Article: The Atlantic on motion sickness

Tony checking out the fishing boat
Tony checking out the fishing boat

Travelling – by boat, car, bus – is supposed to be fun. If you suffer from motion sickness (sea sickness while on a boat), it isn’t. This feels like punishment, and Julie Beck in The Atlantic puts it better than I could:

For so long as man has attempted to tame and traverse the sea, the sea has punished him for it. With barfing.

If you are susceptible, you may have attempted to manage your motion sickness by various means, not excluding ginger biscuits. You may have settled on a gentle medical solution, which works quite well if you remember to take it before setting off on a journey.

The science of motion sickness turns out to be fairly complex and our understanding of it is not yet settled. Beck’s article explains the physical mechanisms at work when we get motion sick and the theories that explain the phenomenon, some of which are supported by the results of new genetic studies done by 23andMe. Sufferers will receive small consolation to hear that their sea sickness can be partly explained by their gender  or age, but may glean some understanding of when they are most susceptible to an uncomfortable ride.

Read the full article here.

FAQ: If I bleed in the water, will I attract sharks?

Hollywood has a lot to answer for!

For the girls

Ladies
Ladies

I get asked this question quite often by girls who are worried about diving while menstruating. The short answer, which should make you breathe a sigh of relief, is no – regardless of what feminine hygiene products you prefer to use. (While we’re on the subject – forgive me boys – but tampons are perfectly safe to use while scuba diving and nothing strange or frightening happens to them inside your body on a dive. If you’re really worried, and there’s no reason to be, use a Mooncup – get one at Wellness Warehouse.)

DAN has a useful answer to this question on their international website. The research that has been done indicates that menstruating women are at no greater risk of shark attacks than men, or women who aren’t on their period.

What you should be aware of is that if you’re a woman, you’re more susceptible to dehydration during your period, which in turn increases the risk of decompression sickness. There is also research that indicates that the use of oral contraceptives may marginally increase a woman’s risk of DCS. So be sure to stay hydrated, do your safety stops, dive conservatively – and enjoy your diving!

For the boys (and the girls who are still reading)

Gents
Gents

Sharks are not interested in human (mammal) blood – they prefer fish! And what’s more, unless you’ve experienced massive trauma (in which case I doubt scuba diving will be the first thing on your mind), only miniscule quantities of blood will be leaking out into the water – whether it’s because you’ve got a cut or scratch on your body, or (if you’re a girl) you’re menstruating.

(To clarify, in case you’re puzzled: I took these photos of the signs on the restroom doors at the Southern Sun Grayston hotel in Johannesburg with my dodgy cellphone camera while I was there for a conference in June. I’ve been itching to use them since, and frankly didn’t have time to organise a photo shoot of a woman in white trousers frolicking alone on a beach!)

Bookshelf: Diving science and physiology books

Sound boring? Doesn’t have to be. While your Divemaster instruction manual might make this stuff sound very dry, learning about what happens to the human body while breathing gas under pressure doesn’t have to be. Find some inspiration from this reading list when your theory gets too boring, or remind yourself of what you’re supposed to know already (if you’re a bit rusty).

For beginning divers:

Recommended reading for Divemaster candidates:

Scuba accidents and how to avoid them: