Open Water Class Begins August 17th

Make sure you let that special someone know that a new certification class begins on August7th in Silver Lake. If you take this class now, you’ll be ready to jump on board the club’s fantastic trip to Fiji in September! Also, you have time to log a couple of local club dives in advance of spreading your fins into those warm, crystal clear waters.

PADI certification lasts a  life-time and can be used anywhere around the world. RA Buck is an instructor extraordinaire. You won’t find anyone better and his all-inclusive package pricing can’t be beat. Email him to reserve your spot today. Can’t commit to it this month? Our next class begins in September!


Looking for Your Sunken Treasure

July may seem like its in the distant future, but it will be here before you know it. And with it comes our annual fundraiser of Legendary Bingo. In order to participate (and make the club operating funds for the year), we are required to provide 10 prizes for the winning players. If we can get items donated for this, the club will make even more money.

If you have an item that you’d like to donate to the effort, you can reach out to use via email, or simply bring whatever you have to the club meetings in May or June. Things that remain popular are unopened bottles of wine, beer or liquor, gift cards or certificates for retail stores or services, DVDs, beauty products, music, theme park tickets or any VIP experience.

And don’t forget to save the date for us. It’s Sunday, July 29th at 6pm at Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood. We’d love to have you join in the fun!


Seal of Approval

One of the best reasons to dive Catalina is the variety: the variety of animals, the variety of dive sites, the variety of underwater terrain. If you want to explore a kelp forest, or search the sandy areas for bat rays, or look deep into rocky crags for eels, it’s all available at Catalina—sometimes in one dive site!
Over Labor Day weekend, the Barnacle Busters took a group of newly certified divers, students and long-time members aboard the Cee Ray for another fantastic summer day. We were all eagerly waiting for our first dive; some had new cameras to test out, some had new computers or masks they were breaking in. I was eager too, but that didn’t stop me from climbing into a bunk for an hour-long snooze on the way to the island after a hearty breakfast!
Our first stop was Johnson’s Rock and the kelp forest there was something to behold! After seeing these areas just a few short years ago with zero kelp, it’s such a huge relief to see them thriving and strong again. We spent our whole dive in the forest, working our way along the rocky edge where it was exceptionally healthy. I stopped to have a deeper look and was rewarded with a juvenile spotted shark sleeping under a rocky overhang. There were plenty of abalone around as well, so I took a moment to feed one some kelp.
From there we moved to Black Rock and our surface interval was spent munching down on some Monkey Bread, a Cee Ray specialty! Yum … Black Rock happens to be one of those all-in-one dive sites. There are the sandy areas, the rocky crags, the kelp forest, pretty much everything something for everyone.
This dive started a bit awkwardly with some computer failure and other malfunctions threatening to abort the dive. I took one buddy back to the surface and then went back for the others, but they had left the spot where I had left them (they had malfunctions of their own as it turned out). I decided to circle the area for signs of them and felt a tug on my fin. Thinking it might be one of my buddies, I turned to find a Harbor Seal looking at me like he wanted to play. I grabbed my GoPro and got it rolling as I tried to follow the seal through the kelp. It was too fast for me, so I switched off the camera and headed back to where I was and then I saw the seal again below me turning over abalone shells, looking for a meal. I switched the camera back on, and the seal gave me a little show, not at all bashful like others I’d seen at Catalina. After a few minutes and a couple more tugs on my fins, the seal left, on to more distractions. But I was exhilarated!
Once we were all on board, we discussed our various gear misfortunes and misunderstandings and made plans for the next dive, which would also be at Black Rock. While variety is a big bonus, sometimes there are good reasons to stay and dive at the same site. In this case, other sites we had looked at along the way had currents that would have made the diving difficult, so best to stay where the conditions are best. Plus, I may get to see that little seal again! While the seal was a no-show for round two, we still saw plenty: a shy-but-curious octopus, several bat rays hovering by, a few juvenile sharks napping and a ton of sea hares!
Back on board we ate dessert and had video show-and-tell on our laptops before retiring to the bunks for a ride-home snooze.
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The Blue Planet Sequel Trailer is Here!!!!

Ok, we may be a little late to the table, but we’re still SUPER excited to find out that the sequel to the BBC documentary Blue Planet is under way.

The emmy-winning original was a visually stunning introduction of the teaming biodiversity to be found in the earth’s largest natural habitat and a great introduction to all those humans who perhaps never gave the undersea world much thought. For many of us, it encouraged us to further our adventures through diving and seek out first hand experiences like we saw on the screen. For others, it was a wake up call to get involved in efforts to preserve as much of that biodiversity as possible through efforts both great and small. And for some, it was a call to finally strike out on the journey to scuba certification, after putting it off time and again. Whatever the response, it is arguably one of the most masterful examples of nature documentation produced to date.

Now we can look forward a further installment which promises even more discovery with more incredible visuals from the world’s marine environment. You can check out the link to to see an introduction of new or original footage narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough here.

Humans Helping Out

Interested in a story about how man can interact in a positive way with the much maligned, elusive shark? Check out the link below for a story from about a persistent lemon shark who recognized a diver as a potential ally in his plight for assistance. This lucky shark happened on just the right diver for aide and we do not recommend you try this yourself. It’s certainly interesting to note that even the most intimidating of creatures can show their need and vulnerability from time to time.

Cee Ray Adventure

The heat wave we’ve been experiencing this year has made our work-a-day world nearly intolerable. Up to triple digits for weeks on end can put people in the worst moods. But what great conditions for diving! The cool breeze was so refreshing and being out on the water with the sun beating down was a little piece of heaven.

We boarded the Cee Ray around 6:30AM, just in time for breakfast! We set up our tanks, ate scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes, then found our bunks to rest up for the day of diving.

Our first stop was Black Rock, which was a very nice first dive, nothing too challenging so we could get used to the conditions. The first thing I noticed was the kelp—it was everywhere! I couldn’t help but want to swim through it. Tons of kelp fish and sheephead were hiding from the sun and below were more abalone than I’d seen in awhile as well. After seeing the devastation from last year when this same spot was like a lunar landscape, I was relieved and thrilled to see so much greenery. There was so much of it, we spent nearly the entire dive navigating our way through.

Lulu Reef is fast becoming one of our favorite spots to dive, so we spent the next two dives exploring the three pinnacles. Here is nearly every kind of critter you could hope to see with so many crags and crevices and tiny swim throughs for them to hide in. Not to mention the sandy areas where we spotted several bat rays nestled into the sand. You know they’re around somewhere when you see the indentations in the sand where they’ve been sleeping. I find I can get fairly close without them being disturbed, but once they start to rise up, you know you’ve gone too close. One of the most graceful creatures to see gliding through the water, I could watch them endlessly.

Back at the pinnacles, I spotted a small octopus tucked into a crag alongside an urchin. I know a lot of people see octopus fairly regularly around Catalina, but I’ve only ever seen one, and that was at Casino Point, so I was thrilled with the find! As I tried to get my GoPro closer for a better shot, it would squeeze in closer to the urchin, which must not have been very comfortable. But as I backed away, its little eyes would pop up to see what I was up to. Very curious! Further down the crag, we found many morays, some sharing space with another moray. And in one area, I noticed two tiny cleaner shrimp dancing away in front of an eel.

The garibaldi were super aggressive, guarding their nests. And they seemed to photo bomb every shot I took! As I would try to capture a shot of some lobster hotel, a huge garibaldi would stick its face right into the lens. Grrr! Stop that!

My favorite moment though was when I spotted a couple of other divers hovering low, focusing on something. We swam over and they pointed at… another octopus! Amazing! Not just one, but two in one day! I was over the moon! I got excellent footage as it moved along, taking on the patina of its surroundings. So hypnotic!

Although the visibility was a bit on the murky side, the temps were low 70’s so they were all comfortable dives. We did catch a chill or two going below 60 feet, so we kept it to around 40 most of the time.

Once we were back onboard, the excellent chef Kim had an amazing meal for us and later we hit the bunks for a quick snooze on the way back.

I do have to give it up for the Cee Ray: they treat everyone like family. From the friendliness of the dive masters they choose, to the kitchen staff, to the owners, they are some of the nicest people you could meet. One of the main missions for Barnacle Busters is to find gay-friendly environments in which to indulge our underwater passions, and the Cee Ray is as good as it gets.

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Can Killer Robots Save Ocean Ecosystems?

Lionfish can reduce a flourishing coral reef to a wasteland in a matter of weeks. Native fish, unfamiliar with the new arrival, do not know to avoid it, and the predator gorges to the point of obesity.

The Lionfish sits at the top of the food chain, unthreatened by any other creature. They breed rapidly, and are extremely resilient and adaptable. No solution has been found to control their advance yet, but conservationists could soon have a new tool at their disposal: killer robots. Enter iRobot CEO Colin Angle, who met with Bermudan conservationists and learned about the extent of the damage caused by lionfish.

One of the group suggested that he create a machine to kill the fish, and another offered to provide funding. Angle returned home and wrote a proposal, which swiftly became the non-profit company “Robots in Service of the Environment (RISE).” The design for a lionfish killer combines a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), using technology which iRobot had developed for the automatic vacuum cleaner Roomba, with an attached electrocution device.

Local scientists believe the machines could play a critical role in restoring the health of marine ecosystems. If the robot is successful, it could have a major impact on our ability to manage this invasive population.

Prototypes of the robot are undergoing tests to assess how many fish can be killed, power requirements, and variations of the design. The trials will continue for the next year, before the first commercial models are assembled and sent out to hunt. Rizzi says the company is fully focused on the lionfish project, but similar designs could be used to cull other nuisance species in future.

by Keiron Monks for CNN
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Membership Renewal Just Got Simpler

Thanks to club members Scott Weber, Rex Theobald, and Gary Nugent, renewing your Barnacle Busters membership just became a whole lot easier! We now offer an online renewal option for our members. Before your membership expires, you will receive an email from us letting you know its time to renew. Within that email will be a summary of the contact information that we have on file for you. This is the perfect time to let us know if anything has changed in your life over the past year. Just reply to the email with any corrections that you’d like us to make.

Also included in the email will be a reminder of the waiver that you originally signed when you joined. Simply click the link to the website (indicating that you agree the terms of the waiver) and you’ll be taken to a page on our secure website when you can use your credit card to renew your membership before it expires. No postage or check writing required! Pretty simple, right!


Barnacle Busters Hit Honduras

CoCo View Vernacular

A strike in baseball is bad; but to a bowler, it’s good. Similarly, having an old, rusty clunker in your front yard is frowned upon, but at CoCo View having a wreck in your “front yard” is amazing Picture a landscape of aqua clear blue water, hammocks swaying in the breeze, parrots cawing in the distance, and a submerged world with a sunken wreck, DC-3 plane, and oodles of marine life, and you have the front yard we got to play in for a week.

Our adventure started off not with a bang, but with a frustrating whimper. After more than 2 hours in line waiting to check our luggage, and then racing over to Tom Bradly Int’l terminal to wait in TSA security, we were finally off to our gate. A quick stop at a bar for a bon voyage celebratory drink, and then it was the big blue skies to Roatan.

CoCo View Resort (CCV) is located on Roatan Island, just north of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea.  It’s situated on the south shore of Roatan, perched on the edge of the world’s second largest coral reef. As CCV’s website boasts, it’s “The most returned-to dive resort in the world.” They offer diving and snorkeling to your heart’s content with shore diving available whenever you desire. To paraphrase one reviewer, “It’s not a resort to go and party or tan, but a great place to go if you’re a diver.  It caters to the dive community.” Located just a few fin kicks away in their front yard is the 140’ wreck of the Prince Albert, Newman’s Wall, and Coco View Wall among other attractions. CCV is isolated and very much like a liveaboard on land.

For me, aside from the incredible diving, the trip represented a break from the norm. As Belle describes her poor provincial town, I didn’t see the baker with his tray like always; the same ol’ bread and rolls to sell. Rather, the days melted into one another. The day of the week was insignificant. We’d wake, eat breakfast, head out on the dive boat, return from diving to have lunch, head out on the dive boat for a couple more afternoon dives, return from the dive boat to rinse our gear and get ready for dinner, happy hour with Willie at the bar pouring drinks, eat dinner, and then repeat the following day. I didn’t think I’d ever say it, but it was almost too much diving. Almost. With the potential of four dives daily from the dive boat, unlimited shore dives and night dives, as mentioned earlier, it is the place to go if you’re a diver.

In addition to eat, dive, eat, dive, drink, eat, sleep, repeat, we also enjoyed an informative and fascinating lecture on sand. Really! Sand! We got to dance with a local troupe who performed some native dances. Everyone benefited from Patty’s lecture on buoyancy. As we told Patty, if she were heading a cult, we’d drink the cool aid. She is entertaining, engaging, and truly knowledgeable and experienced. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also comment on experiencing beautiful and vibrant tropical sunsets surrounded by friends and fellow divers. Oh, and a drink from Willie. It was tough returning to reality and the norm after a week at CCV.

If you get a chance to make it to CCV, be sure you check out Mary’s Place.  Take your time to see and enjoy all the “Tchotchkes” tucked away on the shelves.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Submerged “Lost City” De-Bunked

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

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