By Jeffrey Gallant, Diving Almanac
This issue’s selection covers people and places from the feature stories in Scuba & H20 Adventures Magazine, including Florida, Hurricane Irma, an ocean clean-up, as well as some recent new records.
The world’s largest artificial reef, the USS Oriskany, was apparently unscathed by the passage of Hurricane Irma last September. It took only 37 minutes to scuttle the retired aircraft carrier, measuring 888 feet (271 m), off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, on May 17, 2006.
In addition to several artificial reefs, Florida also boasts thousands of accidental shipwrecks including the Spanish galleon Santa Margarita which sank in the Florida Keysduring a hurricane long before Irma in 1622. A Spanish salvage operation located the wreck in 1626 using a bronze diving bell with glass view ports at a depth of 25 feet (8 m). The Spaniards also discovered that Native Americans had already salvaged part of the treasure, an indication that the local inhabitants had some knowledge of diving. In fact, nine natives were hired by the Spanish in 1628 and they were found to be better divers than the Europeans. Much of the fortune that was left on the sea floor was eventually recovered by Blue Water Ventures in 1980.
Closer to Miami lies the world’s first underwater mausoleum. The Neptune Memorial Reef was created 3 miles (5 km) off the shore of Key Biscayne in 2008. The memorial structures placed underwater are made of cremated remains mixed with concrete.
The world’s largest underwater clean-up, which numbered 644 divers, was led by Egyptian Ahmed Gabr who also holds the world record for the deepest dive on scuba at 1,090 feet (332 m). The event marking World Environment Day was held off Hurghada in the Red Sea on June 5, 2015.
In more recent news, Canadian diver Kevin Brown set a new record for the world’s deepest dive under ice, reaching a depth of 434 feet (132 m)during an exploratory dive of Lake Mazinaw, Ontario. Brown completed the dive using a Megalodon CCR and a backup Sidekick CCR on January 27, 2018. The 120-minute immersion was led by Outaouais Tech Divers (PTO), and was supported by Les plongeurs d’épaves techniques du Québec (PETQ) and EPSO dive centre (Gatineau, Québec). It was the first in a series of deep exploration dives as the team searches for First Nations artifacts that may have found their way into the lake as offerings nearly two millennia ago. A 330-foot-high (100 m) escarpment which towers by the dive site is adorned with over 260 Ojibwe pictographs.
Finally, the bubble ring record featured in the previous issue of this column was thoroughly popped on February 3 when Dutch diver Jorrit Bruinsma set a new world record for the most bubble rings on a single breath of airin Houten, The Netherlands. It took Jorrit 2 min. and 24 sec. to produce no less than 71 perfectly formed bubble rings while lying on his back at a depth of 70 cm (27.6 in.). In order to qualify, each bubble ring must reach the surface intact from a minimum depth of 61 cm (24 in.) before bursting. The depth was verified with a tape measure from the top of Jorrit’s weight-belt to the surface of the water. The bubble ring final count was done by video analysis from above the tank in order to eliminate any bubbles that did not make it to the surface intact.
Read the full stories and discover hundreds more diving records, outstanding diving personalities, and 6,000 years of diving history in the Diving Almanac! www.divingalmanac.com
About the author:Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor of the Diving Almanac and a shark researcher. He started diving at age 14 in 1982 and has since led scientific and training expeditions around the world. Among other accomplishments, Gallant was trained as an aquanaut in Romania in 1995 and he dove with Équipe Cousteau in 1999.