Understanding buoyancy is key to safe and easy scuba diving. While the concept of buoyancy may be confusing at first, it becomes clearer when we consider how buoyancy effects scuba divers and what divers need to know to properly control it. Read more
This illustrated guide will help divers identify twenty of the most common and interesting reef fish in the Caribbean, Florida, and the Western Atlantic. Familiarize yourself with these fish before you go diving and then try to spot them underwater, or click through this list to see which fish you recognize from your Caribbean dives. Read more
A shadowy mass of white spots drifted into focus. I tracked its movement. Turning to follow the mystery animal, I watched it glide behind the dive group. The creature circled around behind us and curiously swam closer. A spotted eagle ray! A smile tightened across my face, and I waved my arms in silly flapping motions to alert my dive buddy to the ray's presence. We held our position and the ray edged closer to us. Bit by bit it came nearer. Unfortunately, the diver to my left had also noticed my "Spotted Eagle Ray!" hand signal, completely lost his cool, and swam after the ray with rapid, uncoordinated movements. The cautious creature turned its tail to our group and was gone. Read more
I glanced up just in time to catch my dive buddies rolling their eyes at me -- I was fiddling with my equipment again. I moved my d-rings half an inch down, switched the clip on a hose, and tightened my regulator necklace. These adjustments may seem minor or overly picky, but I know that a well-adjusted rig can mean the difference between an effortless dive and an annoying one. Divers who are unfamiliar with the basics of equipment configuration may benefit from reviewing their gear and making adjustments with the following considerations in mind. Read more
Airway control refers to a diver's ability to keep water from entering his respiratory system. Learning to control airways effectively takes a bit of practice, but become automatic once the techniques are mastered. Read more
Despite their appearance, stinging hydroids are animals, not plants. They are members of the class Hydrozoa, which includes stinging organisms such as the Portuguese man-of-war and fire coral. Some members of the class live a solitary existence, while others form colonies. Fire coral, stinging hydroids, and the Portuguese man-of-war are all colonial superstructures composed of tiny creatures. Read more.
Guiding a group over a small shipwreck at ninety feet, I looked to my right and noticed that one of my divers was laying on his side in the sand. What in the world? I swam to his side and flashed an "okay" sign at him. He looked at me, slightly cross-eyed, and grinned around his regulator. Then he giggled and pointed at the shipwreck. I had seen enough divers exhibit similar behavior to recognize that he was experiencing nitrogen narcosis. Read more.
When purchasing dive gear, every diver will have to make an important choice when it come to fins. Should he buy full-footed fins or open-heeled fins and booties? I recommend open-heeled fins and dive booties to almost every diver, but there are advantages and disadvantages to each style. Which type of fin is right for you? Read more.
I was nervous. The divers I was contracted to guide spoke only French. Short of introducing myself and demanding chocolate, coffee, or bathrooms, I do not speak the langauge. A French-speaking guide would brief the group, but after that I would be on my own. How would I relate to these divers? Read more.
A half heard voice whispers, "Do you really think you should be doing this, Natalie? You've been diving every day for a week and you are too tired to dive." This internal voice has been present throughout my career and fortunately makes itself known when a conflict arises between my desires (to do a particularly challenging cave dive when I am exhausted, for example) and common sense and good judgment (You are too tired!) This voice can be a pain, a spoilsport, and infuriating but my advice is, "Heed the voice of your inner diver!" Read more