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  • Review: The $5 Flashlight | ATA/BAR Divers

    The $5 Underwater Flashlight: Too Good to be True? Bottom Line : Sold by dozens of eBay retailers and frequently labeled "Shallow Light," how does this $5 US flashlight hold up under real diving conditions? We tested it out against our beloved UK Aqualite-S 20°. Good to 90 feet, you'll find the illumination produced by to be marginal; its finicky switch sometimes misbehaves. If you're a diver operating without a flashlight, this can be a first step in illuminating your underwater world during casual dives when lighting is optional. Shallow Light Scuba can be an expensive sport, but that doesn’t mean divers are opposed to finding a good deal, but sometimes deals seem too good to be true. If you have ever check out scuba gear on eBay, you might have run across a slew of “underwater dive lights” selling for $5 or less, shipping included. We had to check it out. ( to this eBay search criteria.) Click here for a direct link For this test, we purchased two identical flashlights for under $5 each. On a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, the light accompanied us on a dozen dives to a maximum depth of 90 feet (27 meters). ​ With a light stamped “Shallow Light,” expectations were not high about it surviving nearly three atmospheres of pressure, but the light did not leak. ​ During the dives, we did a side-by-side comparison in dark crevices and caverns against our beloved and often-used dive light, the $170 US with a rated output of 500 lumen on high setting. Compare the light output from both flashlights for yourself in the attached video and image. Underwater Kinetics Aqualite-S 20° ​ Durability may be an issue with the so-called “Shallow Light." Something happened with the switch on one of our flashlights and it no longer works, but the LED assembly works fine in the other flashlight we purchased. ​ If you are a diver who has yet to purchase a dive light, the “Shallow Light” is a so-so, low-cost option to illuminating the nooks and crannies of our underwater world. ​ Off-brand dive torches are nothing more than a novelty item. Only use a $5 dive light when illuminating the way is for fun, never when lighting is required for your safety.

  • ATA/BAR Divers | Home

    Goliath Grouper Boynton Beach, Florida Coral Wall Guanaja, Honduras Garabaldi Damselfish Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park, California 1/12 Whether you are a veteran or student diver, here are some tips, tricks, and reviews of scuba-related "stuff." Tips & Reviews Wakatobi 2018 Join as we travel to Indonesia in April 2018 and experience , a world-class dive resort with incomparable service, food and sights. ATA/BAR DIVERS Wakatobi Destinations We enjoy traveling to dive, but not all dive destinations or operators are equal. Read about some of our favorite places to dive here. Videos Enjoy watching a few of our favorite YouTube videos that showcase some of our most favorite diving destinations. ​ATA/BAR DIVERS are American multilingual PADI Pros. We offer instruction and support in English, Korean, Vietnamese, and Hungarian at affiliated dive centers. Training

  • Traveling with Dive Gear or Not? | ATA/BAR Divers

    Traveling with Dive Gear... or Not? Bottom Line : There are three types of dive travelers: The , The , and The . What kind of a dive traveler are you? PACKERS RENTERS LIGHTWEIGHTS travel with their regular dive gear—the equipment they dive with in local waters. Over the years, we have unofficially divided our traveling diver friends into three groups: Those of us here at ATA/BAR Divers frequently travel for the sole purpose of diving. And, with rare exception, we are typically accompanied by mature, experience divers on our underwater world excursions. All of our diving friends own their own gear, but not all ​ : Divers who bring all gear except tank and weights to dive destinations. THE PACKERS : Divers who rent nearly all necessary equipment at the destination. THE RENTERS : Divers who own and pack a separate set of travel gear—dive equipment that is marketed for its compact style and light weight (see Image 1). THE LIGHTWEIGHTS ​ Full Disclosure: As this article was written by self-proclaimed PACKERS, it should come as no surprise that the mindsets of the RENTERS and the LIGHTWEIGHTS escape us, even though their justifications seem sound: Neither group wants to hassle with toting around large and heavy dive equipment bags. We get it, but let’s take a deeper (admittedly with a bit of tongue in cheek) look at each groups’ mindset and justifications: ​ THE RENTERS We love our own dive gear but hate packing it on trips. We have too much other stuff to take and would hate getting stuck paying overweight or extra baggage fees. Rental gear isn’t that bad. We would rather pay money for rental gear than extra airline baggage fees. We are afraid our expensive gear will get stolen while traveling. Infection, illness, injury (see Image 2) or even death from ill-fitting equipment, a malfunctioning dive computer, poorly maintained regulators, or BCDs that don’t hold air? Not a big deal. At least we aren’t schlepping gear through airports and into taxi cabs or rental cars. ​ THE LIGHTWEIGHTS ​ We love dive gear. The more we have, the better we feel about ourselves. Money is no object. Dive travel gear (see Image 1) shows we are uber-cool even though we only get to use the set-up once or twice a year. The equipment isn’t as comfortable as our regular gear, but the bloody feet and sore gums show we can have fun in spite of pain and discomfort. If my travel gear gets stolen, I’ve got insurance and another gear set waiting for me at home. ​ THE PACKERS We can pack everything we need in a lightweight dive gear bag and make the 50-pound limit for checked baggage on most commercial flights with plenty of room to spare for toiletries, sunscreen and clothing (see Image 3 and 4). We know our own gear. We maintain it. We feel more comfortable and safer in it. Why spend extra money on lightweight travel gear or rental gear that we’ll rarely use? Rental gear can be sketchy at times. We don’t know its condition or how its maintained. Did the last renter have a lung infection or a skin condition? They might not have my size. Will the Indonesian-based dive resort have size 15 booties and a XXXL suit? It is not unusual to dive four or more times a day when traveling. Dive trips without your own gear is like running a marathon in someone else’s shoes. Who would do that? (Oh, that’s right. Some of our diving friends would!) ​ ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS If you are headed for a cold destination, that 7 mm wetsuit or drysuit will probably make that single 50-pound bag weight limit a tough goal to meet. Similarly, if you’ve got a huge camera rig or rebreather, you’re already used to paying extra fees for that megalodon-size Pelican case. But if you’re destination is warm waters with a full or shorty 3 mm suit, hitting your weight target shouldn’t be a problem. . Temperature Matters ​ Too often we have seen injuries from ill-fitting equipment, like what is shown in Image 2, the beaten toes of one colleague who suffered through a week’s worth of diving with ill-fitting full-foot fins. In hindsight, this self-proclaimed RENTER is now a PACKER convert! . Renter Wounds ​ Not all bags are made equally. Choose and use wisely. Pack with a strategy. Some things to consider: Get Into the Right Bag . ​ . Some divers opt for a plain vanilla bag to stow their gear, avoiding prominently labeled dive gear bags for fear of increasing the likelihood of theft. Branded vs. Unmarked Bags . a 50-pound bag can be a good choice unless your destination requires lots of walking and forging crowded sidewalks, dirt, gravel, or cobblestone pathways. Two roller bags (one dive bag and one carry-on bag) can prove to be unwieldy, even across smooth surfaces. Many roller bags convert to a backpack with shoulder straps, but if one of your two carry-on bags are a backpack, your packing strategy might be in jeopardy. Roller Bag or No Wheels . Consider locking your checked baggage with a TSA-approved lock. It’s not a foolproof method to avoid pilferage, but doing nothing is likely a worse idea. Lock vs. Unlocked . We carry-on our most expensive gear, such as regulators, computers, lights, and cameras. If you decide to carry aboard a BCD, make sure to check your dive knife, line cutters and/or shears. Confirm that airlines will accept loose batteries in carry-on. If not, check it. Padded regulator bags make a great option for carrying on gear (see Image 5 and 6). Carry-on Decisions . Lightweight gear bags, like the 10.5-pound (see Video 1) are light for a reason: They lack impact protection seen in competing travel bags that come with padded sides. With this in mind, some strategic packing is suggested: Pack Strategically Aqualung Traveler 1600 Pack fins as instructed. They will add side protection to your gear. Place exposure suit at the bottom. It will provide impact protection and cushioning on the uneven, rigid back side of the bag. Pack durables along the rigid base and along the sides of bag. This adds additional protection. Pack less-durable items (BCD, mask, toiletries, etc.) in the middle and sandwich with clothing. Top off equipment with a light pillow and cinch with supplied straps. The cover of the bag offers zero impact protection—a pillow offers a great topper to your dive gear and you get to sleep with your own pillow. How perfect is that? Image 1. A typical dive gear travel package set. Image 2. Damaged toes from a week of diving with rental fins. Image 3. Strategic packing using the Aqualung Traveler 1600. Image 4. Topping off gear with a pillow and straps. Image 5. Padded regulator bag for carry-on containing expensive/fragile gear. Image 6. Aqualung Legend padded regulator bag: Perfect for carry-on gear. Video 1. Aqualung Traveler 1600 dive bag review by

  • Equipment Reviews | ATA/BAR Divers

    Scuba Equipment Reviews We love to dive, and our goal is to share information about scuba diving equipment. The opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the founding members of and do not reflect the opinion of dive operators we may be affiliated with. Our orientation is a positive one that promotes the good things in diving; we do not dwell on the bad. But occasionally, our experience may be less-than-acceptable with a product or service—and we will share that with our readers. Experiences can be different depending on the divers involved. We offer you our opinions on our experiences; we do not offer a forum to voice differing opinions on our postings. We welcome you to post differing opinions at other sites. ATA/BAR Divers Product Review: TAC Non-Military Fin Do these fins even work? That was our first impression of the TAC fins when they showed up at the door. It is smaller and lighter than any fin you've experienced. Product Review: Defiant XT Fin The Defiant XT provides a booted foot with a solid platform to work with. With its comfortable but firm foot pocket grasp, my foot and the Defiant become one. Product Review: The $5 Flashlight Sold by dozens of eBay retailers and frequently labeled "Shallow Light," how does this $5 US flashlight hold up under real diving conditions? We tested it out. Review: DGX Rio Gauge Reader Mask If you are grappling with the close-up vision limitations of being a mature diver, there is an inexpensive and effective solution for your older eyes underwater. Cheap & Easy Image Editing Try GIMP! A free and easy software fix for your underwater digital images is just a download away. Review: Olympus TG-4 Camera Looking for a low-cost digital video still camera with exceptional features to chronicle your underwater experiences? Your search might be over with the TG-4. and Product Review: Scurfa Watches The Scurfa Diver One is a reasonably priced, solid, classic dive watch that will turn heads on your next boat trip. Product Review: Dryrobe ® Dryrobe : A solution to changing out of cold, wet gear when few privacy options are available. ® Product Review: $4 Wet Notes Pad Check out this inexpensive solution to taking important notes underwater. Avoid paying $30 or more for products designed and customized for divers.

  • ATA/BAR Divers | Training

    Training As a courtesy to Ventura County diving enthusiasts and potential scuba students, we offer this list of PADI scuba training providers and schedules, where available. The links below reflect the latest information available from the noted PADI training facility on each class page. ATA/BAR Divers does not make or accept training class reservations. Please call or visit the respective PADI training facility to sign-up for classes. Prices subject to change—and classes subject to cancellation—without notice. VENTURA DIVE & SPORT 1559 Spinnaker Dr, Suite 108 Ventura, CA 93001 (805) 650-6500 PADI Open Water Diver Course * 5-8 days Always wanted to take scuba diving lessons? This is where it starts. Get certified by PADI – the world’s most popular and widely recognized scuba training organization. Emergency First Response * 1 day Are you ready to handle an emergency? Learn first aid, CPR and how to operate an AED. Be prepared to give the necessary aid to a family member, dive buddy or co-workers, before Emergency Medical Services arrive. PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course * 2-4 days Build confidence and expand your scuba skills. Try out different specialties while gaining important experience under the supervision of your PADI Instructor. PADI Enriched Air Specialty * 1 day The Enriched Air Diver course is popular because enriched air nitrox gives you more no decompression time, especially on repetitive scuba dives. PADI Rescue Diver Course * 5-7 days Considered by many divers to be the most challenging, yet most rewarding, course they’ve ever taken. Learn to prevent and manage in-water problems and become more confident in your skills as a diver. PADI Divemaster Course * 2-3 weeks Take the first step in becoming a PADI Pro and do what you love to do as a career. Scuba divers look up to divemasters because they are leaders who mentor and motivate others. Deep Diver Specialty Course * 2-4 days Do you feel confined by the 18 metres/60 feet limit of Open Water certification? Learn to scuba dive with confidence at depths down to 40 metres/130 feet. Dry Suit Diver Specialty Course * 2-4 days Do wet suits keep you cooler (and wetter) than what you'd prefer? Want to extend dives and lengthen your diving season? Try going dry! A dry suit seals you off from the water and keeps you comfortable, even in surprisingly cold water.

  • PADI Women's Dive Day 2018 @ Channel Islands | ATA/BAR Divers

    Thanks to our sponsors for making PADI Women's Dive Day 2018 such a huge success! Dive boat Raptor was a sellout and everyone aboard had a great time. Every single WDD diver walked away with at least TWO raffle prizes! Check out our . video on YouTube ​ Mark next year's calendars now! The 2019 PADI Women's Dive Day @ Channel Islands National Park will be held on 20 JULY 2019 . Location and details to follow over the next few months. Stay tuned and keep diving! PADI Women's Dive Day 21 Jul 18 @ Channel Islands National Park All Aboard at 7:00 am Ventura Dive & Sport 1559 Spinnaker Drive Ventura CA 93001 ​ MAKING A DIFFERENCE, ONE BUBBLE AT A TIME ​ Join PADI instructors Gina and Kelly for a chartered three-tank dive aboard the —California’s fastest commercial dive boat. Leaving from the , our destination will be Santa Cruz or Anacapa Island. RAPTOR Ventura Harbor ​ Your $150 PADI Women’s Day ticket includes the following: Commemorative Channel Islands PADI Women’s Dive Day T-shirt Catered breakfast and lunch aboard the Raptor Raffles, prize giveaways before and during our three dives Discussion on our local eco system Champagne, beer, wine and dessert after our dives! Buddy team prizes for the winners of our in-water games Support the advancement of PADI Professional women ​ ​ Everyone is guaranteed at least one prize! Women are invited to bring their gentleman dive buddy. To sign up for our standby list, please . Not familiar with diving California's Channel Islands? Checkout out our . The trip is sold out. contact us video here OUR RAFFLE PRIZE LIST! CHANNEL ISLANDS PADI WOMEN'S DIVE DAY RAFFLE PRIZES [ to sign up for standby tickets. ] Contact us ​ ​ We've had an from local and international vendors to our first . The list of generous businesses continues to grow! Here are our confirmed raffle prize contributors as of 11 July 2018: amazing response PADI Women’s Dive Day @ Channel Islands National Park The Greek Ventura Margarita Villa Beach Break Surf Shop Barefoot Boutique Lost in Socks Island Packers Gear Keeper Scuba Pro Kinetic Fitness Ventura Dive & Sport Studio 8 Fitness Sushi Fresh Ventura bubblebakery San Buenaventura Gyrotonic Trystology Aqua Lung Ventura Swimwear​ Henderson Aquatics Trident Diving Equipment Stahlsac Atomic Aquatics Akona Adventure Gear

  • Travel with Us | ATA/BAR Divers

    Travel with ATA / BAR DIVERS OUR TRAVEL AUDIENCE —and — targeted travel audience are mature, mid- and post-career professionals who are experienced in ATA/BAR Divers passionate about our underwater world. While we like children (and even have a few of our own!), our dive experiences are not always family-friendly. For this reason, unless specifically noted, our dive outings do not include those divers under the age of 21 years. We are not tec-divers, but we are experienced divers. For the greater good of the group, you should be an experienced diver too. If you are not already certified as an , please consider this important training before you travel with us so you can keep up with our escapades. Advanced Open Water Diver please send us an describing yourself, your diving interests and experiences, and any destinations you would like us to consider. We work directly with dive operators to get the best possible pricing for our groups, but our most important task is bringing together like-minded divers for extraordinary underwater adventures. If this sounds interesting to you, email PADI Women's Day: 21 July 2018 @ Channel Islands National Park Ventura Dive & Sport 1559 Spinnaker Drive ~ Ventura CA 93001 ​ Join PADI instructors Gina and Kelly for a chartered three-tank dive aboard the —California’s fastest commercial dive boat. Our destination will be Santa Cruz or Anacapa Island. RAPTOR ​ Your $150 PADI Women’s Day ticket includes the following: Commemorative Channel Islands PADI Women’s Day T-shirt Catered breakfast and lunch aboard the Raptor Raffles, prize giveaways before and during our three dives Discussion on our local eco system: endemic vs. invasive species Champagne, beer, wine and dessert after our dives! Donation to Channel Islands National Park Buddy team prizes for the winners of our in-water games: Search & Recovery Challenge Navigation Challenge ​ Everyone is guaranteed at least one prize! Women are invited to bring their gentleman dive buddy. ​ For additional details or for tickets, please . Not familiar with diving the Channel Islands? Checkout out our . contact us video here is pleased to announce it is now an authorized dealer for the Nautilus line of liveaboard dive ships, the and the . These deluxe ships are based out of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and visit the exquisite destinations of Socorro Island, Guadalupe Island, San Benito Island and the Clipperton Atoll. For more information, please . ATA/BAR DIVERS Explorer Belle Amie contact us Our services do not include airline ticket bookings to/from the dive destination. CONTACT US Email: Phone: (805) 622-9752 is a subsidiary of Sherwood Financial & Investments, Inc.

  • Toxic Effects of Sunscreen on Coral | ATA/BAR Divers

    Toxic Sunscreens: Impact on Coral Reefs & Other Sea Life Bottom Line Protect yourself from the sun by wearing SPF-rated clothing to decrease the need for sunscreen use. Protect coral reefs and other sea life by avoiding sunscreen products with the active ingredient oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) and a host of other potentially harmful chemicals. Educate fellow divers and students on the impact of sunscreens on the underwater environment. Be a role model and use only sunscreens that are free from harmful ingredients identified by independent researchers. Sunscreens marked “reef safe” may not be! Read the contents label. Use sunscreens that contain non-nano titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. The Problem As open water divers, we find ourselves in the sun a lot, and the regular application of sunscreen has become part of our dive day regimen. But sophisticated sunscreen consumers we were not. Our sunscreen buying “research” started and ended when we found a sale at our favorite big-box retailer. Over the years, sloshing mask water and sweaty brows contaminated our eyeballs with sunscreen lotion applied to our face. The results were anything from stinging eyes to dilated pupils and outright episodes of temporary blindness. Our search for tear-free sun protection made us realize that some of our favorite sunscreen brands actually harm the very coral we dive to enjoy. We clearly had missed the news: Research has shown that Oxybenzone (Benzophenone3) and other common sunscreen ingredients adversely impact the growth of coral, and there is a growing effort to ban sunscreens containing these harmful ingredients. ​ Community Action Along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, aquatic eco-nature parks like and containing ingredients like: MEXICO. Xcaret Xel-Há confiscate sunscreens from inbound visitors Octocrylene Benzophenone Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane Hexyldecanol cetyl dimethicone methylparaben polyethylene Propylparaben, and Butylcarbamate ​ The park replaces harmful chemical sunscreens with a “biodegradable sunscreen” considered more ecologically friendly. ​ U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. Sunscreens containing oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene are now banned, according to the Los Angeles Times . ​ BONAIRE. Look for this diving mecca to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate on January 1, 2021 . The Bonaire Island Council approved this measure during a 2018 meeting, according to . InfoBonaire ​ In 2021, Hawaii will prohibit sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Back in May 2018, the state legislature sent to the governor for signature. HAWAII. Senate Bill 2571 ​ In Florida, the Key West City Commission voted to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Read the story. KEY WEST. New York Times ​ In 2020, the country of Palau will be the first nation to ban sunscreens deemed caustic to reefs. Palau is considered one of the world's top diving destinations. Read the . PALAU. New York Times article here ​ The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, published a flyer called that outlines the harmful effects of certain chemical sunscreen active ingredients on coral reefs. AMERICAN NATIONAL PARKS. Protect Yourself, Protect Your Reef! ​ How You Can Help If you are a diver, dive instructor, or just an adventurous, above-water sun worshiper, become an informed sunscreen consumer. You have the chance to educate friends, family, fellow divers and dive operators about this important topic. If the active ingredients have unpronounceable, chemical-sounding names, there is a good chance you could be adversely impacting coral reefs. SPREAD THE WORD! Start reading sunscreen labels. ​ Look for sunscreens that use active ingredients like non-nano titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. We have had good luck with no-tear face protection during dives using the following brands: ​ Raw Elements Caribbean Solutions Tropical Sands Kinesys Zinc Ointment ​ The Research We will not rewrite the empirical research conducted on this topic; rather, we will point you to solid links on the harm chemical sunscreens can do to our oceans. Please take our warning: SOME SUNSCREENS THAT CLAIM TO REEF SAFE ARE NOT! Some sunscreen manufacturers have gone so far as to fund junk science studies in an effort to debunk scientific research. ​ Downs C.A., Kramarsky-Winter E., Segal R., et al. (2016.) Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter,Oxybenzone (Benzophenone3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 70(2), 265-288. doi:10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7 [See ] Environmental Working Group. (2017.) The Trouble with Sunscreen Chemicals. Retrieved June 3, 2018. [See] ChemSec SIN List. (2018.) International Chemical Secretariat’s SIN (Substitute It Now) listing for Oxybenzone. Retrieved June 3, 2018. [See] ​ Danovaro, R., Bongiorni, L., Corinaldesi, C., Giovannelli, D., Damiani, E., Astolfi, P., … Pusceddu, A. (2008). Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(4), 441–447. doi:10.1289/ehp.10966 [See ] Haereticus Environmental Laboratory. (20 Oct. 2015). New Scientific Study Finds Coral Reefs Under Attack from Chemical in Sunscreen Lotions. (Press release). [See] Zafar, H., Ali, A., Ali, J. S., Haq, I. U., & Zia, M. (2016). Effect of ZnO Nanoparticles on Brassica nigra Seedlings and Stem Explants: Growth Dynamics and Antioxidative Response. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, 535. doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.00535 [See ] Zamoiski RD, Cahoon EK, Freedman M, Linet MS. 2015. Self-reported sunscreen use and urinary benzophenone-3 concentrations in the United States: NHANES 2003-2006 and 2009-2012. Environmental Research. 142(Oct): 563-567. [See ] ​ Links Ban Toxic Sunscreens National Ocean Service Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs ​ Updated 24 February 2020 "A Harmful Mix." on Oxybenzone. Time Magazine Infographic Amazon Associates links go to support this site.

  • Videos | ATA/BAR Divers

    Videos We have posted a smattering of dive trip videos on YouTube. Check out the or click on the links below. ATA/BAR DIVERS YouTube Channel California Diving: Santa Cruz Island Bonaire Diving: Day & Night Riviera Maya, Mexico: Diving Cenotes with Beyond Diving Honduras: Diving Roatan with CoCo View Resort Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 Underwater Video Examples Mexico: Diving Cozumel with Blue XT~Sea Diving. 2018 PADI Women's Dive Day @ Channel Islands Nat'l Park PADI Tec Series training dives with Horizon Divers aboard the ex-USS Spiegel Grove in Key Largo, Florida. California Diving: The Channel Islands Florida: Dive on the Ex-Spiegel Grove Honduras: Diving Guanaja with Clearwater Paradise Resort Mexico: Diving Socorro Islands with Nautilus Belle Amie Hawaii: Diving Ni'ihau with Fathom Five Divers $5 Dive Flashlight: Too Good to be True? Indonesia Diving: Wakatobi Dive Resort When a green sea turtle passes a scuba diver, there is clearly a mission ahead! Watch what happens. Check out the underwater world off the coast of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Florida: Lionfish hunting in Panama City.

  • Contact | ATA/BAR Divers

    Contact ATA/BAR Divers Tel: +1 (805) 622-9752 Send Success! Message received at ATA/BAR Divers.