Month: April 2011

10 Great Shark Diving Destinations

Shark diving is one of those extraordinary thrilling experiences that will not be soon forgotten. The best place to have an unforgettable experience like shark diving is in a great location where the sharks’ food source is plentiful.

1. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Cocos Island is the tip of an ancient volcanic mountain and, due to its abundant marine life it, was granted World Heritage status. This beautiful remote island is an ocean oasis with four mountain peaks and is the only tropical eastern Pacific island with a tropical rainforest. The underwater landscape consists of stepwise shelves with almost no intertidal zone, a submerged shallow reef that culminates in sand at the edge of a deep trench.
[Sharks: Black Tips, Hammerheads, Silkies, Silver Tips, White Tips]

2. Rocas Atoll, Brazil
Rocas Atoll is a World Heritage site, a wildlife sanctuary, a biological reserve and is used solely for scientific research. Its tourism is regulated to help preserve land and sea life. Coral and red algae are the main ingredients in this volcanic atoll and the coral ring is almost completely closed. The surrounding warm waters sustain a rich habitat for breeding and feeding of marine life.
[Sharks: Lemons, Nurses, Reefs]

3. Nassau, Bahamas
This island sits in the clear, azure blue waters of the world’s third largest barrier reef. Nassau is a smorgasbord for sharks due to the abundance of sea life that flourishes here. This sea life is nurtured by a combination of coral reefs, grass flats, mangroves, lagoons, shallow areas, sheer drops, rocky ledges and sandy shores.
[Sharks: Hammerheads, Lemons, Nurses, Reefs, Tigers]

4. Rhode Island, USA
What Rhode Island lacks as being considered an exotic location with warm tropical waters and pristine beaches it makes up for in sharks. The frigid cold Atlantic water is a pit stop for blue sharks migrating to the coast of South America and can be easily seen sunning themselves near the surface. Makos are more flashy and are often found jumping several feet out of the water.
[Sharks: Blues, Makos]

5. Beqa Island, Fiji
Beqa’s lagoon is more than 100 square miles and has a 40-mile long coral reef that is the rim of an extinct volcano crater. It boasts an abundance of brilliant soft coral forests teeming with marine life that attracts a large variety of sharks.
[Sharks: Bulls, Lemons, Nurses, Reefs, Tigers]

6. Neptune Island, Australia
This is a rich hunting ground for great whites in South Australia. Areas around the island have large saddles of rock that run out into deep water and are home to thousands of colorful reef fish. This setting is a perfect, beautiful backdrop for the cruising sharks because they can look for food near the surface and then return back down into the deeper, colder water.
[Sharks: Great Whites]

7. Malapascua Island, Cebu, Philippines
Malapascua was first known for its wide white sandy Bounty Beach. This tropical haven off the tip of Cebu is now also known for excellent diving spots. It has a diverse variety of marine life and an underwater plateau on the edge of a 650 ft drop off where thresher sharks are seen regularly.
[Sharks: Bamboos, Hammerheads, Nurses, Reefs, Threshers, Whales]

8. Gansbaai, South Africa
50,000 Cape fur seals and 10,000 African penguins, the great white shark’s favorite food, call the islands of Geyser Rock and Dyer home. The sharks wait in the shallow narrow channel, known as shark alley, that separates these two islands. The combination of food quantity and ideal hunting conditions makes it quite advantageous for sharks.
[Sharks: Great Whites]

 9. Mozambique, Africa
Now with its guerrilla war in its past, Mozambique can safely offer the world pristine beaches, warm waters and unspoiled reefs to enjoy. These shallow reefs are so close to the continental shelf that it makes it the ideal setting for diving and seeing the gentle giants of the deep, the whale sharks.
[Sharks: Whales]

10. Guadalupe Island, Mexico
This isolated volcanic island consists of two ancient overlapping shield volcanoes and the shoreline is dotted with lava caves and tubes. The landscape is rough and rugged and part of the island has an elevation of 4,200 feet making the vistas breathtaking. It is also the prime breeding grounds for the Guadalupe fur seals, the reason the sharks come here to hunt.
[Sharks: Great Whites, Pacific Blues]

Any one of these destinations is bound to give you the shark experience you crave. And if you do get up close and personal with the most deadliest of sharks, then here is a good link for tips on how to behave in their company.

-Angelique

Suunto Core Extreme Edition Everest Watch

“Climb Mount Everest 20 times and Suunto might make a watch for you.”

Suunto launched a limited edition watch, or outdoor sports instrument, in honor of legendary mountaineer Apa Sherpa. The Suunto Core Extreme Edition Everest watch celebrates Apa Sherpa’s world-record 20th summit of Mount Everest. It reflects his determination and strength as one of the world’s greatest living mountaineers.

Stephen Regenold over at GearJunkie has a review of all the bells and whistles of the new Sunnto watch. Only 8,848 pieces are being produced to match the elevation of Mount Everest’s summit at 8,848 meters. It seems to be a pretty sturdy watch that would be a useful addition to any outdoor adventure, but although you don’t need to be a Himalayan climber to own this watch, its $399 price tag is probably more attractive to hard core users who want the features with functionality with the extreme durability.

-Angelique

Scuba Diving: Underwater Adventures

“If you’re truly an adventure traveler, you’re missing out on a major opportunity [by not diving].”

With summer fast approaching thoughts of warm, tropical islands and thrilling ocean activities fill my head. Learning to scuba dive and dive exotic locals is on my travel bucket list and something I cannot wait to try. When I snorkel just below the surface I experience a world that is peaceful and wonderous. Imagine what it would be like to go very deep to experience the types of marine life that live in the dark, colder waters. Or to check out one of the over 3 million shipwrecks where sea life has taken up residency and made it its own.

Here is an article by Blane Bachelor about getting PADI certified and the benefits that come along with it. Once certified, there are over 30 different specialty courses, anywhere from wreck diving to cavern diving, to choose from that will take the adventures of diving to a whole new (deeper) level.

-Angelique

Fringe Elements

“…climbers should be allowed to pursue what ever climbing techniques they like…”

Adventure Junkie drew my attention to an adventure series of videos by National Geographic Adventure called Fringe Elements. He specifically talks about rock climber Matt Maddaloni and a circus style safety net he created to release him from the ropes that bind during climbing. There is no doubt that free soloing is a physical challenge, but without the use of ropes it is even more of a mental challenge to stay connected to the rock. If a climber falls, a climber can die. There are no do overs in that scenario. But with a net, the odds just got a lot better.

As I went through the videos in this series that also included mountaineering, kayaking, snowboarding and even adventure filmmaking, it was the ultra trail running that caught my eye. I run and getting off the hard pavement and into the dirt amongst the tall trees and lush, green ferns while maneuvering over creeks and tree roots makes my runs so much more enjoyable. But running 100 miles in 24 hours? That takes dedication and that is what ultramarathon runner Krissy Moehl has in spades. I can only dream of that kind of perseverance, but the video motivated me to push myself harder while running.

These endurance sports enthusiasts prove that if we can successfully push ourselves past our limits, then there are personal rewards for our accomplishments waiting on the other side.

- Angelique

Saving the Cougar Ace: Lessons for Lean Start-ups and Adventurers

This is an inspiring tale for both adventurers and lean-start-up fans: a small, ingeniuos, fast-acting, improvising and enterprising team — each providing their unique talents — to solve a VERY dangerous problem that very few people know how to do, let alone are willing to do.  Not only do they able to salvage massive ships from their fates at the bottom of the ocean, they do it with a team that on the surface looks almost too small for the task.  However, just as those who know their lean start-up stuff, you can see just how great these small teams can be.

Let me set the stage: a cargo ship called the “Cougar Ace,” which was loaded with 4,000 Mazdas from Japan, has a major system failure at sea when the water tanks they use for ballast only fill up on the port side of the ship. Before the crew is aware of what happened, they unintentionally test Newton’s Third Law where “every action has an equal an opposite reaction” and the ship tips over and “rests,” listing at 60-degrees in the cold Alaskan waters.  Remarkably, the US Coast Guard manages to rescue the entire crew.

With the crew safe and sound, end of story, right? The Coast Guard has done their work and leaves this 56,000 ton ship to its fate, which means eventually taking in enough water to sink and providing the lucky inhabitants at the bottom of the sea with 4,000 brand new cars.  A new playground for the Alaskan marine-life awates.

Unfortunately, for the crustaceans at the bottom of the sea, the insurance companies who cover such accidents are not quite as willing to throw up their hands and watch $300 million dollars sink to the bottom of the ocean. Kind of like the A-Team “if no one else can help–and you can find them, maybe you should hire” Titan Salvage. Titan Salvage is small group of some of the toughest, ballsiest, brilliant and enterprising people this side of the 21st Century. They are hired to come in and rescue these ships, putting their lives on the line, betting the whole time that not only will they refuse allow a ship to sink, they’ll save as much of it as they possibly can.  In the Wired story that I link to, you’ll see how Director Richard Habib and a handful of other men risk their lives to save the Cougar Ace, in hopes of gaining a payout at the end that ranges anywhere from 10-20% of the value of the ship and its cargo.

This is just a mind-blowing story. These innovative and gutsy men use everything from exotic, state-of-the art computer modeling on-the-fly and operating massive hydraulic pumps, to using even their own fingers to plug leaks, in order to bring the ship back upright.   This unique and lean-approach contrasts the rest of the ship salvage industry which has come to rely too much on sophisticated equipment and machinery. Titan Salvage, on the other hand, base their strategy on “the idea that ships could be saved by human ingenuity, not horsepower…the company’s unconventional approach worked.” If these men fail at their task, they not only do not get paid, they also risk killing themselves. Failure is not an option.

Read the whole thing and check the video:

Kayaking 13,000 Feet Above Water

Basic skydiving. Is it passé? It seems to be morphing with other sports to give it that added adrenaline kick that maybe has waned from the sport. Skyaking is the result of a dare. Miles Daisher is an extreme sports enthusiast who was bored with skydiving and jumped out of a plane strapped in a kayak purely on a dare (I wonder what he would do on a double dare?).

This relatively new sport can be done anywhere in any country as long as there’s water to land on. Coming down is much slower than skydiving (160-180 mph) or BASE jumping (120 mph). The weight of the kayak slows the speed down to 98 mph and more balancing is needed for a successful jump due to the size of the kayak. The landings look like fun and hey, no paddles are needed.

What do I like most about skyaking and, in an earlier post, wingsuit flying? The creativity and guts of these guys to take the extreme to a whole new level. I eagerly await the next outrageous coupling of two sports.

-Angelique