22 December 2005

South Africa: Shark spotters have an eye for a tooth

Sitting at the top of Boyes Drive with binoculars in hand is the best job imaginable for Aghmat Jacobs, one of three shark spotters scanning Muizenberg for Great Whites every day, whatever the weather.

Working in five-hour shifts, Jacobs, founder of the shark-spotting service, Patrick Davids and ex-lifeguard Monwabisi Sikweyiya are equipped with a map, special ultra-violet sunglasses, windbreakers and a remote control for a siren on Muizenberg beach to alert bathers to a shark threat.

Jacobs volunteered while unemployed and has since been appointed on a permanent basis. Davids used to be a carguard well-known to surfers for keeping their cars and car keys safe while they were in the water. Sikweyiya had been a Clifton lifeguard.

Since December 2, Jacobs has personally sighted sharks around Muizenberg five times.

"It's mostly the same four sharks - Dopey, Speedy, Charlize and the big one, Nosey, a five-metre long Great White," he said.

"When we spot them close to the beach we alert (Muizenberg surf shop) Surf Shack, who contact the National Sea Rescue Institute to chase the sharks back to the deep sea with their rubber duck," added Jacobs.

According Cape Town Shark Working Group data, collected by the spotters, since the beginning of December six sharks have been spotted swimming close to shore in Muizenberg and four in Fish Hoek.

This year there have been 123 sightings in Muizenberg and 33 in Fish Hoek.

While the Muizenberg spotters watch from a lookout point above Bailey's Cottage, next to the start of the Bailey's Kloof hiking trail, lifeguards at False Bay Towers and Fish Hoek keep watch on the ground.

The Muizenberg spotters cover only the area between St James and the Zandvlei River mouth at Sunrise Beach. Five more beaches have been earmarked but are "purely dependent on finding resources", said co-ordinator David Chudleigh, who owns Surf Shack.

Greg Bertish, chairman of Shark Spotters, three years ago took on the responsibility to find sponsorship for the initiative, which to date has received large donations from Puma, Reef, the City of Cape Town and some small businesses.

More spotters are sorely needed for the shifts, because despite the perks of the beautiful view, hours in the sun often leave spotters dehydrated and fatigued, and therefore less alert, said Chudleigh.

Of their resources Chudleigh said: "A few restaurants in the area have offered to provide them with lunch, but nothing has come of it yet.

"The World Wildlife Organisation also intends funding a permanent supervisor, as I have a day job. We're grateful to the city for their recent R40 000 donation, which will hopefully last us about six months, but we're strapped for cash in the long term."

Jacobs, a father of three who recently lost a 12-year-old daughter in a hit-and-run accident, said his job gave him immense satisfaction, because he understood that those in the
sea depended on him for their safety.

"I live down in Muizenberg and I've always been passionate about people and the sea. I wouldn't trade this for anything."

Source: www.iol.co.za
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South Africa: Shark spotters have an eye for a tooth

European Commission issues marine warning

European Union member states must do more to protect dolphins, whales and porpoises from dangers such as pollution and illegal fishing or face legal action, the European Commission said on yesterday.

Brussels has taken the first legal steps against eight countries, including Britain, after receiving numerous complaints from campaigners that they are not doing enough to monitor and protect marine mammals.

"We cannot discuss specific complaints, but many of the well-known groups have contacted us," an EC official said.

"These nations have all failed to establish effective surveillance systems and need to take corrective action."

The countries facing legal action are Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK. They could end up before the European Court of Justice if they fail to tighten up their monitoring.

Under EU law, whales, dolphins and porpoises are classed as "species of community interest," obliging governments to look after them.

Source: news.scotsman.com
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European Commission issues marine warning

Australia: Shark fears prompt call for steel nets

A SPATE of great white shark sightings along Adelaide's metropolitan beaches has triggered calls for steel mesh to be installed at the city's most popular beach.

It is 12 months yesterday since a great white killed 18-year-old surfer Nick Peterson just 200m off West Beach, one of the city's most popular bathing spots.

State Government figures show there have been 29 shark sightings off metropolitan beaches in the past six months.

Glen Jones, a charter fisherman from Adelaide, said shark numbers increased after storms when they came in from the deep to feed off reefs.

"I don't swim out deep - I won't go in above my head, no way," said Mr Jones, 38. "It's a ridiculous thing to do."

Anglers further out in Gulf StVincent say the sharks are aggressive and hungry.

Fisherman John Carman said he still "gets the shivers" just talking about his encounter with a 4.5m great white shark three weeks ago, while fishing 10km off northern Adelaide.

"I've seen sharks jump out of the water in films - but to see it in real life is just bloody scary," he said.

Mr Carman, 64, laid a baited crab net on the bed of the gulf about 15m below his 6m aluminium fishing boat. At about 10.30am, without warning, the shark emerged from the water close to the right side of the boat and became airborne, so close Mr Carman said "I could have touched it with my hand".

Three anglers - Mr Carman, John Nicholls and Adelaide sculptor Silvio Apponyi - were drenched when the shark jumped about 2m into the air and splashed down 5m from the boat.

Theirs is the latest in a series of startling shark encounters fishermen have reported more than 5km off Adelaide beaches.

The sightings have led the local member for popular Glenelg beach, Duncan McFetridge, to call for a stainless steel barrier to protect swimmers.

"Because of the recent history of shark attacks and the large number of shark sightings close to shore, some form of permanent barrier is essential," Dr McFetridge said.

"Advice I have been given by shark experts is that there will be more attacks along our coastline unless more intensive measures to protect swimmers are undertaken," he said.

Two south Adelaide beaches, Christies and Port Noarlunga, were evacuated due to shark sightings on Wednesday.

Since the fatal attack on Peterson, University of Adelaide marine biologist Jarrod Stehbens, 23, was killed while diving 5km off Glenelg in August.

Shark attacks also injured two surfers in September, off the Eyre Peninsula and the southwest coast of Kangaroo Island.

Source: www.theaustralian.news.com.au
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Australia: Shark fears prompt call for steel nets

Belize: Discovery Divers charged over missing U.S. snorkeler

December 17th makes one month since 68 year old American tourist John Dresp went missing while out on a snorkeling tour near Caye Caulker island in Belize with Discovery Divers.

According to Dresp's brother and sister-in-law, Donald and Winifred Dresp- - who were also on the trip - -conditions at sea that day, including a strong current and poor safety standards, contributed to their loved one's disappearance. The Dresps and fifty-five other guests were aboard Belize Pride, owned and operated by Discovery Divers Limited. That company has denied any wrongdoing. Although the body of the Nebraska man has not been recovered charges have now been made.

Today Discovery Divers owner David Gegg and 40-year-old tour guide Bernard Mortis appeared in the Belize City Magistrate's Court. Mortis was charged for operating as a tour guide without first obtaining a license and Gegg answered to a charge of employing an unlicensed tour guide.

Both men appeared before Magistrate Harrison Hulett today. The charge against Gegg was filed improperly so Hulett threw it out. Mortis meanwhile pleaded guilty to the charge and he was fined $175. Mortis was charged after the incident when the police asked to see the licenses for the guides. Mortis license had expired in 2004.

Neither Gegg nor Mortis were actually arrested. Both men were instead served with summons to appear in court today. Dresp's family left Belize on December fifth, frustrated that they could not find his body.

The ill-fated tour was subcontracted to Gegg's Discovery Divers Ltd. by Norwegian Cruise Line, owner and operator of the Norwegian Dream cruise ship.

Sources: www.underwatertimes.com and www.belizean.com
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Belize: Discovery Divers charged over missing U.S. snorkeler

Belize: Deep Sea Detectives team to dive Blue Hole

A team from the renowned television show, Deep Sea Detectives, are in San Pedro and want to be the first to document a dive to the bottom of the world famous Blue Hole off the coast of Belize.

The expedition is organized by the veteran divers John Chatterton, Richie Kohler and videographer Evan Kovac. The team has spent years documenting deep sea shipwrecks and has produced the television shows for the History Channel. They are documenting their descent into the Blue Hole for the History Channel and for a DVD Dive magazine filled with extreme diving.

When asked "Why the Blue Hole?" Kohler replies, "because it's there." He added that the beauty and reputation of the Blue Hole were key factors for choosing this site. The fact that it is becoming so well known, yet no one has documented reaching the bottom were reasons for coming to Belize. There are rumors that Jacques Cousteau may have made it to the bottom in a mini submarine, but no proof has surfaced to substantiate this rumor.

No one knows how deep the hole is for certain. The team is prepared to go as deep as 500 feet. They are hoping that the bottom will be around 475 feet. The team made their first attempt on Tuesday. While descending to about 300 feet, a buoyancy chamber attached to the underwater housing that contained the high definition video camera imploded under the pressure. "It was like an explosion," said Chatterton. Cameraman Kovac said the chamber was made from PVC pipe and a piece of shrapnel nearly hit him when it exploded. After the incident the camera was much heavier, forcing the cameraman to paddle and breath too quickly for the re-breather equipment to compensate. As a result, they decided to abort the mission and regroup to try it again another day.

Diving to these depths requires much more sophisticated equipment than the regular recreational diver will use. The space-age equipment includes a device that takes the exhaled air from the divers, cleans and analyses it using onboard computers and allows the divers to reuse the air and continue diving. The air mixture is largely helium which reduces the risk of contracting the bends and also reduces the amount of time necessary to decompress.

Chatterton and Kohler have been working and diving together for years. Together they have produced 50 episodes of Deep Sea Detectives. The book Shadow Divers documented their investigation of a World War II German U-boat that they explored 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey in the Atlantic.

The team have been working with Peter Jones and the good people of Protech while staying in San Pedro.

Source: www.underwatertimes.com
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Belize: Deep Sea Detectives team to dive Blue Hole

Thailand: Dive tourism development a growing concern for Koh Tao

While Koh Samui is well-paved and packed with five-star resorts, and Koh Phangan turns into an international frat party during its full-moon festivities, neighboring Koh Tao is still hanging on to its place slightly off the map – but barely.

In the last decade, word has gotten out that Koh Tao is "the" place to go scuba diving in Thailand. This has been a boon for dive operators, but it also threatens the unspoiled waters that make the island so attractive, and it is the divers who are leading a movement to regulate development on Koh Tao.

The island now issues more open water diving certificates through the Professional Association of Diving Instructors than any other place in the Asia Pacific after Cairns, Australia, home to the Great Barrier Reef. And last year, 722 people from 40 countries literally took the plunge off Koh Tao to help set a world record for the "most people diving simultaneously" during the island's second "underwater world festival." More than 10,000 people showed up for the event, on an island that usually only holds several thousand.

Nongluck Chopunkul is a co-owner of Phoenix Divers and AC Resort, one of the bigger outfits on the island's main drag, Sairee Beach. She has lived on Koh Tao for 20 years, and says that, while her business has gotten much stronger, she misses the good old days.

"In my mind, this buildup has been really fast and cannot stop – there's too much diving already," she says. "Before the water was clearer, there were more fish and the coral was more beautiful."

Even though she benefits financially from the diving boom, Nongluck and other divers are now a leading force in trying to reign in the development.

To that end, some key players on the island started the Koh Tao Dive Operators Club in 2003. Now, the club has a membership of over 30 diving-related businesses, most of them Thai-owned, and it tries to tackle issues such as building a wastewater treatment plant and instituting some form of garbage control, as well as setting protocols for operating in an environmentally responsible way.

The group meets once a month and votes on issues of concern, although it has no power to enforce anything. Still, the members have met with government officials, and hope that some of their wishes for the island will become realities.

Gili Back, the operations manager for the club, settled on Koh Tao under the same circumstances as many foreigners: she came three years ago for a couple of weeks to go diving and never left. Now she has found herself on the front lines of the struggle to keep the island from being overrun.

"These rules and regulations that we are trying to establish will be beneficial to the island in the long term," she says. "These shops know that the diving area has to remain beautiful if they are going to stay in business. So we deal with environmental issues and try to encourage sustainability."

Much of the coral around the island, the major draw for divers, is already damaged. In 1998, the sea temperature rose above 30.1 degrees Celsius, causing algae to separate from the coral and creating a "coral bleaching" effect.

The bleaching, combined with runoff from the island and pollution, can kill the coral. Fortunately, if temperatures stay low and pollution is minimal, it can regenerate.

Nothing can be done about the increased temperatures. But increased tourism and the inevitable footprint it leaves could bring down what made the island what it is: diving.

But Sutep Mumi, the manager of Ban's Diving Resort, which trains more divers than any other business on the island, says that Koh Tao is still maintaining its natural charm.

"Seven years ago, I thought the peace and quiet of the island wouldn't last long," he recalls. "Tourism was increasing every year, the building was happening at a ridiculous pace. But even after the tsunami, when many more people came here, things are still okay. We'll see what happens next year, though."

And besides the diving opportunities, tourists are drawn by the island's remoteness. It takes a nearly two-hour boat ride to get there. Power outages occur and hot water isn't a given – even in rooms that cost 1,000 baht a night. Of course, that's just what many people are looking for.

Ashby Smith, who came from San Francisco last year, says she and her husband traveled to the eastern side of Koh Tao to find solitude.

"We didn't want to have interactions with people or see any lights at night, and it was just perfect," she says.

But for all of the talk of keeping things quiet and under control, this February, Koh Tao divers will try to outdo themselves with another record attempt: this time, with at least 800 people from around the world diving simultaneously.

Source: www.asiadivesite.com
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Thailand: Dive tourism development a growing concern for Koh Tao

Whale Shark sightings in the Musandam, Oman

Whale Sharks were sighted over the last weekend in the beautiful waters of the Musandam region, Oman.

Whale Sharks are not as common in this region as they are in the other Indian Ocean regions. Their return and sighting is a comforting sign of the well being of the surrounding Gulf of Oman waters to which oil tankers are a constant threat to the environment.

Overlooked by researchers all these years, the Gulf coral reefs remained uncharted. It is only recently (January of this year) that a project on inventory and mapping coral reefs of Abu Dhabi and Eastern Qatar was launched under the sponsorship of Dolphin Energy Ltd. The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR), Doha joined the project as partners.

For more information on the Musandam region see this website.

Source: www.deeperblue.net
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Whale Shark sightings in the Musandam, Oman

Sport Diver UK launch Ultimate Dive Destinations

Former BBC newsman John McIntyre has carved himself a niche in the diving market, producing exquisitely filmed DVDs focusing on some of the world's best reef, wall and wreck diving.

His last two DVDs, Red Sea Wreck Heaven and Caribbean Wreck Heaven, were produced in conjunction with Sport Diver UK magazine to accompany its annual A5-sized dive guide, Dive Destinations.

This year, Dive Destinations has grown in size to become The Ultimate Dive Destinations, a lavishly produced A4 guide to some of the world's best diving experiences - shark diving, wall diving, drift diving, ice diving, cave diving, wreck diving, etc - as chosen by an expert panel, including John, fellow TV presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff (of Wreck Detectives and Coast fame) and acclaimed underwater photographers Lawson Wood and Tony White.

It is again accompanied by a John McIntyre DVD - Red Sea Odyssey: The Ultimate Red Sea Guide. Red Sea Odyssey is a companion-piece to Red Sea Wreck Heaven, and between the two DVDs, they cover all the best spots in the Egyptian Red Sea. This latest DVD focuses on the top dives in Egyptian waters, so there are chapters on the legendary Ras Mohamed, The Brothers, Daedelus, Zabargad, Rocky Island, St John's and Elphinstone. John has managed to capture the majesty of these phenomenal dive sites in all their glory, showing the dramatic walls, prolific marine life and graceful pelagics, including turtles, sharks and rays.

The package of the dive guide and the DVD is priced at £6.95 - making it an ideal stocking filler for Christmas!

The Ultimate Dive Destinations and Red Sea Odyssey: The Ultimate Red Sea Guide DVD Priced £6.95 Available from WHSmith in the UK, or direct by calling +44 870 830 4960 or visiting the website: www.divedestinations.co.uk

Source: www.deeperblue.net
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Sport Diver UK launch Ultimate Dive Destinations

Researchers: Whale Shark food foraging secrets revealed

Researchers in Belize using electronic tagging on whale sharks have finally solved a marine mystery and discovered where the sharks find food.

Scientists say the 65-foot-long whale sharks -- the world's largest fish -- dive nearly a mile in search of food.

The new insight into whale shark behavior is the result of research conducted at the Belize Barrier Reef, the world's second largest barrier reef system, the BBC reported Monday.

Our study showed that sharks dive much deeper than previously believed, reaching depths of over 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) in search of food, said Rachel Graham of the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

Water that deep is only a few degrees above freezing and that explains why tropical whale sharks have an insulating layer of fat just below their skin -- a fact that has puzzled scientists for years.

The electronic tags the scientists attach to the fish record temperature, water pressure and light level and then beam the data back via satellite, the BBC said.

The findings appear in the Royal Society's journal Interface.

Source: www.underwatertimes.com
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Researchers: Whale Shark food foraging secrets revealed

Ocean census reveals weird and wonderful

The world beneath our oceans is a mystery only just starting to be revealed but if the carnivorous sponge is any indication, it must be pretty weird down there.

About 1700 researchers in 73 countries are now halfway through the Census of Marine Life, a mammoth 10-year project to catalogue the life-forms of our oceans - from the tiniest microbes to the biggest whales.

In the past year alone researchers have added 78 new species of fish to their records.

On expeditions to the depths of the South Atlantic and Southern oceans at least half the jellyfish, sponges and other specimens found had never been seen before.

The 5mm-wide carnivorous sponge which engulfs other organisms with its mouth was one of those surprise finds - sponges are normally filter feeders.

Census scientific steering committee vice-chairman Dr Victor A. Gallardo said the sheer scale of the ocean was the biggest challenge.

"The deep sea floor is an area of 300 million sq km, of which the area sampled to date is equal to a few football fields," he said.

"The number of sea-mounts - underwater mountains rising at least 1000m from the ocean floor - is estimated at between 30,000 and 100,000, of which a few hundred have been sampled, less than 50 were sampled well."

Apart from adding to our knowledge of the oceans, the census will allow better management of commercial fishing. US scientists electronically tagged 2700 salmon to track their migrations across the Pacific Ocean from 16 river systems.

Lead scientist David Welch said abundant and sustainable stocks of commercial fish were closer to being a reality. "The new data reveals for the first time those zones of the ocean where we have the highest leverage for conservation and thus smarter fishing."

Australia is one of four remaining areas in the world which still has strong and diverse stocks of tuna - an important predator, the numbers of which have been dramatically decreased by commercial long-line fishing.

Since the introduction 50 years ago of long-line fishing boats - which hook fish on lines up to 100km long - fish stocks have been affected. But researchers found there is still high diversity of species on the east coasts of Australia, the US and Sri Lanka, and also south of Hawaii and in the South-Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Tasmanian CSIRO researcher Bronwyn Innes contributed to a library of DNA "barcodes" which identify species and allow easy determination of what fish have been taken.

Source: www.thecouriermail.news.com.au
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Ocean census reveals weird and wonderful

15 December 2005

'Air Jaws' photographers make desperate plea for South Africa's dwindling shark population

To all involved in the battle against shark finning. Please read on...

Mozambiquean colleagues of ours sent us yet again more disturbing images of finning taking place on an ongoing basis. We are getting similar images almost on a weekly basis from all over East Africa and also including South Africa.

The sad and simple truth is governments in South Africa and in many other countries within Africa do not seem to be bothered by this state of affairs. As a result I have sent this plea to either spread the word of this abuse or suggest ways in which we can remedy it. We have on numerous occasions over the last 5 years had meetings with the South African body known as Marine and coastal management who are in charge of monitoring the resources along our coast. To date a lot has been said but very little delivered. We cannot sit around and wait any longer.

Marine and coastal management are well aware of the problem but cross border politics and a lack of urgency are once again retarding efforts to send up vessels to help the huge shark long lining problem. East, Southern and West Africa's sharks are vanishing before our very eyes at alarming rates. On the East coast of Africa alone over 200 dedicated shark longline vessels of Asian origin are currently targeting shark for their fins whilst millions in Africa starve. Any one of these vessels is capable of catching over 100 tons of sharks per trip, offloading to factory ships and then catching and finning again.

In South Africa we also do not seem to realize the need for adequate shark resource management and enforcement. An example of this was MCM issuing permits to fish pelagic sharks off our coast 4 years ago as an experimental fishery even though no base line data existed on the size of the target species populations etc. They simply went ahead and issued these permits and now these permit holders are entrenched and are highly successful catching many tons of makos and blues per trip. Getting rid of them from a legal point of view is now going to be very difficult.

South Africa has been a signatory to various policies such as the World Summit, UN meetings and others stating our willingness to conserve resources and manage them sustainably for the future, yet nothing is being done to stop the most wasteful practice, namely, shark finning.

In Mozambique and other parts of Africa, Asian business men offer poor local fishermen money for fins and so create a market for this very wasteful fishery. For hundreds of years these fishermen depended on the ocean to feed their families often utilizing sharks as a food source and had a low impact that was sustainable. Today traditional fishing is becoming unsustainable due to huge numbers of foreign flagged boats raping the coast lines of these poor countries to catch sharks for their fins as well as other threatened species such as billfish, turtles etc. The result is starving families not able to catch their daily meal whilst just a few miles offshore large numbers of sharks are stripped of their fins and dumped back into the ocean.

What is needed is a immediate ban on shark longlining off the South African coastline as well as the Mozambiquean coastline and declaring sharks a no take species. The future of sharks as well as other species hangs in the balance if rapid action is not taken. If South Africa and Mozambique lead the way and the benefits can be seen countries such as Tanzania, Namibia, Angola, Kenya and others will follow suit.

South Africa has 4 state of the art patrol vessels purchased with the specific purpose of marine protection yet none of these vessels are actively attacking this huge problem with only a small handful of arrests being made. Not for a moment am I attacking the people who run these boats however it is blatantly obvious that a hell of a lot more could be done from higher powers who govern spending on enforcement exercises that these boats were built for.

Great white sharks being the glamour species they are have tremendous amounts of money being spent on scientific projects in South Africa to study their movements and other behavior, however little money on their protection. Five different research projects are currently being done on this single species by 5 different researchers yet nothing on any other species which are in more need than the white sharks. In fact many of the main prey species of the white shark are shark species which are heavily targeted by the shark fishery and over the last 5 years have almost disappeared from areas where they were once abundant, any person can surely see a problem in the making. Sharks as a whole need to be looked at immediately and energy needs to be concentrated into this field. Can you imagine the great plains of Africa only having herds of Wildebeest and Zebra and no predators, well this scenario is rapidly going to occur in the ocean if nothing is done soon and whilst I am no scientist I am sure big problems lie ahead as a result of the removal of apex predators.

Mozambique has a large tourism related income each year that is directly related to diving and yet this golden goose is being allowed to be slaughtered, not by local people but by foreigners in the name of greed for a meal that is the table fare of the rich.

What needs to be done to stop the small scale poaching as depicted in the images is to give these locals alternatives. Perhaps local dive or game fishing operators could try to start a directed shark diving/viewing/tag and release project with the local people involved so that they can govern their own living cash cow and see the value of a living shark as is done in the Maldives, Bahamas and elsewhere.

As far as I know no shark fishery has ever been sustainable over the long term and all have gone through the same boom and bust cycle.

Shark diving however is a huge industry worldwide and rapidly growing. At the same time, the resource is rapidly shrinking making the potential for shark diving in these areas even more lucrative in times to come. Mozambique has such great potential from a marine eco-tourism point of view yet this is being ignored in favor of short term gain.

Each week I return many emails from concerned people on this shark longlining issue. Howerver, I can honestly say whilst many of us have small victories, I feel nothing is being done with regards to the larger picture that we as individuals have little control over.

South Africa has the potential to really make a stand against this rape of our oceans through the use of our patrol vessels to arrest and confiscate these illegal boats therefore sending out a clear message of zero tolerance. Mozambique and other African nations do not have the resources of South Africa and as such are unable to fund running costs for these vessels which our government appears unwilling to do.

My plea therefore is if any of you can contribute through your contacts, your magazines, film companies, private resources or personal influence to helping this issue in any way, be it exposure, finance or experience, please do so. Many of you do not live in Africa, yet have visited our shores and know of the great beauty and potential which I know can still be saved now if action is taken.

Help expose this problem, hopefully through this exposure will come the need for action by those in a position to make a difference.

South Africa has the opportunity to set a precedent for others to follow. We can lead the fight against this unsustainable rape of our oceans.

This shark longlining problem is a cancer which if not stamped out here will spread and spread and spread perhaps even to your shores in times to come.

If any of you would personally like to make suggestions to the South African department of Marine and coastal management or get comment from them on why this issue is being allowed to run rampant please address your contributions to Marcel Kroese who is highly involved with enforcement at MCM and is one of the few individuals really dedicated to stopping this sort of activity. He will be able to pass it immediately onto the relevant parties who are holding up a concerted effort to take action Mkroese@mcm.wcape.gov.za or he can pass it onto the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and see exactly what is going on and be accountable if no action is taken.

Many thanks for your support.

On behalf of Thousands of shark and marine conservationists who want to make a difference.

Chris & Monique Fallows

Source: www.underwatertimes.com
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'Air Jaws' photographers make desperate plea for South Africa's dwindling shark population

Ireland: Rescue diver's body found

The body of a diver, lost while searching for the missing crew of a sunken fishing vessel off Ireland, has been found.

Billy O'Connor was one of two volunteer divers who entered the sea off County Wexford in rough conditions on 1 December, in search of crew lost two days earlier when the fishing boat Rising Sun sank.

Of the fishing boat's crew of three, two went missing. The body of crewman Jimmy Meyler was recovered shortly after the sinking, but that of skipper Pat Colfer has not been found. The third crewman survived and has been recovering in hospital.

O'Connor went missing while ascending with his buddy from a 50m dive to examine the wreck. A former chairman of Hook Sub-Aqua Club, O'Connor was a highly able diver of some 20 years' experience, and a veteran of many search and rescue operations.

Air and sea searches, interrupted sporadically by bad weather, continued for both O'Connor and Colfer, navy divers finally recovering O'Connor from the vicinity of the wreck on 12 December, following location of his body by ROV video.

Searches continue in the hope of locating Pat Colfer. They include seabed operations by ROV and navy divers, surface searches by a naval vessel and lifeboats, and shoreline combing by Coastguard volunteers.

Source: www.divernet.com/news/stories
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Ireland: Rescue diver's body found

SSI to Launch the Master Diver Challenge - A great way to keep divers involved

SSI promotes new and different way to get divers involved in continuing education and advancement!

January first will earmark the beginning of SSI's 2006 Master Diver Challenge! The program is designed to help SSI Dealers get customers excited about diving and get rewarded for their efforts.

Each time a customer reaches a new level and purchases the related specialty card, SSI will send them a Milestone Award - everything will be sent to the SSI Dealer for distribution.

Prizes include a 5 day Cayman Island Dive Trip, High Quality Dive Watch, T-shirts, Patches, and Personalized Diplomas,!**

Milestone #1. Specialty Diver = 2 Specialties + 12 Dives - Earn an SSI Congratulatory Diploma

Milestone #2. Advanced Open Water Diver = Specialty Diver Rating + 2 Specialties + 12 Dives - Earn an Advanced Open Water Diver Patch and SSI Congratulatory

Milestone #3. Master Diver = AOWD Rating + Diver Stress & Rescue* + 26 Dives - Earn a Master Diver Patch, SSI Congratulatory Diploma, Master Diver T-shirt, and a chance to win a trip, or a high quality diving watch *If Diver Stress & Rescue has already been taken, diver must complete another specialty

To be entered into the contest the Master Diver level must be reached by December 31, 2006.

How to get involved
1. Challenge Sign Up - Call 800.821.4319 (Must be an SSI Dealer)

2. Marketing Tools - Once you've signed up, SSI will send you a CD filled with promotional materials that you can have produced with your store logo and location information.

3. Get Started - Have materials produced, train staff, decorate store, then promote the challenge to your customers!

Sign Up Today!

Call 800.821.4319

Source: www.divenewswire.com
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SSI to Launch the Master Diver Challenge - A great way to keep divers involved

Fatal dive: company puts record straight

A top professional scuba instructor has died off Fort Lauderdale in the USA - and some reported facts about the incident need correcting, the diver's employer has said.

Zak Jones, 30, a PADI Course Director with Fort Lauderdale's Pro Dive International, was leisure diving with other staff members from the company's dive boat, Pro Diver II.

He lost consciousness after descending with a buddy, was sent to the surface and recovered aboard the boat. He was transferred by a US Coast Guard vessel ashore, where he was taken to hospital. Despite the efforts of paramedics, he could not be saved.

Based on Coast Guard information, US web media has reported that the divers were "each equipped with three scuba tanks", which implies the use of open-circuit scuba. But Frank Gernert, Pro Dive International CEO, has told Divernet that Jones "was using a closed-circuit rebreather, and the only diver using such".

The Coast Guard is reported to have said that, a few minutes after the divers separated at a depth of 46m to explore a reef, "Mr Jones' dive partner turned and found Mr Jones struggling as if he were entangled in his tank lines". When the buddy reached Jones, he was "unconscious with the regulator out of his mouth".

Gernert has confirmed that "Zak went into unconsciousness at depth and never recovered". But, regarding what the buddy saw, he told Divernet: "Zak was never noticed struggling or in any distressful manner. However, after he presumably lost consciousness, he descended approximately 47ft (14m) and became entangled in material unrelated to his life support or actual scuba gear."

Other reported details of the incident are not disputed. The buddy is reported to have set Jones to ascend quickly, following more slowly to avoid decompression illness. He administered first aid upon rejoining Jones at the surface, until Jones could be recovered aboard. CPR continued on the dive boat until the rescue services arrived within 15 minutes.

A police investigation is being conducted into the incident.

Zak Jones was a popular figure in Fort Lauderdale's sports scuba scene, and was a highly respected technical diver. In addition to his PADI course directorship, he was qualified at instructor trainer level for trimix and rebreather diving.

At the time of his death, Jones was using his rebreather, a Megalodon, in a private capacity. Pro Dive International does not offer rebreather training or diving.

The company has, via its website, set up a fund for donations in support of Jones' widow, Robyn.

Source: www.divernet.com/news
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Fatal dive: company puts record straight

Basking shark granted international protection

The basking shark has been granted international protection, following an agreement of world leaders at a conference in Kenya in November.

The world's second-largest fish is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List – the World Conservation Union’s list of species most at risk of global extinction.

However, as the shark is migratory it requires protection by multiple governments. The UK Government appealed to other nations before the conference in Africa to agree to new measures to ensure the survival of the basking shark.

UK biodiversity minister Jim Knight said it was essential to help protect the shark and conserve and restore its habitats and safeguard migration routes.

"We are incredibly lucky to have the basking shark as a regular visitor to our shores and it is appalling that an unsustainable demand for its meat and fins could be a real threat to its future," said Knight. "The basking shark is an amazing creature and I am determined that we do everything in our power to protect it."

Source: www.divemagazine.co.uk/news
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Basking shark granted international protection

Welsh dive site under threat

Divers in Wales believe the demolition of a wooden jetty near Caernarfon is set to destroy an important marine habitat and popular dive site.

Trefor Pier was originally built in the early 1900s to load locally quarried stone, and is a popular sheltered dive site.

However, the local council say it is too expensive to keep. Gwynedd Council, which owns the structure, said demolition was the only viable option, as the pier would cost £500,000 to refurbish.

According to local divers, Trefor Pier is sheltered and makes a safe open water dive with lots of marine life using it as a haven from the areas tidal waters. It is thought taking it down would kill off a lot of the life that has grown on its wooden structure for more than 100 years.

"We will lose an extremely important habitat," Welsh-based underwater photographer Paul Kay told DIVE. "There are creatures living there semi-permanently. I have dived there many times and seen the same creatures. There is one tompot blenny with damage to its lower jaw, which I have seen there many times. I know it's the same one because it is so distinctive. I hope something can be done to save the pier."

The council said the cost of renovating the jetty is so high because its main wood structures have seriously deteriorated and a barge would have to be used for any work as it sits in a tidal area. The National Piers Society charity said it was unable to help. A public meeting held in October to discuss the future of Trefor’s pier saw strong support to preserve it for the community.

"The question is how much is the pier worth?" said local councillor William Arthur Evans. "To attract grants to keep it open it must be seen to make a profit for the area." The county council has closed Trefor Pier as a safety precaution.

Source: www.divemagazine.co.uk/news
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Welsh dive site under threat

SCUBAPRO Serializes Twin Jet Fins

SCUBAPRO UWATEC has announced that effective immediately, all new SCUBAPRO Twin Jet Fins will incorporate a dedicated serial number molded into both fins of every pair.

The purpose for this new program is twofold. First, it is intended to further position Twin Jet Fins as the preeminent fin in the industry. And second, it will help customers facilitate potential claims made under the SCUBAPRO Limited Lifetime Warranty on Twin Jet Fins, buckles and straps.

To support this new program, SCUBAPRO UWATEC will include a Limited Lifetime Warranty card with each pair of Twin Jet adjustable open-heel and full-foot fins.

It is important to note that any and all existing SCUBAPRO Twin Jet Fins which do not bear serial numbers are still 100% covered by the SCUBAPRO Limited Lifetime Warranty, assuming proof of purchase is provided with claim. Equally important, any SCUBAPRO Twin Jet Fin bearing a serial number that has been defaced or destroyed will not be covered by the warranty.

This program is designed to protect the company's unique position in the marketplace, and will result in additional value for all customers. All authorized SCUBAPRO UWATEC dealers are actively promoting this new program, and are encouraging new customers to register their SCUBAPRO Twin Jet Fins via registration card or online, and to record serial numbers for future reference.

Source: www.sportdiver.com
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SCUBAPRO Serializes Twin Jet Fins

Deep sea gardens discovered everywhere

Seafloor hot vents, like this one, are powering undersea gardens around the world, researchers are finding (Image: OAR/NURP; NOAA; P Rona)Ocean explorers are uncovering a whole gaggle of new undersea gardens from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean powered by nothing but hot water, and rich in both exotic life and valuable ores.

Geothermal vents on the ocean floor had previously been thought possible only in places like the eastern Pacific, where the relatively rapid spreading apart of tectonic plates creates seafloor volcanic activity to power the fields of smoking hot water.

Now, scientists have found vents in the Arctic Ocean, along the mid-Atlantic Ridge and discovered a vastly productive hot water spout in the Indian Ocean.

"Up to 20 years ago all these new discoveries were in regions that were off-limits," says hydrothermal vent specialist Professor Peter Rona of Rutgers University.

In other words, they were in places where the seafloor is spreading apart more slowly than in the eastern Pacific.

In 1985, Rona led an expedition to a hydrothermal site known as TAG that had a huge mound of hydrothermally created iron, copper, zinc, gold and silver ores about 3 kilometres underwater along the mid-Atlantic Ridge.

"It changed the picture of seafloor hot springs from regional to global," Rona said at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Adding chemicals to oceans
Among the important implications of more hydrothermal fields is that they are contributing significant quantities of chemicals to the oceans as well as helping to cool the Earth's interior, rather like a radiator in an automobile.

"We're a water-cooled planet," says Rona.

So far, known hydrothermal vents put out about 17 terawatts of power, equivalent to about half the energy produced by humans, says Dr Robert Reves-Sohn of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

But with just 10% of the world's ocean ridges explored, there are bound to be a lot more hydrothermal vent fields out there, he says.

Mining ores
Another lesson learned from the new vents has been how and where valuable metal ores get laid down in the first place, says Rona.

The TAG mound is too deep to mine in any practical way, he says, but it has sent economic geologists scurrying around the globe looking for ancient, dead forms of the same mounds that have found their way onto land via plate tectonics.

Similar deposits are the source of a great deal of the world's historic copper ore.

As for the life forms on these new vent fields, they are proving to be exceptionally diverse, says Rona.

"We're finding that creatures will use anything to make a living," says hydrothermal vent researcher Dr Colin Devey of the University of Kiel in Germany.

Source: abc.net.au/science/news/enviro
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Deep sea gardens discovered everywhere

Non-fogging glass may have use in scuba gear

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a simple process that produces glass that is less smooth. Significantly less smooth.

This new process focuses on producing an entire layer of glass that is very porous with many small holes. Each hole is around 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. How does this relate to scuba diving?...

When condensation forms on this special glass, rather than creating droplets on the glass, it gets drawn into the tiny pores of the glass surface. This allows it to bond with other water molecules. When this process occurs the water, although remaining on the glass, is very evenly distributed allowing one to see through it much like peering through a glass of water. This coating is permanent, unlike some of the present solutions available.

This new non-fogging glass may set a standard for use in a variety of inductries including scuba diving where foggy masks can be a problem. The technology may become standard in various products, including scuba diving masks an area in which fogging can produce problems. The researchers hope to see the use of their technology in products offered over the next several years. For the full story visit: Non-Fogging Glass

Source: www.divenews.com
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Non-fogging glass may have use in scuba gear

Coco and Christmas Island Reefs in better shape than expected

An eight-year research project has found coral reef around the Christmas and Cocos Islands is in much better shape than first thought.

The scientific report by Parks Australia has found the Cocos Keeling reef, off the state's north-west coast, has not been affected by human activities.

The report has been released by Greg Hunt, the Parliamentary secretary to the Federal Environment minister, during the park's 10th anniversary celebrations.

Mr Hunt says the reef shares genetic characteristics with other reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

"And what that means is that if anything were to happen to this reef there is support which can come from other reefs but because this is such a pristine reef it is in a way an incubator and a biological ark for the rest of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific," he said.

Source: www.abc.net.au/news/items
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Coco and Christmas Island Reefs in better shape than expected

Virgin Islands' sponges may assist in the treatment of human disease

The coral reefs of the Caribbean are showing potential as the next great frontier for drug researchers seeking to cure cancer, malaria and other deadly diseases.

This summer, a green sponge collected in St. Thomas' Brewers Bay yielded an extract that could one day be used to treat leishmaniasis, a disfiguring and often deadly disease of the developing world.

Researchers elsewhere in the Caribbean have uncovered a cancer-fighting substance in red algae and an anti-malarial compound in another marine sponge.

While this field of research is still in its infancy, scientists believe that tropical waters may be a treasure trove of lifesaving medicines. Because of its island location in the Caribbean, the University of the Virgin Islands is positioned to play a key role in finding useful marine organisms.

As a relatively small institution, UVI has limited research facilities, but its natural resources are unmatched. The solution -Â at least for now - is partnerships with larger universities.

"It's perfect that we are here surrounded by the tropical reefs, but we do have to work with research organizations in the states," said Jennifer Carroll, a UVI assistant professor of chemistry who specializes in marine natural products.

Carroll said in an interview last week that she began working in 2004 with two scientists from the University of Mississippi - Professor Deborah Gochfield and Professor Marc Slattery. The university is home to the federally funded National Center for Natural Products Research, which has state-of-the-art facilities for studying potential new drugs.

Under the arrangement, UVI handles the first steps of collecting and processing samples. Through the partnership, Mississippi researchers later test the extracts for activity against diseases including cancer and HIV.

Gochfield said in a telephone interview this week that the Virgin Islands coral reefs "hold great potential."

"The Virgin Islands is perfectly situated right at the center of the Caribbean, so you get an incredible diversity of species," Gochfield said. "We're lucky to have UVI as a partner."

The tropical waters are home to thousands of species, many of which secrete chemicals to protect themselves from predators, pathogens and competitors. As those compounds are discovered, their uses - particularly what role they could play in human health - are an intriguing puzzle.

The marine natural products field is just taking off because collecting samples became possible only in the mid-1900s with the invention of scuba - self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

To obtain raw materials, the scientists scuba dive for sponges, soft corals and tunicates. To minimize their impact on reef ecosystems, they take only fist-sized samples, and they don't collect hard corals or protected species. The samples are processed into crude extracts, which must be refined through a long and painstaking process.

"We're hoping to find a new molecule or a synergistic combination of molecules that can be patented," Carroll said. From her past research, Carroll holds a patent to a molecule from a South American sea sponge that could one day be useful in organ transplantation.

UVI undergraduate student Jeffrey Purcell has been studying marine natural products under Carroll's supervision, and this summer he was invited to do work at Mississippi.

His job was to refine extracts of a green encrusting marine sponge collected in Brewers Bay.

While many of his classmates were lounging on the beach, Purcell was in Mississippi spending long hours in the lab. All his hard work paid off, however, when three samples showed activity against leishmaniasis - a disease that has developed resistance to many existing medicines.

Purcell said in an interview last week that learning the result was a high point of his undergraduate experience. "It was an amazing feeling," he said. "This work is needed, and it's not really a priority in mainstream research because it affects the Third World."

Leishmaniasis, caused by protozoans and transmitted through the bite of a sand fly, afflicts more than 2 million people a year, the majority of them in India. The disease causes crater-like scars, and certain forms are fatal.

For his work, Purcell won a "Best Poster" award when he presented his findings at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, which was held in November in Atlanta.

This research is just the beginning of drug development, a long and expensive process involving laboratory tests, trials in animals and then in humans, testing for safety and effectiveness, government approval and finally production as a commercial drug.

Scientists say bringing a new drug to market can cost $1 billion, and the high cost means that development is usually sponsored by a pharmaceutical company or the government.

"It takes 20 or 30 years to go from a discovery like Jeffrey's to a product that is marketable and usable in humans," Carroll said.

Many new drugs are0 launched at the University of Mississippi, which has the nation's only center devoted to studying natural products. Much research has focused on plants, but marine products research is gathering momentum with the recent creation of the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology.

Recent discoveries by Mississippi researchers in Caribbean waters have included a compound in red algae that shows anti-cancer activity and a species of sponge that shows activity against malaria.

Purcell is considering applying to Mississippi for graduate school.

Meanwhile, UVI is building its own research capacity. The territory is receiving a total of $4.5 million over four years from the National Science Foundation for the Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR. The grant program is aimed at promoting scientific progress by supporting innovative research and by improving the research infrastructure. UVI is using the funding to develop an international center of excellence in the study of coral reef ecosystems.

Thus far, EPSCoR has funded marine laboratory improvements and has paid for a research dive boat, based at UVI's MacLean Marine Science Center, which Carroll will use in collecting samples.

Carroll's research is among projects that are being supported by the EPSCoR funding.

Carroll said her dream is to perform drug discovery research without having to leave the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Next year, she plans to submit a grant proposal that would enable UVI to purchase a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer, equipment used to identify the structure of molecules. "Ultimately, I want to do the high-level research here," she said.

- Contact Tanya Mannes at 774-8772 ext. 317 or e-mail tmannes@dailynews.vi.

Source: www.virginislandsdailynews.com
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Virgin Islands' sponges may assist in the treatment of human disease

Diveheart Foundation offers online auction for Bonaire Dive Vacation

The Diveheart Foundation is dedicated to building confidence and independence in children and adults with disabilities. They accomplish this goal using the sport of SCUBA diving, snorkeling and other related activities...

Diveheart is attempting to raise money to help more children and adults in the disabled community. Golden Reef Inn, Bonaire has agreed to donate a seven night six dive day package for two valued at over $600 for Diveheart’s ebay auction.

A special eBay auction is underway to raise money for the Diveheart Foundation. To go to the auction and place a bid, visit: Diveheart eBay Auction

Source: www.divenews.com
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Diveheart Foundation offers online auction for Bonaire Dive Vacation

Police probe Florida dive instructor's death on 'staff technical dive' gone wrong

Police are investigating the diving death of a professional scuba instructor on Thanksgiving Day off Hallandale Beach.

Zak Jones, 30, who was diving with six colleagues from Fort Lauderdale's Pro Dive International on the Pro Diver II, was pronounced dead on arrival at Aventura Hospital.

Jones had been on what company CEO Frank Gernert described as a "staff technical dive."

According to U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, Jones and a dive buddy were 150 feet deep, each equipped with three scuba tanks, when they separated to explore a reef.

"After a few minutes, Mr. Jones' dive partner turned and found Mr. Jones struggling as if he were entangled in his tank lines," O'Neil said, quoting from a Coast Guard incident report. "When the dive partner reached Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones was unconscious with the regulator out of his mouth."

Jones' buddy dumped the air out of Jones' buoyancy-compensation vest, sending him quickly to the surface, according to O'Neil. The buddy ascended slower because of the depth they were diving, which is beyond the recreational limit of 130 feet.

At the surface, the buddy administered CPR and flagged down the dive boat. The unconscious Jones was lifted aboard, where the crew continued CPR and radioed the Coast Guard at 10:35 a.m.

According to O'Neil, two Coast Guard vessels were on the scene within 15 minutes, and one of them brought Jones to Haulover Marina, where he was picked up by Miami-Dade paramedics. The paramedics took Jones to Aventura Hospital.

A Miami-Dade police spokesman said the death remains unclassified, pending results of tests by the medical examiner's office.

Jones began his diving career in 1992 after receiving his initial certification.

In 12 years of diving, he held more than 25 certifications, including course director at Pro Dive International.

Gernert said Jones' colleagues are deeply saddened by his death and want to know what caused it.

"Pro Dive and the staff here want to know to the highest possible degree of certainty what happened, and we are reaching out to all scientific and forensic resources to help us understand," Gernert said.

"Until such time as we have anything to report, we only have theories to work with."

Source: www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/local/states/florida/counties
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Police probe Florida dive instructor's death on 'staff technical dive' gone wrong

Australia: Great white sharks to be tracked by sonar or satellite technology

Great White sharks may soon be tracked along the metropolitan coastline using sonar or satellite technology.

Fisheries Director Will Zacharin yesterday revealed a feasibility study was being conducted into the initiative, which would also ultimately involve Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.

The technology could enable experts to tell if a single rogue shark has been responsible for recent attacks off Adelaide's coast.

Shark expert Andrew Fox said: "Tagging them so they can be positively identified is about the only way of telling if the same shark has come back to the same area."

Satellite tagging had already proven successful in a scientific study conducted by the CSIRO last year in which four Great White sharks were tracked after they were tagged at the Neptune Islands, 80km south of Port Lincoln.

Sonar tagging had also been a success at the Neptunes with underwater sonar buoys recording the movements of tagged sharks over two years.

"We are looking at expanding a tagging program across southern Australia," Mr Zacharin said.

"The project is being developed. It will be a combination of satellite and acoustic tags."

New technology had made the tags more reliable and longer lasting with some now lasting more than two years.

Future testing would involve placing sonar tracking stations at various locations - including along the metropolitan coastline - to monitor a tagged shark's location.

"It is already done at the Neptunes on a small scale, but we are looking at expanding that program considerably. We are rapidly assessing the technology, the feasibility and the cost," Mr Zacharin said.

He revealed that since January 1 there had been 44 shark reports to the Fishwatch hotline.

Many had been confirmed, but others had been unfounded or were dolphins or seals.

He said the increased public awareness of sharks and the willingness to report sightings was partly attributable to the volume of calls to the hotline. The latest was an incident involving a Great White off Middle Beach, north-west of Adelaide, last week in which a shark mouthed a boat's outboard motor after eating a berley bag used to attract fish.

Shark expert Rolf Czabayski said yesterday such interaction was inevitable because of the methods used by fishermen to attract fish.

It would be "impossible to tell" if the shark sighted off Middle Beach last week had frequented the metropolitan coastline previously, he said. Many sharks he had encountered had similar wounds and markings near the mouth.

Source: www.theadvertiser.news.com.au
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Australia: Great white sharks to be tracked by sonar or satellite technology

Scuba divers rescue 50-ton humpback whale near Farallon Islands

A group of scuba divers rescued a 50-foot-long humpback whale that had become entangled in crab fishing gear near the Farallon Islands.

Commercial crab fishermen spotted the trapped whale around 8:30 a.m. Sunday and began making calls for help that eventually reached Mick Menigoz, a Novato fishing boat captain who also leads whale-watching tours, according to the fishermen and divers.

Menigoz, 48, received assistance from six scuba divers and three staffers at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. The group located the entangled whale around 2:30 p.m. six miles from the Farallon Islands, a chain of rocky islands about 30 miles west of San Francisco.

The 50-ton mammal was heavily entwined in the crab fishing gear, with up to a dozen traps wrapped around its tail, pectoral fins and mouth, according to diver Jason Russey, of San Francisco.

Two divers snorkeled near the whale's head while a pair of divers with scuba gear dove below the mammal.

"The scuba guys below were able to make a few cuts with knives, and once we got the line tension relieved on the ends, we were soon able to lift them up and off the whale," Russey said.

The whale was freed a little over an hour after the rescue team arrived.

The Marine Mammal Center occasionally receives calls about whales getting tangled in fishing gear, but the animals usually free themselves and move on before they're located, according to Shelbi Stoudt, the center's stranded division manager. She said Sunday's incident was the center's first "unentanglement" in the region.

Source: www.sfgate.com
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Scuba divers rescue 50-ton humpback whale near Farallon Islands

Tensions rise as dive buddies banned from search for missing scuba diver off Irish Coast

Tensions between the Navy, the Coast Guard and club divers desperate to recover the remains of their missing colleague, Billy O' Connor reached fever point at Kilmore on Sunday night as accusations of engaging in politics were levelled at the state agencies involved in the search.

Earlier in the day, divers from the Hook Head and Kilkenny sub aqua clubs were threatened with prosecution when they attempted to dive the wreckage of the Rising Sun.

Search Co-ordinator with Kilkenny sub aqua club, Michael Butler said that the divers were told by the Navy and a member of the Garda Síochána when they arrived at the site that morning "that they would take our names and take prosecutions against us if we went down."

Search continues
The search continues today for both Pat Colfer, skipper of the vessel the "Rising Sun" who has been missing since Tuesday evening of last week, and diver Billy O'Connor, who has been missing since early Thursday evening.

Coastguard Units from Carnsore Point, Rosslare, Fethard, Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay have been searching the inshore area, while civil defence units and local volunteers have been combing the shoreline.

At sea, the Kilmore Quay Lifeboat and the Fethard Lifeboat have been searching, accompanied by the Coast Guard helicopter.

The search is being co-ordinated by the Naval vessel, the L.E. Orla.

The Granuaile arrived at the site on Sunday morning after travelling from Cork, carrying a team of fourteen naval divers, a de-compression chamber, a remote operating vehicle and surface diving equipment.

The Granuaile took up position above the wreck of the Rising Sun with the intention of allowing the naval divers to investigate the wreck and the surrounding area. The dives over the past number of days have, however, so far been concluded without result.

On Sunday last, relations deteriorated rapidly between the Navy, the Coast Guard and club divers after a diving team made up of divers from the Hook and Kilkenny sub aqua clubs were ordered not to dive at the site.

The instructions not to dive were issued by the Navy on foot of a one-mile exclusion zone which has been imposed by the Irish Coastguard around the sunken boat.

Vincent Furlong of the Hook sub aqua club described the despair the divers in the club are feeling at being excluded from the search for both Pat Colfer and Billy O' Connor.

"It's just terrible that we are not being allowed to do what we are trained to do," he said. "We do this every weekend. And it's terrible that we are now being told we can't dive for Billy. I've done a lot of diving with Billy. He taught me to dive and you'd think that this would be the least thing we'd be allowed to do for him"

Vincent, who was present with the dive team that made it out to the exclusion zone earlier in the day, described how “the Navy just came alongside and ordered us to move outside the exclusion zone.

"It happened on a number of occasions. We'd move outside the exclusion zone and wait for a while before we'd move back in again.

"We just wanted to make sure that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing without upsetting them in any way.

"They only entered the water after the dive window (a period when the water would be suitable for divers to go down) had closed.

"I've spoken with the families and they are aware of the difficulties we're facing down here. They're very bitter about it.

"We have the expertise and the equipment and I can't understand why we are not being allowed to work along side the Naval Diving Unit on this."

Site 'safe for diving'
Vincent, who also went out on the boat with Billy O' Connor on his last dive, rejected any suggestions that the exclusion order was in place for valid health and safety reasons.

"What happened with Billy was not a result of the diving conditions on Thursday," he said. "Words can't describe what happened but the conditions were reasonable. It wasn't bad. It was diveable ... favourable even. We didn't see any problems with the water conditions otherwise we wouldn't have dived.

"The dive went as planned. We've no idea what happened with Billy. We can't understand what happened but we just want to go down and get him back now.

"The divers saw the wreck on Thursday. They didn't see him but the boat was reported as sitting on its keel at the bottom. There was nothing dangerous about the wreck."

Navy misjudged dive window
"The Navy only got down to 20 metres today because they went into the water only after the dive window was closed," said Kilkenny sub-aqua's Michael Butler on Sunday night.

"They didn't make the bottom and at the same time they stopped us from doing our job. We have a dive team that has been diving that depth and deeper for the last number of years. They've all been to 80 and 90 metres this year and are very familiar with the area."

Sean Murray of Hook sub aqua club added to this saying that: "Billy was there for everybody when he was called on. He was the first man on the scene whenever a tragedy occurred at sea.

"In the papers, they've been saying he dived the Pisces and in Duncannon but Billy was diving as far back as the Cahill and the Gleeson incidents.

"He'd be out before first light in the morning and stay there until well after dark. And there is a sense that now when he is the one who is lost; he is being robbed of that same courtesy."

Eamonn Foley of the Irish Underwater Council said that there are huge levels of frustration for both the families and the divers wanting to join the search on their being excluded by the Coast Guard.

"There is a lot of frustration here on the part of the divers as to why we are not being let carry out the dives we feel we can do," he said.

"But there have been no issues of conflict and we have, as an organisation rowed in behind the Irish Coast Guard coordinator, David Meyler and we have respected the exclusion zone in place.

"We had 11 boats out yesterday and 13 boats out today and we are carrying out a well co-coordinated surface search. We have a huge number of qualified and able divers who will be able to dive should the Navy feel they are unable to do so."

Mr. Foley said the position of the Irish Underwater Council was that the search would at all costs continue.

"There are two bodies to be returned to be shore and the search will not be concluded until those bodies are returned to their families.

"That's why we have a surface search on for Pat, the skipper of The Rising Sun. And we want to put divers down because, we're convinced at least at this stage, that Billy O' Connor remains in close proximity to where he was lost."

Source: www.underwatertimes.com
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Tensions rise as dive buddies banned from search for missing scuba diver off Irish Coast

Investigation reveals boat captain at fault for stranding three German divers in the Philippines

The boatmen, who took three German scuba divers to the seawaters off Anda peninsula, were blamed for negligence that caused the near fatal accident of the tourists who were billeted in a resort in Anda town.

Philippine Coast Guard Commander William Isaga bared that he was following up investigations based on statements claiming that the boatmen left the area where the divers were dropped off for an early morning dive last Dec. 1.

"The boatmen clearly committed negligence after they could no longer find the divers after two hours." Isaga said.

The statement of the PCG official was issued during a joint investigation conducted yesterday by the committee on tourism of the provincial lawmaking body and the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC).

Board member Corazon Galbreath, PTC co-chair (government sector), presided over the committee hearing in which she invited dive shop owners in Anda and Panglao together with dive experts who coordinated in the search and rescue operations for the three German divers.

Isaga told the committee that he would verify reports on the alleged gross negligence of the boatmen, citing that boatmen handling tourists/divers should be properly trained.

Holger Kloepper, dive master of Abyss Divers/Flower Beach Resort who was one of the survivors, narrated on their 28-hour ordeal at sea that they were "not worried on what will happen to them but, more on what they will do to the captain" of the dive boat that brought them to mid-sea for their dive.

The claim of the Coast Guard official was affirmed by Harald Mittrich, a German national who coordinated in the rescue operations.

Galbreath requested Provincial Tourism Officer Baby Balio to include other dive shop owners during the next assembly of the PTC to further discuss the issue.

The committee investigation has revealed that majority of the dive boats in the province are not equipped with hand-held radio, a basic food for distress calls.

Engineer Dennis Rocamora of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) who was invited to attend the meeting said that it is a legal requirement for all pump boats and sea vessels to have hand-held radio.

Rocamora said the PCG is automatically deputized to implement the installation of hand-held radio on sea vessels since the local Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is short of manpower to impose it.

The local MARINA's personnel is composed only of two personnel while the PCG has 35 in the entire province.

Source: www.underwatertimes.com
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Investigation reveals boat captain at fault for stranding three German divers in the Philippines

09 December 2005

Giant jellyfish invasion off Japan, China and South Korea

Giant jellyfish called Echizen kurage have invaded territorial waters off Japan, China and South Korea, prompting a top-level summit to deal with the menace.

Giant jellyfish called Echizen kurage have invaded territorial waters off Japan, China and South Korea, prompting a top-level summit to deal with the menace.

Nearly 2m wide and weighing 200kg, with countless poisonous tentacles, they have drifted across the void to terrorise the people of Japan.

"Echizen kurage" is not an extraterrestrial invader but a giant jellyfish that is devastating the livelihoods of fishermen in the Japan Sea. Nomura's jellyfish, as it is known in English, is the biggest creature of its kind off Japan and, for reasons that remain mysterious, its numbers have surged in the past few months.

The problem has become so serious that fishery officials from Japan, China and South Korea are to meet this month for a "jellyfish summit" to discuss strategies for dealing with the invasion.

Previously found mainly in the Yellow Sea, the Echizen's sting can be fatal, causing a build-up of fluid in the lungs. Victims take up to a day to die. There have been eight reported death from an Echizen sting.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has formed a jellyfish countermeasures committee and resourceful fishermen are at work on technology to keep the gelatinous marauders out of their nets.

The problem first became obvious in the late northern summer, when fishermen chasing anchovies, salmon and yellowtail began finding huge numbers of the jellyfish in their nets.

Often, the weight of the Echizen kurage had broken the nets or crushed the fish to death. Those that survived were poisoned and beslimed by their tentacles.

Fishermen on the northern tip of Honshu, Japan's main island, were forced to suspend their work at the height of the lucrative salmon season.

In Akita prefecture, some communities saw their incomes fall by 80 per cent.

The gizzard shad (herring) fishers of South Korea have also been plagued by the troublesome creature.

In some places, jellyfish density is reported to be a hundred times higher than normal and no one yet understands why.

One theory is that global warming is heating up the seawater and encouraging jellyfish breeding.

Some observers blame heavy rains in China over the summer, which flowed out from China's rivers and propelled abnormal numbers of Echizen kurage towards Japan.

Others have suggested overfishing has allowed the growth of the populations of plankton on which the jellyfish feed.

Screens and meshes have been designed that allow fish through but keep out anything bigger, and a web of metal wires can be placed inside a net to chop the jellyfish to pieces.

In the meantime, local people are making the best of their problem; rather than just complaining about it, they are eating it.

Jellyfish are an unusual ingredient of Japanese cuisine but are much more prized in China.

Coastal communities are doing their best to promote jellyfish as a novelty food, sold dried and salted.

Students in Obama have managed to turn them into tofu, and jellyfish collagen is reported to be beneficial to the skin.

Sources: www.thecouriermail.news.com.au, www.timesonline.co.uk and www.divester.com
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Giant jellyfish invasion off Japan, China and South Korea

Professional dive instructor drowns

On Thanksgiving Day, dive instructor Zak Jones was diving with colleagues on what Fort Lauderdale's Pro Dive International CEO Frank Gernert described as a "staff technical dive."

According to a Coast Guard spokesman, Jones and a dive buddy were diving at 150 feet when they separated to explore a reef: "After a few minutes, Mr. Jones' dive partner turned and found Mr. Jones struggling as if he were entangled in his tank lines.

When the dive partner reached Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones was unconscious with the regulator out of his mouth." Jones was pronounced DOA at the hospital. Police are investigating the precise cause of death. A memorial has been set up for his wife, Robyn.

The news piece reports that "Jones' buddy dumped the air out of Jones" buoyancy-compensation vest, sending him quickly to the surface." Anybody else think that statement is a bit weird?

Source: www.divester.com
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Professional dive instructor drowns

Dive in the Maldives and get a Guinness World Record Certificate

The Maldives is to attempt a new world record for the greatest number of scuba divers simultaneously diving on a single site. This Dive Maldives event is scheduled to be held on Saturday, February 25, 2006 at 11:00hrs.

The Maldives – renowned for her natural tropical beauty and crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches; is a favourite tourist destination of many, the world over. (find out more about the Maldives at )
Given that the Maldives welcomes thousands of tourists each month – for most of whom the major attraction is the wide variety of water sports available at the Maldives, it is only fitting that the Maldives should be the country to attempt this new world record.

This event that is targeted to include 1000 divers comprising locals and tourists is to be witnessed by a Guinness World Record Representative who will award a Guinness World Record Certificate to each diver and dive school that takes part in the event.

This Dive Maldives event is to be held at Sunlight Thila in Male’ Atoll. This is one of the safest dive sites with a maximum depth of 22 metres and a sandy floor with only a few blocks of coral.

Anyone with a diving certificate may take part in this event. Anyone wishing to acquire a diving certificate before the even may also join one of the many short courses run at any one of the dive schools operating in the Maldives.

My Maldives
Azlifa Ahmed
Tel: +960 779 2550
Website: www.mymaldives.com

Source: www.prweb.com/releases
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Dive in the Maldives and get a Guinness World Record Certificate

Snorkeler presumed dead, family to hold memorial

The family of a 68-year-old Omaha man lost in a snorkeling incident is holding a memorial service for him on Friday.

John "Bud" Dresp and his brother, Donald Dresp from Las Cruces, N.M., went snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley, a popular dive spot near Caye Caulkeroff off Belize, with a group of 50 people from a cruise on Nov. 16. When Bud Dresp disappeared underwater, his brother notified the operator of the snorkeling trip, Discovery Divers Ltd.

Discovery Divers later issued a statement saying the group was accompanied by eight licensed tour guides and that snorkeling conditions were ideal. But Donald Dresp told local news media there was a strong current and the water was deeper than the group had expected.

After a seven-day search, Bud Dresp was presumed dead, his daughter Ellen Ham said Thursday. So, she said, the family decided to go ahead with services.

Another American tourist drowned recently in Belize waters.

Abigail Brinkman, 28, of Columbus, Ind., died on Oct. 22 as she attempted to swim with other divers to a nearby caye after their dive boat experienced engine trouble. Her companions spent three days and two nights in open water beyond the Belize Barrier Reef.

Source: www.scubawire.com
Original Article: www.journalstar.com
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Snorkeler presumed dead, family to hold memorial

Singapore adventurer to challenge Guinness World Record for scuba dive

Singapore adventurer Khoo Swee Chiow plans to challenge the Guinness World Record for the longest scuba dive next week, Channel NewsAsia reported Thursday.

As the current record is 212 hours 30 minutes, or less than nine days, Khoo hopes that his dive could last for ten days from December 16 to 25.

He will not be allowed to surface but can take a break for five minutes every continuous 60 minutes during his dive.

Main challenges include dehydration, nausea and vertigo, the report said, while boredom is regarded as the toughest by Khoo.

The adventurer is said to have completed the so-called " Adventure Grand Slam" after conquering the North and South Poles as well as the Seven Summits.

In August this year, Khoo, who learned freestyle swimming just a year ago, attempted to swim across the English Channel but failed.

Source: english.people.com.cn and www.channelnewsasia.com
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Singapore adventurer to challenge Guinness World Record for scuba dive

Australia: Great White Shark attacks bait boat

Robert Hogg, his son James and a friend have had a terrifying brush with a 4m Great White Shark. The trio were enjoying a "relaxing day in the boat" when a shark launched out of the water and tore into a bait bag attached to their 5.4m fibreglass boat.

On the first day of summer weekday shark patrols, the alarm was sounded to get swimmers out of the water at Aldinga's Silver Sands Beach after a huge shark was seen just 100m off shore yesterday.

Mr Hogg described his run-in with the great white as "a bit of a shock".

"We felt a bit of a jerk and then the boat sort of started pulling sideways," Mr Hogg said.

"It was bloody huge.

"I unknotted the burley bag and tried to hold on to it.

"Then the shark showed himself at the back of the boat and had a bit of a taste test."

Mr Hogg said the shark swam around behind the boat for about 10 minutes before swimming off.

"I was a bit worried when the boat was being dragged," he said.

"It did no real harm – just took a bite out of the hydrofoil at the bottom of the motor."

Two sharks were seen yesterday during the first University of South Australia and SES shark patrol flight, in which graduate pilots will notch up flying hours while protecting beachgoers.

UniSA civil aviation head Steve Thatcher said he hoped the new patrols would help avoid Great White attacks.

Source: www.underwatertimes.com
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Australia: Great White Shark attacks bait boat

Australia: Researchers record nearly 3,000 whales in annual migration

Scientists have begun analysing the results of a land and sea survey of the annual migration of the humpback whale along the east coast of Australia.

Staff at Southern Cross University's Whale Research Centre in northern New South Wales have spent 12 weeks taking DNA samples and photographing the whales.

PhD student Dan Burns says nearly 3,000 whales have made their way up the coast this season.

Mr Burns says there were a few surprises from the survey.

"We saw a little dwarf minke whale and also bryde's whales on a couple of days and we had a mum and calf southern right whale which we saw on two separate days," he said.

"We're starting to see more and more southern right whales, historically they weren't really seen any further north than about Sydney."

Source: www.abc.net.au/news
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Australia: Researchers record nearly 3,000 whales in annual migration

Saudi Arabia: Another scuba diver drowns in Red Sea

Members of the Jeddah scuba diving community are mourning the death of another young Saudi who drowned while scuba diving.

The death, the second in a month in Jeddah, occurred on Thursday at Al-Nakheel Beach, where the body of a 26-year-old man was found floating face down, with his air tank full and his diving equipment in working condition.

According to Al-Nakheel Beach's dive club manager, David Kirk, who was on the scene and aided in the rescue efforts, the dead diver had been certified in May this year and had from 30 to 40 dives logged to date.

"The man who passed away was diving with two others when somehow they got separated under the water. When his dive buddies realized he was missing, they surfaced and raised the alarm. A search and rescue operation was immediately mounted from the beach and from the water, and within minutes, the diver was found floating face down on the surface," Kirk told Arab News.

When the body was quickly brought back to shore, Kirk and a doctor on the scene began performing CPR on the victim, but could not resuscitate him despite trying for 25 minutes.

"When the diver was found, paramedics and the Coast Guard were notified, but nothing could be done to save the young man, who was subsequently pronounced dead by a doctor at the beach," Kirk said.

The young diver had visited Al-Nakheel Beach Thursday morning and rented some of his equipment from the dive shop at the beach after showing his diving certification card as proof of having been properly trained.

"When we recovered the diver, we found that he had plenty of air, and had not gone any deeper than 43 feet. No one knows exactly what happened to him under the water, but his equipment was in full working order," Kirk added.

The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of death.

On Eid day, 23-year-old Mufareh Abdullah Al-Ghamdi died while scuba diving with friends near Al-Rayes.

Source: www.arabnews.com
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Saudi Arabia: Another scuba diver drowns in Red Sea

Ireland: Search resumes for missing scuba diver

The Irish Coastguard has resumed its search for a diver who went missing while looking for the skipper of a sunken fishing boat.

Billy O'Connor, 49, from New Ross, was one of two experienced divers who dived to 50m to ascertain if a wreck located off County Wexford was that of the fishing boat Rising Sun, which sank on Tuesday.

The divers organised an underwater search on Wednesday, following a major air and sea search. Although the captain of the fishing vessel Patrick Colfer, 37, was not found, two other men on board were rescued about seven hours later by local fishermen.

O'Connor's buddy lost contact with him at 7m while they were both ascending from the wreck on Thursday. His buddy confirmed that the wreck off the Great Saltee Island was the Rising Sun and that the body of Colfer was not inside.

"The dive that took place yesterday tragically was not part of the search and rescue operation, and indeed was advised against," said Eamonn Torpay, search and rescue manager at the Irish Coastguard. "We are not in a position to say what happened because that will be part of the investigation.

"Weather conditions were not good yesterday [Thursday 1 December]. Our incident manager advised it would inadvisable to search and the naval service were not in a position to search because of the conditions."

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has launched a full investigation. According to reports, the fishing crew on the Rising Sun was pulling in lobster pots when it went down.

Source: www.divemagazine.co.uk/news
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Ireland: Search resumes for missing scuba diver

Diver-held sonar developed to help locate objects in zero visibility

A new device has been developed to help divers conduct searches underwater. The engineers at the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory have invented a diver-held sonar with better resolution than any other hand-held sonar used today by the military or civilian sectors.

In addition, the device is the first diver-held sonar to incorporate a tracking system which enables a diver to follow a search grid, deviate from the grid if he or she needs to examine an object more closely and then easily resume the search pattern.

Divers in turbid water, where visibility can be zero, typically use their hands to feel for objects on or suspended just above the bottom, according to Ed Belcher, project lead and engineer with the Applied Physics Laboratory. A diver must set up lines on the bottom with rope, meticulously search a narrow swath along that line, then move the rope and search the next adjacent swath.

The Applied Physics Laboratory's hand-held sonar is about a foot and a half long, sends out 64 acoustic beams when searching and has a resolution of 0.5 degrees. It incorporates a display system and tracking module developed by Coastal Systems Station of Panama City, Fla. Images, which are updated nine times a second, can be seen on a video display in a corner of the diver's mask. Information from the tracking module also is displayed in the corner of the mask.

A diver could, for example, watch the display as he or she moves along the search path for 30 yards and then pan the sonar in a 360 degree sweep. If nothing of interest is seen, the diver could move another 30 yards and complete another 360 degree sweep. When the diver sees something of interest, he or she can approach it for a closer scan, mark its location with a cursor and store its location in the sonar's memory. The sonar then helps the diver get back to the path to continue the search. Each marked target is mapped on the search grid. If the diver wants to return to a marked target, the sonar gives him or her the range and bearing.

The diver-held sonar was developed by Belcher and his team at the Applied Physics Laboratory with U.S. Navy Office of Special Technology funding. The Applied Physics Laboratory, a part of the UW's College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences, focuses on ocean science and engineering.

Source: www.underwatertimes.com
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Diver-held sonar developed to help locate objects in zero visibility

New Zealand: Divers bent after running out of air

Two students are today in Auckland's Devonport Naval Hospital undergoing decompression treatment after a near-fatal diving accident off the Bay of Plenty coast.

The two marine studies students suffered the bends after both running out of air at a depth of 38m during a diving expedition between Tauranga and Motiti Island yesterday about 10.30am.

The men were diving when one ran out of air - forcing them to rely on the other man's air supply, known as "buddy breathing".

But at a depth of 38m that oxygen also ran out - and the subsequent rapid rise to the surface caused the men to suffer the bends, as well as one of them nearly drowning.

One of the men needed emergency CPR during a frantic rescue effort that followed. The bends is decompression illness caused by nitrogen bubbles getting into blood and tissues.

The men were taken to Tauranga Hospital by St John Ambulance at 11.30am yesterday. The Tauranga based TrustPower TECT rescue helicopter and the Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance later transferred the men separately to Auckland.

The sunny day turned to nightmare for the pair who were with two other Bay of Plenty Polytechnic students and Tauranga couple Bert and Lyn Kalmer on their launch, Striker II, yesterday.

Within 30 minutes of anchoring, two of the four divers - one of whom is a 37-year-old from Papamoa - were in trouble.

"We just don't know what happened down there," skipper Mr Kalmer said.

The men had requested a dive trip at the spot Mr Kalmer estimated between 6-10 miles out from Tauranga Harbour.

"They wanted to dive on a certain spot to check out what was down there."

When Mr Kalmer heard the worst-affected man calling for help Mr Kalmer immediately leapt into the dinghy and rowed to the distressed pair about 300m away.

Mr Kalmer pulled the dive gear off the two men and strapped it to the side of the dinghy and pulled the pair on board. "There was a sense of extreme urgency but there was no panic," he told the Bay of Plenty Times afterwards.

One of the men was unconscious on board the dinghy and his dive- buddy performed mouth to mouth resuscitation.

"When you are dealing with a situation like this it doesn't matter if you are doing everything right as long as you are doing something. We did the very best we could, I just hope the joker is going to be all right."

The dinghy had drifted 700m away from Striker II and in the meantime Lyn Kalmer had helped the other two divers on board and pulled the anchor up.

Coastguard then came to the rescue and supplied oxygen.

Coastguard operations manager Chris Isherwood said five men attended the emergency, which did not happen often.

He complimented the boat crew on their handling of the situation saying they couldn't have done it better. He estimated there were about six diving incidents in the Bay each year out of a total of about 170 rescues.

Source: www.nzherald.co.nz
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New Zealand: Divers bent after running out of air

Cornish Divers arrested on treasure hunt suspicion

A team of Cornish divers could be facing extradition accused of plundering shipwrecks off the Spanish coast.

It was originally claimed that the team was illegally diving for gold and diamonds on a wreck off Galicia on the north west coast of Spain.

Now they face charges of theft and damaging Spanish heritage and up to six years in jail.

Peter Devlin, Malcolm Cubin, and Steve Russ deny the charges.

The Spanish authorities arrested the three commercial divers after they dived on the wrecked Dutch ship Friesland in 2002.

Mr Devlin, from Falmouth, says his company, Force 9 Salvage, had a contract with the Spanish government.

The Friesland was carrying 220 tonnes of tin ingots worth about £650,000.

Arrest warrant

But after recovering just one tin ingot the divers were arrested and questioned over allegations of illegally diving for gold and diamonds on a nearby wreck.

In November the divers learned they had been charged and now fear the Spanish authorities could apply for an EU arrest warrant which would allow for their extradition.

The Spanish prosecutor is demanding three years on each count.

Truro father-of-four Mr Cubin, now back in the UK, told BBC News: "They have no case whatsoever, it's insane.

"Our permits were even checked by the Guardia Civil before we went diving.

"We are commercial divers. We are professionals, not treasure hunters."


Falmouth MP Julia Goldsworthy is pressing the Foreign Office to resolve the issue.

Stephen Jakobi, director of Fair Trials Abroad, said they hoped to be able to help the divers and he said: "This is really a squabble amongst the Spaniards by the looks of things.

"Government permits and okays have been given, and the national government is getting a share of the finds by agreement.

"It looks to me as though it is a local prosecutor having a go. The relationship between national and state prosecutions is not good, and these divers are being used as pawns."

Source: www.deeperblue.net
Original Article: news.bbc.co.uk
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Cornish Divers arrested on treasure hunt suspicion