Friday, 30 January 2009

Short business piece about how new friendly foods pimp themselves with dangerous underwater images



Grocery Innovations Canada, is the country’s largest grocery trade show and conference. The closed-to-the-public is the place to see new food trends and sample the new foods that will be stocked in independently owned food stores in the months to come. The conference was held late in October in Toronto, and two products debuting at the show shared a common theme … diving and the underwater world!
It will be Sharks, Sharks and more Sharks in Canadian grocery stores if the new importer of Thailand’s most popular energy drink has a say in it. Meanwhile, one Canadian company is betting on children wanting to have a feeding frenzy with FunBites, an all fruit treat shaped like underwater creatures.

FunBites is produced by Sun-Rise a British Columbia based food producer. The product is 100% fruit and has no artificial flavours or artificial colours. “Your kids can explore an ocean full of whales, sea horses and turtles with Berry Blend flavour,” the company’s literature says. “FunBites are easy to pack and easy to share-not that they'll want to.”
Shark is a heavily caffeinated energy drink which gives consumers a Jaws-like first bite. It comes in 250 mL aluminum cans which have a toothy shark logo. Shark has 35 mg of sugar per 250 mL can which explains its distinctive super sweet above water syrupy taste!

cutline - Shark drink and the FunBite box

Thursday, 29 January 2009

New Hampshire Winterlude - Story Written For Travel Marketing Experts and Released by Ottawa Tourism - Winterlude


You say Winterlude. Insiders call it Fun-a-lude
Midway between winter and spring, Ottawa throws a party

One of many product reviews written in December 2008
Toronto, January 28, 2009 – Ottawa is the capital of winter fun. And, as Canada reaches that halfway mark between winter and spring, the city is getting set to take a Winterlude break.
Every February, Canada’s Capital Region is host to Winterlude, the nation’s largest and most popular winter celebration. This year the festival runs February 6th to 22nd, which means there are three fun-filled weekends of excitement and activity awaiting visitors! From spectacular ice carvings to an amazing playground made of snow, Winterlude is a great way to take in the best of our Canadian winter.
Most of the Winterlude activities are absolutely free! It costs nothing to skate on the frozen downtown Rideau Canal, the world’s largest skating rink! Tourists are encouraged to bring their cameras to get pictures of the majestic snow sculptures and glittering ice sculptures that have been constructed throughout the downtown region. Nothing keeps out the cold more than dancing, so it is not surprising that visitors groove to energetic rhythms at the free American Express Snowbowl, located on the Rideau Canal Skateway, at Rideau Street, near the Government Conference Centre.
The city has put together an easy-to-use Winterlude website. lists all event times and locations and is updated as new happenings are added to the program. Some of the most popular are listed below.
A brand new Winterlude Sound and Light Show called Ukiuk, which means “winter” in Inuktitut, celebrates the Canadian winter. The free 20-minute multimedia show projects giant images at the Snowbowl, three times nightly Thursday through Sunday evenings during Winterlude. The Ukiuk show includes giant images, dazzling lighting, pyrotechnic effects and a captivating soundtrack that takes visitors through an impressionistic world on an emotion-packed journey from shadow into light.
In between shows of Ukiuk, top Canadian performers will be on stage giving free concerts. Jim Cuddy, Colin James and Roch Voison are three of the headline acts.
Other Winterlude events include three weekends of ice carving contests in Confederation Park, tobogganing on the giant Sun Life slide in Jacques-Cartier Park, the 26th running of the Winterlude Triathlon on the frozen Rideau Canal (open to skaters, skiers and runners) and the 29th annual bed race along the canal on the afternoon of Saturday February 7th.

During February there are several other major happenings that are running in concert with Winterlude that will be of interest to Ottawa bound tourists.
The most popular restaurants and cafes in the Capital Region are presenting Taste of Winterlude, which begins before the outdoor festival (January 29th) and runs to February 22, 2009. The participating dining establishments have created exclusive prix-fixe menus; fine dining experiences, wine pairings and other culinary delights over a four-week run. This is an extremely popular dining program and visitors should check Ottawa Tourism’s website, for a list of participating restaurants and details about their Winterlude meals.
The Beaver Cup Pond Hockey Tournament will be played outdoors on Dows Lake during Winterlude. Twenty teams will face-off on four-on-four “pond” rinks. Spectators are welcome to take in the action, the games will be played daily February 13-15, 2009.
Every year, over 3000 skiers from more than 20 different countries come to the Ottawa Region to take part in the Canadian leg of the WorldLoppet circuit, the Keskinada Loppet. Canada's largest cross-country ski event brings together the world’s elite skiers to compete in this high caliber competition. Recreational skiers, nature-lovers and families looking for an outdoor activity can also take part in this three-day event. Keskinada Loppet runs February 13 – 15 at
Gatineau Park.
Tourists wanting information, tickets and lodging reservations can visit, a powerful website operated by Ottawa Tourism and supported by the region’s growing tourism industry.
Ottawa Tourism provides destination marketing, strategic direction and leadership in cooperation with members and partners to service the travel media and attract visitors, tours and conventions to Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region. Its vision is to build recognition of Ottawa as an outstanding four-season tourism destination.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Unpublished shorts from by Stephen Weir


• The is now available worldwide through the Internet. Launched on September 1st the UK based free TV station features professionally produced video from international underwater filmmakers. The new service is at

• During the recently held Republican Convention in Minnesota, visiting political reporter was invited to dive in the Mall of America’s shark filled aquarium. Many scribes accepted the invitation and found it less stressful than covering the convention! The mall is one of the largest indoor shopping centres in the world.

• Last year Diver Magazine featured a story I wrote (and have posted on this site) about how the Georgia Aquarium was allowing divers to swim in their giant Whale Shark tank. This month the Atlanta facility announced the addition of a manta ray to that 6.3 million gallon gallery. Nandi, a female manta ray, is the only manta in captivity in the US. Nandi, who measures more than nine feet across and weighs approximately 456 lbs, was flown from Durban, South Africa, to Atlanta.

CUTLINE: Nandi swims freely in the Georgia Aquarium

• Aquarium of the Bay now has a Sevengill Shark. During the summer San Francisco, California’s Aquarium of the Bay acquired a 10-foot (3.3m) female sevengill shark, believed to be the largest of its species in captivity. The big shark now swims inside the Aquarium's main exhibit tunnel along with eight other sevengills and a large number of leopard sharks, spiny dogfish, bat rays, and skates. Sevengill sharks, Notorynchus cepedianus, are named for the seven gills on each side of their pectoral fins. Most other sharks have only five gills.

• Brookville, New Jersey resident Adam Grohman is a dive instructor and boatswain’s mate in the US Coast Guard Reserve. He has recently self-published a research study about shipwrecks that divers from New York and New Jersey often dive. Claimed by the Sea - Long Island Shipwrecks looks at 11 vessels that have sunk off Long Island. The wrecks that he has researched are: Savannah, Lexington, U.S.S. Ohio, Circassian, Seawanhaka, Oregon, Louis V. Place, General Slocum, U.S.S. San Diego, Andrea Doria, and the Gwendoline Steers. The book includes photographs of the vessels and artifacts recovered from the sites, illustrations, numerous footnotes, references, source listing, and an index. It is available online at

• Fall appears to be the season for surveys and lists that mention diving: Sportingo, a popular sporting website recently listed the 10 most dangerous sports based on accident reports. Sports making the list include: Cave Diving, Rugby and Cheerleading! The London Times listed the ten best dive sites in the UK. The number one destination? The World War One shipwrecks of Scotland’s Scapa Flow. has named Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh. The other sites listed include the Great Barrier Reef, Cuba, Maldives, Belize, Turks and Caicos, Maui in Hawaii, Malaysian Borneo, and St Croix in the US Virgin Island

cutline: Stephen Weir inside a Bermuda cave. Photograph by Jim Kozmik

• The Humboldt. Divers in Southern California have a new charter boat they book passage on. The Humboldt, San Diego’s newest boat is already taking divers to “Dive Wreck Alley”, Coronado Islands, local kelp beds and other popular Southern California sites. She is a 46 ft. custom dive boat, equipped with all amenities necessary for single day dive charters out of Mission Bay. She is Coast Guard certified for 39 divers, but according to owner Seamus Callaghan, “we are limiting our number of divers to 22.” Nitrox and rental equipment are available at the dockside store.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Diver "People Shorts" Recently Written By Stephen Weir


Hall of Fame 2009
From 19th century film makers to Skin Diver photographers

The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame announced at the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) trade show in the US that it will induct six new members in just a few days.
The 2009 International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame honourees are: the late Kimiuo Aisek (Truk dive shop owner), Howard Rosenstein (Red Sea Photographer), the late Larry Smith ("World's Greatest Dive master" helped set up dive operations in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Indonesia) , Geri Murphy (former Skin Diver Magazine photographers) and 19th century underwater movie makers brothers George and J Earnest Williamson.
Each year the Cayman Islands hosts the annual The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony, where the pioneers, artists and entrepreneurs are presented with prestigious awards for their contributions to the sport. The event will be held on January 29, 2009 at
The Pedro St. James castle in Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands. There will also be a film festival and special dive excurisions over the induction weekend.

cutline - the late Kimiuo Aisek as pictured on his recently published biography.

George Purifoy Dies At The Wheel Of His Dive Boat

North Carolina wreck hunter and dive shop owner George Purifoy passed away in September after suffering a heart attack. Mr. Purifoy, the owner the Olympus Dive Centre in Morehead City, NC, died at the helm of his dive boat while taking a charter group wreck diving. He was responsible for finding many of the wrecks (including a Germany U-boat) that make Morehead City a North American wreck diving centre.
A memorial fund has been set in honor of Mr. Purifoy. Donations may be made to Divers Alert Network, George Purifoy Memorial Research Fund, 6 West Colony Place, Durham, NC 27705.

cutline: the late George Purifoy

Tarzan underwater set builder makes donation to US College

Wisconsin’s Beloit College recently received a $1.4 million donation from a man who built underwater sets for Tarzan movies. James E Lockwood was an oil company owner, an inventor, explorer and sometimes an underwater movie set builder.
Lockwood passed away in 2003 in Florida; he graduated from the school in 1934.
According to the school, after Lockwood completed his education in Wisconsin, he befriended a deep-sea diver and together, they apparently created the first diving lung, seven years before Jacques Cousteau invented the double-hose scuba regulator. He worked on the underwater sets of 12 Tarzan movies from 1932 to 1948. In 1957, he sold his Lockwood Oil Company and began traveling the world, pursuing his passions for scuba diving and archaeology. He is credited with the discovering of an ancient Haitian temple on an island off the north central coast of Haiti.

Recent Find Driven By Families Of The Lost Sailors

The US Navy confirmed in October that wreckage found by an Alaska expedition in 2007 is that of a long-lost submarine. The wreckage was spotted on sonar off the Aleutian Islands in 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) of water.
According the Alaska television station KTUU, the Navy is saying that the wreckage is that of the U.S.S Grunion which disappeared during World War II. The sub was last heard from on July 30, 1942. The family of the Grunion's last commanding officer hired the expedition to locate the wreckage.

cutline: The USS Grunion

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Diver Magazine Equipment Shorts Written By Stephen Weir

What to do while decompressing? Watch the Watch
New watch mechanical watch from Japan
arrives in North America

The Japanese based Orient Watch company put a big push on this past Christmas season to introduce its mechanical saturation diver watch to the North American market.
The watch, which retails for $1,300 US has, according to company spokeswoman Christina Koshzow “a special case design that prevents the penetration of helium gas (while diving at depth). This means that the internal pressure hardly rises at all, eliminating the need for an escape valve and a diver no longer has to use a valve to adjust the pressure inside the case when diving or surfacing.
The watch is rated to a depth of 300 meters (900 feet), with a strong exterior that has excellent corrosion resistance.
The self-winding watch has a large crown and rotating bezel, which makes it easy to operate even when wearing thick dive gloves.
The watch company has teamed with North American broadcasters to sell their full product line on television. As well, Orient Watch is also working with Blog masters to get the word out about their products. Selected Bloggers are giving away watches as part of on-line promotions and draws.
Established in 1950, Orient is Japan's largest producer of mechanical watches. The Asian company builds over 2 million time pieces annually.

Cutline: The Orient Watch’s mechanical saturation diver watch is rated to a depth of 300 meters (900 ft).

Award winning design of the Pearl i3
A BC designed for the female body form

Just in time for Christmas, the Aqua Lung Pearl i3 is appearing in Dive Shop showrooms across North America. What makes this Buoyancy Compensator (BC) different from many other BCs on the market today is that the Pearl i3 is designed specifically to fit and flatter a woman’s body
Aqua Lung says that their new product has been designed for real women, who come in all shapes and sizes. As a result, the Pearl i3 offers a multi-set waistband that lets divers change the waist size up to six inches and a double adjusting shoulder strap that allows them to find the best fit for their body.
Added for a woman's comfort, security and stability, the Pearl i3 incorporates a plush back lining, rolled neoprene collar, and patented sports bra. It has a weight system that Aqua Lung says is comfortable, easy to load and allows for a quick ditching of its weight pouches if the need arises.
Divers will appreciate the strategically constructed bladder that expands backwards as the BC inflates (instead of outward) as well as the contoured silhouette that allows for a better range of motion and provides more comfort while swimming. The Pearl i3 comes in sizes XS-L and features three colours: pink/silver, aqua/silver and charcoal/black. Three zippered utility pockets provide plenty of room for all of a diver's essential accessories.
Like Aqua Lung's popular Sea Quest Pro QD i3 BC, the Pearl i3 incorporates what it calls is the latest i3 technology, allowing divers to quickly and easily control inflation and deflation with just a single action.
“The innovative i3 allows divers to simply and intuitively control their ascent and descent by pulling a lever up and down to surface or dive deeper,” explains company spokeswoman Jacqueline Edelman. “ The i3 simplifies buoyancy control. Instead of using a traditional BC setup with a cumbersome inflation device on the end of a hose and separate pulls at each vent to dump air, the i3 system uses one simple lever, fixed to the BC on the left hip.
“When the lever is pulled up, air is transferred from the diver’s tank into jacket, making it more buoyant,” she told Diver Magazine. “Conversely, pushing the lever down opens both an upper and lower one-way air valve simultaneously releasing air from the BC. By utilizing a push rod system, as opposed to hydraulics or pneumatics, Aqua Lung’s i3 is the most reliable integrated system for perfect buoyancy.”
The Pearl i3 is available at Aqua Lung dealers across the continent. In the US the BC retails for $695 US.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Ipods, blackberries and Iphones spawn the Amzer


One of many product reviews written in December 2008
Cut line: The International USB Travel Adapter and its four interchangeable input plugs.

Be it above or below the water, more and more divers are traveling with their IPods. And since most IPods are charged through an USB cord, there is now a new “must have” for divers on the road.
The Amzer Power Adapter is a direct power source for iPods, mobile phones, Blackberrys, digital cameras and any other new electronic device that recharges its battery through a USB port. Away from home, this adapter can be plugged into any wall socket, be it 100 volt or 240 volt service, and then hooks up, through a USB cord, to your electronic device.
This new USB power adapter comes with four plugs for use in North America, the UK, Europe and Australia Diver Magazine recently field-tested the Power Adapter in Havana, Cuba. An Ipod was repeatedly recharged using both a European plug and 220v service and 120v North American style plug (Power sources vary in Cuba from hotel to hotel) over a one-week period. The Ipod was recharged without incident and the Amzer unit automatically switched from 110v to 220v; depending on which hotel wall socket it was plugged into.
The Universal Adapter is now available in travel stores across North America. In the US it retails for $30 US.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Tourism short piece about ice and snow art for New Hampshire's Maple Gazette

Sculptures to make you think

cutline - owl sculpture from Keene New Hampshire

Auguste Rodin, that French fellow who sculpted "The Thinker" has nothing on the people of Jackson. For the past 8 years they have been carving Tiki Gods, cougars, chair lifts and yes, even a snowy version of The Thinker in the annual New Hampshire State Sanctioned & Jackson Invitational Snow Sculpting Competition!
While Rodin carved in stone, in Jackson, hundreds of winter artists will be using snow to create their masterpieces. The outdoor art festival and competition begins at noon on Friday January 30th and runs through Sunday February 1st, 2009 in Jackson Village Park, Jackson Village, New Hampshire. This event attracts a wide variety of sculptors, both amateur and professional who are dedicated to putting a wow factor on piles of frozen snow!
This event is sanctioned by the Association International de Sculpture sur Neige et Glace and WinterFun, Inc., which is the only sanctioning organization for state, national and international snow sculpting competitions in the United States. Teams of two and three artists compete to see who will represent New Hampshire at National and International snow carving contests.
The teams will start sculpting on Friday and continue working through the night on Saturday to complete their sculptures in time for the judging on Sunday afternoon February 1st starting at Noon. Judging is based on creativity, technique and message.
The three-day event brings breathtaking snow sculptures to the Jackson Town Park in the center of the village, a location with great sight lines, free parking and close proximity to lodging and restaurants.
In addition to seeing the teams create their masterpieces, visitors can take in a variety of winter activities including sleigh rides, dog sledding and a torchlight bonfire parade. If you are "thinking" of taking in the winter art visit for more information.

The above story was also used in this press release by my associate Chris Ryall and was issued on January 26

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2009

New Hampshire Really Glows When It Snows
The Granite State has festivals to celebrate the season

Toronto– Ice sculpture contests. Works of art made of snow. A small village of tents and fishing shacks appearing in the middle of a frozen lake. Sleigh rides to the Maple Bush. Winter is in full flight and the people of New Hampshire are inviting the world to come to the Granite State and revel in the glory of the snowy outdoors. February may be the shortest month of the year, but, in New Hampshire, it is long on winter events that will be of interest to all visitors. Of note this month are ice sculpture festivals in Keene, and Jackson, an ice fishing festival in Meredith, and sugar bush festivities in Uncle Sam’s hometown.

For the past 8 years artists have been coming to Jackson to carve out of snow everything from Tiki Gods, to life-size chairlifts made out of packed snow. It is a spectator sport to see all the frozen masterpieces in this annual New Hampshire State Sanctioned Jackson Invitational Snow Sculpting Competition!
The outdoor art festival and competition begins at noon on Friday January 30th and runs through Sunday February 1st, 2009 in Jackson Village, New Hampshire. This event attracts a wide variety of sculptors, both amateur and professional who are dedicated to putting a “wow” factor into piles of packed snow!
It all happens in the Jackson Town Park in the center of the village, a location with great sight lines, free parking and close proximity to lodging and restaurants. In addition to the art visitors can take in a variety of winter activities including sleigh rides, dog sledding and a torchlight bonfire parade.
You can never be too keen about winter in February in one New Hampshire town. This year the Annual Keene Ice and Snow Festival will be held in February 7th. This is a festival for families. Town organizer wants Mom, Pop and the kids to spend the day in Keene to see the ice carvings and build a snowman at Snowman Central.
Visitors can also watch snowboarders perform stunts, participate in the snowball-throwing contest, enjoy hot chocolate and food, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride!
Local artists have already begun getting ready for the Festival. Their frozen masterpieces will be erected in the Central Square and Downtown area of the New Hampshire town. It all begins at 10am and runs until 4pm.
This winter temperatures in America’s northeast have been cold enough to produce a red-hot Fishing Derby on the solidly frozen surface of Lake Winnipesaukee this February 7th and 8th. Meredith’s Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby is THE event for ice anglers, and this year organizers are expecting a record turnout of both fishermen and spectators alike. Ice fishermen from across the US, Canada and overseas gather in Meredith for a weekend of fun, fishing, and taking part in a unique fun winter event!
First time winter visitors to the Lakes Region will be surprised to find the frozen waters of Lake Winnipesaukee transformed into a metropolis of fishing shanties of every shape, size, and colour. It costs nothing to watch, visitors wanting to take part or simply get information should visit
While the north portion of New Hampshire enjoys the cold of winter in February, in the southern regions of the Granite State, mid-February marks the beginning of the maple syrup season. Each year, the New Hampshire maple industry produces close to 90,000 gallons of maple syrup and it all begins in the town of Mason.
During the six to eight week long Maple Syrup season, dozens of sugar bush farms welcome visitors to their sugar shacks to watch maple syrup being made, take horse drawn sleigh rides through their maple bushes and sit down to a breakfast of pancakes smothered in award-winning New Hampshire syrup.
Parkers Maple Barn in Mason will be the first establishment to open its doors to tourists. Parkers will be beginning serving maple syrup inspired breakfast and lunches beginning February 11th. Their stand of maple trees is close to the boyhood home of Samuel Wilson (better known as the American Civil War icon, Uncle Sam).
As February draws to a close all of New Hampshire’s sugar shacks across the state will be open for business. The New Hampshire Maple Producers maintains a webpage detailing all sugaring events being held in the state
The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development's has dedicated its user-friendly website ( to presenting to visitors links and information about how to get the most out of winter. details skiing and snow sports, places to stay and of course “Off the Slopes” information -- tax-free shopping, fine dining, sleigh rides, ice fishing, canopy tours and more. The site is updated daily and has the latest information on holiday season event listing throughout the state.
To find out more about New Hampshire or to receive the new free visitor’s guide, call 1-800-FUN-IN-NH (386-4664) or visit Canadian travel trade and media may call 1-888-423-3995, or email
# # #

For more information and images, please contact:

Chris Ryall
Canadian Representative
New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism Development
Toll-Free: 888 423 3995

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Short pieces about shipwrecks and dive boats



Six Dive Wreck Shorts from the January issue of Diver Magazine

cutline: the liveaboard diveboat the Spree watches as the Texas Clipper is scuttled off Padre Island to create an artifical reef and a new dive site.

By Stephen Weir

Deeper is not always better in Florida

Dive chat boards around the world have been deep in discussion lately talking/typing about how a scuttled aircraft carrier has moved deeper into the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently this summer’s Hurricane Gustav not only battered the Gulf’s north coast, it actually shifted the Oriskany, the world’s largest artificial reef.
In May 2006 when the aircraft carrier was towed out into the Gulf near Pensacola, Florida, and sunk, the flight deck of the Oriskany was 135 ft (45 m) below the surface. After Hurricane Gustav rumbled through the area, the sunken ship slipped 10 ft (3.3 m) deeper into the Gulf.
While it is not unusual for sunken ships to shift and settle on the bottom of the ocean, what has attracted the attention of dive bloggers is that the deck of the Oriskany is now beyond generally accepted recreational diving limits.
“This is a shame.” posted Lee Bell on the popular rec.scuba group. " If the Oriskany is shifting, its probably won't be long before it's no longer a viable dive destination. Operators taking people out to the wreck are almost certainly already considering new limits on people that dive on it.
Newspapers in the Panhandle district of Florida have also been talking about the shifting wreck. Local dive shops who daily take divers out to the wreck note that while there are parts of the vessel and most of the marine life that is well above the 130 ft cut-off, it is the flight deck that their customers want to see and touch.
“When the ship was sunk in May 2006, the flight deck was 135 feet down, 5 feet outside the recreational diving limit, but instructors said it still was relatively safe for tempted divers to make the touch,” reported the Pensacola News Journal.”
"People just had to touch it," said Eilene Beard, Scuba Shack co-owner. "And we'd say, 'OK, bounce down there and touch it and get back up here so you don't use all your nitrogen.' "
It is estimated that since the sinking of the Oriskany, the dive industry has pumped $2 million into the local economy and created 37 new jobs. According to posters on the web, local shop owners fear that news of the underwater shift might deter potential divers from visiting.

Gustav pushes one of two Texas liveaboards to Florida

The Freeport, Texas based liveaboard dive boat MV Spree will be moving to the Florida Keys early next year. The Spree has been taking divers on overnight trips to the Flower Gardens underwater park in the Gulf of Mexico for over two decades,
In the wake of Hurricane Gustav, which decimated the Texas coast from Freeport to Galvaston, the operators of the award winning live aboard made the decision to move the Spree to Key West, Florida. Beginning May 2009 the Spree will be taking divers to the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. MV Spree will be offering sport diving charters and technical diving charters to the Dry Tortugas for 3, 4 or 5 days, and offer up to 5 dives each day. The MV Spree will also offers 3-day and 5-day "keys krawls," featuring the wrecks and reefs of the lower keys
The MV Spree is a US-flagged, US Coast Guard inspected 100-foot triple-screw diesel crew boat class vessel converted for scuba diving and marine science operations. The ship’s website is The MV Fling, the Spree’s sister ship (owned by a different company) will continue to service the Flower Gardens out of Freeport, Texas.

2008 hurricanes leave another Gulf of Mexico shipwreck unmoved

The South Padre Island Tourism Board has confirmed that charter boats continue to take wreck divers out onto the Gulf of Mexico, and that the area was unaffected by recent hurricanes. According to spokesperson Blithe Wiley, one of the most popular diving attractions is the USTS Texas Clipper.
“ This is a relatively new diving attraction (and) is now coming into its prime,” Wiley told Diver Magazine. “ She is a 473-foot ship that was sunk 17 miles off South Padre Island in November 2007. The Island’s newest artificial reef offers something for divers of every level, from entry level on up.
“The Texas Clipper can be compared to a large museum, requiring divers to make several trips to fully appreciate it because of its size.” Continued Blithe Wiley. “The ship is so large you can dive a hundred times and still not see everything.”

… And another large sized artificial reef could soon be created in the Florida Keys

Reports out of Key West, Florida say that the state is prepared to contribute up to $1.6 million so that a 524-ft decommissioned Air Force missile-tracking vessel can be sunk to create an artificial reef in the Florida Keys. The long running plan to sink the Vanderberg, has run into a number of financial problems; however with the funding promise from the government, dive officials are hopeful that the project will be completed by early next year.
If the financial package is completed the Vandenberg will be towed from a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia to Key West in December with a scuttling to take place in February 2009.
Estimated costs to intentionally sink the Vandenberg about six miles south of Key West have swelled to more than $8.2 million, almost $2.5 million more than was originally budgeted for.

State of Michigan establishes its 12th underwater preserve

Earlier this year the State of Michigan designated a shipwreck filled bay in Lake Michigan as an underwater preserve. Grand Traverse Bay and nearby waters now fall under the protection of the Department of Environmental Quality
According to Associated Press, the demarcation of Grand Traverse Bay has been done “to promote the location and protection of shipwrecks and artifacts on the lake bottom.”
Michigan’s dive community has been pressing the state government for the past three years to make the area an underwater preserve. “The Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve Council says it will generate millions of tourist dollars by attracting recreational scuba divers and underwater researchers.”

Divers Sign Up to Send Ship Down in the St Lawrence River

Divers around the world are signing a petition in support of an Ontario group that wants to sink a Canadian Warship in the St Lawrence Rivers. The Eastern Ontario Artificial Reef Association (EOARA) posted an online petition and continues to get support for its plan to sink the HMCS Terra Nova near Brockville, Ontario.
“We are currently working with the Department of Fisheries & Oceans regarding the location and a concern they have with it being in a sturgeon nursing area,” said Tom Scott, a St Lawrence River dive boat charter operator and the president of EOARA. “Working with the different levels of government is slow and tedious.”
The signature drive is something that the EOARA has initiated while the organization deals with many levels of government. Scuba groups across North America are supporting the petition including the Ontario Underwater Council.
“Folks can sign the petition on the EOARA website (,
he continued. “All folks that want to support the project regardless of where they live would be a help. Fund raising will not take off until we have received approval from all the different government agencies.”
Mr. Scott’s group has set their sights on the now mothballed HMCS Terra Nova to become the St Lawrence River’s first artificial reef. The retired 112-meter long warship is currently docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A second warship, the HMCS Gatineau, is also available to the group. The Canadian Navy has also mothballed her.
“We really want the Terra Nova, it is the right height for where we want to sink her in the St. Lawrence,” said Michael Ryan, spokesman for the EOARA earlier this year. “ We have located a large sandy flat spot (close to Brockville) away from the shipping lanes and still a thousand metres from shore where the depth is a maximum 43 metres. “
Anyone interested in the project can access a detailed explanation on the group’s website. “In the presentation that you can down load from the EOARA website there is some excellent video on the location that shows the river current and bottom composition of the target zone in the St Lawrence,” continued Mr. Scott. “ We dive the location fairly regularly. Usually early mornings and we usually use sleds that are towed by the boat so that we can cover large areas of ground.”
The Eastern Ontario Artificial Reef Association petition and presentation can be accessed at:

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Australian film people spend a day at the beach ... in costume


(an article written for ... but to date has not been posted. sigh).

Rob Jan is an Australian artist, journalist, radio host and photographer who posts offbeat popular pictures on Flickr.
A set of strange hard hat diver pictures he has posted on the Internet photo sharing web service has begun to attractthe attention of divers from all around the world!
Zero G (Jan’s nomme de plume) has been fascinated with hard hat dive suits long before he decided to stage a sea side photo shoot with members of the Australian chapter of the International Costumers Associations in 2006. Two and half years ago, Jan posted the pictures he and his friends took on Flickr and since then divers have been raving about and freely downloading the pictures.
“It's amazing how popular that whole photo set has become,” Rob Jan told Diver Magazine. “If I'd known that real divers would be looking at it someday I reckon I would have taken a lot more care with making the cossie ... but such is life!”
“ The pics were taken at a couple of beach side themed picnics we staged,” he continued.” My response to the theme (which was something like 'Turn of The 19th Century Beach Wear") was my usual offbeat approach, which generally saw me dressed in something more exotic than what would have been considered 'normal' in the historical period.”
The highly “doctored” photograph set show a hard hat diver spending a day at an Australian beach in the Victorian era. The diver does everything one would do at the seaside back then, from riding a beach bike to wading in the water with three women in swimming gowns (shoulder to knee dress overtop of leggings). to taking a ride on a carrousel. But what makes the photographs noteworthy is that the diver is in full gear, enjoying his day in the sunshine, seemingly oblivious to the heavy brass helmet on his head.

The diver does go underwater ... to retrieve a deck sign from the wreck of the Titanic. He is photographed removing the sign and then again displaying it on dry-land to a shocked female bather.
Anachronistic touches abound, including a group photo of the hard hat diver and his friends aboard the “Minnow” -- the pleasure boat featured in the 1960’s TV show, Gilligan’s Island.

“Nope, I don’t dive,” said Rob Jan. “Just fascinated with hard hat suits as part of a general obsession with all kinds of protective body armour, including space suits and the like. I've read a lot of hair raising books about hard hat diving and of course saw the Disney film, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea as a kid.”
“All the costumes were made by ourselves. The suit and helmet were all made by me. The helmet is actually papier mache, which is the last thing you'd expect to last around the sea but it really held up quite well over several years and a couple of different photo shoots.”
Even though the artist known as Zero G had fun shooting the pictures, it was also an experiment for Rob Jan to see if he could recreate a 19th century feel to his 21st century photographs. He told Diver Magazine that by using filters, altering the background of the pictures themselves and using Photoshop software, he was able to give an uberworld spirit to his Deep Sea diver pictures.
A number of other photograph series on Zero G’s Flickr site show the artist’s interest in aliens, sci fi movies and popular culture. His latest series of photographs is based on the movie Iron Man. The Deep Sea Diver series can be seen at: