by voracious
bluefish. That was a long time ago… But helping to restore the environment there
and everywhere – by building awareness of the ocean’s challenges with our
youngsters – is biologist Kyle Troy, who runs the Marine Education Center, right there in Harbor Island, Mamaroneck! At this educational facility, Kyle runs
programs for K-12 students, who attend on school field trips, learn about the
wonders of the ocean, and the challenges faced. There are aquariums as well,
showcasing fish local to these waters such as starfish, horseshoe crabs,
flounder, northern pipefish, and sea robins. These life-long passions start
small: Dr. Eugenie Clark (The Shark
Lady) famously stated that her love of the oceans, and sharks in particular,
originated in the aquarium in lower Manhattan (which has relocated moved to
Coney Island). What a great place to
bring your young kids, your nieces, nephews, and grandchildren! For more information, refer to http://www.marineeducationcenter.org/photos.html .
The New York State Marine Education Association (NYSMEA) does great
work as well, and we had a chance to stop in and pow wow about the programs
they offer. We learned about their mission to promote marine awareness and encourage the growth and exchange of
instructional resources within the scientific, commercial, and educational
communities. NYSMEA has meetings, lectures, workshops, field trips, boat trips
to that end. And a big
cleanup is scheduled for May 4th called It’s My Estuary Day at Kaiser Park, NY. For more information about
the cleanup and the organization, contact via their website https://nysmea.wildapricot.org/ .
We encountered Shark Research Institute while strolling through the exhibits,
where we stopped and learned abouttheir
advocacy programs for sharks worldwide.
Their mission is to help these fish, so embattled all over the world.
There is so much we don’t know about their life cycles, and we need stronger
baselines in order to be able to help them survive for the next human
generations. Two expeditions in particular caught my eye, one was the upcoming
whale shark study in Djibouti, Africa and the other was a tiger shark study in
Hawaii. The research objectives are
generally fairly straightforward – why do the sharks aggregate there; ID’ing
individuals; what are they eating; what toxins if any are in the plankton, and
what happens in a day of the life of a whale or tiger shark. These are clearly
building blocks of knowledge about these species, without which we can’t
adequately look out for them.
Lionfish. We all know the results of the scourge of this invasive species, feeding on the freshly-hatched fish and in many cases devastating the native fish population. Many solutions been proposed, but oftentimes these are not practical for remote areas which do not have advanced logistical capabilities. Enter Reefsave.org! This not-for-profit has developed a simple, economical trap system. No fancy hardware. Just basically a net, some folded rebars, a line going topside, and a white PVC mesh. The lionfish are attracted to the white PVC, collect and gather there, and then <poof> they are all hauled to the surface in the net; non-targeted fish if any are released, and the lionfish are someone’s expensive and delicious dinner that very night! It is really a radically simple and apparently highly successful solution, which gets around the fact that humans spearfishing can only stay underwater for a short while and only to a certain depth before having to surface. This passive trap systems gets around human limitations! For more information, check out http://www.reefsave.org/
Who doesn’t love whale watching
and dolphin watching! And we are so
lucky to have Gotham Whale Watches
and American Princess Cruises right
here in our own backyard in Jacob Riis Park/ Ft. Tilden to embark on cruises to
marvel at the whales and dolphins which are returning to our cleaner NYC harbor
waters to feed on the rebuilding populations of menhaden (moss bunker) – a
keystone species which forms the foundation for the food chain in northeastern
waters. Gotham is all about advocacy for
whales. Even though we aren’t hunting them, the volume of commercial shipping
in the greater NYC harbor area means ship strikes against whales on the
surface. This is one of the problems Gotham is tackling in their mission to
protect our area’s whale population. Reach out to find more at https://gothamwhale.org/
Who knew??? Sunscreen is good, right? We use it to protect ourselves from the sun
and potential skin cancer! Not so fast… Who knew that the sunscreen we wear to
protect us from skin cancer can be toxic to the marine environments (coral and
fish) we love and travel to for adventure and inspiration! Stream2Sea reports that
worldwide 4,000 – 6,000 tons of it washes off our bodies – in the very same
sunny warm blue water places we so love to dive in. Stream2sea is right in the sweet spot for
biodegradable packaging, non-destructive compounds to help protect corals, and
of course, protection from the sun for us – and products to keep us healthy and
inviting to be around! For more
. There are even training modules at
their website to raise awareness about the threat of sunscreen on marine
environments. Well worth a visit at https://stream2sea.com/stream2sea-learning-center/
! S2S are engaging and fun-loving folks,
and you will enjoy visiting with them in person or on the phones.
All of which, taken together,
means that Beneath The Sea is a founding pillar of our scuba diving community
and helps pull together the people, organizations, product, services, and
education opportunities – as well as many ways to pay it forward – for all
those in our scuba diving space! Hats
off to the Beneath The Sea team for, once again, hitting it out of the
park. See you all next year, have an
excellent year with lots of diving, and of course and always – fun and safe diving!
The National Association of
Underwater Instructors (NAUI) Worldwide returns to California’s
Long Beach Convention Center on May 4-5, 2019, for the annual Scuba Show, booth #503.
Scuba Show is California’s premier diving event of the year featuring 76,000
square feet of exhibit space, 300+ exhibitors, seminars, clinics hosted by industry
experts, a 15,000-gallon heated pool, and more.
in conjunction with the event is the NAUI First Aid Instructor Workshop and NAUI
IT/CD/CDT Requalification Workshop, both held inside the Long Beach Convention
Center. NAUI leadership is excited to use this event as a platform to spread NAUI’s
mission of “Dive Safety Through Education” and to ensure that individuals
receive the most current and safest instruction available.
The two-day NAUI First Aid
Instructor Workshop (FAIW) is scheduled for May 2nd through 3rd and is
designed for any NAUI Leader (Assistant Instructor, Skin Diving Instructor,
Divemaster, Instructor) who wishes to teach the NAUI First Aid – Powered by DAN
courses. Attendees can expect to refresh their First Aid and CPR skills, valuable
information concerning new First Aid standards, as well as information on
training and how to implement and conduct these courses themselves. Pre-registration
is required. For more information, click
NAUI IT/CD/CDT Requalification Workshop, scheduled for May 3, reviews revisions to NAUI
standards and important updates regarding leadership and instructor training
courses. Instructor Trainers, Course Directors and Course Director Trainers who
successfully complete this workshop will be requalified at their current
designation. This workshop is open to all NAUI members who plan to conduct or
staff NAUI leadership and instructor programs, or those seeking their own
professional development. Pre-registration deadline is April 26. For more information,
addition to these events, NAUI is a proud sponsor of the Saturday Night Scuba Show Party,
to be held around 7 p.m. at The Federal, a 1920s-era bank-turned-party place – just
a quick walk from the convention center. Admission is free, and attendees will
honor the 2019 California Scuba Service Award recipient. Sponsorship and proceeds
from the evening go to benefit Plastic Pollution Coalition.
Single day entry
to the exhibit hall is $15. Children 13 and under get into the Scuba Show free.
Attendees can meet with NAUI representatives to learn more about scuba and
freediving programs at booth #503.
Scuba & H2O Adventures Magazine’s mission is to share our unified love for the water – above and below - and the environment. Every month we craft stories about your businesses, the scuba industry, the environment, and water based activities from your local neighborhoods to around the world.