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Divers discover Wreck of 17th-Century Dutch Warship




Divers have discovered the wreck of a 17th-century Dutch warship off the coast of the Caribbean island of Tobago. Marine archaeologists think the vessel could be the Huis de Kreuningen, which was lost during a fierce fight between Dutch and French colonists in the 17th Century.

On March 3, 1677, the French Navy launched an attack against the Dutch in Tobago’s Rockley Bay. European settlers coveted Tobago for its strategic location; in fact, the island changed hands more than 30 times after Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World.

The abbreviated story of this particular battle is, “Everybody dies, and every ship sinks,” according to Kroum Batchvarov, an assistant professor of maritime archaeology at the University of Connecticut. Approximately 2,000 people were killed and up to 14 ships went down during the skirmish. However until now, none of those vessels had been recovered.

Back in March, Batchvarov went searching for wrecks in Rockley Bay. Through remote sensing and historical accounts, his team identified a spot where shipwrecks from the battle might have settled on the bottom of the bay. One day, while the rest of his colleagues were sorting out an issue with their GPS systems, Batchvarov and another diver decided to explore under the surface.

“Quite literally, the first thing we saw at the bottom was a cannon,” Batchvarov told a small audience at the Explorers Club headquarters yesterday (Nov. 3).

During that initial 20-minute dive, the researchers found at least seven cast-iron cannons, some of them large, 18-pounder guns.

“This was one of the most interesting experiences of my life in archaeology, and I have been in this field for about 17 years,” said Batchvarov.

None of the sunken ship’s timbers have been uncovered yet from the jumbled wreckage, but divers did find relics from life aboard a military vessel, including 72 clay smoking pipes, an array of dining utensils and burned bricks from the ship’s galley. They also found a beer jug with three engravings of military generals from antiquity: Joshua, David and Alexander the Great.

Several clues led the team to conclude they were dealing with a Dutch warship from the 17th century. For example, many of the pipes had the mark of a manufacturer that operated in Amsterdam from the 1650s to the 1680s, Batchvarov said.

Because of the size of the cannons found at the site, the archaeologists suspect the wreck could be the 130-foot-long (40 meters), 56-gun warship Huis de Kreuningen. Only one other Dutch vessel, the flagship Bescherming, could have supported such large guns, but it survived the battle, Batchvarov said.

The French boarded the Huis de Kreuningen during the Battle of Tobago. To avoid capture, the Dutch captain, Roemer Vlacq, blew up the ship. The blaze spread and destroyed the French flagship Glorieux. Despite their major losses, the Dutch, led by commodore Jacob Binckes, were ultimately successful in holding back the French (Years earlier, Binckes had re-captured New York for the Dutch; the city was, however, returned to England shortly after).

Without proper conservation facilities nearby, the artifacts Batchvarov and his colleagues discovered had to be reburied underwater. But the project has just been awarded a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation so that the artifacts can be conserved and displayed in Trinidad and Tobago. Batchvarov and his colleagues plan to return to the site next year; their main goal is to establish the extent of the wreck.




Mares & SSI launch new promotion



SSI expands financial support to SSI Members worldwide. 

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for the entire world, especially the diving and travel industry!  To weather the crisis, SSI immediately jumped into action to help Training Centers and Professionals around the world.  

In response to COVID-19, SSI launched the No Water, No Problem Campaign, put Final Exams online, and held hundreds of Webinars to train Professionals on how to use distance learning to teach the dry Specialties online. The FREE SCIENCE OF DIVING promotion resulted in SSI Training Centers worldwide register over 50,000 FREE DIGITAL KITS, funding more than $3.5 MILLION IN RETAIL VALUE. Additionally, SSI introduced an aggressive DOUBLE PRO REWARDS incentive to help SSI Professionals compensate 2020 Renewal Fees and reduce those for 2021. Currently, the WE WANT YOU Crossover promotion aims to fill the industry need for instructors and strengthen the entire SSI Professional community.

Now, in conjunction with Mares, SSI is launching the GO DIVING – PROTECT YOURSELF. OWN EQUIPMENT Promotion, which includes a FREE SSI EQUIPMENT TECHNIQUES DIGITAL KIT. This new campaign strives to motivate divers worldwide to go diving and buy equipment. Look for more information on this next retail support campaign within the next few days.

“These are just a few examples of how we have supported and are continuing to support our Training Centers, Professionals, and divers worldwide. To provide even more economic security and help in business recovery, WE WILL NOT INCREASE PRICES FOR 2021. While travel was restricted and some key resort areas completely locked down, SSI mainly focused on supporting domestic markets with retail-driven incentives. Now, in this next re-opening phase, we need to shift gear and assist resort markets that have no local diving community and are 100% dependent on the traveling diver. Therefore, SSI will grant certain special conditions and delayed payment options to specific resort markets which have been locked down for longer than six months or suffered from closed borders,” stated Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO.

Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO, explains further, “To financially support these needed investments which directly benefit SSI Members and to protect the health of our valuable members and staff, we will forego all 2021 Trade Shows over the next 12 months. Despite international uncertainty, every time we experience one of these events, the entire SSI Network emerges stronger and more resilient. Be assured, SSI is your trustful partner within the Diving Industry!”

For more information about SSI visit their website by clicking here.

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Photo Gallery: Shark Diving in The Bahamas



In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they look at Shark Diving in The Bahamas.

The Bahamas offers some of the very finest shark diving experiences in the world. The islands have protected sharks in their waters creating one of the first Shark Sanctuaries in the world. Several species of shark can be seen and photographed, with each island offering a different type of shark diving, making this destination the perfect place for a multi-island, multi-shark trip of a lifetime.

Great Hammerhead Shark diving in Bimini

Bull Sharks in Bimini

Tiger Shark off Grand Bahama

Oceanic Whitetip Shark off Cat Island

Nurse Shark off Abaco

Caribbean Reef Sharks off New Providence

Lemon Sharks off Grand Bahama

For more images from The Bahamas and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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