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10.28.2010

Rebreather Friendly Liveaboard in the Galapagos Islands

August 22th to 29th, 2011

The Galapagos Islands are a world famous hotspot for encounters with marine mega fauna. The highlights usually are big schools of hammer head and Galapagos sharks. Giant Manta Rays, Silky, White Tip and Whale Sharks are highly probable sightings as well. Other probable encounters are Orcas and bottle nose dolphins.

The close encounters possible with a rebreather are a great opportunity for underwater imaging, naturalist oriented observers and enthusiasts seeking intimate experiences with marine wildlife. From August 22th to 29th 2011 a rebreather friendly expedition to the Galapagos Islands is being organized on the Humboldt Explorer. We can accommodate up to 8 rebreather divers on this boat. The other 8 spaces will be used by Open Circuit divers.

The Boat:

The Humboldt Explorer was built in Guayaquil - Ecuador in 2009. She is a 35 meter steel hulled vessel with twin diesel engines, twin electric generators, water maker and twin SCUBA compressors. 


16 passengers are accommodated in 8 air-conditioned cabins with private bath and showers, flat screen televisions and an ocean view. Beds can be arranged to provide 2 twin beds or one large bed depending on guest needs. Social areas include a partially covered sundeck with Jacuzzi and ample seating space and a salon including a lounge area.  A big dive deck and a large camera table are available for all divers. 




Rebreather and non-rebreather divers on board:

A maximum of 8 rebreather divers can be accommodated; the other 8 spaces will be used by Open Circuit divers. This expedition can be a great experience for rebreather divers with non rebreather partners. Special care will be taken to accommodate the rebreather divers need for time, space, silence and supervision on board and underwater. The philosophy if this trip is: Together but not mixed.

The authorized itinerary for the trip can be found here. The highlights is 3 days in the far north (two days in Darwin and one in Wolf).


Dive conditions and profiles: 

The Galapagos Islands usually present challenging sea conditions such as strong currents overall, big waves in the surface, strong surge and frequent negative entries.



For the rebreather diver ascending and descending currents, increased workload underwater and stress resulting from close encounters can also become substantial challenges. Dive profiles will be recreational with a bottom time of 60 minutes and an average depth of 20 meters. Standard diluent provided will be air and maximum recommended depth 40 meters.

Insurance and Liability Releases:

All divers must carry diving insurance for the entire duration of the trip. Travel insurance for the entire duration of the trip is also recommended. Upon arrival, rebreather divers will be requested to fill in standard forms for diving liability release plus a special statement of understanding and liability release specific to rebreather usage.


Price, conditions and payment:

The basic rate for this trip is $4295 plus $150 fuel surcharge. Price includes Galapagos Marine Reserve divemasters, 7 night / 8 day accommodation on board, transportation to and from dive sites, all meals, coffee, tea and drinking water.

A $1500 supplement will be charged for rebreather divers. This supplement will cover expenses and provide the following items:

Sofnolime 8-12 (1 - 2.5mm) non indicating CO2 absorbent
High pressure (200 bar) medical grade Oxygen provided from Haskell Booster Pump
Rental of one set of 2 or 3 liter steel cylinders for on board gas with Ambient Pressure style valves
Rental of one 40cf / 5,7lt or 80cf / 12lt aluminum bailout cylinder with DIN/Yoke 200 bar valve.
Stage or sidemount rigging for off board bailout system


If special requirements such as grain size, type of valves, etc. come in with proper timing we will do the best to accommodate those.

Tips and gratuities, drinks other than the included, and personal expenses are not included in the rate. Additional charges for air tickets, entry fee and taxes apply. The additional costs breakdown is estimated below and is subject to change without prior notice:

Round Trip air ticket to the Galapagos Islands: USD 450,00
Migratory control card: USD 10,00
Galapagos National Park entry fee: USD 100,00

Booking and cancellation policies:

A USD 1500,00 deposit is required in order to book spaces on board. Deposit must be made as confirmation. Rebreather divers also need to pay supplement fee with the initial deposit. Balance has to be paid in full 90 days prior to departure date. 

All deposits are non-refundable but name changes and/or guest negotiation of spaces purchased is allowed.

Contact, questions, special needs and information:

Please contact Jorge A. Mahauad by posting a comment in this blog or by email to: jorgeantoniomwXgmail.com (X indicates @). 

If you are an instructor refering students or travel agent please indicate it upon initial contact.

You can also join our fan page in facebook at:
www.facebook.com/GalapagosRebreathers or follow us in twitter @GalapagosCCR.


About the organization of this expedition:

10.27.2010

Eurotek.2010 Carl Spencer tribute film

Eurotek Advanced Diving Conference Co Founder Carl Spencer lost his life deep wreck diving on Britannic. Leigh Bishop has kindly put up EUROTEK's tribute to him. The film was put together by Crispin Brake and shown at the 2010 Eurotek Awards evening with this short tribute

PADI Rebreather Courses - From the Tec Rec Blog

At the recent Eurotek conference in the UK, PADI released more information about its plans with rebreathers.

Mark Caney, Vice President, Rebreather Technologies in the PADI Technical Diving Division gave a presentation on the coming range of courses. The courses will be introduced at some time during 2011 and consist of both recreational courses under the PADI name, and a range of technical courses which will form part of the TecRec range.

Caney emphasised that courses were still in development, and so subject to change, however indicated the likely layout of the courses would be as below.


Although some credit will be given for anyone who has completed the recreational courses before entering the technical range, there is no requirement for them to do so, as PADI is treating the two styles of diving quite differently.

When asked which units would be approved for these courses, Caney explained that PADI would be designating two categories of rebreather; a Type R for recreational diving, and a Type T for technical diving. A Type R unit will have a high level of automation but relatively limited diver controls. (The Poseidon MkVI Discovery was mentioned as the only unit in production at present meeting these requirements). A Type T will have a wider range of controls for the user but will require significantly more discipline and training on the part of the diver in order to use them in the technical diving envelope. (Most of the current production units could meet the Type T requirements; however, PADI is considering requiring some form of third party testing of rebreather designs prior to approval as this technology is so new and relatively complex).

Caney suggested that if any instructors are planning to take advantage of these new courses that they should start to gain experience with rebreathers, as PADI will be expecting new instructors to show that they have acquired a significant amount of experience diving a given rebreather before they can teach others how to use it.

10.23.2010

Rebreathers, diver training and the industry trends defined by life and death


A flawlessly working rebreather is almost as dangerous as a completely unreliable unit since reliability encourages complacency.
Howard Hall stating the Richard Pyle Paradox

A lot of things have been happening in the rebreather “industry” around the world. A few months ago, PADI (the biggest agency in training recreational divers in the world) announced its venture in the rebreather market. 

Also, a very disturbing accident happened on a rebreather specifically designed for recreational diving. According to the incident analysis published:

“After the technical inspection of the unit and reviewing the log files from the unit, representatives of the Norwegian government Diving school in Bergen (HiB) has established that the unit in question has functioned the way it is supposed to do, and that the accident was not caused by equipment error.” 

“The battery used had insufficient power to pass a pre dive check. There were two predive start up attempts made, that both failed due to insufficient battery power. The unit was started using the Emergency startup procedure, without a successful pre dive check, i.e. the unit has automatically gone in to Dive Mode, as the depth indicated by the on board depth gauge was greater than zero meters. In spite of the alarms, the dive was not aborted. During the dive, as long as there was power in the battery, the unit maintained a correct PO2 level in the breathing loop.”

Diver was found dead at the 4 meters depth, close to the position where he had begun his decent. The DV switch of the mouthpiece was set in Closed Circuit (CC) mode when the diver was found and no attempts to switch to Open Circuit (OC) were recorded on the log file. The unit was equipped with an Octopus connected to the Diluent 1 st stage and had adequate amounts of Oxygen (69 bar) and Diluent gas (176 bar).

I read somewhere that it was a discover rebreathers dive.  I’m not really sure of this. Basically what happened is that the diver deliberately ignored all safety procedures and alarms...  There is a quite complex discussion going on in the recreational rebreather subject. It can heat a bit sometimes. References, opinions and very good thinking can be found at rebreatherworld.com.

Personally, I think there are two main aspects of a rebreather diver. I might sound a bit redundant and absolutely obvious but those two aspects are actually THE REBREATHER and THE DIVER.



As for the rebreather, the matter is fairly complicated (for sure less than the divers) and very reasonable. Rebreathers follow philosophies and depending on the actual philosophy the unit is engineered and operated. This is why there is no "best" rebreather overall; on the other hand the concept of "right" rebreather is more accurate. 



Units such as the Poseidon Discovery MKIV have decided to engineer issues rather than pursue complex training of users. This is good from the training point of view. It is easier to teach somebody: “If in doubt bailout” than teach them diluent flushes, linearity checks, SCR mode, mCCR flying, etc. Somehow the idea of a complex life supporting machine with “simple” training does not feel quite right to me. I could be wrong of course.



On the other hand, KISS rebreathers have produced a Gas Extender Mechanism that could be catalogued as a SCR that can be upgraded into a full CCR. The “GEM” as they call it consists of a set of breathing hoses, a canister for pre-packed scrubber and a pair or lungs. Simple training in this kind of mechanism, where no hyperoxic mixes are used, no electronics and just a simple galvanic cell seems much more reasonable to me. 



These two mechanisms offer fairly similar benefits: Moisture gas, warmth, silence, light weight, longer dives. One is completely automatic, performs the checks itself, even bailouts to open circuit when it reads something is wrong. The other has no computers whatsoever, the only wired thing inside is a single oxygen cell and a PPO2 display. 

A fully closed rebreather will always have the advantage in near constant PPO2 decompression schedules. My question here is: who needs that anyway? In theory every dive is a decompression dive; the difference really lays in the staged accent. Moreover, research data shows that even safety stops pose great benefit in bubble micronuclei crashing. Mmhh… it sounds like decompression theory to me anyway! Aside of 7 minutes, what is the difference between a 3' and a 10' stop?



So, mainly two almost opposite philosophies heading in the same direction: fulfilling the technical diving prophesy by making diving sciences and technologies available to more people and, of course, gaining a share in the recreational diving market. It seems that many rebreather manufacturers want to capitalize by seducing recreational divers into the dark side.



This brings me to the next factor: The diver. At the present time most of the available rebreathers are designed and engineered for technical divers. Needless to say, a Technical diver should have a different discipline schema than a "purely" recreational diver. This is why most rebreathers are engineered that way; because their users can (most of the times) manage to survive them. 



The problem arises when somebody with less than strict discipline ventures into this type of units. Following this obvious problem, PADI has announced two new categories of rebreathers (they actually "invented" them) The Type "R" or recreational rebreather and the type "T" or technical rebreather. Personally I think that only a few units can fit those but I'm sure we will be hearing more of this new concept a lot in the upcoming months and that PADI will figure out a clever way to turn a wide range of grey’s into black and white.

I don’t consider myself a guru of any kind. I write this for fun, it makes me organize my thoughts. If I publish it later is because I think is not “really” bad. I also do it because this might support the one or two readers that visit my blog daily create a personal concept. On the other hand, I do see something going on right now that can be learned from the past.

PADI is now pushing harder and harder everyday into the Technical Diving Market. We PADI members now have well over 10 technical diving, or advanced diver oriented courses: from Nitrox Gas Blender to Rebreather Hypoxic Trimix. One of the harsh realities I live here in Ecuador is that “recreational” and “technical” diving have such a gap in between that was invented with the term “recreational diving” in the first place. Categories created that separation, we made it up! Now the marketing efforts and money are coming together to bring the diving back together. So what is the point of turning type “R” or “T” rebreathers into black and white? We will need to get that back together later anyway. 


I don't really know what will come out of this, only time (and the amount of money and dedication the industry puts on it) will tell. Of one thing I’m sure. Rebreather fatalities will increase as this discipline grows, this is for sure. 

I’m sorry to say this but don’t really care if more people dies. Our reality is the product of our choices; I try to do mine so I can stay alive. It has worked fairly well so far. I’m not saying I have never made a mistake, I’m not saying I will never do another. The only thing I know is that I cannot get complacent or else I will die. If I die it will be my fault, no one else to blame but me and my own stupidity.

The problem here is that this is not the general trend in the diving industry. Liability and the duty to care are a very nice way to blame and hurt someone, or something, which took a loved one away from us. We overvalue life and feel so alone that will not let someone who we think we love pass away.  I’m not frightened of dying of dying and I have managed to convince the people who love me that they should not be either if I do.



What really frightens me is the possibility of an ignorant public employee who might think that the right way to go is banning rebreathers, deep diving, cave diving, etc. because “people are dying doing that”. This is no joke. It could happen really easily here. A couple of years ago a couple of really “smart” dive instructors attempted to prohibit decompression diving in a marine reserve. The penalty for performing decompression was prohibition to enter the marine area for life! They did this because they considered the “safe” thing to do.I guess many of us would continue doing this anyway but then it would not only be dangerous but ILLEGAL! 

Here is a personal commitment I did many years ago to prevent what I just mentioned: I will do my best to make sure that the divers I teach are aware and safety minded divers who know the potential consequences of their mistakes, omissions and complacency. This is my own way of supporting diving locally.

Dive Safe,
Jorge A. Mahauad

10.22.2010

Ocean conservation needs sexiness, this is probably the right way...

I'm not someone who is particularly "IN” but I found this and I think it is actually a good thing. So here it goes:


<<Congrats are in order for the adorable Elizabeth Banks who was picked as the November 2010 Self Magazine cover girl! This beauty is not just a pretty face, she packs a killer funny bone, and has recently changed her life as a result of an ocean conservation trip she made to the Galápagos Islands in April.

You may know Banks from one of her many television and movie roles such as Beth in the “40 Year Old Virgin,” Miss Brant in the “Spiderman” trilogy, and most recently as Jack Donaghy’s love interest Avery Jessup on the NBC hit comedy, “30 Rock.”

The thirty six year old Massachusetts native discusses her life altering trip in this new issue of Self Magazine which she took with hunky Leonardo DiCaprio.>> Quoted from accidentalsexiness.com

“My trip to the Galápagos Islands in April was an amazing experience. I got interested in ocean conservation when it was presented to me in this very powerful way: When you go to Yellowstone and you see eagles and geysers and bears, you think, Thank goodness we don’t allow them to build a skyscraper here; thank goodness we’re conserving this land. We don’t do that with the ocean. Less than 1 percent of the planet’s oceans is preserved. That should change! I don’t think I’m the one who’s going to change the world, but hopefully, I can provide some momentum for change by sharing what I learned."

Elizabeth was part of Mission Blue Voyage, a Galapagos sea-voyage of 100 people (including Sylvia Earle, Edward Norton, Glenn Close, Steve Case, Ted Waitt, Bill Joy, Jackson Browne, Damien Rice, Chevy Chase, Jean-Michel Cousteau and 30 of the world's leading marine scientists). The trip turned into an epic event that may have significant impact on global efforts to save our oceans and put the islands in the top of the international media once again.

Talks recorded during this event have been posted in this blog. A various range of talks is available at the TED channel dedicated to the trip. You can find it here. I really recommend you make some time and watch the talks.

I think that the involvement of people like Elizabeth Banks, Leonardo DiCaprio and others who are not particularly known by being members of the diving or conservation community around the globe is such a good thing. We need opinion leaders that can speed up the slow moving crowd towards awareness.

10.18.2010

He ayudado a publicar la versión de V-Planner para Android en Español :)



For the last couple days Ross Hemingway and I have been working on the Spanish version of V-Planner for Android. For those not familiar with it, V-Planner is probably of the most popular VPM decompression software available. If you speak Spanish you will know how long phrases and even words can become when translating. To have a complete sentence that has full sense and short length is paramount when translating something that has to fit a mobile phone screen and has to be clear enough to avoid potentially fatal mistakes!

En los últimos días Ross Hemingway y yo hemos estado trabajando en la versión en Español de V-Planner para Android. Para aquellos que no están familiarizados con el tema, V-Planner es probablemente el software de descompresión con modelo VPM más popular que existe. Quienes hablamos Español sabemos lo largas que pueden resultar las palabras y frases cuando traducimos desde el Inglés. Tener una frase completa que tiene sentido completo y que a la vez sea corta en "longitud" es un tema fundamental cuando traducimos algo que debe caber en la pantalla de un teléfono móvil y que debe ser suficientemente claro para evitar errores potencialmente fatales.


A couple of test applications were developed by Ross while I managed to translate the English version of this mobile decompression software. The Android version of V-Planner in Spanish is finally ready. You can purchase it from hhssoftware on line. The install package is multilingual. I have to admit that it feels really nice to have a decompression application installed in my Android phone that was, in a really small portion, contributed by me!!

Ross desarrolló un par de aplicaciones de prueba mientras yo me dedicaba a traducir desde la versión en Inglés del software para descompresión. La versión en Español de V-Planner para Android está finalmente lista. Puedes comprarla de hhsoftware en internet.El paquete de instalación es multilengua. Debo admitir que se siente muy bien tener una aplicación de descompresión instalada en mi teléfono Android que fue, en un pequeño aspecto, mi contribución.

Here are a few screen shots. Take a look :) On the bottom of this post you will find a little bit of the translation.

Aquí hay algunos recortes de pantalla. Míralos :) Al final de esta entrada puedes encontrar una pequeña muestra de la traducción.


Jorge A. Mahauad






  



V-Planner es un programa de descompresión que utiliza el modelo de permeabilidad variable (VPM-B) para perfiles descompresivos. Los perfiles de descompresión inician a mayor profundidad que los modelos tradicionales y toman en cuenta micro-burbujas ofreciendo una mejor descompresión. 

En su diseño, los modelos de burbujas utilizan matemáticas para simular y medir el crecimiento de micro-burbujas estableciendo los límites en concordancia. En los modelos VPM, las profundidades mínimas de cada parada (ceilings o "techos") se determinan en gradientes permisibles de formación de burbujas y no con valores M. Estos gradientes de super-saturación son determinados al seguir conjuntos de nucleos VPM (semillas de burbujas) basándose en un radio crítico inicial: Estas son las estructuras fisicas microscópicas que estabilizan el gas en fase libre y que pueden crecer para convertirse en burbujas completamente formadas cuando el gradiente de supersaturación es suficiente para probar la condición para formación de burbujas de Laplace. 

El modelo de permeabilidad variable fue originalmente propuesto por Yount y Hoffman en 1986. Se desarrolló después por David Yount, Eric Maiken y Erik Baker entre 1999 y 2001. En 2002 el modelo se siguió desarrollando por Erik Baker hasta obtenerse el actual modelo VPM-B. 

Haga click en el ícono arriba para ir al sitio web de V-Planner.

10.17.2010

Some inpressions on EuroTek 2010

A few months ago I reported about the EuroTek 2010 Advanced Diving Conference. At that time I did not think I was going to attend. I was wrong. 



I arrived in Birmingham (England) on October 15, 2010. The conference started on the 16th. I had never been to a EuroTek before. The last one was held here in 2008. I was just giving my first few steps in technical diving back then. Altough I have made extensive research on technical diving, rebreathers, decompression theory and many other advanced diving features actually being in EuroTek was a really great opportunity to meet famous divers and explorers in the advanced diving community.

The conference was made up of two main attractions. One was a “mini show” with booths where the manufacturers and sponsors of the conference had their products and representatives. The other, and main attraction of the conference are the numerous speakers from all over the world. EuroTek features Cave Diving, Equipment, Imaging, Physiology, Rebreathers, Safety, Technology, Wreck Diving and other general interest advanced diving topics.

Although this was my first EuroTek I did found myself familiar with the exhibitors and diving personalities in the event. I found a couple of new and innovative things I would like to report. These are mainly on my interest for rebreathers, technical diver training and my newly acquired challenge: cave diving.

EuroTek 2010 was the first time in which the KISS GEM was physically presented to the public as a product. As far as I know, on October 9, 2010 the system was first introduced to the ever demanding and never forgiving community of rebreather divers in rebreatherworld.com by Kim Smith, CEO of KISS Rebreathers. If you want to know more perspectives on this fine piece of equipment you can follow this link.

The GEM is an acronym for Gas Extender Mechanism and it is technically a semi-closed circuit rebreather with a very high gas usage ratio. According to Product Development KISS representative Mike Young, the standard version comes with a 3:1 ratio mouthpiece. In this newly presented mechanism (the KISS people don’t want to call it a SCR or rebreather) unit the trick for venting gas is not in the lung but in the mouthpiece. 



Mike and I had the chance for a long talk about the unit. He told me that this GEM system will be available to divers for about $ 3.400,00 CDN (about 3.360,00 USD as of today). This system will be upgradeable first with higher ratio mouthpieces up to 10:1. It can also be upgraded to become a KISS fully closed circuit rebreather which will be lightweight, easy to use and aimed for the recreational diver.

I have been working on some “post” about rebreathers and their appliance for recreational usage. Now that I write this report I realize that this was the piece of equipment, and philosophy, that I needed to complete that long hold draft. I will publish it sometime soon.

Following the subject of recreational rebreathers there was another presentation. PADI, a major player in the recreational diving market gave a preview on their rebreather courses to be launched next year. 

Mark Carney the Rebreather Technologies Director of PADI gave outlines on how the recreational en technical rebreather courses will work, who may qualify to teach and enroll and about the units accepted by PADI, their categorization of them and how these will accepted either in the recreational rebreather courses or in the Tec Rec range. 



Basically, two recreational rebreather courses (rebreather diver and advanced rebreather diver) will be created. These courses have to be taught on the units PADI categorizes as recreational or “Type R”. On the Tec Rec side of things, three levels will be created. These will be Tec 40 CCR Diver, Tec 60 CCR Diver and Tec 100 CCR Diver and will be taught on technical units (Type T). Obviously the focus is in air diluent, normoxic trimix and hypoxic trimix. Mark mentioned that work is underway and that the recreational courses will be released first. Technical courses will follow and (if I understood correctly) all will be launched during 2011.

One of the diving activities that have been in my mind for a while is cave diving. I attended Martyn Farr’s presentations on Cave Diving, Phill Short’s stories about his cave diving adventures and Jill Heinerth’s presentation on her Antartic Expedition and Ice Caves. I also had the chance to personally meet Jill, exchange interesting information about ongoing projects in Latin America and get a signed copy of her book “The Essentials of Cave Diving”. I will be training in cave diving during 2011. I still have to decide my instructor and the type of rig (CCR or OC). The place will most probably be Florida.

The conference finished today. For me it ended with a lecture from Mark Powell, author of the "Award Winning" book Deco for Divers. I have to say being at EuroTek has been a great experience for me. I am very happy to have assisted the conference, to have met all these advanced diving personalities and share a bit the place to where I belong. I will definitely do my best to be here on the next Edition of EuroTek in 2012.

Jorge A. Mahauad

10.13.2010

Rebreather Friendly Liveaboard: August 22-29, 2011 - Galapagos Islands


From August 22 to 29 2011 a rebreather friendly trip to the Galapagos Islands is being organized on the Buddy Liveaboard vessel. We can accommodate up to 8 rebreather divers on this trip; 3 rebreather divers have confirmed, there are 5 more spaces. The other 8 spaces will be used by Open Circuit divers. We will dive in two teams OC / CC so there will be no mix up.

The amount for this trip is $4150 and includes nitrox. There is a $1500 supplement for CCR divers that include all sofnolime, gases, pump use, tank rental. The trip cost does not include park fees of $100, tips, flights or hotel nights, but locally these can be arranged if you need so. We have a partner travel agency that specializes in the Galapagos working with us.

For more information please click here or follow the Link Galapagos Rebreathers in the menu on top

Deliver close and intimate encounters with marine wild life and promotes underwater exploration in the Galapagos Islands.

10.12.2010

GALAPAGOS REBRETHER EXPEDITIONS (2011 – 2012)

Jorge A. Mahauad (CCR diver and instructor) is starting to organize rebreather and technical diving trips and expeditions in the Galapagos in a group basis. In the next few lines you will find the overview of a rebreather diving expeditions that can be organized for 2011 and 2012.

The following program is based in a combined itinerary that will support rebreather divers properly by providing a combined diving schema with land based and liveaboard experience. The trips are organized in coordination with galapagosrebreathers.com a community of divers who's intention is to deliver close and intimate encounters with marine wild life and promote underwater exploration in the Galapagos Islands.

Expedition specifications:

These will be the first formally CCR friendly expeditions organized in the Galapagos Islands. More than a year of planning and detail polishing has been required for putting this trip together. The trip overview follows:



Itinerary Overview:

The CCR trip is organized with a local dive resort. The dive resort will be our operations center and local hotel. The liveaboard portion of the trip will be organized with third party operators. General trip itinerary follows:



A note on liveaboard cruises:


At this time there are no CCR friendly liveaboards in the Galapagos Islands. The tour leader will be in charge of making the liveaboard CCR friendly by bringing all the equipment and supplies needed (booster pump, medical grade O2, scrubber, CCR cylinders, bailout) to the boat.



Liveaboard itineray depends on the actual boat to be used. Most itineraries include Darwin and Wolf (highlights for the Galapagos Islands in general). Actual itinerary will be negotiated and confirmed when bookings are placed depending on availability of boats and the operator’s willingness to receive CCR divers on board. The tour leader will find the best itinerary available and deal with pricing.

Liveaboard yachts in the Galapagos Islands are intended for 16 divers. The tour organization will negotiate dedicated support regarding dive tenders (boats and crew), dive profiles and special needs for rebreather divers. The group will be mixed (08 CCR divers and 08 OC divers) but the teams WILL NOT be mixed up. Special dedicated CCR diving space and procedures will be accommodated to the teams needs.

Sample itinerary:


Day 1 (day of arrival) On Saturday you will arrive aboard at San Cristobal Island, followed by a check out dive at Isla Lobos. This site is the home for many sea lions, as well as sand dollars, black-blotched stingrays, puffers and sea stars.

Day 2 Three dives are scheduled at North Seymour and Mosquera which gives the opportunity to see Galapagos garden eels, sea turtles, sea lions, fur seals, golden eagle rays, yellowtail grunts, bigeye jacks, schools of snappers and frequent sightings of whitetip reef sharks, hammerheads, and Galapagos sharks.

Day 3 - 5 Every day three dives will be made at Wolf Island or Darwin Island. These dive sites are very well known for the high presence of hammerheads, and big Galapagos sharks. There is also the likelihood of seeing marine turtles, various types of rays, mantas, dolphins, moray eels, and invertebrates.

Day 6 Three dives are scheduled at Roca Redondo and Vincente Roca where often sun fish, hammerheads, white tip reef sharks, manta rays, sea horses and Galapagos sharks can be spotted.

Day 7 On this day two dives at Cousins Rock and Bartolome island are made in the morning, followed by a Guided visit to the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island in the afternoon. Cousins Rock is a perfect site for seeing black juvenile corals, Galapagos seahorses, octopuses, hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, green sea turtles, eagle rays, and schools of barracudas.

Day 8 (day of departure) Check out day and departure from San Cristobal.

The Galapagos Islands:

The Galapagos Islands are known worldwide for the encounters with marine mega fauna (sharks, rays, whales). The diving overall is very good in the entire archipelago. Depending on the dive sites, encounters with hammerhead, galapagos, silky, white tip, black tip and whale sharks are common. Other pelagic fish such as tuna, wahoo, jacks, manta rays, eagle rays and mobulas are also common. Reef life is rich in the rocky bottoms.



The best sites are the remote northern islands of Darwin and Wolf (located 150nm from the central islands). Darwin and Wolf are only accessible in liveaboards. In the central islands many day trip tour operators are available and some good sites are visited on a regular basis.



Dive conditions can be hard for inexperienced or tropical divers, these conditions include: strong surge and currents, big waves in the surface, water temperatures between 12 and 24 Celsius and frequent negative descents. 



The whale shark season in Darwin and Wolf starts in June and ends in September. During the rest of the year diving is very good but whale shark encounters are sporadically recorded.

Until now, diving in the Galapagos Islands has been mainly restricted to open circuit recreational divers. Some rebreather trips and expeditions have been performed in the past but liveaboards and diving facilities in general do not have technical diving or rebreather support available. Dive profiles are usually between 20 and 30 meters. The 40 meter + range is mainly unexplored. 

About the organizer:






Jorge A. Mahauad
PADI Master Instructor (Tec Trimix)
TDI Extended Range Instructor (Inspiration / Evolution CCR)
RAID Sport Instructor






Jorge is a technical and recreational diving instructor in Ecuador. His main focus to this time has been to work as a freelance diving instructor in the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador mainland. Jorge is one of the pioneers of technical diver training in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

Jorge will be the tour leader of the rebreather diving expeditions in the Galapagos Islands. He will be in charge of coordinating all the logistics needed for safe and comfortable rebreather diving in the archipelago. 

Contact:

Just post a comment in this blog with your name and email. You can also find Jorge in Scubaboard, Rebreather World, Facebook and Twitter. If you want to stay updated on the Galapagos Rebreathers community you can become a fan on facebook or use this widget:

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PADI Latin America: new focus and direction

IRRA members (and I think individual members as well) received this email from PADI. It seems that the folks in California have finally realized that Latin America is an expanding market that needs a dedicated focus and approach. 

Here is the abstract and linkage in case you are interested.
Jorge A. Mahauad


Latin America represents a burgeoning dive market and true frontier region for our sport. This is why PADI Americas enthusiastically announces a new focus and priority on PADI Latin America. Headed by PADI Americas Vice President of Operations Dana Stewart and PADI Americas Vice President of Marketing and Communications Kristin Valette, this movement will begin with the direct expansion of the PADI Latin America team.

There are four key initiatives during the first expansion of PADI Latin America. Read more

10.08.2010

We live in a Global Ocean


TED.com published this video yesterday. It was recorded in the Galapagos Islands earlier this year in Mission Blue Voyage. The talk was conducted by marine biologist Barbara Block. Barbara fits tuna with tracking tags (complete with transponders) that record unprecedented amounts of data about these gorgeous, threatened fish and the ocean habitats they move through.

The data provided is just amazing. A simple and obvious summary is that we live in a Global Ocean. The problem is we need scientific reassurance to accept obvious facts. In any case, I invite you to watch it and learn about the science, distribution and interaction of marine critters.




Data obtained have feeded Tagging of Pacific Predators. TOPP began in 2000 as one of 17 projects of the Census of Marine Life, an ambitious 10-year, 80-nation endeavor to assess and explain the diversity and abundance of life in the oceans, and where that life has lived, is living, and will live.

European Shark Week 2010: Focus on Finning



Fourth European Shark Week will take place from October 9 to 17. This event is organized by The Shark Alliance. The European Shark Week focuses on actions and events where supporters and other shark enthusiasts come together to teach and learn about sharks and shark conservation and add their voices to those demanding that policy makers secure the future health of shark populations. This year, the focus of the European Shark Week is on finning.


According to The Shark Alliance “We are at a critical and exciting time to advance the conservation of sharks in Europe, in particular to secure a stronger Regulation banning shark finning, the wasteful practice of slicing off the fins and discarding the carcass at sea. This year we need you to help persuade Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all countries in the EU to Focus on Finning”. Here is their promo:


More than three years ago, the European Parliament called on the European Commission to strengthen the EU finning ban. Next year the European Parliament will be asked to vote on a legislative proposal to amend the finning Regulation.  In September, four MEPs launched a ‘Written Declaration’ calling on the Commission to deliver a proposal to completely prohibit the removal of shark fins on-board vessels. This is the written declaration on support for strengthening the European Union ban on shark finning.


I think we Ecuadorians could have a word of advice here.  A similar regulation was passed a few years ago. The regulation of shark fisheries has been very complicated and conflictive here. In any case, the outcome of this regulation is that it has given shark meat and products a place in the market. Sharks are disembarked complete in markets and therefore their meat is sold. 


Economy has made the rest. Today, there are specialized brokers on shark meat. Today, shark meat is a commercial fish type sold due to the “attached” fins policy and the depletion of other fish species. Shark fisheries, including finning, have to be approached from a whole marine resource management perspective, not only as an isolated practice; no matter how barbaric it could look:


In any case, I think the focus on finning is a good thing. Not particularly from the regulation point of view but from the awareness perspective. We need to bring awareness about the terrible things we are doing to our oceans. This is the only way in which we will accept a change in our way of life to improve the balance of our existence in this liquid water planet we call “earth”.

10.07.2010

Humpback Whale Necropsy - IFAW

In this video produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, members of IFAW's Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team describe the process of performing a necropsy when the body of a juvenile humpback whale came to shore on Cape Cod. For more information click here

10.06.2010

EuroTek 2010

I will attend EuroTek 2010. It will take place in Birmingham on October 16 & 17, 2010. The conference looks promising. Here is a short video on the place, topics, speakers and sponsors.



I will try to make a multimedia report with text, photo and video on this blog after the conference. Stay tuned!
Jorge A. Mahauad

10.05.2010

The Census of Marine Life


In 2000, the Census of Marine Life was founded with the goal to ”discover new kinds of life and to catalog and estimate the total diversity of life in the vast global oceans.”  The founding scientists organized a Census around three questions:

What did live in the oceans?
What does live in the oceans?
What will live in the oceans?



Through a combination of studying previous research and more then 540 ocean expeditions, 2,700 scientists from more then 80 different countries spent 10 years gathering data, archiving nearly 30 million observations to complete the first Census of Marine Life.

The Census estimates the known marine species to be nearly 250,000, including approximately 6,000 potentially new species, 1,200  for which they were able to complete formal descriptions.  It also compiled the first regional and global comparisons of marine species diversity and helped to create the first comprehensive list of known marine species (over 190,000). 



Even with their extensive work, the scientists involved in the project, “could not reliably estimate the total number of species, the kinds of life, known and unknown, in the ocean. It could logically extrapolate to at least a million kinds of marine life that earn the rank of species and to tens or even hundreds of millions of kinds of microbes.”  They found life everywhere they looked, at all temperatures and extremes of marine habitats.



On the technology front, the Census proved new technology, such as DNA barcoding for identification.  It also pioneered a global ocean tracking network using an array of microphones, and it invented reef monitoring structures that standardize a ssessment of reef  life.



In the summary report, the Census determined five categories of causes separating the known, unknown and unknowable of marine life: the invisibility of the lost past, the vast expanse of the oceans, difficulties of assembling knowledge of parts into knowledge of a whole, blinders we put on ourselves by choosing not to learn or spend and unpredictable disturbances such as tsunamis.

To learn more about the census follow this link