Joe Cocozza reports live from DEMA 2014 to find out what's new in the dive industry - Day 4
LIVE REPORT FROM DEMA
THE EXPLORER Rebreather from HOLLIS
It was the last day of DEMA and my first meeting of the day was with Nick Hollis of HOLLIS dive gear. I wanted to talk to him about the Explorer Rebreather for recreational diving.
The Explorer is an E-SCR (Electronic Semi-closed Circuit Rebreather). It uses only a single tank of nitrox without the pure oxygen tank used in a closed circuit rebreather. I started diving on SCRs back in the 1990s with a Drager Dolphin, it was a love-hate relationship. I was a little skeptical at first that an SCR could be a solution in the recreational rebreather market. However, I think the engineers at HOLLIS got it right. Unlike the Drager SCR that uses a sonic orifice to inject gas, the Explorer SCR uses a computer controlled solenoid. This adjusts the PO2 to an optimal range and stops needless gas venting during the dive. As Nick said, 'We designed the Explorer SCR to give the benefits of rebreather diving to the recreational scuba market, that means longer dives, no bubbles and warm breathing gas'. When setting up the rebreather via the onboard computer, it takes about a five to 10 minutes (depending on whether you have a CO2 monitor installed).
As the Explorer is a recreational rebreather it's for diving in the no-decompression to a max depth of 40m. However, because the computer optimizes your PO2 level, you will get much longer no-deco dives.
The following training agencies are offering course for the unit: PADI, TDI and IANTD. The course usually takes 4 days.
Listen to Joe's full interview with Nick Hollis HERE.
AZORES Tourism Board
I was greeted with warm hellos and shots of aguardiente from the folks at the Azores Tourism Board. The Azores are a group of nine Portuguese islands that are located in the Atlantic, midway between Portugal and North America. The islands are verdant and the climate is very temperate, as Jose Toste, the Azores' Toursim Director, says: 'The Gulf Stream has blessed the islands'.
From what they showed me, the diving has a rich bio-diversity. Seamounts attract large pelagic fish, such as bull sharks and tuna and the islands also offer easy diving in relatively shallow water. I have put diving with blue sharks off the islands of Faila and Pico on my bucket list.
Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, there are many caverns to explore, both for divers and the active 'dry' caver.
From the east coast of the USA it is a short trip, there are regular flights from Boston to the island of Sao Miguel. From Europe there are direct flights from Portugal, Germany and the UK. The high season is June to September, but there is good weather from May to October. (Closed in Dec )
(I interview the folks at Azores Sub, a PADI/SSI dive shop on Sao Miguel. That interview will be in future Pod Diver Radio Podcast. Stay subscribed.)
NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries
Marine ecological conservation is another key mission at DEMA. Many environmental groups (both public and private) are represented at the show. While at the show, I bumped into old friend and shipwreck dive buddy, Kate Thompson, the National Outreach Director of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries.
The National Marine Sanctuaries are part of the Federal Agency NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration). It is a network of 14 aquatic/maritime protected areas. This encompasses a cross-section of American marine environments, which include sites along the Eastern Seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Coast and the Hawaiian Islands. Each sanctuary is managed locally and the goal is to promote ecotourism, heritage and to create a positive economic impact for the local community.
I sat down with Kate and Underwater Archeologist Joe Hoyt to discuss the ongoing mission of the National Marine Sanctuaries. 'The sanctuaries are all about education, science, maritime heritage and resource protection,' explains Hoyt. In the Hawaiian Islands, this means protecting the humpback whales, In the Keys it's about a healthy reef systems whereas the USS Monitor and Thunder Bay are two sanctuaries that focus on shipwrecks, maritime archeology and history. Thunder Bay is a virtual underwater shipwreck museum of the Great Lakes. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Great Lakes was how people immigrated west. And then there is the wreck of the the USS Monitor whichh is arguably the most significant American shipwreck. In 1863, the Civil War naval battle dubbed 'The clash of the Iron-Clads', the USS Monitor ushered in modern naval warfare. However, she sank a few months later off Hampton Roads, Virginia.
I asked Kate what was new with the NMS and she focused on two points: A) NOAA is looking for nominations for another sanctuaries and B) NOAA wants to encourage scuba divers to volunteer and become 'citizen scientists'.
For more info check out this link. http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/involved/volunteer_future.html
Walking the Floor
Being the last day at DEMA, I wanted to walk the back aisles to see if there was anything I missed. I bumped into freediving instructor Kirk Krack of Performance Freediving. I also needed to get my AP Diving Evolution Plus CCR serviced, so I stopped in at the AP Diving Booth and spoke with Mike Fowler. Mike showed some amazing upgrades for my CCR, like the new HUD (Heads Up Display). VERY COOL.