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Thursday, September 27, 2018

9th Annual Reef Alliance Day

Saturday, September 15th was the 9th Annual Reef Alliance Day, held in conjunction with Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers from all over the world came together for a unified cause: cleaning up our oceans, beaches, reefs and waterways.

Overseeing the Cleanup

Last year, Ocean Conservancy reported that 500,000 volunteers cleaned nearly 15,000 miles of land and waterways and removed more than 18 million pounds of trash and debris. The top 5 most collected items included: cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers and plastic grocery bags. And, would you believe that 56 toilets, 8 microwaves, 2 typewriters and 1 piano were also removed?!

This year, volunteers from Sub Sea Systems' office cleaned up Jenkinson Lake, a water reservoir in Northern California. The last time a Reef Alliance cleanup was held here was in 2015. That year, 24 volunteers cleaned up over 100 lbs. of trash, filling 6 large bags.

2015 Cleanup Crew

We’re pleased to report that the trash and debris were significantly less this time around, compared to the previous cleanup. 11 volunteers (and a couple of feathered "directors") collected 4 bags of trash, weighing approximately 60 lbs. The top items recovered, and those of greatest concern, included cigarette butts, glass pieces (from broken glass beverage bottles), and food wrappers. Overall, the lake’s shoreline was very clean and well-respected by its visitors.

Keenan and Tasha Recording Their "Finds"

Although we’d like to collect as much trash and debris as possible to feel like we had a successful cleanup, it’s always rewarding to see a popular waterway cleaner than it was in previous years!

A number of Sea TREK operators also hosted their own cleanup events this month. In the coming weeks we will select one of those operators as the annual Reef Alliance Award winner, granted in recognition of exceptional conservation efforts. Stay tuned!

A Successful Day!

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Friday, September 21, 2018

The World's Deepest Underwater Dance Floor

QUIZ: What’s 42 meters deep, filled with 4300 cubic meters of water, and includes a laser light show?

ANSWER: it’s the Desperados Deep House Dance Party, featuring Sea TREK!

Desperados, a Heineken brand of tequila-flavored beer, pushed the boundaries of wild experimentation in parties by turning the world’s deepest pool (Y-40 The Deep Joy) into a dance floor. Desperados is famous for hosting high-energy parties to promote its brand– in previous years they’ve hosted Skyfest, a hot air balloon electronic dance party and light show, and Bass Drop, a zero gravity music festival. This year, 400 fans convened in Venice, Italy, for the Deep House dance party and multi-sensory experience.

Submerged partygoers used Sea TREK diving helmets fitted with a sub aqua sound system to listen to live performances by DJs and musicians, as they danced underwater surrounded by a custom light show. Performer, Peggy Gou, an award-winning Berlin-based artist, said, “It was a unique experience to see people tearing up their own dance floors under the water to my music! It shows if you have the right mindset, the world is your dance floor.”

While the party was all about fun and frolic, many months of careful preparation were required to ensure the success of the event. Sub Sea Systems’ team worked closely with Jack Morton, experiential marketing gurus and creative visionary behind the Deep House Dance Party, to organize the helmet diving aspect of the event. During the course of the planning, Sea TREK representatives made two visits to the Y-40 venue in Italy for testing; while Sea TREK Spain hosted a group of individuals from Jack Morton and Heineken in Gran Canaria, Spain for a day of VIP Sea TREKking.

Sub Sea Systems provided 10 Sea TREK helmets and 1 demonstration helmet for the event, as well as hoses, regulators, a custom manifold, and more! Team members soon followed, including: Jim, Kyle and Keenan Mayfield, along with Filiberto Medina (Spain & Europe Representative), and Ad van Tuijl (Regional Director, EMEA & Russia). Once there, they set up Sea TREK, trained Y-40 diving staff, and managed practice dives before the even commenced.

“This was an insane event,” shared Kyle Mayfield, Sea TREK Director of Production, “Of the Sea TREK programs and projects that I have been part of, this Desperados promo was by far the craziest. I’d like to recognize the Sub Sea and Y-40 staff for their extreme attention to safety– over the course of 4 high energy days full of training dives, rehearsal dives and event dives, and an excess of 150 guests, we had no incidents or issues. For the participants, who had limited to no dive experience, nor knowledge of just what was to take place, this was a smashing success and something that will be difficult to exceed. From the music pumping both above and below surface, to the laser light show, to the underwater dancers and entertainment, to the exuberance of the guests as they exited the water…it was just amazing! I’m grateful to have been a part of such a memorable event. It just leaves me wondering, what will Sea TREK be involved in next?!”

Keenan added, “This event can only be described as one massive success. From the production side, I have never worked with such a talented group of individuals. This was truly a team effort, and we couldn't be prouder to have been a part of it. Desperados Deep House was a truly one-of-a-kind immersive, interactive adventure. The underwater guest experience and overall insanity this event brought will be truly difficult to exceed.”

Sub Sea Systems is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this event, and proud to have made history with the World’s deepest underwater dance party!

Check out the video of Desperados Deep House Dance Party below!

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Show Our Oceans Some Love

Suit Up to Clean Up

Have you ever walked along a beautiful shoreline and discovered plastic at your feet? Sadly, the problem goes much deeper than what you’re seeing on the beach. Scientists estimate that more than 8 million metric tons of plastic enters our oceans every year. If we don’t act now, there could be a pound of plastic for every 3 pounds of fish in the ocean within the next decade!

great pacific garbage patch plastic trash

So, how much trash are we talking? The (sadly) well-known Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world, located between Hawaii and California, is a prime example of how plastics and trash can build at alarming rates. The Patch is estimated to weigh approximately 80,000 tons. This weight is equivalent to that of 500 Jumbo Jets.

Not only is trash unsightly, it causes irreparable damage to our waterways, harms coral and other sea life, affects human health, and disturbs economies.

turtle in plastic

Effects of Ocean Trash

Trash in the water and on the shore can have lethal consequences. Marine species often get tangled in debris, from fishing nets to six-pack rings. If they get caught, they could get injured or even die. Even if they do not get entangled, many animals mistake plastic debris for food, and eat it. This fills their stomachs with junk they can’t digest.

Citing the harmful impact of marine debris, the United Nations Environment Programme’s research states that 270 species of marine life worldwide are affected by entanglement in or ingestion of marine trash, including 86 percent of all sea turtles species, 44 percent of all seabird species and 43 percent of all marine mammal species.

Debris can also damage important habitats, like coral reefs, by breaking or smothering them. Corals serve as the base of the marine ecosystem. Chemical-riddled plastics are ingested by fish, then we consume those fish, transferring the plastics and chemicals into our bodies. It has been reported that the average seafood consumer in the UK will ingest about 11,000 plastic particles every year!

Marine debris also hurts economies, since people do not want to visit or live near dirty beaches. A South African study concluded that 10 pieces of marine debris per meter of beach would deter 40 percent of foreign tourists, while another study in New Jersey, USA estimated that the state lost billions of dollars in tourism revenue as a result of marine debris washing ashore. Who wants to walk along a beach full of straws and plastic bottles?  Boats and ships can run into large pieces of debris, too, and get their propellers tangled.

Coastal Cleanup

What You Can Do

Grab your friends and family, and “Suit Up to Clean Up” during the annual coastal cleanup on September 15th! The International Coastal Cleanup is sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, which started this annual endeavor more than 30 years ago. The Cleanup has grown immensely since its inception. Volunteers from states and territories throughout the U.S. and more than 100 countries come together each year to participate in a cleanup event near them. Sub Sea Systems and its Sea TREK locations support this effort through Reef Alliance. Sea TREK operators organize and/or participate in cleanup events, and document the trash collected for submittal to Ocean Conservancy. The Sea TREK operator that puts on the best cleanup event is considered for the annual Reef Alliance Award.

You can join this year’s coastal cleanup by participating in an organized cleanup event near you, or by starting your own.

There’s hope for our oceans. By educating and empowering the public, we can stop trashing our waterways and start cleaning up the damage. For more details on the Conservancy’s 2018 Coastal Cleanup, go to:


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Thursday, September 6, 2018

School’s Back in Session!

Human parents everywhere breathed a sigh of relief this past month, as children headed back to their classrooms. With backpacks, pencils, and lunch bags in hand, kids trotted off to a new adventure, while parents enjoyed a daytime respite.

In honor of this special “season”, we thought we would visit schools of a different kind – schools that are always in session…. underwater!

schooling fish

What is a school of fish?

There are actually two types of fish aggregations, shoals and schools. A shoal is a looser group, sometimes consisting of different species that hang out together (often temporarily), but are disorganized. Schools are highly structured, with coordinated movements and a common direction. A group of fishes can switch from shoaling to schooling and back again.

Schooling fish are usually of the same species and the same age and size. Fish schools move with the individual members precisely spaced from each other! Who knew fish could do mathematics?

fish in a school

Why do fish school?

Schools protect fish from their enemies. It's the same rule our mothers taught us as kids- always stay in a group because there’s safety in numbers! Predators find it easier to chase down and eat fish swimming alone, rather than trying to extract a single fish from a huge group. The same holds true in reverse. Fish can better defend their territory in a group. Bullies will think twice before facing an angry school of dozens or possibly hundreds of fish. And, when fish spawn a school ensures that at least some of their eggs will elude predators due to the sheer numbers produced. A school may seem harmonious, but there is a lot of competition for the safest spots in the center of the school, farther away from the teeth of predators.

Schooling also increases the odds of successful mating and reproduction. Many fish species gather in schools when they are in need of a mate, increasing breeding opportunities.

It is also believed that swimming close together reduces friction and allows fish to conserve energy while swimming. What a team!

school of yellow fish

Feeding Frenzy?

When lunchtime comes along, food is easier to find as a group. Having fifty sets of eyes and noses gives schooling fish a better chance of locating food. On the flip side, living in a large group means that there is more competition for food. Resources have to be stretched, and tensions can arise when food is scarce.

fish feeding frenzy

Educational Opportunities

Schooling fish learn from each other, and research* shows that when they’re taken out of their normal social group, individuals struggle to learn on their own. Scientists have long known that schooling fish observe and learn from each other’s failures and successes. Recently, some evidence has shown that schooling fish experience spatial learning. To test this theory, scientists divided a school of social cichlid fish into two categories: 14 social fish and 15 loners. Researchers kept the social fish grouped together while they partitioned the loners into single-fish isolation tanks. They ran both groups through a simple T-shaped maze, color-coding the side that harbored food—a yellow mark for food, a green mark for no food. Seven of the 14 socialized fish learned to associate yellow with food, whereas only three of the 15 isolated fish successfully made the same association. The research suggests that fish in a group setting are able to learn better and faster than their single counterparts.

* Resource: Science Magazine

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