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Alkali Flies Good at Scuba Diving: Scientists Explain Why!

These Alkali flies have evolved to crawl under water so they can feed on the abundant food, alga, that grows there.

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Alkali Fly and Scuba Diving
An alkali fly creates a protective bubble in order to dive in Mono Lake, California, in this June 2017 photo released on Nov. 20, 2017. VOA
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A small fly that thrives at an inhospitable California lake east of Yosemite National Park long has perplexed observers who watch as it crawls into the severely salty and alkaline water, snacks on some algae or lays some eggs, then emerges dry as a desert.

Research published on Monday finally explains the secrets of this scuba-diving insect.

These quarter-inch-long (6-mm) alkali flies possess specialized traits that let them conquer Mono Lake, scientists found. They are covered in a large quantity of fine hairs coated with special waxes that let them encapsulate themselves in a body-hugging bubble that protects them from water that would doom an ordinary insect.

“The flies have found a great gig — all the food they want with few predators. They just had to solve this one tricky problem,” said California Institute of Technology biologist Michael Dickinson, co-author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

All insects are hairy and water repellant to some degree.

These alkali flies, whose scientific name is Ephydra hians, have magnified both traits to overcome the extreme conditions of Mono Lake, considered among the “wettest” water on Earth with a slippery, nearly oily feel. The water tends to attach to any surface due to exorbitant amounts of sodium carbonate, a chemical used in laundry detergent.

“The study provides a clear example of evolution in action,” added co-author Floris van Breugel, a former Caltech postdoctoral scholar now at the University of Washington.

“The flies have evolved to crawl under water so they can feed on the abundant food, alga, that grows there. The lake has no fish because the fish cannot live in the harsh chemicals of the lake. Thus, the flies have no major predators in the lake. Fish are why most insects would be crazy to crawl under water.”

American author Mark Twain was among those who remarked about these flies at the 12-mile-wide (19-km) Mono Lake, which is three times saltier than the Pacific Ocean. They also live at Oregon’s Lake Abert and Utah’s Great Salt Lake, also salty and alkaline.

The flies use sharp foot claws to crawl into the water from rocky outcroppings. Their hairy bodies trap a layer of air that envelops them in a protective bubble, except for the eyes to permit good underwater vision. After eating or laying eggs, they let go and float to the surface, where the bubble pops, leaving them safe and dry. (VOA)

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Most Underrated Dive Beaches Around The World

If you’re ready to get off the beaten track and explore some of the world’s most underrated dive sites you’re going to need to make sure you have all the essential equipment

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Enjoy your diving trip to any one of these amazing and underestimated diving spots and have a vacation to remember! Flickr

If you love scuba diving you’ve probably already visited some of the planet’s most popular dive spots. Bali, the Maldives and the Red Sea are just three of the best known places that keen divers flock to every year. However, there are lots of other dive beaches around the world that are well worth seeing but which are shockingly underrated. Here are some of the best kept secrets for adventurous divers out there who want to get off the beaten track.

Thailand – Koh Lipe

While Koh Lanta, a few hours further north is a well-known diving hotspot, Koh Lipe is a surprisingly beautiful place to explore the underwater world. The picturesque beaches here have stunning turquoise water and some spectacular marine life. Seahorses, shrimps, ghost pipefish and stone fish are common residents here while the soft corals under the water’s surface make Koh Lipe a dream for drift divers.

Dive Beaches
Koh Lipe. Flickr

Canada – Newfoundland

While Canada isn’t well known for its warm and inviting waters, the beaches of Newfoundland are an amazing place to dive as long as you’re prepared for the chill! This north-east region of Canada may have cold temperatures but when you put on a dry suit and head underwater you’re sure to be impressed by the sea life here. Iceberg Alley is one of the best places to explore as you can see enormous ice chunks floating past. If you’re a fan of enormous marine creatures, minke and humpback whales can often be spotted in the summer months, while the sites just off St Johns are perfect for wreck divers. You can still see ship equipment and sailors’ belongings under the water thanks to the preserving properties of the cold water so head to Conception Bay to see no less than four shipwrecks under the water.

Malaysia- Perhentian Islands

While you may have experienced diving off Borneo, if you head 30 minutes away  to the north east coast of Malaysia you’ll find two islands that are the perfect spot for divers. Pulai Kecil and Pulau Besar are the Perhentian Islands and they are the perfect place for laid-back divers. You  can choose from deep much dives or shallow reef dives as well as several wreck sites. There’s also plenty of fish to see including scorpionfish, stingrays, snappers and black tip reef sharks.

Dive
Perhentian Islands. Flickr

South Africa – Coral Gardens, Cape Town

If you’ve ever headed to South Africa for a spot of diving you were probably cage diving with Great  Whites. However there are lots of other diving activities here that don’t involve getting up close and personal with all those terrifying teeth. Head to Coral Gardens off the Cape Peninsula and see amazing colors of coral as well as an enormous diversity of sea creatures. There’s an amazing kelp garden to explore as well as spectacular giant granite boulders and even better, if you’re a novice scuba diver you’ll still be able to get the most out of your trip since the deepest part of the site is just 18 meters.

Indonesia – Sulawesi

While most people who travel to Indonesia head to Bali, Sulawesi in the north is a perfect place for divers to explore. Once known as Celebes, this island has a distinctive squid shape and boasts some amazing diving opportunities. The crystal clear waters and spectacular sea life makes this one of the best places to get under the water. Not only that, but it’s also a wonderful place to find out more about the local culture, with the burial rites of the southern highlands being especially fascinating. You’ll certainly not regret arranging a diving trip to this out of the way location.

Dive
Sulawesi. Flickr

If you’re ready to get off the beaten track and explore some of the world’s most underrated dive sites you’re going to need to make sure you have all the essential equipment that you need. If you view this link you’ll find all the information you need to know about choosing the best diving gear to suit your requirements. The helpful advice that you’ll find will make your trip even better.

Enjoy your diving trip to any one of these amazing and underestimated diving spots and have a vacation to remember!