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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cheers to a Great Year!

2017 was a GREAT year for Sub Sea Systems! From new Sea TREK guides, to an exciting award for our new product, Aquaticar, we've had lots of reasons to pop a champagne cork or two!

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Start the Conversation With Christmas Trivia

For many of us, the holiday season involves shopping, wrapping gifts, and making sure Santa has a cookie or two after he comes down the chimney. It can also mean socializing with family, friends and coworkers. Whether you are attending a work Christmas party, a holiday dinner out with friends, or even a weekend reunion with family, you’ll feel far more festive with a few conversation starters at the ready. Consider getting things rolling with some weird and wacky Christmas trivia!

seven swans

Lifestyles of the Rich and Ornithological 
The “12 Days of Christmas” will take a big chunk out of a holiday budget. The cost of everything on the list, from the partridge to the drummers, totals $34,363.49, an increase of a few hundred dollars from last year. The "core" index, excluding volatile swan prices, rose 1.1% to $21,238.49.
But as the carol goes, all of the gifts except the drummers are counted multiple times, bringing the cost up to $156,507.88.

Three of the 12 gifts — the partridge in a pear tree, the five gold rings, and the 10 lords-a-leaping — saw annual cost increases that ranged from 2% to 10%.

Not So Classy
Scrooge does not celebrate with the Cratchits. While most cinema versions of "A Christmas Carol" show the reformed miser celebrating with his lower-class employee, in the book, Scrooge celebrates instead with his middle-class nephew.

christmas stockings fireplace

If the Shoe…er, Sock...Fits
Christmas stockings have an interesting history. In Holland, St. Nicholas' Feast Day is celebrated December 6. Children leave out shoes overnight and find them filled with little gifts from St. Nicolas in the morning.

What Holiday is This, Anyway?
“Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song.
James Lord Pierpont, an organist from Savannah, Georgia, first performed a song he wrote, “The One Horse Open Sleigh” at his church's Thanksgiving concert. The song was re-published in 1857 and given the title of today. Bonus fact: It's also the first song broadcast from space. On December 16, 1965, the Gemini 6 crew serenaded Mission Control after they reported seeing a "red-suited astronaut”.

rudolph red nosed reind

Rudolph was Almost Named Reginald
A copywriter named Robert L. May first invented the “most famous” reindeer in 1939, as a marketing gimmick for Montgomery Ward's holiday coloring books. (May considered naming the beloved misfit Reginald or Rollo.) And, his nose wasn't originally going to be red: a red nose was viewed as a sign of chronic alcoholism, and Montgomery Ward didn't want him to seem like a drunkard. Good thing they changed it. "Reginald, the blue-nosed reindeer" doesn't have quite the same charm.
Chicken: It’s What’s For (Christmas) Dinner
Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC for Christmas dinner, thanks to a successful marketing campaign over 40 years ago. KFC is so popular that customers must place their Christmas orders 2 months in advance..

Bing It On
The bestselling Christmas single ever is Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, selling over 50 million copies worldwide since 1942.

In White Christmas, the movie, Rosemary Clooney revealed that the "midnight snack" scene, in which Bob Wallace expounds on his theory of what foods cause what dreams, was almost entirely improvised.

Lots of Frequent Flyer Miles
Santa's sleigh doesn’t travel at the speed of light. Despite what you might think about Santa's ability to visit every good boy and girl's home in the world in one night, it's not as astronomical of a feat as you might think. Technically, Santa would have 34 hours to complete his task, thanks to the International Date Line and, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Fermilab”, his sleigh would only have to travel at 99.999999% of the speed of light assuming he only visits 800 million houses over the entire surface area of the Earth.

Not So Wonderful
It’s A Wonderful Life was mentioned in an FBI file in 1947, when an analyst expressed concern that the film was an obvious attempt to discredit bankers, a “common trick used by communists.”

carp in bathtub

Something’s Fishy
In parts of Eastern Europe, it's customary to place a live carp in your bathtub for consumption on Christmas Eve. Some suggest that it's due to the fish's vital role in the region’s fishing industry, and because eating meat was considered a luxury—thus the need to save the carp for a special occasion.

Skip the Plastic?
Gift cards are the most requested holiday present for 10 years running. In 2016, more than 60% of people surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they requested a gift card as a holiday gift.
However, over $970 million in gift cards went unused in 2015 alone. Since 2005, some $45.7 billion worth of gift cards have been floating around in unused gift card balances.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Water-Loving Wordsmiths Take a Trek

We’re always excited to see Sea TREK participants post photos of their experiences on Instagram and Facebook. Frequently, we share these pictures on our own social media accounts. But, once in awhile, we find a true standout. Whether it’s someone with physical challenges checking off a bucket list item, or a Trekker proposing underwater, there are some participants that are truly inspiring!

Last week, two standout Trekkers crossed the Sea TREK Instagram account. Sheri Fink and her partner, Derek Taylor Kent, shared their Sea TREK photos and tagged us in the images. We contacted Sheri to see if she would agree to let us share the pics, and in her response she mentioned that she and Derek authored a children’s book titled…ready for it? ... “Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse”! We had just stumbled upon two people who certainly fit our criteria for standout personalities! Digging a little deeper, we discovered that the duo possess many talents: from award-winning authors, to recording artists, to motivational speakers. We enjoyed their story so much that we asked for an interview!

What first got you interested in the ocean environment?

Sheri: When I was a little girl, I became enamored with mermaids and the underwater world. I’ve always been fascinated by sea life, especially seahorses, dolphins and narwhals. Growing up in rural Virginia, the ocean was three and a half hours away and it felt like a magical world that was just beyond my reach. Living in Southern California today, I’m only ten minutes from the ocean, and I’ve spent many evenings watching the sun melt into the horizon and imagining the mysterious world beneath the waves.

Derek: I grew up in Los Angeles, so beach trips were a part of our daily lives. Our school would take trips to the Cabrillo Marine Museum, Catalina, and local aquariums where we learned about the amazing variety of sea life, the delicate underwater ecosystem and the importance of conservation. My grandparents also had a beach house in Marina Del Rey, so I grew up swimming in the ocean and appreciating the importance of keeping it clean and safe.

Are you involved with any ocean conservation programs?

Sheri and Derek: Before writing The Little Seahorse, Sheri commenced her research by traveling to Hawaii, where she met with the owners of the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. They are dedicated to the conservation of both seahorses and leafy sea dragons, which are both highly endangered and have required extraordinary efforts to prevent from going extinct. It has been a great honor to support them and help spread awareness about the plight of these fragile creatures. The Little Seahorse and Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse are carried in aquarium gift shops throughout North America, and proceeds from those sales benefit ocean conservation programs in local regions. Derek loves to cook, and takes any opportunity to educate kids and friends about the importance of sustainability both with seafood and land food.

What inspired you to write “The Little Seahorse”

Sheri: I’ve always found seahorses to be whimsical and thought their unique appearance and attributes were perfect for a children’s book. I wanted to write a story that inspired bashful kids to be brave, and found the shy personality of seahorses an ideal fit to illustrate a common dilemma that kids face. In the story, a seahorse stumbles upon a beautiful pearl that he wants to give as a gift to his mother, but doesn’t have any means to bring it to her. When he sees other fish circling the pearl, at first he is scared and mistrustful, but then learns to speak up and ask for help.

As authors, recording artists and motivational speakers, what is the secret to your success?

Sheri: My mission is to inspire and delight kids of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem that can have lifelong benefits. I’m very passionate about empowering people to live their best lives and align my actions with my values. That helps me minimize distractions, energy drains, and things that just don’t matter so that I can focus on fully living my life and inspiring others along the way.

Derek: I love what I do, whether it’s writing or being creative in any other field, so when you put in the hard work, heart, and soul into a project, people notice and will want to connect with you and support you.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Sheri: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

Derek: Don’t ever judge a fish by its color!

What made you decide to try Sea TREK?

Sheri and Derek: Sheri first saw Sea TREK when she visited Catalina several years ago, but it wasn’t yet operational, so it’s been on her adventure list ever since. We were visiting Miami last month for the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards. Our co-authored book, Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse, received special recognition. When we visit a new city, we like to check out the local aquariums or sea adventures. When we found out that the Miami Seaquarium had a Sea TREK, we made reservations right away! We love new adventures and to have an activity that involved our love of sea life was a no-brainer. 

Tell us about your TREK!

Sheri and Derek: After suiting up in our wetsuits and viewing the safety video, we were ready for our trek. Underwater, it was a small group of four people plus the guide and the helper. We descended eighteen feet down into the aquarium, which held a remarkable variety of sea life that were all native to Biscayne Bay. There were countless stingrays, tropical fish, sharks, groupers, lobsters, and moray eels. It was amazing getting to reach out and touch the fish. They treated us like part of the environment and were surprisingly social and friendly. I’m sure the guides bringing in sardines and krill for them helped with our popularity, but just being able to see the fish eat, swim, and move as one school just inches away was an experience we will never forget. The guides took fantastic photos of all the action and we made sure to get a romantic picture of us “kissing” helmet-to-helmet. The technology was amazing how it allowed for clear vision even with the constant breathing. It was comfortable and easy to use. As we exited the tank, the twenty minutes felt so brief, we wished we could stay in another hour, but we look forward to our next Sea TREK in the near future.

What was your favorite part of TREKking?

Sheri and Derek: It was an incredible experience to feel like just another fish in the aquarium. The stingrays were remarkably curious and docile. It was a thrill to interact with them. As we made our way around the aquarium, it ended on a high note as we each got to hold a giant grouper as if it were a baby and feed it krill directly from a baby bottle. Sheri could not stop laughing at this surreal scene and has since sworn that she will never eat grouper again!

Do you have any fears about the ocean or its in habitants? If so, have you overcome these fears?

Sheri: I’m very cautious about swimming in the ocean, as I’ve been stung multiple times by jellyfish on my adventures over the years. I’ve been snorkeling and scuba diving in Hawaii, and I love the freedom that the Sea TREK technology provides to be safely under the water, fully immersed in the environment with the sea life, in an aquarium environment as well as in the ocean without having to worry about my equipment or getting water in my eyes, ears, or mouth. It’s so much more enjoyable!

Derek: I’ve never been afraid to venture into the ocean, but I think it’s important to know the dangers and always be cautious and aware. There’s a much greater chance of having an accident due to waves and tides than any sea creature, so riptides and pollution are what’s much more scary to me.

What projects do you have on the horizon?

Sheri: Our newest book, Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse, just debuted in September 2017 and we’re continuing to travel to promote it over the coming months. In fact, Derek and I will soon be snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef this January for our honeymoon! My next children’s book, The Little Unicorn, will be released in 2018. It's about a unicorn who loses her sparkle and goes on a daring adventure to find it, only to discover that it was within her all along.

Derek: I just released an educational picture book called Simon and the Solar System. Think Dr. Seuss in outer space. I also have a new middle-grade novel coming out in early 2018 called Principal Mikey, about a 10-year-old kid who becomes principal of his school.

Sheri Fink Little Seahorse Books

Where can readers buy your books?

Sheri: You can find my books on, Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores, aquariums, and select toy stores and children’s boutiques throughout North America. Personalized, autographed copies can be ordered directly on my website at Fans can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!

Derek: All the same places as Sheri, (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). You can also check them all out in one place at and follow me on social media @DerekTaylorKent.

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

Sheri: I love what I’m doing personally and professionally … I’d do exactly what I’m doing now, but on a much larger scale.

Derek: All the Sea TREKs in the world.

Thank you, Sheri and Derek for sharing your story and perspective. We are so glad you enjoyed your Sea TREK experience, and we wish you all the best with your amazing books and future endeavors (including your pending nuptials)!

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

December Holidays Across the Globe

The holiday season is upon us! For many of us, that means Christmas or Hanukkah festivities, family gatherings, overeating, and a little dent in the wallet. But December is full of holidays outside of those most familiar. A variety of holidays across the globe happen this month!

Soyal winter solstice

Soyal, or Winter Solstice (December 21)
Soyal is the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and the Hopi, The Soyal Ceremony begins on the shortest day of the year, and symbolizes the second phase of Creation at the Dawn of Life. Its prayers and rituals implement a plan of life for the coming year, ceremonially brining back the sun from its winter slumber. Lasting up to 16 days, sacred rituals are performed in underground chambers called kivas. Paphos, or prayer sticks, are made prior to the Soyal ceremony, to bless all the community, including homes, animals, and plants.

Many ceremonies involve dancing and singing; the “kachinas”, or spirits, may even bring gifts to the children, who are also are given kachina dolls, to help them learn about the hundreds of kachina spirits.

Elders pass down stories to children, teaching pivotal lessons like respecting others. The Hopi believe everything that will occur during the year is arranged at Soyal.

Yule/Chrismastide  (December 21-January 1)
Yule is a Germanic Winter festival, which was originally celebrated on the Winter solstice and ran for approximately 2 months. In modern times, this holiday has been reformulated and renamed Christmastide. Yule can be traced back thousands of years to Germany and Scandinavia. No one knows exactly how long it was celebrated, but early manuscripts talk about this holiday as early as the 4th century.

The main component of any Yule celebration was the Yule log. This tree would be cut down on the Winter solstice and fed into the fireplace – and this was done without chopping it into pieces! The top of the tree would be fed into the fireplace and over the course of the next 2 months, more and more would be pushed in as the winter progressed. Today, Christmastide includes feasts that incorporate foods such as pork, turkey, eggnog, fruits, nuts, and cider-soaked cakes. Yule is still celebrated in several Scandinavian countries.

boxing day hunt

Boxing Day (December 26)
Boxing Day is a National Holiday in both Great Britain and Ireland. There are competing theories regarding the origins of the holiday, but many believe that Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants to spend with their families, and they would often receive a  ‘Christmas Box’ from their employers containing money, gifts Boxing Day is a time to spend with family or friends, usually those not seen on Christmas Day itself. In recent times, the day has become synonymous with many sports. Horse racing is particularly popular, as is hunting.

Boxing Day is also a time when the British show their eccentricity by taking part in all kinds of silly activities. These include bizarre traditions including swimming the icy cold English Channel, fun runs, and charity events. Several other countries also celebrate Boxing Day, including New Zealand, Australia and Nigeria.

Kwanzaa celebration

Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1)
Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration honoring African heritage. First celebrated in 1966, the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest".

African books and artworks are utilized to represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. Corn, the primary symbol of the celebration, is used for both decoration and celebratory dining.

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with colorful African cloth and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies, who are encouraged to give respect and gratitude to their ancestors. Libations are shared, generally in a common chalice, which is passed around to all celebrants.

feast of our lady of guadalupe

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12)
Mexican Catholic communities celebrate Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This celebration commemorates the appearance of Mary to the Mexican peasant Juan Diego. This Feast Day, an important holiday in Mexico, has also become an important day for Mexican Americans to celebrate their religious and cultural identity.

In preparation for Feast Day, many participants erect altars in their homes, which include images of Our Lady of Guadalupe surrounded by candles and flowers. The night before the feast, communities gather and form circles to recite prayers and recount the story of the appearance of Mary. After completing the prayers, the crowd moves into a nearby church to sing songs of celebration.

Since it is a happy day for Mexicans, traditional Mexican food and drink are enjoyed.

las posadas

Las Posadas (December 16-24)
With its origins in Spain, Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration that is now primarily celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of the Southwestern United States. The roots of this holiday are in Catholicism, but several different branches of Christian Latinos follow the tradition.

During the celebration, a small child dressed as an angel leads a procession, which moves from house to house and stops at each to say a prayer or sing a carol. Eventually, the procession ends at a home or church, and the celebration continues with caroling and feasting, and concludes with the breaking of piñatas filled with candy, toys, and, occasionally, money.

Does your family have any unique holiday traditions that make the season especially bright? Share them below!

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