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Marine Life & Conservation

Diving the Wrecks of Mauritius (Watch Video)

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Over 480 ships have been wrecked off the coast of Mauritius over the last 400 years. Most of them have disintegrated or disappeared. You will not be able to dive Le Coureur or the Saint Gerain, the notorious slavers of the 18th century that foundered with their human cargoes off the coast of Mauritius. They are now just a shameful memory and a collection of artefacts in the National History museum. Treasure hunters pillaged many of the earlier wrecks until the Mauritius Government banned the removal of undersea artifacts, and began sinking condemned ships to create artificial reefs.

Most of these wrecks are within easy reach of the dive centres in the North, and a Safari trip to Coin de Mire makes a great day’s diving. You take 2 or 3 tanks each, the boat loads up with delicious snacks, water or juice and often a light lunch. Coin de Mire Island, so called because it’s shaped like the wedge or quoin that gunners used to raise or lower the barrels of their cannons, is a National Park, and the breeding ground for the long tailed Tropicbird. It’s a short 10-15 minute boat ride.

The Djabeda wreck lies at an average depth of 24 meters, from 20 metres on the mast to 32 at the keel, with dense shoals of fusiliers and blue banded snappers, scorpionfish, two massive Javanese Moray eels, rays in the sand and exquisite corals. It was sunk in 1967, and parts of it have scattered across the sand, offering additional hiding places for marine life. There is a pair of sling-jaw wrasses living and breeding there as well, worth looking out for them as they are uncommon. It is also rich in colourful corals and almost fully intact.

After 20 minutes on the wreck, you fin towards the Island and decompress for the rest of the 50 minute dive time in Confetti Bay, an exquisite shallow site just off the Island, where you have snacks and prepare for the second dive. Bliss.

The Silverstar is 5 minutes from Pereybere, but its much deeper from 39 to 28 metres. It’s absolutely stunning, because it is in the deep blue, resting on the white, white sand, and looms out of the ocean like a fantastical pirate ship. Wreck penetration is possible for qualified divers. You need a good torch and once you are into the hold, it’s almost sinister, but filled with crustaceans and morays. Around the mast there are massive shoals, with a resident school of spade fish and orbicular batfish. This is a huge wreck, with an intact propeller at 40 metres, plenty of coral growth, and is best dived with Nitrox, but you need to watch your computer. It was sunk away from the reefs, so this is a short but dramatic dive.

Stella Maru is an old Japanese fishing trawler was deliberately sunk in 1987 by the Mauritius Conservation Society to create an artificial reef, and it is almost fully intact. It has the aggressive oriental look of those Japanese boats you see in WWII movies. It’s full of shoals of blue banded snappers, giant morays and scorpionfish, but it is also a fabulous photographic subject. We recently found a hairy frogfish there, and huddled against a broken portion of the superstructure was a very small gurnard, that amazing little guy with wings and legs like a crayfish.

The Emily and Waterlily were sunk in 1981, and they lie in fairly shallow water. They are a superb example of how quickly soft corals can grow, and how rapidly they become home to a host of tiny sea creatures. Both wrecks are abundant with soft corals and tiny juveniles, creating a photographer’s paradise with white sand, blue water and lilac, purple, blue and pink soft corals. This is often done as a 2 tank dive, with snacks on the boat and a visit to one of the coral and reef fish infested sites in the area nearby.

Pics: Thanks to Abdul Khathlan for the pic of the shoals on Djabeda.

Copyright 2018 Ocean Spirit, Mauritius – www.osdiving.com

Jill Holloway lives in Mauritius and at Sodwana Bay Isimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa. A PADI qualified Nitrox diver with over 1,500 dives, she is a passionate observer and preserver of the marine environment, and has a database of over 35,000 fish pics and hundreds of Gopro videos on fish behaviour, which she shares with her readers.

Marine Life & Conservation

SHARK MONTH ARRIVES AT ROYAL WILLIAM YARD, PLYMOUTH

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A shark has been spotted approaching Royal William Yard in Plymouth, much to the surprise of swimmers, paddleboarders and onlookers.

With its distinctive dorsal fin cutting through the water, the sizeable shark swam along the coastline, before turning to head inland towards Firestone Arch at Royal William Yard. The appearance drew a crowd, who were captivated for more than an hour by the unusual sight – and it was all caught on video.

The shark is one of many expected sightings at Royal William Yard over the coming weeks… because today marks the start of Shark Month!

In reality, the ‘shark’ spotted along the Plymouth shoreline was actually a custom-made model, created by the team at Royal William Yard and sailed underwater by Caroline Robertson‑Brown​​​​ from the Shark Trust, who donned scuba diving gear for the occasion.

The stunt took place to launch Shark Month in style and draw attention to the work of the leading international conservation charity, which is based in Britain’s Ocean City. Spectators were reassured that the water was safe and many entered into the spirit of the performance, swimming or sailing alongside the shark.

Shark Month will take place across Royal William Yard throughout July and will feature an extravaganza of art, entertainment and advocacy for everyone to enjoy. The packed programme of events starts with an art exhibition and ends with a trip on paddleboards with shark experts – with everything from a shark quiz to a Jaws screening in between.

Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust, said: “There are often assumptions and misconceptions when it comes to sharks. This was certainly the case with the shark spotted at Royal William Yard! While the British coastline is home to many species of shark, this was not one of them. However, we’re thrilled it caught people’s attention, because seeing a shark is a special and memorable moment. That is precisely why we want to celebrate these incredible creatures, highlight the need for conservation, and ask for help to safeguard their future.”

For more information about Shark Month at Royal William Yard, visit the Shark Trust Website.


Images and video: Jay Stone

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Marine Life & Conservation

Iceland issue millionaire whale hunter a licence to murder 128 vulnerable fin whales

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whaling petition

Just a few days ago, Iceland issued millionaire whale hunter Kristján Loftsson a licence to murder 128 vulnerable fin whales.

Fin whales are awe-inspiring — capable of communicating through song, feeling love, and experiencing deep emotional suffering. Loftsson often kills them pregnant, and a study found that these majestic giants can take up to 2 hours to die after being harpooned.

We can still stop this cruelty and protect the second largest mammal on earth – not just this season but for good – by helping change the law and making this Iceland’s last licence.

The Icelandic government is under pressure. The key minister admitted she doesn’t agree with whaling but says the law forced her to grant the licence. Brave lawmakers plan to try to repeal that law.

We can help, like we did before: Let’s make this a PR nightmare for the Icelandic government, and build a 2 million-strong call to put whalers like Kristján Loftsson out of business forever. Time is ticking – add your name and share with everyone you know!

Scientists discovered cells in whales’ brains that process complex emotions like romance and grief. These were thought to exist only in humans and great apes, but whales have up to three times more of them than humans!

Loftsson says he might not have enough time this season to organise the slaughter of these gentle giants.  But he’s not likely to stop. A few years ago, shocked visitors saw one of Loftsson’s ships floating in bloody water, hauling a carcass. “Just tell them to look somewhere else. They can just turn around and look the other way,” he said. Let’s show him that we won’t look away until whaling is gone for good.

Whaling season is open, Loftsson has a licence, and at any moment he could decide to go on a killing spree. So we need to move fast to stop the hunt – now and forever! Add your name and share everywhere – when we make it massive, Avaaz will deliver our call directly to the top decision-makers in Reykjavik!

You can sign the petition here.

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