Next Dive Club Outing


Little House Mendocino November 10th and 11th

Call Carol to make Reservations

Women divers outdo men, study claims

For years women drivers have endured jokes about map reading and reversing from men who pride themselves on their superior spatial awareness.

Underwater, though, the boot – or flipper – is on the other foot. For women divers are much more aware of their surroundings than men, according to a two-year study of scuba divers.

"Women have better orientation," said Mandy Shackleton, a marine scientist at Hull University's marine sciences centre. "They have a greater awareness of what is going on around them."

Women were found to be calmer, less aggressive and more safety conscious than their "gung-ho, sensation-seeking" male counterparts.

Men took risks and were prone to showing off. The men experienced "a chain reaction of hormones" that caused them to lose their "buoyancy control" more easily than women. The stress hormone cortisol is released first, followed by testosterone – the hormone linked with aggression – and finally, adrenaline. "The combination of these three results in erratic, dangerous diving," said Ms Shackleton. "Women tend to use local cues, signposts in their immediate vicinity, for navigation and it is possible that this is more effective underwater where even in the clearest waters visibility will not be as good as it is on land."

Suspected abalone poaching probed
Fish and Game agency investigates Oct. 17 incident in which diver drowned, 2 rescued


The California Department of Fish and Game is investigating a report that a group of Bay Area abalone divers may have been poaching when they were overcome by rough water and large swells off the Mendocino County coast last week.

Two men who managed to climb to relative safety on a rocky outcropping were rescued from the wild surf between Fort Bragg and Westport, but a third man, an Oakland resident, drowned in the Oct. 17 incident, authorities said.

Rescue authorities, including a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew who nearly overtaxed their aircraft to make the nighttime rescue in rain and gusting winds, were stunned by the divers' decision to venture out in conditions that were perilous and included 18-foot swells, officials said.

Fish and Game Lt. Dennis McKiver, an abalone enthusiast himself, said he and another warden had driven by the cove earlier in the day and thought that conditions were too difficult for diving.

McKiver now wonders if the divers weren't out in such weather knowing wardens would be unlikely to expect them.

"No sane person going out on a legal abalone dive would have been out there at that time of the evening in that kind of weather," he said.

As many as eight people were involved in the incident, though it remained unclear how many had been suited up for diving versus watching from the bluff, he said.

Some of them apparently had been employed by Yong Lu, 46, of Oakland, who perished in the waves, McKiver said. His body was recovered the next day.

Fish and Game personnel were dispatched after they were alerted by the Coast Guard that a person at the scene had spotted members of the dive party standing on the cliff and emptying containers of abalone into the water while law enforcement was en route, McKiver said.

Officials investigating the incident were not able to determine how many abalone were dumped and whether it was more than the diving party was authorized to have, McKiver said.

He noted that no abalone were left when Fish and Game personnel arrived.

New regulations intended to help authorities track abalone and monitor their collection more closely go before the Fish and Game Commission on Nov. 2, with adoption expected Dec. 7, authorities said.

The regulations include tags to be issued with abalone report cards requiring that divers and shore pickers affix their allotted tags immediately to their catch.

A bizarre, rare fish that washed up on the Sonoma County coast raised a mystery

-- Gualala --

Tom Stienstra, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The fish was three feet long, with an extended mouth and long, curved teeth like a barracuda. It also resembled a sail, like a marlin. It was discovered by Rich and Diane Dow of Greenbrae, who were visiting the resort area of Sea Ranch.

"We found this fish washed up on the beach," said Rich, who photographed it. "It was almost three feet long."

The mystery was solved by Carrie Wilson of the Department of Fish and Game, who identified the fish as a long-nose lancetfish.

"They are wild looking," Wilson said. "I've see these every so often. They show up on the beach very rarely."

A lancetfish is a deep-water dwelling fish and very unusual, Wilson said. "They have been called, 'the wolves of the sea' and are the largest of the deep-sea predatory fish."

They can live 6,000 feet deep and can grow to six feet long. They have two fangs, something like that of a prehistoric sabertooth tiger. "They eat whatever they can find," Wilson said. "The only thing they fear are sharks, tuna and sea lions, if they choose to rise to shallower waters."

The DFG does not see these fish very often, but when they do, it's most often when someone finds one washed up on the beach.


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