Titanium Turtle

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Scientists are taking 3-D Printing to a whole new level. A sea turtle seriously injured in a boating collision has been given the ability to eat again — after receiving a 3D-printed prosthetic jaw.

The endangered loggerhead turtle was hit by a boat propeller while swimming in its natural habitat in Turkey. As a result of its injuries, the turtle was unable to eat on its own, leaving its chances of returning back to the wild looking very slim.

However, a collaboration with BTech Innovation, a Turkish biotechnology company specialising in 3D medical prosthetics, devised an innovative 3D titanium jaw to save the turtle from a lifetime in captivity. Using  CT scans and computer software, they created a 3D model of the turtle’s beak. From that they designed a prosthetic replacement, which was then 3D-printed in medical-grade titanium.The surgery, said to be the first of its kind. Although the turtle is still recovering, initial signs look promising. Apparently, the creature’s body showed no signs of rejecting the implant.

The scientific team plans to release it back into the ocean once again. It’s hoped that this pioneering surgery will be able to help more injured sea turtles in the future and improve their chances of survival.

courtesy of WIRED

 

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Submerged “Lost City” De-Bunked

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A few years ago, divers discovered an apparent underwater “lost city” off the coast of Zakynthos in Greece. New research reveals that the site, which was thought to be the ruins of a long-forgotten civilization that perished when tsunamis hit the shore, is in actuality a geological formation—and a bizarre one at that.

Looking at the photos of these underwater formations, it’s hard to blame the divers for coming up with their initial assessment. These things look wholly unnatural, resembling paved floors, moorings, courtyards, and colonnades.

“The site was discovered by snorkelers and first thought to be an ancient city port, lost to the sea,” said study lead author Julian Andrews from the University of East Anglia. “There were what superficially looked like circular column bases, and paved floors. But mysteriously no other signs of life—such as pottery.”

Well, it was too good to be true. It now appears that this “lost city” never really existed. Researchers from UEA, along with experts from the Department of Geology and Geoenvironment at the University of Athens, recently conducted a mineralogical and chemical analysis of various formations found at the site. In particular, they investigated the mineral content and texture of the underwater formations using microscopy, X-ray, and stable isotope techniques.

“We investigated the site, which is between two and five meters under water, and found that it is actually a natural geologically occurring phenomenon,” said Andrews.

The researchers found that the linear spread of the cement-like structures is likely the result of a subsurface fault which never ruptured the surface of the sea bed. This fault allowed gases, including methane, to seep up from deep below the Earth’s surface.

“Microbes in the sediment use the carbon in methane as fuel. Microbe-driven oxidation of the methane then changes the chemistry of the sediment forming a kind of natural cement, known to geologists as concretion,” explained Andrews. “In this case the cement was an unusual mineral called dolomite which rarely forms in seawater, but can be quite common in microbe-rich sediments. These concretions were then exhumed by erosion to be exposed on the seabed today.”

The strange formations were created up to five million years ago, and are quite rare in such shallow waters. Similar structures, say the researchers, tend to be hundreds and often thousands of meters deep underwater.

Originally posted by George Dvorsky on Gizmodo.com

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A CDN Shore Dive Refresher

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In anticipation of our upcoming Earthday Shore dive on April 22nd, please check out this link to a great article in California Diving News from our friend Dale Scheckler. His tips for diving the California shoreline cover training, planning and execution of successful, low-stress dive strategies that’ll be helpful to both veterans and newbies alike! Let’s face it, even the most accomplished California diver has taken a few tumbles in the surf dues to miss-reading area conditions. Be ready!

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Help Is On The Way

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Among the many exhibits at the California Science Center is a 180,000 aquarium. The health of this tank is dependent on a large crew of aquarists, veterinarians, and volunteer divers. As of this moment, 6 Barnacle Busters are members of the dive team and we’re always looking for more. The minimum certification level at CSC is Rescue diver, so, when I was asked by volunteers and staff at the aquarium to teach a Rescue Class, I agreed.

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It was a struggle. After 6 years, Mother Nature decided to break her drought just in time to weather us out weekend after weekend. While we welcome the rain, it could have waited another week! Anyway, these patient students got their open water dives in bit by bit, and completed certification in mid March. Whew. They have all completed their required skill evaluations and swims for the Science Center and are ready to dive!!

And many thanks to Bob Woods, who played a convincing victim, although why he insisted on continuous mouth-to-mouth is beyond me.

I feel these divers are now better prepared to not only help others but to take care of themselves in stressful situation. Congratulations to Crystal Gentle, Billy Vaughn, Mark Yun, and Matthew Bokach. We’ll be running another Rescue Class in the summer, so get your name on the list if interested.

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Anacapa Action

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For the second year in a row, conditions for the Ventura-Anacapa crossing were favorable: No giant swells, no seasickness, no spray soaking the flying bridge. 18 divers chatted and grazed on donuts and coffee as we cruised to the first dive site, Goldfish Bowl.


We listened as the first divers hit the water, relieved to NOT hear and cold-water screams. Temperature was a cozy 70-72F. Anacapa diving is generally shallow, which was perfect for Open Water student Gia, who performed her skills with ease. Goldfish Bowl is not known for kelp beds, but there was a lovely stand towards the south end of the site where we saw abalone, lobster and about a million vibrant juvenile garibaldi. Sharon & Nixie spotted a large Giant Black Sea Bass at the beginning of the dive.


 At Caverns, divers explored grottos, drifting with the mellow surge in the shallows. We were delighted to find dense kelp here too. Also a spotted harbor seal and black sea bass sightings here. Gia and I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary but had a blast gliding through the forest while she perfected her buoyancy. I love watching new divers as they begin to “get it.”

After lunch, we dived the wreck of the Winfield Scott, an old paddle-wheeler sunk sometime last century. While there’s not much left of the wreck, there is a spectacular swim-through and a ton of kelp. And this area is home to squads of large sheephead. By the third dive, Gia was cruising like an experienced pro and I Was happy to certify her!


By coincidence, this was also LGBT Pride weekend in Ventura so a bunch of divers, including Raptor owners Jim & Christie Price, migrated to the fairgrounds to rock to GayC/DC’s stellar, crowd pleasing performance.

It was a great day and our hearty thanks to the always excellent crew of the Raptor.

Friends, the Fourth, and Fireworks

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On the Fourth of July, one of the biggest questions on people’s minds is: Where is the best place to see fireworks? Our answer: Aboard the Cee Ray!

This is one of the local dive boat trips I look forward to most each year. Not only do you get a hearty breakfast, a bunk to nap away the two-hour long trip to the first dive site, Monkey Bread after the first dive, later a huge lunch after two more dives and another nap on the way back, but then the Cee Ray anchors in Long Beach Harbor close to the Queen Mary and they serve you a BBQ rib and salmon dinner with dessert as the spectacle of the fireworks display takes over and you surrender knowing that you’ve had a very full day. And then there’s the diving!

The crew on board the Cee Ray loves nothing better than to please, so they plunked us down in places where they had previously found good visibility and steady conditions. Well, nature had other plans.

Black Rock was dive site number one and while the site itself can be wonderful, this day the vis was about 15-20 feet and mostly murky. There were also some thermoclines that made me shudder from the chill on a couple of occasions. I did see my first Sea Biscuit shells, two in one dive! This was a good dive to get close in and look for the small stuff on the rocks, like the little blue and orange Gobies. Saw a few tiny cowries too.

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Next up was Parson’s Landing, by far the best dive of the day. The kelp forest was back in full force and the sun shone through as we descended into it. We went deep into the thick of it and took photos of the light streaming down. Boy, how we had missed that! As we left the forest, I noticed a bat ray sleeping in the sand, probably thinking no one would take notice. I approached slowly with my GoPro on and it was unaware for maybe 30 seconds, then abruptly lifted off and sped away. Several minutes later I spied another one (or was it the same one?) swimming in the shallow area, and later a round ray. We circled back to the kelp forest on our way up and noticed how long some of the fronds were.

Catalina Dive Locations July 4, 2016

The last dive of the day was the strangest. Eagle Reef is typically a favorite spot, but the current made us feel like the Flying Nun underwater! After entering the water, I noticed how quickly I was being carried away, so I swam against the current to get to the anchor line for a steady descent. Once we reached some of the rocks it was all we could do to hold on like some Maxell or bad air conditioning commercial! We made it around the biggest rock and then looked at each other with the same idea, “this is just too tough to navigate, let’s abort the rest of the dive.”

We met at the surface and saw the Cee Ray waaaaaaayyyy over there! We could not believe that we had gone that far since we had spent the last 20 minutes clinging to the same rock! Come to find out that the current was so strong it had loosened the anchor and the boat was adrift. We started swimming towards the boat, and they spotted us and came around to pick us up. On deck, we found that other divers had similar stories of going down, fighting the current and deciding to abort.

As the last of the divers were scooped up, we changed out of our wet suits and took quick showers to ready ourselves for the feast that was coming. Bring on those ribs! And then a fitting strawberry and blueberry short cake with tons of whipped cream to go with the fireworks display. A stunning end to an eventful day.

The next morning, we signed up for July 4, 2017! Join us!

Cozumel: Qué Aventura

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The recent Barnacle Buster club trip to Cozumel was an amazing adventure to say the least. The flight home was a rough return to reality and in stark contrast to the rest of the trip, but it didn’t matter. We were still flying high from diving in Cozumel.

Seven days earlier . . .

For Thomas and me, Cozumel was a series of firsts: first time to Cozumel, first night dive, first time swimming with an octopus, first time seeing a Splendid Toad Fish, first dive spotting a Seahorse, first fresh water dive, first time diving through caves . . . well, you get the point.

Continue reading “Cozumel: Qué Aventura”