The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: scuba

This Is How Beetles Breathe Underwater

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Screenshot from the video below.

Beetles and other bugs can’t hold their breath the same way humans do, so those that rely on submarine food sources carry air with them underwater, thanks to surface tension.

The beetle gathers air and forms a bubble with its outer wings while on the surface, dragging it down as it dives to hunt for food. When the bubble runs low, the beetle simply lets go of what’s left and returns topside for another.

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The Last Dive Into Devil’s Hole.


James Houtz came into this world nearly 80 years ago during a raging snowstorm. He lived the first three years of his life in a tiny Colorado outpost called Allen’s Park, but at the age of four, he and his older sister moved to Catalina Island after their mother was offered a job running a popular Girl Scout camp. When the Houtz’s weren’t on the island, they lived in an equally remote cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains above Los Angeles. Jim was rarely indoors, spending his early years hiking playing and hunting in the hills or diving and spearfishing in Catalina’s crystalline waters. Eventually he also took up surfing, growing particularly fond of the long pointbreak rollers around Santa Barbara.

A fanatical obsession with diving eventually led Houtz to enlist in the U.S. Navy’s submarine forces on an underwater demolition team – the precursor unit to the SEALS. He dove to recover spent torpedoes and Regulus II missiles (the first nukes ever to be launched from submarines) and led in acoustical experiments aimed at helping ships and subs run silent through the water.

Houtz was honorably discharged in 1960. He became a diving instructor and fell in with a team of experimental mermen who were working determine what sorts of exotic cocktail of oxygen, nitrogen, helium and other inert gasses might prevent the deadly state of deep dive drunkenness known as nitrogen narcosis.

By the early mid 1960’s, Houtz began a well-publicized mapping exploration of the deepest depths of a gigantic, tidally influenced western aquifer whose sole connection to the earth’s surface is a tiny volcanic fissure near Death Valley – a scar called Devils’ Hole. The hole is home to a critically endangered species, the Devil’s Hole Pupfish, and is steeped in lore. Native Americans held that a beast hid in its depths that would leap from the water and pull careless humans to their deaths. The Reverend Ethan Allen believed it a gateway to Hell, while Charles Manson thought his Family could hide safely in its depths during the coming chaos of Helter Skelter, and find a lost city of gold.


Merl Dobry and Jim Houtz inch their way through a narrow passage on the way to Brown’s Room. The photograph illuminated a world of utter darkness darkness at 92 feet. Photo courtesy, Jim Houtz.

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Drops of Breath: Dancers Learn to Scuba Dive for Underwater Show off Greece

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The dancers/divers spent two years preparing for the project. Screenshot taken from Drops of Breath/Mashable’s video (below).

Last week off Cape Sounion, Greece, 14 dancers, many of whom disabled, donned scuba tanks and took to the seafloor to perform for 40 spectators (all of whom, in order to purchase tickets, were required to be certified divers).

“Suddenly, I am on the sea bed, in the water, the floor disappears, and as a result my body is much more free down there, and I am doing things that I could not even imagine” – Irini Kourouvani, performer.

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PBS’ “Big Blue Live” Tonight: A Multi-day and Live Affair in Celebration of the Monterey Bay

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Humpback whale in the Monterey Bay, California. Photo courtesy of Cathy Munsch.

Editor’s Note: A few years ago, Scuttlefish writer Carolyn Sotka and Dr. Stephen R. Palumbi authored a terrific book, The Death and Life of the Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival. The book was inspired by the deep human and natural history of the Monterey Bay and its rich, ecological tapestry. But it wasn’t always like it is today. Over hundreds of years, there was serial exploitation of marine animals that weakened and disrupted the health and resilience of the Bay – beginning with whaling and otter hunts and through the intense boom and bust of the sardine fishery. Tonight PBS will launch Big Blue Live, a unique 3-day TV event. Watch the broadcast and read the book about one of the most amazing places on earth, the Monterey Bay. 

PBS and BBC joined forces to bring you an event inspired by the ocean and unlike anything you have seen before. Big Blue Live debuts tonight, August 31 – September 2, 2015 on PBS. This live television and online broadcast program will celebrate one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Monterey Bay, California.

While Monterey Bay is full of life year-round, this program focuses on a once-a-year phenomenon where humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks, and shearwaters all converge in the Bay during August and September.

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Sea otter wrapped in kelp in the Monterey Bay. Photo by Jim Capwell.

Watch the Big Blue Live trailer below:

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(Mis)Adventures in #Vanlife with Raw Paua. Stranded Twice in Two Days. Part I.

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Three things I’ve quickly learned this weekend about #VanLife: 1) Never trust a digital gauge. 2) You are your own mechanic. 3) Most importantly, you never know where you’ll end up. So always keep a well-stocked fridge, preferably of fresh shellfish and good wine. Hard-learned philosophical lessons aside, Raw Paua handled the switchbacks through the Queen Charlotte Drive beautifully, even with Tindori in tow. Photo: Owen James Burke.

This past weekend, Mac and I decided to load up Raw Paua for a shakedown trip into the Marlborough Sounds with Tindori in tow. Things didn’t quite go as planned.

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He Swims with the Fishes off Grand Cayman Island. . . .


This guy (or gal) was neither the first nor the last to go out like Luca Brasi, if someone was in fact attached to the handcuffs. How long they were down there is now more or less irrelevant, but it was long enough. One can only imagine how many of these jury-rigged deathtraps haunt the world’s seafloors–or the murky bed of the Hudson River alone, which dissects New York and New Jersey. Photo: AP.

Last week, while snorkeling off Grand Cayman Island’s famous 7-Mile-Beach in front of the Westin Casuarina Resort and Spa (which, according to Google, has since closed), tourists made a gruesome discovery–a grim reminder of how the British overseas territory’s wanton luxury resorts and exorbitant offshore bank accounts came to be in the first place.

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Scuba Diving Does a Body Good

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Iceberg Diving in Lake Sassol, Switzerland. From Scuba Diver Life’s Galleries. Photo by Reto Moser

For many, scuba diving is the key that unlocks the mystery of what lies just beneath the ocean surface. For some, it is simply to watch daily life unfold on a coral reef; or follow the graceful giants of the sea; or take in the beauty of a rhapsody of colors rarely found above the surface. For others it is the adrenaline rush and excitement of bearing witness to a deep-sea world, otherwise inaccessible to humans on earth.


From Scuba Diver Life’s Galleries. Photo by Nadia Aly.

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How Calypso, Jacques Cousteau’s Famed Research Vessel, May Rust to the Ground

Aye Calypso the places you’ve been to,
The things that you’ve shown us,
The stories you tell.


Calypso sits sadder and lonelier than ever at the Piriou shipyard in Brittany, France. Photo: Olivier Bernard/Creative Commons.

In 1950, Undersea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau leased a decommissioned Royal Navy minesweeper (then operating as a ferry to and fro Malta) from the Guinness family, for one franc per year. He modified the 400-ton vessel into a mothership of ocean science: additions included a state-of-the-art marine research lab and a film studio.

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Jacques Cousteau kicks back Calypso’s radio room. Photo: Musée Océanographique Monaco.

Jaques Yves Cousteau would spend almost forty years thereafter exploring the oceans, seas and rivers of the world at her helm. From Calypso he brought us “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” and influenced – and inspired – millions.

By the mid 1990’s, a long life of diving, filming and research at sea was starting to wear on Cousteau and his health. Calypso was in Singapore, and for once, fortunately Mr. Cousteau was not. In the year before his death in 1997, a barge accidentally rammed his 43-meter, 40-year-long companion and she sank to the bottom of Singapore harbor. She rested there for 17 days until being raised and brought back to the south of France, but she had to undergo extensive, expensive renovations just to remain intact. Now, per a settlement in a French Court which gave Francine Cousteau until March 11th of 2015 to settle a $300,000+ bill, the Brittany boatyard in which Calypso sits has the right to auction her off.

Take a tour through the Calypso with John Denver, who wrote the celebratory song about the famed research vessel that accompanies this video (above).

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