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A Day in the Desert – Landscape, Culture & Adventure

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Sean Chinn takes a break from diving in Aqaba, Jordan to spend a day in the desert…

Wadi Rum is a protected desert wilderness covering 278 square miles. It’s a vast wilderness featuring dramatic sandstone mountains, roughly an hour’s drive from Aqaba. Wadi Rum is a perfect destination to add to any dive trip while visiting Aqaba, Jordan.

Our transport of choice for our day in the desert was a selection of 4WD pick-up trucks with makeshift but comfortable bench seating in the back for an open air adventure. It really was as fun as it looked as we sped and bounced our way through the sandy, uneven terrain. The vast landscape really took my breath away as we made our way past the sandstone mountains that towered above. We made a quick stop along the way to take a short walk up a sandy hill to gain a panoramic view of the dramatic landscape. The views were reminiscent of the pictures you see of the surface of Mars and this is one of the reasons numerous film directors have used this location to represent Mars in films.

We stopped to sample tea made in a traditional way by the Bedouin who have called this place home for many years. Now you might think being an English bloke I might be partial to a cup of tea or two; however, I’m really not a big tea drinker but I have to say the tea here was really tasty and something I could get used to.

After another short jeep ride we reached our lunch destination. Rahayeb Desert Camp was beautifully laid out with the decor being quintessentially Arabic. It is a luxury tented camp that allows guests the option to stay overnight. Unfortunately my trip was only a day trip but I will be back to enjoy the night sky in the desert with an overnight stay.

Our lunch was a delicious treasure of the Bedouin culture. Zarb is the process of cooking the food underground in earth ovens. The food is cooked on a barbecue rack inside a metal oven casing placed in a pit in the ground. A metal cover is placed on top and it’s covered in a blanket to stop the sand that is placed over the top getting onto the food. The food was truly flavoursome and plentiful, leaving me comfortably full.

Our last adventure of an amazing day came courtesy of a camelback ride into the sunset. It wasn’t completely as glamorous as it might sound. I nearly went headfirst over the front as the camel stood up and I must remember to stretch next time I get on one. My legs were starting to feel it a bit as I’ve never been the most flexible of people. It was, however, completely worth it. The camels had a great character about them with mischievous personalities and taking a slow walk with them, while admiring the stunning sunset, topped off a great day.

I’ll be back!!

Sean Chinn’s scuba diving adventure started in a freezing cold quarry back in January 2011. Maybe the reason he wasn't instantly hooked! However, after an amazing trip to Indonesia in 2013, he realised he needed to see more of the underwater world. With no photography background, he enlisted some help in developing both his diving and photo skills. This kickstarted his diving and underwater photography adventure which has become something of an addiction. Seeing and photographing wildlife is Sean’s real passion in diving but he is always keen to try new ideas.

Marine Life & Conservation

PADI and Circular Flow Partner to Pursue Sustainable Neoprene Recycling Programme

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Trial Launches in the UK to Prove Feasibility and Scalability

PADI® is bringing about positive change for our shared blue planet through their partnership with Circular Flow. The goal is to create a closed loop neoprene recycling programme to foster a dive economy that aims to reduce the global impact of old and discarded wetsuits within the dive industry.

An estimated 8,380 tons of old wetsuits lie unused every year, with the majority inevitably headed for landfill thanks to the popularity of thermal protection in water sports, coupled with the lack of scalable, sustainable recycling systems for neoprene.

Recognising the opportunity for innovation, PADI, in partnership with Circular Flow, aims to offer the dive industry effective and sustainable solutions to the problem of disposing of wetsuits and other non-biodegradable neoprene products. The goal is to keep them out of landfills and recycle them into useful products such as mask straps and changing mats. To ensure feasibility and determine global scalability, the initiative will begin with a test in the UK.

“PADI is committed to help reduce the global environmental footprint of the dive industry and support our members and divers to reduce impact as well,” says Drew Richardson, CEO and President of PADI Worldwide. “We are constantly looking for new and scalable ways to do so through our Mission Hubs across the planet. We are proud to introduce and test this ground-breaking recycling programme into our community, enabling every diver to recycle neoprene as part of being an Ocean Torchbearer.”

During the initial trial, divers can bring their clean and dry wet suits and other neoprene items to participating UK Dive Centres from August 11th – August 22nd. PADI and Circular Flow will then arrange for the free collection of the items for recycling.  Circular Flow will implement an innovative process to recycle the neoprene, after shipping the neoprene to a specialised factory. The patented recycling process eliminates the use of chemicals or water and utilising electricity, pressure and heat.

To learn more about the programme or locate a place to drop off your end-of-life neoprene in the UK, visit circularflow.net/padi

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DAN Founder Peter Bennett has passed away

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Peter Bennett, PhD, DSc, passed away on Tuesday in the company of his wife, Margaret, and son, Chris. Bennett was a passionate researcher and entrepreneur who founded Divers Alert Network in 1980 and led the organization for 23 years.

Born in Portsmouth, England, on June 12, 1931, Bennett studied chemistry and biology at the University of London, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1951. After university he worked at the Royal Navy Physiological Laboratory and in 1964 earned his doctorate in physiology and biochemistry from the University of Southampton.

Bennett loved diving medicine and physiology and was a charter member of the Undersea Medical Society at its founding in 1967. He was later its president (1975-1976), the editor of its journal (1976-1979), and its executive director (beginning in 2007).

In 1972 Bennett moved to the United States, where he was first named deputy director and later director of the F.G. Hall Laboratory hyperbaric chamber facility at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In 1980, Bennett submitted a proposal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for a grant to fund an emergency hotline for injured divers. Thus Bennett and his colleagues at Duke undertook responsibility for the hotline that would eventually grow and become Divers Alert Network.

During his 23-year tenure at the helm of DAN, Bennett oversaw introduction of the organization’s membership program, dive accident insurance program, research department, continuing medical education program, training department, and more.

An emeritus professor of anesthesiology at Duke University, Bennett published more than 100 journal publications, 31 book chapters, and several books, including Physiology and Medicine of Diving, a definitive work in the field. He also published numerous reports, workshop proceedings, and abstracts. Among his areas of interest were trimix, deep stops, and high-pressure nervous syndrome.

Over the years Bennett received many awards, including the 1980 NOGI Award for Sciences by the Underwater Society of America. He also received recognition from DEMA, SSI, the Underwater Society of America, the National Academy of Scuba Educators, NAUI, the British Historical Diving Society, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and many others.

“In founding DAN, Dr. Bennett accomplished something truly remarkable,” said DAN president and CEO Bill Ziefle. “It is because of his vision and action that divers all over the world now have the support of an organization that stands ready to assist in the event of an emergency. Dr. Bennet’s inquisitive mind and drive to achieve were gifts to divers everywhere.”

“Peter Bennett dedicated his life to the advancement of diving,” said DAN medical director Jim Chimiak, MD. “Few equal his combined accomplishments as a researcher, organizer, and leader in diving medicine. He will remain a profound influence on everyone working in this increasingly important area of human endeavor. He displayed an infectious, pioneering spirit that rallied expert, worldwide collaborations that routinely accomplished the impossible. He was a great mentor and friend who will be truly missed.”   

Join the DAN community or learn more at www.DAN.org.

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