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Top Tech Stories of 2021

We’d like to kick off the new year with a selection of 11 hand-curated stories from our deepening well of content, call it, InDepth’s Top Tech Stories of 2021,” representing some of the most read, and what we feel are important stories from the last year.

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Header image: the wreck of the Chrisoula K in the Red Sea. Photo by Julian Mühlenhaus

Greetings Tekkies,

January marks our third full year of publishing InDepth and I’d like to think we are starting to get the hang of it! We hope you agree! Over the last year, we published 108 stories covering a wide range of topics of interest and importance to the global self-contained diving community. As we’ve said from the beginning, our goal is to be a community magazine. If you have a story that you think needs to be told or one that you’d like to tell, please reach out to us.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our readers, for your continuing interest and support, and also thank our many contributors, whose work and labors of love are represented here and elsewhere in InDepth

In addition, I would like to thank our courageous sponsors who make the blog possible. Special thanks to DAN Europe, Dive Rite, Divesoft, Extreme Exposure, Fourth Element, Halcyon, Shearwater Research, The Dirty Dozen, and Fathom Dive Systems, which began its sponsorship with this issue. Please join us in supporting these depth full brands!

We’d like to kick off the new year with a selection of 11 hand-curated stories from our deepening well of content, call it, InDepth’s Top Tech Stories of 2021, representing some of the most read, and what we feel are important stories from the last year. In addition, find our free downloadable open circuit and closed circuit Annotated Tekkie posters. Take them to a digital printer or reach out to one of our sponsors for a printed copy. We have some exciting stories planned for 2022, so watch this space. 

We would appreciate it if you would take a moment to complete our annual ReaderSurvey as well. It will help us to deliver better content to your inbox. Our thanks in advance for your help.

Safe diving,

Michael Menduno/M2

Editor-in-chief, InDepth

Help us by completing InDepth’s annual READER SURVEY 🤓

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1. Diving Beyond 250 Meters: The Deepest Cave Dives Today Compared to the Nineties 

How deep are the deepest cave dives today compared to those 30 years ago, when technical diving was just getting started? We team up with deep diving pioneer Nuno Gomes to review the history of deep cave diving, discuss the issues involved, and identify the people who are giving our underwater envelope a hard shove.

While you’re there, don’t forget to check out our tribute to the community’s incomparable deep cave diver: Celebrating Sheck Exley

2. Can Mouthpiece Retaining Straps Improve Rebreather Diving Safety?

In March 2021, the Rebreather Training Council (RTC) launched a new rebreather safety initiative recommending the use of mouthpiece retaining straps to prevent drowning in the event of loss of consciousness. In this package of stories, science writer Reilly Fogarty, along with Andrew Fock and Paul Haynes explore the value and efficacy of straps and make the case for their use. 

3. The Economics of Being a Tech Diving Instructor 

Is it possible to make a viable career as a tech diving instructor? How about if you have instructor trainer credentials to boot, err fin? Here Darcy Kieran, principal of Scubanomics, dives into the economics of being a dive instructor based on the results of our joint global instructor survey. How much money did you say you hoped to make?

4. Rules of Thumb: The Mysteries of Ratio Deco Revealed

Is it a secret algorithm developed by the WKPP to get you out of the water faster sans DCI, or an unsubstantiated decompression speculation promoted by Kool-Aid swilling quacks and charlatans? British tech instructor/instructor evaluator Rich Walker divulges the arcane mysteries behind GUE’s ratio decompression protocols in this two part series. And don’t forget those standard gases!

5. Drift is Normal. Being a Deviant is Normal. Here’s Why

What causes individuals and organizations to drift from acceptable standards and behavior? Is it an aberration or something to expect, and what can we do about it? Human Factors coach Gareth Lock takes us for a deep dive into human biases, our tendency to deviate, and what that means for human performance.

6. Exploring Whale Culture with National Geographic Photojournalist Brian Skerry

The tech community tends to equate exploration with surveying virgin cave passage and/or discovering a shipwreck that was heretofore out of reach or out of mind. Here Rolex NATGEO Explorer of the Year, Brian Skerry, discusses his three-year project exploring the arcane life and culture of whales, and exactly what it took to bring home the data.

7. Pulmonary Oxygen Toxicity: Expanding Our Understanding With Two New Models 

I know, I know, this is an über-geek story, with math no less, but it’s important. There are two new models that are vying to replace the legacy REPEX method (OTUs) used today for predicting pulmonary oxygen toxicity during diving. Here Reilly Fogarty applies these models to predict and compare the risk results on two BIG tech dives: The SS Brandenberg (199m/625 ft), Tuscany, Italy and Weeki Wachee Springs (124m/404 ft), Florida.

Also, you don’t want to miss instructor trainer and medicolegal death investigator Andrea Zaferes’ deep dive into the physiology and process of drowning, the number one cause of diver fatalities: The Causes, Physiology, and Process of Drowning

8. Gradient Factors In A Post Deep Stop World 

World-recognized decompression physiologist and cave explorer David Doolette explains the new evidence-based findings on “deep stops,” and shares how and why he sets his own gradient factors. His recommendations may give you pause to stop, shallower, and longer.

9. Is Freediving Safe?

According to DAN’s 2019 Annual Diving Report, breath-hold diving fatalities accounted for nearly a third, or 52 of the 162 recreational scuba deaths in 2017, and four times the number of tech diving fatalities that year. Is freediving actually more dangerous than tech diving? PFI instructor trainer Ted Harty explains what’s happening and what’s required to improve freediving safety in this best read story from 2020. 

10. Fact or Fiction? Revisiting Guinness World Record Deepest Scuba Dive

New information released in 2020 called into question the validity of former Egyptian Army Colonel and instructor trainer Ahmed Gabr’s 2014 Guinness World Record scuba dive to 332 m/1,090 ft in the Red Sea. Did he actually complete the dive? We report on what it all may mean in this two article series.

Wreck explorer and filmmaker Dimitris Fifis dives into the nature and motivation of record setting in diving following the recent deaths of two divers attempting to break world depth records. See: Opinion: Don’t Break That Record

11. Finally, the MOST FUN Story of 2021 (excluding the mermaids): Brits Brew Beer Booty

What do you get when you combine the Brit’s proclivity for shipwreck exploration with their strong affinity for beer? A tasty sunken treasure hunt that yielded 126-year old reconstituted British beer. GUE Scotland’s Andy Pilley recounts the tale.

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Latest Features

Shitwrecks

We teamed up with some potty-minded wreckers to explore the poop decks of shipwrecks around the world. Water sports anyone? We offer these heady bits.

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In our ongoing search for unusual images, InDepth may have unwittingly uncovered a closeted water-based fetish among some of the who’s who of wreck diving. I shit you not. 

The fit first hit the shan when we reached out to renowned British wrecker and photographer Leigh Bishop to see if he had any pictures of sunken shipwreck heads. Bishop was a bit dodgy in his email reply. “Just out of curiosity, who else have you asked? Has anyone actually come back and said they have photos of heads?” 

Hmm…

We responded in the affirmative; hyperbaric doc cum wrecker Andrew Fock had indeed sent us a snap depicting a gaggle of sunken thrones from the British warship HMS Hermes. Bishop immediately let loose a missive as if he had been holding it back. “OK,” he replied. “I was just wondering if I wasn’t the ONLY weirdo to have shots of toilets. I do have some, bear with me.” Bishop then dumped NINE images in our box in less time than it took to say “Holy crapper!”  

Once we had Fockie and Bishop in the can, the others followed quickly without raising a stink. Crappy photos started to flow in. We had hit the thunderbox! In fact, shipwreck historian and producer Richie Kohler was one of the few who was obstructive. After complaining about not having a pot to piss in, the inveterate wrecker spilled the beans, “No crappy pix here,” he wrote. “You’re shit outta luck and gonna have to head elsewhere to find a John. Sorry for my potty-mouth. Toodle Loo.” Now that’s a “Dear John” letter!

Our efforts were deeply rewarded when we learned that our late dear brother, wreck diving pioneer Bart P. Malone (1946-2017) had a thing for honey buckets. A sweet guy, to be sure. Accordingly, we were able to extend a short but heady tribute to the legendary old-school wrecker, one that he would surely appreciate, as you will soon learn. Thank you Rusty Cassway and Becca Boring for this offering.

The bottom line? You be the judge. We think this was some pretty deep shit.—M2

Thank you to these courageous heady wreckers for their pics of pots and more; Aron Arngrimssοn, Leigh Bishop, Becca Boring, Jason Brown, Rusty Cassway , Andrew Fock, Gary Gentile, Jesper Kjøller, Chris Kohl, Richie Kohler, Nicolas Lurot, Beto Nava, Pete Mesley, Roger Montero, Erik Petkovic, Becky Kagan Schott, and Tamara Thomsen. Special thanks to John Fitzgerald and Yuko Takegoshi for inspiring the idea.

Header image: A bevy of toilets from the Cypriot cargo ship Yolanda which grounded on a reef at Ras Muhammed in 1980, spilling her cargo. Image from Alamy Ltd.

HMS Hermes

The HMS Hermes was the world’s first purpose built Air Craft Carrier. It was commissioned by the British Royal Navy in 1923 and sunk by the Japanese on April 9, 1942 with the loss of 307 of its crew. Depth (toilets): 44m/145ft. Photo (2010) by Andrew Fock.
Photo by Pete Mesley.

HMNZS Canterbury

HMNZS Canterbury, A New Zealand frigate scuttled in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 2007. Depth: 31m/103ft. Photos by Pete Mesley.

MS Mikhail Lermontov

MS Mikhail Lermontov, was an Russian Ocean Liner that collided with rocks near Port Gore, New Zealand and sank in 1986. Depth: 28m/94ft. Photos by Pete Mesley.

SV Kingsbridge 

The SV Kingsbridge was an iron hulled clipper ship that sunk after colliding with the sailing ship Candahar with the loss of 15 lives. Depth 90m/295 ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

SV Avalanche

SV Avalanche was a three-masted iron sailing ship that sunk in the English Channel in 1877 after colliding with the sailing ship SV Forest, which also sank. Lives lost: 106. Depth: 52m/171ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

The SS Egypt

A P&O Liner carrying gold & silver cargo. She sank after a collision in the Celtic Sea. Depth: 127m/417ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

Unidentified Paddle Steamer

North Sea. Depth: 50m/164ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

SS Tuscania 

The SS Tuscania was a luxury liner that was torpedoed and sunk in 1918 in the Northern Channel between Scotland and Ireland by German U-boat UB-77 while transporting American troops to Europe with the loss of 210 lives. Depth: 102m/335ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

SS Justicia

The SS Justiçia was British Troopship that was torpedoed and sunk during WWI near Skerryvore, Scottland. Depth: 70m/229ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

Kensho Maru

The Kensho Maru was a passenger cargo ship sunk in Truk Lagoon during Operation Hailstorm in 1944. Depth: 36m/118ftPhoto by Leigh Bishop.

The Oite Destroyer

The Oite Destroyer was a Kamikaze class destroyer sunk in 1944 in Truk Lagoon. Depth: 66m/217ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

Katsurigusan

Katsurigusan Maru was a cargo ship sunk by a Japanese mine in Truk Lagoon in 1944, and is Truk’s deepest shipwreck. Depth: 70m/229ft. Photo by Leigh Bishop.

MS King Cruiser

MS King Cruiser was a car ferry that sank off the West Coast of Southern Thailand on 4 May 1997.  Depth: 24 m/80 f. Photos by Nico Lurot.

SMS Cōln

The SMS Cōln was a light German cruiser scuttled in Scapa Flow at the end of WWI. Depth: 36m/118ft. Photo by Jason Brown, bardophotographic.com


Aikoku Maru

The Aikoku Maru was an armed merchant cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II. The ship entered service in 1940, and was sunk in February 1944 during Operation Hailstone. Photo by the Dirty Dozen Expeditions.
Photo by Pete Mesley.

Yolanda

Yolanda was a Cypriot cargo ship built in 1964. She was carrying a load of porcelain toilets and bathtubs when she was grounded on a reef at Ras Muhammed in 1980, spilling her cargo. She subsequently slipped off the reef in deep water in 1985 during a storm. Depth: 15m/49 ft. Photos by Jesper Kjøller.

C53 Felipe Xicotencatl

Roger Montero—the “Mayan Diver”—perched on the throne of the C53 Felipe Xicotencatla US Built Admirable-Class minesweeper that was decommissioned in 1999, donated to the Cozumel underwater park and sunk that same year. Depth: 15m/49ft. Photo courtesy of Roger Montero.

SS Andrea Doria

A head on the iconic SS Andrea Doria which sank in July 1956 after a collision with the SS Stockholm off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, killing 51 people.  Depth (toilet): 58m/190 ft. Photo by Gary Gentile.

USS Wilkes-Barre

USS Wilkes-Barre was a Cleveland-class light cruiser of the US Navy that served during the last year of World War II and was skuttled in 1972. She served as the training wreck for Capt. Billy Deans’ Key West Divers mixed gas classes in the 1990s. Depth: 64m/210 ft. Photo by Gary Gentile.

The SS America

The America was a packet boat transporting passengers, mail, and packages between settlements Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior, US. Built in 1898, the America sank in Washington Harbor off the shore of Isle Royale in 1928, where the hull still remains. Depth: 24m/80ft. Photo by Tamara Thomsen.

The SS Monarch

The SS Monarch was a passenger-package freighter built in 1890 that operated on the Great Lakes. She was sunk off the shore of Isle Royale in Lake Superior in 1906 and the remains of her wreck and cargo are still on the lake bottom.  Depth: 24m/80ft. Photo by Tamara Thomson.

SS Daniel J Morrell

Rebreather diver explores the captain’s quarters inside the SS Daniel J Morrell, a Great Lakes freighter that broke up in a strong storm on Lake Huron in 1966, taking with it 28 of her 29 crewmen. Depth: 51m/165ft. Photo by Becky Kagan Schott. 

The AA Parker

The AA Parker was a wooden steamship that sank in 1903 during a storm in lake Superior near Grand Marias, Michigan. Notice the bell behind the toilet. Depth: 64m/210ft. Photo by Becky Kagan Schott.

RH Rae

PThe “RH Rae” was a three-masted bark that capsized during a white squall on Lake Ontario in 1958 near Point Traverse. The wreck was explored by the Cousteau in 1980, the only time they ever visited the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, they lost a diver at this site—the only time they had a diving fatality. Depth: 32m/105ft. Photo by Chris Kohl

Shinkoku Maru

The Shinkoku Maru was a Japanese oil tanker that was sunk in Truk Lagoon in 1944 during Operation Hailstone. Below Rusty Cassway pours Bart P. Malone’s  ashes into the Shinkoku Maru head in 2019. Photos by Becca Boring 

Bart P. Malone (1946-2017)

Bart Malone post dive August 2016. Photo by Rusty Cassway

Diving legend Bart P. Malone, who passed away in December, 2017, was an avid collector of shipwreck china. (He was also the co-founder of The Gas Station, the first technical mixed gas station in the Northeast US.) Bart collected ship line china from many of the classic wrecks including the Andrea Doria, SS Carolina and the Empress of Ireland. However, to Bart the quintessential piece of china to obtain was a ships head or toilet.  It was like a giant ceramic bowl. Just bigger.  Bart did this “tongue in cheek”, because as many who knew Bart were aware, he liked to spend a lot of time in the dive boat head prior to and after dives.—Rusty Cassway

Ed. Note: Shipwrecks that have been underwater for more than 100 years, including their sunken heads, are protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Divers are requested not to disturb or remove artifacts from these wrecks. Thank you Rupert Simon from Finland, for bringing this to our attention.



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