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Beginners Guide to Exploring the Ocean - Part II

Scuba Diving 101 - Part II

A Beginners Guide to Exploring the Ocean

Originally posted on Porch.com


By


Paula Hernandez


Diving Preparation Tips



Before you “dive in,” there are several important things to consider. Remember that each step in the preparation process is vital to be comfortable and safe in the water. If you’re not familiar with swimming in the ocean, take a few swimming practice lessons before you start diving.

      Take local diving lessons: Before you spend money on scuba equipment and get your certification, it’s a good idea to take a few diving lessons near you. These lessons typically take place in a standard swimming pool, so you won’t need to travel long distances or live near the ocean to get in some basic practice.

      Get your certification: It’s recommended that you take the PADI Open Water Certification training before you start scuba diving. This course takes two full days to complete, with a lesson in diving theory completed beforehand. Once you receive your certification, it is good for life and never expires, so it’s well worth the effort upfront. If you’re traveling after you get your certificate, wait at least 24 hours from your last dive before you fly to your destination so your lungs can acclimate.

      Learn marine biology: You don’t need to be an expert in marine biology, but some certifications include a brief course to help you learn more about the fish, plants, and animals that inhabit our oceans. If your training doesn’t include marine biology, feel free to buy a few books on the subject or read articles about it online to help you learn.

      Get the right equipment: Every scuba diver needs the right equipment to ensure a safe dive.

o   How to obtain equipment: You can choose to rent your equipment from a scuba dive center near your dive location at a reasonable cost. However, if you’re planning to dive more frequently, investing in your own equipment is well worth the price. Key items include goggles or a face mask, a wetsuit, fins, a scuba tank, a regulator, a snorkel, and a depth gauge.

o   Bring a camera: Cameras and video cameras are optional, but they provide an amazing opportunity to capture incredible images and videos. Make sure that your camera equipment is designed for use underwater. A snoot is a great accessory that provides light to help you capture dramatic photos underwater. You can use it to adjust the lighting underwater for spectacular macro photography, and create the best photo album!

o   How much does it cost? Your dive training should cost between around $350 and $450 or more, depending on the type of certification and location. Personal equipment like fins, goggles, and wetsuits can run between $200 and $300 on the low side. If you’re investing in professional equipment such as gauges and cameras, plan to spend several hundred dollars more on each. Budget for between $700 and $1,000 if you’re a beginner, which should include your certification and all of the basic gear you’ll need to get started.

o   Where to store your equipment at home? Proper Storage is the key to keeping your scuba equipment in good condition. Rinse used gear off with a hose before putting it away to remove salt and mineral buildup. Ensure that every item is completely dry before putting it in storage. Hang wetsuits up in a clean, dry area away from direct sunlight or high temperatures. You can keep equipment like your snorkel, fins, and facemask in a sealed plastic container or a plastic bin with a lid in between dives.

Planning Your Trip


Once you’re certified and have all of your equipment, it’s time to start planning your first official dive.

      Find the best place to scuba dive: If you’re staying within the United States, there are several fascinating places to discover. Try Monterey, California, home to a massive kelp forest filled with a fantastic range of sea life. Ginnie Springs, Florida, has crystal clear waters and is an excellent East Coast option with three dive sites within the park. Maui, Hawaii, is home to many popular scuba diving sites filled with turtles, fish, rays, and unique underwater lava tubes. Explore several options to dive near you or plan a trip to an exotic location to discover new worlds and species.

      Choose a dive shop: When looking for dive shops, make sure they are PADI certified for your safety. These dive shops are easy to find with a simple Google search or via scuba diving Facebook groups and on Twitter and other social media outlets.

Important Scuba Diving Safety Tips


Part of your diving certification training will include information about the safety precautions every diver should take. Here are some basic safety tips to always keep in mind before, during, and after a dive.

      Get a medical examination: If you’re fit and healthy, a medical exam is not required, but it can help to ensure that you’re in good health before you start diving. If you feel unwell, don’t dive until you’re feeling completely healthy. You’ll need to sign a medical statement before you dive, so it’s best to confirm that you’re in good shape before you start.

      Food: Stick to light, well-balanced meals before any scuba diving trip and wait at least two hours before getting in the water. Remember to drink plenty of water and avoid consuming any alcohol on the day of your dive.

      Sleep: Make sure that you get plenty of restful sleep the night before your dive. At least six hours is recommended, but eight is preferable.

      Ear pain: You may notice mild ear discomfort called ear barotrauma when you dive due to a pressure imbalance between the middle ear canal and the water pressure outside your ears. Use an exercise called the Valsalva maneuver to help restore the balance in your ears.

      How long before can you fly after scuba diving? Always wait at least 24 hours after your last dive before you fly. When you fly in a pressurized environment, it can cause decompression sickness if you don’t give the nitrogen in your lungs time to dissipate.

      Listen to your dive guide: Listen carefully to your dive guide, and make sure that you always keep them within view. Follow the guide’s instructions regarding where you will be going, what you should do, and what to look out for.

      Try meditative breathing: If you feel anxious while diving, slow down and take some deep, meditative breaths. Two short inhales, and one long exhale can help you feel calm and more relaxed.

      Don’t touch anything: Never touch anything while you’re diving. Coral reefs and oceans contain a variety of species that can be poisonous or even deadly. Plus, touching plants and marine life can cause harm to the living things in the ocean.

     Can scuba diving be sustainable? Scuba diving can be a sustainable sport if you follow a few basic practices. This includes never touching or taking anything from the ocean, never feeding sharks, and learning to use a flash camera correctly. Avoid using single-use plastic while on-board so that it doesn’t accidentally get into the ocean. Choose a scuba dive program that focuses on sustainability and uses good policies regarding eco-friendly equipment and methods.


Other Fun Underwater Activities: Snorkeling




Aside from scuba diving, you can also have fun underwater with snorkeling. While scuba diving involves using an underwater apparatus that allows you to go deep underwater, snorkeling lets you explore shallower waters. When you’re snorkeling, you will stay near the surface of the water and use a mask and a breathing tube called a snorkel. You’ll be able to discover beautiful panoramic underwater views from above without ever having to deep dive underwater. Snorkeling is also a great alternative to scuba diving for children, beginners, or those who simply want to enjoy a quick hour or two of exploring without complicated equipment.


The sport of scuba diving provides you with a wonderful way to reflect and do something you love. It’s also an excellent opportunity to try a new activity, get some exercise, and gain a new appreciation for the beauty of our world’s open waters. Scuba diving shows you how fragile nature is, and it opens your mind to exploring and discovering new species, environments, and much more. 

Originally posted on Porch.com


By

Paula Hernandez

Beginner’s Guide to Exploring the Ocean - Part I

Scuba Diving 101 - Part I

A Beginners Guide to Exploring the Ocean

Originally posted on Porch.com


By


Paula Hernandez



Scuba diving is a fascinating sport that provides you with a wonderful way to open yourself up to discovering new worlds and new experiences. Even if you’re new to scuba diving, it’s a great way to get out and explore the world while getting healthy exercise. The ocean is a place filled with wonder, and scuba diving allows you to experience this incredible part of nature in an up-close and personal way. When you are scuba diving, it will enable you to be present and to get inspired in new, creative ways. This fun sport can become your new favorite hobby, or you might even advance to becoming an expert in the sport over time. You can also enjoy traveling, swimming, and capturing amazing photographs as part of the diving experience. It’s a great way to enjoy spending time alone or with your friends, and also gives you the chance to meet new fellow scuba enthusiasts. As you learn to scuba dive, you’ll learn how to control your breathing, listen to your heartbeat, and simply soak up the moment as you’re filled with wonder and awe. This guide has some helpful tips for beginners, so you can rid any fears of the unknown and dive into a new adventure.

Fascinating Facts About the Ocean



The ocean is an inspiring and mysterious place. Here are a few fantastic and fascinating facts about the world’s oceans.

      97-percent of the earth’s water consists of the ocean, and seven percent of the oceans are covered by sea ice.

      The Great Barrier Reef is so large that it can be seen from the moon.

      There are 230,000 known marine species, but over two million are estimated to exist.

      The Bahamas has the largest underwater cliffs in the world, with a sheer drop of up to 13,100 feet.

      Many species living at the bottom of the ocean glow in the dark. This process is a chemical reaction called bioluminescence.

      The oceans travel along the Global Ocean Conveyor Belt, and it takes 1,000 years for water to make a complete journey around the earth.

What is Scuba Diving?


Scuba diving is the sport of diving underwater with help from equipment that allows you to breathe while you’re submerged. The term SCUBA is an abbreviation for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Tanks that contain compressed air are used to deliver life-sustaining oxygen to your lungs while you’re deep underwater. The tanks contain a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen and are delivered through a breathing tube that attaches to your mouth. It takes training and practice to learn how to scuba dive safely, so taking lessons from a professional is highly recommended. Once you have the process down, scuba diving is a fun way to get out and explore the oceans in a fascinating way.

Species You Might Find While Diving


Scuba divers have an incredible opportunity to see a variety of unique marine fish and animals that most people will never see. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of marine species out there, including unusual fish, coral, shellfish, and crustaceans. A few of the species you might find include sharks and manta rays. Depending on where you dive, you’ll have an incredible opportunity to discover a myriad of amazing coral species in a range of vibrant colors and unique shapes. Tropical waters are full of vibrant fish like clownfish, amazing octopi, and starfish in a wide variety of unusual shapes and sizes. You’ll also likely run into different crab species like the Japanese spider crab, the pea crab, and the coconut crab. The further out you go and the deeper you dive, the more variety of species you’ll see.


Please read Part II of this great article about the Ocean and Scuba Diving 

Clich Here -->  Part II  <-- Click Here

Philippine Islands Open to Travel - February 10, 2022

Philippine Islands Open to Travel

February 10, 2022

Great news! The Philippines are opening to international tourism February 10, 2022 and Atlantis will be open to welcome you back to the Philippines!

Starting February 10, 2022, the Philippines will allow entry of internationally arriving Filipinos and foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated and present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from their country of origin with no quarantine.


Manta Trust - Mantas in the Maldives

Manta Trust

Mantas in the Maldives

Research and Conservation

 -->  Visit the Manta Trust Website  <--

Most commonly found in warm tropical waters, manta rays are pelagic creatures that travel alone and in groups known as a squadron. Despite weighing more than 3,000 pounds, manta rays feed on small aquatic life like plankton. Pelagic life enthusiasts are drawn to manta rays not only because of their size but for their playful, curious temperament, and without any teeth or sting, they are perfectly safe to swim alongside. Mantas are believed to be extremely intelligent as they have the largest brains of all fish, and they live up to around 40 years. They are also creatures of habit, often returning to the same “cleaning stations” where smaller animals feed off the parasites on their bodies. 


      

Reef mantas, a large ray species, frequent Maldivian waters all year round but exist primarily in the western side of the atolls from November to April and on the eastern side from May to October. Scuba divers frequent the Baa and Addu atolls. The Baa atoll draws in hundreds of manta rays to feast on the zooplankton each year. Here, the mantas coexist with other creatures like whale sharks. At the Addu Atoll, manta rays glide through the water year-round, some of which have a wingspan of more than five meters. 

 

Despite their significant presence in the ocean and admiration from divers, manta rays remain a mystery. Formed in 2011, the Manta Trust is dedicated to research that furthers understanding and works to conserve rays and their habitats. Unfortunately, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the species are considered vulnerable due to pollution and commercial fishing threats. In response, the organization is founded on protecting this unique species of aquatic life.


The Manta Trust’s team has over 20 projects across the globe and collaborates with businesses, governments, individuals, and local communities to execute them. The organization is committed to education, specifically in using manta rays as an introduction to ecosystem conservation as a whole to ensure the long-term survival of these creatures.

 

The organization has also cataloged more than 5,100 manta rays in its database. This is done by logging the spot patterns on their stomachs as each manta ray’s spot pattern is unique, essentially acting as a fingerprint. In turn, this is used to track the mantas to learn their migration patterns, find which habitats are essential to their feeding and reproduction, and thus aids in the organization making educated decisions over how to best manage and conserve this species. Manta ray fanatics can take part in this effort to catalog the creature as the Manta Trust has an online portal in which people can submit images of manta ray stomachs that they find from their diving and snorkeling adventures.

 

In 2020 alone, the organization published 11 peer-reviewed papers exploring genetic analysis, behavior, and migration patterns. In addition to their research, the Manta Trust works with Fish Free February to raise awareness about the dangers of commercial fishing and works alongside the Protect Maldives Seagrass campaign to encourage businesses to protect seagrass beds instead of causing harm to them. The organization also played a role in adding manta rays to the Maldives’ protected species. 


The Manta Trust Maldives Team


 -->  Visit the Manta Trust Website  <--



Maldives Last Minute 50% OFF - Blue Force One Liveaboard

Blue Force One Liveaboard

Maldives Last Minute - 50% OFF

December 19-26, 2021


RATE PER PERSON INCLUDES
Transfers (airport - boat - airport), 7 nights onboard Blue Force One full board basis, beverages (water, tea, coffee), dives on air, S80 tank, weights, dive guides.

RATE PER PERSON DOES NOT INCLUDE
Flights to Male, Maldives taxes: $155; Green tax: $42; Service fee: $130; nitrox; soft drinks and alcohol; dive gear rental; softnolime for rebreathers; domestic flights for Southern routes.

    

    

Dive Cuba - Avalon III and Avalon IV Liveaboards

Dive Cuba 

Jardines de la Reina 

Avalon III and Avalon IV Liveaboards


Avalon III Package

Low Season: May 28th - Oct 1st. $ 2,975.
High Season: Jan 1st - May 28th / Oct 1st - Dec 31st. $ 3,950.

Prices are per person and based on double occupancy.
Program runs Saturday through the following Saturday out of Jucaro Port.

The JA3 has 4 suites with balcony and 11 standard cabins for a total of 15 cabins with a max load of 30 passengers.

PACKAGE INCLUDES

- 7 nights accommodation aboard the Jardines Avalon III (JA3)
- 3 dives/day (18 dives + 1 night dive)
- All meals and snacks while onboard
- 6 beverages per day (including alcohol, soft drinks and bottled water) 

       

Avalon IV Package

Low Season: May 28th - Oct 1st. $ 2,499.
High Season: Jan 1st - May 28th / Oct 1st - Dec 31st. $ 3,300.

Prices are per person and based on double occupancy.
Program runs Saturday through the following Saturday out of Jucaro Port.

The JA4 has 4 full suites, 4 demi-suites, and 12 standard cabins for a total of 20 cabins with a max load of 40 passengers.

PACKAGE INCLUDES

- 7 nights accommodation aboard the Jardines Avalon IV (JA4)
- 2 dives/day (12 dives + 1 night dive)
- All meals and snacks while onboard
- 6 beverages per day (including alcohol, soft drinks and bottled water) 

      

    

Coral Restoration - Vacation with a Purpose

Coral Restoration - Vacation with a Purpose

Atlantis Dive Resort - Dumaguete, Philippines

September 2022

 


Book a trip to Atlantis Resort Dumaguete and participate in a coral reef restoration project..!


In partnership with the Keys’ Coral Restoration Foundation, along with the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Utah and The Mead Foundation for sustainable development in the Philippines, this highly regarded 44-room tropical resort is busy building a large coral nursery in Dauin — and inviting visiting divers to help out for a week in September 2022. Restoration dives will involve collecting broken coral fragments from the reef and placing them on the nursery trees; at the same time, there’ll be educational sessions about coral ecology and conservation techniques.


Known for its frogfish and black volcanic sands, Dauin has long been a bastion of marine preservation in a country where 98% of the reefs are currently classified as threatened. The Atlantis Dumaguete Resort is situated just minutes from more than 20 dive spots, most are marine protected areas with reefs marked by buoys, where all activity is regulated and no fishing is permitted. Day trips from the resort include nearby Apo Island, Siquijor, and Oslob for snorkelling with whale sharks.


    

Ecuador Expands Marine Park Around the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador Expands Marine Park Around the Galapagos Islands

by Vanessa Buschschluter - BBC News

Link to Full Article --> BBC News Article

    

Conservationists have welcomed the announcement by Ecuador that it will expand the marine reserve around the Galapagos islands by 60,000 sq km.

 

President Guillermo Lasso announced the move at the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow. Mr. Lasso told the BBC that his government wanted to show that action rather than words was the most effective way to fight climate change. Conservationists called it "a brilliant first step". The existing marine protected area around the Galapagos measures 133,000 sq km and was one of the first large-scale marine conservation areas to be created. It is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. Conservationists hope that its expansion will protect the migration routes of endangered species such as the whale shark and make the reserve more resilient to climate change.

 

Among those praising the move is Sarah Darwin, the great-great-granddaughter of biologist Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution was inspired by the biodiversity he found on the Galapagos. Sarah, a botanist and an ambassador for the Galapagos Conservation Trust, told the BBC that she was "very, very excited that President Lasso is taking the Galapagos so seriously".

 

"We're really looking forward to taking further conservation measures forward with him both in the marine reserve and the islands themselves," she said. "This is a real commitment, I think." But the CEO of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, Sharon Johnson, said it was important that the resources be put in place to adequately protect the newly enlarged reserve. In 2020, a huge number of Chinese fishing boats were spotted in waters off the Galapagos with conservationists accusing the fleet of "pillaging" the area for squid.


   

President Lasso denied that the expansion of the marine reserve was a response to the Chinese fleet's movements, insisting it was "an autonomous decision of the Ecuadorean government". Mr. Lasso said that in his most recent conversation with the Chinese president he sensed "a clear commitment to respect Ecuador's maritime" and that he, therefore, hoped there would be no repeat of the scenes which had played out in 2020. He added that his government would swap debt for conservation to create a fund that would allow Ecuador to beef up navy patrols to protect the area and to provide artisanal fishermen working outside the marine reserve with support. 

 

The Galapagos and the seas surrounding them are a unique ecosystem home to whales, turtles, and tuna, explain Prof Sandy Tudhope and Dr. Meriwether Wilson from the University of Edinburgh. The fact that they are so rich in commercially important species is also what makes them so attractive to fishermen, say the two scientists, who were part of the team whose research underpinned the decision to expand the reserve.


Check out our Galapagos Liveaboards -->  Ecuador Liveaboards


Our thanks to Vanessa Buschschluter - BBC News for this article. Full article HERE.


      

Using the Pandemic Wisely - Deep Blue Dive Center

Using the Pandemic Wisely

Deep Blue Dive Center

Aqaba, Jordan

Like all dive centers around the globe, Deep Blue Dive Center in Aqaba, Jordan, was hit hard by the pandemic. Jordan closed its doors to tourists and required all tourism-related businesses, including dive shops, to be shuttered as well for several months.

Once employees could return to work, they did so. Tourists were still not allowed in Jordan, but there were a few guests coming from Amman and other parts of the country. Because the staff were not very busy, they began to focus their efforts on dive cleanups and started the Deep Blue Cleanup Team.



They made a concerted effort to rid a nearby dive site of years and years of fishing line, cleaning the newly opened Underwater Military Museum of the single-use plastic and aluminum cans that blow in off the shore of the public beach, and their house reef. From December 15th – June 29th they cleaned 1230 kilos of debris. Anywhere from 2 to 5 volunteer divers joined the staff in these cleanups. The dive center did not charge any of the volunteers for dives and if they wanted to do a fun dive afterward, they did so offering a 20% discount.  


Every one of those kilos of debris were sorted, counted, and weighed according to PADI Project Aware and then the data was uploaded on the Project AWARE website. Deep Blue partnered with their next-door neighbor, H&S Watersports, in these cleanup campaigns. The staff of H&S did several shore cleanups and gathered loads of plastic bottles, cigarette butts, plastic bags, and other items. In addition, two volunteers at the dive shop did a Go Fund Me campaign to help pay staff salaries for cleanups. They successfully raised $2835, exceeding their goal of $2800. And Deep Blue management was able to find other creative ways of funding salaries for the cleanups as well. All of this helped keep staff on board during the challenge of the pandemic.



When business started picking up after Jordan’s reopening to tourists, the cleanup campaign was slowed, but the effect of the work they did was apparent. Mohammed Leddawi, the Operation Manager, and owner of Deep Blue also used the downtime to give the business a facelift, ensure that all equipment was in top shape, ensure Covid measures were put in place, and work on improving the dive boats through remodels and refurbishing. All of this to improve customer experiences.

 

Slowly the dive center is rising from the pandemic. The pandemic was tough, and still is, on tourism-related businesses, but Deep Blue staff kept up good spirits though continuing to work hard and showing their love and concern for healthy reefs through regular cleanups. 


Learn more about Deep Blue Dive Center at: https://www.deepbluedivecenter.com


 

                                                                                  

Awesome Kelp Diving Destinations

Awesome Kelp Forest Diving 

7 of the World's Best Destinations

Most prevalent on North America’s west coast, kelp forests create one-of-a-kind diving experiences. The forests grow close to the shore in cool conditions, providing food and shelter for a plethora of marine life. The dense forests are home to small, young fish that are hiding from predators and larger creatures such as seals, sea lions, sea otters, snowy egrets, blue herons, and even whales. The kelp can grow to a height of 130 feet, creating a unique, hazy ambiance for divers. But North America is not the only kelp forest dive destination...!


                                                    


North America - California

The Golden State, while famous for its parks and landmarks, has an entire world to explore in its waters. Some of the most famous kelp forests are scattered throughout the Pacific shoreline, including destinations in San Diego, Catalina Island, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz.  


  • San Diego, California

One of San Diego’s most famous diving spots is the La Jolla Cove, which has a depth of 30 to 60 feet. The further north divers head, the rockier and thicker the terrain gets. Sea cucumbers, sea stars, tope sharks, and the seven-gill shark are often spotted. This site is an ecological reserve with healthy and diverse marine life. Snorkeling is also common at this site. 


  • Catalina Island, California

Known for its crystal-clear waters and vast marine life, Catalina Island’s underwater forest consists of giant bladder kelp. The kelp is rooted into the rocky ocean floor and is home to more than 150 types of fish like the California spiny lobster. This spot is ideal during the late summer to early fall when visibility ranges from 40 to 50 feet. 


  • Santa Barbara Channel Islands

The cold northern currents and warm southern currents mix in Santa Barbara’s waters, creating a diverse home to more than 1,000 species of marine life. The kelp forests are thick and dense, making it a struggle for boats passing through. For divers looking for an isolated diving experience, St. Nicholas is a great option. The island is the least popular amongst tourists, so the forests are left nearly untouched with sights of gorgonians, schooling fishes, tope sharks, and lobsters. 


  • Santa Cruz, California

Just off the shore of the beach town Santa Cruz is the iconic Monterey Bay. Not only is the bay home to colorful nudibranchs and sea lions, but it is known for its cold-water diving due to the Submarine Canyon that plummets to a depth of more than 10,500 feet. The drop starts close to the shoreline and brings in nutrient-rich water. Divers arrive at their destination either by boat or kayak before discovering the vast kelp beds, anemones, whales, and more. 



North America - Vancouver, Canada

  • Vancouver, Canada

Home to octopus, wolf eels, and anemones, Vancouver’s kelp forests should be on every diver’s bucket list. The forest is made up of bull kelp, which is a delicate golden-brown that drifts back and forth through the water. The plants grow up to 115 feet, and up to 10 inches a day as they mature. One of the most popular dive sites is the advanced Race Rocks, located along the southern end of Vancouver Island. This site often has extreme weather and has access to large marine life such as humpback whales and orcas. 



Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand 


Although kelp diving is most popular along the western coast of the U.S. and Canada, there are still some amazing sites south of the equator. The Poor Knights Islands in New Zealand have everything from gardens to volcanic walls to caves. The dense kelp forest thrives where the ocean floor begins to slope and is the perfect hiding place for the smallest of creatures. Poor Knights Island is known for the large groups of bull rays, long-tail rays, and short-tail rays. During the southern hemisphere’s summer, pods of orca whales pass through. 



Cape Town, South Africa


Not only is Cape Town, the capital of South Africa, a great pick for exploring wrecks and spotting diverse marine life, it also has stunning kelp forests. Kelp dives typically start in the A-Frame before entering other sites like Castle Rock. This site is known for sightings of pyjama sharks, shy sharks, butterfish, cape knife jaws, and steenbras. Summer is the best time to dive in Cape Town, and the Atlantic side reaches visibility of up to 65 feet, but with a chilling water temperature of 50° F. 


                                                                          

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