Dive Tips: How NOT to Get Bends

Text By: Dr. Ben Luna - Puerto Galera Dive Guide

There are two sure-fire ways to avoid getting bent: Do not dive and do not ascend.

Serious DCS (Decompression sickness) or DCI (Decompression Illness) or whatever the favored term is for the moment has happened to your friend… or maybe to the friend of a friend. It doesn't have to be an up close and personal kind of acquaintance. Somehow, within a generally small diving community, you do find out about someone getting hit and the usual (unkind, at best) remark goes something like these: "what did he do wrong", "was he showing off?", "was he licensed to dive?", to name a few. The thing is, and I bet you know what I'm about to say, as it has been said much too often. It can happen to anyone and it can happen to you!

divetips
Photo © Gunther Deichmann


True, it is a rare animal, but it knows no race and it knows no religion and it certainly knows no level of dive certification. Will anything you do or not do guarantee a bends-free dive? Again, you know the answer to that. NONE. But it certainly helps to know a few do’s and don’ts to try and minimize the occurrence of this sorry affliction.

First, the cliche (ho-hum): Plan your dive and dive your plan. "LET'S GO OVER THERE" just won't cut it. It isn’t a plan. It's a disaster waiting to happen. Next, be physically and mentally fit to dive. Being grossly obese or having a terrible cold or a hangover or getting astronomically pissed off with your astronomical sales quota in the office just doesn't make you seaworthy. Cancel that dive!

Stay young. If that's not at all possible, at least know and accept that you are older than last year. Dive conservatively Add a penalty or two. Don't test the limits of your tables or your computer.

Stay cool. And of course you know the best way to avoid panicking under or above water: Be well trained and well conditioned for your planned dives.

Descend slowly, ascend slowly, go shallow, make shorter dives, and make fewer dives. Rest after your dives. Drink lots of water. Don’t take a hot bath, go up a mountain, or fly so soon after diving. Above all, be sensible.

Note however that some are just more susceptible to DCS than others and a medical evaluation to check for predisposing causes, such as a patent foramen oval should be worthwhile.

Fun dives are good, planned dives are better, and bent-free dives are certainly best!


Mother Green Sea Turtle Visits Scandi Divers in Big La Laguna Beach

August 11, 2013 -- a mother green sea turtle came ashore and laid 135 of her eggs next to Scandi Divers front steps in Big La Laguna Beach, Puerto Galera. The eggs will hatch after about two months, when the baby turtles will dig themselves out and return to the sea.

green-sea-turtle
Green Sea Turtle in La Laguna Beach - Text and Photo courtesy by Scandi Divers


We undertook to transfer the eggs to a higher area down the beach at Cataquis Lodge, away from the danger of storm waves. The green sea turtle is an endangered species so we will closely monitor the hatching to ensure all the baby turtles make it safely to the ocean.

Green turtles almost always nest on the same beach used by their mothers, so we wish them all the best and hope to see this family of turtles returning for years to come.

seaturtle-egg
135 eggs of an endangered Green Sea Turtle - Text and Photo courtesy by Scandi Divers

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FACTS ABOUT SEA TURTLES
Text from
Sea Turtle Conservancy

Sea turtles are generally solitary creatures that remain submerged for much of the time they are at sea, which makes them extremely difficult to study. They rarely interact with one another outside of courtship and mating. Ridleys, however, do come together in massive groups during nesting. But even when large numbers of turtles gather on feeding grounds or during migration, there is little behavioral exchange among individuals. Because of the difficulty in studying marine turtles in the open ocean, there are a great many things still unknown about their behavior. Decades of research, however, including observations at sea, have produced useful insights into daily activities and behaviors such as courtship, mating and nesting.

Beach Selection
Most females return faithfully to the same beach each time they are ready to nest. Not only do they appear on the same beach, they often emerge within a few hundred yards of where they last nested.

Nesting Behavior
Only the females nest, and it occurs most often at night. The female crawls out of the ocean, pausing frequently as if carefully scoping out her spot. Sometimes she will crawl out of the ocean, but for unknown reasons decide not to nest. This is a "false crawl," and it can happen naturally or be caused by artificial lighting or the presence of people on the beach. Most females nest at least twice during the nesting season, although individuals of some species may nest only once and others more than ten times. Sea turtles are generally slow and awkward on land, and nesting is exhausting work.

Constructing the Nest
The female turtle crawls to a dry part of the beach and begins to fling away loose sand with her flippers. She then constructs a "body pit" by digging with her flippers and rotating her body. After the body pit is complete, she digs an egg cavity using her cupped rear flippers as shovels. The egg cavity is shaped roughly like a tear drop and is usually tilted slightly.

Juveniles of the Sea

When we visit reefs, we are accustomed to seeing a myriad of tropical reef fish. From the large Napoleon Wrasse to tiny gobies that reside among the coral. We readily identify them based primarily on coloration and body design. However, as juveniles, many of them often have remarkably different characteristics. Although identifying juvenile fish may be much harder than identifying adults, the reason for this strategy is simple: survival.

juvenile-harlequin
Juvenile Harlequin Sweetlip (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides) - Photo & Text © Gunther Deichmann

Once juvenile fish settle onto the reef, they are extremely venerable to predation. Even the top predators themselves are easy prey when they are very small. Therefore, survival is often dependent upon their ability to protect themselves just as much as it is being able to find food. Many juvenile fish protect themselves by dwelling in more protected areas like mangroves and inner lagoons using camouflage to further their anonymity.

There are many fish that go that through drastic changes from juveniles to adults. My personal favorite is the Napoleon Wrasse (Chelinus ungulaus). Most divers are excited when they see this large fish. However, divers may swim right over the juvenile many times throughout the dive without a second glance. I have fun watching their reaction when I point out the juvenile Napoleon Wrasse; their eyes light up in almost disbelief.

The next time you are in
Puerto Galera, spend some time in the more protected areas looking for some of your favorite fish. Finding them in their juvenile color patterns maybe a treat and provide even more reasons to be impressed by them.