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  • 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 MEXICO. Along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, aquatic eco-nature parks like Xcaret and Xel-Há confiscate sunscreens from inbound visitors containing ingredients like: 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 . ​ HAWAII. In 2021, Hawaii will prohibit sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Back in May 2018, the state legislature sent Senate Bill 2571 to the governor for signature. ​ KEY WEST. In Florida, the Key West City Commission voted to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Read the New York Times story. ​ THAILAND. The country of Thailand has banned sunscreens containing xybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor or butylparaben. Read the Bankok Post story. ​ PALAU. 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 New York Times article here . ​ AMERICAN NATIONAL PARKS. The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, published a flyer called Protect Yourself, Protect Your Reef! that outlines the harmful effects of certain chemical sunscreen active ingredients on coral reefs. ​ How You Can Help If you are a diver, dive instructor, or just an adventurous, above-water sun worshiper, become an informed sunscreen consumer. SPREAD THE WORD! You have the chance to educate friends, family, fellow divers and dive operators about this important topic. Start reading sunscreen labels. If the active ingredients have unpronounceable, chemical-sounding names, there is a good chance you could be adversely impacting coral reefs. ​ 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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26487337 ] Environmental Working Group. (2017.) The Trouble with Sunscreen Chemicals. Retrieved June 3, 2018. [See https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/] ChemSec SIN List. (2018.) International Chemical Secretariat’s SIN (Substitute It Now) listing for Oxybenzone. Retrieved June 3, 2018. [See http://sinlist.chemsec.org/chemical/131-57-7] ​ 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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2291018/ ] Haereticus Environmental Laboratory. (20 Oct. 2015). New Scientific Study Finds Coral Reefs Under Attack from Chemical in Sunscreen Lotions. (Press release). [See http://www.haereticus-lab.org/story_content/ecotox-sunscreen-lotion.pdf] 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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27148347 ] 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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26298557 ] ​ Links Ban Toxic Sunscreens National Ocean Service Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs ​ Updated 15 November 2021 "A Harmful Mix." Time Magazine Infographic on Oxybenzone.

  • Scuba Tips & Reviews | ATA/BAR Divers | California

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  • Review: Indigo Industries TAC Fin | ATA/BAR Divers

    Do These Fins Even Work? Indigo Industries proves—once again—that a small fin can do big things underwater. Meet the shorter and lighter TAC Non-Military fin. Bottom Line How short and light can a scuba fin go and still maintain a high level of performance? INDIGO INDUSTRIES pushes the envelope and delivers with the TAC Non-Military fins. Bigger is not always better, and a scuba gear company you may not yet know is out to prove that very point by pushing the boundaries of conventional scuba diving equipment with their latest offering: The TAC Non-Military fin . We have written about INDIGO INDUSTRIES and their innovative fin, the Defiant XT, before. If you are not familiar with our backstory on the Defiant XT, please check it out here . Figure 1. Twin Jets (left), Defiant XT (center), and TAC Non-Military (right). Indigo Industries TAC Non-Military Maximum Length: 18.5 inches Maximum Fin Width: 11 inches Centerline Length: 17 inches Weight: 2 lb 2.2 oz each fin with Indigo spring strap Scubapro Twin Jets Maximum Length: 24.75 inches Maximum Fin Width: 10 inches Centerline Length: 24.75 inches Weight: 2 lb 12.5 oz each fin with third-party spring strap Indigo Industries Defiant XT Maximum Length: 20.5 inches Maximum Fin Width: 10 inches Centerline Length: 19 inches Weight: 2 lb 7.5 oz each fin with Indigo spring strap We've been diving the Defiant XT since its introduction to the dive market, and for reasons described elsewhere, we love them. Then came along the TAC... We had to try a pair out. ​ When the TACs arrived, our first impression was "Do these fins even work?" The TAC fins are two inches shorter, one inch wider, and five ounces lighter (per fin) than its older sibling, the Defiant XT. Compared to the venerable Scubapro Twin Jets, the TAC is over six inches shorter and 10.3 oz lighter (per fin). INDIGO INDUSTRIES fins get some interesting looks on the dive boat and underwater, and for good reason: We can't think of another dive fin on the market that casts a similar shadow. Indeed, INDIGO's fins have broken the mold when it comes to what a dive fin can look like while still performing like its larger counterparts. ​ ​ The TAC and Defiant XT perform similarly. Propulsion and maneuverability are comparable. The TAC fin is negatively buoyant but its lighter characteristics were immediately noticeable; a quick modification in body position addressed this difference easily. ​ We found the bottoms of the new TACs to be quite slippery on the boat deck. For this reason, we suggest roughing the bottom up across the boat deck, concrete, asphalt, or some other surface in order to remove the slick sheen. ​ INDIGO's new spring straps worked well. The strap holds the fin firmly in place. ​ Used with a size 14 Henderson 5 mm Molded Sole Gripper Boot , we found the TAC fin pocket to be tight, which is helpful when avoiding unnecessary midfoot flexion. But we could not get the foot pocket to fit a new pair of size 14 ​Henderson 7 mm Quick Dry Aqualock Boots . ​ We will continue diving with the TAC Non-Military fin and look forward to trying out one of INDIGO's latest offerings: The Bionic AF Omin-Directional Carbon Fiber Standard fin . Figure 2. Defiant XT (left) and TAC Non-Military. Figure 3. TAC Non-Military with Indigo spring strap.

  • ATA/BAR Divers | PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course

    PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course As a courtesy to local diving enthusiasts and potential scuba students, we offer this list of scuba class courses and schedules. These links 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.

  • ATA/BAR Divers | PADI Open Water Diver Course

    PADI Open Water Diver Course As a courtesy to local diving enthusiasts and potential scuba students, we offer this list of scuba class courses and schedules. These links 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.

  • ATA/BAR Divers | PADI Dry Suit Specialty Diver Courses

    PADI Dry Suit Specialty Diver Course As a courtesy to local diving enthusiasts and potential scuba students, we offer this list of scuba class courses and schedules. These links 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.

  • Destinations | ATA/BAR Divers

    Reviews: Dive Destinations We love to dive and our goal is to share information about dive destinations and operators. The opinions expressed on this website are solely those of us at ATA/BAR DIVERS and do not reflect the opinion of dive operators we may be affiliated with. G&G's Cleawater Paradise Resort Guanaja, Bay Islands, Honduras clearwaterparadise.com Bottom Line G & G’s Clearwater Paradise Resort is a full-service dive operation that offers exceptional dining, comfortable accommodations, and unique underwater topographies for experienced divers on the island of Guanaja, Honduras. ​ The Longer Story Good friends own a boat and take you diving with them. Great friends live on an island, cook gourmet meals, own a boat and a secluded home with eight guest rooms, and take you diving with them. You need to meet these great friends you didn’t know you had on the island of Guanaja. [...more...] CoCo View Resort Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras cocoviewresort.com Bottom Line CoCo View Resort is a well-oiled, all-inclusive dive center where nothing is left to chance. The grounds: beautifully manicured. Rooms: spacious and comfortable. Buffets: ample, tasty food at every meal. Shore dives, dive spots, boats, and staff are all exceptional. This place has a loyal following, and for good reason. ​ The Longer Story During the Fall of 2016, a group of eight California divers made their first trip to the revered CoCo View Resort on Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras. A shuttle van transported us about 20 minutes from the Roatan Airport to a small... [...more...] Beyond Diving Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico beyonddivingscuba.com Bottom Line Every accomplished diver should put cenotes diving on their underwater destination bucket list, and Beyond Diving Dive Center offers exceptional service and support to make your diving-centric stay on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula an enjoyable one. ​ The Longer Story In April 2015, a foursome of ATA/BAR DIVERS couldn’t resist a last-minute trip Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We stayed at the St. Martin Boutique Hotel and transport from the Cancun Airport was handled by Cancun Transfers USA . That was the easy part... [...more...] Horizon Divers Key Largo, Florida horizondivers.com Bottom Line Located on US-1 (Overseas Highway) in Key Largo, Horizon Divers is a PADI 5-star IDC offering top-notch training from Open Water Diver to technical diving specialties like PADI Tec 40-50, trimix, rebreather, and advanced wreck. Horizon Divers is a rare find for tec divers in the Keys as its regular boat trips to wrecks offer single location, 2-hour+ gates that allow for plenty of bottom and deco time. ​ Whether you are a recreational diver searching for the next great challenge or a diving professional looking to deepen your skills and course offerings, Horizon Divers has curricula to meet your specific needs. Certified training agency affiliations include SDI, TDI, IANTD, and PADI. ​ Horizon has three boats and offers multi-trip discounts, trimix gas refills, and supports the needs of CCR divers.

  • ATA/BAR Divers | Divers-at-a-Bar (DaaB)

    Divers-at-a-Bar (DaaB) Photos We are not just divers at a bar, but we can be that too. We dare our diving colleagues to send us their best “Divers-at-a Bar” (DaaB) photos. To be a eligible for posting on our site, the photo must depict: (1) Divers of drinking age, (2) In a bar, and (3) Wearing dive gear [and other appropriate clothing, of course]. Minimally acceptable “dive gear” is a mask and snorkel, but the more dive gear worn the better! Please include details of the photograph including date, location, and participating diver names. By submitting DaaB imagery, you certify you are the copyright holder of the image and grant atabardivers.com permission to post the image royalty-free on its website. "DIVE BAR" To get things started, we thought you would enjoy this original artwork by Ray Troll , which is available at the Ray Troll Web Store . The image below ("Dive Bar") is available for purchase in a variety of formats, but make sure to check out the rest of his very unique artwork. Dive Bar © Ray Troll. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

  • Don't Forget BWRAF! | ATA/BAR Divers

    BWRAF: A Check Buddies Cannot Skip Bottom Line : Conducting a Buddy Check (also known as a Pre-Dive Safety Check) should never be considered an option for dive buddies. The check can avoid needless problems during a dive and offers familiarity with your buddy's gear in case unusual circumstances occur. What is wrong with this picture?* ​ We have concealed the identity of this veteran diver so he does not suffer deserving embarrassment among his esteemed diving colleagues for failing to complete a Buddy Check! At a top foreign dive destination, this diver was far too excited to get into the water to waste time checking his buddy’s gear and visa-versa. A standard Buddy Check —also known as a Pre-Dive Safety Check —would have caught this issue (*a loose cylinder strap) at the very start using the PADI Buddy Check acronym BWRAF. With a little patience, a Buddy Check can eliminate potential problems before a dive’s start, and the example list is endless: Tangled hoses; no weights; weights not secured; leaking BCD; air valve not turned on; no mask; no fins; octopus dangling, or primary second stage not accessible. On a recent dive trip, an inexperienced diver jumped into the water only to discover her low-pressure inflator (LPI) was inoperable. Rather than calmly inflating her BCD orally, she panicked and kicked-off her fins. Her equally inexperienced dive buddy didn’t know how to make her positively buoyant either and the screams for help quickly followed. A proper Buddy Check would have discovered her LPI hose was not properly attached to the valve and this emergency could have been avoided. And finally, a Buddy Check gives you familiarity with your buddy’s dive equipment, such as BCD and weight pocket releases, and redundant air supply operation—all important information in case of an emergency. (You can learn more about handling emergencies in PADI’s Rescue Diver Course .) Whether you are a veteran or student diver, conducting a proper Buddy Check, be it BWRAF , SEABAG , or BAR , is not optional! If you can’t remember the finer points of the Pre-Dive Safety Check , head over to YouTube where Utila Diver Centre Course Director Andy Phillips shows you how to conduct a thorough Pre-Dive Safety Check . (By using this link , the 14-minute instructional video starts automatically at 5:22, but you are encourage to watch it in its entirety). This video is Part 1 in a series designed for PADI Pros, but any diver can benefit from watching Andy do the IDC skills circuit. Check out more videos from the Utila Dive Centre on their YouTube Channel .

  • ATA/BAR Divers | Divemaster Courses

    PADI Divemaster Course As a courtesy to local diving enthusiasts and potential scuba students, we offer this list of scuba class courses and schedules. These links 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.