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Diving with… Pim van Schendel, Murex Dive Resorts, Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

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In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…


What is your name?

Pim van Schendel

What is the name of your business?

Murex Dive Resorts – Manado

What is your role within the business?

Dive Operations Manager, but I also do a lot of travel agent marketing, social media marketing, guest relations and anything that needs to be done in our line of business.

How long has the business operated for?

Murex Dive Resorts in Manado celebrated its 30th birthday this year. It was one of the first dive resorts in this area and pioneered a lot of the dive sites and diving in general around here. Founder Dr. Hanny Batuna was inducted in the International Scuba Divers Hall of Fame (ISDHF) for all his work that he has done in the area. He dedicated his life to promoting diving, protecting the marine eco-system and discovering dive sites. Here at Murex we continue to follow in his foot-steps and our dive sites continue to flourish. At ADEX (Asian Dive Expo) 2014, Dr. Batuna was also inducted as a board member to the Historical Diving Society.

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

I have been diving since 2003 and I’m a PADI MSDT since 2006.

What is your favorite type of diving?

I love diving everywhere. I’m Dutch and used to cold water and bad visibility and still enjoy those conditions. But I have been living in Indonesia for 11 years so I’m kinda spoilt now. I love muck diving, searching for little critters in the sand, it’s always very rewarding when you find something. But the best for me is still diving over a healthy reef system, full of life and colors. Reef fish moving in and out of the corals, interacting with each other, hiding & hunting. I can never get enough of that.

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

Diversity, that’s what it is all about with us. We offer a package called Passport to Paradise which lets you dive three distinct dive destinations in one holiday. You’ll dive Bunaken National with it’s huge walls and drop offs, Bangka Island which is surrounded by pinnacles that are covered in soft corals and Lembeh Strait, the muck diving capital in the world. You can’t get much more diversity in one holiday. Combine the three locations, transfer by boat between the resorts and dive along the way. No time is lost on your transfer day and it feels like a normal dive day.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

It’s hard to choose a favourite dive site since amazing reefs and hundreds of sites surround us. If I have to choose, then Tanjung Kelapa (Coconut Corner) would be #1. Again it’s all about diversity there. The dive starts out as a muck dive with amazing critters to spot in the sand and sea grass, and then slowly turns into a coral reef slope, which then turns into a mini wall covered in soft corals. You can find anything here from eagle rays, bumphead parrotfish, schools of sweet lips to tiny pygmy seahorses, giant frogfish, stone fish, as well as  mimic and blue ring octopus.

Nothing can beat that variety. I have dived this site more then 500 times and each and every time it’s different and more exciting than the time before. But Batu Sahaung on Bangka Island is very close in 2nd place. This pinnacle rises from the deep and has some of the most lush and colorful soft coral growth I have ever seen. Fish life is amazing here and also the variety here is very high. But the soft corals are unmatched.

What types of diving are available in your location?

There are many kinds of diving available. Bunaken National Park is famous for the staggering walls and drop offs, covered in hard corals and turtles everywhere. Manado Bay has some amazing muck diving, white and black sand. Bangka Island has beautiful reef slopes and pinnacles covered in soft corals. Lembeh Strait is the muck diving capitol of the world. At each location there are also some wrecks to dive.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

Teaching OW courses is always very rewarding, seeing someone transforming from a non-diver to a diver is amazing and getting them hooked on the underwater realm is the best feeling there is. Another kick is meeting people on the other side of the world, telling them about the beautiful place I live and work and then 6 months, 1 year or 1.5 years later meeting them here and showing them all this beauty that we have on offer in the ocean.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

That’s again hard to choose. I love looking at a normal blenny or goby; each fish is amazing. Watching a mantis shrimp going in and out of his hole, putting little pieces of coral together and making his home out of it. I have tattoos of a shark, turtle and a hairy frogfish so these are definitely on my favourite’s list. Octopuses are some of the most intriguing animals out there. Very intelligent and sometimes they seem more interested in divers then we are in them.

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

At Murex Bangka we are expanding at the moment, which is very exciting. Soon we will be starting with a coral farm and a special Ocean Gardener coral diver course. A very exciting new course in which divers can learn all about coral reefs, types of corals and also coral farming. A unique course that is being developed by a close friend of ours and we will be the only ones teaching these courses. North Sulawesi is the perfect place to learn since we are in the heart of the coral triangle.

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

Plastic use is one of the biggest issues in this area, not only here, almost everywhere this is a problem. but it is sad to see that there is so much plastic being used and so much is ending up in the ocean. A few months ago we had the Celebrate the Sea festival in Manado and during that festival a lot of awareness was created by several international speakers. During the event the city of Manado pledged to ban single use plastic from the city. Until now nothing has changed but hopefully it will in the near future. Indonesia is one of the biggest plastic users in the world and things need to change.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

Yes, we do regular beach and reef clean ups. We are trying to minimize the use of (single use) plastic in all of our resorts and dive centres and create awareness amongst our staff and guests. Especially amongst our staff since they are the ones living here and able to create the biggest impact locally.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?

The industry is doing great overall, more and more people get into diving which is great to promote conservation and the importance of the oceans to all of us. We should put more effort into keeping people diving. Every year more and more dive certifications are being done but the overall number of divers is rising much slower. People do their OW course on holiday but don’t continue diving after that which is not what we want. It shouldn’t be a one time experience but a continuous path of diving more and learning about the underwater world and preserving it for our future generations.

What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

Visit North Sulawesi for the amazing biodiversity in the water. We are in the middle of the coral triangle and there are few places in the world that have this amazing biodiversity. Dive three completely different destinations in one holiday – Bunaken > Bangka > Lembeh  but don’t travel this far to only enjoy the coral reefs and its life. Also visit the land, climb active volcanoes, trek through the jungle to see the endemic tarsiers and black macaques, visit the amazing Minahasan highlands with its cultural diversity, see the local markets, bathe in hot springs and enjoy the amazing cuisine that Manado has to offer.

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?

You can also find us at many of the International Dive shows:

  • Germany: BOOT – Düsseldorf, Inter Dive – Friedrichshafen
  • USA: DEMA – Las Vegas/Orlando
  • Switzerland: FESPO – Zurich
  • The Netherlands: Duikvaker – Houten
  • France: Salon de la Plongee – Paris

 

News

The Rescue – available on Disney+ tomorrow (Watch Trailer)

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If you missed the recent cinema debut of The Rescue film, you can watch it on streaming channel Disney+ from tomorrow December 3rd.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo), The Rescue is the edge-of-your-seat account of the rescue of 12 Thai school boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave system in 2018.

The Rescue chronicles the dramatic rescue of the boys and their coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Academy Award®-winning directors and producers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin reveal the perilous world of cave diving, the bravery of the rescuers, and the dedication of an entire community that made great sacrifices to save these young boys. An outing to explore a nearby system of caves after soccer practice transformed into a two-week saga of survival and a story that would capture the world’s attention. With exclusive access and never-before-seen footage from the rescue, the film tells the story of the imagination, determination and unprecedented teamwork displayed during this heroic edge-of-your-seat mission with life-or-death stakes.

Check back for our review of The Rescue soon!

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Guardian investigation finds endangered sharks for sale in Taiwan

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A field investigation into Taiwan’s shark fin industry was conducted by Shark Guardian between December 2020 and March 2021. The investigation obtained documentary evidence of fins from endangered shark species being openly offered for sale by over half of all shark fin traders surveyed in Taiwan’s southern fishing port of Kaohsiung.

Of the 13 shark fin processing and trading companies visited, more than half were found to be trading CITES- listed fins, and seven had shark fins from CITES Appendix II-listed species as part of their product range. One company saidthere was no difference in selling protected or unprotected species. Protected sharks’ products usually create a problem for international shipping only.”

The new report details how seven out of thirteen traders surveyed in Taiwan were found to be selling shark fins from silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, mako sharks, thresher sharks and great white sharks in broad daylight – in contravention of Taiwanese and international law.

Over a three-month period, Shark Guardian investigators witnessed multiple shipments of shark fins from endangered species being unloaded at Donggang fish market which is in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung.

Alex Hofford, Marine Wildlife Campaigner with Shark Guardian, said “To save sharks and the marine environment, Taiwanese authorities should implement an immediate crackdown on its cruel and unsustainable shark fin trade, and should tighten up local laws to ban the domestic sale of shark fin as well as better enforce its international obligations under CITES. It is also high time that the Taiwanese government should rein in its out-of-control distant water tuna fishing fleet, who are a major supplier shark fin to Chinese markets. Whilst Taiwan is a beacon of democratic and progressive values in Asia, it is allowing its unsustainable and often crime-ridden fisheries sector to rape and pillage our ocean with impunity. This must stop. Taiwan needs to show leadership in environmental protection and must quickly clean up its act as regards its sleazy shark fisheries and trade sectors.”

During our investigation, Shark Guardian also found evidence of Taiwan-based online retailers selling fins of endangered species of shark in contravention of local and international law.

According to WWF, a third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, yet fishing and trading in unsustainable shark fin remains a highly profitable, but environmentally destructive, enterprise for Taiwanese companies operating out of Kaohsiung.

Brendon Sing, Co-Director of Shark Guardian said “Clearly more must be done to protect sharks globally. There are over 500 known shark species with only a handful of them listed under CITES. Even then, CITES listed sharks are still traded illegally where monitoring and enforcement lack any power and expose loopholes in the system. As long as this continues, there is no real protection for any shark species regardless of CITES listing or not. Taiwan must be responsible and take positive action in response to this report.”

Shark Guardian believes that excessively large profit margins are the main reason why Taiwan has never acted to rein in its shark fisheries and trade.

Shark Guardian hopes that Taiwan can apply its progressive values towards preserving the marine environment by imposing a comprehensive ban on the physical and online selling all species of shark fin in Taiwan. Such a ban would go above and beyond what is required under international law, and Taiwan’s domestic laws can be changed with public support.

For more information about Shark Guardian visit their website by clicking here.

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Competitions

Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

Price NOW from just £975 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from London Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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