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Dive Club Trip Report – Oyster Diving Club – Part 2

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Oyster Diving Club

OYSTER DIVING CLUB – BEST OF WRECKS RED SEA LIVEABOARD, OCTOBER 2014 – PART 2

(Read Part 1 here.)

Day 3

Overnight we made the 11 hour crossing from the Brothers to the Northern part of the Red Sea. A welcome lie in until 6am was received by many. There were a few less hangovers today.

Our first dive was on the Rosalie Moller, a fairly recently discovered wreck. Sitting upright on the sea bed, the top of the wreck is approximately 32m with the bottom somewhere around 50m.

Rosalie Moller Facts:

Launched in Glasgow in 1910 and was then named the Francis. At 110m the Rosalie Moller is larger than a football field and is 16m wide. In 1931 it was sold to the Royal Navy and changed its name to the Rosalie Moller. During WWII it served as a supply ship, supplying coal to the British Army. In 1940 it was ordered to anchor up as the Suez Canal was blocked due to a couple of broken wrecks. It was discovered by a German Heinkel Bomber who landed a direct hit on the main deck.

Having never dived this wreck I was really looking forward to it, as it is often described as one of the best wrecks in the Red Sea.

As we descended down the shot line the vis was a meagre 15m or so. The Rosalie Moller emerged slowly out of the gloom. Considering its age and the fact that it had been hit by a large bomb, loads of it was still very recognisable. Wrecks are generally a haven for marine life but the sheer size of the schools of glass fish and baby barracudas were unreal. Hunting Jacks and Snapper circled above darting in and out and were clearly well fed.

Inside the wreck you could still see the bathrooms and in the holds lay the coal that never reached its intended destination.

Due to the depth our bottom time was restricted to about 30 minutes. After breakfast we departed for the 1.5hr journey to the Thistlegorm.

The Thistlegorm is the most famous wreck in the Red Sea and is possibly the most famous in the world that is suitable for diving. Apparently it now generates more income for Egypt than the pyramids in Cairo.

Thistlegorm Facts:

The Thistlegorm was a British supply ship during the Second World War, supplying Montgomery much needed items. In 1941 three Heinkel bombers were searching the area searching for the Queen Mary that was reportedly in the area and was being used as a troop carrier. Their mission was to find it and destroy it. The planes had no luck finding her so were returning to base when they stumbled across the Thistlegorm. Armed with only 2 small anti-aircraft guns she had no chance. The Heinkels dropped their bombs of which two found their target and hit right in the middle of the hold carrying the ammo. Supposedly the explosion could be seen from Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. The ship sank quickly and lay forgotten until the 1950’s when it was discovered by Jacques Cousteau. It was then forgotten about again until it was rediscovered by divers in 1985.

The two dives allowed us to pretty much explore every inch of the wreck. Outside you can still see the tenders from the steam engines, a couple of small tanks, explosive shells, the propeller, winches and 2 anti-aircraft guns. The jewel in the crown of this huge wreck is what’s contained in the forward holds that have remained undisturbed and intact since that fatal evening in 1941. Swimming through the holds you can see dozens of motorbikes still in their racks and tires still inflated, Bedford trucks, spare propellers meant for the RAF, Enfield rifles, Wellington boots, coal for the steam engines and plane wings to carry out repairs.

I’ve been asked to keep Melvin’s wife updated on the weather conditions. We saw a cloud in the sky around 2.14pm, the temperature is around 31 degrees and there is a nice cool breeze to keep us from over-heating. Just in case she is also interested, the water temperature is between 26-28 degrees.

Day 4

Last night over dinner we took a vote to decide which dives to do in the morning. The general consensus was to do an early 3rd dive on the Thistlegorm before the other 8 boats moored around and us descended upon the wreck.

After our 5am wakeup call and a quick brief we were soon descending down the shot line into the blue. On reaching the bow of the wreck the visibility was great at about 30m, and even better there were no other divers in sight. When it’s like this, it’s got to be one of the most exciting dive sites in the world. Having spent much of the day yesterday exploring the storage holds and its cargo, we decided to spend most of our time on the outside of the wreck. At the stern of the ship past the section torn apart by the explosion, the two anti-aircraft guns remain perfectly intact and unused since the day they were unsuccessfully fired to protect themselves from the Heinkels that tore it apart. As we made our way back to the mooring line dozens of divers from the other boats descended all around us, leaving us feeling totally vindicated for our decision to make such an early start. Needless to say a few of the group remained on board as they preferred to catch up on their zzzz’s.

Today’s weather update for Melvin’s wife: hot (34 degrees), lots of sunshine and flat calm seas.

Dive 2 of the day – The Kingston.

Kingston Facts:

Built 1871

Dimensions – 78m long x 6m wide

Route – London to Aden

Cargo – coal

Sank 1881

The Kingston is located on ‘Shag Rock’, which Melvin and I speculated was named after one of the girls on a previous trip of ours.

The wreck lies in shallow water from 3m to 14m. As it has rested on the seabed for over 100 years, only the hull and a few beams still exist. Coral has encrusted the remains of the wreck which gave those with cameras the opportunity to take some spectacular photos. Once we’d done a few circuits of the wreck we headed along the pristine reef back towards our boat. A gentle current made for a long relaxing dive and a welcome change to observing rusty metal. I caught Ric taking a cat nap at 8m but managed to resist the urge to steal his fins off his feet. The shallow depth and helping current meant that most people managed at least a 60 minute dive.

While waiting for lunch Melvin decided to pass the time by counting the cuts and bruises on Kara’s legs and arms, probably the clumsiest diver on the boat. A total of 34 different injuries were identified before he went off to take the mickey out of Philippe, our French-Canadian diver.

For our 3rd dive we moored up just off a sandy island called Gubal Seghir which is surrounded by the most beautiful turquoise coloured water. A couple of the guys decided to admire the view by staring at the thin tanned girl in the Orange bikini on the boat next to ours; as an engaged man I of course didn’t notice her.

Danepak, the term given to the other group of guys on our boat, seemed to be eager to get back in the water. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the group of scantily clad Italian female snorkellers that were now swimming our way; again, I barely noticed.

Dive 3 of the day – The Barge

The vessel was likely to have been a gun boat from the Egyptian / Israeli six day war in 1967, or possibly a barge from the Ulysses salvage operation. No one knows for sure.

Only the hull and some debris survives, but the wreck and the surrounding reef are home to many marine animals such as stonefish, crocodilefish, scorpionfish and George, the most famous Eel in the Red Sea. George is mammoth – his head is roughly the same size as Gladstone Small’s and has a body that seems endless.

Congratulations go to Kara and Wendy who have both now successfully completed their wreck and deep diver specialty courses.

Tonight about half the team went for a night dive on the same wreck & reef. The strong current helped to work up an appetite but was definitely worth it (apparently – I chose to enjoy a cold Sakara instead). The reef at night transforms into a playground for hunting lionfish, hermit crabs, shrimp, octopus, and of course George.

Come back to the site next Thursday to read the final part of the Oyster Diving Club trip report!

www.oysterdiving.com

Having worked as a Dive Instructor in the Virgin Islands, Thailand and Egypt, Mark returned to the UK in 2006 when he founded Oyster Diving. His principle aims for the new diving centre would be to appeal to the more discerning customer by offering the best facilities, having an integrated travel agency so customers can complete their dives abroad as well as in the UK. In 2010 Mark won Sport Diver magazines' 'Best Diving Instructor'. For more information on Oyster Diving, visit www.oysterdiving.com.

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Guides invited to apply for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship

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Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification

The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.

As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.

Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:

  • have completed and passed all modules of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
  • be able to demonstrate they or their employer are not financially able to purchase the certificate
  • be a national of a country which receives official development assistance from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.

Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.

Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”


Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit www.greenfins.net/green-fins-dive-guide-scholarship-applications to apply.

To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit www.greenfins.net/appeal/sponsor-a-dive-guide.

Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Go Fish Free this February

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There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.

Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.

Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.

“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”

To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit www.fishfreefebruary.com

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Competitions

This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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