5 Dec 2006


Divers in and around London were invited to the London Festival of Diving on Sunday 3 December at the London Welsh Centre, 157-163 Gray's Inn Rd, WC1

“ a full-on day of kit, speakers, workshops and socialising. The centre is a ten minute walk from King's Cross or Russell Square, and a whole day's entertainment can be had for £6, or £5 for London-based members of the BSAC.

Speakers: Martyn Farr, Tim Ecott, Mark Ellyatt, Teresa Telus, Kevin Pickering.

Workshops: Instructor networking, Underwater photography, capturing the wreck, Membership and recruitment for dive clubs, decompression theory and practice, International diving projects.

London Festival of DivingThe Festival kicks off with a big divers' social on Saturday evening 2 December, at the Novotel Hotel on Euston Rd.

Tickets, map and further information available on www.londondivers.com

Principal sponsor: London Diving Chamber.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006"


30 Oct 2006

Scuba Diving Fiji: Scientists go hi-tech to save coral

Scuba Diving Fiji: Scientists go hi-tech to save coral:

Scientists go hi-tech to save coral
Cold coral (TVE)
At cold depths, the rate of growth is very slow
Less is known about the floor of the world's oceans than the surface of the Moon.

It is only in the past few decades that technology allowing humans to peer into the previously uncharted depths has become available to scientists.

Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and manned submersible craft have opened up to exploration a whole new world of deep marine ecosystems.

One of the most startling discoveries has been the number of coral reefs living hundreds of metres beneath the surface, in temperatures ranging from 4-13C (39-55F).

The existence of cold-water corals has been known since the 18th Century, but the vast number of reefs found in the deeper reaches of the world's waters has amazed researchers.

Yet just as scientists are beginning to understand the significance of the coral to the surrounding environment, they are also witnessing destruction.

'Glacial' growth

Environmentalists point the finger of blame at the fishing industry and the practice of bottom-trawling with drag nets.

This method of fishing involves scouring the sea bed with huge nets that are some 60m-wide; they are held apart by two huge metal plates weighing up to five tonnes.

Submersible (TVE)
Submersibles have brought a revolution in understanding

"It's heavy gear, and the reefs and the coral colonies are very fragile and easily damaged," Jan Helge Fossa, chief scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, tells TVE's Earth Report programme for BBC World.

"So it was quite obvious that this was an activity that couldn't go on," he adds.

Cold corals are very slow growing. Some individuals are estimated to be up to 1,800 years old, and many reefs began forming at the end of the last Ice Age.

Damage inflicted by bottom-trawling can result in catastrophic consequences for the species living amid the reefs.

Onboard the institute's research vessel, Dr Helge Fossa is leading a survey for cold corals off the northern coast of Norway.

Robot eyes

The Institute provides advice on the marine environment to the Norwegian government, which is one of the few nations that have introduced laws to protect cold-water corals.

After performing a multibeam sonar sweep that provides a real-time map of the search area, the team launches a ROV through the side of the ship.

Shrimp (TVE)
I have never heard a person in Norway, after looking at the videos, who objects to protection
Dr Jan Helge Fossa,
Norwegian marine scientist
Once the vehicle reaches the site 200m below the surface, its four powerful lights allow the onboard camera to beam pictures back to the scientists on the surface.

"What we see here is only coral rubble, and it's trawled out to small pieces," Dr Helge Fossa observes. "We have so far seen no live coral."

It is not long before the prime suspect is located: discarded trawling equipment. Closer inspection reveals that the nets and gear are likely to be about 20 years old.

Norway's Coral Act 1999 protects all coral reefs in the nation's waters from intentional damage, and bottom-trawling has been completely banned in areas surrounding five specific reefs.

However, the country has the longest coastline in Europe, making monitoring and policing the region a tough task.

Video campaign

To date, there have been no prosecutions from data gathered by the space-borne Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), but Dr Helge Fossa's team hopes images obtained by its high-definition submersible-camera system will help change that.

Discarded gear (TVE)
The Norwegian expedition finds evidence of discarded gear
"We know that it is important to get our results out, not only to the government but also to the public," he says. "That's why we use a lot of videos, it tells more than a thousand words."

He said it made people understand why the complex ecosystems needed protecting: "I have never heard a person in Norway, after looking at the videos, who objects to protection."

Some scientists believe that other nations should adopt similar protection measures as Norway, otherwise many more deep cold-water reefs will resemble a lunar surface.

The Television Trust for the Environment's (TVE) Earth Report - Cold Corals Deep will be broadcast on BBC World on 21 and 23 October 2006. Please check schedules for further details

Diagram showing how bottom trawling works (BBC)

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/10/20 12:17:05 GMT


18 Aug 2006

Is that it?

Weather still yuk, so still unable to write lyrically about the joys of the underwater world. Although I could write about all the previous dives in good weather.Meanwhile have recieved one comment asking if I'd like to view full frontal nudes. Is that it?

17 Aug 2006

Gettting tricky

So, I've managed to blog one line about bugger all, I've had a comment which i can't work out if it came through or not and the weather is still awful. Life changing stuff. Had some nice chicken for lunch, though.

15 Aug 2006

My first ever post, or, what the hell am I doing?

Confused and bewildered by the mass proliferation of blogging I have decided to find out if anybody is the slightest bit interested in scuba diving on Fijis Coral Coast.

Are you?

9 Jun 2006

eCORD - earthdives Code of Responsible Diving

eCORD - earthdives Code of Responsible Diving:

earthdive asks everybody to subscribe to the principles of eCORD - The earthdive Code of Responsible Diving - and to encourage others to practice them. eCORD is a straightforward Seven Point Plan which will help divers to limit the anthropogenic impact of recreational diving - while at the same time making their diving experiences more rewarding and enjoyable. Be sure to incorporate the seven points in your dive planning!

1. Know your limits.
Every dive is different and every diver is different. Always ensure that you dive within the limits of your training and experience, whilst taking due account of the prevailing conditions. Take the opportunity to advance and extend your skills whenever that opportunity arises. In particular, buoyancy skills can become a little rusty after any prolonged absence from the water. If you can't get pool or confined water practice before your trip, get your buoyancy control checked out by a qualified instructor on your first dive! There are many national and international dive training organisations which offer a comprehensive range of courses and instructional material beyond basic skills level. Take advantage of them!

2. Be aware of the marine environment and dive with care.
Not surprisingly, many dive sites are located where the reefs and walls play host to the most beautiful corals, sponges and fish - fragile aquatic ecosystems! Starting with your point of entry, be aware of your surroundings: never enter the water where there are living corals, water plants or reeds. Once underwater, it only takes one unguarded moment - a careless kick with a fin, an outstretched hand, a dragging gauge or octopus - to destroy part of this fragile ecosystem. Even fin kicks too close to the reef or sand can have an adverse effect - so dive with the utmost care. Photographers in particular need to take greater care as they strive for that best-yet shot! Don't let your dive become an adverse anthropogenic impact! And remember that these rules apply just as much to 'hard' dive sites - such as wrecks, which have become the home of diverse marine life - as well as fresh-water and other sites.

3. Understand and respect marine flora and fauna.
A large part of the joy of diving is in learning more about the plants and animals who live in this unique underwater environment. In order to survive and thrive, many living creatures disguise themselves to look like plants and inanimate objects, or develop defence mechanisms such as stings. Some even do both! (Have you seen a stonefish lately?) The earthdive information sheets which are attached to the earthdive Global Dive Log, provide information about indicator species for the region in which you are planning to dive. In addition, dive training organisations run marine naturalist and identification courses. The more that you learn, the more that you will see, the more that you will derive pleasure from your underwater experience - and the safer you will be for yourself, other divers and the marine environment!

4. Don't interfere.
First and foremost, be an observer in the underwater environment. As a general rule, look don't touch. Remember that polyps can be destroyed by even the gentlest contact. Never stand on coral even if it looks solid and robust. Always resist the temptation to feed fish and discourage others from doing so. You may interfere with their normal feeding habits, damage their health and encourage aggressive behaviour. Leave only your bubbles!

5. Take only what you need. The marine environment is a valuable source of food for mankind and it is important that it remains so into the future. If you are among those divers who enjoy taking food from the sea, observe some simple rules.

  • Obtain any necessary permits or licences.
  • Comply with all relevant fish and game regulations. These are designed to protect and preserve fish stocks, the environment and other users.
  • Only take what you can eat. If you catch it and can't eat it, put it back.
  • Never kill for the sake of 'sport'.
  • Avoid spear fishing in areas populated by other divers or visitors to the area, or where you might cause collateral damage.

Don't be tempted to collect shells, corals or other mementos of your dive. If you want a souvenir, take a photograph!

6. Observe and report.
As an earthdive contributor, you will be in a unique position to monitor and report on the health, biodiversity and any obvious damage to dive sites using the earthdive Global Dive Log. In addition, we would encourage you to report anything unusual to the appropriate local marine and environmental authorities, or if this is difficult, get your dive centre to do it for you. They have a vested interest in a healthy marine environment, and will normally be more than willing to help. Always be on the lookout for physical damage, fish stock depletion, pollution and other environmental disturbances. If the dive operation itself is causing damage -say by anchoring to the reef - then let them know how you feel in no uncertain terms!

7. Get involved.
No matter where you are diving or snorkelling, be it at home or abroad, there will be at least one (and often many more) marine conservation bodies who are active in the area. Don't be afraid to approach them for information, to offer help, or just to find out what they have to offer. You will receive an enthusiastic welcome! They will provide you with lots of opportunities to contribute to marine conservation.

Visit the earthdive website here