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Dema Unveils Scuba Innovations

The scuba diving industry’s largest trade expo — the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association — was held earlier this month in Orlando. Exhibitors displayed the latest must-have dive gear and introduced vacation packages to such far-flung destinations as the Galapagos Islands and Palau. Here are some of the new diving innovations you can expect to see at retailers in the next few months:

Hydroacoustics Inc. Diver Interdiction System: Here’s a great way to shoo pesky divers from the lobsters hiding underneath your dock. For $60,000, you can buy a nonlethal, suitcase-sized unit that emits ‘acoustic bio-effects’ when a lobster diving rival or someone else gets too close. Just hang it over the side, and let it rip.

‘Anyplace where there’s an air cavity, that’s where it impacts,’ HAI sales director Tim Bibens said. ‘It’s very uncomfortable.’

If you would like to have incriminating video of the suspect, you can deploy the company’s Proteus 500 ROV. Priced at about $33,000, this remote-operated vehicle can dive as deep as 500 feet and be programmed to surface on its own.

It runs on batteries, so there’s no need to hook it up to shore power. Of course, its best uses are to inspect bridges and piers and to discover sunken shipwrecks.

Liquid Image Underwater Camera Mask: Underwater photographers no longer have to schlep around a camera and strobes to shoot pictures and video of colorful fish and coral. For about $150, you can have a dive mask, video/still camera and lights — all worn on your face. The Liquid Image is certified to 115 feet deep, with a 64 megabyte internal memory. Perfect for hands-free snorkeling, scuba diving, spearfishing or freediving.

Pegasus Thruster: Invented by a pair of Miamians, this innovative hands-free propulsion system was unveiled at DEMA in 2003. But company official Steve Williams said they needed to work out some bugs, so they held off on bringing it to market until now. Just strap the propeller on your scuba tank, press the button and fly along the reef at speeds of up to two knots. Williams said its 12-volt battery allows 35 to 40 minutes of continuous running, and it can operate as deep as 325 feet. At $2,375 for the basic unit, it’s not cheap. But just think, you will be channeling James Bond in Thunderball.

Morfin Turbo Delfin: If you saw a pair of these dive fins hanging up on a wall, you might mistake them for plastic angelfish decorations. But company president John Melius said their hydrofoil blades mimic some of nature’s best swimmers.

‘The best swimmers are the dolphins and whales,’ Melius said. ‘How many frogs swim across the ocean?’

Priced between $100 and $200, Morfins were designed to increase kicking power and allow easier cruising, Melius said.

‘It took me three years to realize I had engineered a fish,’ he said. ‘Well, that’s 450 million years of unbroken success.’

Neptunic shark suit: You could be mistaken for one of the Knights of the Round Table as you bop along the reef or perform underwater construction projects wearing this metallic outfit.

Previously available only to underwater filmmakers, the Neptunic now protects recreational scuba divers head to toe for the Hollywood celebrity-like price of $4,500.

So, if you are really that scared of species whose numbers have shrunk exponentially since the release of Jaws in the 1970s, whip out your Amex. Surfers, you really would turn a lot of heads navigating the breakers in this get-up.

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