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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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Traveling On with Carl Hanson

Sub Sea Systems Director of Water Operations and Safety, Carl Hanson, once again hits the road infrequently traveled. But this time, Carl’s trip included more than visiting existing Sea TREK locations. For this adventure, Carl was on a mission to seek out potential new Sea TREK locations in popular Caribbean destinations.

Carl’s first visit was to the Dominican Republic. Time was spent looking over the beautiful island, meeting with sales teams, and educating them about the Sea TREK helmet diving program and the benefits of becoming a Licensee. Some of the contacts Carl met took him to see potential sites for Sea TREK, to ensure suitability for the program. Carl discussed logistics and what would work, where. This was Carl’s very first trip that did not involve training or updating equipment and instead focused on growing the business.

Managing to squeeze in some free time, Carl joined a local tour operator and hiked Mount Isabel De Torres, the highest peak in northern DR. A guide took them on a journey that started in the Barrio and brought them through the rainforest before hitting the 3.7 mi (6 km) trail that climbed 2625 ft (800 m) in elevation. Two hours and forty minutes later, they reached the top, to take in the phenomenal views.

Saying good-bye to DR, Carl headed back to Miami for a full day “layover”, where he visited Sea TREK operator, Miami Seaquarium, to catch up with friends and former co-workers. While visiting, Carl caught a familiar image on a banner at the park!

Next up was St. Kitts, a two-hour flight from Miami. This time, Carl wore a different hat. This trip was all about Sub Sea Systems’ solar-electric FunCat catamaran! Carl visited a popular beach-bar in Frigate Bay, where the bar owner is hoping to add FunCats to draw cruise ship passengers, vacationers, and locals to his business. Surrounded by a beautiful beach, this location is the ideal spot for FunCat rentals! After an ATV tour which traversed up the side of a volcano, Carl reviewed some potential Sea TREK locations by hitting the water and making friends with resident sea turtles, tangs, puffers and stingrays.

Carl headed back to Miami for an overnight, then on to his next stop, Curacao, to visit a current Sea TREK operator. The location is under new management and has an updated location. Carl met with the new management and learned about the area, which is located at a renovated colonial naval base. The historic area includes a 30-foot drop, where people can jump off the ledge right into the water! The cliff’s wall provides a perfect environment for sea life to live and thrive. After inspecting equipment, doing some updates, and discussing marketing opportunities, off the cliff Carl went!

Carl’s last day of travel was Superbowl Sunday. Prior to departing, he had time to check out some local shops and buy his Mom an “overpriced” magnet, before taking in the beginning of the big game.

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Friday, February 1, 2019

The Author (Finally!) Takes a TREK

Each week, I sit at my desk at Sub Sea Systems’ headquarters and write about all things Sub Sea, Sea TREK, or travel-related – from crazy, cool sea life, to our staff’s adventures, to how to save money on your own vacation!

Last week, I had the opportunity to take my first TREK! I visited the incredible and somewhat overwhelming Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas. My husband Michael and I could not pass up an amazing deal (thank you, Total Rewards) to stay at Atlantis and visit Aquaventure, the resort’s water park.

Aquaventure boasts 141 acres of water activities, including 11 glamorous pools, 2 “lazy” rivers, and 8 different water slides, one of which rushes participants right through the center of a shark tank! We walked (a lot) around the park, taking it all in.

And, speaking of that shark tank, it happens to be the locale of Shark Adventures, a Sea TREK experience that takes place inside that very same shark tank. Shark Adventures is located inside the park at the Mayan Temple replica. We spotted Shark Adventures the moment we entered the park. At the themed check-in area, we met with the boisterous and super fun staff of Shark Adventures. Even though we were headed into a tank with the intimidating creatures, we felt comfortable right away.

After filling in some short paperwork, we were then fitted with wetsuits. As we put on the suits, we could see the ominous-looking sharks swimming around the massive aquarium. We watched as people whooshed through a big tube, gliding through a water slide right in the middle of the aquarium, past the nurse and sand sharks.

The staff conducted a briefing and we were taught several hand signals so that we could communicate with our guides underwater. Then, we followed our guides up a staircase to the water entry. The gleaming-white Sea TREK helmets were waiting for us! Our guides assisted us as we entered the tank via a ladder. They placed the Self-Contained Backpack with an air cylinder on our shoulders, and I was surprised at how lightweight everything felt.

Every step of the way, our guides asked us how we were feeling, if we were comfortable, or if we had questions. I knew we were in incredibly capable hands, and didn’t even hesitate as we entered the tank.  When our shoulders hit the water, the helmets were placed over our heads. I could hear the air flowing into my helmet; it was a comforting sound as I continued the descent, knowing the entire time that I could breathe easily. We stopped on the ladder a few times to clear our ears by reaching up into the helmets. Not once did any water enter the helmet. It was more comfortable than I anticipated!

When we got to the bottom of the ladder, we hit soft sand, which was easy to walk on, even while wearing the helmets. I then noticed the weightlessness I felt while in the water. Our guides accompanied us as we started our walk through the huge tank. With a crystal-clear view, I could see the first shark, which glided over my head as if nothing new was going on - just another human walking around. I was absolutely astounded and mesmerized by this beautiful being, and then suddenly another zipped by, right in front of me.  It was not anywhere near as interested in me as I was in it. I was secretly hoping one would get a little closer, and was not disappointed as a third shark swam by at about shoulder level.

The guides meandered with us through the exhibit, showing us a few other critters that call the tank home. They brought us a giant starfish to “pet” and pointed out some of the smaller fish residents. We walked around the impressive staging that resembled Mayan ruins, which are utilized as artificial reefs, providing additional homes for the aquarium’s residents. All the while, sharks swam above us and in front of us, never once threatening or scary.

We encountered several more sharks and fishy residents before we approached the ladder to return to the surface. Our TREK was over, but the memories of our “human fish” experience will never fade.

We want to thank Nathan Jones and his phenomenal staff for making our adventure worry-free and incredibly fun! If you want to take a TREK with sharks, check out:  

Did you know? Every Atlantis Adventure supports the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation, creating and promoting solutions for a wide range of marine conservation challenges from coral reef degradation to marine species in decline.

Terrie Carrozzella is the Web Designer & Social Media Manager for Sub Sea Systems, Inc.
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Friday, January 18, 2019

Peruse and Pursue Plastic Replacements

plastic substitutes enivornmentally friendly

Unless you’ve been living under coral, it’s likely you’ve heard of the environmental damage of plastics and disposable products, especially in our waterways. Thankfully we are becoming more aware of the dangers of these plastics. Photos of turtles with plastic rings around their shells, seals with gashes from fishing line, and seabirds with bellies bloated by debris have given humans a necessary wakeup call.

But, plastics and convenient disposables still play a roll in most of our daily lives, and it seems like it’s not yet an option to remove them completely. The bright side is that more and more eco-friendly products that can replace some of these commonly used items are coming onto the market.  Here are a few replacements that you can integrate into your routine, to assist you in your personal quest to help save our planet!

silicone ice cube trays

Reusable Silicone
When it comes to offering a highly durable and reusable plastic substitute that doesn’t leak and doesn’t contain the chemicals commonly found in plastics, silicone is an ideal replacement. Silicone is safer for human health than petroleum-based plastic. It contains no bisphenol-A (BPA), which doctors, scientists and regulators have deemed a human health hazard.

Silicone is highly durable and more ocean friendly than plastic. Silicone is made from silica, which is found in sand. Silicone endures extreme fluctuations in temperatures - from very cold to oven hot - without melting, cracking or otherwise degrading. Silicone products include:

bamboo utensils
Bamboo replacements
Bamboo is the ultimate natural resource. The shoots can be picked for eating (stir fry anyone?), and the wood of older canes can be treated and used as anything from decorations to bicycles! A fabulous trend right now is utilizing bamboo fibers for fabrics and clothing.

Bamboo is eco-friendly. It absorbs carbon dioxide and releases a major amount of oxygen into the atmosphere. Moreover, bamboo belongs to the grass family, so it does not require pesticides, fertilizers or irrigation to enhance growth. Bamboo is antibacterial and hypoallergenic as well as innovative and beautiful. A few household items that you could consider are:

Long before plastic wrap was on the market, there was beeswax. Ancient Egyptians used it as a preservative, and artists have used it to strengthen clay in sculptures and model making. Of late, it’s become the magic ingredient for everything from candies to candles.

Several new start-up companies have figured out a way to use those same adaptable characteristics to benefit food preservation. etee,  based in Toronto, Canada, spent about a year researching the properties of beeswax in an effort to create a pliable food wrap that didn’t have to be chucked into the garbage after one use. etee discovered that by adding essential oils and soy or resin to the beeswax, and then infusing organic cotton with the mixture, they were able to create a flexible “sticky” wrap that was not only reusable but had antimicrobial properties to help guard against food spoilage. Additionally, bees wax can be easily washed in light, soapy cold water and reused as many as 150 times. You can currently purchase the following items:

Plant Starch
Plant starch is considered a bioplastic, meaning it is derived from a renewable resource. It is made from a mix of 70% plant materials like corn, potatoes, and other vegetables and 30% fillers (like polypropylene) for strength and heat tolerance. While most single-use containers are currently made from cardboard bonded with plastic, making them unsuitable for recycling, plant starch materials are recyclable and renewable; they can be grown again and again.

And, here are a few things that you may have heard about, or will be seeing in the very near future!

edible seaweed water bubbles

Seaweed water bubbles
UK startup Ooho has created an alternative to the traditional plastic water bottle– a water bubble made of seaweed. The H2O is protected inside a gelatinous plant-film, so it's biodegradable and entirely edible. Meaning in the future, you might be eating your water, not just drinking it. Their aim is “to provide the convenience of plastic bottles while limiting the environmental impact.” They have developed a manufacturing process that makes this both more efficient and cheaper than producing plastic bottles. The process produces 5x less CO₂ and uses 9x less energy vs PET production.   

edible six-pack rings

Edible six-pack ring (point to blog)
Saltwater Brewery has developed a material for their six-pack rings, which are not only biodegradable and compostable, but also edible! Made of barley and wheat remnants– byproducts of the brewing process– this packaging will actually benefit sea life by providing an additional, safe food source! See their video here:

Mushroom root
With Mycelium (mushroom roots), packaging is literally grown. Ecovative Design, a New York-based biotech company, gathers agricultural waste, mixes it with the mycelium in molds, then literally grows the packaging.

Bagasse sugar cane plastic replacement

Bagasse is a byproduct of sugarcane processing. Due to its malleability and stickiness, it can be easily molded into packaging suitable for food delivery and food service industries. Unlike the frequently used polystyrene, it’s certified biodegradable and compostable.  Read about it here:

Shrimp shell bags
To offset the more than one trillion plastic bags used around the world annually, bioengineers at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. are taking a unique approach. They’re developing biodegradable bags out of shrimp shells. For now, the project is aimed specifically at Egypt, where there is a huge overabundance of crustacean shell waste. The shells are collected, boiled in acid to make them less brittle, and stripped down to a plastic bag-like material. Just two pounds of shells can yield 15 biodegradable shopping bags! Check it out:

While it may not be feasible to rid the planet of plastics, every step we take as individual contributors, and every piece of plastic we replace with an environmentally friendly alternative, can help make the earth cleaner and greener, and perhaps save a living creature or two.

Sub Sea Systems is committed to conservation. Check out our program, Reef Alliance. Be a part of the solution not the pollution.

reef alliance logo

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Part 5, Get to Know Sub Sea Staff!

Next in our series, "Get to Know Sub Sea Staff" we'd like to tell you all about our Sub Sea Systems' heroine, Hannah de Bie. Hannah’s list of responsibilities is longer than an octopus arm, and nothing short of astounding. From handling the company’s marketing endeavors, to establishing and working with new operators, Hannah does it all with perpetual positivity!

What is your job title?
VP Marketing & Communications

How would you describe your job to someone you just met?
It’s complicated! I start off by sharing that I’m the head of marketing for my family’s business, and that we’re in the tourism industry– we take people on guided underwater walking tours. (*insert bewildered look here*). Then I pull out my phone and proceed to share photos. It’s amazing to see how many people are familiar with Sea TREK, our flagship program, or have even tried it. They’re always shocked to learn that the corporate office is in Northern California, of all places.

sub sea systems hannah de bie

What is the best/your favorite part of the job?
I love my job– and for many different and varying reasons. Here are just a few:
  • I am beyond passionate about our products and company mission. To put it simply, I love what we do. It’s extremely rewarding to hear customer feedback, read online reviews, and see photos and videos posted by guests; some even share that Sea TREK or Clear Lounge was a life changing experience! To be involved in that is incredible. Through our business we also have an extensive, worldwide platform to promote conservation and educate people about the fragile marine environment.
  • I get to work with my family… my whole family– siblings, parents, uncle, and dogs… and, we all get along! It’s very unique to be involved in a family-owned business, and to see it thrive and grow through a 2nd generation. As my brothers and I start our families, I can only hope interest is sparked in the 3rd generation!
  • I have the opportunity to travel to some pretty exotic destinations, and work with people from all over the world. I enjoy learning about other cultures, trying local cuisine and getting to know people from every corner of the globe.
de bie family

What do you do in your spare time, away from work?
99% of my time is dedicated to raising the newest member of my family– my son, Hank! Being a Mom is the hardest (and most rewarding) job on the planet. He has a BIG personality and it’s truly amazing to watch him grow.

My husband, Evan, and I also enjoy cooking– self-proclaimed “foodies”! I recently started making sourdough bread, too.

You were recently featured on the very popular tv show, “House Hunters”! Tell us about that experience. 
Yes! That was an experience of a lifetime! During a business trip to Singapore I happened to meet a former House Hunters producer. We started talking and I shared with her that I was in the market for a new home. One thing lead to the next, and within a couple weeks we were filming! It’s incredible to see how much work, and how many hours of filming, are required to produce a 25-minute show (Five, 8-hour days!) The crew was fantastic, and our realtor (in real life), Garrett Abben, also filmed with us. Overall it was SO much fun, and will be a great memory to share with our son when he’s older. Check out the episode, "Quirky vs Functional in California, Season 137, Episode 12" online.

sea trek with Hannah De Bie

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Treat others the way you would like to be treated. (What a world we would live in if this was everyone’s mantra?!)

What are you most proud of?
My son! Every day I look at him and think, “I made you!” Having a child is pure magic. It’s miraculous!

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpower to be? 
Breathing and seeing underwater! I’ve always wanted to be a mermaid. Being a redhead and in the underwater tourism industry… the Little Mermaid is my all time favorite Disney movie (surprise surprise!). I want to be a part of Ariel’s world!  Hahaha.

Hannah is already a superhero to all of us at Sub Sea Systems, and we can’t tell her often enough how much we appreciate all that she does to make SSS an awesome place to work!

mayfield family

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Cool and “Crazy Colorful” Sea Creatures

Did you know…? Under our oceans and waterways, there’s a world of living color! Purples, greens, reds and more create a living rainbow under the sea, with hues that defy nature and seem almost impossible. Here are a few examples of this striking sea life!

man o' war

Portuguese Man O’ War
Devils of the sea, the Portuguese man o’ war lures you in with its gorgeous purple-blue translucence, only to inflict an incredibly painful, venomous sting when physically encountered!  This species is predatory. It uses its feeding tentacles to paralyze small fishes, pelagic crustaceans, and other invertebrates. It can also give humans a painful reminder of its ability– just ask President of Sub Sea Systems, Jim Mayfield, who felt the excruciating sting firsthand during a dive in Mexico!

The man-of-war has no means of propulsion, so it simply drifts, riding the currents of the ocean. They frequently form legions consisting of over 1000 colonies that float around together. Because they drift along on (somewhat) predictable winds and ocean currents, it’s possible to anticipate where and when the creatures will show up. For example, the Gulf Coast’s man o’ war arrive in the winter months.

hippo blue tang

Hippo (Blue) Tang
The hippo tang is so beautiful, it was used as a model…for the cartoon character, Dory, in Pixar/Disney’s “Finding Dory”!

This vibrant yellow, blue and black fish, found in Indo-Pacific waters, helps control the algae population on sponges, turtles, and coral reefs. Juvenile blue tang are herbivores (like Bruce, the shark), and play a major role in keeping algae from getting out of control.

Like all surgeonfish, the hippo tang can extract a razor-sharp caudal spine located at the side of its fin when threatened. They thrash their bodies and use their “scalpels” to cut whatever is trying to harm them. Obviously, Pixar decided to leave this trait out of Dory’s character.

Colorful Mandarin Goby Fish

Mandarin Goby
By far one of the most mesmerizing fish, the vibrant mandarin goby is found in waters from the Ryukyu Islands off the coast of Japan, to warm Australian reefs.

The Mandarin goby is not just beautiful - it’s also a complex creature.  This goby is covered in tiny spines that can inject toxic mucus into anyone who tries to handle it. It contains two types of secretious cells on its colorful epidermis – one that produces a thick mucus coating to protect it from the elements, and another that produces a toxin to protect it from predators. Not only is this toxic mucus coating dangerous, particularly if it makes it into a predator’s open wound, but it smells disgusting! The stink is not incidental. The mandarin goby needs the odor and the spines, because it lacks one of the most basic protective measures in the marine world: it doesn’t have scales.

discus colorful fish

Native to the Amazon River Basin in South America, discus are patterned in shades of green, red, brown, and blue. Highly social, discus typically form groups that may number many dozens of individuals.

They form pair bonds when they are about 75% of their adult size, and tend to remain life-long partners. Discus are great parents, and even secrete a slimy substance through their scales for their fry to feed off for the first couple of weeks of life.

The grace and elegance of the discus has fascinated fish enthusiasts from around the world since they were first discovered in the 1800s. However, excessive captive breeding has led to the fading of their dark stripes. Today, the discus is listed as a threatened species, meaning that if the situation progresses unchanged, the discus will be threatened with extinction in the wild in the near future.

ribbon eel

Ribbon Eel
The chameleon-like ribbon eel swaps out its colors as it ages. The juveniles and young adults, which are all born male, are jet black with a yellow dorsal fin. In adult males, the black is replaced by blue, and adult females are entirely yellow or yellow with some blue to the posterior.

These carnivorous eels feed on small fishes like guppies, fathead minnows, and other crustaceans. They use their clamped nostril to attract the prey and then using their strong jaw, they catch them. Their dragon-like appearance makes them one of the most intriguing creatures to observe, but they are typically seen with only their heads protruding out of reefs and coral.

juvenile garibaldi

The vivid orange garibaldi, the state fish of California, is the largest member of the damselfish family. In their natural habitats, Garibaldi’s are solitary fish and are very territorial. The males carry the spores of specific species of algae in their cheeks, and plant it on flat rock surfaces. This algae is then groomed by the fish, who defends it against encroaching males and sea urchins. In spring, females lay eggs, which hook onto the algae that the males tended.

Garibaldi have been known to charge at divers, perhaps in an attempt to protect their territory and defend eggs. When disturbed or approached, Garibaldi fish emit a thumping sound, which can sometimes be heard by divers.

Blue-Ringed Octopus

Blue-ringed Octopus
Dazzling yet deadly, the blue-ringed octopus is not the innocent sea occupant it appears to be. This golf-ball sized creature’s venom is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide and can kill 26 humans within minutes. It’s no surprise that it’s recognized as one of the most dangerous animals in the ocean.

Native to the Pacific Ocean, the blue-ringed octopus can be found in the soft, sandy bottom of shallow tide pools and coral reefs. When not seeking food or a mate, blue-ringed octopuses often hide in crevices, shells or marine debris. If you catch them outside of their cozy hiding spots, it’s easy to see how the animal gets its name: when threatened, bright blue rings appear all over its body as a warning signal to potential predators.

Fortunately, the blue-ringed octopus isn’t aggressive; it’s only likely to bite humans if cornered or handled.

giant clam

Giant Clam
Not only could you take an afternoon nap inside its shell, the giant clam also dons an amazing array of colors. Its mantle is usually a mixture of yellow, red, green, blue, pink and brown. This massive mollusk can reach 4 feet in length and weight up to 500 pounds!

Like most corals, some anemones, and other reef organisms, giant clams utilize a combination of methods to obtain food. The majority of their energy is derived from symbiotic algae living within their cells, providing the clams with excess energy that they make via photosynthesis (the use of sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into food/energy). In return, the algae have a safe place to live and receive the nutrients necessary to photosynthesize. The beautiful colors characteristic of individual giant clams are actually a result of the symbiotic algae.

The seductive colors of the giant clam are somewhat wasted, because giant clams are hermaphrodites. That means that one animal has both male and female reproductive organs and can self-reproduce.

Want to check out more amazing sea life? 
Visit our Pinterest board "The Amazing Ocean"

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Our Year in Numbers!

2018 has been a fast-paced, exciting year for Sub Sea Systems! From new Sea TREK locations to a zippy, brightly colored Aquaticar, the year has been full of firsts combined with continued, steady growth. We’ve traveled across the globe (a few times!) and encouraged more and more people to Trek, play in Clear Lounge, or take a spin on a FunCat. We made new friends and developed an exciting new product. All of our efforts continue to reflect our goal – to introduce more and more people to the beauty of the underwater world! Check out the 2018 Sub Sea Systems’ Year in Numbers, and stay tuned for more excitement in 2019. Cheers!

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Sub Sea Systems’ Employees Celebrate Their Own “12 Days”

At Sub Sea Systems, we decided to put our own spin on The 12 Days of Christmas. Check out our personalized list of SSS activities and featured staff, based on the popular theme!

One new baby 
VP of Marketing, Hannah de Bie and her husband Evan, welcomed their first child, Henry into their family!

Two amazing families in charge
We are so fortunate to have these incredible people leading the pack! Jim and Melissa Mayfield and Miles Crail make us feel like family!

Three office doggies
Barking all the way! Actually, they’re very well behaved! Each has a unique personality, and they keep us laughing daily!

Four custom Aquaticar wheels 
That’s right! Even the wheels on Aquaticar are custom made, not ‘off-the-shelf’! We’re continuing our work on perfecting Aquaticar, our awesome underwater car/ride!

Five trade shows 
Euro Attractions Show, Amsterdam, Netherlands; DEAL, Dubai, UAE; Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico; World Waterpark Association Show, Las Vegas, Nevada; IAAPA Expo, Orlando, Florida. Whew! That’s a lot of exposure for our products and people! Our staff has traveled all over the world to attend shows and connect with others in the industry.

Six new Sea TREK locations
Atlantis Sanya, China; Wonders of Wildlife, Missouri, USA; Sea TREK Discover at Xel Ha park in the Riviera Maya, Mexico; Reef Magic, Great Barrier Reef, Australia; Viva Wyndham, Bayahibe, Dominican Republic; and, Wonders of the Barrier Reef, Rendezvous Caye, Belize. We continue to introduce more people to their first breaths underwater and the magic beneath the sea!

Seven Facebook pages
With the addition of Aquaticar, we have increased our exposure on Facebook to seven pages of fun! Additionally, we have presence on several other social entities such as Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Eight Italy travelers
Eight staff/family traveled to Venice, Italy and worked with Heineken’s brand, Desperados (tequila-flavored beer), to bring Sea TREK to the "World’s deepest underwater dance party" (skip to #11 to read more!)

Nine FunCats sold
We sent off nine FunCat solar-electric catamarans to exciting destinations such as Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island Harvest Caye in Belize, Carnival Cruise Line’s private port Mahogany Bay in Honduras, and Carlsbad Lagoon in California.

Ten websites managed
All of our products are represented online with sites that feature beautiful photos, easy-to-use maps, and even the opportunity for Sea TREK and FunCat customers to chat with us live! Check out,,,,,,,, and our blog–

Eleven helmets used in the "World’s deepest underwater dance floor"
Desperados Deep House utilized eleven Sea TREK helmets for their over-the-top event. Read about it here.

Twelve grateful staff members
From our headquarters’ team in California, we wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy New Year!

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