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, March 22, 2018

Learn About FunCat Electric-Solar Catamarans

While the northeast U.S. experiences crazy amounts of snow, and our west coast is drowning in rain, we can’t help but think about boating season! Once the first day of spring arrives, we know we’ll be on the water in no time!

Our favorite mode of transportation on the water is the durable FunCat Electric-Solar Catamaran. Built for fun on the water, USA-made FunCats are easy to drive, dock and store. But there’s more than meets the eye with the durable and reliable Funcat catamaran. In addition to a near effortless ride, these Cats have a “boatload” of features!

Clean Footprint

FunCats are electrically powered. Unlike most propeller boats that use fuel to operate, FunCats are powered by two rechargeable, 12v marine batteries (available in both AGM and Lithium-Ion). These efficient batteries can run for up to 6+ hours, then easily recharge. Since the Cats do not require gas or oil to operate, they are often able to navigate bodies of water that do not allow fueled boats. The environmentally clean FunCat also has a solar panel option, making them even more efficient. The solar panel option increases efficiency by approximately 40%! The FunCat also includes a handy LED volt meter that visually displays the charge level of the batteries.

Easy All Around

FunCats are so easy to drive, even kids can steer! Two simple switches allow the FunCat to maneuver forward or back, right or left, and even in a complete 360°. This simplistic operation also allows for uncomplicated docking. While many boats can be cumbersome to take in and out of the water, FunCats are easy to maneuver on and off trailers, park next to docks, and even fit in tight spaces. The high maneuverability is attributed to the unique rudderless, thrust design and the boat’s simple controls.


The comfy “chaise lounge” chair lets boaters adjust seating positions, so sun worshippers can enjoy lounging flat, while leaf peepers can sit upright.  The FunCat is also uber-quiet, so taking one out early in the morning or late into the evening won’t wake the neighbors or disturb wildlife. Not to mention, it’s SO relaxing– quietly floating on your oversized lounge chair!

Escape From the Sun

Even sun lovers need an occasional break from hot rays, and thankfully a standard FunCat accessory is the adjustable bimini shade. The shade can easily be secured in an up or down position. When up, the bimini shade provides riders a respite from the grueling sun. Still looking for more ‘cool’ alternatives? The FunCat water-tight, side storage compartment can be utilized as a cooler, to keep libations cold and food protected from the heat.

Awesome Options

FunCats offer a quiet, stable ride on the water, but there’s so much more one can do to “trick out” their catamaran. Fishing fanatics can take advantage of custom fishing pole mounts, making the next expedition a breeze! Toting extra belongings? A giant, canvas storage pouch that attaches to the back of the FunCat seat stores everything from wet bathing suites to extra towels. FunCats can be kept in pristine condition via the heavy-duty boat cover. FunCat owners may also purchase a lightweight trailer for transport, made of durable aluminum.

We’ve Got You Covered

FunCats come with a 12-month, pontoon-to-pontoon warranty, and are CE marked and U.S. Coast Guard approved. The boats are proudly made in the USA of high quality, commercial-grade, and reliable materials. The durable design and low maintenance get you out on the water faster, and enjoying life on the water longer!

Easy… reliable… fun! We can’t wait to enjoy time on the water aboard a FunCat. Bring on the sunshine!

Special Pricing!

FunCats are currently available at a special discount! Save over $600 off the regular retail price. Check it out here!

funcat catamaran special price

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Famous Side of Sea TREK

Each year, over 200,000 people go on an underwater journey. They don helmets and walk among fish, dolphins, and sometimes, even sharks! Young and old alike enjoy a world that many will never experience.

We consider all of these Sea TREK participants to be VIPs, however, our helmets have been worn by some extra-special people. They’ve also been utilized in some very unique and very public ways.  It’s pretty cool to experience a little fame here and there!

One of these unique situations happened in 2016. The Netflix show, Stranger Things’ key character, Eleven, appeared in a Sea TREK helmet in season 1, episodes 5 and 6. Eleven donned the helmet in order to enter a sensory deprivation tank. Stranger Things and the character Eleven have an extensive cult following. In fact, there are so many fans of the show that Funko, creators of well-known pop icon figurines and toys, created an Eleven doll, complete with a Sea TREK helmet. Stranger Things also had a Sea TREK helmet on display at the 2017 Comic Con in San Diego, California. Eleven fans with an artistic side have created some pretty amazing artwork featuring Eleven’s underwater adventure, helmet and all.
Numerous reality TV shows have featured Sea TREK; from The Amazing Race to Myth Busters, The Bachelor, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, Below Deck (Season 5) and more. TREKking has sure had its share of exposure! The popular HGTV show, House Hunters has shown their home shoppers taking a break and doing a TREK.  Our own VP of Marketing, Hannah de Bie, was featured on a House Hunters’ episode and they even included a clip of Sea TREK as part of her career backstory. House Hunters’ sister show, Island Hunters, has featured Sea TREK in a number of its episodes.

We’ve never questioned the sexiness of Sea TREK. Proof of our appeal was evident in the Travel Channel’s series, Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches. The star of the show, Bridget Marquardt, visited Xcaret park in Mexico.  She described it as a “cool experience” and stated, “I felt like a space explorer!”

 TREKking opportunities are not lost on famous sports figures. NFL Linebacker James Harrison experienced Sea TREK while visiting OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona. James took his son for a TREK in the amazing OdySea tank. This year, three LPGA golfers, Alena Sharp, Guilia Milinaro, and Ryann O’Toole also TREKked in the tank at OdySea. Another NFL player, Olivier Vernon of the Miami Dolphins, took on a TREK at Miami Seaquarium in Florida.  And in Aruba, the entire defense lineup of the Green Bay Packers took an underwater jaunt together, thanks to Sea TREK!
From the music world, brave TREKkers include famous singer Alicia Keys, who took her TREK in Aruba. The Canadian band Magic!, well known for its reggae fusion sound, TREKked together in Miami, and Harry Styles from the band One Direction also walked underwater in Miami.

In 2017, country music star Jimmy Charles released a hit song, “Bout Summertime.”  His unique music video shows Jimmy playing his guitar underwater at Coral World, USVI, wearing a Sea TREK helmet. You can see his video here:

For Ellen DeGeneres’ 60th birthday, we were invited to include a Sea TREK voucher as part of a VIP gift basket. Ellen has yet to redeem her Sea TREK, but we hope to host her on an underwater TREK soon! Maybe she’ll even find Nemo!

What famous person or TV show would you like to see take a TREK? Tell us below!

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

All About the Award-Winning Xcaret

Xcaret Named Best Park in the World for The Third Consecutive Year!

We’re excited to share that Xcaret, an eco-archaeological park in Quintana Roo, Mexico (south of Cancun), has once again been awarded the 2018 Silver Travvy award for “Best Water Park” and “Best Theme Park” in the world! Sponsored by travAlliancemedia, an innovative leader in the travel industry, the Travvy awards are considered the “Academy Awards” of the industry!

Xcaret (pronounced Shh-Caret) Eco-Archaeological Park opened in 1990 and has welcomed more than 23 million visitors from all over the world. Since its inception, Xcaret Park has stayed true to Mexican culture by paying tribute to the country and enriching the park experience through unique attractions such as a multi-level aviary, a Mayan village and gorgeous underground rivers.

So, what makes this park so outstanding? Xcaret features more than 50 attractions which reflect the rich history and culture of Mexico. Combine that with amazing food, Mexican artistry, and top-notch performances, and you’ve got an experience of a lifetime. Where else can you float without a care down a magical river, visit a wide variety of animals and sea life, then, follow up with a traditional Mexican dinner and a fabulous cultural performance, all in one beautiful location?

Fun for Adventurers, Great and Small

Xcaret has something for everyone, including the youngest member of the family. The park’s Children’s World was created just for kids from 0 to 12, and features water slides, hanging bridges, a parakeet habitat and a playground in perfect harmony with the impressive Mayan jungle. There’s also a wading pool, a sandbox, water jets and many more activities, so that kids can have an unforgettable day. There are lifeguards at each body of water, and (mandatory) life jackets are available in kids’ sizes. The Children's World has restrooms in which “to-scale” facilities have been installed for its pint-sized patrons. It also has four family bathrooms, two feeding rooms, two dressing rooms and three shower rooms. If your kids are adventure-seekers, they’ll have a blast with Adventure Kids, a park program that gives participants the opportunity to feed and interact with small stingrays, or snorkel in a tranquil lagoon. Of course, we’re partial to the opportunity for kids over the age of 8 (and up to 100!) to Sea TREK, where they can get up close and personal with a variety of underwater residents.

Did you know? Xcaret opened the world’s very first Sea TREK location in 1999. Since the program’s humble beginnings with just 9 helmets, it has now grown to be the world’s largest Sea TREK locale, with 75 helmets, 2 Sea TREK trails, and annual participation exceeding 130,000 guests!

Adrenaline Rush

If you’re into exhilarating activities, Xcaret does not disappoint. The park’s speedboat, Adrenalina, will cool you off and get your heart pumping! Adrenalina’s speed maxes out at 90 km/hr (56 mph). Its 360° turns will take you from one side to another, in a fun and safe way. If you’d rather stay dry and stay above it all, Paraxute (pronounced parachute), the park’s parasailing adventure, elevates guests up to 600 feet (183 m), allowing you to gaze upon all the beauty of the Caribbean Sea and the treetops of the Mayan jungle.


In addition to the aforementioned stingrays and parakeets, Xcaret is home to a wide variety of animals that educate and entertain! The Aviary alone houses over 1500 birds. From mockingbirds to pink flamingos, the Aviary features programs that focus on conservation and the reproduction of endangered species. After a visit with the flock, animal lovers can check out the marine turtles and manatees, or stop by Jaguar Island or Puma Island, for great views of slick and sinewy, free-roaming cats.  Of course, a visit would not be complete without stopping by the Coral Reef Aquarium, to view its 500+ coral reef structures.


Opportunities abound for sneaking in some education during your park visit! Xcaret’s Mexico Espectacular, an evening show with incredible costumes, advanced technology, and rich set design, offers a spectacular setting for a history lesson. More than 300 actors in original costumes perform a variety of dances and concerts that reflect Mexican traditions. There are even several thrilling Mayan sports games that are played during the show– including a hockey-like game with a flaming puck, and a ball game where players can only use their hips! Spectators can also take in the “Voladores”, a ritual ceremony featuring “flyers” climbing a pole. Seated on the edge of a platform, the Voladores perform music, then launch themselves from the platform, swinging upside down attached at their ankles to the center pole, imitating birds in flight - a high-energy, unique Mexican custom!


Roaming the 200-acre park would make any adventurer hungry. When it comes to dining opportunities, Xcaret offers a number of casual to fine dining experiences. High quality techniques and traditional ingredients combine with an innovative vision to create specialties that reflect the unique foods and drinks of Mexico. And, the park offers enough variety to please those who just want a quick bite, to gourmands looking for a more refined culinary experience.

Paradise on the Water

Of course, the big attraction of Xcaret is its natural network of channels and cenotes that circulate under the Yucatan Peninsula. The underground waterways at Xcaret offer a relaxing way to explore mangroves, swim in crystal clear water, or snorkel in a unique, jungle-like setting. Paradise River offers a fun raft option, where guests travel through canals surrounded by the jungle, where they can observe blue crabs, iguanas, peccaries and more.

We are sure you can see what makes Xcaret a unique place to visit and spend time with friends and family. If you’d like to learn more about Xcaret, check out their website at, where you will find information about the park, read about the Xcaret hotel, and discover discounts and booking information.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Good news! Americans are recycling at a higher rate than ever before - recycling rates have more than tripled over the last 30 years! This steady growth has created jobs and wages for Americans, and has supported community development. For example, according to recent data, recycling and reuse activities in the United States accounted for 757,000 jobs and produced $36 billion in wages in a single year!

At Sub Sea Systems, employees participate in the annual International Coastal Cleanup, organized by the Ocean Conservancy. In 2017, SSS and its associates worldwide removed hundreds of pounds of plastic and other trash pollutants from our beaches, reefs and waterways.

But there’s more work to be done. While many of us are conscious of the impact of trash and waste on our environment, there are several “little things” we may be doing unconsciously, that cause a negative environmental impact.  Take a look at the typical behaviors below. Can you improve your personal efforts?

Plastic beach trash

Straws, Bottles and “To Go” Cups

You’re out and about and grab a beverage while on the road. Or, maybe you like the convenience of disposable cups at home. Do you toss the cup and straw in the trash after you enjoy your drink?  Of the eight million tons of plastic trash that flow every year into the world’s oceans, the plastic drinking straw is a top contributor to all that tonnage.  Small and lightweight, straws often never make it into recycling bins. Although straws amount to only a fraction of ocean plastic, their size makes them one of the most insidious polluters, because they entangle marine animals and are consumed by fish.

This video, released by the “One Less Straw” campaign, shows scientists removing a straw embedded in a sea turtle’s nose went viral in 2015. It’s clear that the skinny little drinking straws have a much bigger impact than most of us realize. Add in the cup your drink came in, and we’ve got an even bigger concern.  Check out for more info about straws and how they harm our environment.

Globally, we utilize a million plastic bottles per minute! 91% of those are not recycled. When you “Grab a Coke and Smile”, are you holding onto that bottle until you see a recycle bin?  Think before you toss. The ocean’s animals will appreciate it!

 Junk mail trash

Junking Junk Mail

Junk mail is an annoyance we all have to deal with. We are deluged with advertisements, offers and announcements via the USPS.  In fact, the average American household receives 848 pieces of junk mail per year! 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in US landfills annually. 44% of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail is recycled- what a waste of our precious trees! Recycling one ton of this paper trash would save approximately 700 gallons of water and power the average home for six months.

While recycling junk mail will certainly help protect our environment, we can avoid receiving unwanted solicitations in the first place. Check out and find out how to remove this nuisance from your mailbox.

The Cost of Being Clean

It’s good to be clean, but equally important to be green, when cleaning up.  Some products offer convenience and are easy to use, but there is an environmental price to pay for their utilization.

One newish product on the market is wet wipes for cleaning. Once only used for babies, wet wipes are now picked up to clean up. The synthetic fibers that make up wet wipes prevent them from being compostable or recyclable. So, after a single use, they head to the landfill! In addition to negatively impacting the environment, wet wipes can be detrimental to human health. They contain a mixture of chemicals to enhance their cleaning abilities. These chemicals can be toxic and harmful to those who come in contact with them.

The image above depicts a massive “fatberg” weighing nearly as much as a school bus. It was removed from a London sewer. Water utility officials described it as a 15-ton behemoth of “wrongly flushed, festering food fat mixed with wet wipes.” It broke the sewer and cost more than half a million dollars to repair!

In recent years, microbeads have emerged as one of the top ten enemies to waterways. As the name suggests, they’re tiny little plastic beads that some companies use in products like exfoliators and toothpaste. The beads go down the drain, and are too small to be removed by waste treatment facilities. So, they end up in the water, where fish eat them. Microbeads are perfect for soaking up toxins, which are then passed on through the food chain when fish ingest them. Some states have outlawed them. If you’d like to avoid using beauty products that become fish food, check labels for polyethylene and polypropylene, and support the effort to outlaw such plastics.

Getting your wheels sparkling clean with a hose-down and suds at home? It’s a great feeling to have a shiny, clean car, but there are unintended consequences. The washoff of detergent, motor oil, and other car contaminants from the road surface into storm drains can pollute waterways. Opt to skip the home spray down, and take the car to a professional car wash, which recycles wash water or is required to have filters that clean out pollutants.

Be Healthy, But Kind

Tap on, tap off! Whether you’re washing the dishes or brushing your teeth, leaving the tap running while you do so wastes a vast amount of water. It may seem like a small saving, but soaking dishes before washing them and turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth really does reduce the amount of water you use. You use about 5 gallons of water if you leave the water running while brushing your teeth! Turn off that tap to save up to 200 gallons of water per month.

muddy hiking boots

Take a Hike or Go Jump In the Lake

If you’re a nature lover, you most likely enjoy the great outdoors through hiking or swimming. Just be sure you’re not carrying invasive species along with you on your next trek. If you have plant matter in the mud on your hiking boots, for example, take some time to clean it off. You could be carrying seeds or other plant-propagating material for invasive plants that can clog waterways, out-compete native plants for water resources, and cause erosion, leading to water pollution. Likewise, contamination of lake water can occur from toxins and chlorine on swimwear from pools. Once chlorine reaches open water, it reacts with minerals in the ocean to form dangerous toxins that take years to disintegrate. It also sickens marine life. Even low levels of chlorine in a water system leads to long-term health concerns for fish and bird populations. Make sure you wash out your swimsuit after a dip in the pool, if you plan on going into a more natural body of water later. Also, avoid bleach, which not only damages the environment, but might eat your swimsuit, too!

Electronics, Ink and Batteries…Oh, My!

Old electronics, ink and batteries travel from your garbage bin to landfills, and cause damage to our environment. Batteries can cause lead, arsenic, mercury and other harmful chemicals to seep into the earth, damaging wildlife and sea life. Ink cartridges have an even more toxic effect on the environment when they are disposed of improperly.

A staggering 375 million empty ink and toner cartridges are thrown out every year, and most of them end up in landfills. Ink printers and their ink are made up of several ingredients, most of them chemicals. The harmful environmental factors of ink cartridges can be felt even before they leave the manufacturing plant. Laser cartridges alone take more than three quarts of oil to produce! For a print cartridge to fully decompose in a landfill site, it takes 1000 years, which gives you the extent of how damaging these cartridges can be to the environment.

Fortunately, recycling batteries and ink cartridges is easy! Companies like HP , Canon and Costco  have recycling programs.

electronics in a landfill

If you just got a brand new TV, gaming console, or cell phone, you’re probably trying to figure out what to do with your old model. It can be pretty temping to just toss your aging iPhone 4S or Xbox 360 in the trash, but there’s an environmentally friendlier choice. Every year, 20-50 million metric tons of electronic waste is disposed around the world. Your old electronics are chock full of toxic stuff that should never make it to a landfill, like arsenic, lead, and cadmium. If those materials make it into landfills, they can potentially leak into our ecosystem, damaging plant and animal life and potentially impacting our food supply. Try selling your electronics, or donating them to a non-profit for re-use or recycling. You’ll not only spare our environment of irreparable damage, but you can help raise funds to help support a child or adult in need.

Taking a few simple steps can help save the planet! Sub Sea Systems encourages environmental efforts via our non-profit organization, Reef Alliance. Read more about Reef Alliance at
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Friday, February 23, 2018

Clear Lounge - A Multi-Sensory Experience!

Stepping into Clear Lounge is like stepping into the future! You’ll feel the weightlessness of the underwater world all around you, while colorful lights and bubbles exhilarate your senses.

But Clear Lounge offers guests much more than just an underwater adventure. Clear Lounge provides visitors a multi-sensory experience, including refreshing oxygen, fun games to play, and fabulous photo opportunities with cool backdrops and fresh props.

We asked Hannah de Bie, Vice President of Marketing for Clear Lounge Creator, Sub Sea Systems, to share some "behind the scenes" details about the Clear Lounge experience:

Clear Lounge participants can play jenga underwater! Why did you choose jenga as the game of choice?
When we were in R&D for Clear Lounge, we brainstormed all of the fun games that people like to play at bars / breweries, BBQs and family events– such as cards, dice, corn hole, darts, board games, and of course, jenga. We also considered the clientele who would be visiting Clear Lounge – ages 8 to 80+. The game had to be family friendly yet “cool”, and simple enough that anyone could recognize the game pieces and know how to play. The clear winner in our mind was jenga… however we still had one more hurdle to overcome; we had to find a jenga set that would last underwater!

What are the jenga pieces made of? Why don’t they float away?
The traditional wood jenga would not work in the tank– floating jenga anyone? After hours scouring the internet, we eventually decided to custom build our own. We used a durable plastic material for the pieces, and then inserted perfectly weighted stainless steel rods into each piece. The weighted pieces were tested in water to make sure they stayed on the table, but weren’t too heavy to cause damage when dropped. And thus, the world’s 1st underwater jenga game was born!

How do the bubble guns work?
The bubble guns are one of my favorite things to do in Clear Lounge. When you think of a “bubble” gun, you might imagine a silly gun that releases a flow of air bubbles to the surface… But, in reality, these guns are so much more! The bubble guns, made by H2Odyssey, shoot high-speed, high-powered, toroidal, o-ring vortices. You can actually shoot the gun from across the lounge and knock down the jenga set… they’re that powerful! The guns are connected to an air hose, which provides pressurized air to the device. When the user pulls the trigger, the o-ring is shot out of the front of the gun. You can shoot these o-ring bubbles across the lounge, at your brother or sister in the lounge (it doesn’t hurt, I promise!), and at the surface of the water (which splashes water on spectators on the outside!). They are definitely a popular activity in the lounge!

How heavy are the guns?
Underwater the guns only weigh a couple pounds. They are super lightweight and easy to use.  Kids get a real kick out of them!

How long does a participant get to play with the bubble guns?
The entire underwater Clear Lounge experience is about 20 minutes. There are four activities to try – jenga, photo booth, message boards and the bubble guns. We try to let everyone have a chance at each station– so it works out to about 5 minutes of bubble gun fun!

What are the images in the photo booth?
Right now the underwater photo booth features a large shark, swimming right at you, with its mouth wide open. It’s a little unnerving, but makes for really fun photos. During the holidays the image is updated to reflect that particular season or holiday.

How many pictures are taken of each participant?
If a guest purchases the photo package, they will receive a USB with high-resolution images from the entire Clear Lounge experience. The photographer not only takes photos in the photo booth, but also while you’re out having fun playing jenga and shooting the bubble guns. Guests will receive anywhere from 10 to 20 photos.

Who chooses the props for Clear Lounge?
The Clear Lounge management staff selects the props for the underwater photo booth. We do our best to make sure the props are current, on trend, and fit with whatever holiday or event is happening. Additionally we’ve held social media contests to let our fans pick the latest prop. Fans voted on a coconut prop during the last contest!

What are the props made of?
The props are made of a durable plastic/resin material with vibrant printed colors. A company called Yo!Props supplies the props– and we’re the only customer who uses them in an underwater photo booth setting!

What is in the smoothies?
The smoothies are super unique, like everything else in the Clear Lounge. Each beverage combines an all-natural fruit smoothie mix (such as strawberry-banana or mango), and then during the blending process we inject 98% pure oxygen into the smoothie mixture. This suspends micro-fine bubbles of oxygen in the drink, and provides a natural energy boost to the consumer. They’re delicious and very refreshing.

How many flavors of smoothies are offered at any given time?
We offer 3 flavors of smoothies at any given time!

What is the most popular flavor?
The most popular flavors are mango, strawberry-banana and piña colada.

What scents are available for the breathable O2 during the underwater experience?
There are always three choices available for the breathable oxygen– two scented options and one unscented, plain option.

What is the most popular?
The scents rotate fairly frequently, however, popular scents include: citrus grove (mandarin), peppermint stick, chocolate covered cherries, watermelon, and calming (lavender & tangerine).

What is the benefit of the optional canned oxygen?
The canned oxygen is a fun souvenir that guests can purchase at Clear Lounge. Each can contains 97% pure oxygen with a faint spearmint flavor. The oxygen is intended to give you a boost of natural energy. Oxygen therapy has been around for a long time– you may have even seen it used in professional sports. Athletes on the sideline will breathe oxygen for recovery and energy. The canned oxygen is similar, but in a fun, to-go size.

What if I don’t want to get in the water? Is there anything for spectators to do on the outside?
If you’re not interested in getting wet and going inside the Clear Lounge, there is plenty to keep you entertained on the dry-side. There is ample seating under a covered, shaded area out front. This is perfect for relaxing and sipping an oxygen-infused smoothie while watching your friends or family experience the Clear Lounge. There is also an outdoor oxygen bar where you can breathe scented oxygen, like you would at a traditional oxygen bar!

Ready to get your feet wet? Click here to pre-book a Clear Lounge experience on your next cruise to Cozumel!

Hannah de Bie is the Vice President of Marketing at Sub Sea Systems, Inc, a world leader in innovative products and underwater experiences for the marine tourism industry. 

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Why Sea TREK? Q and A with Carl Hanson

Sea TREK is an active member of several social communities. Our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts let us connect with our “fans” and encourage Sea TREK participation.  

Occasionally, we receive questions from followers regarding TREKking, and one question continues to arise- “Why Sea TREK when you could scuba dive instead?”

We brought this question, and a few other related queries, to our resident fish nerd, Carl Hanson, Director of Sea TREK Water Operations and Safety. Here’s what Carl had to share:

Q: What are the differences between diving and Sea TREK? Why not “just scuba,” instead of TREKking?

C: Diving is for people who already know they will enjoy being underwater; and it requires a special skill set and certifications. Sea TREK is geared toward people who may have never experienced being underwater. Some divers enjoy Sea TREK with their friends and family who are non-divers– so they can experience being underwater together!

Q: How is it possible to Sea TREK if you cannot swim? Aren’t you underwater?

C: Sea TREK is an underwater walking experience. The weighted helmets keep TREKkers on the sea floor. Guests begin the tour by getting in the water, shoulder deep. The method of getting the helmets on may differ by location (ladder, staircase, or beach), but participants never have to swim.

Q: How can I be sure I won’t run out of air during my TREK?

C: Operations using Air Centers have redundancies and backup air supplies in case of power loss. The minimum amount of backup air they must have on hand is enough to completely run a standard tour from start to finish. Some helmets are supplied directly from scuba air cylinders. The air flow into these helmets is calibrated to 1.7 cubic feet per minute (roughly 3 times the amount of air you need to breathe). Tours times are adjusted based on the size of cylinders. A typical 80 cubic foot cylinder at 3,000 PSI will last roughly 53 minutes. However, the operator knows the tour cannot exceed 25 minutes. This is to make sure the guest will never have an out of air situation. In other words, it just doesn’t happen!

Q: Do I need to equalize like a diver?

C: Yes and no. When descending into the water, you may feel pressure in your ears. You can equalize (clear) your ears the same way a diver would. Wiggle your jaw, swallow saliva, or pinch your nose and try to blow air out of your nose.
Equalizing your ears in a Sea TREK helmet is similar to being on an airplane. You can do all the same methods as a scuba diver, and you have the advantage of yawning to relieve the pressure. 

Q: How deep do Sea TREKkers go, compared to divers?

C: The maximum depth of a Sea TREK tour is 30 feet (about 9 meters, 1 atmosphere). However, most Sea TREK locations operate between 12 and 18 feet of depth (approximately 3.5 to 5 m, less than 1 atmosphere). 

Q: Can I get decompression sickness from Sea TREK? When can I fly after my TREK?

C: Yes, any time you are submerged underwater and breathing compressed air decompression sickness (DCS) can occur. The likelihood of DCS occurring to a Sea TREK participant is very low. Our Sea TREK standards ensure that participants never go deeper than 30 feet, nor do they stay under for more than 30 minutes. Also, we require all guests tot fill out a medical questionnaire before embarking on a tour, to ensure their safety.

Since our operators conduct shallow tours for short periods of time, the no-fly window is shorter than a normal scuba dive (4 hours minimum is required post-TREK, before flying). 

Q: What about scary sea life?

C:  Many operators use Sea TREK to educate people that sea life isn’t really scary! Stingrays are a common animal found at most Sea TREK locations. While other locations allow guests to interact with local sharks and eels. The Sea TREK guides have built bonds with these animals, similar to the bond you build with your dog, cat, bird, or whatever animals you have at home.

The ocean and its inhabitants are delicate and for many people “out of sight, out of mind.” Sea TREK brings non-divers into a place that the scuba community has been trying to bring awareness to for years. With more eyes on the world’s oceans, we can educate and improve the ocean environment and encourage conservation efforts.

Thank you, Carl, for sharing your knowledge of Sea TREK and answering the frequently asked question, “Why not just scuba?”

If you would like more information about Sea TREK helmet diving, or would like to find a location, go to  You can even chat with us live during normal business hours!

Carl Hanson is the Director of Sea TREK Water Operations and Safety at Sub Sea Systems, Inc.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Sensational and Stunning Stingrays!

Who glides through the ocean with the greatest of ease? The spectacular stingray, that’s who! These comely creatures are popular to aquarium visitors and divers alike, due to their elegant appearance and friendly dispositions.

While they may not resemble your finned friends in your tank at home, stingrays belong to a group of fish called elasmobranchs. There are around 200 different stingray species in total, and fossil records suggest that rays date back to the Jurassic period, 150 million years ago. They are unique in that they have no bones in their body – their skeleton is made up of cartilage (the flexible stuff that your ears and nose are made from!). Because of this, stingrays are closely related to sharks, as well as another kindred spirit, the manta ray.

Stingrays aren’t just ocean dwellers, they can be found in lakes and rivers alike. They feed on crustaceans, small fish, snails, clams and other small creatures. They use a super set of senses to search for food. Special gel-filled pits across the front of their face, (called Ampullae of Lorenzini), allow them to pick up electrical signals from other animals when they move. Their eyes are on the topside of their body and their mouth and gills can be found underneath, so in the darker depths or murky rivers, this electromagnetic sense is especially useful for searching for prey. They uncover prey by blowing water out through their mouths and flapping their "wings" over the sand. Like sharks, rays have a conveyor belt of teeth that will constantly be replaced throughout their lifetime.

Baby stingrays are born fully developed and look like miniature versions of adult animals. They are fully proportioned, and are naturally good swimmers from birth. This helps them find food on their own right away, though mothers still stick around to provide protection until around age three or so. Did we mention they also look like cute raviolis?

Stingrays are known for the barbs on their tails, but they are actually very docile and social creatures. They can be found individually, in pairs, or in loose groups (called a “fever”). If threatened, they can raise their tails like a scorpion and stab predators with their venomous barb. However, they are more likely to swim away from predators. Normally, they act kind and gentle around humans. Our Sea TREK operator at Xcaret in Cancun, Mexico can attest to the friendliness of rays. Local resident, Stubby the Stingray, loves socializing with TREKKERs! Named Stubby due to her short tail (perhaps lost in a battle with an envious shark), Stubby swims around divers and guests on a daily basis, just for the fun of it!

Sadly, numbers of stingrays are in decline. Overfishing, habitat loss and climate change are the major threats to rays. They are also hunted for their gill rakers (used for feeding), for use in Chinese medicine. Currently, 107 species stingrays are classified as threatened. Fortunately, a number of organizations are working to protect stingrays from their threatened status.  The Leonardo DiCaprio foundation supports the protection of stingrays and sharks through a collaborative partnership with several other conservation groups. Read about their efforts here. Additional strategies to protect rays are being developed via the Global Priorities for Conserving Sharks and Rays program. Read about the program here. 

If you’d like to meet a stingray and experience firsthand their docile and friendly demeanor, sign up for the Sea TREK with stingrays program at one of our facilities:

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