Author Archive

6 Ways to Care for an Underwater Camera Housing

Maintenance for your housing starts before you go diving. Here are six tips from the experts at ScubaLab.

1. MAINTENANCE for your housing starts before you go diving. At the start of a trip, remove the sealing O-ring from its groove, and apply a small amount of the supplied O-ring grease.

2. IT’S IMPORTANT TO CHECK the O-ring for any debris that might interfere with creating
 a seal. Do this while applying a light coating of grease to the O-ring, and every time you open and close your housing.

3. KEEP YOUR HOUSING OUT of the sun to prevent camera fogging. The best sunscreen is a damp towel — if you’re out in the hot sun, just place the towel over your housing. Always keep a couple of desiccants in the housing to help prevent it from fogging.

4. NEVER LEAVE your housing unattended 
in the camera-only rinse bucket, 
as this is where quite a bit of flooding occurs. People often throw their cameras in the bucket, or will mishandle your system to make room for theirs.

5. AFTER YOUR DIVE
 IS OVER, rinse your housing in fresh water to flush away all the salt water. Dip your housing in fresh water, and depress the control buttons in order to make sure all the salt is removed from the crevices.

6. ALL HOUSINGS REQUIRE some long-term maintenance. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for routine maintenance, such as replacing the O-rings and sending in the housing for
 a checkup.
 This should help you avoid costly repairs.

 

Source: 6 Ways to Care for an Underwater Camera Housing | Sport Diver

Posted Saturday, 31 October 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

10 Tips To Protect The Ocean Planet

Project Aware

Just like climbers and campers have an ethic or code to live by – so do scuba divers. Project AWARE first launched its environmental ethic more than two decades ago, which has helped guide millions of scuba divers on ways to do no harm and protect the underwater world.

Today, you can download and share the shiny, new10 Tips for Divers to Protect the Ocean Planet atprojectaware.org and stay tuned to upcoming issues of Sport Diver where we’ll explore these tips in more depth. Thank you for doing your part to protect the ocean and take these tips to heart each time you dive.

 

Divers share a deep connection with the ocean. You can make a difference for ocean protection every time you dive, travel and more.

1. Be a Buoyancy Expert
2. Be a Role Model
3. Take Only Photos – Leave Only Bubbles
4. Protect Underwater Life
5. Become a Debris Activist
6. Make Responsible Seafood Choices
7. Take Action
8. Be an Eco-tourist
9. Shrink Your Carbon Footprint
10. Give Back

Source: 10 Tips To Protect The Ocean Planet | Sport Diver

Massive Sargassum Seaweed Bloom is Choking The Caribbean — Climate Change a Likely Culprit

Posted Monday, 12 October 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Oceanic introduces Veo-100-nx

Those looking for a full-featured entry level Air or Nitrox Dive Computer will love Oceanic’s new Veo 100 Nx, announced today.

Oceanic Introduces the Veo 100 Nx

image-124-Oceanic Veo 100 Nx 0

Those looking for a full-featured entry level Air or Nitrox Dive Computer will love Oceanic’s new Veo 100 Nx, announced today. The Veo 100 Nx is the next generation of the popular Veo 100. “The Veo 100 has been extremely successful as an entry level, back-up or rental computer due to competitive pricing, ease of use and reliability.” said Doug Krause, Marketing Manager for Oceanic Worldwide. “The addition of Nitrox with the launch of the Nx will no doubt further strengthen our dominant market share in this category.”

Key features of the new Veo 100 Nx include:

  • Air and Nitrox Operating Modes

  • Easy to learn and use

  • Customize the information displayed during a dive with a press of a button

  • “Hockey Puck” module is the same size as most depth gauges for easy and inexpensive console upgrades

  • Water activation

  • Reset feature for rental/charter applications

  • Diver-replaceable battery with Hot Swap memory allows battery change between dives

  • Automatic Safety Stop Prompt

  • 12 Dive Log Book

In addition, the Veo 100 Nx offers several user settings and options including Nitrox 21– 50%, Maximum PO2 (1.2 – 1.6), FO2 50% Default (ON / OFF), Water Activation (ON / OFF), Units of Measure (Imperial / Metric), Hour Format (12 / 24), and Time of Day.

Source: http://www.sportdiver.com/article/news/oceanic-introduces-veo-100-nx?src=related&con=outbrain&obref=obnetwork

Posted Wednesday, 30 September 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Culebra Snorkel or Dive ?

 

Snorkeling is also known as free-diving: Strap on a mask, snorkel, and fins you’ll be ready to quite literally pass through the looking-glass into another world. The warm waters of Culebra will embraces your body and frees you from gravity, allowing you to fly among the parrots, butterflies, angels, damsels, and, turtles then dance with the hamlets and scarlet ladies, and bow to the barracuda and dolphin.

The tropical sea covers an unrestricted collection of life. And one of our greatest attractions is that you can wade into the water off any point of land and find yourself immersed in a universe of outrageous color and interesting characters. Of course it’s always better off a picture perfect gorgeous beach … or one with nothing but solitude and sand.

And whether you’re just looking for a calm swim with friendly fish or a synchronized float with your significant other, we will help you found your perfect Caribbean beach. A day of snorkeling or diving on Culebra that focuses first on safely reaching the best waters for the conditions in the Culebra area, will ensure splashing among thickets of Elkhorn, Staghorn, and Pillar coral, while poking into shallow caves and overhangs that dance with tropical fish of every color and persuasion.

The clear blue skies highlights Culebra’s bleach-white beaches, transparent turquoise water and luxuriant reefs, all of which are among the very best in the Caribbean. Flamenco Beach, on the north side, is the best stretch of sand on the island, which boasts some 2 miles of sink-to-your-ankles, soft-coral-sand beach.  Not to take away from the other snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and paddle boarding sites Culebra can offer (over 20) with proper directions are just a short walk, hike, or drive.

The west end of Culebra is protected from the Caribbean’s north eastern swells and has a shoreline reef system that opens to sandy encased shallow lagoons,  The shoreline reef system extends out from the beach to honeycombed depths of 10-60ft thick then drop off to sandy flats simply keeping the sea life close which is perfect for snorkeling. Just under the surface, hemostat-jawed needlefish, yellow tail snapper, spanish grunts, and various grouper stalk silvery blankets of minnows while cobalt clouds of blue tang swarm over boulders of brain coral, leisurely picking at tufts of algae. Fish, lobsters, stingrays, turtles, ells, and crabs fill every nook and cranny of the reef.

Source: Culebra Snorkel or Dive ?

Posted Saturday, 26 September 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Gear / How to Maintain Your Snorkel / Dive Mask

Gear Basic – Mask Maintenance

Critical scuba diving gear requires annual inspection and service by a qualified technician, but even dive masks — your window to the underwater world — need some special TLC. Here’s our guide to keeping your mask in tiptop shape in 5 easy steps.

Predive
1. If you haven’t replaced your mask strap with a stretchy fabric one, stretch out the strap to look for fine cracks. If you do find any, immediately replace the strap.
2. Examine the silicone of your mask skirt. The most common failure area on a mask is the feather-edged seal on the skirt. This can become imperfect or irregular in shape with time and heavy use, and that irregularity can create leaks.
3. Check all the buckles, which can crack, split or become clogged with debris that can interfere with how they function. Then check the frame of your mask for cracking, chips or other obvious signs of wear, especially in the areas immediately adjacent to the glass lens.

Postdive
1. To avoid mildew growth, rinse your mask in warm, fresh water and allow it to drip dry completely before packing it away.
2. Pack the mask loosely, so nothing distorts the mask skirt. Leaving it squashed into a weird position for a long period of time will cause it to take on an unnatural shape.

Source: Gear / Masks | Sport Diver

15 Tips for Avoiding Seasickness | Sport Diver

Why do scuba divers get motion sickness? It’s because your feet are telling your brain that you’re on solid ground, but you’re really rocking and rolling on the high seas. Your brain gets confused; you get sick.

Anyone who’s ever tried to keep their cookies settled while riding on a turbulent sea knows Kermit speaks the truth: It’s not easy being green. But it’s the rare ocean traveler who’s never turned the sickly shade. Nearly 100 percent of boat passengers will experience some level of seasickness on rough waters, says the Centers for Disease Control, and some of us seem to get green around the gills 100 percent of the time, regardless of the motion of the ocean.

If you’re one of the unlucky 100 percent, you can blame your parents, as it’s likely genetic. Fortunately, you don’t have to abandon ship. Motion sickness and the many factors that affect it can be largely controlled. Here’s how:

• Look up and out. At the most basic level, seasickness is a matter of sensory mismatch. When you’re sitting on a boat that’s rolling on the water, the body, inner ear and eyes all send different signals to the brain. Your brain gets confused and you get queasy. Stop tinkering with your computer and equipment and look out on the horizon, which usually appears very stable. Your peripheral vision will see the ocean swells that you feel. The whole picture will make more sense to your brain. Likewise brace yourself at the center of the boat where the rocking and rolling is less amplified.

• Tame your tummy. Have a Coke. It contains phosphoric acid and sugars, the same ingredients you’ll find in Emetrol, an over-the-counter anti-nausea drug.

• Apply some pressure. For centuries, traditional Chinese medicine has included acupuncture or acupressure on the inside of the wrist, at a spot called P6, as a way to suppress the nausea associated with motion sickness. You can find simple pressure bands like Sea-Band and Acuband at your local drug store. More sophisticated, battery-operated bands like Reliefband, which delivers an electrical pulse instead of pressure, are out there as well.

• Pop a pill. Meds like Dramamine, Bonine and even antihistamines like Benadryl can help quell motion sickness by blocking sensory-nerve transmission, which is a fancy way of saying they interrupt the flow of information from various places like the middle ear (involved in balance) to the brain. They can cause drowsiness and fuzzy thinking, however, so definitely take them for a test drive before diving on them. All the pills are about the same in effectiveness and side effects. But if one of them—Dramamine, Bonine, Marazine, etc.—seems to work better for you than the others, stick with it. The placebo effect is very strong with seasickness. And start taking the medication early: Pills are better prevention than treatment. After you feel queasy, it may be too late for pills to help, so start 12 to 24 hours before going to sea. This builds up a level of the drug in your body.

• Try wearing an anti-nausea band. Some people like “Sea Bands.” They are bracelets with dots that purportedly touch acupressure points on your wrist. They have never been proven effective, but some people swear by them.

• Wear a patch. Scopolamine, a drug that reduces the activity of nerve fibers in your inner ear, is hands down the most successful commercial seasickness medication on the market. You get a steady dose by wearing a medicated patch like the Transderm Scop patch behind your ear. Just be mindful of following directions and watching for side effects like dry mouth and blurred vision.

• Don’t try to read. Focusing your eyes on an apparently stationary target makes them even more convinced that your middle ears are wrong.

• Close your eyes. You may have to go below or find a place to stretch out and lie down, in which case you should close your eyes so they aren’t giving a no-motion message to your brain.

• Be clean and sober. Even a mild hangover can easily degenerate into seasickness, besides increasing various diving risks. Likewise, fatigue predisposes you to seasickness.

• Eat something. Opinions vary on this one, but most people feel better with a little bland food on their stomachs. Bread, bagels, pancakes, etc. are better than eggs and bacon. Coffee and orange juice are acidic and may irritate your stomach. Eat a little, not a lot.

• Relax. Anxiety contributes to seasickness. Those who are frightened by the ocean and the movement of the boat, or anxious about the diving later in the day, are more likely to become seasick.

• Watch for symptoms. Early signs include chills, headache and frequent burping. Now is the time to go on deck, or move to the lee rail if you’re already there.

• Plan ahead. All of these techniques work best if you apply them before you need them — to prevent getting motion sick in the first place. So take precautions early.

I’M SEASICK: NOW WHAT?

• If you feel the urge, let it rip. You’ll feel better almost immediately. Prolonging the inevitable only prolongs the pain.

• Don’t use a toilet. Or, God help us, a trash can. Go to the rail on the lee (downwind) side or use a bucket if one is designated. If you feel the urge coming, ask a crew member where to go. He or she will know the best place. Don’t be embarrassed; you’re not the first.

After a few hours, most people feel better. For some it takes a day or two. Almost everyone gets over seasickness within three days.

Source: 15 Tips for Avoiding Seasickness | Sport Diver

Underwater Photo Tips: Capturing People

People can be among the trickiest subjects for underwater photography. Learn from the pros with these simple tips, and bring out the best from your dive photos.

Few underwater photographers start out wanting to photograph people. Our first shots are usually to record all the fish and marine life that got us diving in the first place. We might take the occasional snaps of our buddies, but new photographers are rarely motivated to take people pics.

That all changes when you start showing your images, wanting to tell stories with them, and trying to get them published. In these cases, people shots are invaluable. In short, if you want your photos to sell, the most important subject that you can point your camera toward is another diver.

Magazines love people pictures because a model adds human interest, helps tell a story and endows an image with the sense of “that could be me.” Pho- tographically, a model provides a sense of scale, which can balance a wide-angle composition, creating a point of interest in otherwise open water, and by looking at the main subject of the photo, can reinforce the viewer’s interest, helping your composition work.

In theory, people should be one of the easiest underwater subjects. They are big, won’t run away and will even pose on demand. However, there are a few small details to help ensure that your model shots stand out.

Model Behavior

The first challenge of people photography is finding someone willing to pose. Distant compositions can be made with passing divers, also known as models of opportunity, but most people pictures require planned posing. Many photog- raphers dive together and take turns modeling for each other.

The best divers are usually the best models, because they look the most relaxed in the water and can most easily hold an elegant pose. Dive guides are ideal, but their time is not only yours, and they will have more-important responsibilities to tend to.

I often ask staff on their days off, who will usually be happy to have some photos to share with their family and friends. (It doesn’t hurt that they are usually better proportioned than your average vacationer — or underwater photographer for that matter!)

People work best in underwater pictures when they are either near or far. Middle distance is rarely effective because the model is too far away to be lit effectively and still too large in the frame to balance the composition in the way that a distant silhouette does.

Keep Your Distance

Before diving, I discuss my plans and show the models how wide a view my fisheye lens sees, so they understand how they will appear. When working with new models, I’ll start off framing them as a silhouette, which makes them less self-conscious and more relaxed. And since their eyes are not visible, they can look right at me and judge their position from the reflection in my dome port. As a silhouette, the diver’s shape is critical to an engaging composition. Even small in the frame and clad in neoprene, viewers will still pick up on body language.

The best pose might take a few shots to perfect, so make sure you’ve got the rest of the picture right before calling in a model. It is also easier for a model to swim than to hover, so advise your model to fin across your picture, parallel to the camera. If he swims straight at you, his silhouette will be a messy blob. What also looks bad: perfect tec-diver trim, with knees bent up, frog kicks and hands thrust out in front. Neat arms and long, straight legs look much more elegant — better still if one leg is slightly bent, so the diver looks like he is swimming.

Look in the Eye

When a diver is close and lit well, his eyes will dominate the composition. Glance across the page, and you’ll find that the model’s eyes grab your attention, despite being small. Getting the eyes right becomes critical to the success or failure of the image.

Lighting a diver’s eyes is much easier with a clear-skirted mask because clear silicone lets in the light from your strobes, while a black-skirted mask is more likely to cast shadows. Most flattering is a 1960s oval mask, which shows the entire face. But, of course, nobody uses these masks anymore, and many editors will instantly reject your photos as dated.

The best directions to give a model are to face toward the camera but not to look straight into the lens in a “Hi, Mom!” pose. If there is subject matter between you and the model, you can direct the model to look at that subject. If not, ask him to look at your hand, and hold it above and slightly to the side of the camera. But the best advice is to always be patient and encouraging. Modeling is much harder than it looks, so always be grateful to anyone willing to give his or her dive time for your photos.

Pro Tip
A wide-angle lens is a necessity when photographing people, but these types of lenses tend to distort the scene, especially fisheye lenses. Unlike distorted fish photos, photos of misshapen divers can be distracting. Try to avoid placing people close to the corners or edges of the frame so that there are no unwanted bulges. If necessary, use processing software to correct any fisheye distortion.

image-spd0615 images raj13 am-10439

Source: Underwater Photo Tips: Capturing People | Scuba Diving Photography | Sport Diver

Posted Saturday, 26 September 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Storm Surge–Plain and Simple (Part 1)

Source: Storm Surge–Plain and Simple (Part 1)

Storm Surge–Plain and Simple (Part 1)

POSTED ON JUNE 17, 2014

lake2

You may have heard that NHC is unveiling an experimental storm surge graphic this hurricane season.  We mentioned in our first blog post on May 29 that we would be discussing the background and interpretation of this graphic.  There’s a lot to cover, so instead of throwing it all at you in one shot, we are going to do a three-part series on the new graphic and communication on storm surge in general.  Here’s what we plan on covering:

Part 1:  Why do we need a storm surge graphic?

Part 2:  How is the storm surge graphic created?

Part 3:  How should you interpret the storm surge graphic?

High Water Memo

So, let’s get on with Part 1.  First, let’s look back at a little history.  Way back in 1955, the U.S. Weather Bureau issued a memo (figure to the right) to weather offices along the coast, directing them to refer to any water rise produced by a hurricane or tropical storm in terms of “above normal tide levels,” and those rises were to be specified in ranges to account for uncertainty.  Believe it or not, that policy went unchanged for over 50 years!  In 2008, the NHC Public Advisories for Hurricane Ike referred to storm surge like this:

“COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF UP TO 20 FEET…WITH A FEW SPOTS TO NEAR 25 FEET…ABOVE NORMAL TIDES ALONG WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES…CAN BE EXPECTED NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER OF IKE MAKES LANDFALL. THE SURGE EXTENDS A GREATER THAN USUAL DISTANCE FROM THE CENTER DUE TO THE LARGE SIZE OF THE CYCLONE. WATER LEVELS HAVE ALREADY RISEN BY MORE THAN 5 FEET ALONG MUCH OF THE NORTHWESTERN GULF COAST.”

For many years, we didn’t have the technology, nor sufficient accuracy in our track forecasts, to be any more specific in our Public Advisories.  The best we could do was give an estimate of the highest storm surge expected with a general description of where that surge could occur relative to the center of the storm.  Unfortunately, many times these statements were too vague for emergency managers and other decision makers to make sound decisions before a storm.  One question a statement like this could not answer:  “How far inland could the storm surge go?”

Another issue had to do with what are called vertical datums.  We’ll leave the more technical discussion of vertical datums for another blog post, but what you need to know for this discussion is that a vertical datum is simply a reference point.  The water level height caused by the combination of storm surge and the tide must be attached to some point of reference.  The operative question is “the height of the water level is 6 feet above what?”  The problem was that many people either weren’t specifying what the datum was, or they were confusing one datum with another.

Here’s an example, again using Ike, where confusion set in.  The figure below shows output from the National Weather Service SLOSH model indicating simulated water level heights from Hurricane Ike along the Texas and Louisiana coasts.  What’s the first thing that jumps out at you?  The first question many people have is why do the values increase (go from 15 feet to over 21 feet) as you move inland from the coast into Chambers and Jefferson Counties in Texas?  Shouldn’t the deepest water have occurred at the immediate coast?  The subtlety here is that the water level in this picture is depicted relative to a datum called NAVD88.  So, the water levels in Chambers and Jefferson Counties were more than 21 feet above NAVD88, not 21 feet above the actual ground at those locations.

Ike Surge NAVD

Luckily, there’s a way to display how much water was sitting on normally dry ground, which is what most people typically envision when given storm surge heights.  Since we know what the elevation of the land is at each location, relative to the same vertical datum used for the surge data itself, we can subtract the land elevation from the surge heights to get a good idea of how high the water was above the ground at each location.  The next figure is the same simulation for Ike but instead shows this subtraction at play.  Notice any differences from the previous image?

Ike Surge Ground

Now it should all make sense.  The highest values (about 15 feet above ground level) are located along the immediate coast and decrease as you move inland.

Recent hurricanes like Katrina, Rita, and Ike showed that we needed to make some changes in the ways that we communicate storm surge information.  And thankfully, we now have the technologies and capabilities to go beyond simplified text statements in the Public Advisory.  In Part 2 of this series, we’ll talk about the Probabilistic Storm Surge product, how it accounts for uncertainties in the storm surge forecast, and how it is being used to create the Experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for this hurricane season.

— Robbie Berg and Jamie Rhome

Posted Saturday, 5 September 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

The Ups and Downs of Predicting Tropical Cyclone Formation: The Role of Atmospheric Waves

 The Role of Atmospheric Waves

POSTED ON JUNE 25, 2015

A previous blog entry described the new NHC five-day tropical cyclone formation (or genesis) products.  In this blog entry, we discuss the factors that go into these predictions.

The primary tool used at NHC for five-day tropical cyclone genesis forecasts is global numerical modeling.  Global models can predict many of the environmental factors that influence tropical cyclone formation, and the skill of these models has been improving with time.  More tropical cyclone formations are being forecast with longer lead times, and weather prediction models show fewer “false alarms” than in the past.  Recent studies suggest, and forecaster experience seems to confirm, that a consensus of the available model guidance usually outperforms any single model.   This “two heads are better than one” approach works as long as the models (or heads) are somewhat independent of one another.  In addition, NHC is currently evaluating a few statistical techniques that use the global model output to produce objective guidance designed to assist hurricane specialists in developing the probabilities of formation issued in the Tropical Weather Outlook.

Kelvin Waves and the Madden-Julian Oscillation

Global model guidance is not the only tool available to NHC forecasters, however.  Researchers have learned that a majority of lower latitude tropical cyclone formations are associated with waves in the atmosphere moving through the global Tropics from west to east.    Two particularly important wave types are the Convectively Coupled Kelvin Wave (CCKW), which circumnavigates the equator in about 15 to 20 days, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), which transits the globe in 30 to 60 days.  These waves are normally initiated by large areas of thunderstorm activity over tropical regions, especially near India and southeastern Asia.  These waves are different in both frequency and direction of motion from the more well-known tropical waves that originate over Africa and often spawn tropical cyclones as they move westward across the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins.

Tropical cyclone formation often accompanies the passage of the “active phase” of either the faster-moving CCKWs or the slower-moving MJO.   Figure 1 shows tropical cyclone tracks over a 37-year period in active and inactive phases of the MJO as the wave moves around the globe, along with increased or decreased rainfall anomalies associated with the two phases of the MJO (Zhang 2013).   In the figure, the active phase of the MJO for the Atlantic occurs in panel (a), while for the eastern Pacific the active phase occurs in panel (d).  The less active phases for these two basins fall in panels (c) and (b), respectively.

Figure 1. Tropical cyclone tracks in active and inactive phases of the MJO and increased (green) and decreased (purple) rainfall anomalies associated with the two phases of the MJO (from Zhang 2013). Panel (a) shows the active phase of the MJO for the Atlantic, and (d) shows the active phase for the eastern Pacific. Panels (b) and (c) show the less active phases for both basins.
Figure 1. Tropical cyclone tracks in active and inactive phases of the MJO and increased (green) and decreased (purple) rainfall anomalies associated with the two phases of the MJO (from Zhang 2013). Panel (a) shows the active phase of the MJO for the Atlantic, and (d) shows the active phase for the eastern Pacific. Panels (b) and (c) show the less active phases for both basins.

This concentration of tropical cyclone activity occurs because each type of wave temporarily makes large-scale environmental conditions, such as vertical wind shear or atmospheric moisture, more conducive for tropical cyclone formation.  Although not every wave causes a tropical cyclone to form, pre-existing disturbances have a greater likelihood of developing into tropical cyclones after the passage of a CCKW or the MJO.  High-activity periods can last as long as a week or more with the MJO, but are generally followed by days to possibly weeks of little to no activity during the inactive phases of these waves, when large-scale conditions become unfavorable for tropical cyclone formation.  Forecasters use real-time atmospheric data and other tools to diagnose the location and motion of these important catalysts for tropical cyclone formation.

Here is an example from the 2014 hurricane season of how forecasters used these atmospheric signals.  The graphic below, called a Hovmöeller diagram, shows where large areas of rising air (cool colors) and sinking air (warm colors) exist near the equator as a function of time.  The dashed black contours depict the active phase of successive CCKWs, and the solid red contours show the inactive phases.    In this particular case, forecasters noted that there was a strong CCKW moving through the eastern Pacific in the middle part of October.  Extrapolating the wave forward in time, along with numerical models forecasts of the wave’s location and strength, suggested that a tropical cyclone could form within a few days over the far eastern Pacific from a disturbance that was already in the area.  The green dot indicates where Tropical Storm Trudy formed, a day or two after the CCKW passed the disturbance.  Although CCKW tracking is only a secondary factor in determining a Tropical Weather Outlook forecast, a basic knowledge of this atmospheric phenomenon is an important part of the process.

active inactive phase
Figure 2. Hovmoeller diagram showing large areas of rising air (cool colors) and sinking air (warm colors) near the equator as a function of time

Forecasters consider many factors when preparing the five-day genesis probabilities for the Tropical Weather Outlook, including explicit forecasts from the global models and knowledge of any ongoing CCKWs or the MJO.   In addition, the final NHC forecast also reflects the current trends of the disturbance, which are weighted much more heavily in the two-day outlook, but also can affect the five-day forecast as well.  There are several ongoing research projects that will hopefully yield objective probabilities and other tools designed to help better predict tropical cyclone formation.  These tools, in combination with the dynamical guidance from numerical models, should improve the quality of genesis forecasts and perhaps in the next five years extend reliable tropical cyclone formation forecasts from five days to one week.

— Eric Blake and Todd Kimberlain

Source: The Ups and Downs of Predicting Tropical Cyclone Formation: The Role of Atmospheric Waves

Posted Saturday, 5 September 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Cyclones and Warnings and Names, Oh My!

Source: Cyclones and Warnings and Names, Oh My!

Posted Saturday, 5 September 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

DIY Tank Top-to-Tote for Spring Break

beach day-02 (2)

DIY Tank Top-to-Tote for Spring Break.

Posted Thursday, 28 May 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Restoring Coral Reefs | Ocean Today

Restoring Coral Reefs | Ocean Today.

Transcripción

NARRADOR:

Estos hermosos arrecifes de coral están en serios problemas. Ellos están siendo dañados o destruidos por la contaminación, las enfermedades, el cambio climático, y un gran número de encallamientos de buques.

Los corales cuerno de ciervo y cuerno de alce, se han convertido en especies amenazadas. Estos corales son los bloques de construcción de arrecifes en el Caribe y en los Cayos de la Florida.

Para abordar estos problemas, la NOAA y sus socios iniciaron un esfuerzo de restauración de arrecifes. Con el uso de técnicas innovadoras, como el cultivo de coral bajo el agua y el volver a unir piezas rotas del mismo, estos proyectos trasplantan y restauran miles de colonias de coral en sitios de arrecifes dañados.

Buzos capacitados han obtenido permisos especiales para trabajar en los arrecifes. Estos buzos transplantan nuevas piezas de coral mediante el uso de cemento o masilla epóxica. El objetivo es restaurar a los arrecifes coralinos para permitir que los habitantes naturales tengan una oportunidad de prosperar.

Los científicos han encontrado que los corales que crecen en los viveros son capaces de reproducirse en sus nuevos hogares. Esto significa que el cuerno de ciervo y el cuerno de alce, tienen una oportunidad de recuperarse. También significa que la diversidad genética se puede lograr a lo largo de los arrecifes, permitiendo ecosistemas más fuertes y resistentes en nuestro océano.

Siendo que los corales sanos son una parte vital del medio ambiente marino, la restauración de los arrecifes trae grandes beneficios a las aguas de este lugar y de todo el mundo.

Transcript

NARRATOR:

These beautiful coral reefs are in serious trouble.  They are being damaged or destroyed by pollution, disease, climate change, and a large number of ship groundings.

Staghorn and elkhorn coral have become threatened species.  These corals are the building blocks of reefs in the Caribbean and Florida Keys.

To address these issues, NOAA and its partners started a coral restoration effort.
Using innovative techniques, like underwater coral farming and reattaching broken coral pieces, these projects transplant and restore thousands of coral colonies on damaged reef sites.

Trained scuba divers are given special permission to work on the reefs.
These divers transplant the new pieces of coral by using cement or epoxy putty.
The goal is to restore the coral reef to allow the natural inhabitants a chance to thrive.

Scientists have found that the corals grown in the nurseries are able to reproduce in their new homes.  This means staghorn and elkhorn have a chance for a comeback.   It also means genetic diversity may be achieved along the reefs – allowing for stronger and more resilient ecosystems in our ocean.

Since healthy coral is a vital part of the ocean environment, restoring reefs brings great benefits to the waters here and around the world.

http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/restoringcoralreefs/embed.html

At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

APRIL 1, 2015 — Very little, if any, light from the sun successfully travels to the extreme bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. At these dark depths, the water is cold and the inescapable pressure of thousands of feet of ocean bears down on everything.

Yet life in the deep ocean is incredibly diverse. Here, delicate branches of soft coral are embraced by the curling arms of brittlestars. Slender sea fans, tinged with pink, reach for tiny morsels of food drifting down like snow from above. From minute marine worms to elongated fish, the diversity of the deep ocean is also a hallmark of its health and stability.

However, this picture of health was disrupted on April 20, 2010. Beginning that day and for almost three months after, the Macondo wellhead unleashed an unprecedented amount of oil and natural gas nearly a mile beneath the ocean.

In addition, the response to this oil spill released large amounts of chemical dispersant, both at the source of the leaking oil and on the ocean surface. These actions were meant to break down oil that might have threatened life at the sea surface and on Gulf shores. Nevertheless, the implications for the ocean floor were largely unknown at the time.

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a number of academic and independent scientists along with state and federal agencies, including NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, have been collaborating to study just how this oil spill and response affected the deep ocean and seafloor of the Gulf.

What they found was the footprint of the oil spill on the seafloor, stamped on sickened deep-sea corals and out-of-balance communities of tiny marine invertebrates.

A Sickened Seafloor

A part of the world difficult to reach—and therefore difficult to know—the depths of the Gulf of Mexico required a huge collaborative and technological effort to study its inhabitants. Beginning in the fall of 2010, teams of scientists set out on multiple research cruises to collect deep-sea data, armed with specialized equipment, including remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), cameras capable of withstanding the crushing pressure of the deep ocean, and devices that could bore into the ocean bottom and scoop up multiple samples of sediments at a time.

Through these efforts, researchers have uncovered large areas of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor that contain most of the oil spill’s notable deep-sea impacts. One area in particular surrounds the damaged wellhead and stretches to the southwest, following the path of the massive underwater plume of Deepwater Horizon oil. At times, up to 650 feet thick and over a mile wide, the oil plume drifted at depths more than 3,500 feet beneath the ocean surface, leaving traces of its presence on the bottom as it went (Camilli et al. 2010).

The Macondo wellhead sits at the center of a bull’s-eye–shaped pattern of harm on the seafloor, with oil-related impacts lessening in intensity farther from the oil’s source. Further tying this pattern of injury to the Deepwater Horizon spill, a conservative chemical tracer of petroleum turned up in surface seafloor sediments extending 15 miles from the wellhead (Valentine et al. 2014).

Diversity Takes a Nose Dive

Few people ever see the bottom of the deep ocean. So what do these impacted areas actually look like? Starting several months after the leaking well was capped, researchers used ROVs and special cameras to dive down roughly 4,500 feet. They found multiple deep-sea coral colonies showing recent signs of poor health, stress, and tissue damage. On these corals, the polyps, which normally extend frilly tentacles from the corals’ branching arms, were pulled back, and excessive mucus hung from the corals’ skeletons, which also revealed patches of dead tissue. All of these symptoms have been observed in corals experimentally exposed to crude oil (White et al. 2012 PDF).

Many of these coral colonies were partly or entirely coated in a clumpy brown material, which researchers referred to as “floc.” Chemical analysis of this material revealed the presence of petroleum droplets with similar chemical markers to Deepwater Horizon oil. The brittlestars usually associated with these corals also appeared in strange colors and positions. Some entire coral colonies were dead.

Research teams noted these observations only at corals within roughly 16 miles of the wellhead (White et al. 2012 PDF, Fisher et al. 2014). However, many similar coral colonies located further from the spill site showed no poor health effects.

Even one and two years later, deep-sea corals within the footprint of the spill still had not recovered. Hydroids took the place of the brown floc material on affected corals. Relatives of jellies, hydroids are fuzzy, grayish marine invertebrates that are known to encrust unhealthy coral.

Life on and under the sediment at the bottom of the Gulf also suffered, with the diversity of a wide range of marine life dropping across an area roughly three times the size of Manhattan (Montagna et al. 2013). Notably, numbers of tiny, pollution-tolerant nematodes increased in areas of moderate impact but at the expense of the number and types of other species, particularly copepods, small crustaceans at the base of the food chain. These effects were related to the concentration of oil compounds in sediments and to the distance from the Deepwater Horizon spill but not to natural oil seeps.

More sensitive to pollution, fewer types and numbers of crustaceans and mollusks were found in sediments around coral colonies showing impacts. Instead, a few types of segmented marine worms known as polychaetes tended to dominate ocean sediments with higher oil contamination near these corals (Fisher et al. 2014).

A Long Time Coming

Life on the bottom of the ocean moves slowly. Deep-sea corals live for hundreds to thousands of years, and their deaths are rare events. Some of the corals coated in oily brown floc are about 600 years old (Prouty et al. 2014). The observed impacts to life in the deep ocean are tied closely to theDeepwater Horizon oil spill, but the full extent of the harm and the eventual recovery may take years, even decades, to manifest (Fisher and Demopoulos, et al. 2014).

Learn more about the studies supported by the federal government’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which determines the environmental harm due to the oil spill and response and seeks compensation from those responsible in order to restore the affected resources.

Gear / Fins | Sport Diver

Are Split Fins Right For You?

When cruising the depths, do you find yourself nagged by ankle strain when kicking through the water? Does the most minimal fin stroke get your knees and leg muscles barking like a pack of dogs? Do you like the ability to kick into a current or chase a bat ray without getting overly fatigued or cramping up? Are you a big fan of the flutter kick? If so, you might be a candidate for split fins.

Split fins slice through the water with far less resistance than traditional paddle fins. That’s because rather than pushing against the water with brute force, the flexible blades of a split fin, when engaged in an up-tempo flutter kick, actually generate lift along with a jet propulsion effect, similar to a boat’s propeller. The faster the propeller turns, the more propulsion is generated. In other words, with split fins power comes from the speed of a diver’s kick rather than the force of the kick. The result: excellent acceleration and the ability to sustain speeds and cover a lot of ground with minimal effort or leg strain.

Of course, like anything else, there are good split fins and not-so-good split fins, so performance results will vary. Also, due to the principles of the design, the best kick for a split fin is a narrow (inside the body’s slipstream), rapid flutter kick. If that type of kick is not your cup of tea — if you prefer sculling or the frog kicking instead, or if you tend to do a lot of backing up — then a split fin is probably not for you. Clearly, there are distinct differences between splits and paddles. The question is what design approach is right for the type of diving you like to do?

Gear / Fins | Sport Diver.

Okeanos Explorer | Expeditions | NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs

 

Okeanos Explorer | Expeditions | NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs.

Okeanos Explorer | Expeditions | Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs | Dive Highlights

Okeanos Explorer | Expeditions | Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs | Dive Highlights.

At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

A time series of coral showing the progression of typical impacts at a site of coral colonies located less than seven miles from the source of Deepwater Horizon oil. You can see the brown “floc” material present in November 2010 disappears by March 2011 and afterward, is replaced by fuzzy gray hydroids and the coral loses its brittlestar companion. (Credit: Hsing et al. 2013)

Five photos of deep-sea coral showing the progression of impacts over several years.

This coral, covered almost entirely in a clumpy brown material containing petroleum droplets and known as “floc,” shows signs of recent impact less than seven miles from the source of leaking Deepwater Horizon oil. (Credit: White et al. 2012)

Injured deep-sea coral covered in brown material with its associated brittlestar

This is what healthy Paramuricea biscaya colonies, the coral species most heavily impacted within the footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, are supposed to look like. This photo of healthy coral was taken in 2011 during a Natural Resource Damage Assessment research cruise aboard the Holiday Chouest. (NOAA)

Healthy deep-sea coral and brittlestar on dark ocean floor.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Five Years Later

This is the second in aseries of stories over the coming weeks looking at various topics related to the response, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment science, restoration efforts, and the future of the Gulf of Mexico.

>>>Read Original>>>>

APRIL 1, 2015 — Very little, if any, light from the sun successfully travels to the extreme bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. At these dark depths, the water is cold and the inescapable pressure of thousands of feet of ocean bears down on everything.

Yet life in the deep ocean is incredibly diverse. Here, delicate branches of soft coral are embraced by the curling arms of brittlestars. Slender sea fans, tinged with pink, reach for tiny morsels of food drifting down like snow from above. From minute marine worms to elongated fish, the diversity of the deep ocean is also a hallmark of its health and stability.

However, this picture of health was disrupted on April 20, 2010. Beginning that day and for almost three months after, the Macondo wellhead unleashed an unprecedented amount of oil and natural gas nearly a mile beneath the ocean.

In addition, the response to this oil spill released large amounts of chemical dispersant, both at the source of the leaking oil and on the ocean surface. These actions were meant to break down oil that might have threatened life at the sea surface and on Gulf shores. Nevertheless, the implications for the ocean floor were largely unknown at the time.

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a number of academic and independent scientists along with state and federal agencies, including NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, have been collaborating to study just how this oil spill and response affected the deep ocean and seafloor of the Gulf.

What they found was the footprint of the oil spill on the seafloor, stamped on sickened deep-sea corals and out-of-balance communities of tiny marine invertebrates.

A Sickened Seafloor

A part of the world difficult to reach—and therefore difficult to know—the depths of the Gulf of Mexico required a huge collaborative and technological effort to study its inhabitants. Beginning in the fall of 2010, teams of scientists set out on multiple research cruises to collect deep-sea data, armed with specialized equipment, including remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), cameras capable of withstanding the crushing pressure of the deep ocean, and devices that could bore into the ocean bottom and scoop up multiple samples of sediments at a time.

Through these efforts, researchers have uncovered large areas of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor that contain most of the oil spill’s notable deep-sea impacts. One area in particular surrounds the damaged wellhead and stretches to the southwest, following the path of the massive underwater plume of Deepwater Horizon oil. At times, up to 650 feet thick and over a mile wide, the oil plume drifted at depths more than 3,500 feet beneath the ocean surface, leaving traces of its presence on the bottom as it went (Camilli et al. 2010).

The Macondo wellhead sits at the center of a bull’s-eye–shaped pattern of harm on the seafloor, with oil-related impacts lessening in intensity farther from the oil’s source. Further tying this pattern of injury to the Deepwater Horizon spill, a conservative chemical tracer of petroleum turned up in surface seafloor sediments extending 15 miles from the wellhead (Valentine et al. 2014).

Diversity Takes a Nose Dive

Few people ever see the bottom of the deep ocean. So what do these impacted areas actually look like? Starting several months after the leaking well was capped, researchers used ROVs and special cameras to dive down roughly 4,500 feet. They found multiple deep-sea coral colonies showing recent signs of poor health, stress, and tissue damage. On these corals, the polyps, which normally extend frilly tentacles from the corals’ branching arms, were pulled back, and excessive mucus hung from the corals’ skeletons, which also revealed patches of dead tissue. All of these symptoms have been observed in corals experimentally exposed to crude oil (White et al. 2012 PDF).

Many of these coral colonies were partly or entirely coated in a clumpy brown material, which researchers referred to as “floc.” Chemical analysis of this material revealed the presence of petroleum droplets with similar chemical markers to Deepwater Horizon oil. The brittlestars usually associated with these corals also appeared in strange colors and positions. Some entire coral colonies were dead.

Research teams noted these observations only at corals within roughly 16 miles of the wellhead (White et al. 2012 PDF, Fisher et al. 2014). However, many similar coral colonies located further from the spill site showed no poor health effects.

Even one and two years later, deep-sea corals within the footprint of the spill still had not recovered. Hydroids took the place of the brown floc material on affected corals. Relatives of jellies, hydroids are fuzzy, grayish marine invertebrates that are known to encrust unhealthy coral.

Life on and under the sediment at the bottom of the Gulf also suffered, with the diversity of a wide range of marine life dropping across an area roughly three times the size of Manhattan (Montagna et al. 2013). Notably, numbers of tiny, pollution-tolerant nematodes increased in areas of moderate impact but at the expense of the number and types of other species, particularly copepods, small crustaceans at the base of the food chain. These effects were related to the concentration of oil compounds in sediments and to the distance from the Deepwater Horizon spill but not to natural oil seeps.

Top row, from left,  two types of crustaceans and a mollusk. Bottom row shows three types of marine worms known as polychaetes.

Examples of some of the common but very small marine invertebrates found living on and under the Gulf of Mexico seafloor. The top row shows, from left, two types of crustaceans and a mollusk, which are more sensitive to pollution. The bottom row shows three types of marine worms known as polychaetes, which tended to dominate ocean sediments with higher oil contamination found near corals. (Courtesy of Paul Montagna, Texas A&M University)

More sensitive to pollution, fewer types and numbers of crustaceans and mollusks were found in sediments around coral colonies showing impacts. Instead, a few types of segmented marine worms known as polychaetes tended to dominate ocean sediments with higher oil contamination near these corals (Fisher et al. 2014).

A Long Time Coming

Life on the bottom of the ocean moves slowly. Deep-sea corals live for hundreds to thousands of years, and their deaths are rare events. Some of the corals coated in oily brown floc are about 600 years old (Prouty et al. 2014). The observed impacts to life in the deep ocean are tied closely to theDeepwater Horizon oil spill, but the full extent of the harm and the eventual recovery may take years, even decades, to manifest (Fisher and Demopoulos, et al. 2014).

Learn more about the studies supported by the federal government’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which determines the environmental harm due to the oil spill and response and seeks compensation from those responsible in order to restore the affected resources.

At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

 

One Step Toward Reducing Chemical Disasters: Sharing with Communities Where Those Chemicals Are Located

Dirty label on leaking chemical drum

One Step Toward Reducing Chemical Disasters: Sharing with Communities Where Those Chemicals Are Located.

In the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf Dolphins Found Sick and Dying in Larger Numbers Than Ever Before

A dolphin is observed with oil on its skin on August 5, 2010, in Barataria Bay, La.

In the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf Dolphins Found Sick and Dying in Larger Numbers Than Ever Before.

NOAA satellites help in the rescue of 240 people last year

2014 SARSAT rescues.

NOAA satellites help in the rescue of 240 people last year.

How Ghost Fishing Is Haunting Our Ocean

Posted Tuesday, 9 December 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

When Ships Threaten Corals in the Caribbean, NOAA Dives to Their Rescue

Posted Tuesday, 9 December 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

How NOAA Uses Coral Nurseries to Restore Damaged Reefs

Posted Saturday, 6 December 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Dive Masks, Fins and Snorkels

Sport Diver 1

As scuba divers, we’re intimately connected to our equipment, especially our most fundamental gear — masks, fins and snorkels. But do you know who was the first human to strap fins on, or why mask lens are tempered? Check out these surprising facts.

1. Be thankful for silicone mask skirts. In the early days, when masks had rubber skirts, divers sometimes surfaced with their faces tinged with a ring of black.

2. Not only do objects underwater appear 25-precent closer than they really are, but the combined effect of the mask lens and water makes them appear 34-percent larger. Now, how big was that shark?

3. Many divers know tempered glass lenses are stronger than standard glass, but they’re also safer, because if broken they crumble into tiny pieces less likely to cause injury.

4. While most divers clean the protective film off a new mask by scrubbing it with a mild abrasive, it’s possible to (carefully) burn the film off using a lighter.

5. Snorkels are ancient technology. Sponge farmers on the island of Crete may have used snorkels made out of hollow reeds as early as 3,000 B.C.

6. The earliest fin designs came from some of history’s most creative minds, including Leonardo DaVinci and Benjamin Franklin. Franklin made fins from thin wood and used them in Boston’s Charles River.

7. The first mass-produced dive fin in the U.S. came from Churchill Swim Fins, established in 1938.

Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Dive Masks, Fins and Snorkels – But Should | Sport Diver.

View original>>

What Does the Sahara Desert Have to Do with Hurricanes?

What does the Sahara Desert in Africa have to do with hurricanes in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Eastern Pacific Ocean? You might think this sounds a little crazy because hurricanes are very wet and deserts are very dry, but if it weren’t for this huge, hot, dry region in North Africa, we would see far fewer hurricanes in the United States.

The Sahara Desert is massive, covering 10 percent of the continent of Africa. It would be the largest desert on Earth, but based strictly on rainfall amounts, the continent of Antarctica qualifies as a desert and is even larger. Still, rainfall in the Sahara is very infrequent; some areas may not get rain for years and the average total rainfall is less than three inches per year. While not the largest or driest of the deserts, the Sahara has a major influence on weather across the Western Hemisphere.

How a Tropical Storm Starts A-Brewin’

The role the Sahara Desert plays in hurricane development is related to the easterly winds (coming from the east) generated from the differences between the hot, dry desert in north Africa and the cooler, wetter, and forested coastal environment directly south and surrounding the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa. The result is a strong area of high altitude winds commonly called the African Easterly Jet. If these winds were constant, we would also experience fewer hurricanes.

However, the African Easterly Jet is unstable, resulting in undulations in a north-south direction, often forming a corresponding north to south trough, or wave, that moves westward off the West African Coast. When these waves of air have enough moisture, lift, and instability, they readily form clusters of thunderstorms, sometimes becoming correlated with a center of air circulation. When this happens, a tropical cyclone may form as the areas of disturbed weather move westward across the Atlantic.

Throughout most of the year, these waves typically form every two to three days in a region near Cape Verde (due west of Africa), but it is the summer to early fall when conditions can become favorable for tropical cyclone development. Not all hurricanes that form in the Atlantic originate near Cape Verde, but this has been the case for most of the major hurricanes that have impacted the continental United States.

Map of North America with historical tracks of hurricanes in North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific Oceans.

Wave of the Future (Weather)

In fact, just such a tropical wave formed off Cape Verde in mid-August of 1992. Up to that point, there had not been any significant tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic that year. However, the wave did intensify into a hurricane, and on August 24 Andrew came ashore in south Florida as a Category 5 hurricane, becoming one of the most costly and destructive natural disasters in U.S. history … until Sandy. Hurricane Sandy, which eventually struck the U.S. east coast as a post-tropical cyclone, also began as a similar tropical wave that formed off the coast of west Africa in October of 2012.

Some of these “waves” drift all the way to the Pacific Ocean by crossing Mexico and Central America. Many of the Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones originate, at least in part, from tropical waves coming off Cape Verde in Africa. Many of these waves traverse the entire Atlantic Ocean without generating storm development until after crossing Central America and entering the warm Eastern Pacific waters. Then, if the conditions are right, tropical cyclone formation is possible there. Hurricane Iselle, which hit the Big Island of Hawaii on August 8, 2014, was likely part of a wave that formed more than 8,000 miles away off of the West Coast of Africa and an example of the far-reaching influence the Sahara Desert has on our planet’s weather.

While these waves with origins in the Sahara Desert might generate numerous thunderstorms and a pattern with the potential for developing into a tropical cyclone, often the conditions are not quite right. Hurricane Cristobal formed from a classic Cape Verde wave last week and currently is churning Atlantic waters, but is not expected to be a threat to the United States. The formation of these disturbances off the West Coast of Africa will remain a potential source of tropical storms through the end of Atlantic hurricane season in late November. Each wave is investigated by the NOAA National Hurricane Center and you can view these active disturbances on their website.

The Sahara Desert and You

When it comes to hurricanes and hurricane preparedness, it’s interesting to know how a desert half a world away can influence the formation of severe weather on our coasts—and even parts of the Pacific Ocean. And no matter where you live, the old rule of planning for the worst and hoping for the best remains the surest way to stay safe.

Learn more about how we at NOAA’s National Ocean Service are staying prepared for hurricanes [PDF], and how you can create your own hurricane plan [PDF].

What Does the Sahara Desert Have to Do with Hurricanes?.

Posted Thursday, 13 November 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

With Lobster Poacher Caught, NOAA Fishes out Illegal Traps from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

July 11, 2014
4 Comments
This is a post by Katie Wagner of the Office of Response and Restoration’s Assessment and Restoration Division.

NOAA’s Restoration Center is leading the project with the help of two contractors, Tetra Tech and Adventure Environmental, Inc. The removal effort is part of a criminal case against a commercial diver who for years used casitas to poach spiny lobsters from sanctuary waters. An organized industry, the illegal use of casitas to catch lobsters in the Florida Keys not only impacts the commercial lobster fishery but also injures seafloor habitat and marine life.Casitas—Spanish for “little houses”—do not resemble traditional spiny lobster traps made of wooden slats and frames. “Casitas look like six-inch-high coffee tables and can be made of various materials,” explains NOAA marine habitat restoration specialist Sean Meehan, who is overseeing the removal effort.

A casita made of panels and cinder blocks on the seafloor.

The legs of the casitas can be made of treated lumber, parking blocks, or cinder blocks. Their roofs often are made of corrugated tin, plastic, quarter-inch steel, cement, dumpster walls, or other panel-like structures.

Poachers place casitas on the seafloor to attract spiny lobsters to a known location, where divers can return to quite the illegal catch.

“Casitas speak to the ecology and behavior of these lobsters,” says Meehan. “Lobsters feed at night and look for places to hide during the day. They are gregarious and like to assemble in groups under these structures.” When the lobsters are grouped under these casitas, divers can poach as many as 1,500 in one day, exceeding the daily catch limit of 250.

In addition to providing an unfair advantage to the few criminal divers using this method, the illegal use of casitas can harm the seafloor environment.

 A Natural Resource Damage Assessment, led by NOAA’s Restoration Center in 2008, concluded that the casitas injured seagrass and hard bottom areas, where marine life such as corals and sponges made their home. The structures can smother corals, sea fans, sponges, and seagrass, as well as the habitat that supports spiny lobster, fish, and other bottom-dwelling creatures.

A spiny lobster in a casita on the seafloor.

Casitas are also considered marine debris and potentially can harm other habitats and organisms. When left on the ocean bottom, casitas can cause damage to a wider area when strong currents and storms move them across the seafloor, scraping across seagrass and smothering marine life.

“We know these casitas, as they are currently being built, move during storm events and also can be moved by divers to new areas,” says Meehan. However, simply removing the casitas will allow the seafloor to recover and support the many marine species in the sanctuary.

There are an estimated 1,500 casitas in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary waters, only a portion of which will be removed in the current effort. In this case, a judge ordered the convicted diver to sell two of his residences to cover the cost of removing hundreds of casitas from the sanctuary.

To identify the locations of the casitas, NOAA’s Hydrographic Systems and Technology Program partnered with the Restoration Center and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In a coordinated effort, the NOAA team used Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (underwater robots) to conduct side scan sonar surveys, creating a picture of the sanctuary’s seafloor. The team also had help finding casitas from a GPS device confiscated from the convicted fisherman who placed them in the sanctuary.

After the casitas have been located, divers remove them by fastening each part of a casita’s structure to a rope and pulley mechanism or an inflatable lift bag used to float the materials to the surface. Surface crews then haul them out of the water and transport them to shore where they can be recycled or disposed.

For more information about the program behind this restoration effort, visit NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program.

Katie Wagner.Katie Wagner is a communications specialist in the Assessment and Restoration Division of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration. Her work raises the visibility of NOAA’s effort to protect and restore coastal and marine resources following oil spills, releases of hazardous substances, and vessel groundings.

Opera – Mask – Mares

         

Opera

Simple and sturdy

 

• Traditional design
• Durable for travel
• Light weight

An expression of Mares tradition, with its rugged, durable construction, making this a good travel companion for your diving holidays. Symmetrical lenses simplify the option to customize the mask with corrective lenses, which are available in a complete range from -1 to 7 diopters.

Opera – Masks – Mares.

Posted Thursday, 13 November 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Samurai – Masks – Pure Instinct – Mares

Samurai

The Samurai’s qualities have made this mask one of the world’s best sellers, as well as one of the most frequently copied, though never equaled. It offers incredibly small internal volume, a complete lack of dead space, very light weight, and a new hypoallergenic antiglare silicone skirt. The wide field of vision, thanks to the close placement of the lenses to the face, joins comfort and low internal volume to make the Samurai an unbeatable tool for spearfishermen and freedivers who love to dive deep.

Samurai – Masks – Pure Instinct – Mares.

Posted Thursday, 13 November 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

X-Vision Mid – Masks – Mares

X-Vision Mid – Masks – Mares.

Blue

X-Vision Mid

The most popular mask in the world

 

 

• State of the art design

• Optical lens option

• Mid-size available

The success of this scuba maskt derives from meticolous computer design and numerous optical tests. The central position of the eyes and the optimally angled windows provides the widest possible viewing angle in every direction. Quick-adjusting ergonomic buckles are positioned directly on the skirt

10 Tips for Better Underwater Photography | Sport Diver

10 Tips for Better Underwater Photography | Sport Diver.

Posted Wednesday, 12 November 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

I3 Sunrise – Masks – Mares

NEW PRODUCT Winter 2014-2015

I3 Sunrise – Masks – Mares.

sunrise blue

I3 Sunrise

An unparalled field of vision

• Tri-comfort skirt
• X-Shaped strap
• Quick-adjusting buckles

The i3 scuba mask combines the advantages of the Tri-comfort technology with a huge field of vision. In addition to the wide central glass, smaller panels on each side guarantee peripheral vision that will blow you away. The ergonomic 2-button buckles allow for easy and secure adjustment of the strap even when diving with thick gloves.

NOAA Education Resources: Water Cycle Collection

NOAA Education Resources: Water Cycle Collection.

The basic water cycle is relatively simple and is taught as early as elementary school. However, the water cycle is one of NOAA’s Grand Science Challenges.hydro

Like the accompanying diagram, the water cycle is often shown and taught as a simple circular cycle. Although this can be a useful model, students should understand that the reality is very different.

The paths and influences of water through Earth’s ecosystems are extremely complex and are not completely understood.

Read More >>

Posted Tuesday, 4 November 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

The Earth Is Blue and We’d Like to Keep It That Way

Posted Monday, 3 November 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Untangling Both a Whale and Why Marine Life Get Mixed up With Our Trash

Posted Monday, 3 November 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

What causes ocean currents?

What causes ocean currents?.

Ocean currents can be generated by wind, density differences in water masses caused by temperature and salinity variations, gravity, and events such as earthquakes.

There are two distinct current systems in the ocean—surface circulation, which stirs a relatively thin upper layer of the sea, and deep circulation, which sweeps along the deep-sea floor.

Currents are cohesive streams of seawater that circulate through the ocean. Some are short-lived and small, while others are vast flows that take centuries to complete a circuit of the globe. There are two distinct current systems in the ocean—surface circulation, which stirs a relatively thin upper layer of the sea, and deep circulation, which sweeps along the deep-sea floor.

Posted Monday, 3 November 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Meet The Intova Sports HD ll

Posted Saturday, 4 October 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Intova Sports HD Takes on the GoPro Hero 3

Sport HD II

Waterproof HD Video Sports Camera

SPECIFICATIONS
Video Resolution 1080p HD (30fps), 720p HD, 720p HD (60fps), WVGA1 (60fps), WVGA (30fps), VGA(30fps)
Video Codec H.264
Video File Type MP4
Photo Resolution 12MP, 8MP, 5MP, 3MP
Photo File Type JPEG
Digital zoom all modes except 1080p
Lens 140 degree wide angle, aperture f2.4
Depth Rating Waterproof to 200 ft / 60m
Important: to maintain waterproof seal, be sure to clean and remove debris from O-rings and lightly apply silicone grease before use.
Monitor 1.5″ TFT LCD
Power Built in 1400 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery
Battery Life Recording time 3 hours @ 1080p with LCD off
Video/still image flip Flips image over when camera is held upside down.
Scene mode Auto, Night Scene, Sports, Landscape, Sunset, Sand-Snow, Spotlight, Diving,
Image Effects Art, Sepia, Negative, Black and  White, Vivid
Memory Support micro SD card up to 32 GB, Class 6 or 10 recommended.
Ports TV Mini out, Micro USB
Flotation Camera Floats
Housing Polycarbonate with UV injection, Patented Unibody design
Controls Full function control buttons
Dimensions (7 x 8.4 x 6) cm / (2.8 x 3.3 x 2.4) inches
Weight 179g / 6.3 oz
Model# SP1 N

NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory – Saharan Dust Cloud Travels Across Atlantic

 

 

NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory – Saharan Dust Cloud Travels Across Atlantic.

african dusts

 

Saharan Dust Cloud Travels Across Atlantic
NOAA’s satellites have detected a plume of dust moving off the coast of Africa. Though quite common, this particular plume, also called the Saharan Air Layer, has a relatively constrained area of high concentration. This animation uses a recently enhanced version of the NOAA NGAC aerosol model to show how the plume is expected to travel across the Atlantic Basin over the next four days. The Saharan Air Layer plays an important role in lessening “cyclogenesis,” or the formation of hurricanes.

 

 

NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory – The Salty Atlantic vs. the Fresh Pacific

NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory – The Salty Atlantic vs. the Fresh Pacific.Salinity

Colorbar

 

The Salty Atlantic vs. the Fresh Pacific
Though the average salt concentration of the ocean is around 35 parts per thousand, there is a lot of variability in salinity from basin to basin and across time and space. Shown here is a model of surface salinity generated by the NOAA Environmental Modeling Center. Visible are the differences between salinity in the Western Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific. This variation in surface salinity arises from differing freshwater inputs and evaporation within the respective basins. Fresh water evaporates from the warm tropical waters of the Atlantic and is transported through the atmosphere as water vapor, eventually precipitating in the Pacific. The large moisture plumes in the Pacific are also carried northward via atmospheric rivers. Because the California Current (along the U.S. west coast) is bringing cold water down from the north, it is not subject to as much evaporation as the warm waters carried northward by the Gulf Stream along the east coast. Coastal river input also drives down surface salinity – which can be seen in off Washington, parts of the Mid-Atlantic, and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Referral: Global ocean models from NOAA EMC

 

Posted Thursday, 24 July 2014 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

NOAA 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

NOAA PRESS RELEASE
NOAA 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

Issued: 22 May 2014

Realtime monitoring of tropical Atlantic conditions
Realtime monitoring of tropical East Pacific conditions

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook is an official product of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC). The outlook is produced in collaboration with hurricane experts from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Hurricane Research Division (HRD). The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

Interpretation of NOAA’s Atlantic hurricane season outlook
This outlook is a general guide to the expected overall activity during the upcoming hurricane season. It is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and it does not predict levels of activity for any particular region.

Preparedness
Hurricane disasters can occur whether the season is active or relatively quiet. It only takes one hurricane (or tropical storm) to cause a disaster. Residents, businesses, and government agencies of coastal and near-coastal regions are urged to prepare for every hurricane season regardless of this, or any other, seasonal outlook. NOAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the Small Business Administration, and the American Red Cross all provide important hurricane preparedness information on their web sites.

NOAA does not make seasonal hurricane landfall predictions
NOAA does not make seasonal hurricane landfall predictions. Hurricane landfalls are largely determined by the weather patterns in place as the hurricane approaches, which are only predictable when the storm is within several days of making landfall.

Nature of this Outlook and the “likely” ranges of activity
This outlook is probabilistic, meaning the stated “likely” ranges of activity have a certain likelihood of occurring. The seasonal activity is expected to fall within these ranges in 7 out of 10 seasons with similar climate conditions and uncertainties to those expected this year. They do not represent the total possible ranges of activity seen in past similar years.

This outlook is based on 1) predictions of large-scale climate factors known to influence seasonal hurricane activity, and 2) climate models that directly predict seasonal hurricane activity.

Sources of uncertainty in this seasonal outlook
1. Predicting El Niño and La Niña (also called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO) impacts is an ongoing scientific challenge facing climate scientists today. Such forecasts made during the spring generally have limited skill.

2. Many combinations of named storms and hurricanes can occur for the same general set of climate conditions. For example, one cannot know with certainty whether a given climate signal will be associated with several short-lived storms or fewer longer-lived storms with greater intensity.

3. Model predictions of sea-surface temperatures, vertical wind shear, moisture, and stability have limited skill this far in advance of the peak months (August-October) of the hurricane season.

4. Weather patterns that are unpredictable on seasonal time scales can sometimes develop and last for weeks or months, possibly affecting seasonal hurricane activity.

2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook: Summary

NOAA’s 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook indicates that a near-normal or below-normal hurricane season is likely this year. The outlook calls for a 50% chance of a below-normal season, a 40% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of an above-normal season. See NOAA definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

The predicted oceanic and atmospheric conditions across the MDR typify a near- or below-normal Atlantic hurricane season, and contrast with those seen throughout the current high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995.

The expected conditions for 2014 reflect the likely development of El Niñoduring the summer or early fall, along with model predictions for near-average or below-average sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic hurricane Main Development Region (MDR) (which spans the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean between 9oN-21.5oN). Also, current atmospheric conditions are not showing the typical precursor signals of an above-normal season, further reducing our expectation for an above normal hurricane season.

Based on the current and expected conditions, combined with model forecasts, we estimate a 70% probability for each of the following ranges of activity during 2014:

  • 8-13 Named Storms
  • 3-6 Hurricanes
  • 1-2 Major Hurricanes
  • Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) range of 40%-100% of the median.

 

The seasonal activity is expected to fall within these ranges in 70% of seasons with similar climate conditions and uncertainties to those expected this year. These ranges do not represent the total possible ranges of activity seen in past similar years.

These expected ranges are centered below the official NHC 1981-2010 seasonal averages of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.

Uncertainties
One uncertainty in this 2014 outlook lies in exactly when El Niño will develop and how strong it will become. Another uncertainty lies in how much the oceanic and atmospheric conditions across the MDR will begin to take on characteristics of the current high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes, as they have in most seasons since 1995. Cooler Atlantic SSTs and a stronger El Niño could produce activity levels near the lower end of the predicted ranges, while warmer Atlantic SSTs and a weaker El Niño could result in activity toward the higher end of the predicted ranges.

This Atlantic hurricane season outlook will be updated in early August, which coincides with the onset of the peak months of the hurricane season.

Hurricane Landfalls:
It only takes one storm hitting an area to cause a disaster, regardless of the overall activity predicted in the seasonal outlook. Therefore, residents, businesses, and government agencies of coastal and near-coastal regions are urged to prepare every hurricane season regardless of this, or any other, seasonal outlook.

Predicting where and when hurricanes will strike is related to daily weather patterns, which are not reliably predictable weeks or months in advance. Therefore, it is currently not possible to accurately predict the number or intensity of landfalling hurricanes at these extended ranges, or whether a particular locality will be impacted by a hurricane this season.

DISCUSSION

1. Expected 2014 activity

Climate signals and evolving oceanic and atmospheric conditions, combined with model forecasts, indicate that a near-normal or below-normal Atlantic hurricane season is likely in 2014. This outlook calls for a 50% chance of a below-normal season, a 40% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of an above-normal season. See NOAA definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons.

An important measure of the total overall seasonal activity is NOAA’sAccumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which accounts for the combined intensity and duration of named storms and hurricanes during the season. This outlook indicates a 70% chance that the 2014 seasonal ACE range will be 40%-100% of the median. According to NOAA’s hurricane season classifications, an ACE value below 71.4% of the 1981-2010 median reflects a below-normal season, and an ACE value of 71.4%-120% reflects a near-normal season.

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to produce (with 70% probability for each range) 8-13 named storms, of which 3-6 are expected to become hurricanes, and 1-2 are expected to become major hurricanes. These ranges are centered below the 1981-2010 period averages of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

For the U.S. and the region around the Caribbean Sea, the historical probability of multiple hurricane strike decreases with decreasing seasonal activity and El Niño. Nonetheless, for each region, there are numerous instances in the historical record of hurricane strikes during below-normal seasons, and even more instances of hurricane strikes during near-normal seasons. Also, the likelihood of at least one U.S. hurricane landfall is the same during El Niño as it is during La Niña and ENSO-Neutral.

Predicting the location, number, timing, and strength of hurricanes landfalls is ultimately related to the daily weather patterns, which are not predictable weeks or months in advance. As a result, it is currently not possible to reliably predict the number or intensity of landfalling hurricanes at these extended ranges, or whether a given locality will be impacted by a hurricane this season. Therefore, NOAA does not make an official seasonal hurricane landfall outlook.

2. Science behind the 2014 Outlook

The 2014 seasonal hurricane outlook reflects the likely development of El Niñoduring the summer or early fall, combined with an expectation of near-average or below-average sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic hurricane MDR. These non-conducive conditions are expected to be partially offset by the ongoing warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) and associated tropical multi-decadal signal, which have contributed strongly to the current high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Overall, the predicted oceanic and atmospheric conditions for 2014 across the MDR typify a near- or below-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

The outlook takes into account dynamical model predictions from the NOAA Climate Forecast System (CFS), NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL) model FLOR-FA, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), the United Kingdom Meteorology (UKMET) office, the EUROpean Seasonal to Inter-annual Prediction (EUROSIP) ensemble, along with ENSO (El Niño/ Southern Oscillation) forecasts from models contained in the suite of Niño 3.4 SST forecasts compiled by the IRI (International Research Institute for Climate and Society) and the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

a. El Niño

The main climate factor guiding the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook is the likely development of El Niño during the summer or early fall. El Niño suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity (Gray 1984) by producing a set of non-conducive conditions within the MDR, including 1) enhanced vertical wind shear, 2) stronger easterly trade winds, 3) a configuration of the African easterly jet that is less conducive to hurricane development from easterly waves moving off the African coast, and 4) increased sinking motion.

At present, equatorial Pacific SSTs are above average, with the largest departures (exceeding 1oC) centered on the date line. SST anomalies in all of the Niño regions are also increasing, and anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region, which spans the central and east-central equatorial Pacific between 120oW-170oW, are currently 0.4oC. This value is approaching the CPC’s lower threshold for El Niño (+0.5oC).

Observations show that the atmosphere is also trending to an El Niño state. For example, a time-longitude section of 200-hPa velocity potential anomalies shows anomalous upper-level divergence since January over the central equatorial Pacific. This signal is opposite to that seen during May-September 2013, and is consistent with enhanced convection near the date line, a key feature of El Niño.

Anomalous westerly trade winds across the western equatorial Pacific, along with several westerly wind bursts, have also been present since January. A westerly wind burst triggered a strong downwelling equatorial oceanic Kelvin wave in February, and this wave subsequently reached the west coast of South America in late April. This Kelvin wave acted to shift the oceanic thermocline deeper into the ocean, resulting in above-average temperatures and increased heat content between the thermocline and the ocean surface.

A depth-longitude section of sub-surface temperature anomalies and a time series of the upper-ocean heat content highlight the substantial sub-surface warmth associated with this Kelvin wave. The persistence of the westerly wind anomalies has helped to lock in this anomalous warmth, further setting the stage for El Niño.

The average forecast of the dynamical models (closed markers) contained in the suite of IRI/ CPC Niño 3.4 SST forecasts (yellow line) predicts El Niño to form during the May-July (MJJ) season and to reach moderate strength (SST values of 1oC -1.5,sup>oC) during ASO. The statistical model forecasts (open markers) are generally cooler than the dynamical model predictions, and show a weak El Niño during the ASO season. These differing forecasts produce some uncertainty as to exactly when El Niño will develop and how strong it will become.

b. Sea surface temperatures across the Main Development Region (MDR)

SSTs within the Atlantic hurricane MDR are currently below-average in the central/ eastern tropical Atlantic and slightly above-average in the Caribbean Sea. SST departures averaged across the MDR are near zero, which is comparable to the average departure for the remainder of the global tropics. Neither of these signals is a clear indicator for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

One issue for this outlook is whether or not the SST anomalies in the MDR will warm as the season progresses, as they have during most seasons since 1995 in association with the warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). The typical warming mechanism is weaker tropical easterly trade winds within the MDR, which reduces the amount of cold water being upwelled in the eastern MDR, the amount of cold water being transported into the MDR, and the amount of evaporative cooling from the ocean surface. El Niño favors stronger easterly trade winds in the MDR, which suggests that additional anomalous warming might be limited or absent.

Consistent with these interpretations, many dynamical models are predicting that SSTs in the MDR will remain near- or below-average throughout the hurricane season. The CFS high-resolution (T-382) and lower resolution (T-126) models are both predicting below-average SSTs across the Caribbean Sea during ASO.

However, these two models differ in their predicted intensity of El Niño, with the lower-resolution model predicting a strong El Niño. Cooler Atlantic SSTs and a stronger El Niño could produce activity levels near the lower end of the predicted ranges, while warmer Atlantic SSTs and a weaker El Niño could result in activity toward the higher end of the predicted ranges.

c. Atmospheric conditions across the Main Development Region (MDR)

The AMO is coupled with the atmospheric tropical multi-decadal signal(Goldenberg et al. 2001, Bell and Chelliah 2006). Within the MDR, key atmospheric features of these climate signals have contributed to the current high-activity era in the Atlantic basin that began in 1995 (Bell et al. 2014). These features include: 1) reduced vertical wind shear, 2) weaker easterly trade winds, 3) a configuration of the African easterly jet (i.e. increased cyclonic shear) that is much more conducive to hurricane development from tropical cloud systems (aka easterly waves) moving off the African coast, 4) warm, moist, and unstable air, and 5) reduced sinking motion.

As has been seen since 1995, reduced vertical wind shear within the MDR is typically present prior to the start of an above-normal season. However, thevertical wind shear is currently stronger than average across much of the MDR. The mid-and upper-atmospheric sinking motion is also currently stronger than average. The development of El Niño would mean a likely continuation of these non-conducive conditions, and both versions of the CFS model are predicting enhanced vertical wind shear across the western MDR during ASO 2014. Strong vertical wind shear and sinking motion, linked to a rare jet stream pattern of record strength, were key suppressing factors during the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season (Bell et al. 2014).

3. Multi-decadal fluctuations in Atlantic hurricane activity

Atlantic hurricane seasons exhibit extended periods lasting decades (25-40 years) of generally above-normal or below-normal activity. These multi-decadal fluctuations in hurricane activity result almost entirely from differences in the number of hurricanes and major hurricanes forming from tropical storms that first develop in the MDR.

The current high-activity era began in 1995 (Goldenberg et al. 2001). Hurricane seasons during 1995-2013 have averaged about 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes, with an ACE index of 151% of the median. NOAA classifies 12 of the 20 seasons since 1995 as above normal, with eight being very active (i.e., hyperactive defined by ACE > 165% of median). Only three seasons since 1995 were below normal (1997, 2009, and 2013).

This high level of activity contrasts sharply to the low-activity era of 1971-1994 (Goldenberg et al. 2001), which averaged 8.5 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 1.5 major hurricanes, with an ACE index of only 74% of the median. One-half of the seasons during this period were below normal, only two were above normal (1980, 1989), and none were hyperactive.

Within the MDR, the atmospheric circulation anomalies that contribute to these long-period fluctuations in hurricane activity are strongly linked to the Tropics-wide multi-decadal signal (Bell and Chelliah 2006), which incorporates the warm phase of the AMO and an enhanced west African monsoon system. A change in the phase of the tropical multi-decadal signal coincides with the transition in 1995 from a low-activity era to the current high-activity era.

4. Uncertainties in the Outlook

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be near- or below- normal. Key indications for this outlook are 1) the expected development of El Niño, 2) expected near- or below-average SSTs in the MDR during ASO, and 3) no strong indication from current atmospheric conditions within the MDR (i.e. vertical wind shear, vertical motion) that the season will be above normal.

Uncertainties in the outlook are related to the timing and strength of El Niño, and to a limited confidence in model forecasts for Atlantic SST anomalies. Therefore, there is uncertainty in the extent to which these factors will suppress the warm phase of the AMO and tropical multi-decadal signal.

NOAA FORECASTERS

Climate Prediction Center
Dr. Gerry Bell, Lead Forecaster, Meteorologist; Gerry.Bell@noaa.gov
Dr. Jae Schemm, Meteorologist; Jae.Schemm@noaa.gov

National Hurricane Center
Eric Blake, Hurricane Specialist; Eric.S.Blake@noaa.gov
Todd Kimberlain, Hurricane Specialist; Todd Kimberlain@noaa.gov
Dr. Chris Landsea, Meteorologist; Chris.Landsea@noaa.gov
Dr. Richard Pasch, Hurricane Specialist; Richard.J.Pasch@noaa.gov

Hurricane Research Division
Stanley Goldenberg, Meteorologist; Stanley.Goldenberg@noaa.gov

REFERENCES

Bell, G. D., and co-authors, 2014: [The Tropics] The 2013 North Atlantic Hurricane Season: A Climate Perspective [in “State of the Climate in 2013”].Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.95 (8), In press.

Bell, G. D., and M. Chelliah, 2006: Leading tropical modes associated with interannual and multi-decadal fluctuations in North Atlantic hurricane activity.J. of Climate19, 590-612.

Goldenberg, S. B., C. W. Landsea, A. M. Mestas-Nuñez, and W. M. Gray, 2001: The recent increase in Atlantic hurricane activity: Causes and implications.Science, 293, 474-479.

Gray, W. M., 1984: Atlantic seasonal hurricane frequency: Part I: El Niño and 30-mb quasi-bienniel oscillation influences. Mon. Wea. Rev., 112, 1649-1668.

Winter 2013 Special

Special  # 3

Rent 2 single kayaks for 1 day

get one day free rental  of an underwater digital camera  [ $ 185.00 VALUE  ]

Winter Kayak 2013 Specials  SM 2

Posted Wednesday, 11 December 2013 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Culebra Snorkel or Dive ?

Culebra Beach Tree

Snorkeling is also known as free-diving: Strap on a mask, snorkel, and fins you’ll be ready to quite literally pass through the looking-glass into another world. The warm waters of Culebra embraces your body and frees you from gravity, allowing you to fly among the parrots, butterflies, angels, damsels, and, turtles then dance with the hamlets and scarlet ladies, and bow to the barracuda and dolphin.

The tropical sea covers an unrestricted collection of life. And one of our greatest attractions is that you can wade into the water off any point of land and find yourself immersed in a universe of outrageous color and interesting characters. Of course it’s always better off a picture perfect gorgeous beach … or one with nothing but solitude and sand.

And whether you’re just looking for a calm swim with friendly fish or a synchronized float with your significant other, we will help you find your perfect Caribbean beach. A day of snorkeling or diving on Culebra that focuses first on safely reaching the best waters for the conditions in the Culebra area, will ensure splashing among thickets of Elkhorn, Staghorn, and Pillar coral, while poking into shallow caves and overhangs that dance with tropical fish of every color and persuasion.

The clear blue skies highlights Culebra’s bleach-white beaches, transparent turquoise water and luxuriant reefs, all of which are among the very best in the Caribbean. Flamenco Beach, on the north side, is the best stretch of sand on the island, which boasts some 2 miles of sink-to-your-ankles, soft-coral-sand beach.  Not to take away from the other snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and paddle boarding sites Culebra can offer (over 20) with proper directions are just a short walk, hike, or drive.

The west end of Culebra is protected from the Caribbean’s north eastern swells and has a shoreline reef system that opens to sandy encased shallow lagoons,  The shoreline reef system extends out from the beach to honeycombed depths of 10-60ft thick then drop off to sandy flats simply keeping the sea life close which is perfect for snorkeling. Just under the surface, hemostat-jawed needlefish, yellow tail snapper, spanish grunts, and various grouper stalk silvery blankets of minnows while cobalt clouds of blue tang swarm over boulders of brain coral, leisurely picking at tufts of algae. Fish, lobsters, stingrays, turtles, ells, and crabs fill every nook and cranny of the reef.

                       Culebra Snorkeling Center LOGO                       culebra kayaking center LOGO                        Culebra Dive Center  LOGO

Posted Sunday, 8 December 2013 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

December Moon Phase 2013

Lunar-phase-Motion-Y

 

 

The Full Cold Moon    –    17 December  2013

or the Full Long Nights Moon – December During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.

 

 

 

 

December 2013 Moon Phases

Sun

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

1
Waning Crescent, 2% of full
2
New Moon, 0% of full
3
Waxing Crescent, 1% of full
4
Waxing Crescent, 4% of full
5
Waxing Crescent, 11% of full
6
Waxing Crescent, 19% of full
7
Waxing Crescent, 29% of full
8
Waxing Crescent, 40% of full
9
Waxing Gibbous, 51% of full
10
Waxing Gibbous, 62% of full
11
Waxing Gibbous, 72% of full
12
Waxing Gibbous, 80% of full
13
Waxing Gibbous, 88% of full
14
Waxing Gibbous, 94% of full
15
Waxing Gibbous, 98% of full
16
Full Moon, 100% of full
17
Full Moon, 100% of full
18
Waning Gibbous, 98% of full
19
Waning Gibbous, 95% of full
20
Waning Gibbous, 90% of full
21
Waning Gibbous, 84% of full
22
Waning Gibbous, 76% of full
23
Waning Gibbous, 68% of full
24
Waning Gibbous, 58% of full
25
Waning Crescent, 48% of full
26
Waning Crescent, 38% of full
27
Waning Crescent, 28% of full
28
Waning Crescent, 19% of full
29
Waning Crescent, 11% of full
30
Waning Crescent, 4% of full
31
Waning Crescent, 1% of full

Posted Thursday, 14 November 2013 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

November 2013 Moon Phase

Lunar Phase Motion

 

 

• Full Beaver Moon   –   17 November 2013

This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze,

to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation

suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact

that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is

sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

 

 

 

 

November  2013   Moon Phases

November 17th       Full Beaver Moon      

 
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
Waning Crescent, 3% of full
2

Waning Crescent, 1% of full

3

New Moon, 0% of full

4

Waxing Crescent, 2% of full

5

Waxing Crescent, 7% of full

6

Waxing Crescent, 14% of full

7

Waxing Crescent, 23% of full

8

Waxing Crescent, 33% of full

9

Waxing Crescent, 44% of full

10

Waxing Gibbous, 56% of full

11

Waxing Gibbous, 66% of full

12

Waxing Gibbous, 76% of full

13

Waxing Gibbous, 85% of full

14

Waxing Gibbous, 92% of full

15

Waxing Gibbous, 96% of full

16

Waxing Gibbous, 99% of full

17

Full Moon, 100% of full

18

Waning Gibbous, 99% of full

19

Waning Gibbous, 96% of full

20

Waning Gibbous, 91% of full

21

Waning Gibbous, 85% of full

22

Waning Gibbous, 78% of full

23

Waning Gibbous, 69% of full

24

Waning Gibbous, 60% of full

25

Waning Gibbous, 51% of full

26

Waning Crescent, 41% of full

27

Waning Crescent, 31% of full

28

Waning Crescent, 22% of full

29

Waning Crescent, 14% of full

30

Waning Crescent, 7% of full

Posted Friday, 1 November 2013 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Tagged with

Culebra Snorkeling Advice

Lion Fish 1286.1

      Snorkeling Advice  

diving_flag_animated 2

Snorkeling Gear

Snorkeling is one of the easiest, safest and most pleasant ways to explore the underwater world. Snorkel equipment is quite simple and you only need three essential pieces of gear: a mask, a snorkel, and a set of fins. The right equipment with the right fit will make your experience an event to remember.

Underwater Cameras make Snorkeling more enjoyable

Besides the essentials, there are a lot of snorkeling gear that can make your snorkel trip more fun, interesting, and comfortable. The best way to make your Culebra snorkeling trip more fun and interesting while viewing schools of tropical fish, living coral heads, sea sponges and more is to invest in an underwater camera. Take pictures of your snorkel buddies to show off at the office when you get back. Test out your artistic side by capturing photos of the beautiful sealife you encounter. And of course, let someone else get a few shots of you on your snorkel adventure.  When you return, you will be able to visit your Culebra snorkeling memories any time by pulling out these photos.

Snorkeling Exposure Protection / Skin Cover

Water absorbs heat about 800 times faster than air does, so you cool rapidly in water. Also, the snorkeling environment sometimes has a potential for scrapes, stings and burns. Exposure suits help you retain heat and provide protection against incidental skin injuries and sunburn.  Aside from re-appling sunblock with the right SPF level, wearing a rash guard for protection against bumping accidentally into the reef will help cover their skin as much as possible and increasing their comfort level while seeing the wonderful scenes under the ocean.

Get The Right Snorkeling Gear

Regardless of the type of mask such as the goggle style, oval, or panoramic; what is more important is that the mask fits your face perfectly. How to determine this? Hold the mask in front of your face and inhale a bit of air through the nose. When the mask seals against your face, that is the indication that it fits. When you feel it’s holding on to the face, remove your hand from it. When you feel that air hasn’t penetrated the mask, you can be sure that it will not be leaked with water too.

While most snorkeling locations around the world offer snorkeling gear rentals, it would far more advisable to have your own. The main reason behind this is for consistent comfort purposes – you’ll be more confident using equipment you’ve invested in and properly took care of.  This will ensure that you will be able to clearly see fish and coral in their natural habitat. The first step to a successful snorkeling experience therefore, is to buy or rent the right kind of mask, snorkel, and fins for your needs.

 

CSC  Snorkeling Gear Specials Fall - Winter 2013              mermaids5                       CSC Underwater Camera Special Fall - Winter 2013

Diving Photography Wall

 

Click Here for the  Diving Photography Wall

IMG_1034.1

Some of the greatest pictures from Culebra’s Snorkelers, Divers, Kayakers, and Fishers

Diving Tip  –

Diving is a breathtaking means of exploring all that Mother Nature has to offer, in Culebra,  from her underwater wonderland.  The most important thing is to just relax. There is no need to hurry up.  Learning techniques for diving is about moving in the water without feeling breathless, fatigue or cramps which is the key to maximizing the enjoyment of your Culebra diving adventure.  Diving is an excellent way to view tropical fish in warm water to explore a coral reef. Both beginners and more experienced swimmers can learn to dive, as it doesn’t require much technical ability.  Relax and gaze down into an enchanting underwater realm.

Snorkeling & Diving Photography Wall

Click Here for the Snorkeling & Diving Photography Wall

Culebra Snorkeler

Some of the greatest pictures from Culebra’s Snorkelers, Divers, Kayakers, and Fishers

Snorkeling Tip  –

Snorkeling is a breathtaking means of exploring all that Mother Nature has to offer, in Culebra,  from her underwater wonderland.  The most important thing is to just relax. There is no need to hurry up.  Learning techniques to snorkel is about moving in the water without feeling breathless, fatigue or cramps which is the key to maximizing the enjoyment of your Culebra snorkeling adventure.  Snorkeling is an excellent way to view tropical fish in shallow water or explore a coral reef. All you need is a mask, a snorkel or breathing tube, and fins.  Both beginners and more experienced swimmers can learn to snorkel, as it doesn’t require much swimming.  Relax, float face-down on your stomach and gaze down into an enchanting underwater realm.

Posted Thursday, 17 October 2013 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Culebra Snorkeling Fall & Winter Specials

Rent 2 Sets of snorkel gear for 2 days get one day free rental of an underwater digital camera  [ $ 75.00 VALUE  ]

 

Canon G9 Rental with Underwater HousingFall - Winter 2013 Specials  SM 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Culebra Snorkeling Update

 

snorkeler head

If you are new to the snorkeling / scuba diving experience or need advice on the Culebra Snorkeling scene this is the place,  here you will afforded the  years of experience with those who have logged thousands of hours breathing on top and underwater.  Culebra offers a comfortable and relaxed learning environment.  For those of you that are already comfortable in the water, Culebra provides an opportunity for a continuing education about the Caribbean waters like no other.  Our goal is to enable  you to become comfortable snorkeling or diving any time of day or distance from the shoreline that all your friends are always talking about (did you know there are over 20 Cayos (keys) around Culebra, Puerto Rico alone).

No one can offer guarantees, but with the miles upon miles of gorgeous Caribbean reefs Culebra snorkelers are able to interact with the turtles more often than not, usually just by getting in the water and snorkeling over the reef system and sharing it with them. When you glide over a sea-grass bed, it’s like soaring over a miniature forest with all sorts of curious animals hiding amid the blades. A short informal classroom session will give you an explanation of a marine mural depicting various underwater environments enabling you to find stingrays foraging in the sand, turtles feeding in the grass, and in the summer, an explosion of baitfish attracts schools of yellowtail snappers, blue tangs, French grunts, goatfish and others. Many of Culebra lagoon’s lead to widespread continuous reef systems that provide endless shallow wanderings and are surrounded by sandy beaches fitted for relaxation. Stop by Culebra Snorkeling & Dive Center for gear and suggestions on the best locations based on current conditions to ensure an experience of a lifetime.

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