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Five divers stranded in Florida waters when anchor line snaps; rescued when party boat happens to pass by

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Whilst heading back to Key Largo through rough seas on Tuesday of last week, Capt. Joe Hall on the Sailors Choice party boat saw something he couldn’t believe.

A lone diver, frantically waving his arms, bobbed alone among 6-foot seas near Pickles Reef off Tavernier.

“It was really rough. Waves were crashing over the bow of our boat,” said Capt. Joe. “I barely caught a glimpse of him.”

Mate Jamie Stephenson put the ladder down and helped the diver onto the 65-foot fishing boat. “Then [the diver] asked, ‘Is everybody else here?’ I asked him what he meant.”

An intense rescue effort was then started that found four other divers, scattered from near Molasses Reef to Pickles Reef, approximately three miles away.

The group of five divers from Georgia was diving at Molasses Reef when the anchor line from their unmanned boat snapped.

“One of the divers was underwater when he saw the anchor line go slack,” said Officer Bobby Dube, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman. “They went to the surface and saw the boat drifting away.”

“They didn’t leave anybody topside,” said Officer Dube. “This shows why it’s always a good idea to leave a safety man on deck.”

The owner of the boat tried to swim after it, but 25 mph winds pushed the vessel away.

The Sailors Choice started running a search pattern after hearing Lunsford’s story. Many of the 18 fishing customers aboard went forward to scan the seas.

“Everybody on board helped out,” Capt. Joe said. “You could see they knew they were part of something important.”

Four FWC patrol boats headed offshore after getting the 5 p.m. call. One of the FWC boats later rescued a diver, who apparently tried to follow Lunsford, near Pickles Reef.

The Sailors Choice, accompanied by a Sea Tow Key Largo boat, spotted the remaining three divers, who had inflated their BCDs and stayed near Molasses Reef.

“By the time we saw them, they were drifting farther offshore,” said Capt. Joe. “We got on the loudspeaker and told them they were going to be OK. Sea Tow went in and scooped them up.”

A TowBoat US Key Largo vessel found the Wellcraft adrift on the shoreward side of Pickles Reef. The U.S. Coast Guard also took part in the search.

The divers were in the water for approximately 2 hours. After the first diver was found at around 5 pm, the rest were out of the water before 6.

“It’s a really nice feeling” to help in the rescue,” Capt. Joe said. “It was the end of the day so no other boats were going to be out there. Those guys probably would have spent the night at sea.”

 

Source: www.keysnet.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida

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Save the Manatee® Club has launched a brand-new set of underwater and above-water webcams at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. These new cameras add to our existing cameras at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Homosassa, Florida, which are viewed by millions of people worldwide. The cameras are a collaboration between Save the Manatee Club, Explore.org, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who made the new live streaming collaboration possible via support of their interpretative program.

The above-water camera is a stationary pan/tilt/zoom camera that will show manatees and other wildlife from above water, while the new underwater camera provides the viewer with a brand new, exciting 180-degree viewing experience. Viewers can move the cameras around, trying to spot various fish and manatees.

The Silver River, which originates at Silver Springs, provides important habitat for manatees and many other species of wildlife. Over recent years, more manatees have been seen utilizing the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. “The webcams provide a wonderful entertainment and educational tool to the general public, but they also help us with the manatee research,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We have learned so much through observing manatees on our existing webcams, and the new cameras at Silver Spring can add to the existing manatee photo-ID research conducted in this area, as well as highlighting Silver Springs and the Silver River as an important natural habitat for manatees.”

The webcams are streaming live during the daytime, with highlights playing at night, and can be viewed on Explore.org and on Save the Manatee Club’s website at ManaTV.org.

Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

Photo: www.avalon.red

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Dive Worldwide introduces three new resorts ahead of Go Diving Show

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Ahead of Go Diving (2-3 March, Stoneleigh Park), the leading scuba diving exhibition that marks the start of the dive season, Dive Worldwide has introduced three new resorts, each one set in a world class diving location. Among them is Coral Eye Resort in Indonesia, an eco-friendly island retreat with a welcoming community vibe where like-minded people get excited about the marine world and all its wonders.

Dive Worldwide has the largest programme in the UK of tailor-made and small group liveaboard and resort-based diving holidays to over 200 destinations worldwide, catering for beginners and experienced divers alike.

NEW RESORTS

Coral Eye Resort, Bangka Island, Indonesia

Founded as an outpost for marine studies, Coral Eye is a boutique resort on Bangka Island, east of Sumatra, which has been transformed into a diver’s paradise. Today Coral Eye, set in the heart of the Coral Triangle, attracts a community of visitors who share a passion for the sea. Its eco-friendly villas are designed to blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings.

From Coral Eye and the Coral Eye Dive Centre, it is possible to discover more than 30 world-class dive sites– each within 40 minutes of the beachfront dive centre – along with the fascinating volcanic topography and varied marine life around Bangka Island in North Sulawesi. From the beautiful house reef to steep coral-covered pinnacles, charming critters, turtles, and abundant reef fish, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Dives, up to four per day, are guided in groups of four by local guides with a wealth of experience and keen eyes.

Price: 9 nights at Coral Eye Resort from £2,775pp based on 2 sharing including Full board, transfer, 10 dives, tanks and weights

The Fives Beach Hotel and Residences, Mexico

This resort is an oceanfront haven where luxury meets adventure. Against a backdrop of lush greenery and a white sand coast in Playa del Carmen, The Fives Beach Hotel’s location in Riviera Maya provides access to a plethora of renowned dive sites, including the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and the world-famous Cenotes.  Within the resort is The Fives Dive Centre with its range of SSI courses, from beginner to advanced.  Guests can dive with eagle rays and look for a splendid toadfish in Cozumel. Puerto Morelos has such a cool vibe above the water, but below the surface the National Park is also the best the Caribbean has to offer.

With a diverse range of accommodation, choose from stylish rooms with balconies to vibrant suites and oceanfront residences providing more privacy and a panorama of the Caribbean Sea. Beyond diving, guests can indulge in the hotel’s array of restaurants, relax with a cocktail by one of the hotel’s seven outdoor pools, explore the vibrant local culture at the nearby Mayan ruins or enjoy the hotel’s numerous cultural offerings.

Price: 7 nights at The Fives Beach Hotel and Residences costs from £3,145pp based on 2 sharing, all inclusive, including 8 ocean dives and 2 cenotes dives, tanks, weights and transfers

Aventuras Club – Mexico

Located in Puerto Aventuras, these stylish marina and lagoon view apartments, each with tasteful Caribbean interiors, are the perfect location for an ocean and Cenotes diving adventure. The 19 marina apartments offer views over the marina, while eight luxury lagoon apartments overlook a private bay in the lagoon and benefit from a small private beach and a swimming pool.

Diving the magical caves and passages of the world-famous Cenotes in Mexico is conducted with Maya Blue Dive Centre while ocean dives are provided through a local dive centre. The Mesoamerican reef system along the Riviera Maya is home to colourful coral gardens and marine life aplenty, providing an exciting and varied week of diving experiences including plenty of hawksbill turtle encounters.  Travel between June and September and add in a snorkelling trip to see the incredible gathering of whale sharks around Holbox Island or Isla Mujeres.

Price: The Cenotes & Reefs dive trip costs from £2,095pp based on 2 sharing including  7 nights at Aventuras Club, 6 ocean dives, 2 Cenotes dives, Tanks and weights and transfers.

For further information visit Dive Worldwide (diveworldwide.com, 01962 302087).

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