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Alert Diver is the dive industry’s leading publication. Featuring DAN’s core content of dive safety, research, education and medical information, each issue is a must-read reference, archived and shared by passionate scuba enthusiasts. In addition, Alert Diver showcases fascinating dive destinations and marine environmental topics through images from the world’s greatest underwater photographers and stories from the most experienced and eloquent dive journalists in the business.


FROM THE SAFETY STOP LETTERS FROM MEMBERS DON’T FEED THE ’CUDA Stephen Frink’s article “Don’t Try This at Home” (Publisher’s Note, Spring 2016) makes good points about the dangers of feeding wild animals and about the consequences of sensationalizing dangerous behavior. But he misses one additional point: Hand feeders train wild animals that food is attached to divers. It is not hard to see why this is a really bad idea. My buddy and I were diving the City of Washington wreck a few years ago. As soon as each diver did a giant stride, a huge barracuda was right in the diver’s face. My buddy got a great close-up photo, but we didn’t know at the time that our faces were being treated as potential snacks thanks to feeder training. — Harvey S. Cohen, Ph.D., via email COURTESY PAT FORD Here’s the barracuda bite story Stephen Frink referred to in his article “Don’t Try This at Home”: In 1986 we were filming a video (Dive Pennekamp) for the park, and they wanted footage to show that the “dangerous” marine creatures were not all trying to kill you. I was feeding “Smokey” from my mouth a la Capt. Slate. We shot well the first day and then came back to finish up. I was descending with a bag of ballyhoo as Smokey came over. I usually fed him several free-floating ballyhoo initially so he’d get calm. I put out the first ‘hoo and intended to just float it in the water column, but I took my eye off the barracuda and held the bait too long. His front teeth got my index finger and the back of my thumb. The thumb healed up fine, but all the tendons in my index finger were cut. After two operations it still doesn’t bend. I was very lucky that Smoky only nipped me — I could easily have lost most of my hand and bled to death before I could get back to shore. — Pat Ford, via email SENIOR DISCOUNT? In response to the question in the Spring 2016 issue about aging and diving (From the Medical Line, Page 54): There are dive shops that do discriminate based solely on age. I ran into this problem during a 2015 Caribbean cruise with my wife and grandson. I am a 67-yearold experienced and active diver with many certifications, and I’m in reasonably good health. I do not take any medications, and I carry a doctor’s release to scuba dive. The dive shop’s age limit was 65. I never even got to fill out a medical questionnaire or present my certifications; they saw the birthdate and said I could not dive with them. To my knowledge, none of the dive certifying agencies have an age limit. I would recommend to any senior diver to check with a dive operation before booking dives or a trip. — Ronald Culbertson, via email A RUDE AWAKENING The point of Stephen Frink’s article “Fit to Dive?” (Publisher’s Note, Winter 2016) was vividly brought home recently. In mid-March I was on a liveaboard trip in the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara. Our trip 14 | SUMMER 2016

was cut short when halfway through the first day a diver surfaced facedown in the water. Despite the rapid response of the other divers and crew to get him back on board as well as vigorous, relentless CPR, he was simply gone. Though I was not privy to the final word from the coroner, we all pretty much guessed that he died of a heart attack. He was an experienced diver, having started in the 1980s, but had been away from diving for many years. This was to be his first splash back in the water after a long time. He had the look of somebody who could’ve taken better care of himself, and that has certainly inspired me to start taking better physical care of myself as well. Having never seen anyone actually die in front of me, much less in the context of diving, this was a rude awakening. We get used to hearing the stories of misfortune befalling other people. But when you see it in front of you, you suddenly realize that it could happen anywhere, to anyone, and it inspires you to do what you can to tilt the odds in your favor. Shedding a few pounds and doing a little more exercise is a small price to pay for improved odds. — Niles Szwed, via email RINSE YOUR LEAD I began diving when there were no buoyancy compensators or tank pressure gauges, and we often made our own weights by melting lead and pouring it into molds. The fumes from the molten lead must have been dangerous. My question: Are uncoated lead weights a hazard to divers? — Thomas Blandford, via email Molten lead does not really give off fumes until it passes 900°F. Our melting furnaces had thermocouples that would shut down the equipment if the lead temperature exceeded 800°F. If we are talking occasional handling, there’s really no issue, but if you want to take additional precautions I recommend making sure the weights are rinsed in freshwater and allowed to dry thoroughly. Salt takes moisture from the air and can increase oxidation, promoting formation of lead oxide. This is critical with soft weights, as the surface area to create lead oxide is huge. The only real issue is hand-to-mouth transfer of lead. Wash your hands after handling and before eating or smoking (lead can get on the cigarette paper, burn and be inhaled). WRITE US Tell us what’s on your mind by writing us at: MAIL Alert Diver, 6 West Colony Place Durham, NC 27705 ONLINE Send email to All letters included in this column are subject to editing for length and content. THE MAGAZINE OF DIVERS ALERT NETWORK WINTER 2016 Fiji + CENDERAWASIH BAY: WHALE SHARK WONDERLAND DEFENSIVE DIVE PROFILE PLANNING ZENA HOLLOWAY: ART AQUATIC A 50-STATE DIVE ODYSSEY Lead used in weights cannot be absorbed through osmosis. The body can uptake lead only as fast as it can take up calcium. As I told my employees, you can eat a lead weight and it will be uncomfortable; lick it every day, and it will kill you. AD — Lee Selisky, founder, Sea Pearls diving weights; member, DAN board of directors Beth Watson BONAIRE... Where Alice found Wonderland Plaza Beach Resort Bonaire All-Inclusive 6 days unlimited shore diving from $1,110 pp/dbl Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino 6 days of 2-tank boat dives Breakfast daily from $891 pp/dbl Captain Don’s Habitat 6 days of 2-tank boat dives Breakfast daily from $855 pp/dbl Buddy Dive Resort 6 days of 1-tank boat dives Free Nitrox from $1,017 pp/dbl Contact your local dive shop or Caradonna Dive Adventures to book today! 800-328-2288 All packages include 7 nights, unlimited shore diving, airport transfers, taxes and service charges. Rates are per person, double occupancy, for travel in 2016; book by dates may apply and subject to availability and standard terms and conditions. CSOT#2111993-40 • WSOT#603254369 • FSOT#38781 ALERTDIVER.COM | 15

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