Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Headache! Why Does My Head Hurt After Scuba Diving?

Photo by Oliver Evangelista from video


Fish Geek's Technique Speak

Headaches, diving, and what you can do about them.

"I love diving, but I always end up with a killer headache afterwards! Why? Is there something I can do about them? Should I be concerned? Do I have the bends?!?!"
We get this question here at Fish Geek Central all the time, and mostly: No, you most likely aren't bent with the shallow reef dives and long, chatty, whale-watching surface intervals on our boat. But there are some things we can talk about to maybe ease your headaches!

Reason: Dehydration
Solution: Drink more water!
Actually, the most common reason for headaches, and the most common reason we see on the boat, is not drinking enough water. I know: You get off an airplane (with dry air) and you drink a big ol' Mai Tai (dehydrating), then a Coke from the mini-bar (dehydrating), then maybe wine with dinner (dehydrating), wake up the next morning for your much-anticipated dive trip and slam a quick coffee... It's not the Bends- It's lack of water! We drink a ton of water in Hawaii because of sun and saltwater and and an active lifestyle. You should too! Now you are left with the question: How can I drink enough water and still refrain from peeing in my wetsuit! Argh!

Reason: Hypercapnea
Solution: Breathe normally. Perfect Buoyancy. Wash out CO2 with deep safety stop breaths. 
Oh dear! "Hypercapnea" sounds serious! But it just means "excess carbon dioxide". There are many reasons carbon dioxide builds up in our bodies: Increased breathing rate due to stress or exertion, dead-air spaces inside our scuba gear, or some people's physiology just creates and holds carbon dioxide more. The increased pressure: both water pressure and physical and mental stress of diving can make us breathe harder and cause a build-up of CO2. Also, an inappropriate technique called "skip-breathing" causes CO2 buildup. Skip-Breathing is adding breath-holds to your breathing in a faulty attempt to slow your breathing down (inhale-hold-exhale-hold). But this technique actually causes the circulatory CO2 to increase, leading to faster, stressed breathing, and earlier tank air depletion. A better idea is to focus on breathing normally, perfecting buoyancy skills so your gear does the work for you, and letting the joys of diving naturally relax and slow your breathing. Obsessively tracking your breathing rate will increase stress. Stop obsessing. (Now you're obsessing, aren't you.)

Finally, on your 3 minute safety stop at 15', take some nice, deep breaths. Often we breathe shallowly, which increases dead-air space. Take some deep breaths that fill your whole lungs through your abdomen. Hold onto a line if the deep, slow breaths make you positively buoyant. Spending a bit of your 3 minute stop breathing whole breaths may help.

Reason : Jaw fatigue.
Solution: Relax teeth. Try new mouthpiece.
An often overlooked reason for diver headaches may be jaw stress. We are supposed to lightly hold the regulator mouthpiece with our teeth, while primarily holding the regulator in with our lips. But our bitten-through rental regulator mouthpieces tell a different story! Locking our teeth on the regulator will tense all those jaw muscles and cause headaches later. Try relaxing your teeth, wiggling your jaw (Hey! That helps with ear equalization!), or even touching your jaw bone with a few fingers to remind yourself to relax. Another solution is trying a few different mouthpieces until you find one that allows your teeth some comfort. There are ones with longer teeth plates, shorter plates, cushioned, mold-able, and this diver's favorite: A mouthpiece that holds in against the roof of the mouth, taking the back teeth completely out of the equation. (Middle black mouthpiece on reg in photo). 

Reason: Contaminated Air.
Solution: Have your tanks filled by a reputable shop that changes it's filters regularly. A good clue is- Does everyone on-board have the same headache? Is there an oily taste to the air? Our own Captain Stephen tracks and changes our filters, and we all know how detailed and clean he likes things! Also: If you are on a boat, stay away from diesel engine fumes. Move forward to be in the cleansing sea air (and also get a better view of Spinner dolphins!)

Reason: Sinuses.
Solution: Do not dive with a cold! You probably can't equalize your ears and sinuses anyway with a head cold. Snorkeling is a great solution!

Reason: Badly fitting mask or hood.
Solution: Loosen your mask strap! Remember, the water pressure holds your mask in place, and a tight strap will hurt your forehead and actually make your mask leak more, as the skirt of the mask peels back under the stress of the tightened strap. Make sure your mask is positioned correctly on the crown of your head, and not folding or crushing your ears. Finally, make sure your snorkel keeper or clip isn't digging into your temple or pulling your hair.
Reason: Your buddy is driving you crazy!
Solution: Well. All we can say is, spend the surface interval talking with them, reminding them what it means to be a good dive buddy. Good luck!

While "headache" can be one of the symptoms of many more serious conditions, including decompression illness, with a lack of additional symptoms one of your headache reasons is probably listed above. However, please don't ignore more serious symptoms. Communicate any symptoms or concerns with your Captain, crew, divemaster, and buddies. We have an extensive first aid kit aboard with an Oxygen kit, a cooler full of water, and a willing ear. 

Be safe out there!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fish Geek's Pick-Of-The-Week: Extra Geeky Edition! Hybrid Thompson x Pyramid!

Hemitaurichthys Hybrid. Photo by John P. Hoover.

Hybrid! Of Pyramid and Thompson's Butterflies!

Pyramid: Hemitaurichthys polylepis ("many scales")
Thompson's: Hemitaurichthys thompsoni (after John W. Thompson of the Bishop Museum)

Kelleen says, "Sometime in July (according to my logbook) I spotted this individual with a small school of pyramids on a gently sloped dropoff near 40'. It was like the area it occupied suddenly went black & white. My first thought was that it was a pyramid with no pigment, like an albino, but grey is still pigment, yes? Robyn thought it may be hybrid of Thompson's and Pyramid, and upon seeing it, John P. Hoover agreed. Being Hapa myself, I have much love for a hybrid!"
Indeed, Hybrids are very rare and special. The hybrid species we most often see on our dives are surgeonfish. This summer's epic bloom of surgeons and butterflies has increased the amount and distribution of pyramids on our sites. Thompson's butterflies, often called "Businessmen butterfly" due to their grey suits, are a rare butterfly most often seen in the waters of Hawaii island. Although neither fish is endemic, the beauty of the pyramid crossed with the rarity of the Thompson's makes this a special and rare fish. Upon revisiting a site, we are more apt to locate distinctive individuals like a hybrid, albino, or a fish with a noticeable wound or deformation. Because we are sappy fish geeks, we feel like these fish are our pet friends, and we worry about them being eaten, caught or captured. The staff at the Bishop museum commented that any variation (hybrid, albino, deformed) is exciting, not to mention a never before documented hybrid.

John E. Randall says, "More natural hybrids of coral reef fishes have been found in the butterflyfish and angelfish families... It should be noted, however, that hybrids are rarely a perfect amalgamation of the color patterns of the two parent species. Often a hybrid resembles one parent more than the other. This could be the result of the hybrid breeding with one of the original parent species." He also noted that he "Never saw that hybrid". 
 John P. Hoover says, "Possibly the only known hybrid in genus Hemitaurichthys."
Another beautiful photo from John P. Hoover

Kama'aina? Not endemic, but so rare and special!
Size: Both species only get to about 3".
Depth: Drop-offs and ledges around 40', with these two species often schooling together.
White List? Pyramid butterflies are on the white list, meaning they are legal to take. Thompson's are not on the list. Unknown where legally a hybrid of the two would fall. 
Albinos and hybrids are not only valuable for ichthyologists to study, but also unfortunately valuable in the aquarium trade, often fetching larger sums. We are therefore worried about this guy and hope it gets to live a long life and breed on the reef, instead of selfishly belonging only to one collector. Luckily, this fish exists in an area illegal to take fish for the aquarium trade. 
Please feel free to ask us questions about this special fish: We are excited to share this find with our enthusiastic and appreciative divers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fish Geek's Pick-Of-The-Week: Red Hawaiian Turkey Fish, Of Course!

Red Hawaiian Turkey Fish, by Scott Rettig

Red Hawaiian Turkey Fish

Hawaiian: nohu pinao
Latin: Pterois sphex

Beautiful red and white stripes and frilly fins and spines make the Red Hawaiian Turkey fish a gorgeous fish to spot on the reef. To find them in the daytime, look under ledges or on the ceilings of lava tubes. We see juveniles that are only one or two inches long, much smaller than the usual scuba diver expects, and we often spot their long white spines first, mistaking them for shrimp! Sometimes also known as the Red Hawaiian Lionfish, the Turkeyfish all belong in the Scorpionfish family (nohu). The Species name in Hawaiian, "pinao", means "dragonfly", while the Latin (actually Greek) "sphex" means "wasp", for the painful sting from the venomous spines.
John P. Hoover says, "At night they glide forth, with fins extended, hunting for small crabs or shrimps. Lucky daytime divers may see them swimming openly in the late afternoon or early morning. The spines are venomous; these fishes should not be played with or handled."
Robyn says, "Our beautiful endemic red lionfish are rare and special when we see the (mostly juvenile) individuals on the Kohala Coast. But they are a bit of a 'hard sell' to our divers used to huge invasive Caribbean Lionfish. We need to immediately change their perception by saying, 'No wait: These are special. These are endemic. And here on the Kohala Coast they are small and rare. THIS is why we love them.' "
Indeed, sometimes our scuba divers have heard of the problems an invasive lionfish has caused the environments of the Atlantic and Caribbean seas, and the eradication attempts of divers there. But this is not that fish! Our species is native to Hawaii, and much loved on the rare times we spot them.

Kama'aina? Endemic!
Size: Largest seen about 8", but we usually see to about 2".
Depth:They enjoy shallow ledges.
White List? Not legal to take in West Hawaii. Apparently these were so popular in aquariums that the area sites are pretty well stripped, and their rareness is why we get so excited!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fish Geek's Pick-O-The-Week: Zebra Moray Eel!

Zebra Moray Face, by Scott Rettig

Zebra Moray Eel

Hawaiian: Puhi
Latin: Gymnomuraena zebra

Kohala Divers' crew of Fish-Geeks usually spots this eel by the distinctive thicker white stripes on a dark brown background of the neck/body/tail of the eel. Sometimes swimming in the open, the zebra moray will then curl in the reef with it's head hidden, making the striped body stand out, and a game of hunt-for-the-eel-head afoot.
The Zebra Moray is the only member of its genus Gymnomuraena. The Hawaiian name "Puhi" is the name for all moray eels, with the zebra having an unknown Hawaiian distinction. Eels were a very popular food for the Hawaiians, and prized by the ali'i. Of the many ways to hunt an eel, perhaps the most notable was  "eel pinching", wherein a fisherman would tempt eels out of the reef by dangling a tasty bit of squid, and then snatch the exposed eels up with a free fist.

Scott says, "Unlike most morays, the zebra moray has molars used to crush up invertebrates; shrimp, crabs, etc..." 
John P. Hoover says, "Although lacking sharp teeth, they are not harmless; a Honolulu aquarist bitten on the finger describes the experience 'painful, like a vice.' "

Kama'aina? Nope.
Size: To 5 feet (usually smaller).
Depth: Variable. In our common experience we see them shallow to 60'... but then that is where we usually dive.
White List? Although the Zebra Moray is not on the whitelist of fish legal to take in West Hawaii, its relative Global commonality does make it a popular aquarium fish. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fish Geek's Pick-O-The-Week: The Endemic Hawaiian Fantail FileFish!

The Hawaiian Fantail Filefish! (Gorgeous photo by Robyn Smith).

Hawaiian Fantail Filefish.

Hawaiian: O'ili 'Uwi'uwi.
Latin: Pervagor spilosoma.

John P Hoover says, "... Fantail Filefishes are yellow, marked with black spots, and have bright orange, fanlike tails. Blue markings about the mouth and throat further adorn these beautiful little fishes. They frequently pair off in a head-to-tail position, raising and lowering their spines, and spreading their colorful tails in some sort of territorial or sexual display." -From Hoover's Hawaii's Fishes.

Robyn says, "The Hawaiian Fantail Filefish is one of the rarest fish in the world: Not only does it exclusively exist in Hawaii, but it's population goes through Boom-or-Bust cycles, making it all but absent from the reefs most years. The last time this magnificent fish was seen with any regularity was in the 1980s, but is again being spotted throughout the state this year. How very exciting is that?!"

"O'ili"- meaning "To Appear", "to sprout", or "come up"- probably taken from the single raised dorsal spine, or perhaps their tendency to appear in a sudden bloom and then die en masse and wash to shore. The Hawaiians of old supposedly thought the rare bloom of the Fantail Filefish was an omen of an upcoming death of a member of the royal family.
" 'Uwi'uwi" -meaning "To squeal" and eerily taken from the fish' squealing sound as they are taken from the water.

Kama'aina? Endemic.
Size? To 7 inches. Usually smaller.
Where? Recently spotted in shallow enough water to snorkel. Less than 35'.
White List? NOT legal to take for aquarium collection.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Becoming a Scuba Instructor

Have you ever watched your Scuba Instructor give a boat briefing and thought, "She has the life! Getting paid to dive!" Have you ever thought that this might be the life for you, too? Recently we had two Divemasters make the wonderful transformation to PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors, and I thought I would let you in on some details of the process.

"But wait", you are asking, "Isn't DIVEMASTER the absolute height of Diving coolness?" Well, maybe. They get the coolest-sounding name. But a Divemaster is trained to lead certified divers on underwater tours, handle any problems that occur, and teach refresher courses.

To become an Open Water Scuba Instructor, Divemasters must attend a gruelling 9 day program called an Instructor Development Course with a PADI Course Director. During the class, they learn the PADI curriculum and develop their own teaching style. They are tested on dive theory and skills, and they are taught to develop classroom presentations, pool training, and open water teaching and evaluating techniques. The Course solidifies an Instructor-Candidate's excellent dive skills, and often inspires an enthusiasm and love for teaching that can be carried over into a successful career.
After this course, an Instructor-Candidate is then eligible to attend a PADI Instructor Examination, where-in a PADI Examiner comes out from Southern California and evaluates and tests the Candidates. By passing this 2-day exam, a Divemaster becomes a newly-minted Instructor. Our Examiner this past September was Gordon Apons, a 20 year veteran of Instructor Examinations. He was thrilled with our whole batch of candidates, which included our amazing new Instructors Oliver and Elizabeth! Examiner Apons was enthusiastic and supportive, and said of our group, "These were some of the best-prepared candidates I have seen in my whole time as Examiner." Right on, guys! So what is next for our new Instructors? At Kohala Divers, the training continues, as we intern the new Instructors with our more seasoned crew. Watching Divemasters make the jump to Instructors is almost as joyful and proud as watching new divers becoming Open Water Certified. We all know that Scuba Diving is life-changing. Please congratulate Oliver and Elizabeth when you next dive with them, as they have joined the ranks of people who make divers. And that is amazing.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Henshaw's Crocodile Eel vs. Scorpionfish Video

Our own Scott Rettig filmed this amazing encounter between a Crocodile Eel and a Scorpionfish. Two fish enter...Only one remains! Can you guess what happens?
We have watched this awesome video over and over and over. Everyone says, Scott! You should be filming for National Geographic!"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Kohala Divers Ltd. Newsletter for May 2014

header divers
Kohala Divers NewsMay 2014

Summer will be here soon and we are planning on lots of great dives while we have calm clear water. Summer is a great time to get dive certified as well. If you or someone you know has been waiting to get certified you know where to go. Kohala Divers would love to share our love of the underwater world! We are a PADI 5 star training facility with some of the best instructors around!!

Thanks for your continued support of us at Kohala Divers. We look forward to seeing you in and under the water soon!
-Rebekah Kaufmann
and the Crew of
Kohala Divers
Kohala Divers Has a New Ride

kdl van
our new ride
You may see are new ride cruising around the island. Believe me its hard to miss! Photos for our great van wrap were provided mostly by our very own PADI instructor Robyn Smith. Now we can feel like we are diving even while we are driving. Give us a wave if you see the sealife mobile!
Annual Dry Dock

We have scheduled the Kohala Diver annual dry dock for October 6th-the 11th. Our trusty boat will be getting spruced up and ready for more adventure. We will be available for shore dives and classes during that time. We will also plan our annual big Clear out tent sale at the shop that week so if you are around come visit us in Kawaihae! The Iron man 2014 is scheduled for the 11th so Kohala Divers will be closed that day.
Seattle H20 Show a Success seattle tradeshow

Kohala Divers was a proud exhibitor at the Seattle based h20 Scuba and water sport show. We had a great time meeting other northwest divers and exhibitors. Seattle has some great adventurous folks and I'm not just saying that because it's where I am from. Thanks for making us feel welcome. We hope to see those of you that we met there when you make it to Hawaii next. 
Join us on Facebook!!
turtle cleaning station
Click turtle to see all of our latest pictures on our facebook page!

In This Issue
New Van
Annual Dry Dock dates
Seattle Dive Show
Kohala Divers
61-3665 Akoni Pule Hwy
Kawaihae, Hawaii 96743

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gear Review: Aeris Jet Pack Travel BCD System

What: Aeris JetPack Travel BCD System: Travel BCD and detachable dry-bag backpack.
Price: $649.00
Why We Wanted To Try It: One-size-fits-all, they say. Rugged and comfortable construction. Can fit all of your divegear, clothes, and personal items into the system and still have it be a 30 lbs or less carry-on size. The system uses the bcd as a basis for the travel backpack (shoulder straps are the straps, the rest folds and zips onto the included Dry-bag). The dry-bag is also a detachable dry backpack with its own fold-away straps and waterproof zippers.
Why We Were Dubious: Can it really fit everyone? Tall, short, busty, big, small... we do have a plethora of variable-sized Divemasters at our disposal. If it fits Robyn will it also fit me? How is this possible? This is higher priced than most travel bcds, but lower priced than a travel bcd plus a dry backpack. Will it really fit all my dive gear, plus clothes and such, enough for say, a week-long trek through the various airplanes and dive sites of the Philippines? (The Aeris website advises 3 days of clothes. Do some laundry on long trips, yes?)

Let's put it to the test!

Fit: Yes, it fit every one of our variable-sized crew. There are many ways to adjust the fit of the BCD: Cummerbund can not only shrink or grow, but can be seated higher or lower. Chest strap can slide (quite ingeniously!) over about a 5" long area. Shoulder straps can lengthen or shorten, with any extra webbing folded and secured by velcro into smart tab-sized bundles, keeping anything from dragging through the corals. Weight pockets can even be adjusted on the cummerbund for comfort and trim options. I got this right after it had been sized to the tiniest of our Divemasters, and I was able to size it up pretty fast. It did take some adjustment and fiddling, and it felt unstable on the 1st dive, but by the 2nd dive I had it pretty locked in.Warning: While the shoulders and chest strap can be set and forgotten (and used as-is for the backpack), the cummerbund needs to be removed for the backpack option, meaning you will need to re-set it from packing to diving.There are a bunch of videos on the Aeris Jetpack site to help. Dives great: The back inflate has a bunch of lift, and the adjustable weight pockets mean you can make it trimmed out for your body. There is even a rear-dump valve! I thought I would miss the D-rings, but I loved the looped chain of webbing for organizing my hangers-on all up and down my shoulders.
Conclusion: So many options for adjustment means you will need to find the best arrangement for your body, but once you do, it is stable and comfortable.

Packability: I gathered and packed all dive gear (wetsuit, fins, booties, mask, snorkel, regulator), clothes for 3 days (swimsuits, tee-shirts, shorts, sarong, hat, dress), laptop, towel, and assorted stuff to replicate toiletries or what-have-you. I packed it all without working too hard. The drybag is roomy and can cinch down even smaller. Fins can fit either in the drybag, between the bags, or even strapped to the sides. Success!

Conclusion: If I were going back to visit the Philippines, where one dives, hops on a plane to another island, and dives again, I would buy this right now and be thrilled!
Packed and all set to go...Wait, where is my airline ticket?

Friday, February 14, 2014

10 Reasons Moms Should Go Scuba Diving on the Kohala Diver!




Having recently stepped into the realms of motherhood I have seen my dive days shrink in amount, and the time between dives grow. I have met many moms of little ones who say "I used to dive" with no hope in their tone of ever returning. I get it. Our worlds become so engrossed in raising our children that even taking care of our basic survival often gets put on the back burner. When I do make the effort to have a free morning where someone else drops my daughter off at school and I take the time off to get underwater, I am so happy that I did! I have put together a list for fellow moms to help get you back into the sport that you once fell in love with. Or, if you have never tried diving this list might just make you sign up for our next PADI Open Water course!

The top ten reasons moms should go Scuba Diving on the Kohala Diver

10. To experience 2 hour-long dives where all that is required of you is to breathe.

9.   To get inspiration for some excitement in your bedtime stories. Weave in some underwater mermaids riding sea horses and mystical sea princesses who have pet nudibranchs into your stale stories and your kid will be thrilled. 

8.  Start your next adult conversation with "so last weekend I was diving in a lava tube when this shark went by" instead the latest potty training story.

7.  To blow bubbles through a regulator, instead of a purple wand.

6. To Find your happy place. Remember it well as you gaze at the turtles being cleaned by yellow fish at the turtle cleaning station with bright blue water and whales singing in the back ground.  The next time your little one is melting down because you let the blueberries touch the yogurt and now its ruined..... You can go back there in your mind.

5. Underwater no one can hear them scream.

4. To have a status update on your facebook page that isn't a picture of your kid being adorable for once.

3. To be a hero. Bring a shell back to your kiddo and tell them you brought it for them from the bottom of the ocean and immediately add another notch to your superhero belt.

2. Hour surface interval= 1 hour nap. Worth the price of admission right there. 

1. Because you deserve it!! A happy mom is the key to a happy family.

Hope to see you underwater soon!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fantastic Whale Video Off the Kohala Diver!

On a calm day in Puako, a recent group of divers off the Kohala Diver were surprised to see a Humpback Whale sneak up on them! Fantastic video footage by one of our divers. Thank you, Dave!

The Whale swings in close, then turns up and pumps a powerful tail, and breaches right overhead! The divers reported that they were close enough to feel the movement of the water from the tail. Amazing!