Sub Sea Systems — Our World is a blog dedicated to the unique experiences of Sub Sea Systems — Immerse yourself in our incredible adventures, company culture, and innovative programs and products.

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Friday, July 5, 2019

20 Years of Sea TREK!

As we approach our 20th anniversary this month, we pause for a moment of reflection and attempt to define 20 years of passion and hard work. It seems like it was just a couple years ago that we started our very first Sea TREK helmet diving program at Xcaret Park in Mexico.

Over the years, we have been fortunate to travel the world, establish new locations, and work with talented operators and certified Sea TREK Guides, whose dedication and commitment have helped Sea TREK grow beyond our wildest expectations. Together, we have established over 50 Sea TREK locations and made the underwater world accessible to millions of guests! 

We have many memories and milestones to celebrate, however, we’ve narrowed it down to some of the most significant highlights from the past 20 years. Join us for a walk down memory lane!

We’re grateful for your support and look forward to sharing another 20 years of Sea TREK with you. Cheers!
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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Online Reviews- the Cool and the Quirky

Getting ready to plan your next vacation? Like most of today’s travelers, you’re probably more likely to head over to the web than visit a travel agency. In fact, the Internet has exploded with travel planning options, such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and Airbnb. Today’s travelers have a dizzying array of tools to plan and book their own vacations, without leaving their sofas. And, there are numerous websites that provide reviews from previous guests, so travelers can easily find out what others experienced on their vacations. 

Like most travel-related businesses, the many positive reviews posted about our Sea TREK operators are vital to the success of their locations. We’re always thankful when guests take the time to review their Sea TREK or Clear Lounge experiences, especially since the vast majority of the reviews we receive are positive…some even inspirational! And, we are grateful for the awards we receive based on consumer reviews, such as TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, received by Clear Lounge Cozumel for three years in a row and Sea TREK Cayman for five years in a row. And though it’s rare that we receive anything outside of a four or five-star review, we do occasionally receive feedback that provides us with opportunities to improve guest experiences. Reviews that are less than perfect can have great value in helping us grow.

Sometimes, mixed in with all of the great reviews, we will find one that is a bit…quirky. Whether it’s a genuine sense of humor or too many vacation daiquiris that bring out these “creative” reviews, we do enjoy reading some of the more obscure comments. Without naming names, here are some of our favorites (these are real reviews for Sea TREK at various locations).
splash emoji

“I really didn’t enjoy this tour because I don't like the water.”

“I enjoyed my time doing the Sea TREK on Pigeon Island, but I was disappointed that I did not see any pigeons.”
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“The fish weren’t as tropical as I expected.”

“I could not fit my hair into the regular sized helmet and they wouldn’t give me a larger one.”

“It’s a lot cheaper than trying to get a flight to the moon for the same experience.“

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“After arriving at the dive site a guest decided to parade around in her thong bikini the entire time.”

“There were lots of fish, but they weren’t large enough.”

“The Sea TREK is a great underwater adventure, especially for those who have a total dread of even putting their head underwater in a shower. I know, I am married to one of them.“

And here's one of our all-time favorites:

cry laughing emoji

“OK ladies I'm well over 60 and have a little bit of a beer belly, which is probably fatty tissue…I've got a little bit of fat. Fat floats. Bottom line, this adventure is a 10 out of 10, but check for fatties that need a bit of extra weight.”

We certainly appreciate the creative writing that goes into some of these “reviews”!

Of course, our favorite reviews are those that express emotion and appreciation for their Sea TREK adventure. For some participants, Sea TREK is not just an excursion; it’s a bucket list item or even a life-changing experience.

“9-year-old and 68-year-old son and dad. We did the SeaTREK together. It was just the two of us with a guide and a member of staff watching from above. Once in the water my son, who was initially apprehensive, had a ball!”

“My wife and I are 62 years old. We don't know how to scuba dive and we aren't great at snorkeling either, but could easily do this!”

“My other half and I did SeaTREK and it was absolutely incredible! I suffer from anxiety and not once did I feel anxious. The staff and instructors make you feel so calm and at ease.”

“This excursion was awesome for two reasons, it was just awesome being down there, and the people were great! I also got engaged 20 feet under water!“

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 “I was thrilled that I didn't allow my claustrophobia to ruin this adventure for me. I felt safe and the helmet provided plenty of space and air for me to overcome my fears. The guides were patient and made sure everyone knew the necessary hand signals and felt comfortable during their time underwater. I would highly recommend this excursion to others. Don't miss the opportunity to see all the beautiful sea life under the water and have fun with your family & new friends in the process. This is an awesome experience from start to finish.”

“I was hesitant to do SeaTREK because I cannot swim. All staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable the whole time. Once we reached the ocean floor, it was so clear and beautiful I forgot all fears and enjoyed the experience. I’m thankful that my husband talked me into it - would recommend and do again!”

And this TripAdvisor review, for SeaTREK in Lanzarote, Spain, says it all:

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“Last year, on August 12th, my husband and son did SeaTREK. I really wanted to do it also but it wasn't possible. I talked to the staff and they really wanted to give me the same experience as my husband and son had. I could see that this was a big wish for them! At the end of the year, there was the first youtube video…the first disabled person doing SeaTREK!!! I cried seeing that video…so beautiful! 

Exactly one year later, it was my turn! I had no idea how I fit in a wetsuit. No problem! Within 2 minutes they helped me in it! They are very kind and took good care of me. They explained everything very well…at all times in the water, I felt safe…. What an amazing experience! They make dreams come true! 

This will be with me forever. When I was in the water the tears kept coming, so beautiful and how amazing that these guys…could make my dream come true!  Thank you all for making things possible for people like me!”

Sub Sea Systems, the creators of Sea TREK and Clear Lounge, as well as SolarCat solar-electric catamarans, Aquaticar and Deep Dive VR, love to spread joy for the sea, for new adventures, and for memorable family time. We are grateful to those who take the time to write reviews of their experiences… whether sincere or silly!

sea trek excursion link

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Happy Anniversary, Reef Magic!

My how time has flown! Our awesome operator in Cairns, Australia (on the Great Barrier Reef) is celebrating its first year of Sea TREKking!

Sea TREK helmet diving in Cairns

And speaking of flying, Sub Sea Systems’ Director of Water Operations and Safety (and resident fish nerd) Carl Hanson, took a trip down under to check in with this awesome operator! Here’s what Carl had to say about his lengthy but exciting journey.

Q: Why did you take the journey to Australia? 
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of our operator in Cairns! We have new staff at Reef Magic, so I wanted to get to know them. I also did a site visit, which included training the new coordinators, and conducting a safety and equipment inspection. We reviewed some new ideas for marketing Sea TREK, too! It’s helpful for operators to have an “outside eye” for the program - someone who does not see it daily and can observe with fresh eyes.

Q: How long was the trip?
I left California on May 26th and got back on June 2nd. What’s interesting about this is that I arrived on the 28th, and left Australia on the 2nd. I left Sydney at 10am, and arrived in LA at 6am on the same day! Time traveling!

Q: What was your travel route?
Sacramento to Los Angeles, CA
L.A. to Sydney
Sydney to Cairns

On the return trip:
Cairns to Sydney
Sydney to L.A.
L.A. to Sacramento

I was fortunate to receive an upgraded seat from Sacramento to L.A. Then, I got an upgrade to business class from L.A. to Sydney, which scored me a much-appreciated bed! From Sydney to Cairns, I was upgraded to first class again. It pays to be nice... and to be a frequent flyer!

The only real issue I encountered was the very last leg of the trip. Flying from L.A. to Sacramento, the cargo door got stuck, so we had to wait for 2.5 hours for our luggage. Luckily, I had a 4-hour layover. Whew!

great barrier reef

Q: How was their first year as a Sea TREK operator?
They did really well for their first year! The Reef Magic team loves the product (they were using another brand of helmet diving system prior to implementing Sea TREK). The Sea TREK helmets are easier to use and they do not require a weight belt. Additionally, the helmets require a smaller footprint when sitting on the deck so they are able to have more helmets.

The operators at Reef Magic really want to help more people enjoy the Great Barrier Reef, and Sea TREK affords them that opportunity.

Q: What is unique about this particular Sea TREK adventure?
The uniqueness stems from the reef itself. For a non-diver to be able to access the reef and all of its residents is incredible! In showing more people the reef, we increase awareness of the necessity of conservation efforts. Putting people there “live and in person” really brings home the need to preserve the reef and life within.

Q: What’s new in the area?
ScUber! Travelers can now take a very unique trip to the reef– on an Uber branded submarine! All you need is the Uber app to call for your ScUber to pick you up... and a mere $3000 per person!

great barrier reef from helicopter

Q: What did you do in your free time?
I took a helicopter tour of the reef! This was my first helicopter ride. Seeing the reef from this viewpoint was so different. You can see large groupings of animals, like sea turtles. Manta and Eagle rays are also visible from the air. I spent time with the team socializing and getting to know them. It’s great to establish relationships, so I can put a face to the name when speaking over the phone or via email. They know me now and know that I’m eager to help whenever needed. And, of course, I bought a magnet for my Mom!

Q: What animals did you encounter at this location?
Maori wrasse, Wally! Hawksbill sea turtles, white tip sharks, and an insane assortment of fishes and corals. The Great Barrier Reef is teeming with life.

Marine World Reef Magic

Reef Magic (and its owner, Experience Co.) have some exciting future plans that we hope to share in the near future. Stay tuned!
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Showing Appreciation on Memorial Day

Monday, May 27th is Memorial Day in the U.S. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have died in service. The day is typically celebrated by paying respects to memorials of those lost in wartime, attending parades and local events, or spending time appreciating family.

While the day was specifically created to honor those that have given their lives to protect our country, we also recognize our living veterans and the sacrifices they have made or continue to make, while in service. Sea TREK operators across the United States honor these heroes by offering a variety of discounts and special events, just for veterans.

wings for warriors at odysea aquarium

OdySea Aquarium and Wings for Warriors Partnership  
This program, which started on October 15th, 2018, provides local veterans and their loved ones the unique opportunity to take a SeaTREK helmet dive. Offered on the second Monday of every month, participants enjoy complimentary admission to OdySea and a free helmet diving adventure. The program was created in conjunction with Wings for Warriors, a volunteer, non-profit organization designed to support wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Read about Wings for Warriors here.

So far, the veterans who have participated in the OdySea Wings for Warriors program have described SeaTREK as therapeutic and a fantastic way to forget about life’s challenges.

Watch the video of Sea TREK Wings for Warriors at Odysea!

salute to heroes miami seaquarium

Miami Seaquarium’s “Salute to Heroes” Month
In recognition of service, Miami Seaquarium offers veterans free admission for a month! From April 27-May 27th, veterans can visit Seaquarium at no charge, and enjoy an additional 50% off animal interactions, including Sea TREK Reef Encounters.

In addition, all military and first responder guests are honored during one of the park’s show presentations. Read about additional discounts at Miami Seaquarium here.

Military Mom and daughter

Schlitterbahn Military Appreciation Days
Schlitterbahn, South Padre Island, Texas holds Military Appreciation Days, with discounted tickets available for active-duty military. Additionally, this year the waterpark/resort is honoring military members with its “American Heroes Week” from Memorial Day through Sunday, June 2nd, with free entry to the park and a 40% discount for military spouses and dependents. Find the details here.

Military family

Discovery Cove Honors Vets and Active Military
Discovery Cove recognizes both active-duty military members and veterans alike. The Waves of Honor Military Salute Program provides discounted rates on Day Resort Admission and Signature Dolphin Swim for military personnel and as many as three direct dependents. Learn more about the discounts available here.

Military family

Wonders of Wildlife Honors Vets Daily
Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield, Missouri doesn’t wait for a holiday or specific day of the week to honor veterans. WOW offers a 10% discount for active-duty military, vets, and their dependents, daily.

Last year, Wonders of Wildlife participated in a dive program for vets. Working in conjunction with St. Louis-based program called LifeWaters, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans with severe injuries overcome their disabilities by learning to scuba dive. Wonders of Wildlife opened its aquarium to Lifewaters’ disabled divers. Watch a video of the event here.

The United States is often referred to as the land of independence and opportunity. We owe a debt of gratitude to our military and veterans for the sacrifices they have made, and continue to make, to uphold these freedoms. We want to thank our amazing Sea TREK operators in the U.S., for recognizing and honoring these very special Americans.

We wish all a safe and reflective holiday!

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Amazing Animal Encounters

This week, an incredible story of animal and human interaction went viral across social channels. A beluga whale in Norway, suspected of being a Russian “spy”, returned a cell phone to an observer. Obviously eager to please, the whale cheerfully returned the phone that was accidentally dropped into the ocean!

While the story would be unbelievable without footage, animals assisting humans are not as rare as one might think. Stories of creatures cooperating with humans and giving them a helping paw or fin can be found across the web. Here are a few of our favorites! 

Long-distance swimmer, Adam Walker, was trekking through New Zealand’s Cook Strait when a 6-ft. shark visited him– likely, a great white. Just as the shark approached, a pod of 10 dolphins appeared and accompanied him on his journey, protecting him from a potential attack! Check out the video here!

While amazing, this is not that unusual. Dolphins have been known to assist people in a variety of perilous conditions. Dolphins’ sonar and ability to detect distress appear to give them a uniquely intuitive connection to humans and an altruistic nature. In fact, some call dolphins the "real" man's best friend!

In 1996, a crowd of visitors at Brookfield Zoo just outside of Chicago, looked on in horror as they saw a toddler tumble more than 15 feet into a habitat, landing near seven gorillas. But, as zoo patrons cried out for help for the 3-year-old boy lying on the concrete below, an unlikely hero emerged.

Binti-Jua, a western lowland gorilla, grabbed the boy, cradled him in her arms, carried him to a doorway and laid him gingerly at the feet of waiting paramedics. The female gorilla appeared to act out of pure compassion for the injured boy.

Binti-Jua means "daughter of sunlight" in Swahili. As an infant, she had little mothering. Born in the Columbus Zoo in Ohio in March 1988, officials said her mother treated her with indifference. Humans had to hand feed Binti with a bottle. Raised by humans, she paid it all back that heroic day by saving the little boy. Binti-Jua was rewarded by the public and received not only high accolades but also gift baskets of fruit. You can watch Binti-Jua protect her new friend here.

 binti-jua gorilla saves child

Binti-Jua is not the only known gorilla hero. In 1986, a silverback gorilla named Jambo rescued five-year-old Levan Merritt, who fell 12 feet into a gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo in the United Kingdom. After the fall, the gorillas living in the enclosure began to circle the unconscious child. Jumbo placed himself between the boy and the other gorillas as if to say “don’t touch”! Jambo stood guard by the boy, rubbing his back as if to soothe him. Watch the incredible footage!

Back to our beautiful and charming friend, the beluga whale. Freediver Tang Yun was competing at Polarland Aquarium in Harbin, China, when she suddenly felt paralyzed in her legs and sunk to the bottom of the cold arctic pool. "I began to choke and sank even lower and I thought that was it for me – I was dead," Yun said.

whale saves diver

Enter Mila, the beluga! Mila spotted Yun and guided her to safety by placing Yun's leg in her mouth and pushing her to the surface. “I felt this incredible force under me," Yun said. An organizer of the event credited Mila with saving Yun's life: "She's a sensitive animal who works closely with humans and I think this girl owes her life to Mila."

In the early 1970s, Yvonne Vladislavich was traveling on a boat off the coast of Mozambique when the boat’s engine stopped working. The boat remained adrift until it was sunk by a wave.

Yvonne was a very good swimmer and decided to try to swim to shore. However, some sharks had other plans for her. Six sharks started circling her and kept coming closer…until heroic dolphins arrived. The dolphins kept the sharks away and followed Yvonne as she drifted 25 miles to a buoy.

dolphins save woman swimmer

Yvonne said that she is sure she would have drowned if she hadn’t received assistance from the dolphins. She frequently got tired during the journey and would have gone under if the dolphins hadn’t kept her above the water. She was the only survivor of the four people on the boat.

And in the most dramatic fashion, Rheal Guindon is very lucky to be alive... On a camping trip with his parents in Canada, he remained on shore while his parents fished from a nearby boat. The boat overturned and sadly, his parents drowned in front of him. He attempted to walk to town, but as it grew dark, he dropped to the cold ground and began crying. He felt something furry press against him as he fell asleep. The next morning, he discovered three beavers snuggling him. Had it not been for them, he would have frozen to death in the sub-zero temperatures that night.

These incredible stories illustrate how little we really know about animals and their capacity to understand when a fellow being is in need. We may be more alike than we are different!

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

FunCats Solar Electric Catamarans - Eco-friendly Fun for Your Fleet!

As a resort or boat rental operations manager, you’re faced with the challenges of keeping your guests happy and encouraging repeat visits by offering a variety of new and exciting activities. Whether it’s a family of four or a couple in their sixties, providing your guests with fun things to do, while not busting your budget is likely at the top of your priority list!

While jet skis and giant water trikes are fun for some, not everyone is looking for heart-pumping action or a water workout. And, some personal watercraft can be tricky to maneuver, which can be frustrating for guests. Vacationers looking for relaxation on the water do not want to waste precious vacation time learning how to operate an unfamiliar watercraft.

Enter the FunCat solar-electric catamaran! From San Diego to Spain, FunCats are popular rentals at resorts, private islands, and beach facilities. FunCats are an ideal addition to a facility’s activities list. FunCats provide guests with blissful relaxation on the water, a family outing, or an easy to maneuver boat for a fishing expedition! Just about anyone can drive a FunCat, which is not only cool for kids but helpful for guests who may have physical challenges that prevent them from managing a larger watercraft.

The FunCat is also very unique in appearance, and when out on the water it draws attention from onlookers. It’s a floating billboard and great “free” advertising tool for beach rental locations.

boat rental pompano beach club

The eye-popping Pompano Beach Club in Bermuda offers FunCats as a rental product. Pompano is unique in that FunCats are free to use for resort guests, and available to rent at an hourly rate ($80/hr.) for non-resort guests. Not only does the hourly rental rate generate revenue, but FunCat renters may also purchase food and beverages while on property.  Tom Lamb, the Managing Director at Pompano shares-

“We have been renting motorized FunCats from our resort’s watersports center for over ten years.  Our guests love them because they are so easy to handle and cruise along effortlessly at about 5 miles an hour, enabling our guests to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the spectacular scenery on our shallow sandbar. We often refer to them as “motorized floating chaise lounges!” The FunCats are definitely the most popular rental item we have at our watersports center!”

Several of the World’s largest cruise lines offer FunCat rentals at their private islands, including
Disney’s Castaway Caye in the Bahamas, Carnival’s Mahogany Bay in Honduras, and Norwegian’s Harvest Caye in Belize. This creates more revenue for the cruise lines and more fun for their passengers. In fact, FunCats have been so popular with cruise guests that Carnival recently added two more FunCats to their fleet, and Norwegian ordered four more FunCats to launch at Harvest Caye!

boat rental action sports san diego

FunCats are a proven revenue generator for watersport rental businesses. One location in San Diego, California, Action Sports Rentals, has over 30 FunCat boats for rent! Rental customers are attracted to the FunCat because they are relaxing– imagine a giant chaise lounge floating on the water, fun to drive– push the button and go! And you can enjoy all the amenities needed for a day on the water– sunshade, storage compartments, ice chest compartment, cup holders and more! Steven Pinard from Action Sports remarks-

“Action Sport Rentals in San Diego has FunCats at six locations. They are one of the most popular items that we rent. A family favorite!”

Staff love the boats because they are very low-maintenance, only requiring battery charging and a freshwater rinse off at the end of each day. Additionally, units with solar panels may not even require additional charging overnight, as they continuously charge throughout a sunny day.

The solar panel kit has become such a popular accessory with FunCat customers that all future boats will include this popular feature. And… drum roll, please… we are re-branding! With the focus on solar power, the FunCat will now be renamed SolarCat, solar-electrically powered catamaran. We are confident this new direction fits with today’s consumers and the market demand for environmentally friendly products. We’re excited about SolarCat and look forward to sharing our new website soon!

solar boat barvest cay

For our loyal FunCat customers, we will continue to provide service and replacement parts for your boats. And for our future customers, we look forward to introducing you to the new and improved SolarCat!

If you’re interested in learning more about SolarCat and how these fun, eco-friendly boats can help increase your bottom line, visit our current site at, where you can chat live during business hours!

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

On the Road Again with Carl Hanson

Sub Sea Systems Director of Water Operations and Safety, Carl Hanson racks up more frequent flyer miles in a month than most people collect in years! His most recent trip took him across the planet to Dubai. Carl shares his unique adventure with us below.

Q Why did you go to Dubai?

C: I went to visit Our Sea TREK Operator at Atlantis the Palm, Dubai. Atlantis the Palm’s Sea TREK helmet diving is done at its Ambassador Lagoon, part of its incredible Lost Chambers Aquarium, which houses over 65,000 marine animals!

Atlantis Dubai

Q: How long were you away?

C: I flew out on March 20th, and I returned on March 26th 

Q: What kind of work did you do during your visit?

C: This trip was primarily for site inspection, however, the facility also has a new Training Coordinator, Abdulla. He and I worked together quite a bit during my trip. I also shared some new training techniques for their backpack system.

Q: What was your travel route?

I left Sacramento on the 20th around noon, flew to Dallas. From Dallas, I flew to London, where I scored an upgrade! I was surprised that my upgraded seat was actually a bed. I got to take a shower at the London airport, then traveled on to Dubai. The trip in miles looks like this: 

Sacramento to Dallas- 1431
Dallas to Heathrow- 4740
Heathrow-Dubai 3410

Total travel time to get to Dubai, a mere 26 hours 

On the way back, I had a stopover in L.A., which added a few extra miles to the return trip.

Sports City Dubai

Q: What surprised you about Dubai?

This was my second trip to Dubai, so I didn’t experience quite as dramatic a culture shock this time around. But what surprised me the most is how accepting the culture is to other cultures. The people of Dubai are perceived as closed off, but they are actually very open to tourists of different cultures.

Also, Dubai is home to some of the largest buildings in the world. It’s also incredibly dusty! When I arrived the visibility was tough. Dubai is set up in a series of villages, and each is like its own small city. For example, Sports City is where the vast majority of the sports bars are. Each city is similar in design but quite different in function.

Sea TREK Atlantis Dubai

Q: What is unique about this particular Sea TREK adventure?

C: Aqua Trek at Ambassador Lagoon has so many animals, including Bowmouth guitarfish, eagle rays, zebra sharks, cow nose rays, and thousands of schooling fishes! Sea TREK is done from a ledge that is about 2-3 meters deep. Guests walk out on the ledge and TREK while overlooking the rest of the 30-feet-deep tank. One of the things that we tested was the possibility of bringing people to the bottom. So in the future, TREKs may include a drop to the bottom of the tank!

Q: What did you do in your free time?

C: I met up with a friend from high school, Donte! Donte is in the U.S. Army and happened to be in Dubai on deployment while I was there. I had not seen him in at least 10 years, so it was fun to catch up. We connected on social media, and we met up at Kite Beach. 

I also got the chance to visit the Dubai Mall, which happens to house one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world! The tank is 10 million liters and is home to over 140 species including 300 sharks and rays. Who knows, it could someday be home to another Sea TREK operation!

Check out Carl's amazing Atlantis video!
Check out Carl's amazing Atlantis video compilation!

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