Bursting bubbles: The Simon Mitchell Story

Earlier this year renowned diving physician and Head of Anaesthesiology at the University of Auckland, Dr Simon Mitchell, became a ‘full professor’.

He delivered his inaugural lecture (as a full professor) on 23 August 2017 at Grafton Campus, Auckland, New Zealand.

His lecture was titled ‘Bursting bubbles. How a recreational passion drove an academic career’ and looked at his personal academic journey that started with a teenage passion for diving and led to an inspirational career.


Simon is a lifelong passionate diver and was a member of a team that located, dived and identified 3 deep shipwrecks of high historical significance in Australia and New Zealand. At the time of one of these dives it was the deepest (180 mt / 600 ft) ever undertaken to a wreck.

During his inaugural lecture he spoke about being part of the team that established a consenus definition of ‘mild decompression illness’ and legitimised the option to not recompress divers that met that definition. It became a global paradigm shift. In 2005 a workshop was held to discuss this. You can find the proceedings here.

Present Ideas For Divers: Custom Divers Accessory Retainer

Alex Vassallo, Custom Divers, Accessory Retainer, D Ring Shackle, rigging accessories, securing gear to harness, Litebuck, kit configuration, scuba diving, technical diving, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, presents for divers

There are those that copy. And those that innovate. Alex Vassallo is an innovator.

This clever man originally trained as a cryogenics engineer and he uses this expertise, plus his experience as a technical diver to invent ingenious equipment for advanced and technical divers.

One of his latest creations is the (patent pending) Custom Divers Accessory Retainer.

Alex Vassallo, Custom Divers, Accessory Retainer, D Ring Shackle, rigging accessories, securing gear to harness, Litebuck, kit configuration, scuba diving, technical diving, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, presents for diversI have had one secured to a strap on my work bag for a couple of years now, and I have found it to be quite an invaluable D ring. I have hooked the handle of an empty travel mug through the ring or temporarily clipped items to it.

As a matter of course I have a LITEBUCK strapped to it, because you never know when you will need a tiny emergency light. (The modern day version of Lady Galadriel’s light.) This very small lightweight light can provide low level illumination for about 100 hours.

The Custom Divers Accessory Retainer (£9.00) appeals to me because it is so easy to fit. Just weave the webbing through the slots on the retainer and fix it in place with the bungee. I then added a Custom Divers D Ring shackle (£8.00) by placing the D ring appropriately, and then threading the securing bar through the D Ring hole, behind the webbing and then screwing it into place through the second D Ring hole. It took me a matter of a few seconds to fit the whole system.

This neat device will be a boon for divers who don’t want to un-thread / re-thread a harness to attach a temporary D Ring. This 316 stainless steel accessory retainer can also be used to secure hoses or torches onto 50mm / 2″ webbing. Simply adjust the bungee to accommodate the size of the accessory.



Present Ideas For Divers: Light Monkey Line Markers

Light Monkey, REM, Referencing Exit Marker, cave cookie, line arrow, line marker, direction arrows, reference exit marker, cave diving, presents for divers, underwater tags, waterproof tags, waterproof labels, underwater labels, Corey Mearns, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company

Line Markers are primarily used by cave divers as a visual and tactile reference on a guideline.

Light Monkey manufacturers three styles of line marker: direction arrows, reference exit markers and cookies. And you can see an example of each of these above, left to right.

Line arrows or directional arrows are used to either show the route back to the cave entrance, or to indicate the direction to the nearest air source, ie a different exit from the cave.

Light Monkey’s second line marker is called a REM or Referencing Exit Marker. This larger marker is used by survey teams to record data at key points in the cave. Underwater archeologists, scientific and wreck divers can also use it to mark data points too.

Our North American cousins believe a cave cookie disc resembles a biscuit, hence the nickname. This line marker is used to mark a specific spot on the line, ie jumps, gaps and junctions. Alternatively each member of the team can throw down a cookie on the line to help identify who is still in the cave, should the team get separated.

Light Monkey laser cuts their line markers from sheets of white Delrin®. This means that each marker is stronger and more durable when compared to a conventional plastic injection-moulded marker.

Generally a diver will write their name on their line markers (see example left). Light Monkey understands that the writing can fade over time hence they can engrave ID markers with words, letters or numbers. This is a really thoughtful present for an ardent cave diver. Simply purchase a minimum of 25 ID markers and let Light Monkey know what you want engraved, and they will do the rest!

Present Ideas For Divers: Divesangha Turtle Bag

Divesangha, reusable bag, one-time-use plastic bag, CVS Pharmacy, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company. DEMA ShowAt the end of October this year I was in Orlando for the DEMA Show. A friend of mine had also flown into town for this event and we agreed to meet up and enjoy a glass of wine or two. We were both tired and thought buying a bottle and staying in was a good option. I therefore duly popped into a CVS Pharmacy that was a couple of minutes walk from my hotel.

The USA has adopted a ‘custom’ – I can find no law about carrying closed alcohol containers – that purchased alcohol has to be placed in a brown paper bag. I don’t have an issue with this, the bag can be recycled, and I was quite content to walk back to my hotel carrying the bottle in my hand. But before I could say “no plastic bag“, the shop assistant had duly placed my ‘brown paper bag wrapped wine bottle’ into a plastic bag. I asked her “why did you put this into a plastic bag“? She replied “oh, one bag not enough? Let me double bag it for you“.

The assistant was supplying what she considered to be the best customer service she could. And for that I am grateful. I was however really horrified that her mindset considered it normal that a bottle of wine needed at least one, if not two plastic bags. It felt that they were being thrown at me like confetti.

I duly thanked her and said “please use this plastic bag for another customer, I do not need to use it“. She took the bag and the immediately threw it away because it had been ‘used’ by another customer.

Divesangha, reusable bag, one-time-use plastic bag, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing CompanyOn 5th October 2015 England followed Northern Ireland (2013), Scotland (2014) and Wales’ (2011) example and started charging a 5p levy for a single-use plastic carrier bag. Since this tax has come in the UK Government has reported that 83% few bags (over 6 million bags) has been issued in England from 7 April 2016 to 6 April 2017. This equates to each person using 25 bags (2016 – 2017) compared to 140 bags per year before the change.

This should make a massive difference to our plastic oceans. Dr Sue Kinsey from the Marine Conservation Society stated that “every year we survey our beaches, and last year (2014) we found over 5,000 bags over one weekend.

What are our options to reduce our single-use plastic bags? We can of course, use our plastic bags many times over. Or re-purpose an empty cardboard box from the supermarket and recycle it when we get home. We can also carry a wicker basket, but that tends to be inconvenient when we decide to grab some last minute essentials on our way home from work.

Divesangha, reusable bag, one-time-use plastic bag, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, recycle, reuse, presents for scuba divers, DEMA Show 2017

Enter stage left Divesangha. When this Brit manufacturer launched in Spring 2014 they made a commitment. To locally and ethically manufacturer high quality products and not use plastic in their packaging. It is therefore logical that Divesangha has now produced a unique robust reusable bag to help wean everyone off their one-time-use plastic bag habit.

This lightweight, sturdy, fashionable Turtle’ bag neatly packs down into an integrated pouch allowing you to stash it in a coat pocket, day / rucksack, handbag or laptop case. When you reach the checkout till, simply pull it out and fill it up.

The 100% white Polyester fabric is washable. This is important because one of the criticisms that the plastic bag addicts state is that “a re-usable non plastic bag could potentially end up non-hygienic after many uses”. (Our grandparents never used to worry about this?!) There is no issue here. Just put your bag in the washing machine!

Whilst the practical Divesangha Turtle Bag is about the same size as an average carrier bag, it far outperforms its littering cousin. This stylish baby – priced at £15.00 – is constructed to conveniently handle much more weight!



Present Ideas For Divers: Oxygen Measurement For Divers by John Lamb

Oxygen Measurement For Divers, rebreather divers, oxygen sensors, John Lamb, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, fuel limited sensors, storage of sensors, oxygen sensors, Paul Toomer, Mark Powell, Jill Heinerth, CCR safetyDo you have a rebreather diver in your life that you are particularly fond of?

Are you stuck for a present idea? If they don’t already possess a copy of John Lamb’s latest book, then why not pick them up a copy. It will help keep them safe(r) and provide them with accurate information on oxygen sensors.

“John Lamb’s book, ‘Oxygen Measurement For Divers’ is exactly what we have been waiting for. This book is a must read for any diver using any form of oxygen analyser, whether it is a simple oxygen analyser or in a complex rebreather.”
– Paul Toomer, Director of Diver Training, RAID

There are quite a lot of myths and misconceptions about oxygen sensors, hence earlier this year John Lamb published ‘Oxygen Measurement For Divers’. It is stuffed full of nuggets of information that every rebreather diver needs.

This book has been designed for divers to pick it up and dip into it. To check information. To look up answers.

It has achieved the happy balance of having a good technical aspect whilst remaining useful.

“This is an invaluable resource and should be compulsory reading for any rebreather diver.”
– Mark Powell, SDI / TDI / ERDI Training Advisory Panel

The explanations and illustrations are very clear and, even when describing complex principles, are structured in a very understandable way. Everything is covered from current limitation behaviour to best management practices for storage.

Oxygen Measurement For Divers, rebreather divers, oxygen sensors, John Lamb, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, fuel limited sensors, storage of sensors, oxygen sensors, Paul Toomer, Mark Powell, Jill Heinerth, CCR safety

Lamb succinctly covers key topics, explaining in plain English the reasons for sensor failure:

  • the effects of temperature, humidity and pressure
  • sensor accuracy and stability
  • testing sensors
  • Do’s and Don’ts
  • how to determine the end of a life of a sensor
  • advice for looking after your sensors

“If you want to break through the mire of misinformation and be better informed about diving safety, this is a must-read book.”
– Jill Heinerth, explorer

‘Oxygen Measurement for Divers’ can be purchased in two formats. As a paperback, direct from Vandagraph for £15.00. Or, as a Kindle book for £7.50


Present Ideas For Divers: Fourth Element Water Bottle


“For years we thought the oceans were so vast and the inhabitants so infinitely numerous that nothing we could do could have an effect upon them. But now we know that was wrong. Surely, we have a responsibility to care for our blue planet?”
– David Attenborough, Blue Planet II


Fourth Element, refillable drinking water bottle, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, plastic oceans, one time use plastic, Blue Planet II, present ideas for scuba divers

Last night the Blue Planet II concluded with some stark facts.

At present we use over 35 million plastic bottles a year in the UK, and we live in an area where tap water is safe to drink!

A simple way to reduce your consumption of one-time-use plastic is to stop buying bottled water. Instead keep a refillable bottle handy and save money too.

If you are out and about and not sure where to top up, this App will tell you where you can fill your bottle for free.

With Christmas on the horizon why not treat yourself and a loved one to Fourth Element’s 750ml water bottle? It is manufactured from BPA free recycled plastic and being priced at a mere £5.95, it won’t break the bank.

A refillable water bootle is good for the boat, your day pack, the office or the gym, and will help keep you hydrated in an environmentally friendly manner. And it is a better solution for our Blue Planet too!

Iwade School Cancels Planned Balloon Release

The Sittingbourne based Primary School in Kent recently commemorated Remembrance Day with a two minute silence to remember past and present service personnel.

Iwade School had also planned to release helium balloons as part of the event. However after receiving advice from Rosemary Lunn of The Underwater Marketing Company and reading environmental news articles, the school reviewed the event and cancelled the balloon release.

Instead 50 children along with their parents, took the balloon tribute decorated with poppies, and placed them inside ‘All Saints Church‘, Iwade to be part of the Remembrance Day Sunday service.

balloons blow, don't let go, Iwade School, biodegradable balloons, balloon release, The Underwater Marketing Company, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, scuba diving news, Iwade School

The weighted helium balloon display at Iwade School designed to commemorate Remembrance Sunday

“We, like many others, would have followed the strict guidelines given to us from our supplier and believed they were all biodegradable and only by reading your information and seeing things in the local news we find that this is not entirely accurate. We thank you again for providing us with further information so we can, as you suggest, make different decisions in the future so we do not further threaten our environment.”
Caroline Mariner, Principal, Iwade School

Many balloon suppliers advise that so-called ‘biodegradable balloons‘ are made made from natural latex, hence they take the same time to decompose as an oak leaf. Gardeners are aware that whilst some leaves mulch down quite quickly, oak leaves are remarkably durable and can take up to four years to decompose. During this time, it is quite possible for farm, wild and marine life to ingest or choke on a biodegradable balloon and die.