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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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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Celebrating Sassy, Seasonal Sea Life!

‘Tis the season to enjoy friends, family, food and frolic. While adults rush around checking off to-do lists and decorating their homes, kids anxiously await Santa’s arrival.

Creatures under the sea don’t have to worry about what to buy Aunt Martha for Christmas, but some sea animals do share the holidays, in a sense. These animals are named after familiar holiday symbols, or even Christmas itself.  Below are just a few of the many ocean residents with unique, festive names.

candy cane shrimp

Candy Cane Shrimp
Candy cane shrimp resemble the famous holiday treat for which they are named. They share their living space with goby fish. The goby will hover over the shrimp, always keeping its fin attached to the shrimp’s antennae. If there is danger, the goby will flick its tail and send a signal to its shrimp partner. Their relationship extends beyond safety, as the two also share living and eating arrangements. The shrimp (who have very bad eyesight) bury themselves into the ground while the goby will use its great eyesight to keep watch. Even after the goby finds a mate, it will still inhabit the same burrow with its family and the shrimp. What a partnership! Check out the video here

white christmas tree worm

White Christmas Tree Worm
The festive Christmas tree worm lives on tropical coral reefs, and resembles a fluffy fir tree, including its own unique “ornaments”! Its appendages look like branches, which are used to breathe and to catch floating plankton. Yum!

angel shark

Angel Shark
The angel shark buries itself into sand and mud at the bottom of the ocean floor, with only its eyes poking out. They can lie there for days at a time, waiting for the perfect holiday meal to swim by. When this shark strikes its prey, its front half rises and it ambushes the prey from below. It can attack and capture its prey in a tenth of a second, making its behavior less than virtuous.

Snowflake Moray Eel
They say no two snowflakes are alike, and each is beautiful in its own way. However, this particular snowflake is a bit scary! A snowflake moray eel eats its prey by utilizing two toothy jaws. It has a second set of jaws in its throat, which shoot up and grab its meal from the main pair of jaws. Its saving grace is its distinctive appearance. The snowflake moray eel has white, black and yellow splotches all over its body, which come together to look like snowflake designs!

christmas tree worm

Christmas Tree Worm
The Christmas tree worm isn’t interested in eating your fir tree. The name for these worms is derived from their appearance, not their habitat or diet. Each worm has two brightly colored crowns that protrude from its tube-like body. These Christmas tree-like crowns are composed of radioles, which are hair-like appendages. The appendages are used for respiration and to catch dinner, which typically consists of microscopic plants, or phytoplankton, floating in the water. The worms are sedentary, meaning that once they find a place they like, they don’t move much. In fact, while the colorful crowns of these worms are visible, most of their bodies are anchored in burrows that they bore into live coral. Much like the brightest of holiday lights, Christmas tree worms come in a variety of lively colors. Learn more about them here.

Reindeer Wrasse
The reindeer wrasse is a stunningly beautiful fish. Their heads are nearly scaleless, except for two scales on the upper part of the gill coverings and an almost vertical row of small scales behind each eye. The most obvious characteristic that gives this fish its common name is only present when the fish are juveniles. As youngsters, they possess distinctive, long ‘antlers’ (these are formed by the elongation of the dorsal fin). Their color resembles algae, which helps them avoid danger. Reindeer wrasse mimic the movements of detached, drifting seaweed by swaying back and forth in the currents.

Fairy Basslet

Fairy Basslet
Fairy basslets are small, vibrant fish. While not adorned with traditional Christmas colors, their body is split into two colors– a purple front and a yellow tail, with a black spot on their dorsal fin; a truly stunning sea resident! Fairy basslets are known to swim upside-down under ledges and along cave ceilings. They live in colonies and defend their territory from other species, and even other fairy basslets. Male fairy basslets are excellent Dads, who guard and care for eggs and nests.

cookie cutter shark

Cookie-cutter Shark
Looking more like a Halloween character than a Merry Christmas one, the cookie-cutter shark’s appearance is menacing. Even scarier, their name comes from how they feed. They eat smaller animals (like squid) whole, but also take large, round, cookie-cutter shaped bites out of larger animals, such as tuna, whales, dolphins, and seals. The shark suctions onto its larger prey, and twists around to take a bite of flesh using a row of sharp teeth.

Snowflake Coral

Snowflake Coral
Appearing sweet and innocent, the snowflake coral possesses white frilly tentacles which, when extended, resemble rays of a snowflake. Primarily found in sheltered and shaded crevices, or in shallow caves on deeper reefs, snowflake coral have tiny stinging cells in their tentacles, which enable the capture of motile zooplankton. This species is of high concern due to its invasive nature. It causes the mortality of black coral, which it has been known to smother. So much for Christmas cheer.
Pinecone Fish

Pinecone Fish
Pinecone fish look like real pinecones! They are covered in large scales with a dark trim. They are found lurking in caves and under ledges in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. Pinecone fish have a light-producing organ on both sides of their head. The light is produced by luminescent bacteria, but its function is unknown.

Harp Sponge

Harp Sponge
This newly discovered sponge was found 10,000 feet below the water’s surface, using robotic submersibles operated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. This carnivorous sponge traps small crustacean prey with barbed hooks found along its branch-like limbs. Check it out!

red velvet star

Sea Stars
Sea stars have toothless mouths on the underside of their bodies, which are lined with hundreds of tiny tube feet. Christmas-colored sea stars include the red velvet star and green linckia, which despite its name, comes in other colors as well. Sea stars can also be reddish or almost golden in color. When small, they often look like Christmas cookies! Sea stars may have spines, knobs, bristles, or a smooth-feeling texture. Most can regenerate an arm if they lose one.

Sea Angels
Sea Angels
Reminiscent of a freshly made snow angel, sea angels are actually shell-less sea snails. Unlike most snails, they flap their adapted foot ‘wings’ to get around in the water. They are extremely small, with the largest species reaching only 5 centimeters long. Sea angels' mostly eat their own relatives, the sea butterflies.

Do you know of other sea residents with fun holiday names? Share your discoveries below!
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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Globetrotting Again...with Carl Hanson

Sub Sea Systems Director of Water Operations and Safety (and our resident fish nerd) Carl Hanson has once again hit the friendly skies and traveled long distances in a short period of time, to bring good TIDE-ings and his expertise to several Sea TREK operators. Carl added some serious frequent flyer miles to his account and returned with intriguing stories and fond memories of his travels. We interviewed Carl about his latest adventures!

Where did you go on your last two trips?
I went to Saint Lucia first, arriving on November 9th. Then I traveled to Puerto Rico on the 13th and Roatan, Honduras on the 14th. After a brief break, I moved on to Western Australia, leaving on November 25th and returned to the States December 3rd.

Carl Hanson Fish Nerd

How many miles did you travel, round trip? 

I traveled from Sacramento, California and back again. The miles break down like this:
Sacramento to Charlotte, North Carolina 2,244
Charlotte to Miami, Florida 650
Miami to St. Lucia 1,504
St. Lucia to Miami 1,504
Miami to Puerto Rico 1,045
Puerto Rico to Miami 1,045
Miami to Roatan 766
Roatan to Dallas 1,317
Dallas to Phoenix, 868
Phoenix to Sac 647

The trip to Australia was next:
Sacramento to Los Angeles, California 373
L.A. to Sydney, Australia 7,488
Sydney to Perth, Australia 2,041
Perth to Sydney 2,041
Sydney to L.A. 7488
L.A. to Sac 373

TOTAL MILES: 31,394!

I really lucked out in Sydney and scored a first class seat, just by chance. My seat included a bed!

What kind of work did you do while visiting each location?

St. Lucia – I did a site inspection, checked in on the team, and made sure training was current. I updated the staff on new Sub Sea products (Aquaticar, helmet advancements), and asked for feedback on what they would like to see in the future. I also checked out a new dive site for a potential Sea TREK operation, which would cater to hotel guests. The site would be on a different part of the island, about a two-hour drive from the current operation.

Puerto Rico – This post-hurricane visit included follow-up on how the recovery and rebuilding are going. I also checked on staff to see how they are doing. The island seems to be recovering well, outside of the hotels, which are taking longer to reopen. The cruise lines have returned, and will soon be selling Sea TREK excursions.

Roatan – This was a super cool trip! The Sea TREK helmet diving equipment was in storage for quite a long time, and is finally being utilized. Unfortunately, we were not able to get in the water while I was there, due to rough seas. I did a lot of land-based work, including staff training. We also discussed marketing tactics, and I checked out three other possible locations for future Sea TREK operations.

Sea TREK Western Australia helmet diveWestern Australia – The team at Busselton Jetty introduced me to a potential new location, Rottnest Island. It’s a unique island off the coast of Perth, about a 30-minute ferry ride. The island sees about 700,000 tourists a year. It’s a new tourism entity. It is one of the few places you can find quokka! We checked out three different locations on the island for potential new Sea TREK operations (crystal clear waters abound throughout Western Australia). We then drove from Perth to Busselton Jetty, our current operation. I completed a site inspection, went through the Sea TREK manual with the team, and visited the Jetty. The walkway from the beach to the end of the Jetty, where the helmet dive takes place, is 1,841 meters (6,040 ft.)! A trek all its own. People can walk or take a train to the end of the Jetty, where there is also an underwater observatory and gift shop.

We completed staff training in the water and reviewed safety drills. The water was a “refreshing” 64ºF (18ºC)!

We had a little free time and visited Canal Rocks, massive banks of granite, which eroded along a dead-straight line, forming a striking “canal” feature.

The next day, Sea TREK Busselton Jetty offered its first day of tours for the season. It was exciting to be present for the “season opener”!

At the end of the trip, I traveled around, took in an aquarium called AQWA, and scouted out some potential sites for other Sub Sea products (Aquaticar and FunCats).

Busselton Jetty

What is the best (or most unique) feature of each TREK operation?

St. Lucia is an open ocean location, with a cool sunken car that acts as an artificial reef for sea life. Sea TREK St. Lucia pays homage to some popular St. Lucians; there are typewriters to honor local writers, and other unique photo props.

sea trek helmet diving st. lucia

In Roatan, the landowners (where Sea TREK is located) work with an animal rescue group, and there is a shelter and monkey rescue right next door to the location. The animals are free to leave, but return frequently!

Western Australia - In terms of places I’ve been, this is one of the most remarkable. The landscape is similar to the US, but wildlife is so different! The Jetty itself is man-made, but attracts an insane amount of sea life. Western Australia is home to 2/3 of the world’s sea grasses, which provide shelter, oxygen, and food for a wide variety of underwater animals such as crabs, octopuses, fishes and squid. Even whales have come through the area and have broken the Jetty! It’s a heavily populated region.

What animals did you encounter while traveling?

Quokka! Kangaroos, some very unfamiliar-looking birds. There were no koalas in this area of Australia. In Roatan, we checked out the monkeys at the preserve.

What surprised you the most?
St Lucia is not known as a diver’s island, but they have some amazing dive sites because of the nutrient-rich waters caused by volcanic ash. In Puerto Rico, I was impressed to learn that they are ready to receive tourists. In Roatan, the weather was surprising, as I didn’t expect it to be raining and windy the entire time I was there; it is not typical for the area.

In Western Australia, I admired the commitment of the staff to operate Sea TREK above and beyond expectations. They go “all out” for their guests, to ensure they have an incredible experience.

What are you going to do with all of those frequent flyer miles?
My best friend is getting married next month. The bachelor party will be in Vegas and the wedding in Phoenix.

Where will Carl head next? Stay tuned to find out!

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