Connect with us
background

News

iDive Makadi Bay trip to Dolphin House

Published

on

On a recent trip to Makadi bay, Hurghada we decided to try out a wild swimming dolphin experience which is available every week and includes a boat trip, a fantastic buffet lunch with soft drinks and the use of wetsuits, mask, fins and snorkel for the duration of the trip all for under 50 euros. I was a little sceptical about the chances of seeing and swimming with wild dolphins, but I was reassured by the staff, who seemed very confident that they have an 80-90% percent chance of seeing them on each trip.

On the morning of the trip, the group met at the dive centre, handily located within the pretty resort of Fort Arabesque, where the staff helpfully handed out any equipment required, before pointing out the dive boat waiting for us at the end of a short jetty on the beach directly in front of the dive centre.

The boat is primarily used for scuba divers. There was plenty of room with places to keep fins and wetsuits in the wet area, towels and bags in the inside dry area, toilets on board and a place to relax and enjoy the stunning views upstairs.

The group was introduced to the staff who wore name tags and were friendly, welcoming, professional and approachable. We were told that we were going to a place called Dolphin House and the species of dolphin we would expect to see were explained. Housekeeping was covered and any problems, medical or otherwise, were clarified and the procedure for when and how to enter and exit the water was thoroughly explained.

The boat journey to dolphin house was calm with plenty of room for the group to spread out and relax, sleep or enjoy the views. Most people brought food boxes provided by the hotel to snack on during the journey. There was also a photographer/videographer on-board who took candid snaps of the group. You could buy the photographs and/or the edited video of both underwater and on the boat for a nominal fee.

On the approach to the site, the group were instructed to get ready and put kit on. There were already a few boats moored up next to each other and once the engines were stopped, our guide entered the water followed by the group. We were brought to an area of reef where the boats could not enter but where the dolphins were located which meant a short swim from the boat.

Once in Dolphin House it was everything I could have wished for… The pod was inquisitive and playful, swimming just under the group of snorkelers, surfacing for air then circling back around. Some dolphins came close enough so that you could see every detail in their markings, circling some of our group of freedivers after they had duck dived to get a good look at them – a kind of tacit communication between freediver and dolphin.

Freediving in my monofin alongside some of the pod who were gliding slowly and effortlessly through the water was an amazing and awe-inspiring experience of privileged calm and excitement. You almost felt like part of the pod for those few precious seconds. We were lucky enough that the dolphins chose to engage with us for approximately 45 minutes and the interactions experienced during this encounter left me without a doubt about the intelligence and sentience of these amazing mammals.

I am still surprised and saddened that even today when candidly discussing with friends and acquaintances my desire to swim with dolphins it is still suggested that I pay for a ‘swim with a captive dolphin’ experience. Even after films such as Blackfish and The Cove. The latter documents the driving of entire pods into the cove in Taiji Japan, in order to select the few individuals to be sent to dolphinariums and the slaughter of the remaining pod members for the meat trade despite its highly toxic mercury content. This was first publicised in 2009 and is still occurring today – all you need to do is follow Sea Shepherd to see the emotive images of dolphins thrashing about in a sea of red.

After pointing out that the practice of decimating a dolphin pod is solely due to the lucrative prices dolphins attract for our entertainment I am often met with previous ignorance of the practice but with a vow to never visit one again once enlightened.

Sadly dolphinariums exist but this experience with wild dolphins, with an ethical provider, is the only way I would interact with them now. Even during the trip I noticed some boats getting too close to the dolphins and dropping divers in almost on top of each other to gain a split second of a view of them. Our operator would only allow us in when the conditions were right for both the dolphins and the freedivers on board.

So if you’re looking to swim with dolphins and want an ethical provider of dolphin experiences then IDive Makadi Bay is a perfect example.

You can find out more about diving with IDive below:

Marine Life & Conservation

UK Shark Fin Trade ‘dead in the water’

Published

on

The government has today signalled the end of the UK’s involvement in the global shark fin trade with an announcement that new legislation will require all imported and exported shark fins to remain attached to the shark carcass and only traded as a whole commodity.

The news has been welcomed by Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation and its supporters including wildlife TV presenter Steve Backshall MBE and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who both endorsed the charity’s No Fin To Declare campaign, calling for a post-Brexit ban of the personal import allowance of shark fins to the UK.

Before Britain left the EU it had been bound by outdated legislation that permits anyone to carry up to 20kg of dried shark fins into and across European borders as part of their personal import allowance. According to Bite-Back, this loophole has been exploited by the shark fin trade to legally ‘smuggle’ fins undetected for decades.

Campaign director at Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “This news puts the UK at the forefront of shark conservation and represents a further blow to a global industry that is forcing sharks closer to the brink of extinction. We applaud the government for using Brexit to side-step this archaic EU legislation and instead lead the world in the conservation of sharks and the oceans. We hope and believe this announcement will encourage other European countries to impose similar constraints.”

It’s estimated that global fishing fleets hunt and kill 73 million sharks every year. As a result one in four shark species is now either endangered or threatened forcing populations of iconic shark species including great whites, hammerheads, oceanic whitetips and threshers to a tiny fraction of those recorded 50 years ago.

Over the past decade shark fins — used as the title ingredient in shark fin soup — have become one of the most valuable seafood items in the world, a fact the charity says, has created a ‘marine gold rush’ to catch and separate sharks from their lucrative fins.

Shark fin soup is widely regarded as a controversial dish. Not only are the cartilaginous strands from the fins tasteless, fishermen are known to cut the fins off the sharks they catch and throw the rest of the shark overboard to die.

Bite-Back first exposed the personal import allowance loophole in 2015. Alongside the detrimental environmental impact the NGO also highlighted that no other item on the ‘green channel’ list compared in terms of volume or value. In fact a 20kg consignment of fins is enough to make 705 bowls of shark fin soup and has a black market value of around £3,600.

Spain, France, Portugal and the UK all feature in the top 20 shark fishing nations in the world. Remarkably though, for years, the UK has exported around 25 tonnes of shark fins to Spain for processing and onward sale to the Far East.

However, it will soon become illegal to import or export individual shark fins making it extremely costly and inconvenient to buy and sell a product that is contributing to the decimation of vital shark populations.

Wildlife TV presenter and Bite-Back patron, Steve Backshall MBE, said: “Today’s news is a fantastic outcome for shark conservation and the culmination of years of campaigning from Bite-Back. The government’s decision to effectively ban the trade in shark fins will be significant in helping to restore the balance of the oceans. At the same time it sends a clear message to the world that shark fin soup belongs in the history books and not on the menu.”

Support shark and marine conservation at www.bite-back.com

Continue Reading

News

Protecting England’s Wreck Sites: Site Security Protocols Launched

Published

on

The security of heritage assets is of the utmost importance; a monetary value cannot be attached to the significance of a site or its associated artefacts. This statement is true for both on land and underwater sites.

The policing of underwater sites however, is often a trickier affair, with out-of-sight often equalling out-of-mind. Unfortunately, a site’s underwater location does not stop thieves from stealing or damaging artefacts.

To aid in the protection of our underwater cultural heritage, a selection of sites of historical, artistic and archaeological importance have been protected by law under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/protected-wreck-sites/). Historic England manage these sites on behalf of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, Digital and Sport (DCMS), and a team of Licensees, effectively voluntary custodians, play a key role in their ongoing management.

The licensees work tirelessly on the wrecks and have had a special relationship with them since the very first days of the Protection of Wrecks Act. If it wasn’t for them, many of the sites would still be unknown and we would have very little knowledge of many of the existing sites. Their presence on the sites acts as a deterrent to anyone thinking of accessing the sites illegally and their monitoring ensures that the sites are understood and enjoyed by many people.

To further aid in the physical protection of these significant sites, Historic England funded a partnership project between the Protected Wreck Association (PWA https://protectedwrecks.org.uk/) and MSDS Marine (https://msdsmarine.com/). This national-level project has seen the development of Site Security Plans for protected wreck sites. The model developed is based on the highly successful model developed by Ron Howell and the SWMAG team who are Licensees for the Salcombe Cannon and Moor Sands protected wreck sites.

A Site Security Plan is the end result of a process which assesses how secure a site is from illegal access. By completing two very easy to use but highly specialised forms, the site is given:

  • Its own Site Security Champion
  • Its own Heritage Crime Officer in the Police
  • A level of risk of heritage crime occurring to enable appropriate response to be put in place and to allow targeting of resources
  • Quick win opportunities to decrease its level of risk
  • A protocol for the licensees to follow every time they access the site
  • Specialist guidelines to enable crime reporting to enforcement authorities
  • A toolkit consisting of: A High Vis vest, to help identify the Site Security Champion to the public / authorities and pocket-sized card, summarising guidance on reporting crimes.

The project team will be supporting Licensees and their teams in completing a Site Security Plan and Risk Assessment for each Protected Wreck Site. MSDS Marine will be contacting Licensees inviting them to book a slot to work through the process. Individual Licensees and teams can also follow the guidance to complete the documents on their own with MSDS Marine on hand to support as required.

The Site Security Forms are accessible on the Protected Wreck Association website, in the members only area https://protectedwrecks.org.uk/members-area/site-security/ . If you are not a member and would like to join, this is an excellent time, as its free!

Assessing the security of a wreck site will inform Historic England of any sites which are at a high risk of heritage crime, and aid them in the future management of these sites. It will assist Licensees in highlighting areas for concern and in turn offer positive actions that can be taken to reduce the threat. It is hoped that the scheme will help put practical measures in place to ensure that the sites are protected from illegal activity in future.

Alison James, Project Manager at MSDS Marine said: “I spent ten years working at Historic England managing England’s protected wreck sites and at times was incredibly frustrated by being unable to ‘police’ the sites. The model we have developed is based on the highly successful model developed by SWMAG which has been shown to work on a number of occasions. We hope this will make a real difference to the sites and the teams that work on them.”

Professor Mike Williams, Chair of the Protected Wreck Association said: “We are delighted and grateful that Historic England has funded this project. It will enable us to undertake valuable work to support our members, who are dedicated volunteers protecting our maritime heritage.”

Hefin Meara, Marine Archaeologist at Historic England said: “We are pleased to support this important project and recognise the enormous contribution that licensed volunteer divers are making to help protect England’s fascinating marine historic environment.”

For more information please visit www.ProtectedWrecks.org.uk , www.MSDSMarine.co.uk, and www.historicengland.org.uk.

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular