We are grateful to Dr John Bevan for writing the following article about Michael Cocks and allowing us to share it.
Following 20 years as a London stockbroker and eight years trying to get into Parliament for the SDP, Michael Cocks found a new challenge in commercial diving. He had his first dive in a Falmouth dive tank in 1989. Since that time he has been on a personal crusade to promote commercial diver safety and at the age of 54 qualified as a HSE Part 1 Diver.
At the time he was concerned that the onshore diving industry was almost unregulated. So he began working for the Professional Divers trade union and, with the support of the late Cdr Jackie Warner, Dr John King and Dr John Bevan, launched onto his crusade to ensure there were the same controls for onshore diving as in the North Sea.
After an unacceptably high number of diving deaths in the early 1990s, and vigorous personal lobbying, the HSE expanded the authority of the highly experienced Offshore Diving Inspectors to cover onshore operations. As a result, UK onshore diving has become amongst the safest in the world.
In 1994 he began writing on diving safety issues for the Commercial Diver magazine, the forerunner of Underwater Contractor International, and has been a regular contributor to the latter. With a view to improving global diver training standards, he has visited and dived at 40 commercial diver training schools around the world.
He continued his international diving school visits and advised divers and their families in their fights for compensation following accidents. He was a strong campaigner for the facts of diving accidents and incidents to be made public so that lessons can be learned.
Within the last 48 hours an exciting announcement has been made which has the potential to revolutionise Scubapro’s computer line. Johnson Outdoors – whose brands include Scubapro and Sub Gear – has announced that they have acquired SEABEAR.
SEABEAR specialises in the development of underwater instrumentation. This European company was founded and is headed up by Dr Arne Sieber. Sieber is a research scientist with knowledge of applied sensor technologies. His work has been published in peer reviewed journals, he has filed 9 patents and spoken at many international diving conferences such as EUROTEK.
Now Arne Sieber is joining Johnson Outdoors’ ‘Diving Unit’ which makes and markets Scubapro dive equipment. A spokesman for Johnson Outdoors stated that “SEABEAR’s technology expertise will strengthen innovation and enhance opportunities.”
Arne Sieber stated that he shares Johnson Outdoors’ dedication to create advanced, reliable products that make diving safer and more enjoyable. “We are thrilled to join the Johnson Outdoors’ family, the SCUBAPRO brand and to be part of an exciting future,” Sieber confirmed.
On 8th March this year – International Women’s Day – I posted the following about Dr Dawn Kernagis on my Facebook page.
“Bright bunny, great diver. Has much to offer to the world of diving on the research front. Her star will shine brilliantly.”
Dawn has been scuba diving since 1993, primarily with GUE. Before she moved to Durham (USA) Dawn worked as GUE’s first Operations Manager. She was a Surface Manager and Team Member on the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) from 1996 – 2007. She was also the Turner Project Manger on the WKPP Turner – Wakulla record breaking traverse on 15 December 2007. (Casey McKinlay and Jarrod Jablonski took 7 hours to complete the traverse, covering a distance of 36,000 feet or 11km. The decompression penalty on this dive was 15 hours).
In 2010, Dawn conceived and launched Project Pink Tank. The aim of this study is to improve understanding of diver health issues in breast cancer survivors.
Dawn completed her Ph.D. at Duke University in 2012, where she studied the genetics of decompression sickness and mechanisms of oxygen toxicity in divers. Dawn has worked on diving physiology research projects through IHMC, Duke, DAN, and Karolinska Institute in Sweden, including studies focused on decompression sickness, immersion pulmonary edema, oxygen toxicity and carbon dioxide retention in divers.
Dr Dawn Kernagis is a Mentor and Grant Writer with Water Women, Inc.
We are entering the age of the ‘Quantified Self’.
This was recently confirmed when Fitbit – the company that manufacturers a suite of devices that track your steps, calories burnt and active minutes – floated on the New York Stock Exchange in June 2015. The Financial Times reported that within minutes of Fitbit making their public debut, their shares soared 52 per cent.
Divers tend to be more self-aware and engaged with their personal fitness and physiology, probably because of the nature of the sport. Being able to self-track your body is a natural step. We are curious and hungry for data.
With the launch of Scubapro’s Mantis M1 it looks as though some of the thirst for this knowledge will be quenched. Scubapro state they have launched “a dive computer like no other. The first and only wristwatch-style dive computer to incorporate Human Factor Diving™ (a combination of Human Factors, Ergonomics, Biometrics and Wearable Technology) into its design, enabling you to live your life in dive mode, and create detailed ‘real-time’ self-tracking reports on how your body is functioning, both above and underwater.”
For once, let’s consider the après diving activities first. This feature-rich timepiece has an alarm clock, and a stopwatch. Scubapro has also incorporated an altimeter that can track your hiking adventures. In the event that you decide to climb a mountain not long after diving, the computer is smart enough to alert you both visually and audibly ‘that today this walk in the black forest is probably not one of your wiser decisions’ – you are going to altitude too quickly. It also has a chronograph with lap memory for running, or you can switch it into Swim Mode to record your swimming time, number of swim strokes and swimming distance.
Scubapro has been quick to realise divers are ageing (and so are their eyes) and they have utilised the CHROMIS font on the Mantis M1, thus ensuring that the LCD segmented display has extra-sharp large alphanumeric characters that are quite readable underwater. The marine grade 316 brushed stainless steel casing has no holes in it. Instead the four rounded buttons are magnetic. They activate the relevant electrical reed switches inside, thus the casing is kept watertight. What does this practically mean for the diver? Because the unit is sealed, you are able to get your CR2032 battery (rated for 300 dives / 2 years) changed by a professional watch shop in a remote location, rather than returning the unit to Scubapro because the technician only has to worry about one compartment seal.
I get the feeling that Scubapro has designed the Mantis M1 to be a robust working tool for Divemasters and Instructors. By the very nature of our job, we can be quite tough on our equipment. For instance, the mineral glass face is deep set on the Mantis M1 to minimise the chance of scratching the face. (I was most upset when I scratched the face of my Citizen Promaster on a stage cylinder in March 2000). And strap security has also been considered. In the event that one pin fails, you won’t lose your computer. It will remain on your wrist because it is secured by two pins. Small details but important ones.
Scubapro state the UWATEC ZHL-8 predictive multi-gas algorithm “is the only dive computer algorithm that includes a diver’s breathing rate, heart rate and skin temperature as an indicator of workload during a dive, and adjusts the decompression plan to avoid risk factors.” So lets discuss this.
Scubapro revealed at the 2014 DEMA Show they intend to incorporate a ‘Skin Temperature Monitor’ towards the end of this year (2015) so that this factor can also be integrated into the Mantis M1 algorithm. On the face of it, this sounds really quite exciting. In reality it probably means more questions than answers for the diver.
During your basic training you should have been taught when planning a dive in cold water, to plan the dive assuming the depth is a number of metres or feet deeper than actual. This concept conservatively pads the table, adding in a safety factor because temperature can affect a diver’s ability to on and off-gas nitrogen. You are not going to off-gas optimally when you are cold.
Scubapro marketing materials confirm they have included thermal management in their algorithm since the early 2000. There are a few wrinkles with this. The computer may be able to measure water temperature but it has no idea how you, the diver, is clad and what your personal temperature is. Are you gibbering in a semi-dry or nice and snug in a decent set of thermal underwear and a fully working ‘dry’ drysuit? By incorporating a Skin Temperature Monitor, Scubapro intend to measure, in real time, the skin temperature via a chest strap (that also measures your heart rate), and include this data in their decompression algorithm.
Whilst a chest strap will give some indication of surface skin temperature, the process may not be effective in measuring whole body thermal status. The monitoring of one point will not give you an accurate measurement, what is needed is the status of many points. However, as far as I am aware, this is the first dive computer to actively consider trying to incorporate real time diver temperature into their algorithm, therefore Scubapro should be given a pat on the back for this important development. Whilst the whole body status may not be wholly accurate, this is a necessary step to get us moving to where we want to be, ie full physiological monitoring and interpretation.
“This is a necessary step to get us moving to where we want to be, ie full physiological monitoring and interpretation
The Mantis can operate in four underwater modes – Apnea, CCR, Deco and Gauge. Three of these modes (Apnea, Deco and Gauge) have been pretty much standard on many computers for several years. With rebreathers becoming more popular it is good to see that manufacturers are now considering including a CCR option and the Mantis has a fixed PPO2 (partial pressure of oxygen) for closed circuit rebreather diving. The Mantis can also handle three gas mixtures, from 21% nitrox through to 100% oxygen, giving you the flexibility to carry additional staged gas in addition to your primary breathing gas.
Link to manufacturer or source: Scubapro
Dive Rite, the Floridian leading technical diving equipment manufacturer, has augmented their lighting range with the launch of the LX20. This handheld primary light has been created to suit any diver; be they entry level, an experienced recreational diver, a cave or a technical diver.
Divers tend to build a relationship with their equipment and it can sometimes be quite sad when you hang up something for the last time because your diving needs have outgrown it. Dive Rite has recognised this trend and developed a primary torch that will match its owners experience through out their diving career.
The LX20 is compact and light, weighting in at a mere 0.56 kg, making it the perfect size to dive either handheld, on mounted on the hand using Dive Rite’s QRM (quick release mount) soft hand mount. And it seems this light easily outshines most corded primary lights on the market today because the LX20 delivers 20,000 LUX via an impressive 6° concentrated light beam for 4 hours on high power.
This little light has a depth rating of 500 ft / 152 m. And it has been designed to withstand the rigours of diving. The rotary magnetic on/off switch and a double o-ring seal body provides proven protection against flooding.
In summary it looks as though the LX20 is a versatile primary diving light with a good burn time -small in size and big on brightness.
We reported earlier this year that filmaker, underwater explorer and Puget Sound environmental diver – Laura James – had won her second consecutive Emmy in the ‘Environmental Feature / Segment’ category for her story ‘Solving the Mystery of Dying Starfish‘.
Now this respected technical mixed-gas-diving instructor and rebreather diver has been named as an Oris Watch Sea Hero by Scuba Diving Magazine.
This award – sponsored by Scuba Diving magazine and Oris Watches – recognises scuba divers who have made a difference, by working tirelessly to protect our oceans through education, conservation and action.
If you know someone like Laura James, Scuba Diving Magazine is asking for your help in locating future Sea Heroes. You can nominate anyone you know who deserves this special award.
PADI divers and professionals have the opportunity of attending a special exhibition entitled “Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea” at the South Kensingon based museum.
This exhibition is now open. But don’t hang about. It closes on Sunday 13th September 2015.
Simpy present your PADI Certification card or eCard at the exhibition ticket desk and you can get free entry to the Coral Reef expo when you purchase another adult ticket for the same exhibition.