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Artifical reef generates millions of pounds for Cornish economy

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A Navy Frigate sunk off the Cornish coast in the UK to create Europe’s first artificial diving reef has generated tens of millions of pounds for the local economy.

HMS Scylla, an ex-Royal Navy Leander Class frigate, was sent to the bottom of Whitsand Bay on March 27, 2004, in spectacular fashion – watched by thousands of spectators.

Since then, the wreck has enjoyed lasting success with thousands of dive trips generating an estimated £60 million over the last decade.

Dr David Gibson, managing director of Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium, which led the project, said: “It has created a completely new environment for the flora and fauna of Whitsand Bay.

“It is home to a community of animals and, from what I am told by divers, is providing a safe haven for tens of thousands of fish.

“From an economic perspective it has been a big success with an estimated 5,000-10,000 dives a year. That has had a significant economic impact on tourism including dive shops and boat operators.”

HMS Scylla, a former Royal Navy ship, marked the end of an era when it was the last warship to be built in Devonport in 1968. It saw plenty of active service during the Cold War, surviving a couple of collisions, including one with the Torpoint Ferry.

But she was decommissioned in 1993 and left to rot in a Portsmouth dockyard, until the plan was hatched to turn her into an artificial reef.

Thanks to funding from the South West Regional Development Agency, she was bought from the Ministry of Defence for £200,000 by Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium.

The purchase heralded a six-month operation to turn her from a seaworthy vessel to an undersea wildlife kingdom with experts making sure diving hazards, such as wires, were removed and confined spaces either blocked up or enlarged.

Once the work was complete, the vessel was towed out to sea and packed with explosives.

The surfaces of the reef were covered very quickly with marine plants and encrusting animals.

After one year, around 50 species had been identified on or around Scylla.

There were a number of ‘waves’ of colonisation – in autumn 2004 there was a large settlement of Queen Scallops. This was quickly followed by a ‘plague’ of starfish that consumed all the scallops then died out themselves.

The colonisation has stabilised since 2006 with a community that now looks very similar to the James Eagan Layne nearby.

Colonies of Pink Sea Fans Eunicella verricosa are beginning to establish in various locations around the reef.

Although the project was designed to provide an injection to the tourism economy, it is also being used as an education facility. Surveys show a wealth of marine life have taken an interest in the sunken vessel. Among those spotted were sea slugs, anemones, John Dory, scallops, ballan wrasse, squid, cod, cuttlefish, triggerfish and conger eels.

 

Source: www.cornishguardian.co.uk

Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support

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With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Jeff chats to… Craig Waller, Underwater Lighting Technician on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Craig Waller, Underwater Lighting Technician on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Craig is a Key Grip and Lighting Director with 10,000s of hours of Set Experience.

In Craig’s own words:

I started my career when I was in my first year of college.  I always had that creative side of the brain that needed to be followed as a career.  I thought that would be in designing engineering pieces but wasn’t happy about the idea of an office cubicle and drafting table.

I accidentally found my way onto a big commercial job for a week and decided “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO”.   I made it my career after that. This is a quick list of recent and big projects in my 35 yrs of TV / Film / Photography.

Most Recently:

  • “Black Panther 2” – UW Lighting Technician / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • “Stranger Things” Season 4 – UW Lighting Technician / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • “Suicide Squad 2” – UW Gaffer / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • NASCAR / FOX Sports 1 – Network TV Lighting Director – 7 years / 700 races of Live BIG track TV shows
  • 10,000s of commercials / music videos / tv shows

I started diving when I was 18 years old with my OW and then AOW with PADI. I was diving with lots of friends in the late 80s and early 90s and then moved onto Kayaking. I got my daughter into diving when she turned 14 and have picked up where I left off.

I have approx 5000 dives now and spend most of my free time diving.

Here are my certs:

  • OW – AOW 1989
  • Adv Nitrox / Deco 2020
  • Cavern – Intro Cave 2021
  • CCR Tech – Fathom – 2021

You can find out more at www.craigwaller.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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