Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Free-diving

Fish and Game Q&A: Can I have a 'spare air' device with me when abalone diving?

Abalone may be taken only by freediving without the assistance of scuba or surface-supplied air.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: While abalone diving, I would like to keep a very small, emergency supply of air on my person as a safety precaution. The device would be shrink-wrapped to indicate evidence of use. The idea being that if the seal is intact, there would be no evidence of "use" and I would be in compliance with the law. The product I’m asking about can be seen at www.spareairxtreme.com/.

Would I be in violation of any of the regulations if I were to wear such a device while taking abalone, assuming I did not use the device and had sufficient evidence to prove such a claim? (Aaron L.)

Answer: The law prohibits the "use of scuba gear or surface-supplied air to take abalone" (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e)). According to DFG Lt. Dennis McKiver, this includes having it in your possession, even if you are not actually breathing off of it. The law also states that abalone may not be taken or possessed aboard any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. Since you are not allowed to have scuba gear in your possession on a boat while taking abalone (even if the scuba gear is not being used), to be consistent with the law, this "spare air" product would also not be allowed as the same principles apply.

Q: Spring turkey season is one of my favorite times of the year and I’m heading out for a gobbler next weekend. I do a lot of my hunting in prime hog country and like to combine my options when I’m there. I usually hunt with a bow but am considering carrying my .44 revolver for hogs, and a shotgun for turkeys. Could this cause a conflict if I’m stopped because the .44 is not legal for turkey hunting? If all lead restrictions are observed, would it be legal to carry the handgun while turkey hunting with a shotgun? What about carrying the handgun and the bow at the same time? (Phillip L.)

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I use an air tank while photographing abalone divers?

Abalone1 In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I would like to photograph abalone divers diving, but I need to use an air tank to obtain the imagery I want. How can I go about this without getting in trouble with Department of Fish and Game? (Andrew B., Salt Lake City)

Answer: It is legal for you to photograph abalone free-divers while you are using a tank, as long as you observe a couple of regulations.

According to DFG Associate Marine Biologist Ed Roberts, the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e) prohibits the use of scuba gear or surface-supplied air while taking abalone. If you are using a tank while photographing abalone free-divers, you cannot assist them with taking abalone. You cannot help them pop abalone off the rocks, or spot abalone for them, or do anything else that could be construed as giving assistance in taking abalone. In addition, under this section the possession of abalone is prohibited aboard a vessel that also contains scuba gear or surface-supplied air. This means you will have to use a separate boat -- you cannot board the same boat that the abalone free-divers are using while you are using scuba gear.

Q: Is it legal to use mice as bait for stripers and bass? (Chris M.)

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Free-diver holds breath underwater for 19 minutes, 21 seconds, breaking world record

Switzerland's Peter Colat during his successful attempt to break the Guiness World Record for oxygen assisted static apnea, holding his breath for 19 minutes, 21 seconds while being underwater.

A Swiss man has broken the world record for holding one's breath underwater -- staying down for 19 minutes, 21 seconds.

Free-diver Peter Colat, 38, set the record time earlier this month in a water tank at a holiday fair in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Colat told London's Daily Mail that "the first 12 minutes were not a problem," and that his first feeling of the need to breathe came very late.

Per the Guiness World Records rules for oxygen assisted static apnea, Colat was allowed to breathe pure oxygen prior to the attempt, to remove nitrogen from his lungs and bloodstream and delay the brain's warning signals of running out of air.

Colat broke the previous record, set by Italian Nicola Putignano, by 19 seconds. Prior to Putignano, the record was held by magician David Blaine, who in 2008 held his breath for 17 minutes, 4 seconds.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Switzerland's Peter Colat during his successful attempt to break the Guinness world record for oxygen assisted static apnea, holding his breath for 19 minutes, 21 seconds while underwater. Credit: Ennio Leanza / Associated Press / Keystone

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Santa Monica's Jana Strain sets freediving record in Denmark

Jana.Strainv2 Santa Monica's Jana Strain was among the star performers at the International Assn. for the Development of Apnea Individual Indoor Freediving World Championships at Aarhus, Denmark.

Strain, who is Canadian, set a new Pan American Women's Freediving Record with an underwater swim of 181 meters (594 feet) on one breath. Her swim lasted 2 minutes, 20 seconds, and she broke her existing record of 171 meters (561 feet). Strain is only the fifth woman to swim more than 175 meters on one breath.

"I was happy to do a clean performance," she said. "I felt strong and I'm excited to compete again [Saturday] in the finals. I was the first woman to swim today and I was surprised that I made the longest performance of the day."

Annabel Edwards of Kona was another star performer. She set a U.S. National, North American Continental and Pan American Record in the Dynamic No Fins discipline, with a swim of 120 meters (394 feet).

The competition is held biannually.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo of Jana Strain courtesy of Jana Strain

Fish and Game Q&A: Can I mail trout to someone out of state? Can he send me venison?

Garrett Arman, 8, took top kid honors at Gull Lake by catching a 5.4-pound rainbow on opening day of the eastern sierra trout season.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its efforts to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday afternoon or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I was wondering about the laws on mailing fish. A friend of mine took me to Eagle Lake a few years ago, and to return the favor I always bring him some fish on the way home. He is going to be moving to Kansas and I want to send him some of the prized fish. Is it legal to ship them through the mail? I know I can get live lobsters from Maine, but they are a commercial product. My friend also wants to try to send me some venison but we're not sure of the laws there either. Thank you for your help. (Steve)

Answer: Unfortunately, it is not legal to ship trout outside of California (FGC Section 2356.) You also cannot personally transport them to another state, unless you have a nonresident angling license or are on active military duty (in which case you may personally transport no more than one limit of trout across state lines).

As far as venison mailed across state lines, as long as the animal was taken legally in the state of origin, it can be shipped to a recipient in California for their personal use, provided the shipper complies with the following procedures:

According to Captain (ret.) Phil Nelms, both California (FGC Section 2348) and United States (Lacey Act) laws require that packages containing wildlife and being shipped by common carrier "... shall bear the name and address of the shipper and of the consignee and an accurate description of the numbers and kinds of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians contained therein clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof." In addition, a declaration form must be filed when importing fish, game, etc. (FGC 2353.) This form is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/docs/declaration_form.pdf.

Though it's not a requirement, it would be a good idea for your friend to include with his venison shipment a copy of his valid hunting license and tags for the deer, along with all information regarding where and when the animal was taken.

Question: I am going to be hunting 300 acres of private land for wild hogs in a few weeks with only my archery tackle gear. Can I carry a side arm in case of a charge by a large hog? I will be hunting with someone else but we will be in different areas and would like some protection. Is this legal? (Albert Q.)

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Swine flu won't prevent everyone -- this reporter included -- from visiting Mexico

Striped marlin on the hook.

Who'd have thought Mexico's bloody narco war would take a back seat to swine flu?

If there were justice in Mexico, the epidemic would be restricted to those involved in the illicit drug trade. But unfortunately it's indiscriminate, and prospective tourists undoubtedly now will entertain more second thoughts about visiting the country.

This is bad timing for me. I'm going as planned to the Los Cabos area on vacation, beginning Sunday. My airline ticket and hotel room are paid in full and I'm looking forward to catching marlin and lounging by the pool with cold cervezas. But I will not let the bartender squeeze a lime into my beer; I'll handle that responsibility and exercise the same precautions I exercise at home during flu season: Wash my hands often and avoid close quarters with anyone who appears remotely ill.

Some airlines are offering date changes or refunds. I'm not interested; I'm bolting for the land of abundant sunshine and a refreshingly beautiful and seasonally bountiful Sea of Cortez.

I became mildly concerned after reading in the Washington Post that Baja California was one of the states where swine flu had surfaced. But the report did not mention Baja California Sur, a separate state, where few if any cases of swine flu have been reported.

"To date, no outbreaks in Los Cabos; I believe Tijuana is the place where they found it," said Tracy Ehrenberg, owner of Pisces Sportfishing and wife of a prominent local politician.

Jonathan Roldan, whose Tailhunter International outfitter service is located in La Paz, said in an interview with 976-TUNA that "the biggest worry down here is that people are worried up there," and that he knows of no swine flu cases in the Baja California Sur capital.

That's good enough for me. I just hope too many  people aren't coughing on the airplane. I hate when that happens.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Striped marlin on the hook. Credit: Bill Wilson

Mexico's drug war doesn't add up as a safety threat to tourists

El Arco frames the Cabo San Lucas shoreline.

I recently booked a May round-trip Alaska Airlines flight to and from Cabo San Lucas for a base price of $150.00. The after-tax rate of $249 is perhaps the lowest I've paid for a trip to Land's End in 20 years.

Of course if you've watched the news, you know that Mexico is now ruled entirely by drug lords and crooked cops. I'll have to dodge bullets, inspect shadows for kidnappers and check my fish cooler for human heads.

But sometimes you just have to let caution fly and have some fun....

Seriously, the U.S. media, despite admirable coverage of most aspects of Mexico's high-profile drug war, have frightened thousands into believing they face certain peril if they set foot in Mexico.

In truth, many stand at least as good a chance of becoming a murder victim in or near their own communities.

So implies Frank Koughan, executive editor of the Burro Hall website and a former producer for CBS News' "60 Minutes."

In a recent blog post, Koughan, who for nearly three years has lived in Queretaro on mainland Mexico, repeated a point I've stressed often on Outposts: That the vast majority of the 7,000 or so people murdered in Mexico during the past 16 months were involved in the illicit drug trade or worked for law enforcement agencies fighting the narco war.

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Giant spiny lobster, wrested from island cave, gets new home at Monterey Bay Aquarium

LobsterNow starring in the Enchanted Forest section of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Splash Zone is an 11-pound lobster that was intended as table fare, but its captor (pictured) just didn't have the heart.

Tom Powers, an aquarium member, donated the monster bug he grabbed while freediving earlier this month (during open season) off the northwestern corner of Santa Rosa Island.

The California spiny lobster, estimated to be about 50 years old, was pulled from its cave, brought to the surface and transported to shore. But Powers decided it was too large and perhaps too old to eat, so he called the aquarium and asked if they wanted a new house guest.

"Needless to say, we're thrilled that a member of the aquarium felt bad about the prospects of eating such a remarkable animal and donated it so we could place it on exhibit," Ken Peterson, aquarium spokesman, said in an e-mail.

For more on Powers' story and some interesting information about California spiny lobsters, check out the aquarium's blog.

In the blog, Powers states: "I love to hunt and eat lobster. But giving this lobster to the Aquarium was by far the most gratifying experience I've ever had in all of my years hunting."

--Pete Thomas

Baja California Sur tries to shield itself from criminal element

Driving Baja California's transpeninsular highway means traveling through a sea of cactus and occasional stops at checkpoints.

Many aren't aware that Mexico's Baja California peninsula consists of two states: Baja California and Baja California Sur.

Now the latter, prompted by drug-related violence and other crimes occurring in the former, has enacted a three-point "shield" program it hopes will keep BCS safe and discourage criminals.

It's called "Baja California Sur, Estado Seguro," and it's essentially a stepped-up checkpoint effort that might, at times, represent a lengthy inconvenience for tourists.

The first phase was implemented at the ferry station in La Paz, an entry point for motorists from Sinaloa, which is home to the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel. The second phase was implemented near San Ignacio, close to the state's border with Baja California on Mexico's transpeninsular highway.

A third phase will be implemented at the international airport in Los Cabos. The shield program involves random checks that are much more thorough than those typically carried out. Mexican citizens and tourists are being fingerprinted and photographed, and asked to produce vehicle registration and vehicle identification numbers.

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Mexico's drug war, battered economy mean low air fares to La Paz and Cabo San Lucas

Kayakers paddle around La Paz.

Travelers interested in booking an inexpensive journey to La Paz, the beautiful capital of Baja California Sur, just missed out on a fantastic deal: $66 round trip.

In a promotion that ended Sunday night, thousands of seats were sold for travel throughout 2009 on Volaris Airlines.

Travel is via Tijuana's international airport but passengers using the airline, which is owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, can catch an airline shuttle from the train station in San Diego directly to the terminal.

"They sold 100,000 seats in 12 hours and their server crashed," Jonathan Roldan, owner of the outdoors outfitter Tailhunter International, said of the promotion. "It was a mad rush. I've been dealing with it all weekend."

Meanwhile, good deals remain throughout the busy spring season on Volaris and other airlines to La Paz and the Los Cabos region at Baja California's tip.

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Economic worries won't stop Fred Hall show from ushering in fishing season


Sales might not be as brisk during this year's Fred Hall Fishing Tackle and Boat Show at the Long Beach Convention Center, but thousands will attend regardless of the beleaguered economy to help usher in the spring fishing season.

The 68th rendition of the show will run March 4-8 and boast more than 3,000 exhibits, and offer almost nonstop seminars. Trucks, boats, kayaks and trailers will be for sale, along with every type of fishing excursion and modern fishing product known to man.

You can subscribe to any of numerous fishing magazines -- Fish Taco Chronicles has nothing to do with Mexican food but is crammmed with stories and photos -- and meet such radio/TV personalities as Pete Gray, Philip Friedman, Dan Hernandez and Ronnie Kovach.

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Hawaii is paradise, but only for the few who are unaffected by the economy

Diamond Head looms over beachgoers on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

If you're like a lot of people, you've canceled or shortened your annual trip to Hawaii because you're worried about finances in what is looking more and more like a great depression.

As for Hawaii, one of the world's premier destinations for outdoors enthusiasts, the term "paradise" no longer applies to many of its residents. The jobless rate, in part because of a devastated tourist sector, reached a 10-year high at 5.5% in 2008, according to figures released this week.

And that figure is expected to soar higher in 2009.

A geographical breakdown:

-- Honolulu: 4.2%

-- Molokai: 11.6%

-- Maui: 6.5%

-- Hawaii: 7.1%

-- Kauai: 7.7%

-- Lanai: 6.2%

For the sake of comparison, Michigan is the state with the the highest jobless rate at 10.6%. California, which is closest to Hawaii in terms of air travel, ranks fourth at 9.3%.

The weather may indeed be beautiful, and we wish we were there to help out. But ...

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Diamond Head looms over beachgoers on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times


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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.