Harvard Gazette –

Julie Broad, director of Alumni Affairs and Development systems, vividly remembers when she watched video of the program called Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba Diving (SUDS Diving).

“It really caught my attention,” Broad said. “I’m a former scuba diver, and it resonated with me immediately — the experience you get out of learning to dive and … being underwater.

I support a lot of other military organizations, but this spoke to me personally because I could relate to the diving experience.”

This holiday season, Broad is making a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit group through Harvard’s annual Community Gifts program, which accepts donations to hundreds of charities.

A chapter of Disabled Sports USA, SUDS Diving improves the lives of injured military men and women who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many of the service members in the program at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are dealing with severe injuries.

Some SUDS participants use their prosthetics underwater, while others use gear such as webbed gloves for propulsion.

Motorized underwater scooters are employed to assist veterans who have lower limb injuries.

Full article…



Global Nation Inquirer –

China’s economic boom has seen its coral reefs shrink by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years, a joint Australian study found Thursday, with researchers describing “grim” levels of damage and loss.

Scientists from the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology said their survey of mainland China and South China Sea reefs showed alarming degradation.

“We found that coral abundance has declined by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years on coastal fringing reefs along the Chinese mainland and adjoining Hainan Island,” said the study, published in the latest edition of the journal Conservation Biology.

“On offshore atolls and archipelagos claimed by six countries in the South China Sea, coral cover has declined from an average of greater than 60 percent to around 20 percent within the past 10-15 years,” it added.

Coastal development, pollution and overfishing linked to the Asian giant’s aggressive economic expansion were the major drivers, the authors said, describing a “grim picture of decline, degradation and destruction.”

“China’s ongoing economic expansion has exacerbated many wicked environmental problems, including widespread habitat loss due to coastal development, unsustainable levels of fishing and pollution,” the study said.

Full article…



Scott Mathews – 

Vincent Stewart’s enthusiasm for scuba diving began in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1989, when he was a trainer for the Air Force.

“I ran into a swim-team buddy from high school while there who invited me to come diving with him in the Red Sea,” Stewart said.

“Recognizing my interest in scuba, he encouraged me to become a dive instructor.

Yet, at that time, I just wasn’t sure it was for me.”

When Stewart realized he could make good money as an instructor, he earned his open-water certification and began teaching in 1998.

Today, at 72, Stewart’s enthusiasm for diving and giving scuba lessons has not waned.

The Professional Association of Dive Instructors, or PADI, has established standards for those interested in becoming certified scuba divers.

Students must complete classroom academics as well as confined and open-water sessions.

“Obviously, you must know how to swim,” Stewart said with a smile.

“Students must be able to swim 200 yards and tread water for 10 minutes.” According to Stewart, an average class consists of eight students and takes about a month.

“But, the time it takes depends on the student and his or her personal schedule,” he said.

Jill Doczi – public relations manager at Dive Quarters on Laskin Road in Virginia Beach, where Stewart conducts some of his classes – spoke highly of him.

Full article…

The Huffington Post – 

As a stalagmite blocks the cave mouth from view, I find myself sinking into the noduled gullet of Sistema Sac Actun, the cave system running some 135 miles through Yucatan limestone that helped shape the Maya’s Boschian vision of the afterlife.

I’m here because, after hearing so much about the end of the world, I want to immerse myself into the rest of the local cosmology.

I’m getting a sneak peak at some real estate in Xibalba before the post-apolocalypse rush. Niels Horemans, a Flemish tree surgeon turned cave diver is acting as my broker.

And there are worse places to spend eternity than at the bottom of Tulum’s Gran Cenote. The water is cool and still.

Veils of light illuminate catfish sniffing their way around the bases of stalactites. Niels’ breaths echo off the walls in basso profondo.

Though my depth gauge tells me I’m hovering below 50 feet and my flashlight allows me to see three times that far into the caverns, I can’t spot the underground rivers of blood, pus and spiders described in the geology section of the Popul Vuh, Maya’s sacred tome.

What I see instead is waxen rock congealed into Gaudi spires of grey.

These melting candles poke out from a carpet of khaki sand embellished with fallen jacaranda leaves.

Pockets of air coruscate like mercury in the pockmarked ceiling. In front of me, Niels inspects a sunken sign that makes it clear we should go no further.

Niels makes a rather dangerous hobby of going further.

Since moving to Tulum to start Dream Diving, he’s become a part-time speleologist, a cave explorer.

Full article…

Fitsugar – 

With chilly weather for the next few months, more than a few of us are dreaming of spending a long weekend away from the snow.

If you’re planning a mid-Winter beach holiday, then you’re probably looking forward to relaxing on the sands with a tropical cocktail in hand.

But while a warm-weather vacation should be a time to kick back, it shouldn’t mean you undo all the hard work you’ve put in during the year.

When it comes to staying fit on vacation, you don’t have to stick to your hotel’s stuffy fitness center.

Incorporating activities like scuba diving can help you enjoy the outdoors while saving you calories, too.

I never thought of diving as exercise — that is, until I experienced a weekend of it while becoming certified as an Open Water Diver, courtesy of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).

While you may feel weightless in the water, it’s a different story on land — lugging 20-pound air tanks and swimming on the water’s surface require a fair amount of total-body strength.

“You don’t do a lot with your upper body when you’re in the water diving, but you do a lot just in getting prepared to go diving, putting the equipment on, getting in and out,” says Kelly Rockwood, a training consultant, course director, and instructor for PADI Americas.

“You’re going to get more fit if you’re an active diver, even if you do nothing else as far as fitness goes.”

Full article…


By John Thistleton –

The Australian National University is embarking on the most comprehensive study yet of Lake George’s mysterious water levels, as well as its archaeological, indigenous and European history.

Professor Brad Pillans, who learnt to ski on the lake in 1964 when it contained more water than Lake Burley Griffin, will lead the three-year study looking at the environmental and human history of the Lake George basin.

A senior fellow at the Research School of Earth Sciences, Professor Pillans said research would look at everything from fossil pollen grains preserved in sediment in the lake’s bed, to mega-fauna mammals including kangaroos and wombats as big as cows.

“We want to know when humans first came to the basin, its Aboriginal people, initially,” Professor Pillans said.

”There’s also some interesting European archeology out there.

“If you have seen the recent book by Graeme Barrow (Magnificent Lake George: The Biography) there is quite a bit on European history, particularly some of the homesteads. Currandooley homestead in the 1900s must have been an impressive.”

Professor Pillans said the water and what sat under it would be investigated. Groundwater was an important source for Bungendore village.

“We are working with the sand mining companies, particularly the Canberra Sand and Gravel, using exposures in their quarry to help us understand aspects of the history.”

Full story…

By Rebecca Danslow –

What’s our reef worth ?

Two separate dumping incidents, and the fines imposed, have brought this into question for many Gladstone region residents.

Questions have been raised about Federal Government penalties and their effectiveness as a deterrent.

This week, the Gladstone Ports Corporation was fined $6600 for the dumping of 730 cubic metres of dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Last month, The Hope Star Shipping Company was ordered to pay $5000 and its Chinese master to pay $300 after it dumped garbage about 210km north-east of Gladstone earlier this year.

Gladstone Councillor Col Chapman described the recent fines as token gestures.

“I don’t believe that these penalties are enough to deter dumping by companies,” Cr Chapman said.

“Orica was fined considerably more for breaching its conditions and ordered to make alterations to their management systems and structures to comply.”

Mr Chapman said extreme care should be taken to ensure the long term health of the reef.

“In Queensland, a person or company can be fined up to $33,000 for dumping illegal waste on land, so why not a similar amount for dumping at sea,” Cr Chapman said.

“To me, it shows that we do not value the reef highly enough.”

Full article…