Last weekend was the day of almost diving. An overnight thunderstorm wasn’t exactly encouraging but the forecast was reasonable for mid-morning, so we decided to give it a shot. The Coast Guard mentioned to us that “waves are very high”. Having got this far, we thought we’d go and have a look but we only managed a few metres outside the harbour before turning back in the face of huge walls of water and realizing that it wasn’t going to happen.
The entertainment wasn’t quite over. We still had to get the boat back on to the trailer with the strongest current I’ve ever seen inside Hamriyah harbour. The first attempt ended with the boat half way back to the coastguard but at the second attempt we made it with the assistance of a guy hanging around the slip. After that it was back to the club for a late breakfast. At least it didn’t take long to wash the gear.
See you at the Dive Bar.
Paty Oldenburg’s funeral was held on Monday in Hamburg. Mike attended on behalf of the Dive Club and Peter organised some flowers.
Mike sent the following:
Really nice ceremony in Hamburg for Pati Oldenburg. I did not understand the 12 minute speech in German by the Pastor but afterwards there was a slide show put together by Jenni with beautiful photographs illustrating her life. All this in a chapel in a huge cemetery. This was more like a park with roads winding through the trees and in between lawns where the graves are secreted. There is an Oldenburg family plot where members have been interred since 1936 and the urn was buried there. Afterwards 18 of us adjourned to a French café and had cakes and family members got re-acquainted. Finally back to Lubeck where we were 7 for dinner at Uwe’s house. Mike.
Our thoughts remain with Uwe, Jan and Jenni.
There was a slight technical hitch with this email last week. Anything addressed via a btinternet server bounced back at me as “potential spam”. Leaving aside the wicked libel, I have rejigged these addresses into a separate group (there’s only five of them) and hopefully this may solve the problem.
The weather precluded any diving on Friday. The wind in fact wasn’t quite as bad as predicted (in Sharjah at least) but the rain and sand storms arrived on schedule. It wouldn’t have been fun. Today, as I write (Saturday), it’s extremely wild out there with predicted wave heights in excess of 3m offshore. We’ll wait for next weekend I think. [It’s now Wednesday and weather looking unpromising but we’ll see].
With no diving of our own to report, below is an account of 406 exile, Geoff’s most recent jaunt around the world, this time to the Turks and Caicos Islands:
Most Brits are familiar with the new year blues and with this in mind I decided to book a last minute jolly to somewhere warm with clear blue waters. I opted for seven nights at the Beaches Resort on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies. ‘Beaches’ is part of the Sandals Group and is an all inclusive resort, i.e. everything is included; airport transfers, food, beverages and water activities. Yes, even the diving (2 tank dives per day), typically a saving of ~$120 usd/day!
Beaches has its’ own dedicated water sports centre and personnel (‘Aqua Center’), who provided me with a verbal induction and presented the obligatory PADI disclaimer for signature. All basic dive gear is provided free of charge with the exception of wet suits, which can be hired, but I had brought my own gear and readied this for my first day of diving. I encountered a slight problem in that the Aqua Center had no DIN compatible cylinders but fortunately I had had the foresight to bring my adaptor. Problem solved!
Having registered my interest in diving each day I headed along to the dive centre for the 07.45 check-in and proceeded to load my gear onto our dive vessel for the day. Beaches has a fleet of dedicated dive vessels that can accommodate up to about 20 divers each and our boat for the first day was full. The free of charge diving was obviously a big draw!
I managed 4 days of great diving covering sites in Grace Bay (just off the resort beach), NW Providenciales (~45 min boat ride) and West Caicos Island (again, ~45 min boat ride). These sites included:
Pinnacles (Grace Bay)
Pickering Point (West Caicos)
Yankee Town (West Caicos)
Blue Cove (West Caicos)
Rock Garden (West Caicos)
The Chimney (NW Providenciales)
The Crack (NW Providenciales)
-all between 20-25m depth range. With only a 12l ally of air and a nominal limit of 25m due to resort rules I was a little frustrated that I could not explore some of the enticing caves and features slightly deeper. Visibility on each dive was spectacular, easily in the 30-40m range, if not more. Typically we would drop in about 15m of water over a sandy bottom with scattered coral heads that led to a coral rim and drop off presenting some wonderful wall dives. I understand from one of the guides that water depths here can drop several hundreds of metres. Some of the sites had features such as chimneys, small sea caves and swim throughs.
Marine life was reasonably plentiful with everything from small Blennies, Snappers, Garden Eels and Parrot Fish building up to Spiny Lobster, Morays, Groupers, Barracuda, Stingrays, Hawks-Bill Turtles, Nurse Shark and Caribbean Reef Shark- (which were sighted on almost every dive. Although the hard corals were not that healthy there were quite a few soft corals including fans and whips.
The diving staff were helpful and friendly. The clientele, generally from US, Canada and South America, were in what I would call ‘the resort recreational’ diver bracket, folk who dive maybe once or twice a year, which made me appreciate how lucky clubs like 406 are with regards to regular diving.
In summary, if looking for easy, no stress recreational diving, the Turks and Caicos Islands are certainly worth a visit.
Big thank you as always to Geoff for an interesting read and dive pictures.
DAN insurance website: https://www.daneurope.org/home
The Dive Club meets every Tuesday night in the Dive Bar.
See you there!
As former Dive Officer of the Club can I ask a favour? If you feel so minded, I’d be most obliged if you could send out the below request with your next newsletter.
Commercial fish farms are using noise generators here in Scotland to scare seals from their fish pens.
We need to protect our marine environment against all forms of pollution that endangers any species of marine animal, in this case we are talking about noise pollution.
Noise is an ever-present hazard for species such as Porpoise, Dolphins, and Whales, shipping, marine works, and Naval sonar are having a huge detrimental effect on Cetacea.
These fixed location noise generation seal deterrent devices installed in areas where Porpoise, Dolphins, and Whales frequent and feed, should be removed, particularly as there are more suitable and environmentally friendly ways of deterring
WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP
Many Thanks & Safe Diving.
It's difficult to keep a diver occupied when the seas are against us and we are land based.
As an active club though members keep busy with other interests and report daily on developments in the marine sector in the UAE and further afield. Some are very amusing at times as you will see below.
Locally, some have been keynote guest speakers for Natural History groups:
Other developments that members reported are some sad news with our Dugongs.
See article below.
Illegal fishing practices responsible for 20 dead Dugongs in Abu Dhabi:
Abu Dhabi is home to the world’s second largest population of Dugongs, with around 3,000 found in the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve. Dugongs, along with their foraging habitats and their migratory routes in the UAE, have been protected under Federal Law No. 23 and No. 24 since 1999. As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species, the UAE has an international commitment to protect local Dugong species. This represents an important pillar of the legacy of the nation’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to preserve the environment and support regional and global efforts towards the conservation of Dugongs.
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at EAD, said: "The Agency will continue to prioritise the protection of Dugong habitats and ensure that enforcement of the laws continues to be applied strictly, in partnership with the Critical Infrastructure & Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA). We strongly urge all fishermen to cast their nets mindfully, prudently and responsibly and fish in a sustainable manner – in line with our local and federal laws."
A silver lining though with the ban on Gargoor Fishing Nets - We encounter these abandoned nets on the sea floor every week so welcome news and I hope that other Emirates will follow this good example.
Ministry of Climate Change bans use of gargoor fishing nets in Abu Dhabi:
The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCAE, has issued Ministerial Resolution No.82 of 2019, which bans the use of gargoor nets in Abu Dhabi effective 1st May 2019.The survey revealed that the demersal fish stock is vulnerable to high deterioration; the Hamour (Orange-spotted Grouper) and Farsh (Painted Sweetlips) have witnessed a significant decline to 10 percent of their adult (reproductive) stock size and are overexploited by up to five times the sustainable limit. The decision requires all fishermen who are registered with MoCCAE to suspend the use of gargoor nets in the waters of Abu Dhabi before 1st May, 2019, the day the resolution begins to be enforced.
Further afield, one member reported on a distressed Moray with the below report.
''So, one of the big morays on Inchcape is struggling with a fishing hook in its gullet. I was with students today and could not intervene. Attempting to remove the hook itself is probably not a good idea - apparently their bites are loaded with bacteria.
I do plan to return Mon/Tue to at least cut the fishing line protruding from the mouth and snagged on the wreck. The poor animal can't even move.
This will involve some risk of getting bitten, but I can live with the odds. The sight of that poor animal desperately trying to swallow the hook while being unable to move is more than I can live with''. Reports were that divers did return and release the Moray.
On a lighter note, in house Engineers at the club have been exploring different methods of integrated weight systems. We look forward to being a spectator at the upcoming trials.
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.