Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nitrox SCUBA Diving and seeing tuna, dolphins and whales

We are having a very productive series of dives on the El Bajo Seamount, conducting surveys and acquiring video and still images. I remain stunned at the number of old ghost fishing nets, but I have gone into that before.

The sub takes two passengers at a time with one pilot. Those not diving in the sub are usually SCUBA diving while the sub is in the water. I have started using a new SCUBA diving air mixture on this trip called nitrox. Nitrox is a mixture that has more oxygen in it than regular air. Our atmosphere has about 20 percent oxygen, while this mixture has 32 percent oxygen.

The reason we use this mixture is that it has less nitrogen in it and when SCUBA diving it is the accumulated nitrogen in our body tissues that can cause sickness and the bends. Nitrox reduced the risk of the bends and allows you longer time diving. So my New England Aquarium dive officer, John Hanzl, will be pleased to know that I became nitrox certified on this trip. Even though I am a SCUBA instructor I have been a little old fashioned in that I have not used nitrox until now, It is a great mixture though. So Larry Madin, Alan Dynner and I are all now nitrox certified.

Wendy Benchley and Greg Stone emerge from the submarine after a dive.

Wendy Benchley and I made a dive in the sub yesterday and found hundreds of trigger fish down deep and were happy to see a small school of what I think was yellow fin tuna, though I could not get close enough to be for sure what species of tuna it was.

We are working very hard now these last few days, regretting that we do not have more time. I have had an infection caused by an insect bite on the side of my head, which I have treated with antibiotics, but the swelling can easily be seen around my left eye.

As I am writing this, we all saw a school of dolphins and a large whale (probably a sperm whale) in the distance.

Another great day on the Sea Of Cortez.

-Gregory Stone

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