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A Postcard from Curacao | Episode 15 | Klein Curaçao (Watch Video)

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Welcome to Episode 15, where we are sailing to Klein Curaçao with BlueFinn Charters to explore this historically significant and now deserted Caribbean island, then diving the surrounding picturesque reefs to understand why the locals say “that the underwater habitats of Klein Curaçao is where everything is bigger and there is more of it with almost the guarantee of turtle sightings”.

BlueFinn Charters is one of the most diverse boat tour companies on island of Curaçao that operates an excellent fleet of boats including a luxurious 75-foot (23 meter) catamaran that sails 5 days a week to Klein Curaçao.

As we boarded the Catamaran BlueFinn, that was docked next to Dive Center ScubaDo at Jan Thiel Beach, we were greeted by the Captain and his professional crew that briefed us on the general safety protocols, social distancing rules, the overall layout of the vessel (that includes a BBQ and full service bar) and what possible wildlife we could expect to see during the 1.5 hour journey covering approximately 17.5 miles (28 km).  Once we were settled in and safely stowed our gear away, the crew cast off the lines promptly at 8:30am so that we could begin another amazing Curaçao adventure.

“It is not known exactly when Klein Curacao was first discovered. Officially it was first put on the map in 1871 by a British mining engineer named John Godden. Godden discovered that there was a rich amount of phosphate on the island, left behind by wild birds that used Klein Curacao as their breeding ground. In these days, phosphate was in popular demand being used in Europe as an ingredient for cattle food and fertilizer. In fifteen years’ time over ninety tons of phosphate was harvested and exported to Europe. This led to major changes in Klein Curacao’s landscape, leaving it a barren and an uninhabitable island.” *

Arriving at Klein Curaçao is a bit of a surreal experience because you do not expect this tiny, rugged desolate island that is surrounded by warm aquamarine water and formed from volcanic rock to be so incredibly scenic.  But, after you catch your breath and dive in to the largely pristine and unspoiled underwater world, you will quickly realize that you have found a true Caribbean paradise.

All along the eastern shoreline you will find immaculate examples of a well-developed, healthy coral reef system that supports an enormous diversity of marine organisms.  Similar to Eastpoint (Oospunt), these self-sustaining reef systems are becoming increasingly rare in the Caribbean but Klein Curaçao is yet another healthy example because of its dense populations of branching corals that protect the coastline. 


Travel Tip:  The Netherlands has designated Klein Curaçao as its 55th Wetland of International Importance.


According to Ramsar: “The island is of global importance because of the breeding population of the Least Tern, while a 600-metre (2,000 foot) stretch of sandy beach is the most important nesting area within Curaçao’s jurisdiction for the critically endangered hawksbill turtle and the endangered green sea turtle. The main threat to the Site is uncontrolled tourism, which may negatively affect the nesting activities of the sea turtles and terns.” **

Before the Catamaran BlueFinn hoists it sails at 3:00pm, we would encourage you to explore the topside treasures of the Klein Curaçao.  A wonderful path will lead you toward the west side of the island where you will first encounter the lighthouse that dates to 1913 and then on to the shipwrecks of the famous oil tanker ‘Maria Bianca Guidesman’, the German freighter called “Magdalena”, and the most recent wreck of the French yacht called “Tchao”. 


Travel Tip:  Klein Curaçao is an extremely popular day trip for beach-goers, adventurers and watersports enthusiasists alike.  To ensure you have the opportunity to visit this little oasis, we advise that you book this all-inclusive trip with BlueFinn Charters well in advance so you can see it for yourself. 


Tune in for our final “Postcard from Curaçao” episode, where we will be re-living this amazing postcard series and visiting the colorful historic areas of Punda and Otrabanda, inside the capital of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  But, do not worry because we are also planning some bonus postcards too plus a whole new series that will allow you to visit with us virtually here in the heart of the Dutch Caribbean.

We hope you have enjoyed this Postcard from Curaçao and we also hope to see you soon.  Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list and to the Dive Curaçao YouTube Channel to be automatically notified.

Sincere Love from Curacao,

Bryan Horne, Dive Curacao

Tilo and Yvonne Kuhnast, Nature Pics Films


Videos produced and edited for Dive Curacao in cooperation with Nature Pics Films

*Klein Curaçao – https://www.visit-klein-curacao.com/

**Ramsar Sites Information Service – https://rsis.ramsar.org/ris/2355

Bryan Horne wasn’t born in Curaçao; he’s a Canadian native, drawn to the Island “out of a passion for scuba diving and the underwater world.” Moving was always going to be a life-changing decision, but in diving, Bryan had found his calling. As the founder and owner of Dive Curaçao, he spends his days showing off Curaçao’s hidden undersea treasures – and does his part to preserve them for future generations.

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Protecting England’s Wreck Sites: Site Security Protocols Launched

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The security of heritage assets is of the utmost importance; a monetary value cannot be attached to the significance of a site or its associated artefacts. This statement is true for both on land and underwater sites.

The policing of underwater sites however, is often a trickier affair, with out-of-sight often equalling out-of-mind. Unfortunately, a site’s underwater location does not stop thieves from stealing or damaging artefacts.

To aid in the protection of our underwater cultural heritage, a selection of sites of historical, artistic and archaeological importance have been protected by law under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/protected-wreck-sites/). Historic England manage these sites on behalf of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, Digital and Sport (DCMS), and a team of Licensees, effectively voluntary custodians, play a key role in their ongoing management.

The licensees work tirelessly on the wrecks and have had a special relationship with them since the very first days of the Protection of Wrecks Act. If it wasn’t for them, many of the sites would still be unknown and we would have very little knowledge of many of the existing sites. Their presence on the sites acts as a deterrent to anyone thinking of accessing the sites illegally and their monitoring ensures that the sites are understood and enjoyed by many people.

To further aid in the physical protection of these significant sites, Historic England funded a partnership project between the Protected Wreck Association (PWA https://protectedwrecks.org.uk/) and MSDS Marine (https://msdsmarine.com/). This national-level project has seen the development of Site Security Plans for protected wreck sites. The model developed is based on the highly successful model developed by Ron Howell and the SWMAG team who are Licensees for the Salcombe Cannon and Moor Sands protected wreck sites.

A Site Security Plan is the end result of a process which assesses how secure a site is from illegal access. By completing two very easy to use but highly specialised forms, the site is given:

  • Its own Site Security Champion
  • Its own Heritage Crime Officer in the Police
  • A level of risk of heritage crime occurring to enable appropriate response to be put in place and to allow targeting of resources
  • Quick win opportunities to decrease its level of risk
  • A protocol for the licensees to follow every time they access the site
  • Specialist guidelines to enable crime reporting to enforcement authorities
  • A toolkit consisting of: A High Vis vest, to help identify the Site Security Champion to the public / authorities and pocket-sized card, summarising guidance on reporting crimes.

The project team will be supporting Licensees and their teams in completing a Site Security Plan and Risk Assessment for each Protected Wreck Site. MSDS Marine will be contacting Licensees inviting them to book a slot to work through the process. Individual Licensees and teams can also follow the guidance to complete the documents on their own with MSDS Marine on hand to support as required.

The Site Security Forms are accessible on the Protected Wreck Association website, in the members only area https://protectedwrecks.org.uk/members-area/site-security/ . If you are not a member and would like to join, this is an excellent time, as its free!

Assessing the security of a wreck site will inform Historic England of any sites which are at a high risk of heritage crime, and aid them in the future management of these sites. It will assist Licensees in highlighting areas for concern and in turn offer positive actions that can be taken to reduce the threat. It is hoped that the scheme will help put practical measures in place to ensure that the sites are protected from illegal activity in future.

Alison James, Project Manager at MSDS Marine said: “I spent ten years working at Historic England managing England’s protected wreck sites and at times was incredibly frustrated by being unable to ‘police’ the sites. The model we have developed is based on the highly successful model developed by SWMAG which has been shown to work on a number of occasions. We hope this will make a real difference to the sites and the teams that work on them.”

Professor Mike Williams, Chair of the Protected Wreck Association said: “We are delighted and grateful that Historic England has funded this project. It will enable us to undertake valuable work to support our members, who are dedicated volunteers protecting our maritime heritage.”

Hefin Meara, Marine Archaeologist at Historic England said: “We are pleased to support this important project and recognise the enormous contribution that licensed volunteer divers are making to help protect England’s fascinating marine historic environment.”

For more information please visit www.ProtectedWrecks.org.uk , www.MSDSMarine.co.uk, and www.historicengland.org.uk.

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Take an immersive dive below the waves off the Welsh coast using 360 VR: Seagrass Meadows (Watch Video)

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A week-long series from Jake Davies…

Below the waves off the Welsh coast, there are a range of species and habitats that can be seen. However, you don’t have to venture too far from the shore to see them or don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. Using 360 videos provides an immersive feeling of being below the water and encountering many species and habitats from diving one of the most important habitats and species that aren’t often seen whilst diving. For more of an experience of being below the waves, the VR videos can be viewed using a VR headset.

Take a calming VR dive at one of the largest and densest seagrass meadow found along the Welsh coast, located at Porthdinllaen in North West Wales.

Seagrass meadows are important habitats as they provide a range of ecosystem services from carbon sequestration, production of Oxygen, coastal protection and act as a nursery area for many commercial fish species such as plaice and cod. Seagrass also help to improve water quality within the region as seagrass blades (leaves) help to trap particles within the water column, often making them great sites to dive in at due to increased visibility.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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