Updated March 1, 2010
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Dive Apps for Your iPhone
Of the 145,000-plus programs available for download onto Apple's iPhone and new iPad, we found some good ones for divers. Brock Brinkerhoff created iScubaPlan, a multiple dive/multi-level dive planner for sport divers, and iDecoPro for technical divers, both openwater and rebreather; both are $8 at Apple's iTunes store. Dive Signs reminds divers what signals to use underwater ($2). More Mobile Software's Dive Log lets you type in details about the dive site while you're there, and uses the iPhone's location service to capture the GPS coordinates ($10); it also offers Nitrox Tools ($6) and Trimix Tools ($7) to figure the best mixes. Or get a free download of Gas Blender, which calculates even more mixes like Heliair and Heliox and offers similar tools.
If you're game, visit the Arctic Circle Dive Centre in northern Russia's White Sea. To dive, you'll have to create a hole in three-foot-deep ice with a handsaw to get to the water, while someone has to stay above ground in to make sure the hole doesn't freeze up. And dress warm for the 14-degree water temperatures. But your payoff is swimming up close with endangered beluga whales. The ivory-colored whales are gentle, swim up close and look divers straight in the eye. Check out Franco Banfi's photos of them in this Daily Mail story. Information about the Arctic Circle Dive Centre is here; diving with the beluga whales is year-round but obviously summer months are the warmest.
We're putting the finishing touches on our brand-new, 256-page book that's filled with the best of the unusual, entertaining and jaw-dropping stories Undercurrent has published. They're true, often unbelievable and always fascinating, like the stingray that gave the diver a hickey, and an exploding tank that yielded $150,000 of cannabis. We're offering it to you now for the pre-production price of just $17.95. (Shipping/handling is $5 for U.S. resident, $9.95 for Canada; California residents add $1.80 for sales tax.) Go to Undercurrent and click on "Editor's Book Pick of the Month" for details and to order online.
DivePhotoGuide.com is a good website for photographers, amateur and pros, and its revamped website includes detailed underwater photo technique tutorials. Many are written by DivePhotoGuide founders Jason Heller and Matt Weiss, but masters like David Doubilet and Martin Edge also contribute, covering the gamut from super macro to wide angle. Go to www.divephotoguide.com and click on "Techniques."
Now for only $3.60/month you can access all of Undercurrent's issues, articles and reader reports, as well as file a reader report yourself. Plus we'll send you our brand new 480 page 2010 Travelin' Diver's Chapbook (US/CA residents only) filled with hundreds of reviews of dive resorts and liveaboards worldwide. Know where and when to go on your next dive trip, and where/when NOT to.
Rays and octopuses are smarter than some divers we know. Scientists have recently been studying what tools they use to get food and shelter. Check out this video of veined octopus searching for coconut shell halves, suctioning them to their undersides, then reassembling them and disappearing inside to hide. In the Amazon, freshwater stingrays are shown using water as a tool, shifting their bodies to create a flow that moves food toward them.
If they have a Nintendo Wii, get them the videogame "Endless Ocean: Blue World," introduced last week. The main plot revolves around a woman investigating the death of her ocean-exploring father, but as players investigate waters around the globe, they can access info about habits and behaviors of hundreds of sea creatures, from seahorses to whales, and pull up recent stats, like the health status of local fish. Divers can also sell salvaged items from shipwrecks and use them to buy coral and create reefs to attract marine species. But tell the kids that the training-the-dolphins aspect of the game isn't something they should support in real life. The game retails for $30; get info at www.endlessocean.com.
Like bad customer service, for instance. Take the dive guide subscriber Ralph Bishop (Ithaca, NY) had on his Spirit of Solomons trip in December. "He was carrying a camera, trying to get his own photo first, while everyone else waits." What situations have irked you involving the dive guides who are supposed to be there for you, the paying customer? On the other hand, tell us about the situations where they've given you standout service. We'll compare and contrast dive guide service - and how it affects an entire dive trip -- in an upcoming issue. E-mail me your tales at PublisherBenD@undercurrent.org.
As more divers try to stretch their dollar further, renting a home instead of a hotel room at a dive destination is sometimes a better deal. But what's the best way to go about doing it? We want your experiences, both good and bad, about looking for vacation homes and timeshare rentals, both online and through live people, how good of a deal you got compared to dive resort prices, and the pros and cons of going this route. Send your stories, tips and advice to PublisherBenD@undercurrent.org.
Many divers take diuretics for high blood pressure or vertigo, but do those medications increase your chances of decompression sickness? Undercurrent contributor Doc Vikingo investigates; read his story for free in our March issue. Go to Undercurrent and click on "Do the Drugs You Take Increase Bends Risk?"
Before you buy or upgrade rebreather gear, read this piece, for free, by our equipment expert John Bantin. He looks at the differences between rebreather training and the type of new/used rebreathers on the market. Go to Undercurrent and click on "New Dangers of Rebreather Diving."
Ben Davison, editor/publisher
Note: Undercurrent is a registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization donating funds to help preserve coral reefs. Our travel writers never announce their purpose, are unknown to the destination, and receive no complimentary services or compensation from the dive operators or resort.
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