Friday, May 30, 2008

Update on Vinegar use when you get stung in the water

Vinegar No Longer Included In My Dive Bag

A combination of an article on ScubaBoard and DAN Jelly Fish Sting recommendation gives an interesting new development regarding the use of vinegar when somebody is stung by jelly fish. As already mentioned in an earlier article in my blog about the Box Jelly Fish around Asia and a death that occurred on Koh Lanta earlier this year, here vinegar is still useful!

DAN's "Diver Alert" magazine has an update an article in the May/June 2008 issue called; "Sting Update" with the surprise recommendation not to use vinegar on jellyfish stings other than the Indo-Pacific Box Jelly*.

Current suggestions for jellyfish stings include...

1-Flush with sea water, not fresh water;
2-Soak in hot water or hot shower around 113F/45C for 30 to 90 minutes ASAP;
3-Remove any remaining tentacles with tweezers;
4-Shave with shaving cream and razor or scrape with credit card;
5-Apply hydrocortisone cream or ointment - I carry that;
6-Monitor for reaction or infection;
And more, you also carry antihistamine tablets and include those in your personal treatment and suggestions.

There was a special note on Men-of-War: No vinegar! It actually causes those nematocytes to discharge.

*The one exception given is for the Chironex fleckeri of Box Jelly found in some waters between Australia and Asia. This one is probably the most deadly animal for its size other than man, but if you survive long enough to get back on the boat - do use vinegar on that wound.

There are chironex species in and near the Caribbean perhaps, maybe not the same specie - not generally considered the same threat at all. Vinegar may or many not be good with those other box jellies...?

A General Orientation to What DAN is Recommending

Vinegar has a very long history of substantial benefit in the treatment of marine envenomations of various sorts (e.g., fire corals, white stinging hydroids) that can occur when scraping encrusted pipes and boat bottoms, grabbing encrusted ropes or just inadvertently coming into contact with reefs, corals and sponges.

DAN is not advocating ceasing the immediate application of copious quantities of vinegar when such accidents occur.

What DAN is responding to is the increasing concern that certain marine envenomations, such as those by specific members of the jellyfish family, can be made worse by applying vinegar and other products like alcohol, Windex, urine and meat tenderizer, as these may cause unfired nematocytes to discharge.
The osmotic differential created by flushing with fresh rather than salt water also may cause this event to occur.

In short, after having a run-in with a jellyfish follow DAN's guidelines. But, if you are sure the offending creature was a fire coral, feathery hydroid or kindred hydrozoan, vinegar is your friend.

This is educational only and does not constitute or imply a doctor-patient relationship. It is not medical advice to you or any other individual, and should not be construed as such.


Last update on the two missing divers in Oz

Here's a last update on the two missing divers in Oz

As a final follow up on the story of the two missing divers in Oz, and two follow ups, here and here this should be the final update on this story unless something drastically happens.

In the meantime, here are a few wise words from John Lippmann, executive Director of DAN Asia Pacific and a Media release by DAN AP.

Having read a few things about this case and having heard more facts, it seems that after all, this seems to be a good way to finish it all up;

John Lippmann's statement is copy protected, but if you follow this link to "Give these divers a break" it will lead you to a PDF file.

Here's DAN AP's media statement;

The Divers Alert Network (DAN) is a group of worldwide not-for-profit membership-based organisations whose core mission involves striving to enhance the safety of diving for the recreational diving community.

John Lippmann, Executive Director of Divers Alert Network Asia-Pacific stated: "The Divers Alert Network is very relieved and happy that Allyson and Richard were found and that they were relatively uninjured."

All DAN members are automatically covered with up to US$100,000 Emergency Evacuation Coverage, no matter where they are in the world, for diving and non-diving accidents or illnesses. In addition, members can choose to add dive injury insurance to their membership if required. This insurance is designed to pay for the medical costs associated with covered diving accidents.

It should be clarified that the Divers Alert Network is not an insurance company. The organisation, on behalf of its members, sources appropriate insurance coverage from a variety of insurance providers around the world. DAN is first and foremost an organisation focused on improving diving safety.

It should also be noted that DAN has never stated it would fully cover the costs of the search operation. John Lippmann, Executive Director of DAN Asia-Pacific, has confirmed to the rescue authorities, various media and later to the divers themselves that: "Richard and Allyson’s DAN Memberships and insurances would cover them for all costs associated in their emergency evacuation to hospital once they were found, and the associated hospital costs". DAN has also offered to make a modest contribution to the rescue organizations towards the cost of the rescue. However, at this point in time we have not been billed for any substantial amount and have told that this is unlikely to occur in this case.

DAN Asia-Pacific believes Queensland has one of the best diving safety records worldwide. Sadly, dive incidents such as this do occur from time to time. DAN maintains that scuba diving is a relatively safe sport and highly rewarding recreational activity, but, as with other adventure pursuits, mistakes and accidents are inevitable from time to time.

--- END ---


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Update on missing divers in Oz

Update on missing divers in Oz

After already having reported on my blog about the rescue of the two missing divers and the following controversy about their rescue it seems that there's no quick ending to this story.

One article in the Australian paper The Age think that the Lost divers could boost adventure tourism, bit strange if you ask me! However, at the end of this article there's some interesting information;

"Dive investigators from Queensland's Office of Workplace Health and Safety are now investigating the dive company, which reportedly took three hours to raise the alarm after realising the couple was missing.

Police have finished their investigation, and have confirmed no charges will be laid."

The Courier Mail, another Aussie paper has this title and article;
Rescued divers Richard Neely and Allyson Dalton slam dive company

The finger pointing continues although I find that slowly there's a pattern showing through, just in my opinion though, that it may well be that said couple were ignoring the dive plan and consequently ended up being in trouble. Nonetheless, I'm glad that they got rescued!

The discussion on Scubaboard keeps going on as well. I'm sure that the last word hasn't been said or written about this!


PS New articles, published today, in the UK based The Independent by Mark Hughes titled; Out of their depth: the Great Barrier Reef mystery and in the Courier Mail in OZ; Diary contradicts dramatic story by rescued divers Neely and Dalton have been published today. Both articles are highly critical of the missing divers story.
It's also mentioned that hey took a shark repellent on the dive, supposedly just 1.000,-GBP worth while. That's some expensive repellent!

Admittedly, it's all possible to do, dive in 7mm in not too cold water, take a bottle of water and a shark repellent on a dive, but it all adds up to an uncomfortable feeling about what's going on.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lost divers should pay for their rescue

Lost divers should pay for their rescue

The story of the two missing divers in Australia, as I reported about, just a few days ago, is going to some interesting twists and loops.

I'm about to post a couple of links in this blog post which are all worth reading, but are too long to put full text up in my blog, so please click on the links to the articles accordingly.

First of all, here's an interesting article from the UK based 'The Guardian' about their ordeal and their rescue. Very interesting and worthwhile reading.

After this story, the next headline this story makes is that "Divers sell story for $1.1m as the blame game begins" as reported in the 'The Age', an Australian paper.

Even the BBC chimes in on their website with this article; 'Lost divers 'should pay rescue' .

American Alison Dalton and Briton Dick Neely after their rescue in a rescue helicopter

The real kicker however seems to be right now that there's a discussion going on about who must pay for the rescue, and the two divers supposedly have been approached to pay for their rescue! Here's a related article from the Daily Telegraph.

On Scubaboard is a lively discussion going on about this event in this thread (first register using the first link named Scubaboard and once the registration is completed or if you are already a Scubaboard member, log in to the thread link).

Lots of discussion about the guilt question and also good tips about safety precautions and safety dive equipment.

It also turns out that the male diver used to work in Thailand for a couple of years, around Phuket.

As a direct result, go out and buy your power whistle, signalling mirror, plastic bag, dive alert, strobe, back up strobe and extra long safety sausage! Don't waste time, just do it.

Being out in the open ocean on your own or with your buddy is no fun, been there and have a T-shirt to prove it but could have easily done without the shirt!

Dive safe!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Specialty Training on Koh Tao

Specialty Training on Koh Tao

Last week, I went to Koh Tao for 5 days of diving and training Instructor Specialties with Andy, who completed his IDC with Stuart, last year in October but they came independently of each other to Thailand. Hence separate Instructor Specialty Training Programs.

Andy is in the Royal Air Force and entitled to a payment schedule by the forces and he opted to take 13 Instructor level Specialties, so we had to plan and schedule accordingly. Over 5 days we completed 14 dives, keeping in mind that we can only complete 3 training dives per day. We also completed 2 non diving specialties; the brand new PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider Specialty and the Equipment Specialty.

For the diving Specialties, Andy opted for Deep, DPV, DUP (Digital Underwater Photography), Mulitlevel, AWARE Fish ID, Underwater Naturalist, Underwater Navigation, Night, Boat, Search & Recovery and Dry Suit!

Above is a beautiful sunset before the start of the night dive, a nice non diving impression!

Immediately after reaching the bottom we saw this Jenkins Whip Ray. A ray I didn't spot until last month with Stuart at Chaweng Beach, we actually saw two and this month I spotted another one! Way to go!

During one of the dives, we saw this White Eyed Moray Eel, well hidden under a rock.

During one of the many ascents we had, we encountered this Jelly fish.

A fairly unusual choice for Specialties$ in Thailand is the Dry Suit Specialty. Many students, including Andy, opt for this Specialty however since they dive in colder waters back home.

Here's Andy in his dry suit, thinking he's Johnny Depp.

A well known creature around Koh Tao is the Titan Triggerfish, during our dives at amongst others Twins and White Rock we encountered a few species and even a Yellowmargin Triggerfish was spotted a few times by us. Unfortunately I haven't managed to get a good picture of this species, yet.

At South West Pinnacle we spotted this Scorpion Fish, a big one this one is.

James Bond in the making, Andy during his DPV dive at Red Rock or Shark Island.

Last but not least, a Christmas Tree worm or Spirobranchus giganteus a very intriguing little worm that is very photo genetic.

Hope you enjoyed the report and the pix. Stay posted and don't forget to subscribe to this feed!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Two divers survive 20 hours drifting off Australia

Two divers survive 20 hours drifting off Australia

Good news after what must've been a pretty despairing night out on the ocean;

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Two scuba divers, a British man and an American woman, were rescued on Saturday after drifting for 20 hours off Australia's Great Barrier Reef after they became separated from their dive party.

A rescue helicopter spotted the divers drifting about 7.8 nautical miles (12.5 km) northwest of Bait Reef, winched them aboard and flew them to a nearby resort island, police said.

Police said the divers survived because they made sensible decisions and remained calm while floating in the ocean overnight.

"The divers made some very good decisions throughout the evening," police superintendent Shane Chelepyhe said.

"My information from talking to them is they strapped themselves together using their weight belts, they conserved energy, stayed as a pair and awaited rescue."

The two, part of a party of six divers on a charter boat, became separated on Friday afternoon and drifted some eight nautical miles during the night.

Police said the pair were diving in a small inlet called Gary's Lagoon when they failed to resurface as scheduled.

The dive boat crew started a search, alerting police when they failed to find any trace of the missing divers.

Three aircraft, including a specialised search and rescue plane with forward looking infra-red equipment, searched overnight for the pair. The search was expanded on Saturday with seven helicopters and three aircraft looking for the pair.

"I'm quite surprised, they are in such great condition," a helicopter rescue official told local radio.
"It was quite amazing, with over 20 hours in the ocean to not have more exposure, but I guess the wetsuits just kept them warm enough during the night. Possibly they had some fresh water on them and they didn't get too sunburnt during the afternoon."

(Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Crown-of-thorns starfish threaten coral reefs

Crown-of-thorns starfish threaten coral reefs

This surprising header, to me, was found in today's issue of the The Nation, a Thai nation wide English language paper made in Bangkok.

As a long term diver in the Gulf of Thailand, since 9 years and various other parts of Thailand, but mostly in the Gulf, I've seen plenty of Crown of Thorns and they're mean guys.

Here's a not so great picture that I made not too long ago at White Rock near Koh Tao. They demolish coral reefs and are very difficult to destroy, if you cut of a piece of them, they basically live on now as two new crowns of thorns. The only way I know to destroy them is to take them out of the water, which is a completely different story, since their stingers hurt tremendously and give you long lasting scars on top of that.
The article in the Nation mentions injections, which is interesting.
Anyway, without further ado, here's the full length article;
Crown-of-thorns starfish are threatening coral reefs in at least three locations, including a popular destination off Phuket. "These starfish destroy natural reefs," says Niphon Pongsuwan of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

Damage to the reefs is evident at Aew island off Phuket, the fifth in the Similan chain and another island off Krabi. In an ecologically sound environment there should be just one crown of thorns starfish for every 100 square metres.

"But in these three locations there are more than 30 per square metre," Niphon says.

In a bid to reduce their damage, centre divers are collecting the starfish from Aew and then destroying them using chemical injections.

Niphon is asking recreational divers to alert national park officials if they encounter the starfish.

"Don't destroy the crown of thorns starfish before you notify officials or else you may face legal action," Niphon says.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Coral Reef Squadron red-flagged

Coral Reef Squadron red-flagged

As reported earlier about the artificial reef in Phuket, which was about to be set up tomorrow, the procedures had to be halted due to bad weather conditions and is currently postponed to November.

PHUKET CITY: The sinking of 10 decommissioned military aircraft – nicknamed the Coral Reef Squadron – to create Thailand’s largest artificial reef has been postponed until November, Tourism Authority of Thailand South Region 4 Office Director Suwalai Pinpradub announced today.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, K. Suwalai said that the strong winds and large waves that have arrived with the rainy season monsoon have now made it too dangerous to sink the aircraft in Bang Tao Bay.

The operation was set to begin today and wrap up with Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat and Thai celebrities attending the final-day festivities on Monday.

A date has yet to be set for the operation to continue, K. Suwalai said.In the meantime, the four Douglas C-47 Dakota Skytrain military transport aircraft and six Sikorsky S-58T helicopters will be kept at Layan Beach until the weather improves.

The deferral of the project also follows concerns that the aircraft could be dangerous for divers if they were not properly secured to the seabed.

In response to the safety concerns, Pragon Geatgun, Vice-President of the Thai Diving Association (TDA), told the Gazette earlier today that the aircraft would be chained to large concrete blocks. “We will chain the aircraft to one-ton cement blocks with stainless-steel chain, sinking them together.For example, the larger Dakota planes will be chained to three of the one-ton cement blocks, he said.The aircraft will have to be sunk carefully, because the aircraft are old and very light compared with the weight of the concrete slabs, he added.

Asked who would manage the new dive site, he said a committee comprising government agencies, dive operators, the TDA, Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization, local people, technical experts and other groups would be formed to manage it.

“We plan to do more artificial reefs in the future. This is only the first step, so we need to have a good committee to look after this reef,” he said.

Phuket Gazette 03/05/08

PADI Specialty of the month May 2008; Multilevel and Computer diver

PADI Specialty of the month May 2008; Multilevel and Computer diver

It's that time of the month again, time to high light PADI's specialty of the month.

This time around it's the Multilevel and computer diver specialty.

During Instructor training some students aren't too enthusiastic about this specialty, for the reason that they think that the Wheel is not interesting enough. What they seem to forget though, is that this specialty actually covers computer diving as well and has a lot more theoretical knowledge development than most instructors wish for. Anybody for some half times and M-Values?

Do you want to maximize your dive times? (Of course). Want to get the most out of your dive computer and The WheelTM? (Naturally). Then the Multilevel Diver Specialty course is for you.

In this course, you learn how to plan dives that extend your bottom time by crediting you for slower nitrogen absorption when you ascend to a shallower depth. That’s the way you really dive, after all. You’ll learn to use The WheelTM version of the RDP for planning multilevel dives, making it a great companion for your dive computer (as well as a way to make multilevel dives if you forget to bring your computer). You'll also look into the meaning of M-values and learn a bit more about some theoretical aspects.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, join us and when booking this Specialty of the month May 2008, you'll receive a 10% discount on the course price.