Peak Performance Buoyancy With Allan

Allan finished off his Advanced Open Water Diver course by doing a Peak Performance Buoyancy Adventure Dive.  He zipped through the skills and we used our remaining air to explore Ark Dive.


Some students pick up on scuba as if it were as easy as walking.  Allan is a perfect example of this.  During his Open Water Diver coure, Allan breezed through the skills and it was no different for him when he progressed through his Advanced Open Water Diver class.


Allan Working Through The Obstacle Course


To finish up his Advanced Open Water certification, we did a Peak Performance Buoyancy Adventure Dive at Ark Dive.  The main goal for this adventure dive is to help divers become properly weighted for their equipment set-up and also help fine-tune their buoyancy skills.  Why is this so important in diving?  Being properly weighted and knowing how to fine tune one’s buoyancy with breath control will help a diver relax more, conserve air, and protect underwater wildlife from harm.


Allan Upside Down (Feet Above His Head) – Totally Relaxed


One of our first skills was to estimate our weight using PADI’s guideline.  I found this to be extremely helpful because I had just recently begun to use a new dive rig so I was still trying to figure out my precise weighting.  After adjusting our kits and doing our pre-dive safety check, we entered into the water and followed the metal chain out to where the reef drops off.  I set the anchor for my buoy and asked Allan to perform a buoyancy check to make sure he had enough weight to descend in the water.  He quickly performed the skill and we found him to be heavy enough.


I Love My Job!!!


After we descended, Allan began his 1 minute hover in the water while I set up the hula-hoop obstacle course.  By the time I had set everything up Allan had probably been hovering for about 2 minutes and he looked like a natural at it.  We practiced different hovering positions – horizontal, head elevated, feet elevated – and we both really enjoyed it.  I had just bought a new BCD so this helped me get adjusted to it and Allan really seemed to enjoy having his feet elevated over his head.


Hanging Out


Next came maneuvering through the obstacle course.  Basically, hula-hoops  are suspended in water and studens must fine tune their buoyancy using breath control to swim through them without touching the sides.  It’s pretty challenging and sometimes it take a few times through the course before people really feel confident with their skills.  Allan didn’t have any issues whatsoever…he zipped right through it without touching the sides once.  Impressive!


Allan And A Common Lionfish


Because we still had plenty of air, Allan and I went on an underwater tour of the area.  We used it as an opportunity to practice our buoyancy skills while kicking over the reef.


Common Lionfish

One of the benefits of being able to maintain proper buoyancy is knowing that the coral reef won’t be damaged through your interaction with it.  Did you know that it can take some types of coral an entire year to grow only 5-25 millimeters (.02-1 inch).  Talk about slow!!!!  Have to ever seen someone bump into coral and it crumbles apart.  Now think about how long it took for that coral animal to grow.  Ouch!  I don’t know about you, but I sure want to protect and be a good steward of the creation God has given us!  When I take pictures underwater, I find that buoyancy control is an essential skills.  Sometimes I’ll need to use both hands on my camera and all my attention will be directed towards adjusting its settings – hovering has be something I don’t “think” about.  Knowing that I can multi-task and not crash into any wildlife is a huge relief.


Pseudoceros Dimidiatus Flatworm


After we kicked out a bit I  noticed a Pseudoceros Dimidiatus flatworm hanging out on some rocks.  Photo opportunity!  I snapped a whole bunch of pictures but my camera doesn’t have a function to where I can set the flash to go off whenever I want.  Because of this, my flash only went off a few times out of the half dozen photos a snapped – most of the pictures turned out with a lot of blue tint to them.  But I did get 2 pictures (including the one above) that displayed it’s true colors.


 Allan Exploring The Reef


After moving on a little further north along the reef wall I spotted a really cool looking nudibranch – one I hadn’t ever seen before.  I snapped a TON of pictures, I’m pretty sure Allan got a bit bored waiting for me.  After returning home I went searching for the correct identification of the mysterious nudibranch and the closest one appeared to be Phyllidia ocellata.  On Robert Bolland’s Okinawa Slug Website ( he mentions that this is an uncommon type of nudibranch for Okinawa.  It also turns out that this particular type of nudibranch has a very wide variety of colors and it’s overall pattern.


Front View Of A Phyllidia Ocellata Nudibranch


Side View Of A Phyllidia Ocellata Nudibranch


As we progressed into deeper water, I noticed the buttons on my underwater camera case we being depressed due to the water pressure.  This should not happen so I know there was a weakness in my equipment.  As any underwater photographer knows – Weakness/Malfunctioning Equipment can lead to the case flooding.  That’s some really bad ju-ju.  I decided to stop messing with it until we returned to a more shallow depth.  When I got back to the dive shop I asked around to see if anyone knew what was wrong with my housing case.  My good friend Erica mentioned that the o-rings and/or the springs were probably worn out.  I contacted Canon and (a great resource for all your underwater photography and videography needs) and they both confirmed what Erica had mentioned to me.  It also turns out that Canon’s underwater housing cases are not repairable when it comes to the springs or o-rings.  Once those wear out it’s pretty much time to buy a new one.  After e-mailing back and forth with my husband (he’s on a lengthy business trip) about how I should replace the underwater housing case, we both came to the conclusion that I should get a Canon underwater housing case for my nicer camera, a Canon G11.  It’s currently being shipped to me and I am excited to use it in the near future!


 Sea Snake Skin – Kind Of Creepy!


While heading back to the exit, Allan pointed out the shed skin from a sea snake to me.  I was a bit surprised by it because I thought the skin would have just disintegrated off the snake but obviously I was wrong!


Allan Swimming Back To The Exit

We finished the dive with a 3 minute safety stop and then surfaced.  Allan had really managed his air nicely and we had stayed down to make a solid dive.  I had travelled further north along the reef wall than I ever had before and we both saw some neat macro-life.  It normally takes people a few dives to really relax and begin to have longer bottoms times.  Not so with Allan!  Hopefully we’ll get to hit up some more sites in the future.