scubadoc Ten Foot Stop

July 27, 2006

Torpedo Ray Injury

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 8:22 am

Frequent correspondent, Jim Grier calls our attention to an interesting posting on one of the boards about a torpedo ray injury. This was posted on the ’scubadiving’ board by “TexasTechdiver” with a follow-up posting. It is an interesting account of a commercial diver who was inspecting a pipeline looking for a small oil leak. He called that he was in trouble, felt something like electricity and shock, then became silent. The video that he was wearing showed a stationary sea floor so the rescue diver immediately went down and retrieved the unconscious diver who had thrown up in his Kirby-Morgan hardhat. He was placed in the chamber and the dive ship unmoored and set sail for the coast, in order to decompress. They stabilized him and he was coherent but didn’t know what had happened.

The video was retrieved from the boat and reviewed, and showed, moments before the diver lost consciousness, the approach of a sizeable torpedo ray. The sound indicated four separate electrical discharges from the ray that knocked the diver cold. He was lucky to be in a surface supplied hardhat rig, because on SCUBA he would be dead.

The diver is OK. He’s getting an extensive workup looking for possible reasons why the extreme reaction to the electrical shocks. Everyone agrees he’s very fortunate to be alive, and that the reaction on the dive crew to the incident was 100%. It’s nice when things work out. It is thought that the reasons for the attack was that it was night and the ray was attracted to the diver’s helmet light.

In a followup posting, TexasTechdiver relates a conversation with a dive accident consultant in which he talked to the consultant that was called in to investigate the torpedo ray incident, who related the debrief of the diver. The diver reported feeling electrical “tingles”, then got hit the first time by the ray. The guy monitoring the diver asked how he was, and the diver said he was ok, but didn’t know what had hit him. Then he reported feeling tingles again, and got hit again. He said “electricity” and “fish” then got hit a third time. By then he was out and keeling over. He was hit a fourth time, and that was it. The relief diver got down to him within eight minutes of the first hit, which was fortunate, as the stricken diver’s helmet was filling with water.

Also, these rays are apparently far less electrically “active” in the day time, which might explains our being able to play with them and living to tell about it.

The medical exam pretty much ruled out any weird pathology on the part of the diver that would have contributed. He was healthy. He has an irregular heartbeat now, and they’ll shock him and try to get him lined back out.

The Pacific electric ray (Torpedo californica) can be distinguished by its two dorsal fins and lack of a venomous spine on the tail and can muster up to 50 volts of electricity - enough to stop the heart of a human. Apparently the creature can send a ‘bolt’ of electricity toward a perceived threat - causing discomfort or pain, so touching the animal is not necessary for an injury.

The bigger Atlantic torpedo ray, occurring from Nova Scotia to Florida and beyond, is even more powerful. It can measure six feet across and weigh 200 pounds. Beachgoers, however, have nothing to fear from either of these species. They live in deep, cold waters and are mostly active at night. Fishermen occasionally catch the Atlantic torpedo in their trawls. Pulling up the net, their hands tingle. They know a ray is in the net before they even see it.

Jay Sisson, a diver working with Wood’s Hole has the following to say about this interesting creature.
“I was shown your ‘Torpedo Ray Injury” story by our DSO Terry Rioux (I work as a scientific diver for the Woods Hole Oceanographic). A couple years back I was hit by an Atlantic torpedo, twice. I never saw what hit me and my buddy Glenn witnessed all of it, then told me about it later. I was momentarily paralyzed by each hit but suffered no lasting injury. I believe Glenn estimated it’s wingspan about 5 ft.
The location was in 52′ of water about 1.5 nm south of Martha’s Vineyard, at a research tower we maintain there. Torpedo was on the bottom near one of the piles.”

Jay Sisson
Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst.
Woods Hole, MA 02543

July 26, 2006

Inspiration for ‘Men of Honor’ dies - Carl Brashear was first black U.S. Navy diver

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 8:54 am

Navy diver Carl Brashear lost a leg in 1966 helping to recover a lost hydrogen bomb.

Carl M. Brashear,75, the first black U.S. Navy diver died Tuesday at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth of respiratory and heart failure. He was the diver who was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 2000 film “Men of Honor”. Retired from the Navy in 1979 after more than 30 years of service, he was the first Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation for a nuclear weapon in 1966 in waters off the coast of Spain.

In 1954 he was accepted and graduated from the diving program, and went on to train for advanced diving programs before his 1966 incident.

July 24, 2006

Last Call to Receive Complimentary New Edition of Ocean Realm

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 3:39 pm

Richard Stewart, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Ocean Realm Journal, has informed us the new edition of Ocean Realm has finally arrived from Singapore and is on the dock yards of Long Beach, California. This new edition is a beautiful, high-quality color book with more than 107 pages of the best quality photography and content available. If you have not yet sent Ocean Realm your address this is the final call to receive a complimentary copy with free shipping. Please respond as soon as possible to; You will receive a bulk mailed copy within 2-3 weeks.

For What It’s Worth - Hyperactive Gag Reflex Remedy

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 10:21 am

Here is a letter that we thought we’d pass on for those of you suffering from a hyperactive gag reflex. There must be a lot of you because we get numerous hits on our web page about this at .

“FYI in case it may help others:

I came across your web site a month ago while researching about the severe gag reflex problem that has prevented me from snorkelling for the past several years. I discovered only a week ago that my problem completely disappears if I wear a wristwatch while snorkelling! I’d stopped wearing watches in the water years ago because I’m rough on them and they unpredictably develop leaks.

The eureka moment for me came when a friend told me she’d worn “Sea-Band” on her wrists and experienced no sea-sickness on a recent cruise even though she’s prone to nausea. Those bands are worn where one would place a wrist watch! Because of the neighbour’s “Sea Band” experience, I bought a new water-tight watch which I now wear while snorkelling and much to my delight the gag problem has completely disappeared! ”

My response: A study of many divers would be needed to show a significance.

I’ll pass this on as a possibility.


Dr. Larry Stein, our resident diving dental consultant, has the following note about the gag reflex:

I saw the article on your site about the gag reflex. A number of compounding pharmacies make and “electrolyte tablet” that is supposed to suppress the gag reflex. It is supposed to be useful for giving anesthetic, taking impressions. swallowing tablets, performing oral hygiene.

This suppresses the reflex rather than eliminating it. I don’t want to imagine the outcome of a diver with a suppressed reflex suddenly wearing off under water.

Here is a copy of some of the text from a pharmacy website and a journal reference:

Suppressing the Gag Reflex

The gag reflex can cause a patient considerable discomfort as well as interfere with dental procedures. An electrolyte tablet administered and retained intraorally a few minutes before the start of a procedure can suppress the gag reflex, allowing a mandibular block to be given with much greater ease, which further reduces the gagging reflex.

Tablets can be prescribed for home use for patients who can not properly perform oral hygiene procedures due to the gagging problem. Severe gaggers may need to repeat a dose in 15 to 20 minutes. (Dent Today. 1991 Dec;10(9):68-71)

Some patients and dentists prefer to use electrolyte lollipops.

July 23, 2006

UHMS Announcements

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 2:16 pm

8 NEW CLASSIFIEDS were listed

The National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology (NBDHMT) launches their new website (

The new site has been designed so that it is more user friendly and provides the information that you need and want. As you navigate around the website you will find a short “History of the NBDHMT”, some information on “Who we are”, a “Resource Manual” for CHT’s, DMT’s and CHRN’s, the “Testing Schedule”, “Approved Training Facilities”, an “Online Store”, and a list of our “Board of Directors” complete with email addresses and a “Contact” page. The Resource Manuals contain all of the information, with forms, that you need to attain your certification/recertification. You can download these manuals and forms to your files and use them as a quick reference. A listing of all members certified through the NBDHMT will be added to the website in the near future.

If you have any suggestions as to how we can make this website more useful please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Paul C. Baker, CHT
NBDHMT, President
1816 Industrial Blvd.
Harvey, LA 70058
fax: 504.366.1029

Undercurrent Online Update

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 2:00 pm

Dive News
July 18, 2006

Malaria Risk in the Bahamas: In June, 18 people tested positive for malaria on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas. Of these, 2 were from the U.S., 1 from Canada, and 1 from Germany. The Centers for Disease Control ( is temporarily recommending that travelers to Great Exuma take chloroquine, an antimalarial medication, as a preventative (it requires a prescription), and use mosquito repellents containing 30 to 50 percent DEET. No cases of malaria have been reported beyond Exuma and there are no health advisories for other islands. (Centers for Disease Control, July 17)

See also: Travel Medicine
Biting Insects, Malaria and Lariam

Scubapro Recalls X650 Second Stages: A serious manufacturing error could cause the cover and diaphragm to become dislodged, interrupting air flow underwater: Affected X650 regulators have been sold overseas since 2004 and in the U.S. since mid-2005. Owners should contact Scuba Pro at (800) 808-3948 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PDT, Monday through Friday, or visit their website at The company promises to send out a free replacement regulator within 30 days.

Dangerous Error in Suunto Computer Software: Certain models of Suunto’s D6 and D9 wrist computers have a software bug that may cause them to track time wrong when the computers automatically recalibrate to the correct time, or when the user updates the seconds in set mode. Suunto estimates these models will malfunction one out of 167 dives. When the error occurs, the computer shorts a dive by 25 percent and the surface interval by 25 percent. An hour dive would show as 45 minutes, an hour surface interval as 45 minutes. The error could seriously affect decompression requirements. The products affected are: D9, serial numbers 62102582 and below, and D6, serial numbers 62103693 and below. See Return it to your dealer or e-mail the Suunto Help Desk at Or call 1 800 543 9124 in the USA and Canada. Suunto is also providing the free update for computers purchased through gray marketers such as Leisure Pro.

Big Animal Encounters: No trip leader offers more thrilling trips for serious photographers than award-winning photographer Amos Nachoum. He’s offering two in May 2007 to Malpelo and Cocos Islands, the first led by Dr. Sylvia Earle, a leading marine environmentalist and National Geographic resident scientist, the second by Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, astronaut and environmentalist. Boats are the SeaHunter and UnderSea Hunter. Undercurrent subscribers will get a five percent discount and free Nitrox. Contact him at or phone 415 923 9865. Visit

Fiji Fish Poisoning: Ciguetera poisoning can provide severe bends-like symptoms – heavy legs, exhaustion, tingling, prickling or numbness of the skin, abnormally low blood pressure, and slower than normal heart rate – that can last for months. It comes from eating affected fish, normally barracuda and larger fish that get it by ingesting smaller fish carrying the toxin. Though uncommon, it occurs worldwide cannot be detected in the flesh of the toxin-carrying fish. Undercurrent readers and others at the Kadavu Dive Resort in Fiji were struck after a fish dinner in late June. They didn’t get proper treatment and are still reporting serous symptoms . See the full story in the August issue, as well as how to treat it should you encounter it.

See also:
Ciguatera references
50 references concerning ciguatera. … [Ciguatera: from the etiology of the phenomenon to the treatment of its symptoms] …

Ingested Toxins
CIGUATERA. The toxin, icthyosarcotoxin, is heat stable, lipid soluble and comes from the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus. It is common in the tropics, …

Help Save Coral Reefs: Undercurrent has raised more than $7000 for important projects to stop poaching and preserve reefs in Belize and Fiji. We need to double that amount. Please give back to the reefs you love my making a tax deductible contribution at We will send you a receipt acknowledging your tax deductible donation.

Reproduced with permission from Ben Davison, editor/publisher


Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 1:58 pm


Date: September 9, 2006

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Physicians, Podiatrists, Dentists $100.00
All other allied health professionals $50.00

Register by calling 339-335-8599

Additional information please visit

THMS: 2006 Toronto Hyperbaric Medicine Symposium

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 1:51 pm

2006 Toronto Hyperbaric Medicine Symposium
Date: September 29, 2006
Location: Toronto General Hospital (MaRS building)

THMS Themes:
* Technological Frontiers * Critical Care
* Clinical Chamber Ergonomics * Preconditioning with HBOT
* Osteogenesis * Radiation Injury Managment
* And More…

The THMS is a 1-day symposium that focuses on research level topics. The morning will feature both thematic and pleanry sessions proveded by leaders in hyperbaric medicine. The afternoon will be varied and consist of small group sessions as well as hands-on demos. The opportunity for interaction with faculty is a priority of the meeting.

For More Information, Updates, & Early-Bird Specials: Visit us online at:

Course Director: A. Wayne Evans, MD

Should All Divers be Screened for PFO?

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 1:11 pm

An increased prevalence of brain lesions has been found in divers even in the absence of recognized decompression illness. Permanent neuropsychological changes such as memory disturbances and depression have been found in professional divers, even in those who have never had decompression sickness. The changes are probably the result of intravascular gas bubbles insufficient to cause acute symptoms. A study examined amateur divers with long histories of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus diving by magnetic resonance imaging and compared them with normal controls. Hyperintense lesions of the subcortical cerebral white matter and degenerative changes of the cervical disks were significantly more common in the divers. 27 of 52 divers had a total of 86 focal hyperintensities versus 10 of 50 controls with 14 focal hyperintensities (p
There is a study that was done in 2001 in Finland that found that ear oximetry fit the bill for all of these factors. As reported in Stroke. 2001;32:448, “Ear Oximetry: A Noninvasive Method for Detection of Patent Foramen Ovale”, the following results were noted:—Dye dilution curves were obtained from 67 patients. Dye dilution correctly diagnosed 35 of the 46 patients who had PFO in TEE and all the 21 patients without PFO. Thus, the sensitivity (95% CI) of the dye dilution method was 76% (61% to 87%) and its specificity 100% (84% to 100%). Ear oximetry was done on 83 patients. Oximetry correctly diagnosed 45 of the 53 patients who had PFO in TEE and all of the 30 patients without PFO. Thus, the sensitivity of ear oximetry was 85% (72% to 93%) and its specificity 100% (88% to 100%). When only the largest shunts were included, oximetry had a sensitivity of 93% (38 of 41).The interrater agreement was excellent ({kappa} value 0.94 for dye dilution and 0.90 for oximetry).

Conclusions—Dye dilution and oximetry are both sensitive and specific methods for the detection of PFO. Oximetry has the following primary advantages over the currently available diagnostic methods: it is noninvasive, safe, and inexpensive and causes no discomfort for the patient. We suggest that oximetry could be used as a first-line screening method for PFO in patients with cryptogenic stroke. Ear oximetry also has potential use in epidemiological studies. [Vesa Karttunen, MD et al from the Department of Neurology (V.K., M.H.) and the Department of Cardiology (M.I., M.N.), Oulu (Finland) University Hospital; and the Department of Cardiology (M.V.), Helsinki (Finland) University Central Hospital. ] Full Text at .

Scientists in Switzerland have also found that those with PFOs more than 9mm in diameter had a much higher risk of DCI. They were up to 13 times more likely to have ended up in a chamber for treatment and five times more likely to have had major DCI than divers without a PFO or divers with a small PFO.

Research by Dr Peter Wilmshurst, a British expert in this field, has confirmed the importance of PFO size. He says: ‘There is no doubt that here, as in most things, size really does matter. The bigger your PFO, the greater your chance of getting bent. But to put this into perspective, only 1.3 per cent of the population have PFOs that are 10mm in diameter or larger and these people suffer between 30 and 40 per cent of all bends.’

Dr. Avi Shupak, Haifa, Israel writes :
I have read with great interest your excellent summary on PFO as a risk factor for DCI and long term neurological effects in divers.

I would like to draw your attention to a recent article published in Mayo Clin Proc 2006;81:602-8 (Petty GW, et al. Population-based study of the relationship between PFO and cerebrovascular ischemic event.). The study results showed that PFO is not an independent risk factor for cryptogenic ischemic stroke or TIA. The data analysis also included separate evaluation of large PFO as a risk factor that reach identical conclusion.

Although the damage mechanism of paradoxical gas emboli (anticipated during a dive) might differ from the pathogenesis of cerebrovascular event by solid emboli, the remarks of the authors about possible methodology flaws in previous studies reporting PFO to be a risk factor for cryptogenic CVA might be of relevance to parallel studies in divers.

Best Regards,

Avi Shupak, MD

Haifa, Israel

We posted this article May 30, 2006 without very much comment. See

See also:
Patent Foramen Ovale

B. Meier and J. E. Lock
Contemporary Management of Patent Foramen Ovale
Circulation, January 7, 2003; 107(1): 5 - 9.
[Full Text] [PDF]


Suunto Dive Computers Recalled After Decompression Hazard

Filed under: Uncategorizedscubadoc @ 9:29 am

Suunto Dive Computers Recalled After Decompression Hazard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in conjunction with Suunto Oy, of Finland, is issuing a voluntary recall for 3,900 Suunto D9 and D6 Model Wristop Dive Computers.

Suunto has found that these dive computers could incorrectly track dive time, which could cause incorrect calculation of decompression requirements, possibly leading to decompression illness.

There have been no incidents or injuries reported but the company still feels the product is unsafe.

The dive computers in question are the D9 and D6 diving instruments which are advanced, gas-switching, multi-mode, decompression dive wristop computers.
The products included are: the D9 model with serial numbers 62102582 and below; and the D6 model with serial numbers 62103693 and below. The serial number is located on the side of the product. The model number is located on the back of the product.

The computers were sold at diving specialty shops nationwide, as well as various Web sites, from September 2004 through June 2006 for about $1,275 for the D9 (without wireless transmitter) and $900 for the D6.

Divers should only use these dive computers with backup instrumentation and should bring the recalled units to the nearest authorized Suunto dealer for a software update to correct the problem. A free battery replacement and pressure testing will be provided as part of the free software update service. All updated products will be marked with an indelible white dot on the back of the unit, or with an engraved “U” near the serial number.

Consumer Contact: For additional information and a list of authorized retailers, visit Suunto’s Web site at, call Suunto at (800) 543-9124 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday, and between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Friday, or email the firm at

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