Monthly Archives: May 2012

Should we Sink the Concordia?

This week there has been a lot of controversy regarding the final resting place of The Concordia. Almost the largest cruise liner in the world, the Concordia has been partly submerged since it drifted too close to the shore and damaged its hull on a sharp rock last January. Currently lying just off shore on its side, The Concordia looks very sad but it is quite remarkable that it has remained floating in the water for this long.

There are several different voices within the local scuba diving community, some of whom are claiming that we should allow the vessel to sink because it would prove a massive attraction to scuba divers and tourists the world over. Aldo Baffigi, a local of the island of Giglio, says he prays every night that the wind will take the vessel to the bottom of the ocean from its current location, perched somewhat precariously on an underwater ocean ledge. According to Baffigi, the ship would prove to be ‘the most popular shipwreck in the world’.

Sinking a very large capsized ship is not a wholly uncommon practice. However, the reasons for the voices of dissent when it comes to the Concordia are very understandable. The pristine waters surrounding the island made sinking the ship an unfavorable option for many of the other divers in the area as well as the tourist-driven economy who value the gorgeous environment around their island more than having a large shipwreck off-shore.

Wreck Diving is very popular amongst experienced divers

A ship of this size at the bottom of the ocean will inevitably have an adverse affect on the surrounding area as pieces of the ship decay, break off and splinter. The opinion of most of the community was summed up nicely by International Diving instructor Gian Domenico Battistello who said ‘The Concordia would be the Disneyland of the diving world and everyone knows it. But I’d rather have the pristine waters of Giglio than the ship.

The 300 million dollar salvage operation will take over a year as the rescue ships inflate buoyancy modules underneath the ship and haul it away in one piece. Again the usual option of cutting it into sections and carrying it away was not possible again because of the fear of spoiling the wonderful environment surrounding Giglio.

Over the course of that year, Baffigi is still holding out hopes that the ship will eventually be sunk either during the salvage process or by a large storm.

When the Concordia capsized, 30 people lost their lives and it is important that whatever happens to the ship is respecful of their memories. It is positive to see that 100 years on from the sinking of the Titanic and in a shipwreck of a similar scale, the infrastructure of the maritime industry has improved sufficiently to minimise the loss of life.

Advancements in Jellyfish Sting Treatment

There have recently been some very important advancements in the treatments of jellyfish stings in the form of acidic relief sprays that can neutralise the sting and relieve the pain. Considering the high risk of stings for scuba divers in particular and the recent explosion of the jellyfish population, I think it is important to place a product like this under holiday essentials for most divers.

A company called Ocean Care Solutions has developed a jellyfish relief spray that has a 5% level of acetic acid in a viscous formula that is easy to apply and the spray that clings to the skin will relieve the effects of many jellyfish stings in only a few minutes. The home solution to jellyfish stings has always been household vinegar, for the same reasons, because it contains a similar level of acetic acid which helps to neutralise the sting. However, common vinegar does not have a concentration high enough to provide effective relief and because it doesn’t cling to the skin like this relief spray, it is not as easy to apply or as fast acting.

Jellyfish stings can range greatly from the irritating to the incapacitating and even potentially fatal stings of box jellyfish and other lethal species. To avoid getting caught out, it is advisable to carry this small bottle of spray just as a precaution because even if you get only a minor sting, the considerable irritation will certainly make you wish you had thought to bring the first aid spray. When it comes to diving, or just first aid in general, it is very important to treat the injury as quickly as possible; the time it takes to find vinegar, or get back onto shore could make the injury substantially worse than it needed to be.

On a more positive note, these animals are some of the most remarkable and beautiful creatures in the ocean. One jellyfish in particular that caught my interest recently was when i learned about the turritopsis nutricula also known as ‘The Immortal Jellyfish’. This species can reportedly return to an adolescent state after reaching sexual maturity, which in theory and providing it doesn’t get killed could extend it’s life indefinitely. So rather than simply detailing all of the dangers of jellyfish stings and their effects I will end this post by pointing out the beauty and worldwide fascination with these 650 million year old creatures. But if you are planning a trip to get up close to some of these dangerous species just make sure that you take the proper precautions.

The Dive Pirates

I’d like to make you aware of a brilliant Scuba based charity that is doing some wonderful things for injured soldiers and dive enthusiasts. It’s called ‘Dive Pirates‘ and its ethos is to help injured soldiers with different levels of disability to achieve diving qualifications and fall in love with the diving experience with the hope to both aiding recovery and improving support both within the community and between them and their families.

The course starts with some basic training and ends with an all-paid trip to the Caribbean to receive the open water certification. The benefit of this are incredible for the injured soldier and their families. The idea is based on the buddy system because the participants require a varied amount of support underwater depending on the limitations of their disability. These buddies will include an instructor but also usually the families or friends of the soldiers and this in particular makes for a wonderfully rich experience for everyone involved as they all get to enjoy the exciting adventure together.

As this video shows, the organisation has been committed and fortunate enough to be able to help many veterans and their families since it started in 2005. They are slowly gaining more and more recognition for their incredible work, with chapters of the organisation now featured all over the US. One of their goals it to integrate adaptive divers (divers with special requirements) into the mainstream diving community. This makes training buddies just as important as training the divers themselves. The more people that know how to support an adaptive diver, the more accessible the sport becomes fro them. So if you are a diver interested in that type of training, contact dive pirates for more information.

The charity is run by a team of highly enthusiastic divers and a dedicated workforce who have seen remarkable success in recent years as the funds they have raised and the recognition they are finally receiving has allowed them to train and help veterans and their buddies. Sophie Wimberly, Vice President of Dive Pirates loves training new recruits and is constantly astonished at the number of people willing to give their time and money in donation to this worthy cause. One  of her main aims is to ensure that she is using this money responsibly and so the site features a full financial breakdown of how the charity spends its donations.

For more information about dive pirates check out their website www.divepirates.org, and if you want to help, they are always looking for volunteers and donations so be sure to get in contact. For a more detailed write up, check out this story of two soldiers engaged in the program and if you have your own blog or even just twitter and facebook, you can use them to raise awareness about this wonderful program!

Exploring the North Sea Bed

A Scuba diving club in North Yorkshire have started an exciting new project to map over 150 ship-wrecks off the coast off the North East. They are looking forward to exploring the wrecks themselves and plan to enjoy the diving involved for the sport of it, but are keen to let people know that the goal of the project is to produce some serious and never before documented research into the history of these many wrecks in the North Sea. Members of Scuba association BSAC, the team involved are all highly trained and experienced divers, but according to the club’s training officer, Howard Rawson, they would welcome the involvement of anyone who had a passion for the project regardless of Scuba ability or proficiency.

 

Once they have conducted their research including mapping, photography and a detailed look at the history of each wreck, their findings will be made available to the public or any number of academics that may be interested in using the information collected. One of the first wrecks that they are going to explore is the sunken German U-boat, UC-39 which was depth charged and sunk in 1917 in Bridlington Bay. Seven of the crew members died on the submarine and it is now a war grave which the scuba team are committed to treating with the utmost respect.

 

The team are a small and dedicated scuba club based in North Yorkshire and they are keen to carry on with exciting projects like these. They have struggled as a club recently when the Abbey Leisure Centre in Selby, where their training pool was, was damaged in a fire and is now in the process of extensive renovation and repair. According to Howard, they are currently looking for a new location that they can use to teach new members the joys and the proper procedures of recreation scuba diving. Small clubs like these making a very positive difference in the community and even in academia are part of what keeps the sport of Scuba diving relevant, useful and exciting to a whole host of new members as well as the public. The club could very well be the start of a trend of detailed research for recreational diving in the UK.

DEMA and DAN launch Lionfish PSA

The lion-fish population has recently exploded in size in the gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Florida, this has resulted in a higher number of attacks and injury for both recreational and professional divers alike. As a result two major diving organisations, DEMA and DAN have joined forces to get the message out about the proper way to behave around a lion-fish and the best immediate fist aid techniques and equipment to treat a lion fish sting. DEMA ‘The Divers Equipment and Marketing Association’. and DAN the Divers Alert Network have released this PSA they they hope to reach a wide audience and educate people about the dangers of lion-fish and getting near them.

The increased number of lionfish has caused an increase in the number of attacks, not just on other animals, but on humans too. It is important that any diver who thinks that they may be likely to go to certain lionfish areas, to educate yourself thoroughly with all of the information that you will need should you or anyone who may be diving and needs you precise in treating the lionfish stings immediate fist aid techniques and equipment to treat a lion fish sting. DEMA the, the divers equipment and marketing association.  and DAN the Divers Alert Network have released this PSA they they hope to reach a wide audience and educate people about the dangers of lion-fish and getting near them. If you know of anyone diving in the regions that might be at risk, send them the information about the PSA so that they can reduce their level of risk.