Do You Know SUDS? …You Should!

All of us at SDI™, TDI™ and ERDI™ ask you to please learn more and get involved!

Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, MD is designed to help improve the lives of injured service members returning from Iraq & Afghanistan. By training the warriors in a challenging & rewarding activity it can help facilitate the rehabilitation process & promote mobility. Offering this venue provides the service member with a sport they can enjoy throughout their life. SUDS is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization & a chapter of Disabled Sports USA.

Suds Diving

The SUDS organization has been training wounded warriors to dive as part of their rehabilitation since February 2007.

During this time SUDS has worked with over 200 injured veterans. The scuba instructors are American Red Cross volunteers and active or former military and all the training utilizes SDI™ & TDI™ training certifications.

The SUDS group runs several trips per year to complete the injured veteran’s scuba certification to a variety of great warm water locations.

In December 2011 they ran a trip to Turks and Caicos with six injured veterans from across the country to do continuing education. So far in 2012 SUDS has run its 5th trip to Rincon, PR where four men from WRNMMC (Walter Reed National Military Medical Center ) in Bethesda, MD and two men from the NMCSD (Navy Medical Center ) San Diego participated working towards their Rescue Diver certifications.

SUDS Diving Scuba

The SUDS program continues to offer open water certifications at WRNNMC at Bethesda to our American heroes, and several of these men and women move on to advanced certification.

Follow SUDS on Facebook, Twitter and join the SUDS Newsletter by visiting their web site.

While you are at see how you can help. Divers like you are needed to help Heroes like these!

To learn more about SDI™ please visit

SDI™ Introduces “HOW TO” on YOUTUBE

Just one more time…QUIET ON THE SET!… TAKE # 187535498496498749

YouTube Scuba DivingIf you have recently visited our NEW and we believe BETTER and IMPROVED you have seen a myriad of new features that lead to GREAT opportunities. So since our Pro Members and Facilities have been fielding questions from Associate Members just like you, we decided to make using the site even easier than before. Although we have already built an extensive help section on the website, we recognize that videos are easier to follow for many, while reading is best for others; now you both can have it your way – hold the lettuce!

Visit and check out our first shot.

We will be developing multiple videos over the coming weeks, so keep checking back to see what has been updated.

Here are a few videos we are currently working on for Associate Members and site visitors:

  1. How to create a user account
  2. How to recover your username and password
  3. How to get started with my eLearning course – both by using an access code and without using an access code
  4. How to adjust my settings when using IE 8 or 9 to use the site
  5. How to get a replacement card
  6. How to verify my dive credentials
  7. How to send feedback to the site
  8. How to find a dive center
  9. How to sign up for an additional eLearning course
  10. How do I update my profile
  11. How do I affiliate or un-affiliate with a Dive Center

Let us hear back from you at and tell us what you would like to see next. After all, by now you must realize….special orders don’t upset us!

TDI™/ SDI™ at the London International Dive Show (LIDS)

Do not miss this provocative and thought provoking discussion

Solo Diving – Coming of age

London International Dive ShowSDI™ was the first agency to launch a Solo diving course and to emphasize the importance of Self Reliance. Although still a controversial topic, many other agencies are now following SDI’s lead and launching courses aimed at creating more self-reliant divers. Don’t miss TDI™ / SDI™ Instructor Trainer Mark Powell’s perceptive take on the subject. If you are an instructor, photographer or just dive with a variety of buddies, you will want to hear what Mark has to say on this topic.

LIDS will be held on the 31st March – 1st April at the Excel Centre, London.

For more information visit

For more about SDI™ programs, and to schedule your own Solo Course, please visit

Know Where All of Your Dive Buddies Will Be on March 23-25th?

At “Beneath The Sea” in the New Jersey Meadowlands Expo Center!

Beneath The SeaIt’s that time of year again… Beneath the Sea is here, and TDI™-SDI™-ERDi™ will be looking forward to meeting with you once again to share with you what is “new and improved” with our agency.

Last year we kicked off with the BTS & TDI’s Tech party. This time around, we would love to do it all over again and ask that you join us. Join Brian Carney, President of TDI™, and the rest of the gang at the Embassy Suites at around 7pm on Friday 3/23 for drinks and light appetizers. But hurry! It is first come first serve, and after all this IS a hungry and thirsty dive crowd!

Invest just an hour of your time, and you will be pleased with the return you get from either of these informative seminars.

  • Members Update- Sponsored by TDI™-SDI™-ERDi™- We will also be doing a Member’s update at La Quinta, just steps from the Expo Center on Saturday at 3PM, if the weather requires a shuttle, we will wisp you away from the Expo Center to La Quinta.
  • Rebreathers in 2012- Sponsored by TDI™- Don’t miss the latest in the industry buzz – rebreathers. Join our seminar “Rebreathers in 2012” and learn all about courses you can take for fun or if you are looking for the right path to become a rebreather professional instructor. This seminar will be at La Quinta, just steps from the Expo Center on Sunday at 1PM. Same shuttle plans are also in place.

To reserve a spot at either of these events, stop by our booth and tell us “I’ll be there!” For more information, contact Cris Merz at

We look forward to seeing you at BTS. For more info about the show, visit:

For more about TDI™-SDI™-ERDi™ visit

There has never been a better time to join the TDI™-SDI™-ERDi™ family, ask us how!

Your UWJ Magazine is Ready!

Underwater Journal - ScubaUWJ Issue 23 is ready for download. If you’re not yet a subscriber, simply sign in and create an account with your email address (takes about 3 minutes and it’s FREE).

Your winter issue of The Underwater Journal has some great features – from finding the little stuff with photog Mike Bartick to Capt. Gary Mace’s gripping story about decompression sickness. We’re starting 2012 with something for everyone. This issue covers it all: gear, photography, marine life, advanced diving and adventure travel.

Steve Lewis gives us another pragmatic view in his column Nitrox, Voodoo Gas No More, but Still Misunderstood. His discussion focuses on the details of using this gas that many of us don’t fully understand.

Jump into the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula with Eco-photo Explorers Mike Salvarezza and Christopher Weaver. Learn and look at South Florida’s amazing wrecks from our Editor. And be sure to catch the DAN Column, Dive Safety Essentials, and get your dive year started off on a safe track.

There’s so much more to enjoy and learn, get your FREE magazine today. Don’t forget, UWJ is iPad compatible to download and save in iBooks.

This is YOUR MAGAZINE with lots of benefits. We appreciate your support and encouragement! Enjoy, and please let us know what you think.

Underwater Journal is the official publication of SDI/TDI/ERDI

Time to Schedule your SDI™ Nitrox Course

For some of us, winter is upon us; for others, plans are underway to far off destinations. In either case this means completing that course we started sometime ago, stowing away the dive gear and breaking out the tropical picture show during these extra cold months. But does it have to mean we stop learning new things about diving? No.

There are many locations that will go right on diving through the winter, and in some cases, your diving will even increase. For the rest of us whose waters are great if you like ice skating but not if you want to dive (of course they are good for an SDI Ice Diving course), we still have some options to keep engaged in diving. One great course to take is nitrox. Nitrox is one of those courses that everyone should take for several reasons. Safety is a key concern in diving and anything that can be done to increase safety should be. What nitrox does is increases the amount of oxygen you breathe which decreases the amount of nitrogen you breathe; this in turn decreases the nitrogen uptake into your body, provided you dive nitrox according to air computers or tables. Each year we get a little older and our bodies do not process things as they used to. The way our muscles and tissues process nitrogen are no exception to that rule. Don’t be concerned! There is a solution…

SDI Computer Nitrox Course

Longer Bottom Times. Shorter Surface Intervals. These are among the many benefits of diving Nitrox — a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen in which the concentration of oxygen is greater than that found in air. You’ve no doubt heard of Nitrox, and you probably know divers who use it. You also know that using Nitrox safely requires special training and certification.

Traditionally, becoming a Nitrox Diver required long hours in the classroom, learning how to work obscure formulas and use complex dive tables. No more. Through SDI’s on-line training program, you can complete most of the required academic study in the comfort and convenience of your home or office. As with all SDI programs, you’ll learn to dive Nitrox the modern way, using Nitrox-programmable dive computers instead of arcane formulas and complicated tables.

When you are done with the self-study portion of the course, you will meet with your SDI instructor to review your final exam (academic review) and to take part in a brief, practical application session. Here you will get hands-on experience with oxygen analyzers and Nitrox computers. Your instructor may even provide you with the opportunity to make one or more Nitrox dives. When you have completed the academic review and practical application sessions, your SDI Dive Center will order your permanent certification card. What could be easier? Nitrox opens a world of possibilities, leading to better, more enjoyable diving. What are you waiting for? Get Started Now!

Diving 10,000 Year Old Ice

There is a very old dive site that has just been floating around waiting to be discovered…

Iceberg Scuba DivingAsk the average scuba diver what they think of when someone mentions ice diving and chances are good they’ll tell you about diving under the winter ice cover of a freshwater lake. But did you know you can dive ice in the summer too?

Every year it is estimated that as many as 50,000 icebergs calve off the glaciers of Greenland to start their long journey south driven by ocean currents. A few hundred travel down the North Atlantic coast of America and make it as far as the island province of Newfoundland. The most famous got in the way of the Titanic 100 years ago (April 1912); and the stream of berg’s since that historic collision has grown stronger in recent years thanks to global climate change.

The process of carving goes on year-round but the best time to see Newfoundland (or Atlantic) icebergs “in person” is in the summer, and one of the best places to find ones that are “safe” to dive is Conception Bay, near that Canadian province’s capital city of St. John’s.

“Safe” of course is an entirely relative term in all types of diving but most certainly in this particular flavor of adventure-diving. An iceberg is a dynamic entity; constantly moving, shifting, stressing and straining. Rolling and splitting are two of the constant threats presented by a huge chunk of frozen fresh water floating in a slightly warmer flow of salt water – and gradually melting away. Of course, these events can be disastrous for anyone close by, whether on the surface or underwater. Because of this and other factors, diveable bergs are bergs that are grounded. These are sometimes called Ice Islands.

Iceberg ScubaGrounding? Let me explain. There is no such thing as an average Newfoundland iceberg. Some are the size of a football stadium, and some look as small as a garden shed (see table), but what they all share is that approximately ninety percent of their bulk is “hidden” underwater. What we see floating is just the tip of the iceberg (sorry; couldn’t resist the pun). As air temperatures effect it – making it melt and crack due to changes in surface temperatures and internal pressure – a free-floating berg is always at risk of turning over or calving off mini-bergs of its own.

You might say that the berg is constantly changing its buoyancy and trim! Only when that hidden portion of the berg bottoms out on the ocean floor is there ANY opportunity to partially manage these risks.

However, few icebergs are held fast for long. As their bulk and mass gradually lessens, buoyancy changes and ever-present currents and tides will tend to push it along, often dragging its way through the seabed. Many berg divers check out this Ice Scour or Gouging – given depth limits – before getting close to the body of the berg. This is an indication of how long the berg has been grounded, and in some part, how it has behaved during its time as an ice island. Also, since the seabed in Newfoundland is home to all manners of cold-water creatures, the gouge often uncovers hidden critters and can attract larger predators to an open feast — take a camera!

Once a berg is confirmed to be grounded, divers usually submerge at a safe distance and swim toward the iceberg. This is one of the most unique experiences. Remember, an iceberg is fresh-water, perhaps more than 10,000 years old. It is pure and unsullied by mankind. As a diver closes in on its walls – which incidentally have the appearance of a multi-hued abstract sculpture – she will pass through the meltwater zone, where seawater and freshwater mix. Her buoyancy will change and she will experience passing through a distinct halocline. Also, the quality of sunlight or daylight will change, and it is not unusual for the visibility around a berg to be “virtually limitless.” The ice itself seems to glow from transmitted sunlight and the berg’s walls will shimmer with countless shades of blue from pale aqua to deep violet.

It will be, all in all, an unforgettable experience.

Size Category Height Length
Growler Less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) Less than 5 metres (16 ft)
Bergy Bit 1–5 metres (3.3–16 ft) 5–15 metres (16–49 ft)
Small 5–15 metres (16–49 ft) 15–60 metres (49–200 ft)
Medium 15–45 metres (49–148 ft) 60–120 metres (200–390 ft)
Large 45–75 metres (148–246 ft) 120–200 metres (390–660 ft)
Very Large Over 75 metres (246 ft) Over 200 metres (660 ft)

Data supplied by International Ice Patrol

Iceberg Diving


Often an iceberg will be surrounded by small chunks of calved ice (Growlers or smaller). If possible, collect one or two of these and use them in your cold drinks (in Newfoundland, this might be an after dive drink of Screech). When berg ice melts, it makes a fizzing sound called “Bergie Seltzer.” This sound is caused by escaping air originally trapped and then compressed as prehistoric snow layers became glacial ice.


Iceberg diving is great for advanced divers, equipped and experienced in cold-water diving since even in summer, the water temperatures at depth in Newfoundland hover only a few degrees above freezing. Divers with a sense of adventure and a yen for something out of the ordinary are also recommended.

There are several SDI/TDI instructors working in Newfoundland; to find out more about adventure diving, contact them through our website or call us 207.729.4201

REMEMBER no dives outside your comfort and training should be undertaken without proper instruction and guaidance!


This year, International Training (ITI) will be exhibiting at the Outdoor Adventure Show (OAS), Toronto, Ontario.  The OAS is the largest consumer show of its type in Canada, with over 30,000 visitors attending last year’s event.  Cris Merz (National Sales Manager) and Steve Moore (HQ Training and Regional Manager Eastern Canada) will be representing the agency throughout the show, with the assistance of local SDI/TDI/ERDI facility staff.  Please come along and visit us at Booth 419 in the SCUBA World section of the show – we’d love to see you!

The OAS is being held in The International Centre, Hall 5, 6900 Airport Rd, Mississauga, Ontario on 24th, 25th and 26th February 2012.  Full details, including directions, can be found via the following link:

Cris is contactable via and Steve via

Editing Digital Photos 101

Check your concerns at the door……

Since the overthrow of film cameras, digital photos have taken off. There are many benefits to taking digital photos: you get more than 36 at a time, perform your own processing, easy photo manipulation and more wallet friendly… just to name a few. While there were some very affordable film cameras on the market, they took nowhere near the quality of images we are seeing today for an equivalent digital camera investment. But as we have learned time and time again, there are two sides to every story. For now, we are just going to focus on editing the digital photos you have taken.

Before we discuss the results of the photos you have taken, we are going to take a lesson from the playbooks of film photographers. Because film cameras only allowed you to take 36 frames, I know that for all you old-school film guys there were options for more film underwater, the photographer carefully selected and composed the photograph.

How does this apply to editing digital photographs?

If you take your time and compose the shot as best you can, it can mean the difference of culling and editing 300 photographs as opposed to 100. Believe me… the screen time of sorting through a third of the photographs will make all the difference in the world.

Now that you have the image what do you do with it?

The next step depends on a few things: how familiar you are with computers and how familiar you are with photo editing software, so let’s break this down.

The assumption here is that, if you own a digital camera, you already have a computer so the only advice we have here are two words – memory and back-up. When you start taking digital photos you are going to need a lot of memory. There are two different ways to accomplish this: you can get a computer with a lot of built-in memory, or you can buy external memory in the form of flash drives or external hard drives.

The flash drives and external hard drives already mentioned can play a duel role; they can also work as a back-up to photo storage. The end goal with backing up photos is to have your images in two places that are independent of each other. For those of you a little more tech savvy, the Cloud Technology is also a great solution as it allows you access to your images no matter where you are.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s talk about the software available.

With so many options on the market ranging from free to a couple thousand dollars we are going to focus on the interface between you and the editing program and the basics of what you can do with an image.

The interface, while it seems insignificant, is a very important part of the process, if you don’t understand what tools and options you have available, your experience will be less than enjoyable and you will not get the end results you are looking for. When selecting the software make sure you understand the icons and tabs that are provided or that the help functions are clear and explain how to use the product. One example of free software is Picasa by Google. You can get this as a free download and try it out.

Now for a little terminology, because as we all know…computers and the software they use have a language of their own.

Here are some basic terms and what they mean:

Crop – this is a function that allows you to change the size and focal point of the picture you took. Here is an example of what it would look like:

Contrast – this feature allows you to make an image darker or brighter in the case of under or over exposure.

Sharpen – lines in photographs even ones that appear in focus, can sometimes need to be sharpened or softened this function allows you to do both.

Straighten – this function allows you to straighten an image where the horizontal line of the image may be tipped to the left or right.

There are many other features to digital editing software – too many to name – but with these basic tips in mind, the best thing to do now is upload an image and play around with it, keeping in mind to save it as a separate image so as not to lose the original. Once changes have been made to an original image there is no going back, another good reason for a back-up.

If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, contact your local SDI dive center and ask if they have any digital photo editing courses scheduled or if they would put one together for you. Remember: select, compose, store and back-up. Happy photographing!

Get started on your “Imaging Adventure!” Visit to find a facility and instructor near you!

Boat Diving: Doing What Works Best at Home and Away

A little preparation goes a long way to more enjoyment

Boat DivingMy guess would be that the vast majority of our dream dive vacations involve boat diving. Certainly at this time of year, when some of us are dealing with frosty morning drives to the office, the appeal of any form of warm water diving is strong; short of actually having a bungalow on the beach with a reef break 20 metres from the water’s edge, boat diving is about the most straightforward and most satisfying diving around.

It’s easy to see why. Any way you look at it, a dive boat is the usual mode of transport – and often the ONLY mode of transport – to our preferred dive sites. For example, the best and most famous wreck dives – with the exception of a select few, such the SS President Coolidge, in Vanuatu – have to be done from a dive boat. Want great wall dives? You need a dive boat for almost all of them. Great critter dives? You need a dive boat for those, too.

Now, cave diving and dive boats usually do not go together, but there are even a few great cave dives that call for boat diving – Stargate Blue Hole, in Bahamas and Baltzell Spring, in Florida are two that come to mind.

Just like those two cave dives – which are about as different as chalk and cheese, and which demand very different “approach strategies” – dive boats come in every conceivable shape and size; from small bass boats and skiffs to 30-metre plus live-aboard fitted out with hot tubs, a wine cellar and flat-screen TVs.

However, regardless of whether you find yourself sitting in a RIB crossing the English Channel or lounging in a deckchair with martini in hand looking out over Truk Lagoon, there are a few tips and suggestions that can be applied to just about any boat-based diving adventure.

Here are a few you may find helpful.

  • Get the right baggage. Roller-bags are great for the airport but can be a royal pain for day-to-day service on a boat. Invest in two “boat bags,” one for stuff you want to keep dry and a mesh one for wet stuff. If you are on a live-aboard, you will want to keep your sleeping area uncluttered… and DRY! Getting the right bag is an essential first step to making this happen.
  • Space on dive boats – even big ones – is at a premium. Be sure to take just what you need and try to only pack things that will suit the environment – leave the Christian Louboutin heels at home. You might also take the time to label items that might get mixed up with similar “stuff” that your shipmates might bring along.
  • On just about every dive boat, each diver is allocated a spot/seat. Stick to your area and keep your clutter within the storage space associated with your area. Do not spread out, and be polite if your neighbor’s kit starts to mysteriously drift and mix with yours. Also – and this is important – return to the same spot after your dive. It’s likely the crew will have some set procedure for filling tanks and keeping track of whose are whose. One of the fastest, most efficient ways to upset the deckhands is to play musical chairs.
  • Listen. When you first board the boat, there will most likely be some sort of orientation from the captain, mate or dive supervisor. This little chat should cover safety tips – where first-aid and oxygen is kept for example – and some simple “need-to-know” info such as where the head is located and which areas of the boat are CREW ONLY.
  • Pay attention! When you arrive at the dive site, chances are better than good that someone will conduct a pre-dive briefing. If something is not clear – “did you say the current is six-knots! Really?” – ask questions. Not only is the pre-dive brief important from a safety standpoint, but the man or woman giving the briefing has likely dived the site enough times to know the must-see spots. If you do not listen, you’re likely to miss important stuff about what makes the dive special.
  • The crew will also deliver some tips concerning your entry and exit. DO NOT enter the water until told by a crew member it is OK to do so. Be aware that different boats may have very different procedures, and different dive sites and sea conditions can also have a strong bearing on the optimal way to get off and back onto a dive platform. Pay particular attention to the procedures for getting back on when there is a crop and the back of the boat (or the entry ladder) is moving up and down.
  • Do not be shy about asking for help if you need it. Some divers do not like any interference when they are kitting up for a dive (stay clear of CCR divers doing pre-dive checks for instance!), while for others a helping hand makes everything go much smoother. Do not make the mistake in thinking that only novice divers ask for help. From day-to-day, dive site to dive site, even the most seasoned old salts appreciate a hand now and then.
  • When you do get into the water, pay attention to how the boat looks. Boats do not look the same when you are at sea-level, and you want to make sure you can recognize it when the dive is finished. Do not assume that because yours was the only boat at the site when you hit the water that there will not be a half-dozen more when you surface.
  • Pay attention to how the boat is tied up and if the crew has put out lines to help divers get to and from the anchor line. Avoid getting lines wrapped around your tanks (or anywhere else). When you surface, follow the procedures outlined in the pre-dive briefing, and if there are drift lines use them while you wait for your turn to get back onboard.

Well, that’s a brief overview. If you are a new diver or new to boat diving, the best introduction to the full gamut of boat etiquette is to contact your local SDI Dive Facility and sign-up for a dive specialty course. Most SDI dive centers will bundle a boat diving specialty with wreck, drift or deep, which make for a fun-packed and very useful way to improve your diving skills and enjoyment.

To find a SDI Dive Center near you, simply visit While there, check out the great selection of on line e-Learning programs in preparation for your next adventure!