Dear Deco....We've missed you!
Due to popular demand, our Dear Deco column is back and will continue as part of the Rockfish community blog. We're throwing back to some of the best questions we've received over the years, with updated answers based on the latest information available.
While Deco is a true character and co-mascot with Kody, Briggs and Stratton for Rockfish Divers, his name is a pseudonym for the dive professionals who truly respond to your questions. We strive to provide the best guidance or information for any questions address to Dear Deco. Please submit your best scuba related questions or concerns below for our future issues - your anonymity is guaranteed and there are no silly questions.
Dear Deco, I've grown up fishing on the West Coast and was sharing my interest in wanting to try spear fishing. Some in the group I was talking with were truly offended, so I changed the topic to avoid further discussion. Could you give me your take on spear fishing and whether there are local opportunities to incorporate this into diving locally? ~Thanks, Fishy Fish?
Fishy - This is a very interesting question that has lead to many discussions over the years that we've been diving. Spear fishing is well known to be one of the most sustainable forms of fishing. This style of fishing allows the diver the opportunity to chose prey that are amongst healthy fish populations, avoid undersized catch, and reduce by-catch. As with any fishing or hunting technique, procedures for safe spear fishing must be followed, and it is in the best interest of the diver to research the species of interest and practice technique to ensure humane treatment of the animal. Divers in the Caribbean in particular have turned to spear fishing Lion Fish not only as a source of food, but for preventative measures to address the introduction of this invasive species that is drastically impacting the tropical reefs.
When we consider local fish species that would be targeted for spear fishing, it is very sad that some of the best and easiest fish to catch have been badly affected by over fishing (Lingcod and Rockfish are very slow to reach sexual maturity, often reaching 25 years of age or more before being considered an adult. As such, their populations are mere shadows of what they once were). Even though there are fishing season openings, as divers we value the few large examples of these fish and the local consensus is often to let these reproduce to encourage stronger populations that not only support a healthy ecosystem, but ensure fishing is available for future generations to come. If divers choose to spear fish locally, our only request would be they choose to dive in areas away from common dive sites that are confirmed to be outside of marine protected areas (MPAs). Check out the Provincial Ministry of Environment website to learn more about MPAs and always ensure you have a license to fish and follow the regulations outlined by the Government of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Come and talk to us at Rockfish anytime for further input. ~Deco and the RFD Staff
Diving with Beards and Mustaches
Dear Deco, To keep up with the latest style trends, I've grown a lumberjack style beard. While this garners all sorts of compliments and provides added warmth on the surface, underwater my mask is constantly leaking just under the nose and in the corners closer to my ears. Are there any suggestions or products that you might recommend that allow me to keep my facial masterpiece? ~Wet Whiskers
Well Whiskers, there are a few cheap and easy options and as with anything in life there are expensive hard core solutions as well. The easy answer would be to apply a bit of soft wax, vaseline or lip balm/chap stick in the areas where you are noticing leaks (under the nose especially). Another alternative would be to trim your fine facial hair just beneath the nose and elsewhere that may cause your mask to leak. The extreme answer would be to switch to a full face mask that seals away from your beard. Our Divemaster Nick is an expert at preventing leaks with elaborate facial hair, so you can ask him the next time you join us for a drop-in dive! ~Deco and the RFD Staff
Planning Dives Around Tidal Exchanges
Dear Deco - I've always been very careful to plan my dives according to the tide tables. I have a couple sources for this information, and they are usually very close in terms of current strength, slack tide and general tide height. Usually my dives are always lots of fun and making the most of the tidal exchange, but every once in a while it just seems like we miss the slack at some of the best local dive sites (including Ten Mile Point, charters to Race Rocks, and even diving the wrecks off Sidney). Can you explain what we are doing wrong? ~Almost Washed Away
Dear Almost Washed - There is much research that goes into making tidal charts, and Canada is know as a leader in producing this information for worldwide access; however, at the end of the day all tidal charts are predictions and other environmental factors can play a big role. Barometric pressure, El Niño events, and even climate change can effect tidal phenomena. It is highly recommended that you continue to refer to the best recommended tidal charts, but always use your discretion and local expertise in making these decisions.
~Deco and the RFD Staff
Buying Used Regulators
Dear Deco: I've recently found a used regulator available for $75. The owner had it serviced 10 years ago, and it hasn't been used since. Is this a great deal? ~Sea Bargain Hunter
Dear Sea Bargain: The regulator may be a great find; however, it is highly recommended to get the regulator serviced. Over time the seals and o-rings lose their lubrication and harden, which causes a higher chance of the regulator free flowing. Another issue to consider if whether replacement parts to support servicing are still available. Outside of the warranty offered to the original purchaser, this may be costly and counter the "good deal" on the reg in the first place. Feel free to contact us and we can provide direction on how best to move forward.
Diving Is The Sport Of Love
Dear Deco, The divers at Rockfish have mentioned on several occasions that diving is the sport of love. My partner and I started started diving recently, and he really likes to hold hands, which I find a bit cumbersome. Do you have any suggestions on how I can nicely let him know I need my space underwater, but offer some suggestions to make diving fun and dare I say sexy? ~Cuddlefish
Dear Cuddlefish - Yes, we are firm believers that diving is the "sport of love". When a couple shares a passion that is as exciting as diving, it certainly can bring two people even closer together. However, yes, we can appreciate the need for personal space, especially if something like holding hands could impede access to equipment and the motor skills to follow safe diving practices. So how about this for a suggestion? Consider introducing some new techniques to your dives, such as wreck diving, where you need to focus on technique skills such as laying line to penetrate a ship. Or you can work as a team taking turns using a camera while the other acts as a spotter for critters or even an underwater model. You could even consider getting into scientific diving where you work together on a project requiring the use of slates, quadrats, transect tapes and more where hand holding isn't practical. Now all of these may bring more fun to your dives, but what about the sexy part? Consider cuddling on shore to warm up after a long dive, pointing out and laughing at the "nudibranches" on each others face, or sharing the excitement of reviewing the pictures together that you've taken after a dive. (This might be a better time to hold hands!) ~Deco and the RFD Staff
Finning Techniques: Moving Forwards and Backwards
Dear Deco, I've heard other divers talking about finning backwards, helicopter turns and advanced buoyancy techniques. I can't seem to do them. Am I doing something wrong? Where can I learn these? ~Needs Trimming
Thanks Trim, these techniques take the right equipment and lots of practice. It is a good goal to strive for because you can save energy, improve air and protect the environment.
When most people purchase fins, they typically are not at a level where they are thinking about advanced finning techniques. Going backwards in particular requires a very stiff blade that can slice through the water without creating turbulence. The Scubapro Jet Fins are one of the most popular fins for backing up, doing helicopter turns and the like.
Rockfish Divers often puts on clinics to focus on finning techniques and try various styles of fin to see what you like best. Contact us in store if you are interested in learning more. ~Deco and the RFD Staff.
The Best Time for Kids To Start Diving
Dear Deco, My daughter will be turning 8 in January, and I'm thinking of registering her into one of your upcoming Bubblemaker Courses. I'm just wondering if this age is too young to start scuba diving? Thanks, Pelagic Parent
Dear Pelagic, 8 year olds always seem so small! When compared to standard adult sized equipment, it's hard to imagine them getting into their gear and into the pool. While it almost seems too young to have kids being introduced to diving at such a young age, there are many factors that help keep children safe in a Bubblemaker Course: shallow maximum depth, low instructor to student ratios, properly fitting equipment for little people, and strict standards on how to present the performance requirements in a manner so young participants understand the key rules of diving (i.e. never hold your breath). This is a very clinical sounding response to your question. Now let me speak to what I have observed in kids who have started diving at an early age. In a shallow pool, it provides a unique, fun, and safe environment for children to practice the dexterity and skills for finding neutral buoyancy and balance. It allows kids to work as buddy teams, building friendships that extend beyond diving together. I have seen kids who are initially worried change their expression to glee as they catch an underwater dart and redirect it to another child. There are building blocks from diving that can extend to many other parts of life...yes, all from one initial pool session.
Please note that training agencies such as PADI require children to be at least 10 years old before they can scuba dive outside of a confined environment (i.e. moving from the pool to the ocean). It is also absolutely up to the discretion of the instructor in consultation with the parents to determine if a child is truly ready (considering maturity and physical ability) to move to the next stages of a scuba diving program. However, the Bubblemaker Course is one of the most fun programs: both for the instructor and the students. Kids often absorb and apply the rules of diving faster then their parents and we love watching their enthusiasm! ~Deco and the RDF Team
Surface Interval Cookie Break
Dear Deco, As a regular on Rockfish dive charters, I really enoy the fresh baked cookies, but am wondering if it would be possible to add more variety. Sincerely, Choco-chipped Out
Yikes Choco - haven't you ever heard "never insult the chef"? No matter, we'll see what we can do to provide a little more variety in the treats provided between dives. Tomorrow we'll be serving home-made banana bread (baking now as I type), and the follow day we'll have gingerbread bundt cake. Yum! ~Deco and the RFD Staff
Rockfish Divers is focused on community and educating divers on safety and environmental issues that impact the aquatic ecosystem. If you have an idea for a topic you would like us to feature, please submit it through the link below and stay tuned.