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Cozumel & Diving in the Sixties March 9, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Ecology.
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My in-laws had an old book collection that they gave to us, and one of the titles was World Beneath the Sea, by James Dugan, published by the National Geographic Society in 1967. Dugan was long involved with Jacques Cousteau and edited many of his books, and died of a heart attack at sea in 1967 before the book was published.

The book is full of colour plates (as you’d expect from this publisher) depicting divers with ancient Scuba gear. Suprisingly, most had single hose regulators, but as I expected there were no Buoyancy Compensators (occasionally a “horse-collar” flotation device, as this was introduced in 1961), Octopus regulators, depth gauges or submersible pressure gauges. When the angle was right you could see the pull  rod going up to the J-Valve.

This picture, published without permission which I think is OK under current copyright laws 42 years after publication, has the caption In a Coral Glade of Isla de Cozumel, Mexico, an amateur diver 70 feet down gathers swaying sea fans.

cozumel-sixties

The first thing to notice is the presence of large sea fans. You don’t see many of these in Cozumel these days. I doubt this is from the gathering efforts of amateur divers (which these days is quite frowned upon) but more likely the result of Hurricane Wilma.  Her dive gear is also pretty basic. A two stage regulator with no other attachments, a weight belt (on backwards by today’s standards – note the left hand release), a horse-collar buoyancy control device with oral inflation, a backpack mounted tank, and a swimsuit. The T-shaped yoke screw has gone out of fashion and I’m sure it was a real nuisance getting caught on things.

Strange to think that the woman in the picture must now be in her sixties. I wonder if she still dives.

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