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  • Instagram | ATA/BAR Divers

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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 ] 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 15 November 2021 "A Harmful Mix." Time Magazine Infographic on Oxybenzone.

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

    DUSLATE mini On Sale Here the world's first underwater electronic dive slate GO

  • 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.

  • 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 ATA/BAR Divers 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. 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 and still camera with exceptional features to chronicle your underwater experiences? Your search might be over with the TG-4. 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. Review & For Sale: DUSLATE mini Designed for quick communications between divers, the Dusol DUSLATE mini is the world's first electronic writing board ("e-slate") for diving.

  • Review: Olympus TG-4 | ATA/BAR Divers

    Olympus TG-4: Simply Add Water for Stunning Aquatic Imagery Bottom Line : Every once in a while we run across a product that we want to tell everyone about. So is the case with the Olympus TG-4 camera and the Olympus PT-056 underwater housing. We love our GoPro cameras but they do have a purpose. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a GoPro TV ad featuring still images? Exactly... It was this lack of still photo chutzpah that made us venture out to find a reasonably priced, smallish underwater camera to take good ol' photos with. ​ If you've done any recent research on this topic, no doubt you have run across countless reviews of the Olympus TG-4 (MSRP $380). One review in particular caught our attention: Backscatter's Jim Decker gave a glowing review that is almost too good to believe: "For the price, the TG-4 is unbeatable..." Could it be true? The answer is a resounding YES! The TG-4 is an amazing camera. ​ With about 20-seconds of "preparation and training," i.e. "How do you turn this thing on?," these images (Figures 1-3) were taken during a recent Channel Islands dive trip. Visibility was particularly poor with turbulent sea conditions that put lots of floating junk between the camera lens and intended subjects. ​ Figures 1-3 were literally point-and-click photos, so the results were not expected to be much. We were stunned by the clarity and detail in the photos. Native resolution for the TG-4 is 4608 x 3456 and files average about 3 MB each. ​ The camera, housing (Olympus PT-056 , MSRP $300) and external light source (Sola 3000 , MSRP $600, may be out of production) were configured for these photos as depicted in Figure 4. As full list of hardware (tray, handle, clamps and mounts) were purchased from the helpful folks at Backscatter and will be detailed here later. ​ The TG-4 also takes video in *.MOV format using an color auto-correction (replacing reds at depth) with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. Does it compare to GoPro video quality? We have to say YES! again. Underwater video examples include: Socorro Island, Mexico Anacapa & Santa Cruz Islands, California ​ We agree with Jim Decker: The TG-4 is an amazing and simple camera for underwater photo enthusiasts who aren't enthusiastic about spending $10,000 for a camera rig. ​ Figure 1: 1/200s, f/3.2, ISO 100, Focal Length: 5.1mm Figure 2: 1/400s, f/2.8, ISO 100, Focal Length: 4.5mm Figure 3: 1/125s, f/3.2, ISO 125, Focal Length: 5.1mm ​ Additional Equipment Shown in Figure 4 An external light source can be mounted to the PT-056 underwater camera housing by using a cold shoe mount , but we found the camera, housing and Sola light a bit unwieldy to handle using the camera housing itself... so we added a real handle and tray to our rudimentary rig. We will likely add a tray extension , another handle, and a second light to balance the lighting out. All items were acquired through : ​ Sola Ball Mount Kit Ultralight Mount Clip Ultralight Tray Tray Handle T-Bolts and Washers for Tray ​ This product review is solely the opinion of ATA/BAR DIVERS as a product consumer and is provided without compensation, affiliation or consideration of any kind. Figure 1. Cropped, unretouched photo of a Garabaldi damselfish taken with the TG-4. Figure 2. Cropped, unretouched photo of a green anemone taken with the TG-4. Figure 3. Cropped, unretouched photo of a kelp bass taken with the TG-4. Figure 4. Olympus TG-4 + PT-056 housing + Sola 3000 video light with Backscatter tray, handle, clamp and mounts.

  • 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.

  • 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 | 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 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 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 Divemaster Course * 2-3 weeks 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. 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.