Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Jump into the water or not? No fill. Just a Triton gill.

Diver Magazine Article May 2016
By Stephen Weir

The Triton - from an on-line sales brochure

 It is December 2016.  You are about to jump into 5 metres of water with a new untested Triton underwater gill in your mouth. What is going to happen after you take that leap of faith? If Triton performs the way its inventor says it will, the scuba-free dive era is here!
Triton claims you will be able to swim at a depth of 5m for 45-minutes without needing scuba gear. Your air is processed by the device from the water you are swimming in!
Not likely, says the New York City based Tech Insider magazine. They ask is the technology Triton touts more science fiction than fact?
Triton is South Korean designer Jeabyun Yeon’s brainchild. He describe it as  “a state-of-the-art oxygen respirator, that allows you to breath underwater at a maximum depth of 15ft by utilizing our ‘artificial gills’ technology and liquid oxygen technology.“
It looks like a scuba regulator with side wings.  “Gently bite into the mouthpiece, breathe normally, and enjoy a sense of underwater freedom!”
The Triton has holes in it that are smaller than water molecules; the water is kept out while oxygen flows in. It has a micro compressor that extracts and stores the oxygen in a small storage tank – allowing you to breathe naturally underwater.
“The artificial gill works with liquid oxygen to produce enough oxygen for a human to breathe,” says the company. It hopes to start shipping at year’s end.
 “It's easy to see the appeal of the handheld device. It looks seductively simple," writes Kevin Loria at the online Tech Insider. Despite a failed and then revived slick crowd-funding campaign, there's no evidence that this device actually works, experts told the Tech Insider.
The project is currently listed with IndieGogo, it is the second time the crowd funder has showcased the device. The first Triton campaign was withdrawn in March and money returned to investors following widespread claims of scam and substantive bad science surfaced.
Loria interviewed marine biologist Alistair Dove. “Dove notes that even if a device is 100% efficient at pulling oxygen from water, you'd still need to force enough water through a pump to collect all the oxygen required to breathe normally — upwards of five liters every 15 seconds,” writes Loria. “He calculated doing so would require a pump bigger than the Triton itself. Since there's apparently no water pump on the device, it's unlikely enough water could naturally pass through it while swimming to provide the oxygen needed.”
Loria also quotes Dr. Neal Pollock, research associate at the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology ( Duke University Medical Center).
"In concept it sounds very good and it's very exciting," Pollock says. “ It's not realistic, it's science fiction; more in the realm of James Bond in Thunderball or Jedi Knights in Star Wars: Episode I."
Dr. Pollock told Diver Magazine that he stands by Tech Insider. “I do have grave reservations concerning the promises (the Triton makers have) made. The technological jumps would have to be huge. Furthermore, the re-release of the (IndieGoGo) campaign included acknowledgment that the fundamentals described in the first  (IndieGoGo pitch) were untrue. The change in direction in the re-release also hold elements unlikely to be delivered.”
Diver and Triton - sales sheet picture
Triton hears the criticism.  They say that before delivering the first underwater gill technical data will be released.
 “Some followers have asked us to release more detailed information about Triton and how it works,” reads the company’s Facebook account. “We are going to release the information on the technical part of Triton as soon as we can … we don't have our patents ready … this is our company secret, we will (only) release all the technical information after our patents are signed.”
Investors believe!  Triton ‘s second go-round with IndieGoGo has already raised $385,000 (Triton asked for just $50,000). Triton is accepting orders at $299 per unit.
Meanwhile dive community social media criticism mounts.  On the popular Scuba Board divers say that Triton product videos are doctored and that fraud is being used to attracted investors and divers. One anonymous poster, Tri-Chicken, has made a YouTube parody of a Triton marketing video, replacing the gill with a rubber chicken.
The video was created for the people who still think that the most recent Triton video is proof that the device must work,” TriChicken told Diver. “This video was shot in less than half-an-hour of pool time.”
So, for investors and that diver wondering if he should jump in, TriChicken’s message is simple: wait till the eggs hatch (i.e. working device is made) before plunging in over your head.

 Editor’s note – Diver Magazine has been unsuccessful in reaching/interviewing Jeabyun Yeon

According to Triton (Indiegogo, the device costs $299 for investors) "Our Indiegogo campaign goal is to start shipping our first Tritons by December 2016? 

SIDEBAR - The project’s biggest selling tool is a YouTube video that explains how the Triton works.  Already over 1.1 million people have looked at the film – and the view count continues to rise
Meanwhile the parody video is getting an equally huge following. Tri-chicken’s YouTube is at:

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Panhandling for New Wrecks In the Gulf of Mexico

By Stephen Weir

·      From the June 2016 issue of Diver Magazine

OceanWind was sunk to create a new dive site for Florida Pan Handle divers. Close too shore and not too deep.  Not yet part of the Trail (but could be soon) wreck already a popular dive site

Florida Panhandle divers don’t have to apologize for having a sinking feeling tug, away at their C-cards.  Early this year OceanWind, a retired harbour tug was made environmentally safe, hauled out into the Gulf of Mexico and scuttled. Dive shops in Pensacola are already running scuba charters out to the first new artificial reef of 2016 and promise that there are more ships to be sunk this year and beyond!The OceanWind was a floating workhorse.  Built in 1952, she worked in the Pensacola Harbour pushing and pulling big ships as they came in and left port. The OceanWind has a massive engine to bully much bigger craft near the docks.  She was 30 metres long, 8 metres wide and 12 metres tall.

Panhandle snorkel shop - Photo Stephen Weir
In January, Pensacola’s Marine Resources Division sank the tugboat in 29 metres of water.   The newest Gulf of Mexico artificial reef is about 16 kilometres southeast of Pensacola and is far enough out into the Gulf to be in, most of the time, blue water.

The State of Florida takes a Field of Dreams approach to artificial reefs.  Sink one and a few divers will come.  Sink a lot of them and many many divers will come.  As a result the Ocean Wind is just one of hundreds of ships, airplanes, scrapped bridges and oil rigs that have been sunk off Florida’s three coasts over the past decade.  The State believes that artificial reefs boost the sport fishing and the sport diving industries.

 “ We are aggressive,” explains Florida County Commissioner, Steven Abramas. “Between 70 and 100 artificial reefs are deployed each year in Florida using a combination of state, federal, local and private money, including funds from the sale of fishing licenses. These reefs must be made of clean concrete, rock or heavy gauge steel. Ships, cars or other items are carefully cleaned before being placed on the ocean floor.”
Panhandle Dive Boat - Stephen Weir photo
The Florida Panhandle region has built a dive tourism industry one sinking at a time.  According to the Pensacola News Journal “data from a recent economic analysis for the FWC found that Escambia County’s Artificial Reef Program has an annual economic benefit of more than $150 million (US), while also supporting nearly 2,350 jobs.”

This drive to sink things off the Panhandle – they have also sunk two fighter jets - began in 2006 with the sinking of the Mighty O (or as it is called now “The Great Carrier Reef”). The USS Oriskany was a United States Navy Aircraft Carrier built shortly after the end of World War Two. She was scuttled in deepwater three hours out from Pensacola -- the Oriskany is the world’s largest artificial reef and considered one of the top ten wrecksites in the world.

The Oriskany was meant to the cornerstone of Florida’s Panhandle Trail – a dozen-must dive shipwrecks . Ironically, the ship that earned the Panhandle Trail the most media is probably the least dove of the 12 boats on the Trail. 
Divers swim deep along the side of the Oriskany 
aircraft carrier. 
The flight deck of the Oriskany is at 44m.
Photo – Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail
The wreck is a long, long boat ride out from shore, and the bottom-time of is very, very short, typically 25minutes or less.  Except in the late summer and early fall, the water is cold and the visibility can be limited.

Originally the flight deck of the Oriskany was at the edge of sport diving depths. But following Hurricane Gustave the 271 metre long warship sank a further 3 metres  putting the massive landing deck of the aircraft at a depth of 44 metres, out of the safety range of scuba (tech divers are free to explore the ship at any depth). Compressed air divers must stay on the bridge tower at 40 metres overlooking the deck.  When I was on her in 2014 many people I was diving with did a bounce dive onto to flight deck, making for a short bottomtime.

The flight deck of the Oriskany is at 44m.
Photo by Stephen Weir
“ We have not done an archaeological inventory of the shipwrecks off the coast of the Panhandle,” said Franklin Price, an Archaeologist with Florida’s Bureau of Archaeological Research. “ We assume there are hundreds of them out there, but we need to get all the historic records in a wreck database.  I think that our Panhandle Trail with the Oriskany is highlighting (for tourist) the historical aspects, the ecological tourism and the recreational diving in the area”

For now neither the tug Ocean Wind nor the Voodoo fighter jets are included in the Panhandle Trail, although they could be added soon now that dive shops are taking divers out to them. “ We worked with the dive industry to figure out which wrecks should initially be on the Trail” he continued. “ No reason why new wrecks can’t be added.  Right now what is on the Trail are 10 artificial reef ships and 2 that were sunk naturally”


Currently on the Trail there are 12 shipwrecks near Pensacola, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe, Florida.
The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail offers a unique passport program highlighting discovered facts and historical data for each of the shipwrecks along the Trail. Whether exploring the largest artificial reef in the world – the USS Oriskany,or marveling at the wonder of Mother Nature’s arrangement of two tugs situated atop one another on the FAMI Tugs – divers and snorkelers can track experiences with the official Panhandle Shipwreck Trail Passport available from participating dive shops and dive charter operators or by visiting