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, 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 www.sea-trek.com.  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:

http://www.xcaret.com/sea-trek-stingrays-cancun.php
http://www.xelha.com/sea-trek-stingray-xelha-park.php



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Thursday, February 1, 2018

2017 Reef Alliance Award Winner



Each year, Reef Alliance (a conservation program sponsored by Sub Sea Systems) and its partners participate in the International Coastal Cleanup, a conservation effort founded by the Ocean Conservancy. This worldwide cleanup event resulted in over 18 million pounds of trash removed from beaches, oceans, waterways and coastal areas in 2017 alone! Read the 2017 report here.

The International Coastal Cleanup is just one of many volunteer events that Reef Alliance members participated in throughout 2017. Members also focused on conservation, education and proactive efforts within the community. In recognition of this hard work, Reef Alliance selects one member as the recipient of the annual Reef Alliance Award. We are proud to announce that OdySea Aquarium is the recipient of the 2017 Reef Alliance Award.


OdySea Aquarium, located in Scottsdale, Arizona hosted and participated in multiple cleanup events throughout the year. Their team worked hard to keep debris and recyclables out of our waterways and oceans.

OdySea contributed to a number of presentations and programs involving local grade schools and universities, such as a STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) Pro Live! Broadcast, and a conservation presentation at the University of Arizona. These remarkable efforts sought to educate children and adults alike about the challenges our waterways and their inhabitants face, and the ways in which we can all contribute to maintaining a healthy ocean environment through conservation and sustainability.



OdySea also hosted its first annual Conservation Expo, featuring local rescue organizations and sustainability groups. Over 20 local organizations were part of the event, including the PhoenixHerpetological SocietyLiberty WildlifeArizona Game & FishThe PhoenixZooAudubon Arizona, and the Center for Native & Urban Wildlife. At the expo, the team debuted a 15-foot hammerhead shark that was created out of more than 2,500 recycled plastic bottles, aiming to spread awareness about the amount of plastic that goes into our oceans. Approximately 7,000 future conservationists attended the free event!




Sub Sea Systems is proud to honor OdySea Aquarium’s commitment to supporting a variety of programs at the local, regional, and global levels, to educate and inspire guests about aquatic life and conservation. Read more about OdySea’s efforts here. OdySea will receive a beautiful trophy and marketing materials to assist in promotion of the award.

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