Barbary Coast Divers

News and Events



Holiday Party at Nick's

Bring a $20 or less gift and an brown paper bag wrapped $8 bottle of wine for the blind tasting

California Department of Fish and Game, Marine Region

DFG will Suspend Recreational Cabezon Fishery on Dec. 1

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) today announced that recreational cabezon fishery will be suspended on Dec. 1, 2005, at 12:01 a.m. After this time, all recreational anglers will not be able to retain cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) for the remainder of the year.

Estimates from the California Recreational Fisheries Survey indicate that the annual allocation for recreationally caught cabezon, 92,800 pounds, will be reached or exceeded by Dec. 1.

More People in the Water

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Experts say a flurry of shark attacks over the last three weeks in Florida follows a predictable trend. Sharks have bitten 4 people along Florida's east coast since November 12. Experts say it's mostly because there's more people in the water now than years earlier. Willie Puz is a spokesman for Florida's wildlife protection services. He said a lot of people are heading into the water now just as sharks are looking for food in warmer water near shore.

He said small fish are congregating along the shoreline, and that's bringing sharks closer to the beaches. So Puz said if you're in the water and see lots of so-called baitfish swimming around, it may be time to head for the beach. He said to also take off earrings, necklaces, and other trinkets that reflect light and could be like lures, looking like sun reflecting off fish scales.

Greece to Open Up to Diving

Dive operators say that the Greek government’s decision to end its draconian restrictions on scuba diving will usher in a golden era of underwater exploration. As thousands of miles of coastline open up to divers for the first time in 50 years, local professionals say that hundreds of wrecks are waiting to be discovered.

Greece has long been seen as a tantalising option for divers, with its clear waters and long history of shipping and shipwrecks – but the country’s culture ministry has always been concerned that unfettered diving would result in artefacts being removed. Now, after years of lobbying by the dive industry and pressure from government insiders, thousands of miles of coastline will open up for the first time in more than 50 years.

As a result of a campaign led by diver and government adviser Manilos Alifierakis, new laws have been drafted that will allow access to 18,000 miles of coastline, rather than the meagre 126 dive sites designated under a 2002 ruling.

‘This is a major change,’ said Phrederika Miltiadow of Odyssey Dive Centre in Hakidiki on the Greek mainland. ‘Before this, we were able to dive in five per cent of the area around us, now the change in law means we can explore all the marks we have recorded on our sonar.

‘There are wrecks that have never been seen by divers, reefs which we have no idea about. We’re about to enter a new age of exploration, and we’re going to have heaps of new dive sites before we even begin to think what could be waiting for us in the trimix range. The same will be true all over Greece and its islands.’

The new laws will also open dive sites around the Greek Islands, which are noted for their clear water. Pavlos Manallos of the Crete Underwater Centre said he was expecting to double or triple his list of quality dive sites. ‘We had a dozen sites we use regularly, but this means more variety, more exploration and better diving,’ he told DIVE. ‘It’s a very exciting time.’

Under the new rules, diving federations from other EU countries will be recognised (as was not always previously the case), but dive centres will have to apply for licences. Government adviser Manilos Alifierakis has said Greece is likely to create a system of marine parks in order to monitor and manage diving tourism in the future.

Freediver Study

Four years ago News 36 introduced you to free diver Tanya Streeter. The news back then pertained to her recent world records.

The news now is how researchers have gone from perceiving her accomplishments as something freakish to something which may be able to help modern science.

Streeter holds nine world records, in various free diving disciplines. The most eye popping may be her no limits free dive of 525 feet

At such a depth, the water pressure causes Streeter's lungs to shrink to the size of her fists, and her heart rate will begin to slow to about 10-15 beats per minute.

"When we reach the bottom, there may well be eight to 10 seconds where there isn't a heartbeat," Streeter said.

So what is it about Streeter's body chemistry that interests medical science?

By studying people like Streeter, researchers think they may be able to help people with respiratory problems like asthma, sleep apnea or even find clues into the mysteries of sudden infant death syndrome.

"What free divers have learned to do is to control their respiratory physiology. To control the way that their heart and lungs operate together so that oxygen is only sent to vital organs during a breath hold dive," Streeter said.

Recent experiments at UT and the Harvard Medical School focused on static apnea, where divers float face down in a pool, holding their breath for as long as they can. Streeter can hold her breath for more than six minutes.

During the experiments, Streeter is hooked up to a standard, hospital device that measures the oxygen saturation in her blood. Her training partner, Joe Tufts, watches closely as Streeter's blood saturation level drops well below what most hospital operating rooms would consider the critical level.

"The amount of oxygen in her blood is related to the amount of oxygen that's getting to her brain," Tufts said.

When Streeter surfaces, it takes only seconds for her to saturation levels to return to normal.

"We were doing it between 10-15 seconds and the doctors were completely gob-smacked by that saying they just don't see that in the OR," Streeter said.

"Science and medicine seems to have come around from the idea that we're crazy and thought, maybe they're on to something here," Streeter said.

No eel will keep him from Crazylegs

Even as an ambulance rushed him toward emergency surgery, Justin Weber held on to his dream.

"He was worried he wouldn't be able to run Crazylegs," his father, Bill Weber Jr., said. "He said, 'Please help me run Crazylegs.' "

Justin, who will turn 11 next weekend, will be among the runners setting off from Capitol Square this morning in the 24th annual Crazylegs Classic.

He'll be the one wearing a green splint on his right arm, decorated to look like the green moray eel that attacked him April 1 while he was scuba diving with his parents in the Caribbean off Grand Cayman.

Perhaps attracted by the stainless steel diabetes bracelet Justin wears, the eel chomped down on his forearm with its sharp teeth and held on until his dad pried its jaws apart. Blood poured from Justin's severed arteries.

"I saw the eel on my arm," Justin said this week. "It was more pain than I've ever had. I was just scared."

Justin, who is right-handed, was diving with his dad and mom, Laura Weber, at Stingray City, a popular tourist destination. His brother, Tristan, 8, and sister, Carson, 6, were snorkeling with another group. His youngest brother, Chad, 3, stayed home with grandma.

They had descended about 15 feet to the ocean floor. The eel, usually a reclusive creature which stays deep in caves and crevices, was swimming nearby.

Another boy poked at the eel, which might have agitated it, Laura Weber said. Divers feed fish in the area, so the eel might have thought the glint from the medical bracelet was a meal.

That's a plausible scenario to George Parsons, a marine biologist and director of aquarium collections at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, where a green moray eel lives in the Caribbean reef exhibit.

"A lot of predator fish are attracted to shiny objects," he said. "The eel may have thought that flash of light was an injured fish."

Feeding underwater marine life, including sharks, to attract recreational divers is a controversial practice that has sparked legal battles in Florida. Opponents cite safety threats to humans and the negative health and behavioral impact on sea creatures.

The Webers estimate the eel that attacked Justin was 5 to 6 feet long and as big around as Bill Weber's thigh. It was captured and relocated.

Justin underwent 6 hours of surgery in George Town, Grand Cayman, where doctors used a vein from his leg to help restore blood flow to his hand.

The Webers arranged for a chartered medical jet, which cost $21,400, to fly Justin to Madison, where he underwent surgery on nerves and tendons at UW Hospital three days after the attack.


Scuba enthusiasts wed 15 feet under
Couple met four years ago on a dive in California

Sunday afternoon was perfect for an Alki Beach wedding. The day was shirtsleeve warm and bright, with thin veils of horsetail clouds across an otherwise spotless sky.

But at the critical moment when vows were exchanged, Curt McNamee and Melanie Clark were largely oblivious.

It wasn't blind love. This was a scuba wedding, and they were 15 feet under the surface of Elliott Bay (Wet Seattle)

Talk about taking the plunge.

As family and friends gathered before television monitors set up in the gravel of Cove 2, McNamee, 53, diver and Everett mortgage broker, and Clark, 31, diving instructor and hospital pharmacist, got hitched.

It is the second marriage for both. They met nearly four years ago on a dive in California, and the rest will soon be history.

"I was kind of anti-social on that trip," recalled the bride. "I made five or six dives that day, and Curt just kind of sat back. But then we got to know each other."

Bride, groom, the groomsmen, three of the party's four maids of honor, and even the parson, John Beckholder of the Cascade Community Church in Monroe, wore black -- wetsuits strapped to breathing apparatus.

When they got down under, the couple did not say their vows, but waggled cue cards encased in plastic so the type wouldn't run.


But it was Vincent's touch that helped differentiate bride from groom in the get-ups they wore.

Vincent rigged her new sister-in-law with an ankle-length train and wrapped her from the waist down in another lace doodad. To keep the "gown" from floating off, each piece was outlined with small lead fishing weights clipped every few inches to the hems as if sewn on as sequins.

The groom submerged with a top hat scrunched down over his Neoprene hood, but it did not appear with him when the couple finally emerged.

As the ceremony began on the beach, Clark was given away by her mother, Rosemary Patterson of Calgary, Alberta. She didn't get wet either, but held the couple's flippers.

For the Rev. Beckholder, a 19-year friend of the groom, loading a couple of air tanks on his back and crawling into a wetsuit was a calling he could not reject, he said.

Not since he was a West Point cadet in a swimming pool 35 years ago had Beckholder sucked air from a scuba tank, he said. He did it for the first time in open water last week so that he could bless this union from the appropriate spot.

His wedding message to the couple focused on a traditional view of marriage and was offered at the water's edge. As expected, it included a few lines from the Bible -- Genesis, Chapter 1, in which Beckholder explained that woman is built from one of Adam's ribs.

When he got to the part about the submission of wives to their husbands, the weight of his air tank and the outfit he wore in the hot sun appeared to get the best of him for a second, and he rocked to one side before catching his balance.

Then his script got away. He clutched at it with his all-thumbs mitts of Neoprene, and again made things right.

At last they submerged, the bride with her bouquet of Baby's Breath, the groom in his top hat, and there was little from then on but bubbles and the bobbing of a plastic milk bottle that marked the wedding spot. It had been tethered to its anchor at rehearsal that morning.

In the comparative quiet, a Harley went by on Alki Way and then another, and there was the scrunching of footfalls in the gravel.

Finally, there was a cheer and then another, and shouts and applause.

Seen via underwater camera had been the waggling of "I do's," and the crowd went wild.



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updated 11/15/05