THIS WEEK (April 20-27) AT REEF SEEKERS DIVE
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REEF SEEKERS REPAIR DEPARTMENT
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CHAMBER DAY/EVE 2015 IS MAY 6 - We're a little over two weeks away from this annual event. In case you don't know, Reef Seekers has played a central role in this going back to the first year (1989) when we got a last-minute call to supply divemasters for the participating boats. Since then, we've played a central role in not only the planning but also in signing people up for the various aspects of the event. And the reality is that the Reef Seekers customer base, through contributions to the Challenge as well as signing up for boat spots and dinner seats, makes up a large percentage of those who participate. Best of all, the money raised goes to support our Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber. A lot of people think the Chamber is fully funded by the County but that's simply not true. While the County does provide funding, it only covers about 50% of what the Chamber needs to operate annually. And Chamber Day over the years has provided a significant chunk of that remaining 50% that needs to be raised. Some of you may not dive as often as you used to, or maybe you don't even dive SoCal any more, but that doesn't mean your friends don't dive here. And it also doesn't mean that things we learn at our Chamber, can't be shared with other chambers where you might be diving. So even when you don't see a direct connection, there may be one. And because diving is such a niche sport, it really is incumbent upon ourselves to support such a vital safety net as our Chamber. So whether it's the Challenge, the Dutchman, or whatever works for you, I hope you'll take a moment to support us this year. Here's the direct link to the donation page: https://secure.www.alumniconnections.com/olc/pub/SCA/events/event_order.cgi?tmpl=events&event=2362818 .
MORE ADVENTURES IN AIRFARES - It's been rather interesting as we've been booking airfare over the past week for our December Red Sea trip, to watch how the airlines manipulate the prices and how it all changes on a daily basis. It's also interesting how the prices can radically differ from one airline to another. For instance, there's an LAX-Frankfurt-Cairo itinerary on Lufthansa for $820 (although it went down to $801 over the weekend). United runs a code-share on that flight which means it's still the Lufthansa flight but United tickets it as if it was run by United. The very same flight will cost you $1,277 if you book it through United. Likewise, we have one guy from San Francisco who wanted to fly business class on United. No problem. SFO-Frankfurt-Cairo was $6,250. But if he was willing to fly to LA so it was SFO-LAX-Frankfurt-Cairo, the fare dropped to $3,200. In fact, the airfare on United-branded flights takes us LAX-Houston-Frankfurt-Cairo for $863. But if you only wanted to go to Frankfurt on those same flights, then it $1,360. Fly less,pay more. Go figure. But the point of all of this is to underscore that it really pays to investigate all the permutations and it really pays to deal with someone (travel agent, me, etc.) who know the ins and outs of booking these things. To say it can get complicated and confusing would be an understatement.
WATER MASS OFF OUR COAST - "The Blob" was the classic 1958 horror flick that gave Steve McQueen his first leading role. But it's also the name that scientists have given to a mass of water that's sitting off of our coast and which could be the cause of altered weather patterns or predicting an on-coming El Nino, as well as helping to deplete fishing stocks which are in turn leading to record numbers of sea lion standings. The Sunday L.A. Times has a nice article explaining what all of this may mean. Good reading for those of us involved closely with ocean issues as well as Californians in general because this water mass could also be the key to ending our drought. The full article can be read here: http://www.latimes.com/science/la-me-wetter-days-20150419-story.html .
SARDINE SEASON CLOSED - The water "blob" could be a contributing cause here but fishery managers have taken two actions to stave off calamity. First, they've called off the next sardine fishing season which would have begun July 1. And they're seeking to end the current season, which runs until June 30, as soon as they can. There are roughly 100 boats with sardine permits up and down the West Coast (not just in CA) and they've got to notify them. They're noticing rapidly dwindling numbers of sardines and whether that's a combination of over-fishing or environment, the bottom line is that they want to avoid the kind of collapse of the fishery that happened in the 1940s and lasted almost 50 years. It's really only in the last 20 years or so that the sardine fishery has become such a strong one in California. The lack of sardines also likely is playing into all the sea lion standings we're seeing because there simply isn't enough food out there to support all the sea lions (though no one is saying the pinniped population is in danger for now). But it all really underscores how intertwined everything is and how big swings in fish populations in one area can have an effect on other areas. Here's an article with another link inside: http://www.wetpixel.com/articles/west-coast-sardine-population-collapses-prompting-fishing-ban .
FABULOUS UNDERWATER ENCOUNTER - I remember a number of years ago diving a wall at San Clemente Island and at the end of the dive, two guys who were in front of me by a minute or two were raving about the Gray Whale that swam right by them. He probably swam by me too but I was looking left when he was on my right. Luck and serendipity certainly plays a role here. That's why it's so cool that an ROV exploring the depths at 1,900 feet in the Gulf of Mexico was looking in the right direction as a Sperm Whale can in to investigate. It's all been edited into a 4-minute video. Make sure to listen to the comments of the researchers who are up on the ship: http://wtkr.com/2015/04/17/scientists-record-rare-sperm-whale-encounter-1900-feet-under-water/ .
TRAGEDY YES, BUT DARWIN AWARD TOO - I'm trying to feel sorry for this kid but I keep going "What were you thinking?" There's an a surfing area in the Indian Ocean that was particularly infested with sharks. A local surfing phenom (ands only 13 years old - the age where you feel you're invincible) decided to go in and surf anyhow . . . and was killed by a shark. Every death is tragic but I'm having a hard time thinking this isn't a perfect candidate for a Darwin Award. Be sure to check out the reader comments below the article as well: http://www.aol.com/article/2015/04/14/boy-13-killed-by-shark-in-indian-ocean/21171986/?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl27%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D643524 .
ELEPHANT KARMA - I've always said hunting is a sport only when the animals can fight back. That was the case in Zimbabwe, where the hunter became the hunted. A professional big-game hunter/tracker was killed by the elephant he was trying to kill. Apparently he was there with clients and they may have been going for the ivory. The tracker (British guy) parked his clients, kept tracking the animal, and got within 50-100 yards when the male elephant charged him at full throttle. Apparently he got off a shot (unknown if he hit the elephant) and then the elephant got him. What's really interesting - and perhaps not so surprising - is that most of the on-line comments since this story started getting widespread play are siding with the elephant. You can read some of it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/04/19/game-hunter-ian-gibson-facebook-comments_n_7095512.html .
And that'll do it for now. Have a great week and let's go diving soon!!!
Owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.