The most annoying part about diving is hair care. If only we came out the ocean looking like Ariel, dive life would be much easier! Here are some of my tips to keeping your hair in good condition!
SECURE YOUR HAIR
You’ll want either a low or high style – middle is no good as that is where your mask strap will be. I tend to do a high poytail and then tie hair bands all the way down the length which keeps my hair tangle free. Another popular option is braids, either a single or double, it keeps all your hair secure against your head. You could also just make a high bun which you can then take out in between dives, just make sure to take a spare hair band with you for flyaways and loose bits.
USE A MASK STRAP COVER
To save your hair from being pulled out every time you put your mask on or take it off, get a soft strap cover. They slip over the silicone strap and make it so much easier to remove and replace your mask. Have a look at this Girls That Scuba one here!
GET A HOOD OR BUFF
Another popular choice is a wearing a hood or buff! A hood is a good choice for cooler waters, making sure there is no movement of you hair underwater. Buffs are basically thick headbands which cover your hairline, so babyhairs don’t get trapped in the mask – I will be grabbing one for my next trip!
RINSE RINSE RINSE
This is the step to not miss. Once back on dry land, make sure to rinse the saltwater from your hair. Leaving it in makes your hair sticky and unmanageable, so a quick rinse when you can will keep it from turning into a horrible mess.
Coconut oil has many uses, but popping a little bit on the ends of your hair after your dive will help to keep the ends healthy and soft. Just rub a small amount on your hands and comb through the ends and it will do your hair wonders.
When it comes time to wash your hair, use cool water and make sure to let the conditioner soak in. Saltwater tends to make hair very dry, so try and give it some moisture back. Find a good leave in conditioner and comb it through.
The last thing your hair will need after diving all day, is a hot hairdryer. The best thing to do is to let your hair air dry but if you have to dry it, use the cold setting on your hairdryer. Remember saltwater is already damaging your hair so try to protect it by not using heat.
Got any other hair care tips you live by? Leave them in the comments below!
First of all – congratulations! Welcome to the magical world of scuba diving! You’ve just passed your diving course and enjoyed every second of it (okay, maybe not removing your mask underwater, but you mastered it in the end). Maybe you’ve decided to start doing some diving in your home town or you might be thinking of taking the next course. But to go any further, there are three pieces of essential gear that every scuba diver – even beginners – should invest in.
I think most divers would say the first and most important piece of equipment to buy would be a mask! Masks come in so many different shapes and styles so it is super important to head into a store and try them out in person. A good fitting mask should stick onto your face without any air gaps to ensure there are no leaks underwater! You can get clear, coloured or black skirts depending on your preference and with either one joined lens or split lenses, which can be fitted with prescription lenses. Pop a mask strap cover in your basket as well which protects your hair from being pulled out as you put your mask on and off!
Depending on the water temperature you’ll be predominately diving in, you can choose from open heal or closed heal. Closed heal, for warm water, slip on without any booties so are a good choice for tropical diving and travelling. Open heal fins must have booties with them, keeping your feet warmer and better for shore dives and cooler temperatures. Paddle fins, those with one continuous fin, are good all rounders which is why you’ll see them most often at dive shops. Make sure to try your new fins out before heading off on your trip, just like shoes, fins can rub and cause blisters if they are too tight or loose, so give them a wiggle, stretch your foot out and make sure they don’t hurt your feet or slide around.
And the final essential piece of equipment you will want to have with you is a snorkel which you will need at the surface before and after your dive as well as those between dive snorkels. You will mostly likely get one to match your mask and it should be flexible towards the mouthpiece so it can push out the way when on your dive. In some countries, having a snorkel with you is mandatory but I would also have one for your own comfort, especially if the water is a little choppy, you’ll be glad to have it.
So what are you waiting for? Pop into your local dive store and grab these three items to start your journey into the underwater world!
Hello my lovely mermaids,
When I first breathed underwater it was strange, a little scary and honestly took me a few moments to relax my mind and feel okay. I don’t think I will ever forget the moment I first jumped into the ocean and started descending, and if you have taken your open water course, you too will know this feeling. I hope the course taught you just how capable and strong you are. And I hope you have many more diving adventures in your life.
Ocean dead zones are just what they sound like, areas of the ocean which are ‘dead’, large areas of the ocean where animal populations are greatly reduced due to a lack of oxygen in the water. They typically occur in the bottom 1.5 metres along the seafloor where there are countless small creatures living on or in the seabed, sediment dwelling animals like worms, bivalves (such as clams and mussels), sponges, crabs, urchins and starfish all live on the seafloor. These smaller creature which feed on tiny plankton and small particles are the beginning of the food chain in the ocean. The bottom dwelling creatures are eaten by slightly bigger animals and so on until you reach the top predators like whales, dolphins, sharks and seals. So as you can tell, the creatures living on the seafloor play an important role in the overall health and survival of the oceans.
How are ocean dead zones formed?
It all starts with human activity on the land. In nature, landscapes are filled with a wide range of plants and animals, all working in harmony together. But over the past 100 years, through intense industrialized agricultural practices like mono-cropping and clearing land for animal production, the land has been stripped of its natural barriers. What once was forest or prairies is now field after field of crops or cattle fields. And to keep continuous production high throughout the year, many farmers are using synthetic chemicals on the degraded soils. Made mainly of phospherous and nitrogen, these excessive fertilizers find their way into the water system in the form of runoff. These build up and become increasingly concentrated closer to the mouth of the river where it is met by the ocean.
Once these excess nutrients flow out into the ocean, combined with the warming spring temperatures, it leads to excess growth of phytoplankton, known as an algal bloom. This is where a much larger amount of phytoplankton feeds off the nutrients and forms a concentrated mass of algae in the water. In the summer months, the weather is calmer and ocean winds have dropped, meaning there is not much mixing of the ocean layers from the surface to the bottom. Once the phytoplankton dies, it sinks to the seafloor where microbes and bacteria breaks it down. This process, which uses up oxygen, forms an hypoxic layer about 1.5 metres high, where there is a significant depletion of oxygen and no life can live.
These areas can stay in this hypoxic state for weeks and even months, causing long term effects on the ocean. When autumn begins and wind pick up again, the ocean layers are mixed and the dead zone dissipates.
Where are ocean dead zones found?
Found all over the world, dead zones are most prominent where large rivers flow into the oceans. Chesapeake Bay was one of the first areas indentified as a dead zone in the 1970s. Urbanization and agriculture, particularly poultry farming, are two factors which contribute to the high dissolved nitrogen levels in that area. Dead zones in the Baltic Sea have grown to over 60,000 square kilometers in recent years due to wastewater treatment plants, sewage, large animal farms and overuse of fertilizers.
One of the most studied dead zones on the planet is found in the Gulf Of Mexico, where the Mississippi River flows into the ocean. The Mississippi River Basin covers a 41% of the continental US, stretching from New York in the East, to Minnesota in the North, to Montana in the West. Think of all the cities and farms within the Mississippi Basin. The majority of farm land within the Basin is used for three main products, corn-soybean rotation which is used for animal feed, animal farming of poultry, pigs and cattle, and ethanol for fuel. Since the 1950s, studies have seen nitrogen levels increase three fold.
The US Geological Survey reported 1.15 million tons of nitrogen pollution, enters the Gulf of Mexico, to put that in perspective, that’s almost double amount of oil that entered the ocean in BP oil spill.
Other increases in pollutants include unchecked and excessive usage of fertilizers, sewage, plastic pollution and animal manure pollution. All of these chemicals and pollution flows out to the Louisiana coast and forms the dead zone we find today. It covers over 8,000 square kilometres of ocean floor and is growing larger year on year.
How do dead zones impact the planet and people?
Ocean dead zones impact millions of people and animals around the globe. When there is a large dead zone, there is a loss of species, disruptions to food chains and a reduction in food availability.
Over 40% of US seafood is sourced from the Gulf of Mexico. These areas have a significantly reduced population of fish therefore fisheries may move elsewhere, leading to overfishing in surrounding habitats or even just stop fishing all together. Many jobs and business will be lost and not just in the fishing industry. Marine tourism will be heavily impacted if dead zones continue forming and changing the ocean life we visit for. In the Gulf of Mexico, recreational fishing contributed $10 million to the economy in 2009 alone. And this is true for many other countries around the world which have both have large fishing industries and booming tourism.
But the algal blooms don’t just affect oceans either. Pollutants and runoff can also feed into lakes which provide clean drinking water for millions of people as well as affecting fishing, recreation and tourism to those areas. Lake Erie in Cleaveland, Ohio now has annual harmful algal blooms which leave residents without clean drinking water to their homes. In Wisconsin, blue-green algae fills lakes during the summer. Harmful algal blooms are yearly occurrence in the Gulf of Maine.
How can we change it?
By reducing the land based pollution, we can stop dead zones from forming at all. By following marine scientists advice and adhering to laws put in place to limit the pollution found in waterways, dead zones can be reduced. The size of these areas can be controlled by limiting runoff and pollution from the land which all starts with political pressure, governmental change and a significant change in industrialized agriculture. The introduction of buffer zones, areas of deep rooted trees and plants, between fields and waterways could help reduce the volume of runoff and chemicals into streams and river. Establishing sustainable farming practices, such as organic farming, that work alongside nature, with mixed vegetation instead of mono-cultures would see a decrease in the use of synthetic fertilizers along with growing seasonally and locally. Dead zones are also driven by the continuous warming of sea surface temperatures as the ocean circulations rely on the balance between the warm surface water and the cool deep waters, so reducing individual carbon emissions and implementing governmental climate laws are both important parts of the solution.
This series is about practical ways travelers can help make a positive impact on the areas they visit.
Hi my beautiful,
Visiting the Great Barrier Reef was an incredible experience I will never forget. The whole experience brought me so much joy, exploring such a special corner of our planet has really been a dream of mine for so many years. And the sadness I feel when I hear of its degradation really breaks my heart. Enjoying the reef should be a joy experienced for generations to come. So if you are planning to visit this natural wonder of our world, here are a few tips to make sure your visit safeguards its beauty for many more years.
Choose An Accredited Company
There are a few key signs to look for if you want to choose an eco-friendly company. Ecotourism Australia and EarthCheck both provide two levels of certification in which tour operators can commit to using sustainable practices and high quality tourism experiences. These companies are actively protecting the environment by adhering to safe practices and maintaining the high standard of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). You can see the list of approved operators on the GBRMPA website.
Follow The Responsible Reef Practices
There are some basic rules to follow when in the water, whether you are snorkelling or scuba diving, these few guideline will save not only the reef from harm but also yourself. Here are just a few points to remember while on the reef.
Practice good scuba diving – have good buoyancy, be aware of your equipment and move slowly
Avoid holding or touching any part of the reef, including corals and animals
Observe animals like whales or turtles from a safe distance
Enhance the quality of your dive experience by learning about the environment you’ll visit
Don’t take anything from the reef including dead coral or shells
See the full list of responsible reef practices at GBRMPA.
Contribute To Citizen Science
As the reef is so large, it is quite a challenge for scientists to collect frequent information across the entire length of the reef, and that is where citizen science (and you!) come in. ‘Eye On The Reef’ is a way for every visitor to contribute towards the long-term protection of the Great Barrier Reef by recording animals sightings, reef health data and other valuable information. However you are enjoying the reef, you can join in with citizen science by downloading the Eye On The Reef app and start contributing immediately to data collection. You can submit locations of animal sightings, photos of what you have encountered like marine pollution or coral spawning and it can also help you to identify the wildlife you come across.
Fight For The Planet
The biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change caused by humans. And this will only change with action. So start right now to help give the Great Barrier Reef a fighting chance of survival. So here are just a few things to do today for a better future.
Make changes to your lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint
Commit to only taking one long haul flight per year
Change your diet to include more local produce and less animal products
Have your say at local council meetings and elections
Vote with your money by researching companies sustainability pledges.
I hope when you visit, you will take the time to explore the reef with the care it deserves and let it inspire you to help change its future.